There's nothing like a good thriller for beach reading. This week is pure adrenaline rush and your challenge is to read a fast-paced thriller from our list or of your choice. Looking over your shoulder occasionally or staying up all night to finish it is entirely permissable. As Michael Jackson put it:
You try to scream but terror takes the sound before you make it!
Baldacci, David. Winner (MYS)
Child, Lee. 61 Hours (MYS)
Child, Lincoln. Terminal Freeze (F)
Grisham, John. The Confession (F)
Kellerman, Jesse. Trouble (MYS)
Koontz, Dean. Velocity (F)
Palmer, Michael. The Second Opinion (MYS)
Robards, Karen. Pursuit (F)
Perhaps best known for his classic novel “The Last Unicorn,” Peter S. Beagle explores a diverse selection of fantastical, mythological, and otherwise magical elements in this collection of short stories. Despite the magical ingredients peppered throughout, Beagle’s stories remain firmly rooted in the real world and real emotions. While many of the stories initially feel familiar in contruction to a widely-read fan of fairy tales and fantasy, they frequently take unexpected and delightful turns, ending up being about something very different than they initially seemed. The lovely fable “ The Tale of Junko and Sayuri” is a particularly effective example of this. Beagle’s characters are multilayered, rich, and eminiently believable, from the grouchy brilliance of the artist in “Uncle Chaim and Aunt Rifke and the Angel;” to the tortured naivity of the title character in “King Pelles the Sure;” to the nervous-yet-bold youth of the children in “The Stickball Witch.” Highly recommended.
Logue, the grandson of Lionel Logue, speech therapist to King George VI, wrote this biography of his grandfather after having discovered some letters and journals that had been kept by a different branch of the family. Mark Logue always knew part of the story, but with this new material was able to put together a much more comprehensive look at his grandfather and his extraordinary relationship with the King.
Lionel Logue was of a mind to practice speech to perfection. As a champion orator and elocution teacher in Australia, he began to study the problems some had with speech. Because there was no real speech therapy practice at the time, he used his own experiences and intuition to help his clients overcome their difficulties. When Logue and his wife moved to England, he had hardly set up practice when a call came from the palace asking him to assist the Duke of York, who was about to embark on a tour and needed assistance with his speech. The Duke had tried no fewer than nine other speech coaches and none were able to help him overcome his stutter. Logue agreed to work with the Duke and what started out as a successful professional relationship became a friendship as Logue saw him through his coronation and the dark years of World War II.
I have not yet seen the film version, so I’m unable to make a comparison, but the audio edition of this book is well-narrated and does contain a recording of the King’s actual speech on the eve of war. Highly recommended.
There has been a publishing trend toward combining classic characters with zombies or other supernatural characters. If you enjoy the original character and don't mind some monster interaction, you may have fun with this week's theme. This week's challenge is to read one of these, or other books that combine classic literature with a little creepy fun.
Classic Literature--Now with 100% More Monster!
Brown, Eric and H.G. Wells. War of the Worlds, Plus Blood, Guts, and Zombies (SF)
Erwin, Sherri and Charlotte Brontë. Jane Slayre (F)
Grahame-Smith, Seth and Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (F)
Grand, Porter and Louisa May Alcott. Little Women and Werewolves (F)
Gray, Sarah and Emily Bronte. Wuthering Bites (F)
Nazarian, Vera and Jane Austen. Mansfield Park and Mummies (F)
Winters, Ben and Jane Austen. Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (F)
Winters, Ben and Leo Tolstoy. Android Karenina (F)
In an unnamed 19thcentury European town teetering on the brink of war, madame Decca and brothel owner Rupert are astonished and not entirely pleased by the sudden reappearance of Istvan—Decca’s brother, Rupert’s estranged lover, and a master puppeteer. His appearance ignites jealousies old and new, placing Rupert in danger from the attentions of a volatile politician whose advances he’s rejected. At the same time, soldiers are filling the town and the whores and performers…the line between the two is blurred at Under the Poppy…are forced to entertain the rowdy soldiers and their corrupt general in more ways than one, just to survive intact.
Despite the melodrama inherent in the set-up, the storytelling is clear beneath the baroque trappings. Koje’s technique of alternating narration among the characters is effective, revealing secrets bit by bit and uncovering hidden depths. Deliberately paced, the story is nevertheless engrossing. Suggested for fans of “Fingersmith” by Sarah Waters.
Peter Grant is a rookie cop working the streets in London when, while guarding a crime scene, he meets a most unusual witness: a ghost. The ghost describes the crime to Grant in detail and Grant is able to determine that no one but an actual witness would know those details. While waiting out another evening for the ghost to show back up, Grant meets Chief Inspector Thomas Nightingale. Nightingale, though few outside the upper echelons know it, is a wizard working in a special branch designated to investigate crimes of a supernatural order…and he needs an apprentice. Since Grant has already demonstrated a sensitivity to the other world, he’s given the job. Now the rookie cop is also a rookie wizard, bringing his modern scientific outlook into the work. A murderer is stalking the city, killing seemingly at random—but soon, Nightingale and Grant are able to discern the pattern. Meanwhile, Grant has to learn magic, mediate a feud between the warring genius loci of the rivers of London, and try not to make too much of a fool of himself in front of the various women in his life.
