I was swept away by the blend of magic and reality in this lovely story of two sisters, Ruthie and Dolly, raised by a mother whose life is ruled by the moon and tides and the tales in the Old Farmer’s Almanac. Ruthie’s daughter, Naida has her own tale to tell, of being called the Frog Witch, the outsider, and of her quest to find her true father, whether sea god or flesh and blood man.
Winn Van Meter is an ordinary WASP-ish man with an ordinary family. But during the extraordinary weekend of his pregnant daughter’s wedding, all hell breaks loose and the lust and general bad behavior of the entire Van Meter clan, including Winn, surface on their New England island retreat. If John Cheever met Eudora Welty, this fun, funny, gorgeously written novel would be their love-child.
What would have happened if someone (from the future, perhaps?) had altered the course of history and prevented John Kennedy’s death? It’s a task for Jake Epping, GED teacher and reluctant time-traveler, who goes back to 1963 to turn the tide of history. This is the Stephen King novel for those who might otherwise turn their literary no
The Queen of the Damned is back! The Wolf Gift is the story of the making of a werewolf. Reuben is an ordinary young man, a budding journalist sent to cover the story of a the sale of a fabulous old house in the redwood forest of Marin County. When the owner of the house is attacked and killed by her own brothers, Reuben is saved by a creature who rips the brothers apart, wounding Reuben in the process. He begins to notice huge changes during his rapid recovery, and soon is turning into a Man Wolf every night. He begins to hear the cries of victims of violent crimes, and races over the rooftops of San Francisco to save them. He becomes a werewolf superhero, albeit one who is himself hunted. As usual Anne Rice’s supernatural characters have an abundance of morality and humanity. Sure, the writing is sometimes a little florid, but don’t we all need our guilty pleasures?
A sweet, funny melange, a memoir of recipes and what they have meant in the (local) author’s life. Each chapter revolves around a different dish and its history for Ms. Chang, from the simple (an apple “dump” cake) to the sublime (a chocolate brioche). She regales us with recipes that have twined through her life, from her own early childhood dumpling love to her picky son’s verdicts on every egg recipe imaginable. Great to dip into for inspiration before a bout of cooking. And the pumpkin bread is (almost) as good as my mom’s.
Since this book was the winner of both the Newbery Medal and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction this year, I couldn’t wait to read it. But I had to, because there was a waiting list at the library (ha, ha). Having now read it, my advice is don’t wait -- buy it right away. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll want to be grounded for the summer just to find out what might happen, just like Jack. The story is based on the author’s own childhood, growing up in a dying Pennsylvania town in the 1960’s. When he’s grounded by his mom for something his dad made him do, his only break is to type the town’s obituaries, dictated by one of the original residents, a feisty old lady who weaves history into her obits, and has run-ins with everyone from the town busybody to the Hell’s Angels.
Alice Hoffman conjures the beating heart of a small New England town in The Red Garden, her new novel of intertwined tales. In spellbinding, luminous prose, Hoffman tells the history of the fictional town of Blackwell, Massachusetts, nestled in the hills of the Berkshires. Blackwell is founded by a girl and a bear, saved by the trees Johnny Appleseed sows. Emily Dickinson finds love there. Generations of townspeople live, love, kill, and tend gardens where every plant grows red as blood.We all know these haunted small towns of New England. Towns where the graveyards, the enchanted rivers, the girl working in her father’s gas station, even the monsters all wait, breathless, for their stories to be told.
In A Key To Treehouse Living, Elliot Reed gives us a new T.S. Spivet, a new Huck Finn, to take to our hearts. Lost boy William Tyce orders his fraying world in glossary entries, each representing a piece of his journey from living in a mansion to living in treehouses and under bridges, an orphan seeking answers: who were his parents? How is it best to live while a ward of the state? A poignant, hilarious, gorgeously written take on growing up, and growing to embrace the world and the wild blue yonder.
In 1761, a tiny odd-looking girl named Marie is born in a village in Switzerland. After the death of her parents, she is apprenticed to an eccentric wax sculptor and whisked off to Paris. Together, they create an exhibition hall from wax heads, and the spectacle becomes a sensation. From the seamy side streets of 18th century Paris, to the luxury of Versailles, Edward Carey's new novel, Little, is the sweeping tale of the orphan who transforms herself into the legendary Madame Tussaud. Quirky, macabre, and thoroughly delightful, accompanied by the author's drawings, this is a luxurious read for a long winter's night.
Tracker has a nose. It is why he is pulled into the dark quest for a boy who might be king. The quest is only scaffolding for this book, for the journey takes us into the characters of ancient African witches, spirits and shape-shifters, and the kingdoms and prisons of Africa of two or three or more thousand years ago, the first seat of civilization and story. No, it’s not an easy read, but shouldn’t the extraordinary trounce ease? For this is a book of lively and horrible imaginings, gorgeously wild and unexpected prose. It is also ground for battles of gender and race, commentary on politics, and the corruption power brings. It is Tracker’s story to command, though, and he leads us, wanting to find out who he is and what has shaped him. For me, the comparison isn’t to Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings, but to The Odyssey. Tracker is the Odysseus of our time, Marlon James our new Homer.