May 31, 2016

Before The Fall, Noah Hawley

The OSPRY 45XR sits on a private runway at Martha's Vineyard ready to receive passengers, tonight it's a media mogul and his family, their private security a couple of their wealthy friends and Scott Burroughs, a middle aged artist whose time might be about to come and it does, just not in the way he intended. Sixteen minutes after takeoff the plane plunges into the ocean killing all on board except Scott and four year old JJ who are both tossed into the spin cycle of the twenty four hour news stations.

The NTSB and the FBI are involved almost immediately and Scott is their only witness and one news channel in particular, ALC, is presenting speculation as fact painting Scott not as the humble hero but as the cause of the crash. Amongst all the distortion and lies peddled by ALC a real investigation is progressing but even they are swayed when they see the subjects of Scott's paintings.

Hawley mixes the backstories of the other passengers and crew on the plane with the consequences of the crash. JJ is now the sole heir to a massive fortune, his aunt Ellie wants what's best for the boy whereas her greedy husband thinks they can treat JJ like an ATM spending the boy's inheritance as their own. A great summer read.

btw This is the same Noah Hawley who created and wrote the multi award winning TV show 'Fargo'. He clearly has the measure of the FOXs and CNNs of this world. Our news is much less fact and more spin and speculation and talking points; with the right spin they can turn and saint into a sinner and vice-versa.

May 30, 2016

Seven days in the book world with Louis Begley

Louis is a multi-award winning novelist. Born in Poland, his first novel Wartime Lies is loosely based on his wartime experiences but as he has stated in many interviews it is fiction not fictionalized biography.

Louis studied English Literature at Harvard and was on the staff of The Advocate the undergraduate literary magazine, but wanted to immerse himself in his new life in the US and at the time that didn't include writing novels. Married with three grown up children Louis was a partner at a prestigious New York law firm, he has since retired and become a full time novelist.

Here is Louis's week in his own words.

Last week I finished Jane Mayer’s Dark Money. I started rereading Robert Musil’s Man Without Qualities. And I am rereading once again Dante’s Divine Comedy. I’m now in Purgatorio.

Louis's week in a nutshell

Dark Money (2016)
The Man Without Qualities (1940)
Divine Comedy; Purgatorio (1320)

Killer Come Hither 9780553392449 and Kill and Be Killed 9780385540711 are out now.
Wartime Lies 9780449001172 is also available now.

May 24, 2016

Smoke, Dan Vyleta

Smoke is set in an alternative Victorian England. 

Public Schoolboys Charlie and Thomas have never known a time before people smoked. Literally black or grey smoke issues from a person’s body when they commit a sin. 

Church and Parliament have declared that Smoke and the filthy soot it generates are a mark of the low born. The capital, London is awash with it. The wealthy do not smoke, they have the means to purchase ‘sweets’ to protect them from the effects of the smokers or are those ‘sweets’ a means of suppressing their own smoke?

Thomas’ patron, Baron Naylor invites Thomas and Charlie to spend Christmas with him at his isolated country estate. Here they meet Lady Naylor, her daughter Livia and son Julius. Lady Naylor swears them to secrecy regarding the ‘experiments’ she and her son are carrying out. Charlie, fearing for Thomas’ safety enlists Livia’s help to run away from the Naylors.  Attacked and pursued across country by revolutionaries and religious fanatics, the children head for London. Can they get there in time to stop a revolution or maybe to start one.

The concept of 'Smoke' is such a fascinating one, in the world of smoke passion and love cause you to emit smoke albeit smoke of a different colour. Emotion as sin? How would we conduct ourselves in day to day life with such a visual medium showing our every emotion. Makes you think doesn't it?

May 23, 2016

Seven days in the book world with Ann Cannon

Ann Cannon is a native Utahn, has football in her blood, she is an award winning writer (Cal Cameron by Day, Spider-Man by Night won the Delacorte Press Prize for outstanding first YA novel), she teaches, collects gnomes, writes a column for the Salt Lake Tribune, works at TKE, is a mother to five boys, one husband and a menagerie that includes a parrot and a giant newfoundland called Tinkerbell.

Here is Ann's week in her own words.

I’ve begun to accept a hard truth about myself.  I am an “aspirational” reader.  By that I mean I aspire to read a LOT more than I actually do, because like that T-shirt says, “So many books, so little time.”
            Here’s what’s in my aspirational pile right now:  The Tokyo Zodiac Murders by Soji Shimada, Summerlost by Ally Condie, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes & Other Lessons from the Crematory by Caitlin Doughty, The Shepherd’s Life by James Rebanks, Straight Man by Richard Russo, Former People by Douglas Smith, and The Debt to Pleasure by John Lanchester.
            I am also reading (slowly) The Nuns of Sant’Ambrogio by Hubert Wolf (because who can resist true stories about sex and clergy), The Romanovs by Simon Sebag Montefiore (which I will be lucky to finish before I die), and an ARC for another Russian story called The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.  I obviously have a thing for Russian stuff.  Clearly I had a previous life there.  It was short and miserable, and I was cold all the time.
            I did ACTUALLY read Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift this week.  What a perfect poem of a book that is.  Gorgeous.  Every piece of that novel fits together seamlessly.  The last thing I read that really satisfied me was The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry—a terrifically intelligent YA novel with crossover appeal.

