Books to be excited about in 2017

33652490    May 9, 2017

Murakami’s new short story collection, “Men without Women” promises to be tales about men from all walks of life ending up alone. From the descriptions it strikes me as a Murakami version of ‘This is How You Lose Her’ and I cannot be more excited for this release! I’m sure it will be as beautiful and surreal as all of his books have been.

For those that haven’t read Murakami previously – he is like reading a dream you’ve almost forgotten but thoroughly enjoyed.

29906980  February 14, 2017

“Lincoln in the Bardo” is a novel that takes place over the course of one night. When Abraham Lincoln buries his son Willie, he later returns to his grave under the cover of darkness. Visited by ghosts and written in what I can only assume will be the usual lovely prose of Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo promises to be haunting in the best sense of the word.

33151805  May 2, 2017

Guilty pleasure alert! If you need to escape into a good thriller occasionally, Paula Hawkins might be a good author to start picking up. “The Girl on the Train” was interesting while being slightly disturbing, so I can only hope that Hawkins pushes that instinct further in her newest novel, “Into the Water.” A story about a single mother who ends up dead at the bottom of a river and the daughter (and secrets) she leaves behind – I am excited to hibernate away a weekend with this read in May.

25489134  January 10, 2017

Not long to wait for this debut novel by Katherine Arden. ARC reviews have been raving over this novel seeped in Russian fairytales with a little of Cinderella’s stepmother mixed in. A young girl named Vasilisa grows up honoring the spirit creatures around her due to the guidance and fairy tales of her nurse.  But when her mother dies and her father remarries, the city-bred woman he brings home demands they stop their traditions, which brings misfortune on their village. When crops fail and danger befalls her home, Vasilisa must make a choice to save them, even if it goes against everything her Stepmother wants. A story that promises to be full of magic, history and a touch of rebellion, “The Bear and the Nightingale” sounds like a wonderful read for the new year.

30644520  January 3, 2017

This book hits the shelves tomorrow and a lot of fans of Roxane Gay can’t wait. A collection of stories of women from different paths, from a stripper to an engineer, are what makes up this new release. Narratives that explore the intricacies of sibling relationships, marriages and friendships through self deception, love and societal expectations  – “Difficult Women” sounds like a sharp edged dive into the lives behind incredibly interesting fictitious women in modern America.

 

For fans of the Dresden Files and the Kingkiller Chronicles, both of the newest releases have yet to have a definite date so we will just continue to wait. (Not that we’ve waited impatiently for years already but… oh wait, yes we have.)

Obviously there are tons of great books to be excited about in 2017 but these are just a few I’m looking forward too! I’d love to hear what everyone else is excited for, so please feel free to comment/message me.

Happy New Year!

 

Advertisements

in a dark, dark wood by Ruth Ware

23783496

I picked up “in a dark, dark wood” by Ruth Ware partially because – let’s be honest here – the cover is really pretty. But also because I felt like a good thriller. With the beginning of that crisp fall chill in the air, I wanted something a little creepy that would keep me turning the pages while curled up under my blanket at night. The inside jacket compared it to “Gone Girl” (which I didn’t love) but also to “The Girl on the Train” (which WAS good!) so I figured I had a 50/50 chance of enjoying it.

Nora is a writer who lives in a small flat by herself where she works, drinks coffee and generally just… exists, and pretty successfully too. One day she checks her email and discovers an invitation to a hen weekend (bachelorette weekend for us Americans) of her best friend from school, Clare, who she hasn’t seen in 10 years. Curiosity gets the better of her and Nora agrees to go as long as her current best friend, Nina, tags along.

Clare was beautiful, popular and cruel in school. She was the queen bee who manipulated and orchestrated to get what she wanted. Nora, who was more awkward and introverted back then, is hoping Clare has changed in their years apart.

The weekend of the hen party arrives and so do the guests – driving up a bumpy dirt road to a creepy glass house in the middle of the woods that has no cell service. Here we already know, someone is going to die! Woot! You know at least one person is going to be murdered in a dark grisly fashion when a book puts all the characters together in the woods with no cell service – it just wouldn’t be right otherwise.

The other attendees at the hen weekend are a small mixed group. Tom, a gay male friend in the theater business. Flo, the very intense, slightly crazy and extremely controlling current best friend of Clare. Another friend who we don’t need to name because she disappears quickly from the plot when she misses her baby too much to stay. And of course Nora, Nina and Clare herself. Overall, a typical gathering of stereotypes thrown together for this one weekend of pre-wedding intrigue and murder.

