Book Review

Peter S. Beagle’s IN CALABRIA

A review of In Calabria, a new book by Peter S. Beagle (author of The Last Unicorn as well as Summerlong, among others). Published on February 14, 2017 by Tachyon Publications.

Claudio Bianchi lives alone, isolated on a farm once belonging to his uncle, staunchly determined to remain in the 19th century: all he counts among his technological possessions are a telephone and a small TV that sometimes gets news channels.

Life in quiet isolation suits Bianchi just fine…until one day he spots a pregnant golden-white unicorn on his farm, starting a series of events that will forever change Bianchi’s life.

Book Review

Ottessa Moshfegh’s HOMESICK FOR ANOTHER WORLD

A review of a short story collection, entitled Homesick for Another World, by Ottessa Moshfegh (author of Eileen). Published January 17, 2017 by Penguin Press.

Otessa Moshfegh’s Homesick for Another World is essentially, to sum it up, a collection of short stories about horrible people. There’s a smatter of people who are drunks, bordering on being stalkers, insecure, unhappy in their relationships, recreational drug users, unhappy with their overall lives, and even one little girl determined to return to some other world. Moshfegh’s collection gives us a wide range of views from a wide cast of characters that, although they seem disparate on the surface, are really all looking for the same thing: a way to better themselves and escape their lives…

Book Review

Margaret George’s THE CONFESSIONS OF YOUNG NERO

A review of Margaret George’s new historical fiction novel, The Confessions of Young Nero. Published March 7th, 2017 by Berkley Books.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Built on the backs of those who fell before it, Julius Caesar’s imperial dynasty is only as strong as the next person who seeks to control it. In the Roman Empire no one is safe from the sting of betrayal: man, woman or child.

As a boy, Nero’s royal heritage becomes a threat to his very life, first when the mad emperor Caligula tries to drown him, then when his great aunt attempts to secure her own son’s inheritance. Faced with shocking acts of treachery, young Nero is dealt a harsh lesson: it is better to be cruel than dead.

While Nero idealizes the artistic and athletic principles of Greece, his very survival rests on his ability to navigate the sea of vipers that is Rome. The most lethal of all is his own mother, a cold-blooded woman whose singular goal is to control the empire. With cunning and poison, the obstacles fall one by one. But as Agrippina’s machinations earn her son a title he is both tempted and terrified to assume, Nero’s determination to escape her thrall will shape him into the man he was fated to become, an Emperor who became legendary.

With impeccable research and captivating prose, The Confessions of Young Nero is the story of a boy’s ruthless ascension to the throne. Detailing his journey from innocent youth to infamous ruler, it is an epic tale of the lengths to which man will go in the ultimate quest for power and survival.

Book Review

Mariana Enriquez’s THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE: STORIES

Review of Mariana Enriquez’s Things We Lost in the Fire: Stories. Recently published on February 1st, 2017 by Crown Publishing.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

An arresting collection of short stories, reminiscent of Shirley Jackson and Julio Cortazar, by an exciting new international talent.

Macabre, disturbing and exhilarating, Things We Lost in the Fire is a collection of twelve short stories that use fear and horror to explore multiple dimensions of life in contemporary Argentina. From women who set themselves on fire in protest of domestic violence to angst-ridden teenage girls, friends until death do they part, to street kids and social workers, young women bored of their husbands or boyfriends, to a nine-year-old serial killer of babies and a girl who pulls out her nails and eyelids in the classroom, to hikikomori, abandoned houses, black magic, northern Argentinean superstition, disappearances, crushes, heartbreak, regret and compassion. This is a strange, surreal and unforgettable collection by an astonishing new talent asking vital questions of the world as we know it.

Book Review

Min Jin Lee’s PACHINKO

Review of Min Jin Lee’s latest novel, Pachinko. Published February 7th, 2017 by Grand Central Publishing.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):

Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan.

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.

Book Review

George Saunders’ LINCOLN IN THE BARDO

Review of George Saunders’ (author of Tenth of December) latest work, Lincoln in the Bardo. Published February 14, 2017 by Random House.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The captivating first novel by the best-selling, National Book Award nominee George Saunders, about Abraham Lincoln and the death of his eleven year old son, Willie, at the dawn of the Civil War

On February 22, 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln was laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, Abraham Lincoln arrives at the cemetery under cover of darkness and visits the crypt, alone, to spend time with his son’s body.

Set over the course of that one night and populated by ghosts of the recently passed and the long dead, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief, the powers of good and evil, a novel – in its form and voice – completely unlike anything you have read before. It is also, in the end, an exploration of the deeper meaning and possibilities of life, written as only George Saunders can: with humor, pathos, and grace.

Book Review

Jojo Moyes Double Feature: ME BEFORE YOU and AFTER YOU

A Jojo Moyes Double Feature! A review of Me Before You (published December 31, 2012) and the sequel, After You (published September 29, 2015).

Synopsis of Me Before You (from Goodreads):

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair-bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.

Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

A love story for this generation, Me Before You brings to life two people who couldn’t have less in common—a heartbreakingly romantic novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart?