quite a lot this year. YA, mystery/suspense, mainstream literary fiction. Am now reading House of Leaves, a bizarre dark story published in 2000, about among other things, a haunted/possessed house. 4 weeks ago
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The fourth novel by Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep and American Wife, a book loosely based on former First Lady Laurs Bush. Sittenfeld is a gifted storyteller. Her prose is often beautiful, a pleasure to read, and her pacing and plotting are strengths. She’s one of the few current authors whose books I actively seek out. This one is set in St. Louis, about twin sisters who are psychic. One rejects her ability and the other embraces it. The book begins with this second one predicting an earthquake for St. Louis, and she takes her prediction to the Today show and other media outlets. 8 months ago
This is a YA novel, a first novel. Amazon awarded her best new writer in the genre or something like that. She’s a super sensitive romantic idealist. The writing is overfilled with metaphor and charged language. It’s about a 16-year-old Nebraskan who discovers her parents have withheld from her the fact that she has an aunt who lives in her mother’s hometown, a beautiful windswept Maine fishing town that she’s never visited. I liked it. 8 months ago
Locke and Key Vols. 1-6
Vol. 1 Welcome to Lovecraft
Vol. 2 Head Games
Vol. 3 Crown of Shadows
Vol. 4 Keys to the Kingdom
Vol. 5 Clockworks
Story by Joe Hill with art by Gabriel Rodriguez 9 months ago
Jill, by Philip Larkin, published 1946. Written when he was in his early 20s. First-rate story about 18-year-old lower-middle class Oxford scholarship student John, who becomes enamored of his hard-drinking, charming and callous roommate, upper-middle class Christopher, who hardly puts any time in to his studies. Why should he, when he can always get John’s work to steal from. About a quarter way through, and Jill has yet to make an appearance. A good bet she will either be Christopher’s girlfriend or our protagonist will fall for her and then Christopher will swoop in and make passionate love to her, leaving John to feel devastated.
EDIT: My bet was way wrong. I won’t spoil it, but Jill was completely different than imagined. The book, unfortunately, sort of fell apart in the second half, as Larkin warned in the Forward he wrote for it some thirty years or so after publication. 11 months ago
Joe Abercrombie’s first-rate epic fantasy trilogy. Great ear for dialogue, great close third person chapters, action packed book with strong often complex characters, well plotted and entertaining.
EDIT: Will probably finish the trilogy this weekend. This guy is one of the best in the field. 12 months ago
by Cheryl Strayed. Loved her memoir, Wild, and am halfway through her book of advice columns, Tiny Beautiful Things. She is extraordinarily good. 12 months ago
by Jerry Spinelli.
The author zooms over the minutia of the lives of his two main characters, moving especially fast when he’s describing something wildly improbable to focus on their friendship and short romance. Stargirl aka Susan is a wonderfully optimistic, independent, generous person, and it’s a true pleasure to read about her as seen through the eyes of her easily intimidated friend/boyfriend, who narrates. Just picked up the sequel to this at a used bookstore.
EDIT: Still love this book, but the sequel was far inferior. 13 months ago
a novel about a happily married couple set in the U.S. that is full of surprises and good feeling. Can anyone recommend one? 14 months ago
Batman The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
Batman Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
Batman Haunted Knight by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale
Batman Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli 14 months ago
A contemporary fantasy psychological thriller. Natasha Mostert, author of this very entertaining modern-day witch story about two sisters, a murder, and the man who is investigating, is an extraordinary person, befitting her huge imagination. Born in South Africa, she lives in Chelsea and one of her great passions is kick-boxing. She apparently helps fund a group that teaches martial arts to Afghan women so they can protect themselves from any men who might wish them harm. Some of her characters are brilliant, and she writes about them brilliantly. I recommend this & may try to find her other books soon. (Note: this novel has nothing to do with the dismal Nicholas Cage movie by the same name.) 14 months ago
a YA novel written by a woman I went to grad school with some 20 years ago. It’s good. I’m not surprised she kept at it and is becoming successful, a little surprised that it’s taken quite so long. Of course, I’m a little surprised that I haven’t had any success with my creative writing. The good news is, there’s still time. 15 months ago
mostly young adult fiction, which tends not to disappoint as much as contemporary adult fiction. Last book was You Are Here, a story about two sensitive 17-year-olds who take to the road to discover what’s out there. It was good but sort of a small story in most respects. 17 months ago
to reading before bed instead of watching tv, where almost always I end up staring at hour after hour of MSNBC’s mostly angry talking heads. I agree with them, for the most part, and am angry too, but watching doesn’t put me to sleep anywhere as quickly as reading.
Reading “If I Stay,” by Gayle Forman, a highly acclaimed young adult novel. I’ve managed to avoid reading a summary of the book, so I hardly know what’s going to happen. I think the targeted reading grade for it is probably 8th or 9th, but that usually doesn’t bother me. I intend to write one of these someday, so I tell myself I’m researching.
Finished this a couple of days ago. Pretty good, but the book is structured so that one main event occurs in the first chapter and then the majority of the action occurs in the past. In this story, I think the present would have made for a more compelling read. 17 months ago
by Swati Avasthi. This very good book focuses on two brothers who flee their home at different times after being severely beaten and tortured by their abusive father. Avasthi has an excellent ear for dialog and tells the story with great sensitivity without going easy on her characters. The book is very good. Not long. If you pick it up, you may finish it in one or two sittings. 18 months ago
This is starting out to be a terribly depressing book. About a veteran who has to bury his parents after a car accident. Going downhill from there. 18 months ago
Dream School, by Blake Nelson. The main character, Andrea Marr, narrates this book just as she did the first book, Girl. Her dream school is this upper-crust liberal arts college called Wellington somewhere in Connecticut. The book focuses on the minutia of her college life, and it succeeds so brilliantly on the strength of the protagonist’s charm and inexperience and lust for life. 20 months ago
by Blake Nelson. a late-90s first-person coming of age novel. Unknown to me until a few weeks ago, this book has a significant cult following and is sometimes compared to Catcher in the Rye. Nelson succeeds at capturing the voice and character of his 16/17-year-old female protagonist, and his 1990s-era Portland music scene feels authentic. The book is considered Young Adult, but that’s because the author is writing about sex and first love and many other things from the perspective of someone who’s experiencing them for the first time, not because certain subjects are off-limits. It’s really an impressive accomplishment, this book. Just learned there’s a sequel, and I’m eager to start reading it. 21 months ago
by Jane Hamilton
I usually stay away from contemporary fiction, because most writers seem so fascinated with irony and the small-mindedness of their characters. Hamilton is mostly an exception, and this is a good novel, not great, about a young man and his adulterous mother. 21 months ago
by Helen Fremont
Released in 1999, I came upon it in a used bookstore. It’s the story of a woman whose parents survived WWII in Poland and the Ukraine. After incredible hardship and trauma suffered during and right after the War, they finally emigrated to the United States and disguised their Jewish heritage, even from their two children, who they raised Roman Catholic. In her 30s, Fremont and her sister come to suspect and spend years researching, questioning their parents, and coming to terms with what they learn. It’s a brilliantly written memoir. 21 months ago