|November 2017 Staff Reviews, New Fiction & Nonfiction, and More!
Check out these new Staff Favorites. Plus, read about the latest Novels and Nonfiction releases, get some gift book ideas, and see who's closing out our season of great author readings.
by Nnedi Okorafor
reviewed by Ruby
Here are two great authors writing fantasy set in Africa and the Middle East. S. A. Chakraborty has opened what promises to be a jaw-dropping fantasy trilogy with The City of Brass. I tore through this book, and if you're looking for a satisfying and dynamic story, this one has it all: magical cities, family feuds, political games, a little romance, friendship, and treachery. When Nahri, a con-artist, is forced to flee Cairo, she finds herself under the protection of a powerful djinn. But is her new refuge all it seems? Age-old resentments are simmering in the City of Brass, and Nahri can't help but stir the pot.
Nnedi Okorafor's Akata Witch and its sequel, Akata Warrior, are set mainly in Nigeria, where Sunny discovers a world that exists side-by-side with the one the rest of us inhabit daily. Used to being an outsider in both America and Nigeria, Sunny is awed to discover she belongs to the Leopard People, a group of scholarly and powerful magicians. Finding a place she belongs doesn't necessarily make all her problems go away; when there's still homework, and proving to her brother's friends that a girl can play soccer too--plus some noxious magical attacks that are starting to get pretty scary. Will Sunny learn enough, fast enough, to save herself and her new friends? Okorafor's writing is wonderful, and she'll have you rooting for Sunny from page one.
A Gentleman In Moscow
by Amor Towles
reviewed by Mary
On the off-chance that you haven't heard about this beautifully written novel set at the beginning of the Russian
Revolution, let me say that it is one of best books I have read this year. Sentenced to life in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow rather than being executed, Count Rostov creates a world for himself that is gentle and principled, laced with humor and daring. Here is history with a light touch, colorful and well-developed characters. It was a relief to read it after my book group discussed my other recommendation, Red Notice, by William Browder. A riveting, true thriller that led to the passing of the Magnitsky Act, back in the news today because Browder is being accused by the Russian government of murder. Chilling, but highly recommended.
reviewed by Michael
In his debut novel set in the Pacific Northwest, Michael Shou-Yung Shum creates a delightfully bittersweet world from an unlikely setting: a tumbledown casino. Queen of Spades traces the lives of three characters: a terminally ill pit boss, a recovering gambling addict, and a newly hired dealer trying to escape his past. Their fates are linked to a wealthy patron known only as The Countess and a single hand of cards. I loved getting to know these quixotic characters and living, all too briefly, in their fascinating world.
We hope you enjoy our final reading of 2017. We'll have more author visits in January 2018!
Thursday, November 16, 7pm
On a visit to Dorchester, England, Thomas Hardy's phantom--or is he just a figment of Floyd Skloot's oddly damaged brain?--tasks Floyd with finding out what Hardy missed in love. Floyd and his wife, Beverly, set out to discover what they can, visiting Hardy's birthplace, home, and grave, exploring the Dorset landscape and the famous novels with their themes of tormented love, and meeting characters deeply invested in Hardy's life and reputation.
New Fiction & Nonfiction
|Here are a few highlights from the fall publishing season:
by Jennifer Egan
Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where she becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father's life, the reasons he might have vanished. Manhattan Beach is a deft exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world.
by John Grisham
The Revolution of Marina M.
Mark, Todd, and Zola came to law school to change the world, to make it a better place. When they learn that their school is one of a chain owned by a shady New York hedge-fund operator who also happens to own a bank specializing in student loans, the three know they have been caught up in The Great Law School Scam. But maybe there's a way to escape their crushing debt, expose the bank and the scam, and make a few bucks in the process. But to do so, they would first have to quit school. And leaving law school a few short months before graduation would be completely crazy, right?
by Janet Fitch
From the author of White Oleander comes a sweeping historical saga of the Russian Revolution, as seen through the eyes of one young woman. St. Petersburg, New Year's Eve, 1916. Marina Makarova is a young woman of privilege who aches to break free of the constraints of her genteel life, a life about to be violently upended by the vast forces of history. Swept up on these tides, Marina will join the marches for workers' rights, fall in love with a radical young poet, and betray everything she holds dear, before being betrayed in turn. As her country goes through almost unimaginable upheaval, Marina's own coming-of-age unfolds, marked by deep passion and devastating loss, and the private heroism of an ordinary woman living through extraordinary times.
