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 20 years now and I can't imagine doing anything else.
We’ve been anticipating Jim’s new book for awhile and after reading Panther Gap, we think you’ll agree it’s been worth the wait. When we last saw Rice Moore, he’d survived the cartel and the bear killers and he was in serious psychological debt to some bad guys (who played fair as it turned out). I picked up this second novel thinking it would pick up where Bearskin left off but no; McLaughlin takes us back in time and down a completely new path. Summer and Bowman, siblings, have gone their separate ways as adults; Bowman to Mexico leaving Summer to manage the ranch with her uncles. As we follow each of them on their journey to adulthood we realize there is more to them and the rest of their family than meets the eye. And with any great mystery, it’s hard to tell the good guys from the bad guys because we all have a little of both in us, why shouldn’t they? And don’t worry, Rice is here just getting started with his cartel dealings. Buckle up; it’s a wild ride!
Imagine the entire world fell victim to a killer virus that seemed incurable. Sound familiar? Claire Fuller began this novel before the pandemic and had second thoughts about continuing it after everything shut down in 2020. In this story, our main character, Neffy, has signed up for a vaccine trial, mostly because she needs the money. Each volunteer is kept in a separate hospital room and very quickly everything goes awry and the staff and most of the patients quickly and chaotically depart. Unfortunately, the hospital room doors are locked from the outside, so when Neffy awakes from her vaccine-induced mania, there is no one there to help her. Except there is; a handful of survivors who decided it was safer to stay in and keep everyone else out. Once they determine that Neffy is not contagious, they let her out and welcome her, albeit nervously, to their pod. And that’s just the first couple of chapters! There is also a time travel machine, octopus love, and a marvelous ending. There are many pandemic books coming out now and this is one of the most interesting I’ve read so far. Also, I will never eat octopus again.
Fans of Mick Herron know there are many, many untold stories about how each of the characters in Slough House series came to be there. It’s a puzzle tracing itself backwards and forwards from Cold War Berlin to now and spies on both sides of the Wall have long memories. Like the other mysteries in the Slow Horses series, The Secret Hours begins with a slow burn and keeps you guessing until the very end.
Like so many novels about the west, this is a story about water, the lack of it, the lust for it, the theft of it. Specifically, this is a story of the city of Los Angeles re-routing an entire water system from the ranchers who owned it to the thirsty citizens who needed it. And one rancher whose land was also seized to build an airstrip for the U.S. military. Why? Because of what they were building across the road from him—Manzanar. To set the stage, the rancher, Rocky, has learned that his enlisted son, Stryker, is missing in Hawaii in the days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. A young man, Schiff, appears at Rocky’s door, to “ask” about the property across the street. It turns out, Schiff works for the War department, is Jewish, and is about to get way more than he bargained for. Sunny, Rocky’s daughter and Stryker’s twin sister is a big part of what Schiff isn’t expecting. This is a marvelous, gut-wrenching story of the personal toll, WWII took on America. I will recommend this to everyone!
This WWII story is told through the lens of a low-budget Hollywood movie studio and the people affiliated with it both closely and from afar. The main character, Maria Lagana, has come to California after fleeing Mussolini’s Italy. Her mother came with her; her father is another part of this tale. Maria is Artie Feldman’s right-hand person but because it’s the 40’s and she’s a woman, she’s working a lot and getting little in return. Also, because there is a war raging and she’s Italian, Maria has to carry papers as a registered alien, is restricted to certain parts of Los Angeles and must abide by curfew. Oh, and she’s dating Eddie Lu, a Chinese American who, though trained as a Shakespearean actor, can only get bit roles as Asian “bad guys”. If any of this sounds timely it’s because Anthony Marra is a master at taking history and playing it back to us as story. This book is brilliant and long-awaited. If you were a fan of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, this book was worth the wait!
This debut set in Auckland, New Zealand and the surrounding countryside, is fast paced and fascinating. Hana Westerman, is a senior police detective, a Maori, and a mother. All of that comes into play as she chases a serial killer intent on righting the wrongs of the colonial past. I hope this is the first of many!
When Bridget washes up half-dead in Dodge City, it’s Lila who takes her in and introduces her to “the sporting life”. After some rest, hearty food and a bath, Bridget (or Red as they like to call her) takes easily to being a whore. It’s the easiest her life’s ever been, sadly. And the folks at the Buffalo Queen do become like family to her…but it is Dodge City and so of course nothing good can last. Red falls head over heels for not one but two women who pass through the doors of the Queen and neither one of them has her best interests in mind. But Bridget is nothing if not a survivor and this story of love and revenge in the old West is very satisfying.
Poignantly, Jonathan Raban died just after finishing this memoir. In alternating chapters, he describes the stroke he had at age 69 and his father, Peter’s service in WWII. An irascible human being, Raban, Jr. was a keen observer of life and the stroke forced him to rely on others for almost everything; not an easy position when your first reaction isn’t always kindness. He recovered and went on to live and write for many more years. His chapters about his father begin with the senior Raban’s commission as a major in the Royal Artillery in Great Britain. Through letters back and forth between Peter and Monica (Jonathan’s mother) and other people’s histories we learn of Dunkirk, Tunis, and Anzio all while years pass and peace finally arrives. The two lives are so different and their place in history so different and yet in each setting it feels like you are there. A very interesting read.
Our protagonist, Charlie Minkoff, is 16 at the time of this novel. His mother, Jules, is an absent-minded and successful artist and his father, Nathan, has deserted them and returned to his Hasidic roots in Crown Heights. A smelly little dachshund named Gellman rounds out this family and if it weren't for Jules' best friend Weezie (lesbian long-haul trucker) their lives would be chaotic and maybe not even survivable. What Charlie wants more than anything is to help his 80-year-old grandpa, Oscar, make his bar mitzvah since the Nazis effectively kept that from happening when it should have. Delighted, Oscar decides the two men should make their journey to the Torah together but here's the problem. Charlie was born intersex and according to the rabbi, the Bible has clear rules on who can (men) and cannot (women) have a bar mitzvah. I loved this funny, maddening story of who gets to decide what another person gets to do and what happens when that person takes the reins of their life and literally rides off into the sunset.
It’s the late 1950s. The Korean War is over, and Vietnam is getting started. For brothers, Julius and Lee, newly home on leave, getting out of Kansas and starting anew in San Diego means the beginning of the American Dream. For Lee, it’s his new wife, Muriel and the promise of a house in the suburbs. For Julius, it’s less clear. These were still early days in the West; folks were watching atomic bombs blow up from the tops of hotels on Fremont street in Las Vegas, and decency laws still lived on the books and in people’s minds. As we follow Julius and Muriel alternately, we see two people, part of the Greatest Generation, trying to be true to themselves.
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
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.
A young girl and boy, step-siblings by marriage, are on the verge of adulthood and more. Add in missing fingers, mounting mah jong debts, a loyal house-boy, a were-tiger and more and you have a fantastical tale of magical realism in Malaysia in the early 1930's. Such a fun read!
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.
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.