My mom used to yell at me to come out from the other side of the bed and play with my friends who had come over to visit. It wasn't that I didn't want to play; it was just that a book, pretty much any book, had caught my attention and carried me away. A reader since I was old enough to hold a book, it never occurred to me that a person could actually have a JOB where books and people could come together and one could actually earn money doing it. A brief stint at Waldenbooks at the old Crossroads Mall in Salt Lake City cemented my love for working in a bookstore. Even processing "returns" was fascinating to me. Next came a job at the circulation desk at the Salt Lake City public library which was really fun but not the same as retail. Many years and two kids later I found myself back in Salt Lake. The King's English has been my home away from home for over a decade now and I can't imagine doing anything else.
If you take the true grit of Mattie Ross and mix it with the disguises and daring-do of the Scarlet Pimpernel you get a glimpse of Jessilyn Harney in this amazing novel of the West when gunslingers were for hire and politics didn't look too different from the way they look today. After caring for her father until his death, Jess loads the only thing left to her, his rifle, and sets off to look for her runaway older brother. She doesn’t have to look too long or too far; he’s created quite a name for himself as an outlaw with a Robin Hood streak to his talents. I loved this story of the lengths people will go to to protect their families, blood-related or not.
“The Sinaloa cartel thanks you…” Rice Morton isn’t who he appears to be. Charged with protecting a wildlife preserve deep in the remote Virginia forest, he can stay hidden. He’s just beginning to relax when he’s lead to a bear carcass and so begins a crusade against the poachers—a crusade that may prove his undoing. His do-it-yourself witsec program is no match for the cartel he’s bloodied the nose of, and an aggrieved FBI agent is pointing the cartel right at him. – Paula Longhurst
The subtitle of this delightful story is “a novel of Robert Louis Stevenson,” and as soon as you are three pages into the book it truly feels like RLS is speaking to sotto voce so neither of you will miss a word John Carson is saying. Brian Doyle begins with a bit of truth: RLS did live for a time in San Francisco at 608 Bush Street, home of the Carsons. He was waiting anxiously for his sweetheart Fanny to obtain a divorce and split his time between visiting her in Oakland and working on his writing. As this story goes, Robert and John often sat before the fire with a pipe in the evening and there, the old man would spin out tales of traveling the world, having death-defying adventures, and invariably, just before the worst of the story was about to happen, Mrs. Carson would call them into dinner leaving RLS on the edge of his seat. A quick read and one everyone will love, Brian Doyle was a master storyteller.
Ruth Young’s father, professor Howard Young is in the early stages of dementia. Her mother has asked her to come home, for a year maybe, to help, and since her fiancé has left her for another woman, Ruth decides she might as well. She loves her father but he hasn’t always been faithful to her mother so she’s conflicted. But life is not black and white and when her father’s teaching assistant asks her to help him create a “pretend” class for her dad to teach, Ruth goes along with it. In the process, she learns that while the mind forgets some things, the heart doesn’t and love and forgiveness matter more than anything. This is Khong’s first novel and it’s both funny and sad; I loved it.
The author of this memoir didn’t set out to investigate the rape and murder of six-year-old Jeremy Guillory in Louisiana. It was the case she was assigned as a young law school intern in 1992. In a fascinating twist, this becomes not only the true story of a heinous crime for which the perpetrator is in prison, the investigation unlocks the author’s memories of her own youth; a childhood in which she and her sisters were repeatedly sexually abused by their maternal grandfather. As she moves backward and forward in time between Ricky Langley, the young man who killed Jeremy, and her own life, the reader is swept along on a current of both dismay and awe. Dismay that human beings can do these things to each other, and awe that, at least the author, could face the demon and move on. I’ve never read another book like this.
In her first novel for adults, Jacqueline Woodson writes a very real story of four young girls growing up in Brooklyn in the ‘70s. And it may be a story about being black but it felt universal to me. August is a young woman coming of age and coming in to her power, and she understands some things and wonders mightily about others. But in the meantime, she does her homework, says no to boys when she needs to and goes off to college when some of her friends make other choices or have choices made for them. It’s the old adage, “We are all different, we are all alike”. I would have loved to have been friends with August.
Ajatashatru Oghash Rathod, the fakir, flies from Rajasthan, India to Paris to purchase the Hertsyörbåk bed of nails advertised for a mere €99 by IKEA. Unfortunately, that model is out of stock until the next morning. Fortunately for the reader, Aja opts to spend the night in the “bedroom” section of the giant store and so his adventure begins. In a wild series of mistaken identities, misunderstandings, and pure mishaps, our fakir ends up traveling all over Western Europe (and Africa!) in a variety of contraptions including a hot air balloon. What could be contrived in less capable hands, is instead a lovely novel of the journey to find a bed and finding so much more. Stack this small gem high for winter reading!
Out of the mouths of babes is the best way to describe this story. It’s 1976 and the neighbors on the cul-de-sac come and go each day and do a great deal of minding each other’s business. When one of them, Mrs. Creasy, disappears, it sets in motion a flurry of suspicion and gossip. Viewed through the eyes of ten-year-old Grace and her little friend Tilly, it becomes clear that they need to find the missing woman by knocking on each household’s door, finding their way inside, and in the course of “investigating” manage to uncover secrets that have lain dormant for a decade. At once funny and tender-hearted, this is also a look at the ways in which human beings can bring out the absolute best and worst in each other.
Even Frank’s mother calls him a “character” and from the novel’s opening pages it’s clear the label fits. Everything about the 9-year-old, from the clothes he wears to his encyclopedic knowledge of the early days of Hollywood (and a little of everything else) is intriguing, and will have you eagerly turning the pages, dying to know what he’ll come up with next. Frank’s mother, Mimi, is on deadline to deliver a manuscript that doesn’t seem to be happening. The publisher sends its Gal Friday, Alice Whitley, to “help” Mimi finish the book. Mimi adamantly doesn’t want help and Frank needs help, or supervision anyway. So Frank and Alice are left to their own devices while the typewriter keeps up a clickety clack behind the closed door of Mimi’s office. Revealing too much about the plot would only ruin the surprise and delight that await you.
How much do you know about what happens to our bodies after we die; from a corporate funeral perspective anyway? Caitlin Doughty wanted to know and when this memoir opens, she’s beginning her first day as a cremation technician at Westwind Cremation and Burial. Her no-holds-barred approach to describing EVERYTHING that can and does happen is strangely comforting. Which is exactly her goal. By taking the fear and mystery out of something that will happen to us and everyone we know, Doughty aims to bring death back where it belongs—among family and friends. I loved this book!