While marketed towards teenagers and young adults, this mystery/thriller has much of the charm of an Agatha Christie selection, mixed with elements of Ian Fleming. The details of place are excellent and are coupled with a unique protagonist making this selection one that cannot be put down. A must read for fans of Anthony Horowitz, Karen McManus, and Charlie Higson.
If We Were Villains
A debut novel which harkens back to the first volume released by Donna Tartt, The Secret History, in more ways than one. Readers are introduced to Oliver as he prepares to end a decade in prison and are then quickly shunted to Dellecher Classical Conservatory, at which he and his classmates toil over Shakespeare and other canonical plays in their final year studying theater. Pieces are quickly filled in as to why Oliver ended up in prison and how his life, and those of his friends, changed so abruptly. Rio’s characters can, at times, have a Breakfast Club feel to them, but are much deeper and well formed. I adored this book from the moment i picked it up - truly a must read!
I find it impossible to be in anything but a good mood when reading Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Wooster series, which chronicles the mishaps of Bertie Wooster, a wealthy, well-meaning, wastrel, and his valet, Jeeves. This collection has some of the wittiest and most fun filled shorts from the cannon. A must read for anyone who enjoys 1920s Great Britain, humor, and engaging stories suitable for one sitting.
What She Ate
I've long been a fan of Laura Shapiro's food histories and her latest work does not disappoint. What She Ate is an illuminating and fascinating glimpse into the lives of six very different women - including one of my favorite novelists - using the food they cooked and are as the framework to tell their stories. It's a book I wish I had written, if just for the joy of it's research.
Salt to the Sea
Salt to the Sea tells the story of the largest maritime disaster you've likely never heard of. It's a novel of historical fiction, told in multiple first-person narratives, giving it a haunting quality of many voices and verses of the same song.
It's the winter of 1945 and millions of people from thousands of little towns and villages in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, and East Prussia are fleeting from the advancing Russian troops. Children, mothers, old people, sick ones, on foot, trains, horse-drawn carts and bicycles, are making their way to the last evacuation points on the coast of the Baltic Sea. Boarding the Wilhelm Gustloff, they hope for rescue on a ship to safety. In a tragedy of unimaginable scale, the ship is torpedoed by the Russians... She sinks taking an estimated 9,000 people with her to the bottom of the frigid Baltic Sea off the coast of Poland.
Ruta Sepetys tells this story of courage and hope alongside cruelty and despair, through the eyes of four young people from different countries. It's a powerfully crafted tale of a tragedy six times deadlier than the Titanic.
As elegant and artful as snow, Spinning Silver weaves familiar fairy tales into a tapestry of fur and fire’s warmth and winter’s bite. At once a story of the power of will and women, and the dangers of money, greed, and the supernatural, Naomi Novik’s latest book is a delight that draws you in and holds you fast.
At first, I didn’t know how to put into words how I feel about Circe. Now, I know that I adore it. In some of the smoothest, most silken prose, Miller weaves together Greek myths and legends into a single sinuous tapestry of a woman who grows from child to witch through trauma and torment, bearing witness to the might, magic, and majesty of the mortal and divine. What truly makes this a wonderful book is that it not only witnesses it all, it shows Circe’s imperfections as well. She is amazing in her growth, her emotion, and her ability to be flawed. I loved this story for so many reasons, but most of all because it was about a person who felt real, and that made every page as magical as the myths within them.
Seraphina’s tale is one of tragedy, brilliance, and the absolute magic of music and emotion. The princess’ new music instructor, Seraphina, is new to the court of a kingdom still wrathful over a war with the neighboring dragons. As intrigue, assassination, and secrets grow like weeds, she’s drawn ever deeper into a mess of politics she’d rather have absolutely nothing to do with.
Seraphina is pure gold. Heartfelt, emotional, and smart; Seraphina reaches out and fills you with joyous excitement and the thrill of fear, meanwhile pulling off an at once satisfying and intriguing conclusion. Even more, it is a unique and fascinating take on the oft trod mythology of dragons, while still focusing on a genuinely intelligent, clever, and skillful character that will keep you cheering every step of the way.
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating Elisabeth Tova Bailey
A woman with a debilitating infection so extreme that she can hardly turn onto one side without experiencing excruciating pain is gifted a pet snail. The snail, likely the only pet she could care for in her state, becomes the focus of her attention. What follows is approximately two-hundred pages of the narrator’s bed ridden meditations mixed with scientific tidbits about snails. This book was gifted to me by a stranger when I was in a chaotic state, and I really needed the motivation to sit still enough and be quiet enough to hear the sound of a wild snail eating.
Homesick for Another World
When I read the first short story in this collection, “Bettering Myself,” I got to the end and didn't want to read the next story, because I didn't think it would be possible to connect with a character more than I already had. Yet, when I read “Mr. Wu,” I loved him just as much, and again, didn't think it was possible for Moshfegh to keep it up. But every story was like that, up to the very last one, “A Better Place,” which took on a completely different kind of homesick for a completely different kind of world. I loved every place Moshfegh created and I felt for every character. This is a new favorite for sure, and I can’t wait to read her new novel “My Year of Rest and Relaxation.”
Form of a Question
A graphic novel memoir by the five time Jeopardy! Champion, Andrew Rostan, who, along his journey to success on the show, experienced a range of losses in his life. Rostan’s story is a must-read for a fan of the world’s most popular game show, or anyone with a boundless sense of curiosity.
Finished this book in one sitting... It’s like the Turing test premise of Ex Machina, but with characters from a Raymond Carver short story. Foe was pretending to be about a lot of things - break ups, philosophical conundrums, “big brother” always watching - until I got to the end and realized I was a total sucker for my own perceived reality, and the story I’d bought into for 200 pages changed so drastically, even the title seemed dubious.
Reid’s other book, I’m Thinking of Ending Things, will be made into a movie directed by Charlie Kaufman (that weirdo behind Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind).
Sugarcane farmers and fishermen in the Florida Keys who speak Pidgin (but recite old poetry perfectly and sing along to Jimi Hendrix on an old radio) live in houses of dirt floors furnished with old automobile parts -- they sit on car seats and hang steering wheels on the wall for decoration. It's hard to say what's going on until you read it. This is a beautiful nightmare of a post nuclear apocalypse salvaged only by music (a clarinet and a ten million dollar music lesson, to be exact). It's funny the way Tortilla Flat is funny -- tragically. This book is for anyone able to admit they're at least a little afraid of human extinction.
My favorite collection of very short fiction. The stories are a little painful, but mostly ridiculous.