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My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella (audio)

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 9 CDs
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My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella, narrated by Fiona Hardingham, is a feel-good, fun-filled, novel in which a young junior assistant is able to get revenge on that incredibly flighty, inconsiderate, and mean boss who fires her. But there is so much more to Katie Brenner’s story. She’s leading a double-life — her Instagram account is full of happy pictures, events, and wonders from her life in London but her real life is less than stellar. She looks around her at her colleagues and wishes she could have their ultra-cool, happening lives, but the one she truly admires is her boss, Demeter. Her visions of the perfect life are shattered when her boss fires her out of the blue.

When she is forced to return to Somerset to regroup, she falls into a project she never expected to take off — a glamping business at her father’s farm. Katie is that wide-eyed young professional with dreams of hitting it big in the city, or at least meeting new friends and having fun. Like many young professionals, reality hits them head on and they must learn to rebalance their expectations and revise their career plans. Kinsella shines at comedy, and this novel is no exception. From spying on business meetings with a drone to walking around on a rooftop in stilts, Brenner is ready to grab whatever life throws at her in the branding business — especially a cute hunk like Alex.

Fiona Hardingham is the perfect narrator for this novel; her comic timing is spot on. When you need a break from your own reality, don’t hesitate to pick up My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella. It’s sure to have you laughing and secretly cheering on Brenner as she gets revenge on her former boss.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Madeleine Wickham is a bestselling British author under her pseudonym, Sophie Kinsella. Educated at New College, Oxford, she worked as a financial journalist before turning to fiction. She is best known for writing a popular series of chick-lit novels. The Shopaholic novels series focuses on the misadventures of Becky Bloomwood, a financial journalist who cannot manage her own finances. The books follows her life from when her credit card debt first become overwhelming (“The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic”) to the latest book on being married and having a child (“Shopaholic & Baby”). Throughout the entire series, her obsession with shopping and the complications that imparts on her life are central themes.

United States of Books: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (audio)

Entertainment Weekly chose Geek Love for Oregon. The magazine said, “A twisted couple populate their freak show with their own children in this modern classic. It’s weird, carnivalesque, and unnerving: not unlike Portland on a given night. Need more? Kurt Cobain was a fan.”

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 15+ hours
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Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, narrated by Christina Moore, is a family saga of love, obsession, and revenge among the freaks at the Binewski traveling show. In many ways this novel reminded me of American Horror Story: Freak Show. Al and Lil populate the show with their own children, those they have disfigured by ensuring Lil drinks and subjects herself to all manner of poisons, insecticides, and other torturous devices. Their efforts to save the traveling carnival from bankruptcy requires more than traditional dwarfs and extraordinarily tall men and women. The Binewskis have concluded that the rise of basketball and other entertainments have made these traditional freak show participants obsolete.

Much of this is narrated by Oly, an albino hunchback, as she recalls the past and her brother Arturo the Aquaboy, who became so consumed with jealousy, that he would do anything to be on top and take over the carnival from his father. Oly, despite being a hunchback, is on the outside of the clan, and she’s treated more as a servant than a family member, even by the brother she loves beyond all reason. While her relatives seek to get by under Arturo’s reign or escape it, Oly seeks to bind herself to him in the only way she knows.

Dunn’s novel examines the love inside a family of freaks, but it really could apply to any family, especially if jealousies are allowed free reign and grow out of control. What’s interesting is how much Oly is unlike her family in that she sees the “norms” as not something to be despised, but as something that could be loved. Her transformation and distance from her family is complete later on in the novel when she gives birth.

Christina Moore does an admirable job with the narration, and it is easy to follow each character. However, the setting in Oregon is not front-and-center and many times, readers will forget that the carnival is even in the state, particularly when other cities in other states are more frequently mentioned like Spokane. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, narrated by Christina Moore, takes a while to get used to, and there is some very strong language and sexual content that some readers would not prefer. Overall, the novel was just plain odd.

