Archive | October, 2018

Orange is the color of…

30 Oct

 

The end of the year always has me scrambling to make sure I have a solid Top Ten – I get to November and start to panic. This year its happening again! So I’ve been reading extra hard lately. These two I really liked! I’m not sure if they’ll make it on my end-of-the-year list or not, but they are good for what they are.

The Great Believers you might have read about – it’s short-listed for the National Book Award this year. It’s a novel in two connected storylines; Yale Tishman in the 80s in the middle of the AIDS epidemic in Chicago and his friend Fiona thirty years later trying to reconnect with her daughter (in Paris). This one felt important to read, there were parts of the story lines that I loved (Yale is trying to secure the donation of an art collection from the 1920s) and parts that I didn’t love so much (Fiona’s weird affair in Paris). All in all, it was good. 4 stars

I flew through A Light of Her Own this weekend and I really liked it but I can’t quite figure out why or how much. I know that sounds like a bad thing but it’s not, I promise. Set in the 1600s in the Netherlands about two women who would love to make their livelihood as painters. Pretty much unheard of. Based on the true story of Judith Leyster – the only woman to have been admitted to the Guild during that time period. Very interesting, lots of painting-related drama. None of the relationships felt very deep or passionate or…well…anything so I found myself wondering how I could care about them as I did. It also felt quickly paced with a detailed plot and definite climax but I was sort of confused when I got there. Overall, really enjoyed it but was expecting something more like Tulip Fever.  Maybe Carrie Callaghan will write another one with less of a plot and more dynamic character relationships – I’d read that one too! 4+ stars, out early November.

 

Scary Books to Last a Lifetime

25 Oct

October is such a good month to snuggle in with a creepy read. Unless you’re a scaredy cat like me. In that case, it’s a good month to ask the bravest reader you know for her list of favorite spooky reads. My friend Kate reads waaaaayyyyy more than me – she also reads a much wider range of things. Here are her suggestions if you’re in the mood for some scary reading.

 GHOST STORIES

Heart Shaped Box – Joe Hill – We are our own worst demons. Also, don’t buy and subsequently wear haunted suits. (side note: Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son)
NOS4A2 – Joe Hill – Creepy AF. Terrible villain who cuts through reality and has a haunted car that no one can escape from.
So Cold The River – Michael Koryta – Haven’t read in a long time, but I remember it being super good and scary. Mean ghosts!
The Cypress House – Michael Koryta – More creepy ghosts!
Ghost Story – Peter Straub – the scariest one I’ve ever read.
Dracula – Bram Stoker – Scarier than I remembered – kept me up at night!
Unquiet Grave – Sharyn McCrumb – Based on a folk tale or a true story where a new bride dies soon after marriage and her ghost wants to be avenged.
Meddling Kids – Edgar Cantero – this one was so weird but REALLY managed to scare me. Not sure why it’s YA.
Slade House – David Mitchell – Mean brother and sister messing with people’s minds! Not necessary to have read other David Mitchell but in the same universe as his other books.
Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales – Yoko Ogawa – Translated from Japanese – so good, so creepy.
The Hunger – Alma Katsu – Retelling of the Donner Party. Something is stalking the pioneers trying to reach California but everyone has their own haunted backstories, as well.
Something Wicked This Way Comes – Ray Bradbury – classic, scary.

 THRILLERS

Lying In Wait – Liz Nugent – good murder mystery! Best twist ever.
The Naturalist (series) – Andrew Mayne – super fun connect-the-dots, find-the-clues to track a killer series.
Black Fall (series) – Andrew Mayne – another highly enjoyable series by Andrew Mayne.
Ripper – Isabel Allende – There’s a killer in San Francisco and a kooky cast of characters is hunting for it (and being hunted)
Under The Harrow – Flynn Berry – Think ‘Girl On The Train,’ but better.
Perfume – Patrick Suskind – A classic, totally bizarre murderer whose entire existence is just wrong, but SUCH a great book.

 Ghost stories for Kids.

 

Isn’t that such an amazing list? Seriously. Thanks, Kate! I also asked my cousin and she had some good ones too. Helter Skelter and I’ll Be Gone in the Dark are true crime and I always finds those a little extra frightening.

Rolling into Winter

20 Oct

I feel like I have been reading SO MUCH lately, but look. Only three since my last post! They all sucked me right in and I read them in such a flurry, maybe that’s why I feel so exhausted.

Washington Black is the story of a young slave, George Washington Black (called Wash) on a plantation in the Barbados. His master’s brother, “Titch,” notices that Wash is just the right size to aid in some scientific experiments he wishes to conduct and takes him on as an assistant. Titch is somethings of a wonder and teaches Wash to read and write and nourishes his previously unknown talent for drawing. We follow Wash on his journey from the plantation, into the free world. I love love loved the first third of this novel. And the remaining 2/3 were good enough to keep me going. 4 stars.

I love having friends at the bookstore because they’ll tell me what YA is getting all the buzz so I can just read the good stuff. Sadie is the good stuff. I loved the format of this young adult thriller – one part Sadie’s story and one part Serial-like podcast, scripted out. You can just HEAR Sarah Koenig’s voice in the podcast section, conducting interviews and phone calls but also narrating in the studio. This one is creepy, and has implications of sexual abuse so don’t go just throwing this one at any teen in your life. Sadie is missing, her neighbor/mother figure calls West McCray, a radio personality who takes on the case. We get Sadie’s story in real-time, and then West McCray’s story oh maybe 3 months behind. Sadie has set out to find the man she thinks is responsible for her younger sister’s murder, and things get scary. 4 stars.

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is our neighborhood book club pick for November. If one of my best book store friends hadn’t loved it, I might have quit it towards the beginning but I’m glad I stuck with it, the payoff was huge. This book was so confusing. I was SO CONFUSED all the way up to the last 20%. Here is how I’d describe it and I am not even sure I’m close to what it is: Evelyn Hardcastle is going to die. Our narrator wakes up each day – the SAME day – for eight days. Each day he inhabits the body of a different guest at this giant manor on the day of a big party. If he can tell the Plague Doctor (??) who murders Evelyn before 11pm on any of those days, he will be free from the cycle. If not, he starts over, losing a bit of himself every time he awakes in a new body. Pretty confusing, but if that sounds at all interesting to you, get it because the ending was great. 4 stars.