30 November 2020

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts; Or What I Read in November

8 books to read right nowCan it be? This year is almost over, and most of us can't wait to say good-bye to 2020 and hello to new possibilities and a happier new year. November turned out to be a kind of bust of a reading month. The first week was taken up with election news and the last week with Thanksgiving. In between I read and listened to small batch of meh books. Well, some months are like that, I guess.

I'm still in the middle of three books: one is a book of essays, one is nonficiton, and the other is a thriller. I'll write about those at the end of December. In the meantime, here are my thoughts on November in books.

Note that I've also posted these thoughts in GoodReads. Thanks to the publishers for the review copies -- whether audio, digital, or print. If you see "AFM" at the end, visit AudioFile Magazine to see my review of the audiobook production.

First I want to mention a book I didn't finish. Early in November I started Tower of Fools by Andrzej Sapkowski (trans. David A. French, Orbit, Oct. 27). This book has all kinds of elements I usually really love: history, religious politics, Renaissance, and fantasy. It's also a book in translation, which is normally a draw for me. Unfortunately, it just didn't click, maybe owing to my pre-election mood. I might try this again.

8 books to read right nowWe Keep the Dead Close by Becky Cooper (Grand Central, Nov. 10). This is true crime about the 1969 murder of a Harvard anthropology grad student. I was interested in the book for two reasons: (1) I'm fan of true crime and (2) I have a doctorate in physical (biological) anthropology and knew about this case and was familiar with some of the people in the Harvard anthropology department.

It's clear Cooper dug deep into this case, conducted as many interviews as possible, and honored the life and work of the victim, Jane Britton. I know published reviews praised this book to the ends of the earth, and I can see why because of the quality of Cooper's investigation and because the book reveals many less-pleasant aspects of academia and graduate departments: gender inequality, socioeconomic privilege, department politics, and Harvard culture. On the other hand, Cooper's account could have used a tighter edit to eliminate filler, tangents, some of the dead-end paths, and some rambling. Still, if you like true crime, you'll like We Keep the Dead Close.

I listened to the unabridged audiobook, which was read by the author. Cooper did only an okay job as a narrator. She's clearly not a professional or a dynamic voice actor, and a few mispronunciations were annoying. My advice is to listen to a sample before trying the audiobook.

8 books to read right nowSweet Harmony by Claire North (Orbit, Sept. 22). Set in the future, this short book explores addiction, relationships, FOMO, self-image, and an acquisitive society. In Harmony's world, people can buy biological upgrades through a phone app: no more broken-out skin and no more weight gain; it's possible to have perfect teeth, perfect hair, level moods, perfect health, and so on. The problem is, each upgrade comes with a monthly fee, quickly plunging Harmony into insurmountable debt. When she can't pay, her enhancements stop working, one by one, which not only affects her self-image but also leads to the destruction of her relationships and her being downsized at work.

North offers an interesting perspective on many contemporary issues, which might make this a good book club pick. I, however, simply just didn't like Harmony and couldn't get behind her choices. If the book had been any longer, I'm sure I would have DNF'd it. For my thoughts on the audiobook, see AFM.

8 books to read right nowThe Constant Rabbit by Jasper Fforde (Viking; Spet. 29). I love Fforde and went into this book with high hopes. Warning: It took me a while to warm up to the story, and it is certainly not my favorite of his books. What I did like was the satire on all things sociopolitical in contemporary America and the UK.

The book opens about 50 years after there was a cosmic event in which several species of mammals (including rabbits, weasels, and foxes) and a few insects became anthropomorphized. While these creatures retained much of their animal characteristics, they also became kind of human: they were able to speak and read and drive cars and own homes and have jobs right along side humans. Fforde uses the interactions between people and the human-like animals to explore prejudice, integrated neighborhoods, power, equal rights, citizenship, and so on.

There were some laugh-out-loud moments and lots to think about. On the other hand, the whole thing became a bit wearying once the general gist and message were clear. My very positive review of the audiobook can be found at AFM.

8 books to read right nowThe Arrest by Jonathan Lethem (Ecco; Nov. 10). Set in the future, this book explores what happens to society and the world when we suddenly lose the power to run our TVs, computers, phones, and cars. Different groups of people react differently to the new normal, some making political power grabs and others trying communal living, hiding in isolated paranoia, forming bands of militia, and so on. Without mass communication, no one knows what's happening in the world outside their own small community.

