It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (1/23/17)

January 23, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 40

Hosted by The Book Date.

After a scattered reading stretch, I started to find my stride this week…and I seem to be devouring short books at the moment.

On a more contemplative note, I spent some time last week thinking about Sarah’s Book Shelves and where I want to take it. I’ve been in the same routine (3 posts per week: Monday update, a list or discussion post, and a book review or mini reviews) for well over a year now and things are starting to feel a bit stale (at least to me). I’ve been thinking about this for quite awhile, but I’m finally feeling motivated to take some action.

Here’s what I know:

  • What I really love about being a book person is the matchmaking; recommending the right books to the right people.
  • My least favorite part of the running the blog (other than making graphics!) is writing book reviews…they also are my least viewed types of posts.
  • I’d like to make this blog (or something it ends up growing into) a career at some point. It’s the first thing I’ve ever done that I’m truly passionate about.

As a first step, I’m planning to test run a small project on the blog around Mother’s/Father’s Days. It’s more book recommending rather than reviewing, and if people seem interested in it, then I’ll try to role it out on a larger scale.

And, as readers and participants in this space, I’d love your feedback on what you want more of, less of, and what you’d like to see from this blog. Feel free to share in the comments or email me directly at sarahsbookshelves@gmail.com.

I finished reading…

Always Happy Hour, Mothering Sunday


Always Happy Hour
 by Mary Miller (January 10, 2017)
Last week I mentioned these stories were running together in my head a bit, despite the fact that I was enjoying them. In the second half, each story started to stand out more and my favorite two stories came near the end. Mini review to come.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift (April 19, 2016)
This tiny book about an affair between a maid and the heir to the neighboring estate in 1920’s England was completely unique, yet not weird and gorgeously written. It had a bit of a Downton Abbey feel. You can read it in a day…and you should!

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

Most Dangerous Place on Earth, Lindsey Lee Johnson


The Most Dangerous Place on Earth
 by Lindsey Lee Johnson (January 10, 2017)

I always get sucked into demented high school novels, yet often end up disappointed (recently by Girls on Fire and Dare Me). But, this one is bucking the trend so far (about halfway).
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

The Antiques, Kris D'Agostino


The Antiques
 by Kris D’Agostino (January 10, 2017)
Last week I said “the success of this book will depend entirely on the writing, though, so we’ll see how it pans out.” Well, the writing didn’t exactly pan out. I bailed at 13%.

Upcoming reading plans…

Swimming Lessons, Claire Fuller


Swimming Lessons
 by Claire Fuller (February 7, 2017)
I’ve been hotly anticipating this sophomore novel from the author of Our Endless Numbered Days (one of my favorite debuts of 2015). This time around, Fuller untangles the mystery of a marriage.

How was your reading week? And, please share any thoughts you have on blog in the comments. Thank you!

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Backlist Beauties: (Most of) the Best Backlist Books I Read Last Year

January 19, 2017 Book Lists 18

One of my 2016 goals was to read more backlist books since I had great success with the few I read in 2015 (50% were 4.5 or 5 star reads). As I approached 2016’s halfway mark, I realized this was the one goal where I was utterly failing to make inroads! So, to keep me honest, I decided to briefly highlight a few backlist books in an occasional “Backlist Beauties” feature.

Here’s the 2016 crop (with one missing, which was so good it’s getting it’s own mini review) and, hopefully, I’ll read enough excellent backlisters throughout 2017 to warrant more than one post!

(Most of) the Best Backlist Books I Read Last Year

Our Souls at Night, Kent HarufOur Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Fiction (Released May 26, 2015)
179 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: Knopf) 

Our Souls at Night is a sweet, calm, and uncomplicated novel about two older people (Louis and Addie) who stopped caring what everyone else thought and did what they needed to do to be happy. It’s sort of like they read The Life-Changing Magic of Not Giving a F*ck, which I happened to be listening to while reading this book. This novel reminded me a bit of My Name is Lucy Barton, as much of the story and background on the characters is revealed through conversations between Louis and Addie.

