THE DELUGE by Stephen Markley is controversial, compelling, terrifying, sweet, kind, political, funny -- in short, a remarkable novel. An epic look at climate change and its horrifying results is shown in political meetings in rooms full of dark and disturbing discussions as well as Hollywood style action set pieces, seen through the eyes of scientists, eco-terrorists, politicians, drug addicts, preachers, and marketing gurus. Each of them will be connected in some way to the powerful and charismatic Kate Morris, a woman on a mission to save the world. Often, this book is tough to read and its honesty and intent can be overwhelming, but Markley keeps all the balls in the air, juggling multiple plotlines and characters with an adeptness seldom seen in literary fiction of this sort. This is an extremely powerful book, and it will make you view our world (and our reckless capitalist systems) in a whole new way, offering some hope in the midst of all the terror and chaos.
THE LAST PARTY reads like a modern day Agatha Christie mystery -- a big house, a cast of colorful characters, two detectives fighting their feelings for each other, and a body in the lake following the big New Year's Eve party. What's fun is that while the investigation part with the detectives solving the case moves forward, alternating chapters move backward in time from the party until the summer, giving us a better look at the pasts of the diverse group of party attendees! It's a fun hook that works well with springing surprise after surprise on the reader. This one is a wonderful mystery full of Scottish character and filled to the brim with colorful suspects.
FOSTER is a new very short novella from author Claire Keegan, and it really sneaks up on you! It's the simple tale of a young Irish girl who is sent to live with an elderly couple on a farm while her mother gives birth to yet another baby. The writing is eloquent, and the characters are warm, and, oh that ending! Simply lovely and sublime.
THE CONFESSIONS OF MATTHEW STRONG is a racially-driven literary thriller about a brilliant black professor kidnapped by a white supremacist. We know at the beginning that she has been kidnapped, and then we flash back to the experiences leading up to the crime and the odd relationship she attains with her kidnapper. The story moves swiftly, and it is certainly exciting, but there's a lot under the surface dealing with the way America hides its dirty secrets and how we need to move forward on racial equality. This all seems far too close to truth in many ways than as fiction. This would be a good book club pick.
It's not often that a thriller works equally as well as a social critique/literary novel, but REPRIEVE embodies both beautifully. When somebody dies during a full contact haunted house escape room, we flash back to what brought these people together in one place -- a gay Thai college student, a young horror-obsessed African American woman, an angry, misogynistic white man, and a wealthy businessman as well as several others. Their back stories provide critical looks at America in our greatest time of greed and anger. Plus, it is a crackling great thriller, easing out clues until the reader knows the full story. This is a fantastic book, and it will not only leave you breathlessly turning pages but it will leave you thinking about it for weeks. Excellent!
DINOSAURS is the newest novel by Lydia Millet, and easily one of the best books of the year. Filled with gorgeous prose that sometimes demands to be read aloud, this is the story of a very wealthy man, emotionally stunted by the past, who buys a house. his neighbors own a place with an entire wall of glass, exposing them like fish in a bowl. Will our protagonist graduate from watching this family's life from afar to becoming a part of it? So much happens in a short novel, and the characters are vividly drawn as Millet parses out their backgrounds bit by bit. It is an astonishing feat and a breath-takingly great novel.
BOOK OF KNIVES by Lise Haines is both a terrifically creepy slow-burn of a ghost story as well as a twisty psychological suspense novel with a heaping side of mystery. Superbly entertaining and lots of fun, this spooky thriller kept me reading until late in the night. Fans of Jennifer McMahon or Sarah Waters will enjoy this one.
What a wonderful piece of speculative fiction this is! A mash up of Neal Stephenson and Jeff VanDerMeer, it tells the parallel stories of a scientist attempting to communicate with a deadly and intelligent form of octopus, a slave on a factory-run fishing vessel, and an assassin attempting to find his way into the brain of an AI. It all comes together beautifully and it's whip-smart, offering plenty of high concept theories to chew on. Not just a weird octopus book, this is sci-fi at a brilliantly executed level.
