In this heartbreakingly beautiful book of disillusioned intimacy and persistent yearning, beloved and celebrated author Andre Dubus III explores the bottomless needs and stubborn weaknesses of people seeking gratification in food and sex, work and love.
In these linked novellas in which characters walk out the back door of one story and into the next, love is “dirty”—tangled up with need, power, boredom, ego, fear, and fantasy. On the Massachusetts coast north of Boston, a controlling manager, Mark, discovers his wife’s infidelity after twenty-five years of marriage. An overweight young woman, Marla, gains a romantic partner but loses her innocence. A philandering bartender/aspiring poet, Robert, betrays his pregnant wife. And in the stunning title novella, a teenage girl named Devon, fleeing a dirty image of her posted online, seeks respect in the eyes of her widowed great-uncle Francis and of an Iraq vet she’s met surfing the Web.
Slivered by happiness and discontent, aging and death, but also persistent hope and forgiveness, these beautifully wrought narratives express extraordinary tenderness toward human beings, our vulnerable hearts and bodies, our fulfilling and unfulfilling lives alone and with others.
It makes me laugh when I hear folks think Molly and I rushed into things too fast, spouting that we couldn’t possibly have felt what we did for each other in such a short space of time. I say, how the hell would they know? We made it, didn’t we? She became my whole life, didn’t she? And as for my folks not being real, being true? Tell that to me aged ten, eleven, twelve—damn, all my bastard life—when I was never enough, when I was beaten until I bled for being too good at football and not being everything they’d dreamed: the perfectly dutiful son. Tell that to thousands of kids around the world getting wailed on by parents for whatever stupid reason; tell them evil don’t exist in their eyes. This is the story of me and my girl, from my lips. No mushy sentiment, no cheese, just the plain, hard truth, and, because I’m feeling generous, I’m going to let you in on more of our story too.
Abby Nichols is happy with her life in Lewiston, Maine. However, her father has aspirations for a better life. Her mother is often sad because of the two babies she lost. Abby and her sister Rose like living near the beach and on the same street as all their friends. Once her father’s business takes off, he moves them to a much bigger house in Barnegat Point. Her mother has another baby named Fred who is not normal. Soon after there is another baby girl named Adele. Her father becomes frustrated with Fred and sends him away to school, causing her mother to have a breakdown. Mr. Nichols is very controlling; he decides who the girls can be friends with and what they will do with their time. Abby doesn’t like living with her father’s restrictions and dreams of a different life.
This is an interesting story. It covers a long period of time in Abby’s life and jumps forward quite a bit here and there. This is the first in a planned series of four books spanning four generations of Abby’s family. It offers glimpses into the life of Abby and her family and what happens during her childhood years. I thought her father seemed overly harsh and controlling and really wanted more on why he acted the way he did. Her mother was clearly suffering from postpartum depression and Fred was of course mentally handicapped. I think fans of historical fiction will enjoy this book and look forward to reading the others in the series.
Anton and Cecil are brother cats living in a harbor by the sea. Anton is a quiet cat who likes to listen to the sailors sing. Cecil is an adventurous cat who likes to go out on the day trips with the sailors. One day Anton is impressed into service on one of the ships and Cecil jumps on another ship to try and find him. They both have a lot of adventures on the high seas featuring rats and pirates and marooning. This is a fun romp on the high seas. I think kids will really like this tale, especially if they like animal adventure stories. I liked the distinct personalities of the two cats. I also enjoyed the slightly paranormal bit about the cat eye in the sky and the whale.
Thumbing across the scorched Texas desert, Jack Reacher has nowhere to go and all the time in the world to get there. Cruising the same stretch of two-lane blacktop is Carmen Greer. For Reacher, the lift comes with a hitch. Carmen’s got a story to tell, and it’s a wild one-all about her husband, her family secrets, and a hometown that’s purely gothic. She’s also got a plan. Reacher’s part of it. And before the sun sets, this ride could cost them both their lives.