Fast-paced, clever, and original, “Midnight Riot” is a promising series start. Sure to be a hit with fans of Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” series!
Still on our zombie theme, of course, we imagine that many of us, when faced with a zombie, might just turn and run. Of course all you brave zombie hunters will have alternative plans. Your challenge is to consider your zombie plan while reading one of these or other books with the word "Run" in the title (just in case).
And don't look back!!!
Bloom, Elizabeth. See Isabelle Run (MYS)
Clark, Mary Jane. Nowhere to Run (F)
Frost, Scott. Run the Risk (F)
Garber, Joseph. Vertical Run (F)
Lupica, Mike. Bump and Run (F)
Patterson, James. Run for Your Life (MYS)
Pearson, Ridley. Cut and Run (MYS)
Spindler, Erica. Dead Run (MYS)
In a future so distant that Earth itself is barely remembered, the universe has been colonized by humans, or Terre. They have encountered multiple strange alien species, and made peace with most of them. Perhaps no species they have found, however, have been as strange as the Ariekei. The Ariekei, called the “Hosts” by those humans who live on their world in an enclave called Embassytown, have two mouths. Their language, called Language with the capital L, is contingent upon the use of both mouths, and therefore both portions of their minds, at once. They are literally unable to comprehend any language spoken by only one mouth and one mind. The Ambassadors of Embassytown are specially-bred identical clones, called doppels, who are trained from birth to be so empathically linked that they are able to speak Language with the Hosts and be understood as two minds speaking one thought together.
Avice Benner Cho, a young woman raised in Embassytown who became an immerser, or space traveler, never thought she’d return to her childhood home. But when her husband, a linguist, becomes obsessed with the Ariekei and Language, she finds herself back in Embassytown, traveling in the Ambassadors’ social circles. But trouble is brewing. One faction of the Ariekei have become obsessed with learning to lie—Language is incapable of encompassing anything other than strict, literal truth. Even abstracts like similes must be performed by actors so that the Ariekei can refer to them. But learning to lie would change the Ariekei and their culture, and not everyone is happy with that idea. In addition, Bremen, the home nation of the colony Embassytown, has its own plan for wresting political influence away from the doppel Ambassadors. When the plans of the liar Ariekei and Bremen’s agents collide, only Avice and a small contingent of rebellious Ambassadors and Ariekei can save the colony—and the Ariekei species—from total destruction.
A very slow-starting book, the plot neverthless picks up pace dramatically in the second half. This title will reward those willing to invest the time to immerse fully in the detailed universe Mieville has created.
Each of us copes with loss in a different way. For Frank and Ellie Benton the sorrow is huge, occasioned by the death of their young son, Benny. As their marriage falters in the wake of the tragedy, Frank accepts a job offer in India, hoping that the change of scene will heal them. Once there the two face new challenges as Frank’s company deals with labor unrest, and Frank forms a strong but problematic attachment to Ramesh, his cook’s young son.
Soon Frank and Ellie have become surrogate parents to the boy, offering him everything from help with homework to weekend trips his parents could never afford. While Ellie is uneasy about Frank’s fierce attachment to the boy, she is also reluctant to deprive him of the joy the relationship brings. As Umrigar says, a happy family is but an “earlier heaven.”
As Frank seeks to recreate his earlier fatherhood through Ramesh, the villagers cope with losses of their own. Frank’s company, Herbal Solutions, has blocked their access to the medicinal trees many use to earn their living. And, through her work at a local clinic, Ellie becomes increasingly aware of the hardships these families face.
Umrigar deftly sketches in the characters’ past—their courtship and the tragedy that defines them as a couple—while exploring the personal and political ethics of their current situation. Umrigar’s characters are carefully developed, and they face fascinating moral dilemmas. The paths they take as they negotiate these obstacles keep the plot twisting and turning right up until the final, dark resolution.
Sometimes it's hard to determine just who the zombies are. This week's challenge is to read a book about a disfunctional character or family. As always, we're giving you some suggestions to get you started.
Keep your enemies close!
Bartok, Mira. The Memory Palace. (B B288)
Berg, Elizabeth. The Art of Mending. (F)
Cadwalladr, Carole. The Family Tree. (F)
Hopkins, Ellen. Burned. (F)
Karr, Mary. The Liars’ Club. (B K 183)
McMillan, Terry. A Day Late and a Dollar Short. (F)
Meyers, Randy Susan. The Murderer’s Daughters. (F)
Tropper, Jonathan. This Is Where I Leave You. (F)