Review/ St. Martin’s First Winter 2015 Sampler Debut Fiction

Review/ St. Martin’s First Winter 2015 Sampler Debut Fictionon March 2015
Source: ARC From Publisher
five-stars

I received this book for free from publisher/pr firm in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

For the first time ever St Martin’s has put together a bunch of debut fiction into a sampler chapter ebook.

I love when publishers do this because it allows the reader to get a snippet of what new and exciting books are coming out plus it gives you the chance to read a bit to peek your interest. For me this is a great way to discover a new author you might normally pass up when your at the bookstore plus it allows me to perhaps dig into a book that I might not normally pick up otherwise.

This was the case with this sampler. I have discovered a few hidden gems that I think I would have missed out on otherwise. There is fifteen debut books talked about in this sampler. Here is the books that peeked my interest and have been added to my wishlist of books to get.

An acclaimed international bestseller, The Perfume Garden is a sensuously written story of lost love, family secrets-and the art of creating a perfect scent.
High in the hills of Valencia, a forgotten house guards its secrets. Untouched since Franco’s forces tore through Spain in 1936, the whitewashed walls have crumbled, and the garden, laden with orange blossom, grows wild. Emma Temple is the first to unlock its doors in seventy years. Emma is London’s leading perfumier, but her blessed life has taken a difficult turn. Her free-spirited mother, Liberty, who taught her the art of fragrance making, has just passed away. At the same time, she broke up with her long-time lover and business partner, Joe, whose baby she happens to be carrying.

While Joe is in New York trying to sell his majority share in their company, Emma, guided by a series of letters and a key bequeathed to her in Liberty’s will, decides to leave her job and travel to Valencia, where she will give birth in the house her mother mysteriously purchased just before her death. The villa is a perfect retreat: redolent with the exotic scents of orange blossom and neroli, dappled with light and with the rich colors of a forgotten time. Emma makes it her mission to restore the place to its former glory. But for her aging grandmother, Freya, a British nurse who stayed in Valencia during Spain’s devastating civil war, Emma’s new home evokes memories of a terrible secret, a part of her family’s past that until now has managed to stay hidden. With two beautifully interwoven narratives and a lush, atmospheric setting, Kate Lord Brown’s The Perfume Garden is a dramatic, emotional debut that readers won’t soon forget.

From a writer/producer of Family Guy, a satirical look at a dysfunctional southern family complete with an overbearing stage mom, a 9 year-old pageant queen, a cheating husband, his teenage girlfriend, a crazy grandmother, and Jesus.

After eight-and-a-half years and three hundred twenty-three pageants, Miranda Miller has become the ultimate stage mother. Her mission in life is to see that her nine-year-old daughter, Bailey, continues to be one of the most successful child pageant contestants in the southern United States. But lately, that mission has become increasingly difficult. Bailey wants to retire and has been secretly binge eating to make herself “unpageantable;” and the reality show Miranda has spent years trying to set up just went to their biggest rival.

But Miranda has a plan. She’s seven months pregnant with her fourth child, a girl (thank God), and she is going to make damn sure this one is even more successful than Bailey, even if the new girl is a little different.

Miranda’s husband, Ray, however, doesn’t have time for pageants. A full-time nurse, Ray spends his days at the hospital where he has developed a habit of taking whatever pills happen to be lying around. His nights are spent working hospice and dealing with Courtney, the seventeen-year-old orphan granddaughter of one of his hospice patients who he has, regrettably, knocked up. With a pregnant wife, a pregnant teenage mistress, two jobs, a drug hobby, and a mountain of debt, Ray is starting to take desperate measures to find some peace. Meanwhile, the Millers’ two sons are being homeschooled by Miranda’s mother, Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann), a God-fearing widow who spends her free time playing cards and planning a murder with Jesus. Yes, Jesus.

A bright new voice in satirical literature, Kirker Butler pulls no punches as he dissects our culture’s current state of affairs. It’s really funny, but it’s also pretty ugly.

In response to an advertisement, Struan Robertson, orphan, genius, and just seventeen, leaves his dour native town in Scotland, and arrives at a creaky mansion in London in the freakishly hot summer of 1989. His job, he finds, is to care for playwright and one-time literary star Phillip Prys, dumbfounded and paralyzed by a massive stroke, because, though Phillip’s two teenage children, two wives, and a literary agent all rattle ’round his large house, they are each too busy with their peculiar obsessions to do it themselves. As the city bakes, Struan finds himself tangled in a midsummer’s dream of mistaken identity, giddying property prices, wild swimming, and overwhelming passions. For everyone, it is to be a life-changing summer.

Kate Clanchy’s Meeting the English is a bright book about dark subjects–a tale about kindness and its limits, told with love. It is a coming of age story for anyone who has ever felt themselves to be an outsider; a love story for the awkward; and a comedy for anyone who has ever lived in a family. Written by an acclaimed writer of poetry, non-fiction, and short stories, this glorious debut novel is spiked with witty dialogue and jostling with gleeful, zesty characters.

The year is 1937 and Andorra Kelsey – 7’11 and just over 320 pounds – is on her way to Hollywood to become a star. Hoping to escape both poverty and the ghost of her dead husband, she accepts an offer from the wily Rutherford Simone to star in a movie about the life of Anna Swan, the Nova Scotia giantess who toured the world in the 19th century.