When the Arrest happened, Hollywood script doctor Sandy was visiting his sister, who runs an organic farm in Maine. When transportation and communication go down, Maine is where he had to remain, and he now does odd jobs for the town's butcher and for the farm. Where Sandy lives, all is peaceful. The residents have almost no contact with outsiders until a mega movie producer friend from Sandy's past shows up in a mysteriously powered vehicle and begins to woo the town and disrupt the delicate balance of peace.

The book was only okay for me. The drama and tension among Sandy, his sister, and his friend didn't fully resonate, and I found much of the story just kind of weird. I liked the dynamics of the town and its relationship to the more militant group that lived nearby, but I was less intrigued when the plot spun into a different orbit. On the other hand, Robert Fass did a super-duper job with the narration of the audiobook, especially in the way he created a mood and connected us to the characters' mental state.

8 books to read right nowThe Orchard by David Hopen (Ecco; Nov. 17). I really wanted to love this book because I was taken by the premise: An ultra-Orthodox Jewish family from Brooklyn moves to south Florida to another Orthodox Jewish community, but one that is more connected to contemporary America.

Ari Eden is just about to start his senior year of high school. In Brooklyn, his yeshiva concentrated mostly on Jewish studies, preparing young men to be good members of their closed, religious community. The Florida yeshiva, however, covers all subjects and while religious, also prepares its students (male and female) for college and life in the world at large.

The story promises to show how Ari adjusts to his new life, mingling with Orthodox Jews who bend the law--for example, not always wearing a yarmulke and allowing casual touching between unrelated men and women. While the book is a lot about that, the events and relationships don't seem at all realistic. Ari quickly falls in with the cool kids; has a girlfriend; and discovers smoking, drinking, and drugs. Despite being well behind in some academic subjects, he seems, with minimal tutoring, to keep up with the rest of his class and is on a path to graduation and possibly college. His friends are privileged and wild, suffering few consequences for their actions. At the same time, they come off as religious and philosophical scholars.

The boys' explorations into the mysteries of God and the spiritual world don't ring true. It's hard to imagine seniors in high school behaving and thinking the way they did. The cast includes at least three high school girls and a couple of adult women, all of whom are uni-dimensional and seem to appear only for a love interest or for motherly concern. It's a shame, because the the setup offered much to be explored about the interface between strict religious traditions and contemporary society.

8 books to read right nowThe Survivors by Jane Harper (Flatiron, Feb. 2). I'm a big fan of Jane Harper, and her newest didn't disappoint. When Kieran returns to small coastal town in Tasmania to help his mother settle his father in a nursing home and close up his childhood home, he knew things would be uncomfortable. After all, a dozen years ago during a tremendous storm, he got trapped on a rocky beach; when his brother and a friend tried to rescue him, their boat capsized and the pair drowned. Most people in the small town (and maybe even Kieran's parents) blame Kieran for those deaths, though the storm also took others, including a teenage girl whose body was never found.

On Kieran's first night home, a young woman is murdered on the beach. The investigation opens up old wounds and hurts within the community, affecting Kieran's relationship with his parents, his friends, and even his girlfriend and their infant daughter.

This is a multilayered, atmospheric mystery that masterfully interlaces the past with the present. Harper has a way of making the landscape come alive, acting almost as another character. The story is character driven, and Kieran's personal journey is as important as solving the murder. This is a don't-miss read.

Narrator Stephen Shanahan is a perfect match to Harper's prose, and he once again captures the heart the soul of her work. Recommended in either print or audio.

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28 November 2020

Weekend Cooking: 3 New Cookbooks

Happy Thanksgiving weekend to my fellow Americans. I believe this weekend also covers a holiday in Scotland (on Monday), and I think it's also the start of Advent (on Sunday). In any case, holiday or no, hope your weekend is safe and relaxing.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I've been blessed to receive a number of super cookbooks this fall, and I'm determined to share as many as I can with you before the year is over. Today's eclectic trio would make good gifts or additions to your own kitchen, though they're very different from each other.