I told you I don’t want to live like that anymore – for other people, what they think, what they believe. I don’t think it’s the way to live. It isn’t for me anyway.

Book of Unknown Americans, Cristina HenriquezThe Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henriquez
Fiction (Released June 3, 2014)
286 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: Knopf) 

This powerful book about the life of immigrants living in the U.S. is initially quiet, but I couldn’t put it down towards the end. It forces the reader to see life in America through a different set of eyes. There’s lots to chew on here and it would make a fantastic book club selection.

When I walk down the street, I don’t want people to look at me and see a criminal or someone that they can spit on or beat up. I want them to see a guy who has just as much right to be here as they do, or a guy who works hard, or a guy who loves his family, or a guy who’s just trying to do the right things.

 

This is the story of a happy marriage, Ann PatchettThis is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett
Nonfiction – Essays (Released December 11, 2011)
308 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: Harper) 

Pat Conroy is one of the rare authors whose fiction and nonfiction I’ve truly enjoyed. Now that he’s gone, Ann Patchett might be taking his place (thanks to his recommendation in A Lowcountry Heart). She covers the gamut of topics in this essay collection: marriage (obviously), divorce, writing, book tours, opera (the only low point for me), friendship, how to be productive, and the story behind the opening of Parnassus Books. She lives an interesting, yet fairly normal life and I like her outlook on things.

What I like about the job of being a novelist, and at the same time what I find so exhausting about it, is that it’s the closest thing to being God you’re ever going to get. All of the decisions are yours. You decide when the sun comes up. You decide who gets to fall in love and who gets hit by a car. You have to make all the trees and all the leaves and then sew the leaves onto the trees. You make the entire world.

Tiny Beautiful Things, Cheryl StrayedTiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
Nonfiction (Released July 10, 2012)
308 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Purchased (Publisher: Vintage/Random House Audio) 

In this compilation of columns from her time as the Dear Sugar advice columnist for The Rumpus, Strayed blends empathy, truth, bluntness, and humor to form a perfect blend of “yes, that’s exactly how it is” observations about life and useful, non-judgmental advice about how to live it. I’m not an advice column type of person or an audiobook lover, but the audio version of this book (narrated by the author) earned 5 stars from me.

Trust yourself. It’s Sugar’s golden rule. Trusting yourself means living out what you already know to be true.

You Are An Ironman, Jacques SteinbergYou Are An Ironman by Jacques Steinberg
Nonfiction – Sports (Released September 15, 2011)
304 Pages
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Gift (Publisher: Viking) 

The intertwined stories of six amateur triathletes’ attempts to complete Ironman Arizona 2009 (2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, 26.2 mile run), a race that can last as long as 17 hours. A friend gave me this book after learning I was competing in a Sprint Triathlon and I figured I’d peek at a few pages, but probably not read the whole thing. Boy, was I wrong! I teared up within the first 50 pages and was thoroughly inspired by the stories of these regular people attempting an extraordinary feat. 

The road to an Ironman truly begins with someone deciding to place one hand in front of the other in a pool, or one foot before the other on a fast-walk that might progress into a jog or a run.

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Eight of the Most Underrated Gems of 2016

January 17, 2017 Top Ten Tuesday 26

Eight of the most underrated gems of 2016


I’m linking up at with the lovely ladies at The Broke and The Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday! 

Yep, I’m throwing in one last 2016 round-up list. This might be one of my favorites because I think all these books deserve a ton of love and attention! And, it enables me to give some love to books that just missed making my Best Books of 2016 list.

Eight of the Most Underrated Gems of 2016

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
I think I understand why this book hasn’t taken off with the broad reading public…it’s supremely uncomfortable and icky at times, but turns into something sweet and beautiful by the end.

