Saturday, August 27, 2016

In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

Nora leads a quiet, routine life. She is a fairly successful writer, who likes to stay home. Then one day she receives an email about a hen party for a friend from her past, Clare. Nora is shocked since she hasn't talked to Clare since she left their hometown ten years ago. She isn't sure if she should go but their mutual friend, Nina, convinces her to attend.

The party is a weekend getaway at the maid of honor Flo's aunt's house in the woods. When Nina and Nora arrive they meet Flo, Melanie, and Tom. Not really comfortable Nora decides to go for a jog. On her way back Nora runs into Clare. It is a little awkward but then Clare drops the bomb. She is marrying James, Nora's old boyfriend. He was one of the reasons Nora left town ten years ago.

The weekend is underway and it is as awkward as Nora feared. It doesn't help that Flo is a little bit intense and strange things keep happening. And why does Nora end up in the hospital covered in blood?

I really loved this book. It kept my guessing trying to figure Nora's secret and what happened during the hen party. I can't wait to read Ruth Ware's newest book, The Woman Cabin 10.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Dinner by Herman Koch

The entirety of Koch's story centers on two couples getting ready for dinner and the dinner itself. Taking place in Amsterdam and narrated by Paul, he makes his dissatisfaction known to the reader for having to meet his politician brother, Serge, and wife, Babette, at this upscale restaurant.

The reason for the dinner, we eventually find out, is for the two couples to discuss a violent act that took place between their teenage children. The parents have very different ideas of how to deal with the issue and in fact, never get around to discussing it, and you will eventually find out why.

The story alternates back and forth in time giving the reader a glimpse into who Paul really is and the events that have lead up to the dinner. My details are intentionally sparse, as I don't want to reveal too much.

Dark and twisted, if you like unreliable narrators and thought-provoking stories, then this book is for you. I guarantee you won't like the characters, but Koch keeps you in suspense and will have you still thinking about The Dinner long after it is over. Highly recommended for book clubs, as there is much to ponder, discuss and dispute.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

New Fiction 8/23/2016

Here is a sampling of new fiction released this week.  If you see something you like, simply click on the title to place a copy on hold through the library's catalog.

http://pinnacle.polarislibrary.com/polaris/view.aspx?isbn=9780735221086    http://pinnacle.polarislibrary.com/polaris/view.aspx?isbn=9780062405616    http://pinnacle.polarislibrary.com/polaris/view.aspx?isbn=9781250079503    http://pinnacle.polarislibrary.com/polaris/view.aspx?isbn=9781250089588

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The One Man by Andrew Gross
High Stakes by George Martin
Sorrow Road by Julia Keller

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Anna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit

Anna and the Swallow Man, by Gavriel Savit, is a beautiful, poignant novel for teens and adults. It reaches deep inside the soul because it is told in allegories – the only way of explaining war to a child – in the same way The Cellist of Sarajevo does - a book so touching, that, upon finishing, I put my head down on the table and sobbed for Arrow (Alyssa), my forever hero, like Miriam in A Thousand Splendid Suns.

Seven year-old Anna and Swallow Man are caught between the Wolves (the Germans) and the Great Bear (the USSR) in 1939 Poland. Swallow Man protects Anna with tall tales, such as: they are “partnered conservationists” following the last example of a rare and beautiful bird around a battleground upon which an endless pack of Wolves and a Great Bear the size of a continent were pitched in endless war.” As he spins yarns, though, and as the years of hiding pass, little Anna senses “the truth hidden beneath the story hidden beneath the truth of the world.”

Two truths lie in the refrains: “Baruch atah Adonai, mechaye hameytim/Blessed are You, my God who puts life in the dead,” and, “Human beings are the best hope in the world of other human beings to survive.”

In the end, Swallow Man tries to teach her the importance of and power in questions: “Knowledge is very important, because the things we know become our tools, and without good tools at our disposal, it is quite difficult to remain alive in the world. But knowledge is also a kind of death. A question holds all the potential of the living universe within it. In the same way, a piece of knowledge is inert and infertile. Questions are far more valuable than answers, and they do much less blowing up in your face. If you continue to seek questions, you cannot stray far off the proper road.”

Savit’s first novel is an amazing accomplishment. I like his allegorical writing and his way of concretizing intangibles to make them meaningful: “Disappointment, though heavy, is an easy enough thing to pack away in a suitcase—it has straight edges and rounded corners, and it always fits into the last remaining empty space. Hope is much the same. But somehow the hybrid of the two is something much less uniform—awkward, bulkier, and no less heavy. It is far too delicate to pack away. It must be carried along in the hands.”

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tuesday Nights in 1980 by Molly Prentiss

On the brink of a new year, three strangers welcome 1980 in a pre-gentrification New York City, unaware of the ways in which their worlds are about to collide.

James Bennett is a synesthetic art critic whose unique perspective has catapulted him to the forefront of the Soho creative scene. Raul Engales, a gifted painter fleeing the war torn streets of Argentina and a sister he loves but will not stay for, is determined to make a name for himself among the budding community of artists.

Meanwhile, Lucy Olliason, an Idaho transplant who fell in love with a city she’d only seen in pictures, is determined to find a place to belong there.

