Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Boswell's Best Titles from newcomers Helene Wecker and Bee Ridgway, Plus Old Pros Isabel Allende and Edward Rutherfurd.

It's time for our weekly (not always) wrap up of brand new (not always) books at Boswell. This week I'm focusing on fiction Boswell's Best titles.

One of the highest profile new releases this week is Isabel Allende's new novel, Maya's Notebook (Harper), which is a change-of-pace contemporary novel for this noted author. Maya Vidal is a 19-year-old living off the coast of Chile, having dodged a downward spiral of drugs, alcohol, and petty crime. Agnes Torres Al-Shibibi in the San Francisco Chronicle praises the "beguiling mix of clear-eyed toughness and lightness of spirit."Some of the advance trade reviews were negative while others were glowing; they say it's better to have an impact on a reader than leave one cold.

The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker (Harper) has had some buzz among booksellers, as well as earning buzz book designation from The Huffington Post, which is comparing it to The Night Circus. The golem is brought to New York from a Polish shtetl, while the jinni arrives from the Syrian desert. Publishers Weekly called it "spellbinding blend of fantasy and historical fiction." Wecker tells a little more about her life in this column, "The Most Jewish Thing I Do" in The Jewish Daily Forward

Another debut with some enthusiasm behind it is Bee Ridgway's The River of No Return (Dutton). A soldier about to die on the Napoleonic battlefield wakes up in modern London, learning that he's working for the Guild, allowing him to travel through time. He's asked to go back and fight the Guild's enemies and find the Talisman. Kirkus notes that "bookish fantasy fans who make it a point to keep up with Doctor Who will like this one." Now that you mention it, I think that Dr. Who is influencing contemporary novels like never before. What do you think?

It's hard to believe that Edward Rutherfurd has yet to have a novel called Paris, (Doubleday) but that is the case. Rutherford seems to have taken the mantle of James Michener, with novels set in London (also England), Dublin, Russia, and New York, all multi-generational extravaganzas. The Booklist reviewer was angling for good quotable copy, as how else can I explain "Anyone who has ever visited Paris or desires to do so will definitely want to dig into this movable feast."

Mr Rutherfurd has a trailer for his new book. I'd be remiss if I did not include it here!

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