Before the Wind by Jim Lynch
I’m still thanking my lucky stars that Catherine at Gilmore Guide recommended this local-to-her author and I’m hoping his dysfunctional sailing family novel gets the broad acclaim it deserves.

Siracusa by Delia Ephron
I was surprised this dark vacation page turner didn’t take off more this summer.

The Expatriates by Janice Y.K. Lee
This novel got a fair amount of love from the book blogging world when it came out a year ago, but it came this close to making my Best Books of 2016 list…and I didn’t see it on a single other Best of the Year list.

The Mother by Yvvette Edwards
Not to be confused with The Mothers by Brit Bennett, this novel packs a serious punch despite its small package…it’s emotional, suspenseful, and makes important observations about life and crime in a tough neighborhood.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
So many people loved this book as a light and fun read, but I think it was more than that. Benjamin captured Capote’s voice so perfectly I occasionally forgot I wasn’t actually reading him and she went deep beneath the surface to the darker side of his swans’ (particularly Babe Paley) glittering lifestyles.

The Throwback Special by Chris Bachelder
A Finalist for the 2016 National Book Award and long-listed for the 2017 Tournament of Books, this novel isn’t lacking in critical acclaim. But, I’d love to see some popular appeal follow!

Why They Run the Way They Do by Susan Perabo
Short stories are a tough sell…and it’s rare that a collection ends up getting a lot of attention outside of the book world. But, this collection is accessible and would appeal to readers who are skittish about the genre.

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (1/16/17)

January 16, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 25

Hosted by The Book Date.

Last week was a bit scattered on the reading front. I finished The Futures and have already reviewed it, so won’t talk about it here. Then I spent a day or so reading samples to figure out how to kill time until Tuesday, when a couple books I was interested in were coming out. So, I’m now in the middle of two books and have a third audiobook (Adnan’s Story) going.

Side note: My mom is always asking me why I read such dark books. She’ll be especially irked by this week’s update…pretty much all dark. 

I’m currently reading…

Imagine Me Gone, Always Happy Hour


Imagine Me Gone
 by Adam Haslett (May 3, 2016)

This story about the impact of depression on a family was long-listed for the 2016 National Book Award. After an uneven first half, I’m devouring the second half (and am almost done).
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Always Happy Hour by Mary Miller (January 10, 2017)
These short stories are not happy as the title suggests, but raw and gorgeously written. There is a bit of sameness to them, though, so I’m reading one every night instead of tackling this collection all at once. You’ll probably see this one here next week too.

Upcoming reading plans…

The Antiques, Kris D'Agostino


The Antiques
 by Kris D’Agostino (January 10, 2017)

Rebecca Schinsky recommended this book on last week’s All the Books podcast and I really can’t understand how I missed it when I reviewed the publisher catalogs awhile back. It’s got dark humor and family drama and has been compared to Jonathan Tropper (This Is Where I Leave You) and Meg Wolitzer: squarely in my wheelhouse. The success of this book will depend entirely on the writing, though, so we’ll see how it pans out.

How was your reading week?

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Read One, Skip One: The Sleepwalker and The Futures

January 12, 2017 Mini Book Reviews 23

The Sleepwalker, Chris BohjalianThe Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian
Fiction – Thriller (Released January 10, 2017)
304 Pages
Bottom Line: Read it.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon
Source: Publisher (Doubleday)

Plot Summary: When Annalee Ahlberg, a notorious sleepwalker, disappears from her home in the middle of the night, her husband and two daughters try to piece together what happened.

My Thoughts: Chris Bohjalian’s most recent books are giving him quite a reputation for coming up with mysteries…with more. They have the who-done-it/why-done-it elements of your run-of-the-mill mystery, but he layers on something deeper. In 2016’s The Guest Room, it was sex-trafficking, and in The Sleepwalker, it’s parasomnia. I found the parasomnia angle fascinating…it’s much more than the book’s title suggests. It’s a real thing (thank you, Google) and can cause shame for the sufferer, so Bohjalian’s exploration of an extreme example of parasomnia’s potential disastrous consequences had real-life appeal for me beyond this particular story. And, I liked the psychological exploration of the impact of parasomnia on a marriage and a family.