THE WHALEBONE THEATRE by Joanna Quinn is the kind of novel you get lost in for several dream-like days, only to emerge afterwards, blinking at reality, and wanting to go back to that world again. The story of three children who create a theater out of the skeleton of a beached whale on their English estate and how their theatricals made them into spies for the French Underground in WW2 is fantastically detailed, full of little imaginings that make this world so real. The writing is utterly gorgeous, with many quotable lines, but it never gets in the way of the story or the emotion...and get ready for a very emotional final 50 pages. It is utterly lovely and a near-perfect work of literature. Fans of THE NIGHTINGALE, THE GREAT CIRCLE, or ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE will adore this treasure. I cannot wait to recommend this book to everyone entering the store!
Really great, sweat inducing thriller that deals with race and class in a small town setting. Young girls have been going missing for years in Johnstown, Pa, and now another disappears fom a wedding. Legends of half human creatures abound, and the entire town has secrets in its past, many related to either racism or the flood. Those last 50 pages -- whew!
WE SPREAD is another goosebump inducing novel by Iain Reid, author of FOE, and it arrives just in time for Halloween. How much unease can a slim tome like this create? A lot! This beautifully creepy novel is both a literary horror novel as well as a critique of how society treats the elderly -- what is worth anything without productivity and usefulness? It's just terrific.
PEAKY BLINDERS meets DOWNTON ABBEY in this deliciously entertaining novel set in the Bohemian London of the 1920s. Criminals, nightclub dancers, prostitutes, writers, and the police intermingle with one of the biggest criminal families of the time period. I wish it had gone on longer.
Alexis Henderson's new novel is an erotic and Sapphic vampire tale that reads like The Handmaid's Tale meets Carmilla! When a desperate young woman is taken from the slums to the ornate and beautiful House of Hunger where she is to work as a 'Blood Maiden', feeding the woman who is head of the house. But not all is as it seems, and soon she is fighting for her life. This is a sexy, fun, and eerie read with tones of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Angela Carter. Alexis Henderson has proven herself to be an author to watch!
When a female police chief is accused of quid pro quo sexual harassment by several male colleagues, P.I. Clarice is on the case. She is a real character, and I loved reading about her life. This is a gripping legal thriller ripped from the headloes!
THE HOUSE IN THE ORCHARD is a twisting, turning tale that reads as if Ruth Rendell had written ATONEMENT instead of Ian McEwan. When a WWII widow inherits a house from a distant relative, her father-in-law warns her not to stay there, but she doesn't heed his advice. She discovers a diary penned by his sister, which relays the dark secrets of the house. The novel is suffused in melancholy and unease, and the climax is sudden and shattering. This is a very, very good novel, perfect for lovers of historical fiction and psychological suspense.
MR. WILDER AND ME by Jonathan Coe is a brilliant tribute to one of the greatest film directors who ever lived -- Billy Wilder (DOUBLE INDEMNITY, SOME LIKE IT HOT, WITNESS FOR THE PROSECUTION, STALAG 17, THE LOST WEEKEND, THE APARTMENT etc etc). When a young Greek woman becomes Iz Diamond (Wilder's co-writer) translator and assistant on one of his last movies, she witnesses Wilder's return to Germany after he left before WW2. This is a portrait of a man haunted by his past, a woman working through memories, and the importance of art in our lives. It's brilliantly constructed (one flashback is written as a screenplay) and Wilder is a fully-fleshed, flawed character. It's utterly wonderful in every way, and it's easily one of my favorite books of the year. Film fans will be enthralled, but new readers will read in delight and, hopefully, seek out the classic films of Billy Wilder.
I loved LESS, a modern take on PG Wodehouse, and this sequel (coming in A few months) is possibly even better! As our hero Arthur Less finds he is about to lose his home from back taxes, he sets off on a journey that will take him across America. He will come across a crazed theater group staging a musical version of his life story, a hippie commune and some dubious blueberries, a companionable Pug, a science fiction writer that may be America's Charles Dickens...and a plethora of delightful characters from the Midland. This is an affirmation of goodness in novel form, and it is hilarious, sweet, affectionate, and a balm to our country's more anger inducing state right now. The ending is absolutely perfect. I want more of Less!