Ann's week in a nutshell

The Nuns of Sant'Ambrogio (2016)
The Romanovs (2016)
Bear and the Nightingale (coming Jan 2017)
Mothering Sunday (2016)
Passion of Dolssa (2016)

Charlotte's Rose 9781607811411 and Sophie's Fish 9780670012916 are both available now

May 17, 2016

Lost and Gone Forever, Alex Grecian

Walter Day stepped into Jack The Ripper’s carriage and fell off the face of the earth. Most of his old colleagues at Scotland Yard have stopped looking for him, thinking him dead. Walter’s wife, Clare and his ex-colleague Nevil Hammersmith are the only two who believe Walter is still alive.

One year later Nevil is running a private enquiry agency, Clare is his only client until an employee of Plumm’s department store goes missing and his brother hires Hammersmith and his assistant Hatty Pitt to locate the missing man. At the same time Walter Day, a much changed Walter Day, escapes his prison and the secret society that Walter’s mentor was involved with hire a pair of foreign assassins to take care of Jack before he can kill the rest of their members. What could possibly go wrong?

May 16, 2016

Seven days in the book world with Aaron Cance

Aaron knows all things book.  Whilst working for various bookstores (most recently King's English) he also earned in BA in English Lit and an MA in British and American Lit. He writes, he's a dab hand in the kitchen and now he runs the Printed Garden in Sandy, Utah. He and his young family divide their time between Utah and family back in Wisconsin. Here is Aaron's week in his own words. 

My reading week started by tearing through the last half of The Second Life of Nick Mason by Steve Hamilton, a book that's so ridiculously good that that I’m somewhat ashamed not to have found this talented writer’s work earlier.  With a hard, spare prose that would do any crime writer of the fifties proud, he cinches up the suspense a little tighter in each successive chapter until the reader is almost gasping for breath, struggling, with the book's namesake-protagonist, to work all the angles and think through, and beyond, every new hair-raising situation he’s put into.  This also appears to be the first in a series, so I fully expect to run into Nick Mason again.

Whenever I finish a novel, I always try to pepper my reading with some shorter prose or poetry for a couple days.  Whether I've been reading something difficult, intense, frightening, or funny, it's nice to create a couple day's buffer between books.  Of late, I've been filling this gap with pieces from the John Fowles book Wormholes:  Essays and Occasional Writings.  This caught my eye in a secondhand shop some months ago, and I've been pecking away at it piecemeal.  This week's dabblings were his 1964 essay "I Write Therefore I Am" and a piece he wrote in 1986, "The Lost Domaine of Alain-Fournier."  Recently a poetry judge for a contest held by 15 Bytes, an online Utah Arts journal, I also took the opportunity to revisit 88 Maps by Rob Carney, the collection of poetry that I most enjoyed of the work submitted.  We work on a deadline and I wanted to spend more time with this delightful collection.

After a couple nights of this, I eagerly tore into my next novel, Christopher Buehlman's The Suicide Motor Club (a June 7th release).  I was introduced to Christopher Buehlman's work a number of years ago by a friend who (very accurately) described him as "the greatest horror fiction writer you've never heard of."  A number of years and a few novels later, I've become a big admirer of his work, and was thrilled when this new book popped onto the periphery of my reading radar.  Buehlman's an extraordinarily clever writer, and a master of literary slight-of-hand, and has not only delivered some serious chills in his books, but has driven them home so concretely that I've just about lurched forward out of my reading chair on a couple occasions.  I started my Christopher Buehlman addiction with a work called The Necromancer's House, and still give it to anyone who's willing to try it.

Every Thursday morning, we have a children's story-time at my shop.  This week I read Bear's Loose Tooth by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapmen, I Don't Want to Be a Frog by Dev Petty, and Fox in the Dark by Alison Green.  All three are favorites of mine, and were well received by their audience.

Last, but not at all least, this week, I've gotten a daily dose of How to Train Your Dragon Book 6:  A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons, as my wife and I have been working our way through Cressida Cowell's popular series with our daughter during our own nightly story-time.

Aaron's week in a nutshell

The Second Life of Nick Mason (May 2016)
Wormholes:  Essays and Occasional Writings (1998)
88 Maps (2015)
Bear's Loose Tooth (2011)
I Don't Want to Be a Frog (2015)
Fox in the Dark (2010)
The Suicide Motor Club (out June 7th)
(and, nightly)
How to Train Your Dragon Book 6:  A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons (2010)

More at The Printed Garden

May 15, 2016

The Strings of Murder, Oscar De Muriel

In a London terrorized by Jack the Ripper, heads are rolling at Scotland Yard. Inspector Ian Frey’s is one of them, in less than a day he has lost his position, his fiancĂ©e and his home. 

He arrives in Edinburgh in disgrace, attached to a unit that hunts ghosts and other supernatural phenomena. His boss is the eccentric and mercurial ‘nine nails’ McGray. Together the foppish inspector and the ghost hunting detective must work under the noses of the press to lay to rest rumours of a Ripper copycat in the case of a murdered musician, a locked room and a cursed instrument said to have been played by the Devil himself.