November 11, 2015

October 2015 Reads

This is a good team to be on!

Oct 56 A Little Life Hanya Yanagihara
57 Orbiting Jupiter Gary D. Schmidt
58 The Killing Kind Chris Holm
59 Scrapper Matt Bell
60 Gonzo Girl Cheryl Della Pietra
61 The Tears of Dark Water Corban Addison
62 Shoot the Woman First Wallace Stroby
63 I Saw a Man Owen Sheers
64 Those We Left Behind Stewart Neville
65 Shovel Ready Adam Sternbergh
66 We Never Asked for Wings Vanessa Diffenbaugh

What a great month of reading I had.  I have two favorites, I couldn't choose just one,  The first is The Tears of Dark Water by Corban Addison.  There are six main characters in this tale about an around the world sailing trip undertaken by a father trying to "save" his troubled son.  The others are the wife and mother who waits at home, an FBI hostage negotiator, a Somali pirate and kidnapper, and the lawyer who defends the Somali.  Each character is skillfully developed by having chapters dedicated to him/her.  The story is visual and engrossing, and I came away with a better understanding of the elements that went into this story.  I haven't read Addison prior to this, but if this book is any indication of his talent, I'll be reading his other books.

My other favorite is We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh.  I was already a fan of hers after devouring The Language of Flowers in 2011.  Diffenbaugh blends her beautiful writing with the themes of motherhood, undocumented immigration, and the American Dream in this powerful story about family.  Letty, the mom, works three jobs to support her children and parents, leaving all the "parenting" to her mom and dad.  After 14 years, Letty needs to "step up to the plate" parent-wise, when her parents decide to return to Mexico.  Like all parents, Letty makes mistakes, a lot of them, but she's driven by love and wanting to offer her children the best.  This is a great read.

Orbiting Jupiter is another family tale, this one written for 12-17 years old.  (I read everything; I just insist on good writing.)  Joseph has been "in the system" for awhile and finally finds a great foster home.  He has a backstory that includes fathering a child, Jupiter, at 13; and an abusive, manipulating father, but his goal is to find his child, who has also entered the foster care system, and he isn't allowed to see her.  His new foster brother, Jack, is 12 and narrates this tale.  The two boys discover the true meaning of family and the sacrifices it might require.

The Killing Kind by Chris Holm awakened my love of hitmen!  Keller by Lawernce Block has been my favorite for many years.  Now, enter Hendricks!  He only takes contracts on other hitmen!  What a guy.  If there's a contract out on you, Hendricks will offer to hit the hitman for ten times the price on your head.  What a deal.  You get to live and the hitman goes away.  Of course, organized crime isn't too happy about losing their contracted killers, and they hire someone to take out our anti-hero.  This is a good, fun read!  Really.

If you're looking for a dark tale read Scrapper by Matt Bell.  It reminded me of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. It's equal parts dystopian novel, psychological thriller, literary fiction and takes place in the Motor City,  What more could you ask for?

What are you reading?

October 18, 2015

September 2015 Reads

Sept. 49 Girl Waits With Gun Amy Stewart
50 Make your home among strangers Jennine Capo Crucet
51 Fishbowl Bradley Somer
52 Reykjavik Nights Arnaldur Indridason
53 A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding Jackie Copleton
54 The Drafter Kim Harrison
55 Kings of Midnight Wallace Stroby

Better late than never, I say!  I won't bore you with the reasons.

September was a very good month for reading.  This is Amy Stewart's debut novel, and a fine one it is!  Girl Waits With Gun is historical fiction at it's finest; the story is based on the history of one of the first female sheriff deputies in.America. This is a quote from Bustle, "Amy Stewart recreates one of the world's first female deputy sheriffs, set in the early 1900s, and you will be cheering Constance Kopp on through every page. The race to catch a murderer is thrilling in itself, but the powerful woman driving the book is what will really keep readers turning pages!"

Fishbowl is a very unusual read and it is delightful.  In the seconds it takes Ian the goldfish to jump from his fishbowl, on the 27th-floor balcony, and arrive at street level, readers glimpse the lives of the denizens the apartment building with all their foibles and dilemmas.  This really is a fun read, Somers has enormous affection and empathy for his cast of all-too-human characters.

I read Reykjavik Nights because I've enjoyed all the other Scandinavian authors I've tried.  My favorite is Henning Mankell and Arnaldur Indridason is equal in my mind.  I haven't read him previously, but this is a prequel to a long series, so I started with the right book!  The story is about a beat cop, who investigates a death on his own time.  The deceased is a homeless man whom everyone is willing to write-off, in order to not waste any time on him.  This is a great who-done-it, and I'm looking forward to reading more about Inspector Erlendur.

This is the first time I've read Kim Harrison.  I liked the premise of the novel and consulted with my daughter Carrie, who reads a lot of fantasy novels, before committing to The Drafter.  This is the first of a trilogy and I really liked it.  Apparently, this is very different from Harrison's other works, but good writing always comes through.  The year is 2030 and Detroit has been reborn. Among it’s many residents there lives a group of secret agents working for a covert government agency. The most elite of Opti’s agents are known as Drafters. Drafters can go back in time to change the outcome of an event. Anchors help to keep them sane. Peri Reed is the best of the best, and when she finds out there is a list of corrupt Opti agents with her name on it, she is determined to find out the truth.

The last book I'm recommending this month is Kings of Midnight.  I'm hooked on the Crissa Stone series and this installment was great!  Here's a quote about the book, that should sell you on reading the series: “[The] power lies in Wallace Stroby's uncannily exact imagery, precise language, and narrative credibility . . . There's not a word out of place, no detail that isn't essential to the story . . . Stroby has risen to the top of his field.” —Los Angeles Review of Books

What are you reading?

September 7, 2015

August 2015 Reads

Aug 43 Cold Shot To The Heart Wallace Stroby
44 Songs Only You Know Sean Madigan Hoen
45 The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs Matthew Dicks
46 The Truth According to Us Annie Barrows
47 The Gap of Time Jeanette Winterson
48 The Last Bus to Wisdom Ivan Doig

I have two favorites on this list, so I'll start with them.  The first is The Last Bus to Wisdom, it's Ivan Doig's final novel.  I'm a huge fan of his and this story did not disappoint.  The central character is Donal, no final d!  He's being raised by his grandmother, a cook on a ranch in Montana.  Gram is facing surgery and ships him to her sister in Wisconsin.  Sister Kate is the opposite of Gram and soon ships Donal back to Montana, with no one there for him.  But her much-abused husband gets on the bus, too, and a great 1950's road trip ensues.  This is such a terrific story,  Doig passed away in April.  If you haven't read his work, just get started.  They are all wonderful.

My other favorite is The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows.  Truthfully, I didn't expect much from this book.  Barrows mainly writes for kids.  When her Aunt Mary Ann was dying she pitched in and helped her finish her novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.  I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I bought the book.  I'm happy to report that I was mistaken; this is a terrific novel.  It's warm-hearted, Southern, smart and delightful.  Layla is a young woman in exile after refusing to marry the man chosen by her father, a U.S. Senator.  Dad isn't heartless, just furious.  He sets her up with a job writing the history of a small town in West Virginia, for the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program.  Quite a come-down for a Washington socialite!  This is a wonderful story and I'm sure you'll love it.

BTW, I and several other booksellers were lucky enough to have lunch with Annie Barrows, in August of '08.  Here's a snapshot I took of her.

What are you reading?