RATING: Tercet

About the Author:

Katherine Dunn is best known for her beloved novel “Geek Love,” which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 1989. She is also the author of the novels “Attic” (1970) and “Truck” (1971). A fourth novel, entitled “The Cut Man,” has been in-progress for decades and was purportedly scheduled for a September 2008 release.

Dunn is also known as a prolific sports journalist in the field of boxing, and has written several articles on the subject.

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Dodgers by Bill Beverly

Source: LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Hardcover, 304 pgs.
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Dodgers by Bill Beverly is not a feel-good coming-of-age story. East is 16 and has been standing watch outside drug houses in Los Angeles’ The Boxes neighborhood for two years. When the heat turns up, he finds himself adrift. But Fin, the big man, asks him to step in and do something he’s never trained for or even thought about — kill a key witness who’s hiding in Wisconsin. East is just one of four set out on the road in a minivan to get the job done and with little contact to the players-that-be at home. These boys will have to make grown-up decisions and decisions that they will have to live with forever.

“He had been at the old house before them, and he had seen things they had never seen. He had seen a reverend shot on the walk, a woman jump off a roof. He had seen a helicopter crash into trees and a man, out of his mind, pick up a downed power cable and stand, illuminated. He had seen the police come down, and still the house continued on.” (pg. 5 ARC)

“East looked up and tried to swallow the bad taste in his mouth. Above them, a big plastic dinosaur spun on a wire. Cars rushed by out on the highway, and East had to keep himself from staring down each one. Things moving. At first, the ride had felt like getting out, like being set free. Into nothing. But since Vegas, this felt like being stuck back in it. Like every headlight that rolled past was pointed at him.” (pg. 67 ARC)

East has been the big brother to half-brother Ty, but Ty has left home and disappeared into the network until this trip north. They don’t communicate at all, and when they do it’s strained at best. Their relationship is the backbone of the crew and how it operates. Will these four boys reach their destination in one piece, will they kill each other, and will the mission be accomplished? Beverly has created a tension-filled story that journeys across country, and readers are worried that the mission will be accomplished even as they want East to find peace and redeem himself.

Dodgers by Bill Beverly is a harsh look at gang life, but it also is a look at the boys caught up in it. The young men who feel trapped by their lives, who set boundaries for themselves, but then must break them or face harsh consequences. Even when they feel that they are free from it all, it comes back around, like shadows waiting behind the trees ready to snatch them back into the black hole.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Bill Beverly grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and studied at Oberlin College and the University of Florida. His research on criminal fugitives and the stories surrounding them became the book On the Lam: Narratives of Flight in J. Edgar Hoover’s America. He teaches American literature and writing at Trinity University in Washington, D.C.

Good Taste: Simple, Delicious Recipes for Family and Friends by Jane Green

Source: Berkley
Hardcover, 192 pgs.
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Good Taste: Simple, Delicious Recipes for Family and Friends by Jane Green is more than just a cookbook, it’s family dinner or a gathering of friends in which Green shares not only where her recipes come from, but some of the stories behind them or that churn up in her memory. The narrative accompanying each recipe is like sitting across the table from Green. Readers will picture her dinner parties and family gatherings happening in much the same way — Green mixing ingredients across the kitchen island while her guests munch, chat, and help out. These are the family and friend gatherings that are the most fun because everyone is not only enjoying the food but the company of one another.

“I realized quickly that for me, having people over is less about the food, and more about comfort, warmth, nurture. It is about creating the kind of welcoming environment that instantly makes people feel relaxed and cared for, that truly brings meaning to the concept of food being love.” (pg. ix)

I particularly loved her early advice about putting out nuts and cheese and fruit, rather than hors d’oeuvres that can make people full before the meal is even served. Many of my own family gatherings were this way, and we were all very hungry when the meal was served. And who doesn’t like the smell of fresh baked bread — Potato, Gorgonzola, and Sage Bread is one recipe I’ll be trying when I have more time.