When beautiful but aloof Claire Harkness is found dead in her dorm room one spring morning, prestigious Armitage Academy is shaken to its core. Everyone connected to the school finds their lives upended, from the local police detective who has a personal history with the academy, to the faculty and staff whose daily lives are immersed in it. Everyone wants to know how Claire died, at whose hands, and more importantly, where the baby that she recently gave birth to is-a baby that almost no one, except her small innermost circle, knew she was carrying.
At the center of the investigation is Madeline Christopher, an intern in the English Department who is forced to examine the nature of the relationship between the school’s students and the adults meant to guide them. As the case unravels, the dark intricacies of adolescent privilege at a powerful institution are exposed, and both teachers and students emerge as suspects.
I usually don’t pick up something so romantic and fanciful, but I’m glad I did. I really enjoyed the beautiful imagery even if it was a bit too sentimental at times. Carb Warning! It will make you crave fresh pasta…and possibly opera.
Lush and evocative, told in tantalizing detail and enriched with lovable, unforgettable characters, The Shoemaker’s Wife is a portrait of the times, the places and the people who defined the immigrant experience, claiming their portion of the American dream with ambition and resolve, cutting it to fit their needs like the finest Italian silk.
This riveting historical epic of love and family, war and loss, risk and destiny is the novel Adriana Trigiani was born to write, one inspired by her own family history and the love of tradition that has propelled her body of bestselling novels to international acclaim. Like Lucia, Lucia, The Shoemaker’s Wife defines an era with clarity and splendor, with operatic scope and a vivid cast of characters who will live on in the imaginations of readers for years to come.
WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart Words are like a road map to reporter
Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls. NASTY on her kneecap, BABYDOLL on her leg Since she left town eight years ago, Camille has hardly spoken to her neurotic, hypochondriac mother or to the half-sister she barely knows: a beautiful thirteen-year-old with an eerie grip on the town. Now, installed again in her family’s Victorian mansion, Camille is haunted by the childhood tragedy she has spent her whole life trying to cut from her memory. HARMFUL on her wrist, WHORE on her ankle As Camille works to uncover the truth about these violent crimes, she finds herself identifying with the young victims– a bit too strongly. Clues keep leading to dead ends, forcing Camille to unravel the psychological puzzle of her own past to get at the story. Dogged by her own demons, Camille will have to confront what happened to her years before if she wants to survive this homecoming. With its taut, crafted writing, “Sharp Objects” is addictive, haunting, and unforgettable.
“What if you could live again and again, until you got it right? On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to a
n English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war. Does Ursula’s apparently infinite number of lives give her the power to save the world from its inevitable destiny? And if she can — will she? Darkly comic, startlingly poignant, and utterly original — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best”
Another story where the orphan maiden is sacrificed to the local dragon, and eventually marries the prince of the kingdom.
Not all goes as planned, first, they weren’t sure the dragon still existed, since no one had seen him. Then it turns out the dragon really didn’t want to deal with humans, he was too old, and humans too dangerous. Then it turns out that dragons horde very different items depending on their own particular interest. This particular dragon hordes shoes. The protagonist Creel, gets a pair of shoes from the dragon, shoes with special powers. A delightful tale, I did think back to the Stolen Child, about the theme, enjoying what you’ve got, when Creel was living in the dragon’s cave, eating well, pleasant company, and able to embroider to her heart’s content. To someone who would love more time to craft, it sounded idea.. Not as good as the other 2 books I’ve read by Day, the pacing was a bit too intense towards the end for me.