3 new cookbooks for fall 2020First up is Jamie Oliver's 7 Ways (Flatiron, Nov. 10). This is a down-to-earth, practical cookbook that should have broad appeal. Here's the concept: Oliver focuses on 18 common foods (like broccoli, chicken breast, shrimp, eggs, and potatoes) and provides 7 recipes for each one. The idea behind 7 Ways is to give us new ideas for using staple ingredients. Most recipes can be made in well under an hour and use reliable shortcuts, like canned beans, store-bought stocks, and jarred sauces.

Things I love: Each recipe is straightforward, short, and accompanied by a full-page photo and nutritional information. Oliver provides two indexes: one standard at the back of the book and one at the beginning that groups recipes by type: one pot, sheet pan, pasta, copycat take-out dishes, and so on.

I've made a few dishes from 7 Ways and, as you might expect from Jamie Oliver, they were all delicious. Here's what I made: broccoli minestrone, sweet potato and chicken chop suey, sweet potato stew, bolognese (with beer in the sauce -- OMG good), and spicy shrimp noodles. Here are a few things I have marked to try: broccoli and tuna pasta, cauliflower and chickpea curry, butter chicken, mushroom risotto, sticky ginger beef, and pork and black bean sauce.

Recommended for busy cooks, those of us who need some inspiration, and inexperienced cooks who are ready for the next step. Special diets: Vegetarians will find quite a few recipes in 7 Ways, but vegans might have trouble. Lots of gluten free choices. Thanks to Flatiron for the review copy.

3 new cookbooks for fall 2020Everyone should put Marcus Samuelsson's The Rise (Voracious, Oct. 27) on their to buy or to borrow list. As the cover of the cookbook indicates, The Rise is all about celebrating Black cooks and chefs and their influence on American cooking. I probably don't need to tell you that Black cooks are rarely in the American household limelight.

Samuelsson corrects that omission by featuring more than 70 Black Americans in the food business. We learn their stories and their culinary influences, and we are also treated to their recipes. The Rise is divided into four main chapters covering the future of Black cooking, contemporary fusions, how Black dishes were changed and integrated during the Great Migration, and the way Black cooks are reclaiming their global culinary heritage. Samuelsson also includes a chapter on ingredients, sauces, and spices; a section on resources; ways to follow Black cooks on social media; and a list of other Black chefs to pay attention to.

The Rise is a book to read and to learn from as much as it is a book to cook from. I haven't yet tried any of the dishes, though plenty of recipes appeal to me. What I truly love about The Rise is the narrative text, which expanded my culinary vision of America. Marcus Samuelsson's latest is recommended to anyone who is interested in a fuller picture of American cooking. Note: Some recipes call for unfamiliar (at least to me) ingredients. Thanks to the Voracious Ambassador Program for the review copy.

3 new cookbooks for fall 2020Here's something for those of you looking for a little fun and who would like to bring some magic into your kitchen: Ashley Craft's The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook (Adams Media; Nov. 10). Inside the covers of Craft's cookbook are 100 recipes inspired by dishes served at the "Happiest Place on Earth."

Craft starts out introducing us to the different U.S. parks and kingdoms as well as the equipment needed to make the recipes. The recipes in The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook are divided by theme park, and each chapter includes a map of the park and where to buy each yummy treat that inspired the recipes to follow. Craving Cookies and Cream Mickey Cupcakes, Macaron Ice Cream Sandwiches, Peter Pan Floats, School Bread, or Mr. Kamal's Seasoned Fries? You don't need to buy a ticket to make your favorite Disney treat at home.

Though most of the recipes are for sweets and snacks, Craft also includes recipes for pulled pork, carnita tacos, mac and cheese, and chili. Craft introduces each recipe with information about the dish, the history of the dish in the park, and/or variations. She also provides tips and tricks and "Did You Know?" fun facts.

The Unofficial Disney Parks Cookbook is recommended to Disney fans everywhere. Put this on your holiday gift-giving list; it's sure to bring a little happiness to whoever is lucky enough to a get a copy. Thanks to Abrams Media for the review copy and for allowing me to share the following recipe. You may have to click the scan to make it big enough to read.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)

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14 November 2020

Weekend Cooking: This Will Make It Taste Good by Vivian Howard

Review of This Will Make It Taste Good by Vivian HowardI’m a cookbook freak, and I get especially excited when a cookbook has a unique twist. That’s what Vivian Howard’s This Will Make It Taste Good offers. Thanks to the Voracious Ambassador’s Program for the copy of the book.