THE BOOK OF GOOSE is a perfect novel, with each gem-like word selected with laser-like precision. It's a gorgeous examination of becoming an adult/ what it means to grow up, full of insights and humor and grace. Literally, a perfect novel. Fans of Anna Quindlen, Sue Monk Kidd, or A.S. Byatt will love this.
f you're looking for a terrific, very scary, and smart horror novel for Halloween this year, DAPHNE by Josh Malerman is a real doozy! Can a collective consciousness create a supernatural killer? Can our myths become reality through simply bringing them to the forefront of our minds? These are themes Wes Craven tackled, so it's not anything too new, but Malerman makes them fresh and scary. . . and Daphne is one hell of a scary villain!
What can I say? Another pitch perfect mystery novels from the Thursday Murder Club and Richard Osman. In this new novel, THE BULLET THAT MISSED, the whole gang is together to solve the possible murder of a TV news reporter, but there is so much more afoot than this one simple crime. The characters are delightful, and we get several new charming (and deadly) characters in this book. I was grinning the whole way through it! i am ready for number four, please.
This is a fun mystery set amidst the filming of a sequel to a huge horror movie hit--and a nasty hurricane. The pacing is swift and the plotting is assured, and I had a great time with this one. this could be a terrific recommendation for a Halloween read for mystery lovers.
THE GUEST HOUSE by Robin Morgan-Bentley features such an original plot idea and so many twists it is difficult to discuss without spoilers; just know I said "Oh my God!" aloud three different times while reading it. A couple wake up at a B & B with their cell phones and keys gone, and they've been locked inside the house, and the owners have disappeared, and the wife goes into labor, giving birth to their first child. I am zipping my lips about anything else. just know that, despite a few plot holes, this is a rollicking read that will have you flipping pages until the sun comes up in the morning. A real discovery, this is!
LESSONS is a spectacular, moving new novel from master Ian McEwan. Following in Marcel Proust's footsteps, he examines one man's life -- always affected by the trauma of sexual abuse as a child -- and how time and events define our place in the world. This is utterly beautiful as our protagonist lives through the fall of the Berlin Wall, marriage, children, art, music, and eventually Covid-19 and possible death. Nothing is simple or cut in black and white cloth; this is exceptional fiction and McEwan's best since ATONEMENT.
Andrea Barrett continues her examinations of humanity/family within the natural environment in her new collection of short stories, NATURAL HISTORY. I was blown away by the first story, and each continued to build upon the prior, with characters flitting in and out of the tales and themes dodged and picked up on. The final story ties the others together so beautifully and subtly that I had to immediately re-read it. This is a gorgeous collection and should be up for some prizes come the new year!
LEDGE is part steamy romance and part epic fantasy, and it meld the two genres quite well. It's fun, fast-paced, and sexy as all get-out. Sarah Moss meets The Hunger Games meets Barbarella!
THE MARRIAGE PORTRAIT is another triumph in historical fiction by Maggie O"Farrell. Telling the tale of a young member of the de Medici family, Lucrezia, who married Alfonso. As she awaits her own murder on a stormy night, she recalls her brief life. the historical detail is wonderful, but more than that, this is a highly-readable, suspenseful novel that gives us a peek into the Renaissance. People will fall in love with Lucrezia, and they will hold their breath in the final pages. fans of Lauren Groff will love this as well!
WINCHELSEA by Alex Preston is a swashbuckling adventure, set in the mid 1700s in the city that was the hub of the British smuggling business. A young woman (who always feels more comfortable in a man's costume and world) wreaks terrible vengeance upon the people who murdered her father, a thief and spy. Along with her adopted brother, an escaped slave from Africa, she becomes a pirate and smuggler, wooing local women and pillaging bloody terror everywhere. The book is a fascinating character study, an exciting revenge story, and an historical novel so full of historical details that you feel you can breathe the marsh air. For anyone who grew up on JAMAICA INN or the Disney tales of THE SCARECROW OF ROMNEY MARSH, this is a real treat! And to newcomers who just want a great character in a fully embodied historical world, this will be equally as wonderful. And I didn't even mention the exquisite writing!
