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!

 

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.

Unnatural Creatures selected by Neil Gaiman

A black spot appears on your tablecloth. When you look again, it’s gone. Now it’s on your wall. You blink. It’s on your ceiling. With each new appearance, it grows. It swells. It becomes a large, hideous, dark presence in your home. And then you learn – it’s hungry.

“Unnatural Creatures” is a collection of stories selected by Neil Gaiman. I picked it up while I was visiting Portland, Ore., to see a friend. Elbowing my way through the crowds at Powell’s Books to find a new read, I stumbled upon it in the staff-recommended section.

Since I was only allowing myself to buy one book (such willpower) I decided anything selected by Gaiman was worth checking out.

These fantasy stories feature dark and mystical creatures ranging from hungry black spots to professor werewolves.

In “Ozioma the Wicked” a young girl is an outcast when her town learns that she can speak to snakes. Then one day, something lowers itself down from the sky and threatens everything they hold dear. Only Ozioma can help them.

“Moveable Beast” is an adventure in which a Beast collector arrives at the Bastardville Dreamy Creamy, an ice cream store in a town that prides itself on being miserable. He comes to collect their beast, but little does he know what that beast truly is.

Larry Niven’s “The Flight of The Horse” is about a man who travels back in time to find curiosities for the modern royal family. He goes on a quest further back in history than ever before to find a horse but finds something quite startling instead.

In one of my favorite pieces of the collection, a young girl named Matilda gets off the omnibus one day at an unexpected destination. In this village, the princesses’ pet cockatoucan transforms aspects of the village with its magic laughter.

The king becomes a butcher; the prime minister becomes a child. It makes Sundays come together and Thursdays get lost. It changes time, people and places to make their village a topsy-turvy mess.

Though Matilda normally wouldn’t be able to tackle such a complicated problem, the cockatoucan accidently makes her clever. And she concocts a plan to set the village to rights.

Each piece in “Unnatural Creatures” is different and delightful. Whether the authors are writing about griffins or bicycles, the characters are unique, and the stories are imaginative.

Gaiman has assembled a charming collection of whimsical romps – whether they are dark, sweet or deadly – that any reader will enjoy.

Holiday happily ever afters

“Before I take you into the beating heart of the story, let’s get one thing out of the way. I know from experience that when it comes up later, it will distract you so much that you won’t be able to concentrate on anything else I will tell you. My name is Jubilee Dougal. Take a moment and let it sink in.” – Let it Snow

“Let it Snow” by John Green, Maureen Johnson and Lauren Myracle is a holiday treat for anyone who is getting into the spirit of the season.

This holiday trifecta begins with “The Jubilee Express” by Maureen Johnson. We are introduced to Jubilee on the night before Christmas, when her parents are arrested in an incident at the Flobie Santa’s Village showroom in line to buy one of the collectible ceramic village pieces they make – a fateful misunderstanding that leads to Jubilee being put on a train to her grandparents for Christmas. An epic snowstorm strands the train, and Jubilee ends up on a funny, romantic adventure that leads her to a happier Christmas than she originally envisioned.

In “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle” by John Green, we are introduced to JP, the Duke and Tobin. The Duke is a young lady; JP and Tobin are her two best guy friends. They are hanging out when they get convinced by a friend to brave the weather and travel to the local Waffle House despite the blizzard outside. Their journey to the Waffle House is full of missteps with their car, snowbanks, local rivals, the need for Twister and a little personal chemistry.

Last but not least, “The Patron Saint of Pigs” by Lauren Myracle is a charming story about a slightly self-involved Starbucks barista named Addie. She has just broken up with her boyfriend and must find a way to see through her amusing, but selfish haze of despair to help her best friend acquire a special something she has been wanting for a long time.

By going out of her way to help someone else through the goodness of her heart, Addie may get a second chance at her own happiness.

If you’re in the mood to escape with a blanket, hot chocolate and a sweet, simple read to put you in the holiday spirit, this book is the perfect pick for a chilly December afternoon.

These three seasonal stories intertwine, leaving readers with a satisfyingly warm and fuzzy feeling, much like a fleece gingerbread onesie for our souls.

Through everything from chance encounters to missing teacup pigs, we are delighted as each character eventually achieves his or her own holiday happily ever after.

Three Scenarios in which Hana Sasaki grows a tail by Kelly Luce

“Three Scenarios in which Hana Sasaki grows a tail” by Kelly Luce is a collection of quirky, refreshing short stories set in Japan. Disturbing, surreal and often touching, the collection is quite imaginative and thoroughly original.

Ms. Yamada’s toaster begins to predict how individuals are going to die. Curious people travel from all over to put bread in the toaster and watch as the kanji character that comes out on the toasted bread describes their fate. Suicide. Sleep. Cancer. Many roads but only one destination. And as a young delivery boy watches each person react to knowing the truth, he cannot help but wonder if it’s worth it.

In another tale, Maxine loses her brother Rooey to a shark attack. As she grieves, she slowly becomes him. She wears his deodorant. She checks his email. She falls for his girlfriend. As time passes, she begins to disappear into the brother she lost.

Lou and Yumiko are a typical couple living in an apartment when their toilet breaks. In an effort to get away from the construction, they take their vacation time to sleep on the roof, go to the beach and have the usual arguments that exist between couples making a life together. In a simple story of love and compromise, of hope and new beginnings, they find a way to be happy amidst the normal doubts of raising a family, cultural divides and past regrets.

Whether with demons and tails or love and family, Luce writes about people we cannot help but admire, fear and sympathize with. Each piece in this collection encapsulates something wholly unexpected.

The language is fresh and genuine, the characters beguiling or charming in turn and the realities are as delicate and changeable as freshly blown glass.

From completely unsettling to startlingly lovely, we may always be unsure as to where we will end up in Luce’s world, but each story transports us to somewhere delightfully strange and completely unique.