You may recognize Howard’s name from her Public Television shows, earlier cookbook, or her restaurant. In this cookbook, Howard concentrates on base recipes (like sauces and spiced nuts) and then shows you how to use those ingredients to amp up your everyday cooking. The recipes are for down-to-earth, easy, busy-day dishes that are also fairly quickly put together.

And great news for those of you who are vegetarians or who follow a gluten-free diet: “more than half of the food I this book” will suit you on either or both accounts. Many others can easily be tweaked with easy substitutions.

At the core of this cookbook are the base recipes, what Howard calls her recipe “heroes.” Among them are an herby-olive sauce, pickled cabbage (kraut), spiced nuts, and a peppery tomato sauce. These recipes are designed to be fairly flexible, and Howard explains the important elements, how to make substitutions, and how to store the finished product.

Review of This Will Make It Taste Good by Vivian HowardThe easiest way to explain the structure of This Will Make It Taste Good is take you through a chapter. “R-Rated Onions” starts out by giving us detailed, chatty, and very clear directions on how to make a big batch of caramelized onions and then how to store them for future use. The next page, gives us 10 quick ways to use the onions in our everyday cooking: to top baked potatoes, to add to burgers, to stir into a pot beans, and so on.

Next, Howard provides the following recipes that use the R-Rated Onions: onion soup, baked eggs and spinach, cream cheese dip, topped tomatoes, pork sandwiches, grilled eggplant, steak, vegetable soup, and roast chicken. Each recipe starts with an introduction that tells us something about the dish, why Howard likes it, and possible variations. Throughout This Will Make It Taste Good, Howard adds stories and tips, making the cookbook fun to read.

Review of This Will Make It Taste Good by Vivian HowardSo far, I’ve made two of the hero recipes and several of the accompanying recipes. First, I made a batch of Howard’s Community Organizer, which is a kind of New World sofrito. I used it to make baked nachos and then black-eyed peas, which I served over rice. I also made her version of spiced nuts, which amped up a quinoa salad and then a butternut squash soup.

Recommendation: I was really intrigued by Howard’s hero recipes, and love the idea of having a stash of homemade sauces and flavorings in my refrigerator or freezer to perk up my day-to-day cooking. I suggest you put Vivian Howard’s This Will Make It Taste Good on you library list. Read it, cook from it, and then decide if you want to add it to your permanent collection.

It’s really hard to share a recipe because I’d also have to share the base recipe. Instead, I’ll link you to three YouTube videos that feature Vivian Howard and recipes from This Will Make It Taste Good. I didn’t imbed them here because they (1) are long and (2) were filmed for virtual book tour events and I’m not sure of the videos’ copyrights.

Note: The scans were cropped from photos in the cookbook and used in the context of a review. All rights remain with the original copyright holder.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)

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07 November 2020

Weekend Cooking: 2 Books for the Foodies on Your Gift List

2 Food Books for Gift Giving 2020In today's Weekend Cooking I have two books that could be perfect for you or for gift giving this coming holiday season. First up, is a fun but informative wine book, and the second is all about Christmas. As a special bonus today, I'm giving away a copy of the Christmas book to one of you--no matter where you live in the world. Hope your weekend is going well and you're staying safe and healthy. Now let's get to my thoughts about today's books.

Don’t let the title Vanessa Price’s Big Macs & Burgundy (written with Adam Laukhuf, and given to me as part of the Abrams Dinner Party) throw you off. Yes, this wine book has a playful and light element--as in what’s the best wine to eat with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich--but it’s also a down-to-earth guide to the wine and food that we little people indulge in. Note too that Price is a long-time professional sommelier, so her advice is based on solid knowledge. I'm grateful that she has been willing to share her wisdom with us.

As Price says,

The art of pairing food with wine is not without its mysteries, but it’s far from a mystical trick of culinary alchemy. At its most basic, it’s the informed process of combining complementary flavors and textures, either through contrast or accentuation, to create perfect balance.
2 Food Books for Gift Giving 2020Big Macs & Burgundy starts with a short discussion of how wine is made, the four elements of wine, and how our taste buds perceive those elements. Price then provides a guide to the 12 styles of wine and terrior. Finally, she shows us how the art of wine pairing is based on these bits of data and then tells us how to make our own pairings. Oh, and Price gives us lots of reassurance encourages us to experiment and relax.