In THE DECEPTIONS, Jill Bialosky wrestles with huge ideas and concepts -- the place of myth in modern day life; the usurpation of women's ideas by male appropriation; poetry and the importance of words; the evolving family life in a world where it's no longer as treasured; and even the role of art in our daily lives -- and the author pulls them into a highly original, compulsively readable book. A nameless poet has something terrible happen to her. Amidst her failing marriage, her son moving out to go to college, and the forthcoming publication of her new and very personal book of poetry, she navigates life while visiting the statues of the Roman and Greek gods in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The world of art and reality intermingle, and the actual statues are illustrated in the book with photographs. It's an intellectual and yet accessible work of literature, and it is one of the most original novels I have read in years.
Another delightful book from Taylor Jenkins Reid. I couldn't stop turning the pages until I finished, so this could possibly be her best book yet! It's like ROCKY meets KING RICHARD.
THE ART OF PROPHECY by Wesley Chu is, quite simply, my favorite fantasy novel this year, a clever mixture of wuxia and historical with wonderful bits of magic. It's enthralling and surprisingly funny. What happens when the prophesied chosen one who is to save the world from the Eternal Khan is an idiot and spoiled rotten? With well-drawn characters and exciting action sequences, this also features brilliant world-building. It is so entertaining, I found myself unable to leave the book aside. Perfection!
BABEL is a remarkable fantasy of the intellect; an epic fantasy that is more concerned with what happens within the minds of the characters than with the battles and fight scenes. In an imaginary Oxford, four young people are groomed for the translation department, learning about the politicization of translation. He who translates can control the wealth and minds of many, an intoxicating power. But when they learn how this harms the cultures from which they borrow the texts, they know they must stop the ruthless colonialization by Britain of the world. Fascinating and heady stuff, and it all works swimmingly. Thought-provoking and very well-written, this will surely appeal to readers of Susannah Clark and V.S. Schwab.
THE WILD HUNT is a spooky ghost story, speculative fiction, a beautiful love story, and an historical novel about the effects of WW2 on the survivors -- and it all works perfectly. This is a lovely book, sort of THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES meets THE BIRDS! It's entirely unique, and I didn't want it to end (although that ending is truly hopeful and heart-warming in all the best ways.) I adore this book.
Anthony Marra's new novel, MERCURY PICTURES PRESENTS is a fascinating emotional roller coaster. Set in the late 1030s and early 1940s, he follows several characters -- many refugees from war-town Europe-- who work at or around the fictional Mercury Pictures in Hollywood. Through their eyes, we witness the end of an era. An Italian woman navigates the halls of censorship under the Breen Commission. A Chinese American is frustrated playing evil yellow peril characters; A brilliant German miniaturist finds herself recreating her home streets in Berlin only to destroy them; and the brilliant studeo head attempts to save his company from the clutches of a twin brother and a board that doesn't understand how Hollywood works. This is a brilliantly plotted novel which takes you from back rooms in Hollywood to Germany and Italy, paced perfectly and written with gorgeous prose. It is also highly prescient of our current times. What a lovely, wonderful, and often very funny book!
THE DEVIL TAKES YOU HOME is a new crime/horror hybrid with a distinctly Mexican flair. It's violent, disturbing, and scary, yet it has its tender moments as a man who has lost his daughter to cancer and his wife to the world turns bad guy and takes a job stealing from a cartel. This one will get under your skin.
This brilliant book of essays can be read in order to form a memoir. Funny, chilling, disturbing, and sobering -- these essays range from poverty, the sins of the Boston Catholic Church, the pornography industry, toxic masculinity, and a youth filled with violence, drugs, and alcohol. The writing is gritty and fresh, and this deserves all of the awards it will surely win. What an amazing read!