So the stage is set – the guests have arrived, the creepy house beckons and the woods are waiting. Clare rolls up last to her hen weekend and immediately informs Nora that she’s marrying Nora’s ex-boyfriend (whom Nora is still in love with) and we’re off! Love, betrayal, lies and the slow unfurling of their past.

The guests play games, drink and as they get to know each other, the menacing hints begin. Footsteps in the snow, the main phone line being cut, a door flying open in the wind while they’re all sleeping. Is someone or something in the woods with them? Is someone or something in the house with them?

“in a dark, dark wood” kept me turning the pages even when about two-thirds through, I was pretty sure I knew who killed who and why. I quite enjoyed the book despite it’s slightly predictable cast of characters, setting and plot twists. It’s definitely a fun novel for fans of light thrillers, murder mysteries and anything with a little old school love and betrayal-by-my-former-best-friend in it.

Less irritating than “Gone Girl” but not nearly as good as “Girl on the Train” – “in a dark, dark wood” will keep you happily entranced for an evening or two, but it won’t make you hide behind your couch with an ax when someone rings your doorbell.

The Strange Library by Murakami

Last night I eagerly climbed into bed and cracked open The Strange Library by Murakami. Freshly released, much anticipated – I couldn’t wait to delve into it.

15 minutes later I was done. It was over. What? WHAT?

Not that it was bad, I enjoyed the short romp into one of Murakami’s worlds… I just wish there was more! I wanted more! Why wasn’t there more?

The Strange Library is a compact, but beautiful, little story. It has intriguing illustrations incorporated into the book as the story progresses, something I haven’t seen before in Murakami’s works and which adds a whole new perspective to the story you’re enjoying. In this tale, we go on an adventure with a young man who just wanted to check out some books. (Don’t we all?) It begins as he enters the city library and returns a few volumes. The woman at the front desk tells him to go to room 107 in the basement. Suspicious, but wanting new books, he goes to room 107 and there he meets a large, angry, man. The man asks him what he wants and the boy tells him the first thing that pops into his head – he is interested in books on tax collection in the Ottoman Empire. Three large dusty tomes are fetched and the boy is instructed that he must go to the reading room to read these books. To get to the reading room he follows the large man through a labyrinth, down many dark hallways, stairways, and eventually – into a cell. Suddenly the boy finds himself locked away and in grave danger. He must read all the books he was given or he won’t be allowed to go home. The mysteriousness of his adventure continues, though I don’t want to ruin it for you. There is an odd accomplice in a sheep suit, a beautiful girl and a daring attempt at escape. There is even delicious donuts and a brave pet starling.

As always, Murakami’s writing is lovely. He’s imaginative, mystical and unique. Nothing ever quite makes sense in his stories but we don’t mind, we’re just along for the ride.

When you pick up The Strange Library, turn those pages slowly and savor it while it lasts. It’s a short but sweet escape into a library of darkness, danger, books and possibly, love. We couldn’t ask for anything more.

New releases to lose sleep over

Holidays are great aren’t they? Not only do we get to buy books for our loved ones but people give us books! And certificates for books! And money to buy MORE books! It’s the best time of the year.

Here are a few upcoming releases to be excited about this holiday season and save some of that cash for.

           To be released: December 2, 2014

Haruki Murakami will be releasing “The Strange Library” next week and if you’re a bookworm – be really excited. Book nerds like us adore authors who write about their love of literature or set their stories in a place of books. Shadow of the Wind? Dash and Lily? Ex-Libris? So many great novels revolve around books within books. “The Strange Library” is about a boy and a girl who try to escape a dark and mystical library full of nightmarish things. SO EXCITED! Who doesn’t want to read about being trapped in a dark, surreal library? It’s a dream come true.

 

 To be released: January 6, 2015

SO YOU THOUGHT FLAVIA WAS GONE? Think again. Flavia may have been packed up to be sent away from Bradshaw at the end of the last book, but her new adventures will occur in the super secret boarding school for spies. New mysteries to solve, new murders to stumble upon. And all with fellow children her age who are uncannily intelligent! It’s a whole new world and I can’t wait to see what Flavia will get tangled up in next.