The Dark Lake
by Sarah Bailey
This debut suspense novel should appeal to readers of Tana French, Gillian Flynn, and Sophie Hannah. The lead homicide investigator in a rural town, Detective Sergeant Gemma Woodstock is deeply unnerved when a high school classmate is found strangled, her body floating in a lake. And not just any classmate, but Rosalind Ryan, whose beauty and inscrutability exerted a magnetic pull on Smithson High School. As much as Rosalind's life was a mystery to Gemma when they were students together, her enigmas frustrate and obsess Gemma, who has her own dangerous secrets--an affair with her colleague and past tragedies that may not stay in the past.
God: A Human History
by Reza Aslan
Aslan narrates the history of religion as a remarkably cohesive attempt to understand the divine by giving it human traits and emotions. According to Aslan, this innate desire to humanize God is hardwired in our brains, making it a central feature of nearly every religious tradition. More than just a history of our understanding of God, this book is an attempt to get to the root of this humanizing impulse in order to develop a more universal spirituality. Whether you believe in one God, many gods, or no god at all, God: A Human History will challenge the way you think about the divine and its role in our everyday lives.
You Can't Spell America Without Me
by Alec Baldwin and Kurt Andersen
Political satire as deeper truth: Donald Trump's presidential memoir, as recorded by America's foremost Trump scholar as well as America's foremost mediocre Trump impersonator. President Trump explains each of the historic decisions that have already made America great again, and how he always triumphs over the fake news media. You'll learn what he really thinks of his cabinet members and top aides not related to him, of the First Lady and the First Daughter and the additional three or four Trump children. Included at no extra charge is a lavish and exclusive portfolio of spectacular, historic and intimate color photographs of President Trump in private--inside the White House, inside Mar-a-Lago, at Trump Tower, and more.
Playing with Fire: The 1968 Election and the Transformation of American Politics
by Lawrence O'Donnell
The 1968 U.S. Presidential election was the young O'Donnell's political awakening, and in the decades since it has remained one of his abiding fascinations. For years he has deployed one of America's shrewdest political minds to understanding its dynamics, not just because it is fascinating in itself, but because in it is contained the essence of what makes America different, and how we got to where we are now. Playing With Fire represents O'Donnell's master class in American electioneering, embedded in the epic human drama of a system, and a country, coming apart at the seams in real time.
Walking with Peety: The Dog Who Saved My Life
by Eric O'Grey
Eric was 150 pounds overweight, depressed, and sick. After a lifetime of failed diet attempts, and the onset of type 2 diabetes due to his weight, Eric went to a new doctor, who surprisingly prescribed a shelter dog. And that's when Eric met Peety: an overweight, middle-aged, and forgotten dog who, like Eric, had seen better days. The two adopted each other and began an incredible journey together, forming a bond of unconditional love that forever changed their lives. Over the next year, just by going on walks, playing together, and eating plant-based foods, Eric lost 150 pounds, and Peety lost 25. As a result, Eric reversed his diabetes, got off all medication, and became happy and healthy for the first time in his life-eventually reconnecting with and marrying his high school sweetheart.
Storytellers Telling Stories
Here's the schedule of episodes through the end of 2017:
Storytellers Telling Stories is a literary "radio theatre" podcast with new episodes every Tuesday. Annie Bloom's is a proud sponsor.
For new episodes and teaser trailers, subscribe on iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, or any smartphone podcast app by searching for "Storytellers Telling Stories". You may also visit http://sttspodcast.buzzsprout.com. Storytellers Telling Stories was created to focus on what shapes our constructive discourse: point of view, narrative, community, and culture. Stories are how we jump into others' lives and feel what they're feeling. Our stories tell of raising children, falling in love, talking to the dead, protesting hatred, being objectified, falling out of love, and playing music in front of strangers.
Season 1, Ep.9 - Domi Shoemaker
Season 1, Ep.10 - Paul E. Lapier
Season 1, Ep.11 - Kate Gray
Season 1, Ep.12 - Reema Zaman (part 1)
Season 1, Ep.13 - Reema Zaman (part 2)
Season 1, Ep.14 - Davis Slater (part 1)
Season 1, Ep.15 - Davis Slater (part 2)
Season 1, Ep.16 - Daniel Elder