They both felt shame, but different reasons: he because of what people saw and she because of what she could not control.

All this being said, I would have liked to see the book go in a slightly different direction. I can’t share too many details without ruining the ending, but I would’ve liked the story to explore the legal implications of parasomnia a bit more. Still, The Sleepwalker is a book you can fly through (which I need sometimes) and is going on my Page Turners list.

The Futures, Anna PitoniakThe Futures by Anna Pitoniak
Fiction – Debut (Release Date: January 17, 2017)
320 Pages
Bottom Line: Skip it.
Affiliate Link: Amazon
Source: Publisher (Lee Boudreaux Books)

Plot Summary: When college sweethearts Evan and Julia move to New York City after graduating from Yale, they face a tougher road than they imagined finding their place in the post-college world.

My Thoughts: I quite honestly don’t have a lot to say about The Futures. It’s the story of a quarter life crisis…something I certainly went through and could identify with. The “coming of age in your twenties in the big city” storyline always seems to suck me in, yet has proved disappointing the past few rounds (also Why We Came to the City).

Julia and Evan’s college and immediate post-college experience resembled my own to a certain extent (minus the Ivy League tag). Despite or (possibly because of?) this relatability, the plot was predictable and not particularly memorable. I was disappointed with the lack of “yes, that’s exactly how it is” writing, which could have upped the memorability factor for me. On the plus side, it was a nice, easy Brain Candy book that I never had to force myself to pick up.  

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Ten 2016 Books I Missed

January 10, 2017 Top Ten Tuesday 57

Top 10 2016 Books I Missed


I love putting together this post every year because it forces me to reexamine my TBR list. I decide whether I’m still interested in reading all the backlist books on my list and remove the ones I’m no longer interested in or can’t remember much about. These are some of the books that made the cut…

Ten 2016 Books I Missed

Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry
I was fascinated by the Serial podcast and Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books raved about this follow-up book. I bought the audio during Audible’s holiday sale…I figured I might as well continue this story in audio form.

All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage
Susie at Novel Visits included this mystery on her Best Books of 2016 list and called it “a dark story about two families in a very small town,” which sounds right up my alley.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
This sci-fi novel is 100% out of my wheelhouse, but Carrie Lippert (a TV host and travel blogger, who is also a big reader with taste similar to mine) said it was a sci-fi novel that would appeal to people that aren’t normally fans of that genre.

Forty Autumns by Nina Willner
I’ve always been fascinated by life behind the Iron Curtain and Eva at Paperback Princess put this true story of a family separated by the Berlin Wall on my radar with her review during Nonfiction November.

Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett
Catherine at Gilmore Guide recommended this novel about the effects of depression on a family and then I saw it on numerous Best Books of 2016 lists.

Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
Joann at Lakeside Musing has been raving about this slim novel for months now.

Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte
Monika at Lovely Bookshelf‘s review of this novel about college grads living in San Francisco put it on my radar and I’ve since seen it on multiple Best Books of 2016 lists.

Strangers in their Own Land by Arlie Russell Hochschild
I’ve been hearing this nonfiction is a logical companion to Hillbilly Elegy, one of my favorite books of 2016.

The Pigeon Tunnel by John Le Carre
A memoir by someone who sounds like he could quite possibly be the most interesting man in the world.

The Sound of Gravel by Ruth Wariner
This memoir of a girl who grew up in a polygamist cult has been on my TBR list for a year now.

What 2016 books did you miss?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (1/9/17)

January 9, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 38

Hosted by The Book Date.

So far, I haven’t quite found my 2017 reading groove. Some books have been good, but nothing has been great so far. Hopefully, that will change.