This book is a wonderful blend of juxtaposition: the grit and glamour of the city, the vivacious energy of the 80’s art scene, and the eccentric personalities of the artists that populate it.

It manages to be both stark and full of the color and life that NYC is known for. The stories of each character (and their story together as a whole) bring the reader in right away. Ultimately, it’s a book about loss and identity - a study in how we choose to change and adapt. Like a painting, each independent detail and voice blends together to form something entirely new.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

New Fiction 8/16/2016

Here is a sampling of new fiction released this week.  If you see something you like, simply click on the title to place a copy on hold through the library's catalog.

http://pinnacle.polarislibrary.com/polaris/view.aspx?isbn=9780062405616    http://pinnacle.polarislibrary.com/polaris/view.aspx?isbn=9781250079503    http://pinnacle.polarislibrary.com/polaris/view.aspx?isbn=9781250089588    http://pinnacle.polarislibrary.com/polaris/view.aspx?isbn=9780062466488

First Star I See Tonight by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
The One Man by Andrew Gross
Sorrow Road by Julia Keller
With Every Breath by Maya Banks
Repo Madness by W. Bruce Cameron

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Enough by Jade Chandler

After being abused by her father and then left heartbroken by former boyfriends, Lila “Red” Braham has escaped to Oklahoma where she is hired as office manager of the Marked Man tattoo shop, which is owned by a barely legal MC.

Sexy tattoo artist and biker Dare wants Red in his bed, even though she knows that any interest he shows in her is purely carnal, as he never keeps women around very long. Dare introduces her to pleasures she has never known and with him, she is willing to try anything once.

And for Dare, Red isn’t the typical “sheep” biker groupie that is passed around his brotherhood. It’s not long before Red gets integrated into his dangerous world, but any potential happily ever after is threatened by Dare’s controlling attitude and a secret about him she discovers behind his back.

This first series foray by debut author Chandler isn’t terribly original (Dare has Red wear ben wa balls to a party just like Christian has Ana do in Fifty Shades Darker) and most readers will have a problem with the violence towards women that is too easily dismissed by the lead character. Even the action between the sheets requires more details for erotica than what is given here. Bk. 2. Release is scheduled for October 2016.

Originally published in Xpress Reviews: E-Originals | August 12, 2016 

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

Unknown to one another, two half sisters grow up on the Gold Coast of 18th century Ghana, connected only by the identical black stones their mother leaves for them, a memory of her.

Effia, the beauty of her Fante village, is married to a British soldier and quickly transported to the Cape Coast Castle and a life of relative comfort. In the dungeons of the same castle, her sister Esi languishes, kidnapped from her Asante home and sold into slavery, awaiting the ship that will transport her to America.

What follows is a sweeping story that stretches across seven generations and two continents, following the descendants of Effia and Esi from British colonialism and the wars in Ghana, through the harrowing reality of American slavery and its aftermath, to the Great Migration and the streets of Harlem, up through the modern day.

Each vignette is visceral and real - Gyaasi’s gift with prose is evident in every page, and even more remarkable for a debut novel. Brimming with heartbreak and sorrow, joy and hope, Homegoing weaves a history that is complex and intricate, and not nearly finished. A really stunning read - perfect not just for those that appreciate history and family sagas, but anyone that appreciates a well told, evocative story.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

New Fiction 8/9/2016

Here is a sampling of new fiction released this week.  If you see something you like, simply click on the title to place a copy on hold through the library's catalog.


http://pinnacle.polarislibrary.com/polaris/view.aspx?isbn=9781501150296    http://pinnacle.polarislibrary.com/polaris/view.aspx?isbn=9781476758572    http://pinnacle.polarislibrary.com/polaris/view.aspx?isbn=9780062425430

Insidious by Catherine Coulter
Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory
Family Tree by Susan Wiggs
The Book That Matters Most by Ann Hood
When the Music's Over by Peter Robinson

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Don't Believe a Word by Patricia MacDonald

New York editor Eden Radley is completely shook up after learning that her mom, Tara, and half-brother, Jeremy, who suffers from a rare genetic disease, are killed by carbon monoxide poisoning. The police think it is a pretty clear cut case of murder-suicide and aren't investigating it further.

Tara worked in a bookstore and left behind Eden and Eden's father, Hugh, when she fell in love with an attractive and charming writer, Flynn, several years her junior. Despite her anger over her mother's abandonment, Eden is plagued with guilt for not answering her mom's call right before she decided to take her own life.

To make matters worse, Flynn has written a book about his life with Tara and wants Eden to be the editor. If she refuses, it would be a big financial loss for her employer and could cost Eden her job. Left with little choice, she returns to Ohio to work with Flynn on the project. However, something about her mom's murder-suicide just doesn't seem right, so she begins to poke around and discovers secrets she never knew about her mom that may lead her to the truth behind Tara's and Jeremy's deaths.

MacDonald, who has published over ten standalone novels of psychological suspense, is always a sure bet, and this one is another winner. If you are looking for a short, page-turning tale that is low on violence and high on thrills, make sure to seek out Patricia MacDonald. She is also a good readalike author for Mary Higgins Clark.