| By Thorndike Staff |
Fresh Reads for Spring!
Spring into reading with two buzzy debuts, a modern Agatha Christie, and a novel that focuses on the 1990s unrest in Northern Ireland. Spring is a time for rebirth and new beginnings, and Thorndike’s April offerings include two highly anticipated debut novels. In Shelley Read’s Go as a River, Victoria Nash copes with tragedy by starting a new life in the wilderness, while Alex, a young writer, discovers her dream writer’s retreat may turn out to be a nightmare in Julia Bartz’ The Writing Retreat. Other spring highlights include mystery and suspense unfolding in Janice Hallett’s The Twyford Code, where an author’s disappearance may be tied to a secret code embedded in her books. The turbulent 1990s in Northern Ireland is the setting for Factory Girls by Michelle Gallen. Maeve Murray dreams of leaving the violence in her hometown for a glamorous life in London. Maeve takes a job in a shirt factory where she finds herself having to fight for the rights of her fellow workers. All of these titles are great ways to start the spring season!
Go as a River by Shelley Read
Kirkus Starred Review
Set amid Colorado’s wild beauty, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story of a resilient young woman whose life is changed forever by one chance encounter. Seventeen-year-old Victoria Nash runs the household on her family’s peach farm in the small ranch town of Iola, Colorado—the sole surviving female in a family of troubled men. Wilson Moon is a young drifter with a mysterious past, displaced from his tribal land and determined to live as he chooses. Victoria encounters Wil by chance on a street corner, a meeting that profoundly alters both of their young lives, unknowingly igniting as much passion as danger. When tragedy strikes, Victoria leaves the only life she has ever known. She flees into the surrounding mountains where she struggles to survive in the wilderness with no clear notion of what her future will bring. As the seasons change, she also charts the changes in herself, finding in the beautiful but harsh landscape the meaning and strength to move forward and rebuild all that she has lost, even as the Gunnison River threatens to submerge her homeland—its ranches, farms, and the beloved peach orchard that has been in her family for generations.
Inspired by true events surrounding the destruction of the town of Iola in the 1960s, Go as a River is a story of deeply held love in the face of hardship and loss, but also of finding hope.
The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz
Instant New York Times Bestseller
Two Starred Reviews
The Plot meets Please Join Us in this psychological suspense debut about a young author at an exclusive writer’s retreat that descends into a nightmare. Alex has all but given up on her dreams of becoming a published author when she receives a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: attend an exclusive, month-long writing retreat at the estate of feminist horror writer Roza Vallo. Even the knowledge that Wren, her former best friend and current rival, is attending doesn’t dampen her excitement. But when the attendees arrive, Roza drops a bombshell—they must all complete an entire novel from scratch during the next month, and the author of the best one will receive a life-changing seven-figure publishing deal. Determined to win this seemingly impossible contest, Alex buckles down and tries to ignore the strange happenings at the estate, including Roza’s erratic behavior, Wren’s cruel mind games, and the alleged haunting of the mansion itself. But when one of the writers vanishes during a snowstorm, Alex realizes that something very sinister is afoot. With the clock running out, she must discover the truth—or suffer the same fate. A claustrophobic and propulsive thriller exploring the dark side of female relationships and fame, The Writing Retreat is the unputdownable debut novel from a compelling new talent.
The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett
Two Starred Reviews
Modern-day Agatha Christie!
The mysterious connection between a teacher’s disappearance and an unsolved code in a children’s book is explored in this new novel from the “modern Agatha Christie” (The Sunday Times, London) and author of The Appeal. Forty years ago, Steven “Smithy” Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. When he showed it to his remedial English teacher Miss Iles, she believed that it was part of a secret code that ran through all of Twyford’s novels. And when she later disappeared on a class field trip, Smithy becomes convinced that she had been right. Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Smithy decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades. In a series of voice recordings on an old iPhone, Smithy alternates between visiting the people of his childhood and looking back on the events that later landed him in prison. But it soon becomes clear that Edith Twyford wasn’t just a writer of forgotten children’s stories. The Twyford Code holds a great secret, and Smithy may just have the key.
Factory Girls by Michelle Gallen
Three Starred Reviews
A funny, fierce, and unforgettable read about a young woman working a summer job in a shirt factory in Northern Ireland, while tensions rise both inside and outside the factory walls. It’s the summer of 1994, and all smart-mouthed Maeve Murray wants are good final exam results so she can earn her ticket out of the wee Northern Irish town she has grown up in during the Troubles. She hopes she will soon be in London studying journalism—away from her crowded home, the silence and sadness surrounding her sister’s death, and most of all, away from the violence of her divided community. As a first step, Maeve’s taken a job in a shirt factory working alongside Protestants with her best friends. But getting the right exam results is only part of Maeve’s problem—she’s got to survive a tit-for-tat paramilitary campaign, iron 100 shirts an hour all day every day, and deal with the attentions of Handy Andy Strawbridge, her slick and untrustworthy English boss. Then, as the British loyalist marching season raises tensions among the Catholic and Protestant workforce, Maeve realizes something is going on behind the scenes at the factory. What seems to be a great opportunity to earn money turns out to be a crucible in which Maeve faces the test of a lifetime. Seeking justice for herself and her fellow workers may just be Maeve’s one-way ticket out of town. Bitingly hilarious, clear-eyed, and steeped in the vernacular of its time and place, Factory Girls tackles questions of wealth and power, religion and nationalism, and how young women maintain hope for themselves and the future during divided, violent times. Gallen’s prior novel, Big Girl, Small Town, has been optioned for a television series.
Tamara Butler is an acquisitions editor with over 20 years prior experience in public and academic libraries. She has a master’s degree in library science from the University of Buffalo and a Master of Fine Arts in writing from Lindenwood University. When not checking out the latest Southern gothic novels, Tamara loves to spend time on New England beaches and hang out with her two energetic beagles.