Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Wish List Wednesday: May

This weekend, the summer blockbuster season kicks off with the highly anticipated Avengers: Age of Ultron invading theaters. A few weeks after that, the new Mad Max will blast into the multiplex and the parade of big-budget films continues through August. But for the book world, May is also a blockbuster month, complete with some of the year's most-anticipated titles. On May 5 alone, dozens of frontlist and backlist books will enter the marketplace. Here are five to look out for in May.

Church of Marvels by Leslie Parry
(May 5, Ecco)
Available in hardcover, ebook and audio

The first novel from Leslie Parry, Church of Marvels is a historical mystery set in the fading years of 19th century New York. Part of the Coney Island set of attractions, the Church of Marvels sideshow draws crowds daily. But one day, it is burned to the ground, killing the matriarch. Making matters worse, the show's starlet goes missing, forcing her sister to begin a desperate search to find her. Complicating things further is a woman trapped in an asylum. The novel, one of several darker books in this month's assortment, scored a spot on the Indie Next list.

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
(May 5, Little, Brown)
Available in hardcover, ebook and audio

Kate Atkinson's 2013 novel Life After Life was a smash hit. Now, Atkinson returns to that book's world with a companion novel centering on Teddy, the brother of Life After Life's protagonist Ursula Todd. Teddy lives through most of the 20th century and plays a role in historic events like World War II, where he serves in the RAF as a bomber. Of all the books coming out this month, A God in Ruins may be the most anticipated by literary fans, no doubt helped by the success of Life After Life. Kirkus, Booklist and Publishers Weekly gave the novel starred reviews.

The Wright Brothers by David McCullough
(May 5, Simon & Schuster)
Available in hardcover, ebook and audio

Whenever historian David McCullough announces a new book, it immediately grabs people's attention. After a long line of bestsellers like The Johnstown Flood, John Adams, Truman and 1776, McCullough turns his attention to the aviation pioneering Wright Brothers. The book will trace the lives of the two brothers in McCullough's plainspoken but thorough style. Tom Hanks' production company has already picked up the television rights in the hopes of making it a HBO miniseries, similar to what they did with John Adams. Audiobook readers will have the added bonus of McCullough himself narrating the text. Booklist and Library Journal gave the book starred reviews.

Girl at War by Sara Novic
(May 12, Random House)
Available in hardcover, ebook and audio

The second debut on this list, Girl at War has been described as a coming of age tale amid the Balkan conflict of the early 1990s. Ten years after the war, the novel's heroine Ana has escaped to New York but soon returns to her native land in an attempt to reconnect with her roots and what was lost during the conflict. Like Church of Marvels, Novic's book also landed a spot on the Indie Next list. Random House is likening Novic to Anthony Doerr, the writer behind the brilliant All the Light We Cannot See. In addition to being on the Indie Next list, the novel earned a starred recommendation from Booklist.

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
(May 26, Knopf)
Available in hardcover, ebook and audio

The Water Knife is a thriller that uses the current drought in the American Southwest as a springboard to a terribly realistic and dystopian future. The titular "water knife" Angel ensures his boss' rich Las Vegas developments thrive while poorer communities in Phoenix and elsewhere thirst. But when the Golden State makes a power play for more water, it's a race against time for Angel as desperate groups resort to violent means to ensure the water keeps flowing. Bacigalupi previously wrote The Windup Girl, which was well received in the literary world (it's being released in paperback a few weeks prior to Knife's publication). The Water Knife also received a starred review from Library Journal and Publisher's Weekly.

Notable books coming out in paperback include Mariano Rivera's terrific The Closer (May 5), Fredrik Backman's A Man Called Ove (May 5), Sue Monk Kidd's smash hit The Invention of Wings (May 5), Celeste Ng's Everything I Never Told You (May 12) and Hampton Sides' Arctic adventure In the Kingdom of Ice (May 26).

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