I also signed up for a month’s free trial of Jasyoga (code: WIN2017), a collection of yoga videos for athletes that Tara at It’s Tara Leigh has been raving about for awhile. I tried a couple from the Yoga for Runners collection and it really helped my hips! I’m looking forward to seeing if I’m feeling a marked difference by the end of the month.

I finished reading…

The Sleepwalker, Chris Bohjalian 

The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian (January 10, 2017)
This is a book you can fly through and, though it wasn’t perfect, I enjoyed it. Mini review to come.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

The Futures, String Theory


The Futures
 by Anna Pitoniak (January 17, 2017)
I’m almost finished with this debut novel about recent college graduates making their way in NYC. It’s an easy read in the brain candy department, but I have mixed feelings about it. I’ll try to work through those for a mini review.

String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis by David Foster Wallace (June 21, 2014)
Last week, I mentioned Wallace’s writing style might be a bit erudite/pretentious/pompous for my taste, but I’m happy to say that it got better as I got past that first essay. I’m almost finished and have mostly enjoyed his unexpectedly funny tennis commentary.
Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I tried, but wasn’t feeling…

History of Wolves, Emily Fridlund

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (January 3, 2017)
I’d heard mixed reviews of this debut novel, so decided to give it a try with lowered expectations. I found myself interested, then losing interest, then interested again, and so on…but got the feeling those glimmers of interest weren’t going to be sustained over the entire book. DNF at 17%.

Upcoming reading plans…

I’m finished with my January ARCs, so I’m not sure what I’ll read next. Maybe one of these.

Always Happy Hour, Lucky Boy, Most Dangerous Place on Earth


Always Happy Hour
 by Mary Miller (January 10, 2017)
Roxane Gay (author of An Untamed State and the recently released Difficult Women) said this short story collection made her “jealous and also scared of the competition” in her My 2016 in Reading Tumblr post. Also – that Tumblr post is a fantastic read in and of itself.

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran (January 10, 2017)
This story about a Mexican immigrant living in the U.S. sounds promising, but the length (480 pages, which is long for me these days) is making me hesitate.

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson (January 10, 2017)
Debut novel about the hidden lives of wealthy high school students…certainly not a unique storyline, but these types of things always suck me in nonetheless.

How was your reading week?

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Why Idaho by Emily Ruskovich Didn’t Quite Gel For Me

January 5, 2017 Fiction 31

Idaho, Emily RuskovichFiction
Released January 3, 2017
320 Pages
Bottom Line: Skip it.
Affiliate Link: Amazon
Source: Publisher (Random House) via NetGalley

Headline

This debut novel has some intriguing story elements, but they never quite gel into a cohesive story.

Plot Summary

Ann Mitchell tries to piece together the details behind the crime that ended her husband, Wade’s, first marriage, and landed his ex-wife (Jenny) in prison for murder.

Why I Read It

This debut novel caught my attention when I reviewed Random House’s Spring 2017 catalog and, later, I heard good things about it from Shannon at River City Reading.

Major Themes

Marriage, family secrets, memory

What I Liked

  • Idaho is a quiet mystery of what happened to a family…and I don’t think I’ve ever used the words quiet and mystery in the same sentence. However, this combination had promise.
  • While the story is built around the crime that destroyed Wade’s family, that’s not really what the book is about. It’s more about the layers on top of the central mystery (Wade and Ann’s marriage, Wade’s illness, living under a cloud that you don’t know much about)…making it feel like more than your average mystery.
  • The writing is gorgeous at times. There are beautiful sentences, but they rarely string together to create a gorgeous paragraph or chapter.

The postwoman in Ponderosa feels entitled; she moves with confidence and knowing, as if because her fingertips have had the privilege of sorting out Ann’s envelopes, she has glimpsed what she thinks is inside them all – lies, pleas, false trails, dirty news, licked closed by the tongues of the past.

