It is a big week for book releases, my friends. Hide your credit cards and don't even think about stopping by your favorite bookstore if you still want to afford, oh I don't know, say foodstuffs by the week's end. Because for some insane reason, the publishers all got together and decided to release some of their very best books the first week of March. I'm certain it is a conspiracy that goes all the way to the very top. And I'll be broke by the time it's all over. Thankfully, I have two young children I might be willing to sell to finance my habit.
Here are just a few of the most notable......
Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi (Riverhead, March 6, 2014). This book has been named one of 2014 Most Anticipated Novels by numerous publications, including Time Magazine and The Huffington Post. Everyone, it seems, is waiting with baited breath for Oyeyemi's re-telling of the Snow White fairy tale set in 1953 Massachusetts. And I am one of them.
Redeployment by Phil Klay (Penguin Press, March 4, 2014). A brilliant, but necessarily cutting and dark, collection of stories all forcing the reader to understand what happened to our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan...not only on the front lines, but also what happened to them after they came home. The New York Times raves over this debut which has already earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. I think this is one collection we'll want to pay attention to.
A King's Ransom by Sharon Kay Penman (Putnam, March 4, 2014). The sequel to Penman's wildly successful story of England's King Richard II, Lionheart, A King's Ransom picks up the story with the return of the English king from the crusades in the Holy Land and vividly recounts his abduction by the Holy Roman Emperor and his years held captive. Penman does not disappoint her fans as she concludes her series on the Plantagenet dynasty of England and the novel is nothing short of brilliant. If you haven't read Lionheart, be sure to start there, then move on to this stunning sequel. Richard the Lionheart will never again be just a name in a history book. Highly recommended!
The Black Eyed Blonde by Benjamin Black (Henry Holt and Co., March 4, 2014). There probably aren't enough words to appropriately express how much I covet this book. Yes, I want it because it features that Philip Marlowe (as in Raymond Chandler's Philip Marlowe) and I love retro crime noir. But more than anything I covet this book because it is written by Benjamin Black. Which is a nom de plume for author John Banville. Oh yes, you read that sentence correctly. And if you love John Banville as much as I do, you're tripping over the keyboard right now to order this novel. Last one to read it is a rotten egg....ready....set.....go!
The Thoughts and Happenings of Wilfred Price Purveyor of Superior Funerals by Wendy Jones (Reprint; Europa Editions, March 4, 2013). This reprint edition is being released in the wake of the successful film version of Jones' humorous story of the young Welsh undertaker Wilfred Price who unthinkingly proposes to a lady without really thinking it through and then feels obligated to see it through. Things get even more interesting when Wilfred meets another young lady he really and truly does wish to marry. All of this wouldn't be near as charming and quaint if the entire story wasn't set in the 1920s in the countryside of Wales. I wouldn't normally consider a reprint edition a new release, but this one is simply too delicious to pass by.
The Enchanted by Rene Denfeld (HarperCollins, March 4, 2014). This debut effort has been lauded by Publishers Weekly and Library Journal as both spellbinding and gut-wrenching for its re-imagining of death row by an inmate who chooses to see his surroundings completely different from what they really are. Writing his own fantastical mental stories about the people he encounters and the place he is forced to endure reveals a coping mechanism of magical realism that has been called haunting and lyrical. This is going to be one of those books you either fall in love with or cannot stand. I fell into the latter category unfortunately, as it proved to be simply too lyrical for my tastes, but for those who love this kind of prose it is going to be a winner.
Gemini by Carol Cassella (Simon & Schuster, March 4, 2014). Cassella's latest novel takes place in the Pacific Northwest where a Seattle intensive care doctor treating a Jane Doe in a coma wrestles with ethical decisions over her patients care while simultaneously becoming more and more vested in her case. The doctor-patient line becomes more and more blurred as Cassella raises a myriad of questions surrounding medical ethics. Another starred review from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly, Booklist has also chimed in, highly recommending this one. I couldn't resist.
Which ones did I miss?