I needed a couple of days to work out my feelings for “Denny Malone,” the good cop/bad cop character in The Force: A Novel. Whatever I end up thinking of Malone, a fictional character, it is a testament to a writer and a book that I was so conflicted.
This book was included on my summer reading list and is one of the last I’m finishing up before moving on to making a fall reading list. (My summer reading list is updated with several reviews and reflections.)
Denny Malone is a bad cop in the way that he takes bribes, takes money and drugs from crime scenes, and even sells the drugs back to the street. He does this all supposedly to “provide for his family” even though he usually chooses not to see them. These are some of the problems I have with Denny Malone. Also that “The fuck” without a question mark is often the way he asks a question in the dialogue.
American War: A novel is imaginative and terrifying.
Set from 2075 – 2175, the former “United States” is separated into the “Red” southern states and the “Blue” northern states. They separated over fossil fuels – the reds wanted to keep using, and the blues did not. But now, so much more separates them as they fight a violent civil war.
Also in this new world — a map is included at the front of the book — Florida is completely gone (it fell into the ocean) as is much of Louisiana. South Carolina is completely quarantined for a disease. Scared yet? Recent events (both political and environmental) make this an even more disturbing read.
I added If the Creek Don’t Rise: A Novel to my summer reading list because the setting and description reminded me of Hillbilly Elegy.
This book is fiction, but many of the themes are the same as in Elegy: people in isolated communities, living in poverty, with addiction and violence, and no easy way out.
I was pleasantly surprised by this novel, which I thoroughly enjoyed.
First of all, It includes strong women characters, one is Sadie, who has followed the usual path in marrying a bad husband too young, but she has a plan. And another character who isn’t even mentioned in the publisher’s notes, Miss Shaw, a teacher who comes to the area to attempt to make a difference, was my favorite. No previous teacher has lasted very long in this area.
I stepped away from my summer reading list to read (quickly!!) some non-fiction: Everybody Lies: Big Data, New Data, and What the Internet Can Tell Us About Who We Really Are.
The author, Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, spent several years analyzing Google data.
What is Google data? It is that phrase or question you type into the search bar in the privacy of your own computer or device.
Would you tell people everything you ask google? Probably not. And thus the appeal of this book (to me anyway). I wanted to know what people are asking Google!! Stephens-Davidowitz takes it further, of course, to explain how this data can be used.
The latest selection from my summer reading list is engrossing, informational, and timely; you’ll want to read this before August 21.
He Said/She Said is a psychological thriller set around a complete solar eclipse and characters who chase this phenomenon.
In 1999, Kit and Laura attend the eclipse festival in Cornwall, England. After they behold this rare and beautiful event, Laura witnesses a crime that has lasting implications on their lives and relationship.
The story models the five stages of an eclipse. As usual in modern thrillers (at least the ones I have read), it is told with alternating points of view and chopped-up time frames. This format has become the norm, I suppose, because it usually works to keep the pages turning.
I am thrilled (pun intended) to give the latest recommendation from my summer reading list:
Billed as a mystery/thriller especially for fans of Agatha Christie books, this book shines because of its clever use of intertextuality (don’t be scared of that word – instead just click on that word to read my previous post on this literary technique!). It is a book within a book.
For the record, I have never read anything by Agatha Christie, and I still loved this “tribute” to classic British crime novels.
Because Roxane Gay writes with such raw honesty in Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body it will be difficult for me to write a blog post in response. The story was so powerful and HERS that it is daunting to attempt to reflect upon it. But because I loved the book and want other people to read it (and I do have a book blog – ha!!!) I will give it a shot.
Roxane Gay, also the author of bestselling Bad Feminist: Essays, is fat, very fat. She uses this word – “fat” – about herself over and over.
“When I use the world I am not insulting myself. I am describing myself.”
Much of her story is about living as a fat person in this world, including the embarrassment, the despair, the hopelessness.
But her memoir is also about WHY she is fat.
Evelyn Hugo came from nothing and climbs to the top of her profession in old Hollywood. In The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, she tells her life story to one specific journalist handpicked for a reason that doesn’t become clear until the end.
This book and especially the character of Evelyn Hugo were so engrossing I sometimes forgot she was a fictional character. I felt like she was really sitting there telling me her life story of how and why she married seven times, which turned out to be different from the reasons I expected!
Hanging on every word of this woman who is characterized as a cross between Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, I also enjoyed the snippets from tabloids scattered throughout the novel that referred to the “truth” of the situations she is revealing.
I just finished reading The Women in the Castle: A Novel, a solid addition to the WWII fiction genre that filled the void since I enjoyed The Nightingale and several others from the past few years.
In fact I am working on a WWII fiction reading list and I am going to keep this post short so I can get back to compiling that before Memorial Day! I have been compiling this reading list for several months now but keep wanting to “add one more” to the list…
The beginning of this new novel by Jessica Shattuck reminded me of Belgravia, where socialites are enjoying a party – this time in a Bavarian castle – and love is in the air. But war is on the horizon, so the fun is short lived and duty calls both soldiers and resistors away.
Last year for Leslie’s Bookcase’s very first official book review I read All the Missing Girls: A Novel by Megan Miranda.
You may remember that I loved the book and recommended you clear your schedule and read this book immediately!
This year I had the opportunity – thanks to NetGalley – to download Miranda’s latest novel, The Perfect Stranger, in exchange for another honest review.
In this mystery/thriller, a failed journalist, Leah (though her failing is one a reader can sympathize with), runs into an old friend “Emmy” and decides to move away with her for a fresh start. When “Emmy” disappears soon after their move, Leah realizes that — on paper or the world wide web — the Emmy she knows doesn’t even exist. Leah’s credibility is once again at stake and she even becomes a suspect in Emmy’s disappearance. Thus Leah must work to uncover the truth herself.