THE LAST STORM by Tim Lebbon is a wholly original sci-fi/horror hybrid that culminates in one of the most exciting climaxes I've read in ages. In the future, climate changed has turned most of America into a dustbowl, but one family of rainmakers can use machines that run on their biochemistry to create huge storms -- only, sometimes more than water comes through. sometimes, they brig horrible creatures that rain from the sky. One young woman, half mad, decides to harness her power to stop a raging fire, and her father and mother follow her to stop her before she brings about an apocalypse. The family drama in this thrilling tale works as well as the action sequences, and that final 100 pages -- whew!
TOMORROW AND TOMORROW AND TOMORROW is Gabrielle Zevin's (THE STORIED LIFE OG AJ FICKREY, YOUNG JANE YOUNG) absorbing new novel, a love story between two friends, unlike anything you've ever read. Beautifully written, this tale of two gamers who meet as children in a hospital and eventually become friends and partners in a video game company, is a real page turner as well as an examination upon why people love games and rules. Don't be worried if you don't know much about videogames; I certainly don't. In Zevin's assured hands, you go along for the ride and before you know it, you are moved to tears. This is easily one of the best books of the year.
"HAWK MOUNTAIN by Conner Habib is at once one of the most disturbing and damning novels ever written about the results of toxic masculinity in our society. Fifteen years after graduation, our protagonist, Todd, comes face to face with his bully, Jack, from high school. What follows is a -- literal -- deconstruction of the thriller novel and a deep, hard look into the soul of two men so full of hate and rage and regret that violence doesn't just shimmer to the surface; it explodes like a breaching whale. This novel never went where I expected it to go, full of twist, turns, and gasp-inducing moments that totally shifted the narrative. It was horrifying, suspenseful, tragic, sad, and, in places, quite beautiful. This is the work of a great writer, and I cannot believe it is Conner's first novel. Be warned, reader, that this is a book for strong stomachs. There are graphic moments of violence that are difficult to read, but there is a lot more here than the violence and gore. This is a book with its eye and heart firmly set upon where our world is now. Brave readers will find much to love."
THE DISPLACEMENTS by Bruce Holsinger is a howling primal scream of a novel and the most suspenseful page-turner I have read in quite some time. What will happen to all of the millions of people displaced when climate change causes massive storms and environmental turmoil? When a massive hurricane wipes out Miami and Houston within days of each other, millions of people find themselves without a home, money, or even ways of contacting other family members. Through the lens of a FEMA professional setting up a huge tent city and one distressed family that must settle there and a drug dealer hoping to cash in on the disaster, Holsinger exposes the cracks in U.S. policy. It's fascinating, suspenseful, and sometimes utterly terrifying -- as I said, a true page-turner! This could well be my favorite book of the year!
Remember that first time you sped through Scott Turow's PRESUMED INNOCENT or John Grisham's THE FIRM? Now, we have Joey Hartstone, and his legal thriller THE LOCAL is a legal thriller that really thrills. From its elegiac opening describing the small town of Marshall, Texas where most patent cases are tried (who knew?) to the twists and turns that don't stop until the final pages, Hartstone holds us enthralled. A young patent lawyer ends up embroiled in a homicide case in which his mentor, the local presiding judge, is murdered -- allegedly by a young, hot-blooded tech genius after a confrontation during a hearing. Even though criminal law isn't his thing, James Euchre cannot disentangle himself from the case . . . and the real killer may be closer to him than he knows. Full of suspense, vividly wrought characters, and dazzling courtroom shenanigans, this is the best legal thriller since Graham Moore razzle dazzled us! The beautiful use of language brings this one up close to a Scott Turow level. Yes, it's THAT good!
This absolutely delightful novel was written by the man behind HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, but it reads more like a modern-day version of FRIENDS. A group of young people in New York City all live two lives (like most of us): one IRL and one on their devices and phones. Romantic foibles, changed life goals, farcical scandals are all seen through this lens of the duality of modern life, and the results are sweet and very funny. I fell in love with the characters and rooted for them to find balance, grinning all the time I read.
