Archive | February, 2020

Rollin, Rollin, Rollin

18 Feb

I love when a new year starts out SO STRONGLY. Here we are on February 17th and I’ve already got a solid 3 that should end up on my year-end list (Hamnet & Fresh Water for Flowers, both out in June and When Time Stopped out now). Of this recent batch, my 3 faves were:

Oona out of Order was such a weird fast fun one. Basically the main character wakes up on the morning of her 19th bday (New Years Day) her normal 19 year-old-self, except that she isn’t. She’s living her 51st year – in a house she doesn’t recognize with people she doesn’t know (but who seem to know her pretty well) inside a body that is older. And from then on, every year she begins each year out of order. Sounds confusing, but the chapters go fast so it’s pretty easy to keep things straight. They all start with a number like 19/51, so that lets you know that she’s chronologically 19 but living the year as 51. Fast and fun, a lighter, shorter Time Traveler’s Wife. 4 stars

Long Bright River has been a pretty buzzy thriller these past few months and I was totally there for it. My best bookseller friend said it reminded her of your favorite old Dennis Lehane (Mystic River or Shutter Island) and that is totally accurate. Mix of police procedural and family story of addiction – the detective is investigating a string of murders and is worried that her sister might be the next victim. So good and twisty. 4.5 stars

And lastly of my favorites this month, Fresh Water for Flowers. This one doesn’t come out until June so I won’t say TOO much now – it’s the story of a woman who lives in and takes care of a graveyard. And just so so much more. She has some tragedies in her past that make her such a compelling character, plus she gets to interact with a lot of different people through her job as cemetery caretaker. Love love loved it. Perfect book to take to the lake and wade through, it’s long and wonderful. 5 stars.

The others, briefly:

142 Ostriches was kind of a fun debut about a young girl who inherits an ostrich farm when her grandmother dies. Family story, lots of strong women and loser men. 4 stars.

I love John Boyne (Heart’s Invisible Furies, Ladder to the Sky) and was so excited to see this older one of his that revolves around the Romanovs. I didn’t love The House of Special Purpose as much as his others – I thought the twist at the end was pretty clearly coming from the first few chapters. But his Rasputin lived up to my imaginings! 3 stars.

These Ghosts are Family has been hyped as the next Homegoing – a debut novel that picks apart and traces back a Jamaican family. Overall it was fine – I thought the second half was way more interesting than the first. 3.5 stars

My neighborhood book club read The Power and it really just isn’t the sort of story I gravitate too – speculative fiction about a world in which women have the ability to electrocute people with their hands. They have The Power! and take over society. I was expecting it to be a sort of feminist manifesto but really the women turned pretty savage and it just wasn’t my fave. 3 stars.

Return to Form

17 Feb

glasshotel

Y’all know I loved Station Eleven but you might not know I’ve loved Emily St John Mandel since I read the galley of her first novel, Last Night in Montreal. Station Eleven was a little bit of a departure for her, a departure that definitely upped her base of readers by the thousands. I think that this one will be hard for people who just want more post-apocalyptic Shakespearean fanfare. The Glass Hotel definitely feels like a return to her previous style. I’m not even sure how to sum it up – it’s about a young woman named Vincent, her past, her present, her brother & how she goes from tending bar at a glass hotel on a remote island to swimming laps in the private pool of her mansion. Sort of windy and roaming but I really enjoyed it! 4 stars.