What I Didn’t Like

  • This is an odd book. There were times when I couldn’t put it down and others when I found myself skimming just to get through it. I was intrigued at times, but bewildered at others.
  • There are compelling elements to this story…I think the downfall is in the execution. The story construction is clunky and there are a number of sub-plots going on, yet they never converge into a central theme. It’s almost like Ruskovich couldn’t decide whether the book was about Wade and Ann’s marriage, Wade’s illness, the murder itself, or Jenny’s fate following the murder and her experience in prison.
  • There were parts of the story that seemed pointless and confusing (ex: Ann’s imaginings of how the murder might have happened, Elliott’s – an extremely minor character – romantic issues later in life)…but I was sure things would all tie together in the end. They didn’t.
  • The major questions of the book were never addressed. I don’t mind open-ended endings, but this was so extreme that it made me wonder what the point of the book was. For example, one of the things that kept me reading was to find out why Jenny committed the murder she did. There are sections of the story from Jenny’s perspective while she’s in prison where Ruskovich could easily have addressed the why of it all, but never did.
  • While beautiful at times, the writing also veered into “head-in-the-clouds” territory too often for my taste.

The sameness of that prison wall is like a winter spent in a wilderness you can’t hope to matter to.

A Defining Quote

“You know you don’t like me going up there, but you don’t know why. You’re so angry at me and you don’t remember why.”

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My Most Anticipated DEBUTS of Winter 2017

January 3, 2017 Book Lists 24

Most Anticipated debuts of winter 2017

This post contains affiliate links.

A little while ago, I shared My Most Anticipated Books of Winter 2017, but that list did not include debuts. And, thank God, because there are so many debuts I’m looking forward to this year! There’s no way would I have been able to combine everything into one list. Last year, 6 of my top 10 books of the year were debuts, so this crop has extra large shoes to fill!

January

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson (January 10, Random House)
Demented high school books always suck me in…plus, a blurb by Megan Abbott, the queen of demented high school books.

A captivating debut novel for readers of Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You and Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth unleashes an unforgettable cast of characters into a realm known for its cruelty and peril: the American high school.

The Futures by Anna Pitoniak (January 17, Lee Boudreaux Books)
Another type of book I’m a sucker for: the coming of age in New York City story. And, the publisher claims this book is for fans of Adelle Waldman (The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.) and Maggie Shipstead (Seating Arrangements).

The Futures is a glittering story of a couple coming of age and a tender, searing portrait of what it’s like to be young and full of hope in a city that often seems determined to break us down—but ultimately may be the very thing that saves us.

February

We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter (February 14, Viking)
This is the only book on this list that I’ve already read, so I can recommend it wholeheartedly. It’s a mind-blowing story and feels like a page turner.

An extraordinary, propulsive novel based on the true story of a family of Polish Jews who are separated at the start of the Second World War, determined to survive and to reunite.

Everything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz (February 28, Random House)
I’m interested in reading more about South Korea and Kate at Parchment Girl included this book on her Winter 2017 Book Preview.

Two young women of vastly different means each struggle to find her own way during the darkest hours of South Korea s economic miracle in a striking debut novel for readers of Anthony Marra and Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie.

March

The Barrowfields by Phillip Lewis (March 7, Hogarth)
I’ve had great luck with debut Southern coming of age stories (My Sunshine Away, Only Love Can Break Your Heart) the past few years…this one is set in North Carolina.

A richly textured coming-of-age story about fathers and sons, home and family, recalling classics by Thomas Wolfe and William Styron, by a powerful new voice in fiction.

Down City by Leah Carroll (March 7, Grand Central)
This memoir was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick and ya’ll know I love dysfunctional childhood memoirs.

Down City is a raw, wrenching memoir of a broken family and an indelible portrait of Rhode Island – a tiny state where the ghosts of mafia kingpins live alongside the feisty, stubborn people working hard just to get by.