Starstruck follows the struggles of three young women as they attempt to rise to fame and fortune in Hollywood. It’s the 1930′s; the “Golden Age of Hollywood”. The Great Depression has cast a pall on the country and tensions are revving up overseas. The glittering stars of Hollywood provide the distraction that keeps the American public entertained under troubling circumstances. Margaret lives in Pasadena with her high-society parents. She’s been groomed for her upcoming debutante debut, but wants none of it. A regular reader of the trade magazines, Margaret dreams of one day setting foot on the lot of famous Hollywood studio. She even skips school to hang out at a diner in LA where she hopes to catch even the slightest glimpse of one of her idols. On one of these outings, she has the good fortune to run into a powerful agent representing Olympus Studios. She’s offered a screen test; a opportunity most girls would kill for. She’s elated, but a problem remains: her parents will have nothing to do with Hollywood or acting. They want her to marry well and follow in their society footsteps. In stark contrast to Margaret, there is Amanda. Amanda worked her way up from the bottom. Poverty will make people do things they wouldn’t normally do and Amanda made the most of her good looks and charm in order to make money. It’s not uncommon in Hollywood, but if anyone finds out, all her hard work will be for naught. Gabby, on the other hand, is the girl born into showbiz. Her mother, a classic stage mother, raised her in Vaudeville prior to trying their hand in Hollywood. Gabby works hard and has no life outside of the studio, but her best never seems to be good enough. She’s a good singer, but struggles with the dancing that’s expected to accompany her talent. Instructed to lose 20 pounds by her director, Gabby begins taking diet pills.
The three girls’ paths cross on the storied Olympus Studio lot and their lives are forever changed. Deception, intrigue and a little bit of movie magic combine to make a stylish and compulsively readable series opener. Comparisons to Anna Godberson’s work would not be amiss here. Where this series shines, however, is the use of historical context to bolster the plot. None of the characters exist in a vacuum. Imagined characters brush shoulders with real Hollywood legends. Events like the Great Depression, the implementation of the Hays Code and tensions brewing at home and abroad add to the authenticity of the story while never distracting from the juicy plot. A great start to a fun and stylish new historical YA series.
Billy Dean is a special child. He is born on a day of death and destruction, when bombs nearly destroyed the small town of Blinkbonny. He is the only life that came out of that dreadful day. Billy’s world consists entirely of a small attic room with locks on the door. His mother, a beautiful hairdresser, is his only contact with the outside world. She teaches him nearly everything he knows. Billy’s father only comes around from time to time, smelling of incense, candles and cigarettes. When his father does come around, he tells Billy strange and confusing tales. One day, his father leaves and does not return. Billy’s mother decides it is finally time to bring Billy out into the world.
At the age of 13, Billy sees the world for the first time and is both frightened and entranced. There are only two other people who are aware of Billy’s origins: the woman who helped birth him, Misses Malone and the local butcher, with whom Billy’s mother has been having a relationship. As it turns out, Misses Malone has plans for Billy that involve talents Billy is unaware of possessing. It begins with Billy being used as a medium to help connect survivors with their lost loved ones. It escalates into healing the sick. Billy is treated as an angel, with everyone from miles around coming to town for his blessing. Billy isn’t so sure and suspects that he may actually be the monster that his father once told him he was. He isn’t even sure about his own abilities. He’s fairly certain that he’s not who everyone else seems to think he is.
David Almond’s newest is definitely a challenging read. The entire book is narrated by Billy whose spelling can only be described as phonetic. Billy’s story is unusual and the particulars are revealed incrementally. This is likely going to be one of those books that readers either love or hate. I doubt there’s much middle ground. I, for one, found this to be a strangely compelling tale, the likes of which I haven’t come across in YA literature very often. Appeal may not be broad, but for more sophisticated readers, this will be a fascinating and rewarding read.
Josie Moraine is not your typical 1950′s teenager. To start with, most of the girls she’s met are not the daughters of New Orleans prostitutes. Most girls haven’t even set foot inside a French Quarter brothel. Josie’s been making money cleaning one up every morning for years. The brothel’s madame, Willie, is more like a mother to Josie than Josie’s real mother. Josie’s father is not even remotely in the picture. Her father figure is a local writer and book store owner who long ago gave Josie a room above the shop that she could escape to when circumstances got too tough. The store is currently run by the writer’s son, Patrick as the father is sick with what a modern reader can only assume is Alzheimer’s. Josie is done with high school and is hoping desperately to be able to leave New Orleans in the near future. When a wealthy man walks into her bookstore and speaks to her of colleges out east, Josie starts dreaming. Then the wealthy man turns up dead. Her mother leaves town with her abusive ex, Cincinnati, which also leaves a fair amount of drama in their wake. In the meantime, Josie is introduced to a girl her age who attends college at Smith and encourages Josie to apply as well. Josie becomes fixated on the dream of attending the prestigious all-women’s college, but circumstances seem to be conspiring to keep her in New Orleans.
