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?

August 1, 2015

July 2015 Reads

34 Bream Gives Me Hiccups Jesse Eisenberg
35 My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry Fredrik Backman
36 This Raging Light Estelle Laure
37 The Invention of Wings Sue Monk Kidd
38 The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs Matthew Dicks
39 Pretty Girls Karin Slaughter
40 The Cartel Don Win
41 A Man Called Ove Fredrik Backman
42 Your Heart Is A Muscle The Size of A Fist Sunil Yapa

I read two books this month by Swedish author Fredrik Backman.  I read his second book first, that's how I found him.  I picked up My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry and couldn't put it down.  It's a charming story about a seven-year-old who is tasked to deliver missives to her neighbors, after her passes away.  Elsa is "different", and her grandmother was "crazy", (not my words).   Grandmother was her only friend and they survived by believing if fairytales, which managed to come true.  Backman tells wonderful tales.

Backman's debut novel is A Man Called Ove.  This is another can't put down novel.  Ove is not happy, he's a lonely widower, who feels his life is empty and he wants nothing more that to join his wonderful wife, whom he was very sure he never deserved.  But, life keeps getting in the way, despite his best intentions to do himself away, there seems to always be one more thing, person or cat that needs his attention.  I'd recommend reading this one first, only because that's the order they were written.  I'm like that.

I read everything, and I like to read YA, occasionally.  This month's YA is This Raging Light.  I really think it's mislabeled as YA, anyone can relate to this tale.  Here's a quote from the publisher, "Her dad went crazy. Her mom left town. She has bills to pay and a little sister to look after. Now is not the time for level-headed seventeen-year-old Lucille to fall in love. But love—messy, inconvenient love—is what she’s about to experience when she falls for Digby Jones, her best friend’s brother. With blazing longing that builds to a fever pitch, Estelle Laure’s soulful debut will keep readers hooked and hoping until the very last page."  Laure's writing is both powerful and lyrical.

Pretty Girls is a stand-alone phycological thriller.  Slaughter is a great author and she doesn't disappoint with this one.  Lots of twist and turns, hold on to your seat moments.  Well worth the ride.

I strongly loved and strongly hated Your Heart Is A Muscle The Size of A Fist.  I'm not being wishy-washy, here.  What did I love about this story?  First, I loved the great writing.  The story is about the protests in Seattle against the World Trade Organization.  It's told from all sides, the protesters, the politicians, and the policemen, a remarkable accomplishment.  What did I hate about the story?  I really hated Yapa's portrayal of police brutality and incompetence.  Perhaps Seattle police are that way, but I don't think so.  This bothered me because my late husband was LAPD for almost 30 years, and he was one of the good guys.   This is Yapa's debut novel, it'll be published in January.  Read it, and make up your own mind.

What are you reading?

July 5, 2015

June 2015 Reads

June 25 Our Souls at Night Kent Haruf
26 The Jesus Cow Michael Perry
27 Manana William Hjortsberg
28 After the Red Rain Barry Lyga
29 Kitchens of the Great Midwest J. Ryan Stradal
30 The Room Jonas Karlsson
31 Me and Earl and the Dying Girl Jesse Andrews
32 Twelve Days Alex Berenson
33 Everything, Everything Nicola Yoon

I'll read just about everything and anything.  I first requirement is good writing.  If a book is well written, I'll read it.  I read very little history, for this reason, few writers of history are good writers.  I just threw that last sentence in, I didn't read any history this month.

I did read three YA novels, After the Red Rain, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Everything, Everything.  They were all great.  I've read Barry Lyga previously and really enjoyed his writing.  After the Red Rain won't be released until next month, and I'd bet money that it'll be a movie.  As soon as I finished it, I sent to my daughter in NC, it's just her cup of tea, a powerful post-apocalyptic novel.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl was published a couple of weeks ago and has already been made into a movie.  It's actually a funny book and I'm looking forward to the movie, which won a prize at the Sundance Film festival.  Read the book, first!

I loved Everything, Everything.  I loved everything about it.  This was one of the Editors' Buzz books at the BEA in May.  It's a marvelous debut novel about a teen who is allergic to everything in the outside world.  She's been kept inside her home her entire life.  Of course, when she becomes enamored with the new boy next door, things change.  In spite of the potentially heavy subject matter, Yoon's writing is fresh and heartwarming.  It'll be released in September, put it on your list.

I have a list of "favorite" authors.  I read too much to just have a single favorite.  Kent Haruf is on this list.  This is his final book, and I'm so sad about his passing.   He writes about real people, the kind who might live next-door to you.   They live in Colorado in the North East portion, in a fictional county called Holt.  This book, Our Souls at Night, deals with two long-time neighbors who have lost their spouses.  This quote is from the publisher and sums up nicely how I feel, "Their brave adventures—their pleasures and their difficulties—are hugely involving and truly resonant, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature."

John Wells is one of my favorite fictional characters.  Twelve Days is Berenson's' ninth novel featuring John Wells and I'm not tired of him, yet.  I have stop reading series when an author has created a great character, but the stories become redundant.  Wells is a complex man who went deep undercover in the Middle East, after 9/11.  He converted to Islam.  He penetrated al Qaeda, he passed.  He's CIA.  Now, he's retired but has been drawn back to the chase.  If you haven't read this series, I recommend you start at the beginning with The Faithfull Spy.

The Jesus Cow by Perry is his debut fiction; his other books have been memoirs.  I can't review this better than the NY Times, so heren's another quote.  "bestselling humorist Michael Perry makes his fiction debut with this hilarious and big-hearted tale, a comic yet sincere exploration of faith and the foibles of modern life that blends the barbed charm of Garrison Keillor, the irreverent humor of Christopher Moore, and the audacious insight of Chuck Klosterman."

The Room by Karlsson is a debut original.  Karlsson is a "Swedish actor and playwright Karlsson’s short novel offers a monologue that builds from simple office satire to a reality-bending psychological profile with insights into the nature and importance of personal space." -- PW.  I really enjoyed reading The Room, it was very visual and I can see it as a film, too.

What are you reading?