This month marks the one-year anniversary of Spot-Lit, so we thought we’d take a look back.
Spot-Lit’s objective is to help you easily discover worthwhile new fiction from both established and emerging authors, while giving the edge to deserving authors who might be overlooked. The main reason for this slant is because we know you can always click the On Order or Most Popular links in the catalog to easily find the most highly anticipated and in-demand titles. But we’re open to featuring any good book – and we did choose Gone Girl before it went on to dominate the bestseller lists for the past year.
We got some validation for our efforts from a recent round-up of The Year’s Best Crime Novels by Booklist magazine – almost half of their picks were also featured in Spot-Lit (see the titles we agreed on here). Of course, the advance reviews published by Booklist and other trade sources help us select materials for the library and aid us in making our Spot-Lit picks.
Additionally, we featured a number of titles as they came out that ended up winning some major awards. In addition to Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up the Bodies (Man Booker Prize), we highlighted these crime fiction award-winners:
Live by Night by Dennis Lehane (Edgar Award for Best Novel)
The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan (Mary Higgins Clark Award)
The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Pennys (Agatha Award)
Broken Harbor by Tana French (Los Angeles Times Book Award)
We’re just sayin’ – you could do worse when looking for new book recommendations.
With the self-aggrandizement out of the way – on to this month’s selections! As always, simply click on the titles below to read more or to place holds.
General Fiction / Literary Fiction
TransAtlantic by Colum McCann
In a tale that spans 150 years, McCann beautifully weaves together multiple narratives that include the first nonstop transatlantic flight, Abolitionist Frederick Douglass, four generations of women from an Irish family, and more. From the National Book Award winner of Let the Great World Spin.
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
As Publishers Weekly notes: “It’s worth the trouble to avoid spoilers, including the ones on the back cover.” So we’ll only say that this story of a middle class American family has it all – plus a twist. It’s one you really don’t want to miss.
The Last Summer of the Camperdowns by Elizabeth Kelly
A 12-year-old girl witnesses a violent crime but says nothing to her eccentric parents who are enmeshed in running a political campaign in Massachusetts in 1972. Tense, witty and mordantly funny.
Good Kings Bad Kings by Susan Nussbaum
Nussbsaum’s debut takes us inside a privately run Chicago facility for learning-disabled students, where profit-driven decisions only add to the hardship of the students’ courageous, resilient, disadvantaged lives. Winner of the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction.
The Lullaby of Polish Girls by Dagmara Dominczyk
When a young Polish-American girl returns to Poland to visit her grandmother, she makes strong friendships with two other girls. They stay in touch over the years though their lives have taken them in very different directions, and then a murder brings them back to the city where their friendship began.
The Square of Revenge by Pieter Aspe
International bestselling author Aspe’s U.S. debut includes a mysterious crime at a jewelry store where gems are dissolved in acid rather than stolen, a series of notes whose Latin words take the shape of a square, and a kidnapper who demands a priceless collection of art as ransom.
The Blood of Heaven by Kent Wascom
Wascom’s red hot debut is set in the violent frontier of West Florida in the nation’s early years, where a young man falls in with renegade founding father Aaron Burr’s secessionist movement. If you liked Blood Meridian, you’ll want to get your hands on this.
Courting Greta by Ramsey Hootman
An unlikely romance between a nerdy computer programmer, who leaves his well-paid job to teach high school computer classes, and a tough-talking high school gym coach.
Crime Fiction / Suspense
Crime of Privilege by Walter Walker
When Assistant DA George Becket decides to take on a powerful family and reopens the investigation of a young woman’s murder, he has to confront his own hesitant complicity in an abuse case from many years before. Strong characterization, plotting and puzzle-solving.
Her Last Breath by Linda Castillo
A hit-and-run “accident” kills an Amish buggy driver along with two of his children. As ex-Amish congregant and current police chief Kate Burkholder sets out to investigate the death of her friend, human remains with a connection to her past are found in an abandoned grain elevator.
The Last Kind Word by David Housewright
Millionaire and unlicensed investigator Rushmore McKenzie is in over his head when he agrees to help the ATF infiltrate a gun-running operation near the Canadian border.
SF / Fantasy
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
Speculative fiction master Gaiman’s first novel for adults since 2005’s Anansi Boys. The publisher calls it a “whimsical, imaginative, bittersweet, and at times, deeply scary modern fantasy about fear, love, magic, sacrifice, and the power of stories to reveal and to protect us from the darkness inside.”
Abaddon’s Gate by James S.A. Corey
In this top-notch space opera, the alien artifact that has been troubling Earth and Mars inhabitants has now built a massive gate that reaches out of the solar system. A flotilla of ships, including Jim Holden’s Rocinante, head out to investigate, but Holden is implicated in the gate’s appearance and is targeted in an act of political revenge.
Good writing remains good writing long after a book is first published, so if nothing in this month’s post exactly suits your mood, why not browse the Spot-Lit archive? There must be something there you’ll like.