Saturday, December 10, 2011

Hidden Gems - 3 novels with buzz

Listed below are three recent novels that have received starred reviews and are generating buzz among readers. But for whatever reason, they have not yet hit the mainstream best seller lists and do not have long library holds lists.

The Peach Keeper: a novel (M)
by Sara Addison Allen

"The Jacksons were among the most influential families in Walls of Water, NC, until the mountain forests were declared a national park and the Jackson Logging Company went under. Georgie Jackson was 17 and pregnant when her family left town, but she stayed and became a maid in the house of her best friend, Agatha Osgood. Seventy-five years later, Georgie's granddaughter, Willa, watches while Paxton and Colin Osgood, Agatha's grandchildren, restore the old Jackson family home, the Blue Ridge Madam. Colin has always found Willa intriguing-her outward predictability covering an inner prankster-and working on the Madam gives him a way into Willa's life. But the Madam has been keeping secrets of her own. Will skeletons unearthed from the past ruin the present?

Peppered with Allen's trademark Southern charm and magical foretelling, this novel will keep readers turning the pages to see what happens. This author is sure to find a place in the hearts of most popular fiction readers; her latest is a must read for fans of Alice Hoffman." - Library Journal

A Discovery of Witches (M)
by Deborah Harkness

"Diana Bishop is the last of the Bishops, a powerful family of witches, but she has refused her magic ever since her parents died and, instead, has turned to academia. When a new project takes her to Oxford, she is looking forward to several months in the Bodleian, investigating alchemical manuscripts. Her peace is soon interrupted when one of the books she finds in the library turns out to have been lost for 150 years and is wanted desperately by the witch, daemon, and vampire communities so desperately that many are willing to kill for it. But the very first creature to approach her after her discovery is Matthew, a very old vampire and fellow scholar, who seems only to want to protect her.

Harkness creates a compelling and sweeping tale that moves from Oxford to Paris to upstate New York and into both Diana's and Matthew's complex families and histories. All her characters are fully fleshed and unique, which, when combined with the complex and engaging plot, results in one of the better fantasy debuts in recent months. The contemporary setting should help draw a large crossover audience. Try suggesting the novel to readers of literary mysteries like Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series, as well as to those who enjoy epic and fantastic romances including Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series and Jacqueline Carey's Kushiel novels. Essential reading across all these genres." - Booklist

Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead (M)
by Sara Gran

"Augmenting her brilliant deductive skills with dream analysis, marijuana, and the written work of a mysterious French detective, private investigator Claire DeWitt reluctantly returns to post-Katrina New Orleans to solve the disappearance of an unpopular prosecutor."- NoveList.

"This is not to be missed-Claire is a moody, hip, and meticulous investigator. Gran (Dope; Come Closer) builds an addictive sense of anticipation with a fantastical frame. Alternately gritty and dreamy, this would appeal to those who liked Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist and readers of Charlie Huston" - Library Journal

"Part mystery, part fantasy, part -- I don’t know what the heck to call it! This is a book I knew I would be rereading even before I finished it. Gran’s narrative voice is engaging, her sense of place and setting superb, her characters memorable and well-crafted. If I have one complaint it’s when I realized this was the first of a series. Like Claire, I wanted all my mysteries resolved. And like Claire, I shall have to be patient and see where the journey leads. Highly recommended." D.L. Browne (

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