Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For January, we’re looking at a gender and culture-swapped retelling of Pride and Prejudice, a series of intense crime thrillers, and a history of the Rough Riders, Theodore Roosevelt, and the Spanish-American War.
I’ve been meaning to read Liane Moriarty for awhile. Her books seem right up my alley, so to speak, and Mary-Esther recently suggested that I give Moriarty’s most recent book a try. Since I was home sick for a protracted amount of time, I thought, “What better way to feel better about myself than reading about somebody else’s hellish experience at a health resort?”
And although the book did not, in point of fact, heal me of my own bronchitis, it was a wonderfully engaging page-turner–one I enjoyed very much. So much so that I’ve already requested a bunch of Moriarty’s other books from the library.
Rachel Watson has, to put it mildly, seen better days.
An unstable alcoholic who is prone to blackouts, she no longer has a husband, job, or home. Instead, she’s reduced to living with a friend and spending her days riding the train because she has nothing better to do with her time. She distracts herself by watching a couple who live in a house next to the railway track.
As she rides by every day, she crafts a story in her head about this seemingly perfect couple. She gives them names and occupations and hobbies. And, yes, that’s as creepy as it sounds. This unhinged respite from her own troubled life is shaken one day when she rides by and sees something that shatters the illusions she has created in her own imagination.
Even more worryingly, she learns soon that the woman who lives in the house has disappeared. Rachel starts to suspect that she may know more about the case than she realizes, but she can’t remember anything. Complications ensue.
So . . . perhaps you read our Exploring the Fjord Side post and thought, “That Scandinavian crime fiction sure sounds bleak. I don’t know that I want to read something that snowy and brooding.”
In that particular case, perhaps Jennifer Lynn Barnes’s The Naturals, a gripping but decidedly less brooding (and non-snowy) YA mystery would be a little more to your liking.
In the mid-1990s in Akure, Nigeria, 9-year-old Benjamin lives with his 3 older brothers, 2 younger siblings, and his parents. Their lives are going smoothly enough until their father is transferred to another city for his job at the national bank. He doesn’t want to uproot the family, so they stay in their home, and the boys develop a love for fishing at the local river. One day, a local mentally-ill homeless man, who some consider a prophet, predicts that the oldest brother will be killed by one of his siblings. This prophecy destabilizes the family as the oldest brother becomes paranoid and withdrawn and his mother and younger siblings are hurt and confused by his rejection of them.
But is the prophecy true?
To manga or not to manga. For me, it was a big NEVER, until last week. I know this may be an inflammatory statement on my part, for some of you. But it is the truth. I had never read any manga and had never really wanted to read it.
However, a few months ago when I was at Books in Bloom, some of our teen volunteers were taking a break at my table, and I made them give me reading suggestions. Bradley told me I needed to read Death Note, and Dustin recommended Shaman King to me. I finally got around to reading their suggestions, and I’m happy to report that my introduction to manga was an enjoyable experience. (Thanks for the great recommendations, guys!)
Dolores Claiborne is a hardworking, tough talking housekeeper for an elderly woman on an island just off the coast of Maine. She’s been accused of killing her employer by shoving her down the stairs, and Dolores has her work cut out for her, explaining why she is, in fact, innocent of that crime, though she readily admits she did murder her husband thirty years earlier. Stephen King’s Dolores Claiborne is the protagonist’s chapterless confession of what drove her to murder her husband and also an explanation for why she didn’t murder her employer, Vera, despite having several good reasons for doing so.