The very first pairing is what to drink with basic take-out pizza (an affordable Montepulciano from Abruzzo) and the final pairing calls for a Hillside Cab with a porterhouse steak, specifically the expensive Cabernet Sauvignon from La Jota Vineyard. In between you’ll find pairings for specific cheeses and crackers, cereal, Halloween candy, burgers, Tex-Mex favorites, avocado toast, shrimp cocktail, cheesecake, spinach salad, pad Thai, Cheez-Its, and much, much more.

2 Food Books for Gift Giving 2020Throughout, Big Macs & Burgundy Price offers a ton of useful advice, like how to store your wine and why and when you might want to decant a bottle. We couldn’t find the exact recommended wines here in Pennsylvania (don’t ask: we have archaic liquor laws), but we found the recommended grapes from the recommended regions. Shown in my photos are the pairings of the Montepulciano d’Abruzzo with pizza and a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir with grilled salmon.

Recommendation: Vanessa Price’s Big Macs & Burgundy would make a terrific gift for any wine lover who has a sense of humor and playfulness and for wine drinkers like me who are always open to learn more about wine and who welcome good advice on how to choose the perfect wine no matter what’s on our plate, from pretzels to caviar.

2 Food Books for Gift Giving 2020Now for the promised international giveaway. I know that for most of us, the 2020 holidays are going to be very different from what we’re used to. Still, we can make our celebrations as bright as possible and can dream of next year. To help you on your way, I’m giving away a copy of 2020 Christmas with Southern Living (given to me as part of the Abrams Dinner Party) to one of you.

This beautiful book starts with gorgeous photographs that will inspire you to up your decorating game. The examples range from elaborate entry-hall displays to simple centerpieces and kitchen island focal points. You’ll also get super ideas for pretty gift wrapping and unique ways to display your ornaments.

The core of the book contains holiday menus and recipes. You’ll find meals for a variety of occasions, such as the “Bluegrass Brunch,” a casual family meal; the “Gulf Coast Toast,” a cocktail party; and the “Southern Sit-Down,” an all-out holiday turkey dinner. You’ll also find extra recipes for delicious side dishes, no-cook nibbles, sheet pan dinners, and baked goods for gift giving.

2020 Christmas with Southern Living ends with a fabulous holiday planning section that will help you (if not this year, then next), organize all the things for your holiday. To-do lists, calendars, hotline phone numbers for extra cooking help, Christmas card lists, gift lists, hostess tips, party planners, decorating tips, and even a page to make notes for next year.

2 Food Books for Gift Giving 2020
The Giveaway: I’m thrilled to be able to offer a copy of 2020 Christmas with Southern Living to one of you, no matter where you live in the world. All you have to do to be entered to win a copy is to fill out the following form. I’ll pick a winner using a random number generator on November 13. Once I pick a winner, I'll email you and ask for your mailing address. Once the winner has been confirmed, I’ll delete all the data from my computer. Good luck! And thanks again to Abrams for the copy of the book.

Shared with Weekend Cooking, hosted by Marg at The Intrepid Reader (and Baker)

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02 November 2020

16 Books I Read in October

What to Read Right NowHappy November, my friends. If you haven't yet voted, please make a plan to do so tomorrow! (And wear your mask.)

I read 16 books in October, and most of them were audiobooks and almost all were for pure escapism. Maybe one of these days I'll return to books that make me think, but last month I wasn't in the mood. That said, I was surprised to find several 5-star reads/listens on my list. October was an awesome reading month.

Here are my brief thoughts. I wrote longer reviews for some of these over on GoodReads, where you'll also find my thoughts on the audiobook productions. Thanks to the publishers for print, digital, and/or audio review copies of the following books. Also many thanks to Libro.fm. My opinions are my own. Note too that I reviewed several of these for AudioFile magazine (indicated by "AFM"); my thoughts on the audiobook production can be found on their website.

