Eleven-year-old Luz Castillo is a ward of the state. Her father has been arrested, her mother is missing, and her older sister Estrella lies in a hospital bed, probably dying. Luz, willful or damaged or both, refuses to speak to authorities and will not even engage with her mother’s sister on her rare visits to the facility. Instead, the child has begun keeping a secret diary addressed directly to God. Each entry is inspired by the imagery on a single card in the Loteria deck she has with her. Loteria is a Mexican game which is similar to bingo, but which uses vibrant pictures and rhymed riddles instead of numbers and letters. These images and riddles inspire Luz’s own vibrantly drawn diary entries, each a sketch in miniature of a family in the processes of complete dissolution or dysfunction. As she progresses through the deck, the full picture of just how and why Luz has come to this place emerges from out of the mosaic of individual parts.
Simultaneously vibrant and spare, engaging and heartbreaking, Loteria is a well-written and fascinatingly-structured tale of love, family, and, ultimately, the darkness that can lie at the heart of even seemingly happy families.
We are frequently asked for audiobooks that are on the shorter side. Often people listen to these books while on road trips and would like to be able to finish the whole thing--or most of it, anyway--on their drive. But since the audiobook boxes are all about the same size it can be hard to browse the shelves and come up with something shorter as can be done when browsing print books. To aid in finding these titles, we've put together a list of audiobooks that are under six hours in play time. Enjoy!
Alexie, Sherman. Flight
Anderson, M.T. Feed
Atwood, Margaret. The Penelopiad
Banville, John. The Sea
Bennett, Alan. The Uncommon Reader
Bradbury, Ray. Fahrenheit 451
Crichton, Michael. Eaters of the Dead
Gaiman, Neil. Stardust
Garcia, Cristina. Monkey Hunting
Hamid, Mohsin. The Reluctant Fundamentalist
King, Steven. The Body
McCall-Smith, Alexander. Dream Angus
Martin, Steve. Shopgirl
Murikami, Haruki. After Dark
O’Nan, Stewart. Last Night at the Lobster
Powers, Kevin. The Yellow Birds
Watson, Larry. Montana 1948
Wilde, Oscar. The Canterville Ghost
Turn of the century New York City was a vibrant place with many thriving immigrant populations, even as it is today. In Wecker’s magical debut novel, however, there are two out-of-the-ordinary immigrants hidden among the more mundane inhabitants of the Jewish quarter and the Lebanese quarter. Chava, a golem of clay straight out of Jewish folklore, finds herself completely at loose ends when her owner dies immediately after awakening her. Masterless and terrified, she wanders without purpose or understanding until taken in by a kind rabbi who recognizes her true nature even as he fears it. He manages to help Chava procure a job in a bakery and some degree of independence even while preparing, in secret, for what he fears will be her eventual fate—the murderous, unstoppable rampage of which all tales of the golem speak. Meanwhile, silversmith Arbeely accidentally releases a jinni from a thousand-year-old flask while repairing it. The jinn, dubbed “Ahmad” by Arbeely, was captured by a sorcerer and bound first into a human form and later, into the flask. He is a creature of fire, accustomed to freedom and independence beyond even that enjoyed by the average human and he chafes at his new situation. When the masterless slave of clay and the bound spirit of roaming fire eventually meet, the results will be completely unpredictable.
Philosophical, spiritual, mystical, and magical, The Golem and the Jinni is also completely believable and entirely compelling. Beautiful language, complex, well-crafted characters, and settings which completely engage the reader’s imagination make this book one which will appeal to fans of, not only magical realism, but also fantasy, folklore, and historical fiction.
If you're anything like me, you probably enjoy reading books about...well, books! Books about librarians or set in libraries, books about booksellers or bookshops, books about people who fall in love with one particular book or just with reading itself, books about rare or re-discovered books, maybe even just books about authors! If so, you're going to love this list we've compiled for you!