The Fall of Lisa Bellow by Susan Perabo (March 14, Simon & Schuster)
I loved Perabo’s short story collection, Why They Run the Way They Do, despite generally having trouble with short stories.

The suspenseful, breakout novel from the critically acclaimed author of the short story collections Who I Was Supposed to Be and Why They Run the Way They Do—when a middle school girl is abducted in broad daylight, a fellow student and witness to the crime copes with the tragedy in an unforgettable way.

The Gargoyle Hunters by John Freeman Gill (March 21, Knopf)
Another Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick and I’m having visions of the movie The Thomas Crown Affair.

Hilarious and poignant, The Gargoyle Hunters is a love letter to a vanishing city, and a deeply emotional story of fathers and sons. […], the novel solves the mystery of a brazen and seemingly impossible architectural heist – the theft of an entire historic Manhattan building – that stunned the city and made the front page of The New York Times in 1974.

*All book summaries (in block quotes) are from Goodreads.

What Winter 2017 debuts are you looking forward to?

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It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? (1/2/17)

January 2, 2017 It's Monday! What are you reading? 31

Hosted by The Book Date.

Happy back-to-normal-life-day, everyone! I’ve been visiting family for the holidays, so have been out of my regular routine for quite awhile. I couldn’t manage a Monday update post the day after Christmas, so I’m covering two weeks worth of ground here. But, I have been reading!

I finished reading…

This is the story of a happy marriage, Idaho, Every Last One


This is the Story of a Happy Marriage
 by Ann Patchett (December 11, 2011)
Pat Conroy is one of the rare authors whose fiction and nonfiction I’ve truly enjoyed. Now that he’s gone, Ann Patchett might be taking his place (thanks to his recommendation in A Lowcountry Heart). She covers the gamut of topics in this essay collection: marriage (obviously), divorce, writing, book tours, opera (the only low point for me), friendship, being a caregiver, how to be productive, and the story behind the opening of Parnassus Books. She lives an interesting, yet fairly normal life and I like her outlook on things.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich (January 3, 2017)
Early readers have mostly loved this debut novel, but it didn’t quite gel for me. Full review to come.

Every Last One by Anna Quindlen (April 13, 2010)
This is my second Anna Quindlen novel in the past month (thanks to Catherine at Gilmore Guide to Books) and she’s fast becoming a new favorite. This novel showed me she “gets it” and wrapped up my 2016 on a 5 star note. Mini review to come.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

I’m currently reading…

The Sleepwalker, String Theory


The Sleepwalker
 by Chris Bohjalian (January 10, 2017)
Bohjalian is one of my go-to authors and reading his January new release seems to be a new holiday tradition for me. I’m flying through this one and it’s got me thinking he’s the new master of mysteries with…more.

Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

String Theory: David Foster Wallace on Tennis by David Foster Wallace (June 21, 2014)
My mom was a tennis player growing up, so I got this for her for Christmas (also, it was a wolf present). In the tradition of the wolf present, she’s read it and has now passed it on to me. I’ve only read the first essay, but am not quite sure how I feel about Wallace’s writing style. It might be a bit erudite/pretentious/pompous for my taste.

Upcoming reading plans…

I’m not sure…possibly one of these. Let me know if you’ve read any of them and have any feedback!

History of Wolves, Lucky Boy, The Most Dangerous Place on Earth


History of Wolves
 by Emily Fridlund (January 3, 2017)
This debut novel about a young girl living a somewhat eccentric life in Minnesota has been getting some pre-publication buzz…but some bloggers I trust have been lukewarm on it. I have the ARC sitting here, so I’m going to give it a try with reduced expectations.

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran (January 10, 2017)
This story about a Mexican immigrant living in the U.S. sounds promising, but the length (480 pages, which is long for me these days) is making me hesitate.

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson (January 10, 2017)
Debut novel about the hidden lives of wealthy high school students…certainly not a unique storyline, but these types of things always suck me in nonetheless.

How was your reading week?

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