Good Reads for Cold Days

The fall leading into the holiday season is always a good time for new fiction releases for the readers on your gift list.  Or hopefully, you have a little vacation time left at the end of the year to provide some time to catch up on your own reading!  Here are six new novels that have been well received.


A debut novel by Lydia Keisling, The Golden State, explores the pressures of modern life as well as class and cultural divisions.  A mother, Daphne, is experiencing high anxiety and decides to leave San Francisco for a simpler life (she hopes) in the desert environs of Altavista where her parents have left her a mobile home.  She has a toddler in tow. Her Turkish husband has been unable to return to the USA because of visa- processing issues. She meets colorful characters in Altavista, but colorful doesn’t necessarily mean stable and well-meaning.  The book blends humor with insightful commentary on the struggles of our nation in a macro-sense as well as the beauty and challenges of motherhood on the micro-level.


After seven years, author Gary Shteyngart returns with Lake Success.  It follows another person who leaves one life in pursuit of another – this time in the form of a hedge fund manager who leaves his career (and family) in search of a former love.  Always a dangerous proposition with little chance of success and possibilities for disaster that could fill a lake! The novel follows both husband and his abandoned wife in New York as they pursue new lives and relationships.


She Would Be King is an ambitious debut novel by Wayetu Moore that follows the history of Liberia paralleled with three characters whose lives intertwine in what will become the city of Monrovia – the eventual capital of Liberia.  The themes are not light as colonial abuse of women and people owned as chattel, bigotry, violence, and institutional racism are all explored.


A fourth novel this season also delves into historical fiction.  Transcription by Kate Atkinson (known for her novels Life After Life and A God In Ruins) focus on a young woman who is recruited to work with the British spy agency MI5 during World War II.  After she gets through her dangerous and intense ordeals during the global conflict, she starts life post-war working on a children’s radio program.  But someone seems to know about her past life with the MI5 and is not ready to let go of the war.

Set against a more recent war, Waiting for Eden by Elliott Ackerman is a National Book Award Finalist.  Its title character is injured in an explosion driving a Humvee in Iraq.  As Eden lies in a hospital bed in San Antonio, Texas, lingering between life and death, the novel is narrated by a fellow soldier who had died in the same explosion.  The uniquely structured novel culminates on Christmas Day when Eden begins to regain consciousness after an extended coma.


We’ll round out the list of suggested novels with one by a master of the form, Barbara Kingsolver.  In Unsheltered, Ms. Kingsolver follows two timelines.  The first is near current times and tells the story of a woman named Willa Knox who inherits an old home in disrepair.  The second plot takes place circa-1880 and highlights the plight of a science teacher named Thatcher Greenwood who once lived in the house that Willa has inherited.  Greenwood was a 19th-century pioneer who was caught up in the societal battles about whether or not to teach Darwin’s theory of evolution in schools.  In Barbara Kingsolver’s hands, the two stories promise to mesh into a compelling novel.

Now that the autumn weather is deeply upon us, light a fire in the hearth and curl up with one of these interesting new reads or any great book!  And when you’re ready to turn the page and find a new home, we’re always ready to help!


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Penfield is a lively town, located on the southern tip of Irondequoit Bay and just outside of the City of Rochester. Follow this blog to discover more of what our town has to offer; from great local businesses to awesome events, we'll cover it all!

Courtney Dudek Licensed Real Estate Salesperson


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