Thursday, April 25, 2013

Three on Thursday: Book News

Do you remember last year, when the jurors actually declined to name a Pulitzer Prize winner for fiction?  That did not happen in 2013!  A winner was announced last week, and the award goes to?  Adam Johnson's extraordinary novel set in North Korea, The Orphan Master's Son.  You can read my review here.  Need more incentive to see what the fuss is about?  Check out The Morning News 2013 Tournament of Books.

There are a lot of great books for kids that aren't necessarily kids's books.  Does that make sense?  This list may help to clarify: 28 books every geek should read to their kid before age 10.  I don't think it's necessary that you identify as a geek to appreciate it, but I think it's a great list to inspire parents to share a love of reading with their kids.

Banned books week isn't until September, but I always find it fascinating to see what titles are the most frequently challenged each year.  Here is 2012's list.  Be a rebel--read them anyway.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Can't Keep It to Myself: Life After Life

Every once in awhile, I read a book that I find is so unique, when people ask what it's like, I honestly have a really hard time answering them.  The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger was like that for me.  So was The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by Davide Wroblewski.  (As an aside, I thought both of these titles were absolutely phenomenal in their own rights, so if you haven't read them, I highly recommend them.)  So when I say that Kate Atkinson's Life After Life is like the two aforementioned titles, it's not because it shares plot or format or style.  It's because it is also unlike anything else I've ever read before.  I love novels that are full of surprises, and Atkinson absolutely kept them coming.

Ursula Todd is born on a snowy night to an English banker and his wife in 1910, and dies before she can draw her first breath.  She is born again and begins to wail.  Her life, and her deaths (of which there are more than a few), make her the odd one out in her family, although none of them can say quite what makes her different.  Suffering from deja vu, which is understandable, Ursula lives, and dies, through the WWI as a child and as WWII approaches, it appears that Ursula may be the only one who can save the world.  And if she can, does that also mean she will? 

Absolutely one of the most intriguing, thought provoking novels I've read in quite some time.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Reading Ahead: May 2013, part 4

Here we are with the final wrap-up, and a bit of sad news for some.  What do I mean, well, let's look at the list and then discuss, shall we?

Dead Ever After, by Charlaine Harris

Echoes of My Soul, by Robert K. Tanenbaum

The Apple Orchard, by Susan Wiggs

Followers of Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse novels and fans of HBO's True Blood alike are in mourning the end of Sookie's adventures, as Dead Ever After is the thirteenth and final Sookie Stackhouse novel.  True Blood will continue on, as it only loosely followed the plot of the novels after the first season.  But for now, at least, Sookie is going the way of Harry Potter and other beloved characters, and fading from the spotlight.  However, fans, take heart!  There's no telling what other kinds of mischief Charlaine Harris might be getting up to in the future, so keep an eye out!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Can't Keep It To Myself: Rage Against the Dying

I love surprises.  Wait.  I should qualify that.  I love books and authors that surprise me in good ways*.  (Surprise parties are right out, okay?)  And the best surprise I've had between the covers of a book lately is Rage Against the Dying, by new author Becky Masterman.  From the first sentence, retired FBI agent Brigid Quinn is unlike any other thriller protagonist you've ever met.  Long trained during years of undercover work to keep secrets and amend truth, Quinn is very honest about just how untrustworthy she is and how much she appreciates people who don't ask questions about who she was and what she's done. 

As Quinn tries to settle down in Tucson with her new husband Carlo and his dogs, she begins to adopt her "housewife" persona.  That's all thrown to the wind, however, when the biggest unsolved case of her career, a long-cold series of murders by an unknown serial killer only known as the Route-66 Killer, rears its ugly head.  The FBI has a suspect, Floyd Lynch, and a confession.  But while Lynch knows lots of unpublicized details about the crimes, including the resting place of the last known victim, Quinn's former protegee Jessica, he seems to have a few holes in his story.  Those holes are picked up by current field agent assigned to the case, Laura Coleman, who thinks Lynch's confession is bogus and that he's not the real killer.  And while Quinn desperately wants closure on this case, she realizes that she wants retribution more than an easy win, more than she thought she would. 

This is, by far, one of the most suspenseful, unique voices in the thriller genre today.  If you're looking for a fresh voice and a tensely plotted story, this is absolutely it. 

*Bad surprises in books include unexplained character changes mid-plot, endings that make no sense, unexpected "whodunit" turns out to be no one the reader has met, and sudden cliche pile-ups, among others.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Reading Ahead: May 2013, part 3

If suspense and thrillers are your thing, you have a bunch of new titles to look forward to next month.  And if you don't think this is enough, I have to jump ahead a little and tell you that June's list?  Is HUGE!  Lots and lots of big names sure to fill your reading list in short order.  But in the meantime, here are the May suspense/thriller titles.

The Hit, by David Baldacci

Zero Hour, by Clive Cussler

Silken Prey, by John Sandford

Storm Front, by Richard Castle

The Ophelia Cut, by John T. Lescroart

I'll be back next week with the final wrap-up of our May list.  In the meantime, Happy Reading!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Reading Ahead: May 2013, part 2

It's so nice to see spring starting to make a bit of an appearance.  Longer days, warmer days, nights that aren't quite so frosty.  It makes me think of lazy summer days on the horizon, and of course, great books to pass those hours.  Here are some great ones to add to your list this summer.

And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini

Flora, by Gail Godwin

Ready to Die, by Lisa Jackson

Step of Faith, by Richard Paul Evans

Looking for Me, by Beth Hoffman

Whatever your preferred genre may be, we have you covered in the months to come.  Khaled Hosseini is an author readers will remember from The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.  (For the record, while I thought The Kite Runner was excellent, I thought A Thousand Splendid Suns was even better.  No sophomore slump for Hosseini.)  In his latest work, Hosseini takes on families--how we interact with one another, how the choices we make affect our families and generations to come.  The novel expands outward, including both distant relatives and distant locales, and the critical praise I've been reading makes me think this will be an absolute win.  It's on my list for sure. 

Another title that I think will garner quite a bit of response is Beth Hoffman's new book, Looking for Me.  You might remember Hoffman's previous title, 2010's Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, which was extremely popular.  Fans of authors like Adriana Trigiani might want to take notice of this new novel, which follows quirky Teddi Overman, restorer of cast-off furniture, who has built a business and a life in Charleston, away from her childhood home in Kentucky.  When information surfaces that Teddi's brother Josh, who had mysteriously disappeared years earlier, might be alive, Teddi is drawn home to her family once more.  And while the trip might help Teddi finally heal old wounds, she may also have to make some serious decisions about how much of her new life and old life she will choose to keep.  Guaranteed to be a great read, and both of these titles would be great book club reads, too.

I'll be back on Thursday with a slew of new thrillers to look forward to.  Happy Reading!