Banerjee, Anjali. Haunting Jasmine
Beinhart Larry The Librarian
Bennett, Alan Uncommon Reader
Brookner, Anita. Undue Influence
Campbell, Ramsey The Overnight
Cohen, Matt The Bookseller
Colapinto, John About the Author
Eco, Umberto. The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
Fitzgerald, Penelope. The Bookshop
Grossman, David. Be my Knife
Hay, Sheridan. The Secret of Lost Things
Hellenga Robert The Sixteen Pleasures
Henry, Patti Callahan. Driftwood Summer
Hines, Jim C Libriomancer
Hoffman Alice The Ice Queen
Holland, Travis. The Archivist's Story
Komie, Lowell B. The American Bookstore of Paris
Krahn Bettina The Book of the 7 Delights
Kurzweil Allen The Grand Complication
Lalumière, Claude. The Door to Lost Pages
McKenna, Shannon. Edge of Midnight
McKillip, Patricia Alphabet of Thorn
Macomber, Debbie. Twenty Wishes
Monette, Sarah. The Bone Key
Niffeneger Audrey. The Time Traveler’s Wife
Orwell, George. Keep the Aspidistra Flying
Pérez-Reverte, Arturo. The Club Dumas
Ruiz Zafon, Carlos. The Shadow of the Wind
Schine, Cathleen. The Love Letter
Setterfield, Diane The Thirteenth Tale
Sloan, Robin Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore
Starbuck, Sam. Nameless
Straub Peter In the Night Room
Walton, Jo. Among Others
Switching back and forth in time, beginning in the 1940s to almost present day, this novel follows the lives of many different couples and families. One character is France Gerety, the real copywriter who, while working for N.W. Ayer & Son advertising agency, coined the famous advertising line "A Diamond is Forever.” Not surprisingly, this novel is about diamonds, engagements, love, and advertising. The characters are unique, and you will be drawn into each one’s story. The Engagements is a very pleasurable read with a great ending.
Back in his hometown in rural Sussex, England to attend a funeral, an anonymous middle-aged narrator takes an aimless drive, ending up at the old farmhouse at the end of his lane. He begins to recall the three generations of friendly Hempstock women who lived there and seeing the duck pond, called “the ocean” by the three women, sparks vivid memories of a truly horrifying experience that happened when he was seven years old.
He recounts the suicide of a boarder staying at his house and the supernatural powers that it triggered. The shy and bookish narrator along with the youngest of the Hempstocks, who reveal themselves to be more than just unassuming neighbors, become involved in a modern fairytale, where they must fight a powerful force that wishes to take over his family. Fans of Neil Gaiman will not be disappointed. This short novel, which originally was meant to be a short story, is completely captivating. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is spooky, no doubt, but Gaiman’s masterful storytelling abilities keep you reading. If you are an audiobook listener, skip the book. Gaiman narrates it himself and it is a true treat for the ears!
It's nearing the end of summer so bring on the fall book lists! Publishers Weekly has announced some of the most anticipated fiction and nonfiction titles for the upcoming season. Look for the complete lists here or check out the highlights.
Fiction books we can't wait to read:
"Longbourn" by Jo Baker
"Alex" by Pierre Lemaitre
"The Lowland" by Jhumpa Lahiri
"MaddAddam"by Margaret Atwood
"The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt
"Cartwheel" by Jennifer DuBois
"Under the Wide and Starry Sky" by Nancy Horan
"The Color Master" by Aimee Bender
"We Are Water" by Wally Lamb
What are you looking forward to reading this fall?
A young Louise Brooks, the glamorous and headstrong silent-film icon, takes the stage in this historical novel, but Cora Carlisle is the star. Cora, a seemingly happy housewife in Wichita, agrees to travel to New York City and chaperone the free-spirited fifteen-year-old Louise so that she can attend the distinguished Denishawn dance school for the summer. Cora, we soon learn, has her own reasons for going to New York.
Set during a time of female liberation, we get a glimpse into the lives of two different but equally empowered women. This is a riveting story.
Nora Eldridge is a single 42-year-old elementary school teacher with few friends, no love interest, and an unfulfilled desire to be an artist. That is...until a new family comes into town. A beautiful young boy enters her class, and she feels an immediate connection to him. Soon she develops a friendship with his parents--a successful artist and a visiting professor at Harvard. Nora’s relationship with this family soon becomes an obsession, and she begins to live through them and for them, all the while keeping her extreme emotions of lust and anger hidden. This novel is a great psychological thriller and one of my favorite books of the year.