 

To be released: February 17, 2015

I can only imagine this will be yet another rollicking adventure with our favorite couple, Sherlock Holmes and his badass wife Mary Russell. They are on their way to California (always an excellent choice) and decide to stop by Japan on the way over. The mystery begins aboard their steamer and continues round the world, from Tokyo to Oxford.

                  To be released: December 23, 2014

I have not actually read Sundquists’s other book but I’ve read great reviews on it and this one sounds really funny too. I’m looking forward to checking out this author and seeing if he’s worth his salt! “We should hang out sometime” is Josh humorously investigating why he can’t seem to get a girlfriend. He has many adventures and mishaps and it promises to be an amusing trip into his world.

 

I’m sure there are many more upcoming. What are some of the books you’re excited for?

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

“Maybe I am fated to always be alone, Tsukuru found himself thinking. People came to him, but in the end they always left. They came, seeking something, but either they couldn’t find it, or were unhappy with what they found (or else they were disappointed or angry), and then they left. One day, without warning, they vanished, with no explanation, no word of farewell. Like a silent hatchet had sliced the ties between them, ties through which warm blood still flowed, along with a quiet pulse.”

Tsukuru Tazaki had four best friends in high school, all of whose names had a color inside them. He always felt that he didn’t quite fit with them because his name did not, but they were close despite what he felt was his colorlessness. Four friends who did everything together, an inseparable group that seemed to be balanced perfectly between each personality. Until the day they were gone.

For no reason that he can fathom, his friends cut him off with no explanation. They don’t answer his calls, avoid him when he’s home and he doesn’t see them again for many years. From that day forward, Tazaki is lost. He seems unable to connect to other people, gaining no more close friends and engaging in no close relationships. He attends college, gets a job and moves on with his life physically in Tokyo, but his spirit is still stuck in his past. He almost doesn’t survive the loss, as their absence from his life sends him into a deep and almost irreversible depression.

Then he meets Sara. A lovely woman who attracts him and who he can actually see, possibly, spending the rest of his life with. She presses him to find out what happened, insisting that they won’t be able to move forward until he fixes his shattered past because some part of him will always be holding back. Always waiting for his friends to return.

Tazaki embarks upon trips to confront and speak with each person in his old quartet to figure out what happened and why.

And what he finds is deeply disturbing.

Murakami is as always, mystical, enthralling and personal. He delves into his characters unabashedly, showing you their strange nightmares and weird urges along with their softer inclinations and goodness. Tazaki sees himself as a boring person and much of the book feels muted because of how he describes himself, his past and his thoughts. He seems almost detached from the innermost self he lays bare for us; the same detachment he battles with in his relationships with other people. His despair in being colorless permeates his entire story and how it unfolds.

Though this wasn’t my favorite Murakami, it was definitely a worthwhile read. For those that may have struggled with 1Q84, this is completely the opposite – in length, size and design.

“Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage” is a pocket-sized story packed with emotional resonance and atmospheric storytelling. Tazaki will give you hope that even those who are lost for a long time, can find their way back to who they were meant to be.

Broken Harbor by Tana French

Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy, a no-nonsense grizzled detective on the murder squad in Dublin, is given a case in Brianstown, formerly known as Broken Harbor. A family murdered in their home with only one survivor. Was it an inside job or a random killing? Was it an act of love, revenge or just plain evil? Kennedy and his rookie partner, Richie, are on the case.

But Kennedy isn’t new to this location. His own childhood trauma occurred on the beaches of the very same harbor, reverberating throughout his life every since. His own memories, guilt and confusion play a part in his ability to solve this case. His sister has gone crazy again, something that he believes started with what happened on that beach when they were kids. He has to figure out the past, the case and keep himself together, with just a few days to do it.

Broken Harbor, like all of Tana French’s books, isn’t a straightforward murder mystery. The mystery is as much psychological trauma as it is physical, often entwined around dark memories long buried. These memories inevitably start to seep into their everyday life, making the characters unravel slowly, thread by thread, until they are barely hanging on. As you read, you almost feel like you’re going a little crazy with them.

I have enjoyed every book by Tana French, though I believe The Likeness is still my favorite, and this book is no exception. Well written and fast paced, it is full of deep emotion, vivid imagery and suspenseful plot twists. Broken Harbor is well worth picking up, but you may want to read it with the light on. Just in case.

(Book will be released July 24, 2012)