What to Read Right Now
  • Prime Deceptions by Valerie Valdes (Harper Voyager; Sept. 8; AFM). This is book two of a series, which I listened to for a freelance assignment. An action-packed science fiction story starring a space smuggler trying to walk on the right side of the law; some romance, some LGBTQ+ themes. It was only okay for me.
  • Road Out of Winter by Alison Stine (Mira; Sept. 1) I'm still reading dystopian; maybe because I'm looking for survival tips? Anyway, this one is scarily realistic. Wylodine has a green thumb, but after climate change creates never-ending winter and the infrastructure begins to fail, she decides to risk a road trip from Ohio to the presumably warmer and better California. The world is a dangerous place, even for a smart young woman. I really liked this; see deeper thoughts on Goodreads.
  • And Now She's Gone by Rachel Howzell Hall (Forge; Sept. 22; AFM) This combination missing person investigation and domestic thriller was only okay for me. I liked the main character, Grayson Skyes, who is trying to solve her first case as a professional private investigator and liked that she made rookie mistakes though had solid instincts. A few side plots were a little confusing, but everything was clear by the end.
  • Troubled Blood by Robert Galbraith (Mulholland; Sept. 15) I thought I could rise above the controversy surrounding this title and the author because I really loved the first four Cormoran Strike books. Alas, I stopped reading about a quarter of the way in. I couldn't get over the issues and the book itself was not very good.
Books to Read Right Now
  • The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow (Redhook; Oct. 13) I liked this novel but not as much as I like Harrow's The Ten Thousand Doors of January. Still, this story of three sisters and women's power, love, independence, and knowledge was good and gave me lots to think about.
  • A Solitude of Wolverines by Alice Henderson (William Morrow; Oct. 27) I really liked this start of a mystery series starring wildlife biologist Alex Carter. When she gets the opportunity to take over a field research project in northern Montana to study wolverines, she doesn't hesitate, even though she'll be working alone. Someone, however, does not want her in the wilderness preserve. What are they hiding? Good in print or audio.
  • Silence of the White City by Eva Garcia Saenz (Vintage Crime; July 28; AFM) Unlike many published reviews of this start of a trilogy set in the Basque country, I have some reservations with the book. First, what I liked about this police procedural mystery: the plotting, the characters, and the details of the city and Basque culture and history. What I didn't like: the translation was not smooth, often using a clumsy literal translation when an idiom would have been better. Still, now that I'm on guard about the translation issues, I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the series.
  • Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam (Ecco; Oct. 6) Another dystopian, this one set in contemporary times in the Hamptons after an unexplained blackout leaves people without a clue of what happened or what may happen next. Two couples, one wealthy and Black and the other white and middle class, end up sheltering together as the new reality begins to settle on them.
Books to Read Right Now
  • The Killing of the Tinkers by Ken Bruen (Minotaur; 2005; personal collection) This was a reread via audio for me. I love the darkness of the Jack Taylor series, set in Ireland. After Jack returns to Galway after a stay in London he juggles his personal problems with trying to solve targeted murders.
  • Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth (William Morrow; Oct. 20) I encourage you to read my thoughts on Goodreads, but I loved this book about a book about a movie about a book with creepy happenings and female friendship and love. If you listen to the very well done audio, don't forget to download the accompanying PDF.
  • The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart (Orbit; Sept. 8) This is the first in an non-Western epic fantasy with several plot lines, a few surprises, strong women and no love triangle. It's set in an island nation with hints of the Pacific; perhaps Japan. Maybe not the best fantasy I've read, but I'm still looking forward to book 2.
  • Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse (Gallery; Oct. 13) This was a strong opening to another non-Western epic fantasy; this one set in pre-Columbian Mexico and Central America. Several plot lines, good characters, and great world building.
Books to Read Right Now
  • They Never Learn by Layne Fargo (Gallery; Oct. 13) An engrossing and well-plotted revenge thriller / female Dexter mashup set on a small college campus with #metoo and LGBTQ+ themes. Worth the read.
  • The Cold Millions by Jess Walter (Harper; Oct. 27; AFM) Set in Spokane, Washington, about 100 years ago, this is a story of two brothers who get caught up in larger sociopolitical issues. Read my review on Goodreads or in AudioFile magazine, but the short take is read this. A shoo-in for my top 10 list this year.
  • Goodnight Beautiful by Aimee Molloy (Harper; Oct. 13) If you read too much about this thriller before you start, it will be spoiled. Avoid reviews! Fun escape reading with a nod to a well-known thriller / light horror book.
  • The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab (Tor; Oct. 6) This book about what happens if you make a deal with the Dark God deserves every single starred review and every second of buzz. Loved, loved, loved it. Trust me, you want to read this.

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