Told in parallel, Anna Swan’s story unfurls. While Andorra is seen as a disgrace by an embarrassed family, Anna Swan is quickly celebrated for her unique size. Drawn to New York, Anna becomes a famed attraction at P.T. Barnum’s American Museum even as she falls in love with Gavin Clarke, a veteran of the Civil War. Quickly disenchanted with a life of fame, Anna struggles to prove to Gavin – and the world – that she is more than the sum of her measurements.
Both meticulously researched and resounding with the force of myth, Joel Fishbane’s The Thunder of Giants blends fact and fiction in a sweeping narrative that spans nearly a hundred years. Against the backdrop of epic events, two extraordinary women become reluctant celebrities in the hopes of surviving a world too small to contain them.

Three generations of women

Secrets in the present and from the past

A captivating tale of life, loss, and love…
Neva Bradley, a third-generation midwife, is determined to keep the details surrounding her own pregnancy-including the identity of the baby’s father- hidden from her family and co-workers for as long as possible. Her mother, Grace, finds it impossible to let this secret rest. The more Grace prods, the tighter Neva holds to her story, and the more the lifelong differences between private, quiet Neva and open, gregarious Grace strain their relationship. For Floss, Neva’s grandmother and a retired midwife, Neva’s situation thrusts her back sixty years in time to a secret that eerily mirrors her granddaughter’s-one which, if revealed, will have life-changing consequences for them all. As Neva’s pregnancy progresses and speculation makes it harder and harder to conceal the truth, Floss wonders if hiding her own truth is ultimately more harmful than telling it. Will these women reveal their secrets and deal with the inevitable consequences? Or are some secrets best kept hidden?

This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn’t always work– not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven’t applied to college.

Billy’s life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another’s mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie’s. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by creative acts of the soul.

With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.

Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is–Billy doesn’t trust happiness. It’s the age he’s at. The tragic age.
Stephen Metcalfe’s brilliant, debut coming-of-age novel, The Tragic Age, will teach you to learn to love, trust and truly be alive in an absurd world.

Emmaline Nelson and her sister Birdie grow up in the hard, cold rural Lutheran world of strict parents, strict milking times, and strict morals. Marriage is preordained, the groom practically predestined. Though it’s 1958, southern Minnesota did not see changing roles for women on the horizon. Caught in a time bubble between a world war and the ferment of the 1960’s, Emmy doesn’t see that she has any say in her life, any choices at all. Only when Emmy’s fiancé shows his true colors and forces himself on her does she find the courage to act–falling instead for a forbidden Catholic boy, a boy whose family seems warm and encouraging after the sere Nelson farm life. Not only moving to town and breaking free from her engagement but getting a job on the local newspaper begins to open Emmy’s eyes. She discovers that the KKK is not only active in the Midwest but that her family is involved, and her sense of the firm rules she grew up under–and their effect–changes completely. Amy Scheibe’s A FIREPROOF HOME FOR THE BRIDE has the charm of detail that will drop readers into its time and place: the home economics class lecture on cuts of meat, the group date to the diner, the small-town movie theater popcorn for a penny. It also has a love story–the wrong love giving way to the right–and most of all the pull of a great main character whose self-discovery sweeps the plot forward.

A computer-hacking teen. The girl who wants to save him. And a rogue mirror reflection that might be the death of them both.

In private, seventeen-year-old Brandon hacks bank accounts just for the thrill of it. In public, he looks like any other tattooed bad boy with a fast car and devil-may-care attitude. He should know: he’s worked hard to maintain that façade. With inattentive parents who move constantly from city to city, he’s learned not to get tangled up in things like friends and relationships. So he’ll just keep living like a machine, all gears and wires.

Then two things shatter his carefully-built image: Emma, the kind, stubborn girl who insists on looking beneath the surface – and the small matter of a mirror reflection that starts moving by itself. Not only does Brandon’s reflection have a mind of its own, but it seems to be grooming him for something–washing the dye from his hair, yanking out his piercings, swapping his black shirts for … pastels. Then it tells him: it thinks it can live his life better, and it’s preparing to trade places.

And when it pulls Brandon through the looking-glass, not only will he need all his ill-gotten hacking skills to escape, but he’s going to have to face some hard truths about who he’s become. Otherwise he’ll be stuck in a digital hell until he’s old and gray, and Emma and his parents won’t even know he’s gone.

Huffington Post lists N. K. Traver’s Duplicity as part of one of the great YA book trends to look for in 2015 –don’t miss it!

Gail. Hannah. Bridget. Lizzy. Flavia. Each of them has a shameful secret, and each is about to find out that she is not alone… Gail, a prominent Boston judge, keeps receiving letters from her husband’s latest girlfriend, while her husband, a theology professor, claims he’s nine-months sober from sex with grad students. Hannah, a homemaker, catches her husband having sex with a male prostitute in a public restroom. Bridget, a psychiatric nurse at a state hospital, is sure she has a loving, doting spouse, until she learns that he is addicted to chat rooms and match-making websites. Lizzy, a high school teacher, is married to a porn addict, who is withdrawn and uninterested in sex with her. Flavia was working at the Boston Public library when someone brought her an article that stated her husband had been arrested for groping a teenage girl on the subway. He must face court, and Flavia must decide if she wants to stay with him. Finally, Kathryn, the young psychologist running the group, has as much at stake as all of the others.

As the women share never-before-uttered secrets and bond over painful truths, they work on coming to terms with their husbands’ addictions and developing healthy boundaries for themselves. Meanwhile, their outside lives become more and more intertwined, until, finally, a series of events forces each woman to face her own denial, betrayal and uncertain future head-on.

From author Sylvia True comes The Wednesday Group, a captivating, moving novel about friendship, marriage, and the bonds that connect us all.

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