Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Tweet:  A beautiful and gracefully written story about knowing what one should do in the face of moral uncertainty.  Can't stop thinking about what I would have done. 

     What happens when an inexplicable event falls outside of our moral signposts?  Without a universal compass, how does one decide what is the right thing to do? These are the questions M.L. Stedman examines in her achingly beautiful, gracefully written novel The Light Between Oceans.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Breed by Chase Novak

Tweet:  A frightening, funny, fantastic page turner.  Won't look at skate park kids the same way again!

In my younger days, I gobbled up Stephen King novels like popcorn.  Carrie, The Stand, Cujo, Pet Sematary…I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough.  Forget any deeper meanings or morals; I just want the nip of a scare, the familiar tingle of a good fright.  I flipped page after page propelled along by King’s tight stories and wicked characters.  That is, until I read It.  That damned clown Pennywise sucked the joy out of horror novels and left me with months of dark nightmares.  He not only haunted my dreams, he took up permanent residence under my bed, inside the dark closet, in the basement’s deepest corners.    I vowed never to read another horror novel again; but as any horror aficionado can tell you, “never” really means “until it gets you later.”

     Last week, when I left BookExpo America, I packed up mounds of galleys to ship home, grabbing the top copy for plane reading.  Once crammed into my seat, I took the book out of my bag.  In my hand was Breed by Chase Novak (aka Scott Spencer) and boldly emblazoned on the cover was this accolade by Stephen King:  BREED is the best horror novel I’ve read since Peter Straub’s GHOST STORY.”  Faced with a choice between a gummed up old magazine in the seat pocket in front of me and a pristine yet-unpublished  horror novel from a well-known author, I sucked it up and chose the latter.  When we landed two hours later, I didn’t want to put it down.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Tweet:  Maggie Shipstead has delivered a wickedly witty, urbane, laugh-out-loud delicious read.

The Van Meter family has gathered at their home on Waskeke (think Nantucket) to celebrate the wedding of daughter Daphne, seven months pregnant.   Harvard educated patriarch Winn Van Meter , who organizes his life through club memberships and social niceties, finds himself unexpectedly lusting after bridesmaid Agnes.  Daughter Livia is recovering from a romance gone sour, and Winn’s wife Biddy stoically propels the weekend forward while keeping her own fomenting emotions in check.

Together with a wonderful cast of characters, the Van Meters struggle to understand their relationships both within and outside of their family.  Ms. Shipstead wryly explores the polarity of belonging and being an outcast, and how each character must maneuver between the two.   Seating Arrangements is intelligent and wonderfully written, a thinking person’s guilty pleasure.