Geraldine Brooks (MARCH, CALEB'S CROSSING) brings us a beautiful novel in HORSE. Several stories in different time periods intertwine -- a slave boy trains a racehorse but dreams of freedom; a maid tries to sell a painting inherited from her grandfather; a skeleton discovered in the Smithsonian's attic proves to be extremely important. All of it revolves around a famous racehorse, LEXINGTON, and it is nearly impossible to stop reading!
ORDINARY MONSTERS by J.M. Miro is a beautiful fever dream of a dark historical fantasy novel -- and, good news, it's the first in a trilogy! Equal parts Clive Barker, Susanna Clarke, and Philip Pullman, ORDINARY MONSTERS brings us a group of young people with extraordinary powers -- in Victorian London, the Old West, exotic Asia -- who are brought together for a nefarious reason at a castle in Scotland. There are terrifying monsters, thrilling chases, and wonderfully drawn characters to keep anyone reading late into the night. This truly is a Harry Potter-esque journey into growing up (albeit without any terf references and MUCH better written) for adults. It's violent, exciting...there aren't enough superlatives! This is a great one!
Sloane Crosley's delightful new novel, CULT CLASSIC, is an oddball mixture of SCOTT PILGRIM, SEX AND THE CITY, and THE TWILIGHT ZONE! A woman sneaks out for a smoke in Manhattan, only to discover one of her exes there. The following night, she bumps into another ex. the next night, the same, etc etc. Why is this happening? Is it some sort of karmic closure device or is someone manipulating her reality? It's very funny and full of twists and turns and just full of beautiful, exquisite writing that is so evocative it pulls you right along with its weirdness. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride and readers searching for something witty and different will enjoy it, too.
Ann Leary''s new novel, THE FOUNDLING, is based upon true stories she discovered about her grandmother, and it makes for a crackling good read, perfect for book clubs. When naive Mary Engle takes a secretarial job at the Nettleton State Village for Feeble-Minded Women of Childbearing Age (whew!), she soon discovers it's actually a sort of workhouse/prison /eugenics experiment where women are committed and cannot leave until they can no longer have children. Then, she discovers a childhood friend -- a brilliant young woman -- is an inmate, and she is definitely not "feeble-minded." A rescue plan is hatched, but will she be able to help so many young women? THE FOUNDLING brings a tragic and shocking part of America's past to life, exposing a country where women have gained the right to vote but where their husbands can have them charged with being morally reprehensible and admitted to places like this. It's a fast-paced story that's sure to please fans of Martha Hall Kelly and Tracy Chevalier.
If you think you know where this ghostly thriller is going -- you have several surprises coming to you! Rekulak uses familiar ghost story tropes -- haunted child, babysitter/governess with issues, unreliable narratives -- and he adds pictures drawn by the child as they are haunted by the malevolent spirit of a woman long dead and buried. A perfect summer thrill ride!
BREATHLESS by Amy McCulloch is the kind of novel that you start reading and you are suddenly transported to a beautiful, exotic, and dangerous place. I found myself completely forgetting about all the work I had to do until I finished this thrilling book. It's as though an Agatha Christie whodunit was mashed up with a slasher thriller set atop one of the world's tallest mountains during a mountaineering expedition. Someone is bumping off the climbers one by one, or are they really just accidents? This puts the thrill back into thriller and is easily one of the most exciting books I have read in ages! I can't wait to put it into customers' hands!
Don Winslow just keeps one-upping himself, and his new thriller, CITY ON FIRE, is the best gangster saga I've read since THE GODFATHER -- and it may even be better than that classic! Winslow re-works the plot of Homer's Iliad, transposing that epic poem's siege of Troy to 1980s Providence Rhode Island in the midst of a gang war. The balancing act is precarious, but Winslow beautifully navigates the plot twists, and his characters are robust and beautifully drawn with just a few broad strokes. The dialogue is funny, realistic, and profane (those triggered by the racist and homophobic ways bad men talked in this time period are warned), and the story barrels along like a powder keg on fire. And did I mention it is the first in a trilogy? This is fantastic storytelling and a gangster drama for the ages! Read it now!
Jennifer McMahon takes on the classic tropes of Mary Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN in her new thriller THE CHILDREN ON THE HILL. It's a roller coaster ride through memories of a woman, a cryptozoological monster hunter, through her past as the grandchild of a controversial psychologist and sister to the mysterious Iris, who is scarred and has amnesia. Who are the real monsters and who are the victims? This is a wonderfully gothic novel full of monster-ey goodness and richly developed characters. I couldn't put it down!
TAKE MY HAND by Dolen Perkins-Valdez is a remarkable, gripping fictional take on a real case where two girls (11 and 14) were sterilized with the government's consent in 1973! With compassion and care, Perkins-Valdez tells the story through the eyes of a helpful, guilt-ridden nurse. An excellent book!
FRENCH BRAID is, simply put, Anne Tyler's best novel in decades. By examining a single family through snapshot in time, she notes the unraveling of the nuclear family unit as well as the ties that not only bind us, but the ties that never let go. Over 60 years we read about The Garretts, their loves and losses, their infidelities, their children, and their growing apart from each other. I can recognize much of my own family in The Garretts. It is a lovely book, filled with gorgeous minutiae that tells so much more about this family than the major scenes that take place in one's life. Much like one character strives to paint scenes inside houses that focus upon a singular detail, Tyler draws the reader to the little things that explain behaviors. I adore this book!
Amy Bloom's beuatiful new memoir, IN LOVE, details her husband's diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's Disease and their subsequent search for a way for him to die on his own terms. A book about assisted suicide seems terribly depressing, but Bloom brings wit, humor, and a gorgeous love story to the book. It's a serious subject matter -- one which America doesn't even want to discuss -- and it is a true blessing. For fans of When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi.
Simply put, SUNDIAL by Catriona Ward, is the scariest, most terrifying book in ages. Do NOT start this one late at night. When her daughter begins to show signs that she is killing animals and may be preparing to harm her little sister, a mother takes her back to her childhood home, where her parents used to perform horrific experiments on dogs (trigger warning; lots of dog trauma here). As the mother relates the story of her own childhood to her daughter, secrets are exposed and dark truths are brought to life. It's a psychological horror novel with a dash of science fiction and a load of horror -- Gillian Flynn (especially SHARP OBJECTS) meets Shirley jackson (it's not a coincidence that Jackson also had a novel called THE SUNDIAL). This one had me horrified from the first pages and held me in its spell for the other 300! Don't miss it if you like dark novels!
Brendan Slocumb's first novel, THE VIOLIN CONSPIRACY, is a page-turner of the first magnitude! Ray fell in love with classical music at an early age, even though African-Americans were supposed to only love hip-hop, and he became a polished violinist, especially once his grandmother gave him his great-great grandfather's violin, given to him by his master when he was freed from the hell of being a slave. Turns out, this inheritance was a Stradivarius worth over ten million dollars. When it turns up missing before a huge competition, Ray must figure out who stole his most prized possession -- his greedy family? The ancestors of the plantation owner who allegedly gave the slave the violin? Or another competitor in the tournament in Moscow? It's a really fun ride with all kinds of insights into classical music and the inherent racism in the world of orchestras and operas. I really enjoyed the ride -- a sort of cross between THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT and LUPIN -- and I think readers will enjoy it as well.
Violeta is another triumph for Isabel Allende, an epic set over a hundred years in South America that aligns its history with that of the titular character, an independent-thinking progressive woman. The characters are vividly drawn, and the prose just sings off the page. This is a delightful story filled with wonderful people, and I never wanted it to end.
ROAD OF BONES is Christopher Golden's best novel to date, a story of a small reality-TV crew in Siberia who stumble upon a horrific supernatural event. The characters are interesting and fully-realized, and when they are put in harm's way -- fighting off ghosts, wolves, and other folk-horror staples -- the reader truly cares about them. With a fascinating setting ( the coldest place on Earth) and several truly scary scenes, this is one terrifying book, nearly impossible to put down until you finish the haunting ending. Superb horror fiction!