RECOMMENDED BY PAT
This writer is known for his dark, harsh stories. But in this new novel, he finds a way to show the darkness, and still leave us with a glimmer of light. The story is told through twelve year old Caitlin, a precocious girl living in Seattle with her blue collar mother. After school every day, Caitlin waits at the aquarium for her mother to get off work. One day an older man befriends her and this opens up a huge spiral of dark secrets, terrifying consequences, and extremely sad stories that throw Caitlin's life into total chaos. Vann creates an enormous amount of tension and does it with detailed imagery and stark, beautiful prose. I had no idea how he was going to end this passion play, but he did it with precision and believability. It was a great read.
RECOMMENDED BY PAT
It is very rare that a young writer makes her literary debut with a collection of short stories, but Ms. Quade has won me over with her amazing eloquence of the human condition. These stories, most taking place in the Southwest and specifically central and Northern New Mexico, deal with the layered complexities of youth, betrayal, disillusionment, and the frailties of the human heart. Mixed in beautifully are the subtleties of our rich Hispanic culture, so specific to this area. A small town girl's fantasies about Fiesta, the bloody Good Friday ritual of a man confused by his entire existence, the sting of economic disparity between the rich and those who serve them, and the heartbreaking allegiance to family, no matter what the consequences, are a few of the themes running through this thought provoking collection. Her ability to see beyond the surface and dig deeply into both character and action left me wanting more, as if any of these stories could become whole novels. Look forward to seeing what this gifted writer does next.
RECOMMENDED BY JOE
This is an apocalypse tale that starts with the death of a famous actor, and weaves back and forth through time--through the actor's life, his wives and friends, and ultimately his son, and the first couple of decades after the apocalypse occurs. Wonderful characters. Cloud Atlas meets Brave New World.
RECOMMENDED BY CHRIS
Goldstein is a rare combination of a novelist and a philosopher. Her book is both well-written and display her understanding of philosophy, especially Plato. The book alternates original, modern Platonic dialogues with historical chapters.
RECOMMENDED BY SUSAN
Sensual and provocative, this first book of a trilogy is set in Paris during the Belle Epoque, a time of lavish living. 25 year-old Sandrine Verlain has fled her cruel, manipulative husband in the U.S. and has taken shelter at her grandmother’s home. She decides she must paint but the Ecole des Beaux Arts only allows men students. She lusts for a young architect, Julien, and together they find a hidden room in grandmother’s home full of paintings that date from the 1600s to the current year. Did her ancestor paint them? The Verlain woman are cursed with a passion that is so strong that tragedy happens when they fall in love. Rich with beauty and passion, this story of the Verlain women will mesmerize you with its mystery and intrigue.
RECOMMENDED BY CONNIE
The Dead I Know by Scott Gardner rocks grief from a place in the mind to a place in the heart. It made me ache for children and teens around the world who have lived through violence. It made me ache for families living with dementia, and it made me ache for survivors of death when it comes sliding in silently and steals. The novel also had a heart beat of hope and the subtle knowledge that people can reach out to help and help can be accepted.
RECOMMENDED BY BILLY HANDMAKER
HEAD OF BOSQUE SCHOOL
With fast paced story-telling and compelling characters, Johnston portrays the dissolution and restoration of an American family after a random crime in the mountains of Colorado. Descent is both beautiful and haunting, but beware-it may make you look over your shoulder and jump at every snapped twig you hear as you hike or run through the Sandias, or any other mountains for that matter.
RECOMMENDED BY DEB
The voices, and thoughts, of Miranda July's characters are distinctive. Sometimes funny, sometimes disturbing, and always engaging, this novel grabbed me from the first line to the last.
RECOMMENDED BY SUSAN
P.I. Tess Monaghan and her partner, Sandy, retired police detective, have been hired to deal with security for Melisandre, a woman who is the most narcissistic person you could ever imagine. Years before, she purposely left her baby to die in a hot car while she sat nearby, then she was acquitted and has come back to Baltimore to see her older daughters and make a film of them. I wanted to race through this to find out how it ends but at the same time, Melisandre is such an interesting study in human nature that it makes one slow down reading to try to figure out just what she is planning. A very intense mystery combining murder and manipulation with motherhood and love. I enjoyed it immensely.
RECOMMENDED BY PHIL
Nothing I have read about war has captured the damage done to and by individual combatants like this book. Written by Phil Klay, Marine officer & Iraq war veteran, the short stories in Redeployment are written from the perspective of a returning Iraqi war veteran and capture the individual psychological impact of war. Klay's stories ask the reader to be aware of the human cost of war, to think long and hard before using military force as the first option in resolving international conflict. I think Phil Klay is a brilliant young writer. His stories are gripping and disturbing, and well worth reading.
RECOMMENDED BY PHIL
This true story is that of 33 miners trapped 2000 feet below the surface, the result of an explosion that completely cut them off from the world above. For me, it was terrifying even to imagine their situation let alone to have to live through it. These were everyday, average people whose story became famous as the world watched their rescue unfolding. Tobar gives voices to the individuals who were trapped, their families and those committed to their extraordinary rescue. We know they survive, but how that remarkable achievement was realized and what all involved had to endure makes this a book you won't put down. I did not anyway.