Out of the Easy is a lovely period piece that transports the reader to a colorful era of New Orleans history. Josie’s is anything but sheltered. She brushes up against some of the roughest characters in the French Quarter, but always manages to keep her wits about her. She’s smart and tough. The other characters in our story are fantastic as well. Willie is the perfect madam-with-a-heart-of-gold. She’s shrewd and tough, but clearly cares deeply about Josie’s well-being. Josie’s mother is a complete terror and her ex, Cincinnati is palpably creepy. While the book is billed as a mystery, Josie does not fulfill the traditional book role of a teen spy who is somehow able to solve a murder all by herself. In fact, Josie is only interested in the murder because she developed an affinity for a man she had only met once. She sees in him a possible father, as far from the truth as it may be. She knows she’s desperate for a father and acknowledges that this desperation is likely why she cares anything about the murder of a wealthy tourist. It isn’t until she finds his watch in her mother’s room after her mother skips town that Josie begins to suspect this murder might involve people she knows. Even then, she doesn’t fill her time trying to track a killer, which is actually a really refreshing change of pace. The murder definitely affects her life, but not in the way that it might in most YA mysteries. What really shines in this book is the character development and the sense of place created by Sepetys. Out of the Easy is a wonderfully nuanced and layered novel.
Fans of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman will remember Lucifer as the devil who retired from Hell and locked the door behind him. Now Lucifer Morningstar is back and starring in his own comic. He’s out of retirement and major plans. It’s going to take a bit of trickery, magic and obfuscation, but when Lucifer sets his mind to something, there’s really very little one can do to change his mind.
I love the world of Sandman, so it’s really no surprise that this comic would appeal to me. Many of the players that we know and love are present in this story. I didn’t love it quite as much as Sandman, but for those who just can’t get enough (and can’t wait for more of the new Sandman prequels), Lucifer should tide them over nicely.
The War Within These Walls follows a young Polish boy whose Jewish family has been moved into the ghetto in Warsaw by the Nazis. Like so many others, Misha’s family endures devastating conditions. Misha begins to sneak through the sewers just to find food for his family. Eventually, his little sister joins him as well. Until she fails to return, that is. As things go from bad to worse, Misha joins his fellow Warsaw residents in one final stand against the Nazis.
The Warsaw Uprising is not addressed in YA fiction much, if at all. This slim novel brings the events of that struggle into focus with a sparse verse-like narrative and somber blue-grey drawings. It’s a lovely, if devastating, story about an important chapter in our collective history.
With advice like this….
“How to Become a Better Conversationalist:
Avoid talking about anything
interesting or worthwhile.
Helpful Acronym: FURRY
Other helpful acronyms:
…how can you go wrong?
Seriously though, I laughed out loud throughout.
Thirty-one year old Claire Hatley is running from Seattle having just discovered that her live-in boyfriend has traded her in for a twenty-two year old hostess. Devastated and alone Claire must make a fresh start. She answers an ad for a chef at a guest ranch just outside Colorado Springs and finds herself face to face with Cole Mitchell, quite possibly the sexiest man to ever ride a horse. Common sense tells them to stay away from each other, but their attraction is not to be denied. He gives her a glimpse of what love should be, but just as she starts to trust him, the past comes back to tear them apart.
Join Claire and Cole as they embark on the stormy love affair of a lifetime.
Lila Summers just wants to know one thing for certain: that Ethan Gregory will be with her always. Once her friend, he’s become so much more, melting the pain of her past away with each kiss. Now Lila is on a road trip with Ethan, in the wilderness under the stars, and she can’t imagine her life without him. But when she talks about the future, something in Ethan changes . . .
Ethan has no doubts about his feelings for Lila. His life with her gets better every day-and that’s the scary part. How can he walk into a future where he has everything to lose? With Lila, his whole heart is on the line for the very first time. But if Ethan can’t give her the promise she needs, his greatest fear might come true: he’ll lose Lila for good.