Wednesday, February 3, 2016

6 Books to Look for This February

This February is not going to be like last February. This February is not going to be like last February. As we look at the weather forecast, I'm pretty sure most of us have this refrain in our heads. Let's remain hopeful that it's a prediction that will come true, but just in case, you might want to stock up on some books for snowbound days at home. Here are a few being released this month.

Motorcyclist by George Elliott Clarke (Feburary 2): I could not be more excited about the first novel on this month's list: a new title from Nova Scotia poet and recent appointee to the role of Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke. Clarke's quick witted word play makes for great reading, whether you pick up one of his books of verse or one of his novels. He's a writer who can tackle the serious, the light-hearted, the bawdy and the refined -- often all in the same piece. "Carl Black is an intellectual and artist, a traveller, a reader and an unapologetic womanizer. A motorcyclist. He burns for the bohemian life, but is trapped in a railway porter’s prosaic--—at times humiliating—--existence. Taking place over one dramatic year in Halifax, Nova Scotia, The Motorcyclist vividly recounts Carl’s travels and romantic exploits as he tours the backroads of the east coast and the bedrooms of a series of beautiful women. Inspired by the life of George Elliott Clarke’s father, the novel tells the story of a black working-class man caught between the expectations of his times and gleaming possibilities of the open road." George Elliott Clarke is taking part in several programs at Halifax Public Libraries during the month of February. He is reading from the Motorcyclist at the Keshen Goodman Library (with a simultaneous webcast at our Musquodoboit Valley Community Office) and he is moderating a program called Behind the Scenes at Studio Black! at Halifax Central. Check the program pages on the library website for more details.

The Killing Forest by Sara Blaedel (February 2): Danish author Blaedel has been gaining a growing following for her Louise Rick crime thrillers. Novelist describes them this way: "The crimes are as dark and chilling as the weather in these bleak and gritty Scandinavian crime novels. The fast-paced and skillfully wrought stories are enhanced by taut suspense and eerie realism, and feature Copenhagen Detective Louise Rick -- aggressive, tough-talking, and with a tendency to challenge authority -- and her best friend Camilla Lind -- a smart, assertive journalist."

Good Liar by Nicholas Searle (February 2): This debut is getting a fair bit of early buzz and strong pre-release blog reviews: it could be one we're all talking about in a few months. "Roy is a conman living in a small English town, about to pull off his final con. He is going to meet and woo a beautiful woman and slip away with her life savings. But who is the man behind the con? What has he had to do to survive a life of lies? And who has had to pay the price?"

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson (Feburary 2): I love to talk up a good fiction debut--this one caught my eye why reading some recent reviews. "Reclusive literary legend M. M. “Mimi” Banning has been holed up in her Bel Air mansion for years. But after falling prey to a Bernie Madoff-style ponzi scheme, she’s flat broke. Now Mimi must write a new book for the first time in decades, and to ensure the timely delivery of her manuscript, her New York publisher sends an assistant to monitor her progress. The prickly Mimi reluctantly complies—with a few stipulations: No Ivy-Leaguers or English majors. Must drive, cook, tidy. Computer whiz. Good with kids. Quiet, discreet, sane." Mimi, her young son Frank, and Alice, the assistant the publisher sends their way form a trio that makes for great reading. Compared to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and Where’d You Go, Bernadette, this seems like a great book for getting through the dark days of February

Leonard: my fifty-year friendship with a remarkable man by William Shatner (February 16): Our one non-fiction entry this month needs little explanation: it's a biography of Mr. Spock by Captain James T. Kirk, what more do you need to know?

Tender by Belinda McKeon (February 16): "When they meet in Dublin in the late nineties, Catherine and James become close friends. She is a sheltered college student, he an adventurous, charismatic young artist. In a city brimming with possibilities, he spurs her to take life on with gusto. But as Catherine opens herself to new experiences, James's life becomes a prison, walled off by a truth he feels unable to share. When crisis hits, Catherine finds herself at the mercy of uncontrollable feelings, leading her to jeopardize everything. By turns exhilarating and devastating, Tender is an exploration of human relationships, of the lies we tell ourselves and others. A high-wire act with psychological insights, this daring novel confirms McKeon as a major voice in Irish fiction, alongside the masterful Edna O'Brien and Anne Enright."

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