Spring has nearly arrived, along with the promise of blooming flowers and the last glimpses of frost on the lawn. The days are finally getting longer. Gloves are becoming a thing of the past. With favorable weather ahead, my outlook for the year has become even more hopeful. I’ve already tackled eleven books of my 2017 Reading Challenge on Goodreads and bought a healthy amount of new volumes for my shelves that I’m excited to dive into.
In the spirit of the new season, I’ve put together a list of books I’m excited to read in the upcoming months.
Each synopsis has been taken either directly from the back of the book or from Goodreads. Click each cover to be linked straight to each novel’s Goodreads page.
Linda has an idiosyncratic home life: her parents live in abandoned commune cabins in northern Minnesota and are hanging on to the last vestiges of a faded counter-culture world. The kids at school call her ‘Freak’, or ‘Commie’. She is an outsider in all things. Her understanding of the world comes from her observations at school, where her teacher is accused of possessing child pornography, and from watching the seemingly ordinary life of a family she babysits for. Yet while the accusation against the teacher is perhaps more innocent than it seemed at first, the ordinary family turns out to be more complicated. As Linda insinuates her way into the family’s orbit, she realises they are hiding something. If she tells the truth, she will lose the normal family life she is beginning to enjoy with them; but if she doesn’t, their son may die.
Superbly-paced and beautifully written, History of Wolves is an extraordinary debut novel about guilt, innocence, negligence, well-meaning belief and the death of a child.
As dusk approaches a small Dublin suburb in the summer of 1984, mothers begin to call their children home. But on this warm evening, three children do not return from the dark and silent woods. When the police arrive, they find only one of the children gripping a tree trunk in terror, wearing blood-filled sneakers, and unable to recall a single detail of the previous hours.
Twenty years later, the found boy, Rob Ryan, is a detective on the Dublin Murder Squad and keeps his past a secret. But when a twelve-year-old girl is found murdered in the same woods, he and Detective Cassie Maddox—his partner and closest friend—find themselves investigating a case chillingly similar to the previous unsolved mystery. Now, with only snippets of long-buried memories to guide him, Ryan has the chance to uncover both the mystery of the case before him and that of his own shadowy past.
Richly atmospheric and stunning in its complexity, In the Woods is utterly convincing and surprising to the end.
Writing the Intimate Character by Jordan Rosenfeld
The key to excellent fiction lies in its characters: the unforgettable protagonists, antagonists, and secondary characters who populate the world of your story. Understanding and effectively using point of view allows you to write a powerful narrative that draws readers in and engages them with characters in a meaningful way. Through a blend of practical instruction, useful examples, and helpful exercises, Writing the Intimate Character shows you how to create the experience of living through a character rather than just reading about one.
Inside, you’ll learn:
- The functions and benefits of first-person, third-person intimate, omniscient, and second-person points of view.
- How to apply character cues—specific behaviors, sensory perceptions, dialogue, and visual imagery—to develop a realistic protagonist and secondary cast.
- The surface and subset feelings that get to the root of your character’s emotions.
- How different viewpoints affect the story you want to tell.
Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion. In “Adventure Story”—a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane—Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience “A Calendar of Tales” are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year—stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale “The Case of Death and Honey”. And “Click-Clack the Rattlebag” explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.
A sophisticated writer whose creative genius is unparalleled, Gaiman entrances with his literary alchemy, transporting us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent. Full of wonder and terror, surprises and amusements, Trigger Warning is a treasury of delights that engage the mind, stir the heart, and shake the soul from one of the most unique and popular literary artists of our day.
The exquisitely crafted stories in Anthony Doerr’s debut collection take readers from the African Coast to the pine forests of Montana to the damp moors of Lapland, charting a vast physical and emotional landscape. Doerr explores the human condition in all its varieties—metamorphosis, grief, fractured relationships, and slowly mending hearts—conjuring nature in both its beautiful abundance and crushing power. Some of the characters in these stories contend with hardships; some discover unique gifts; all are united by their ultimate deference to the ravishing universe outside themselves.
Pet Sematary by Stephen King
The road in front of Dr. Louis Creed’s rural Maine home frequently claims the lives of neighborhood pets. Louis has recently moved from Chicago to Ludlow with his wife Rachel, their children and pet cat. Near their house, local children have created a cemetery for the dogs and cats killed by the steady stream of transports on the busy highway. Deeper in the woods lies another graveyard, an ancient Indian burial ground whose sinister properties Louis discovers when the family cat is killed.