What I did make from the cookbook was dessert — you knew it had to be dessert, didn’t you? Warm chocolate and Banana Cake, a recipe that was her mother’s special dessert, and like her mother, my grandmother kept many of her recipes in her head and what was written down is in some kind of code that needs a key to unlock. Despite these encryption techniques, Green has recreated a delicious and moist dessert that people will want seconds and thirds of! I know I did, even though our Confectioners’ sugar has somehow vanished!

Good Taste: Simple, Delicious Recipes for Family and Friends by Jane Green is a wonderful cookbook and my family enjoyed the chocolate cake. My daughter gobbled it up every chance she got, which is unusual as she generally doesn’t prefer sweets. For this cake, she made an exception.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Jane Green is the author of seventeen novels, including sixteen New York Times bestsellers. She has over ten million books in print, and is published in over 25 languages. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Source: Public Library
Audiobook, 9 CDs
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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, narrated by Kirsten Potter, opens with the on stage demise of Arthur Leander, a famous actor who has a number of wives and feels disconnected from his own son. While a few of the characters are connected with Leander, those connections really don’t matter in the grand scheme of the novel, and many of the tertiary characters met at the beginning die weeks into the epidemic after his death. Mandel may be using the distance from the characters to create a sense that who lives and dies is random and without purpose, but it’s a blunt instrument that leaves little room for connection between the reader and the characters that have adventures in the book.

The Traveling Symphony is the most intriguing with its odd cast of characters and Kirsten Raymonde’s tattoo from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” She was present on stage as Leander died, and her life since the epidemic is one she would rather not have endured, though she maintains her spirits. As these cast members, for that’s how they are portrayed, deal with the aftermath of civilization, it’s a wonder that any art or creativity remains, especially when there are men like the Prophet willing to engage in bigamy with young girls and spout nonsense to their people about being the chosen ones — so long as they obey him.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, narrated by Kirsten Potter, was a 2014 National Book Award Finalist that wowed many, but I felt a bit distant from the action and the characters. While I enjoyed this story and the vignettes and the back and forth between the present and the past in this post-apocalyptic story, Mandel kept me at too far a distance from her characters. She’s attempting to comment on the need for something more than just survival when disaster strikes and how to do it, but much of it is lost in the mire.  Like the traveling artists that take to the pop-up cities and towns after the Georgia Flu kills 99% of the population, readers will feel like they don’t get a deep feel for the places visited or the people they spend time with.  The stories are interesting and kept my attention, but there was too much time spent wondering where it was all going and what the point was.

RATING: Couplet

About the Author:

Emily St. John Mandel was born and raised on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. She studied contemporary dance at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and lived briefly in Montreal before relocating to New York.

Her fourth novel, Station Eleven, is forthcoming in September 2014. All three of her previous novels—Last Night in Montreal, The Singer’s Gun, and The Lola Quartet—were Indie Next Picks, and The Singer’s Gun was the 2014 winner of the Prix Mystere de la Critique in France. Her short fiction and essays have been anthologized in numerous collections, including Best American Mystery Stories 2013. She is a staff writer for The Millions. She lives in New York City with her husband.

The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love & Giveaway

tlc tour hostSource: LibraryThing Early Reviews and TLC Book Tours
Paperback, 336 pgs.
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The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love begins before the British become embroiled in war again, at a time when a dancing, music, and art are in full swing.  Hitler is making his moves, and as many foreigners have moved to Britain, they fear becoming targets because of the Fascist’s moves.  In particular, an Italian community, which applauds Mussolini’s focus on making the fatherland great again, has growing concerns that they too will be swept up in the persecutions/internments of foreigners.

“Antonio stood at the bedroom window.  The June morning was mild, almost milky.  It seemed to him that if he stayed perfectly silent, perfectly still, they would pass the house and leave him be.  And yet he knew that they would not.  At any moment — they would knock on the door.  The knock would be loud and hollow: a drumbeat, a summons.  There would be no anger in it, no private hatred.  The men were just doing their job, that’s all.” (pg. 3 ARC)

Antonio and Olivia meet under less-than-ideal circumstances at the Paradise Ballroom, and despite the instant disgust, something simmers beneath he surface for both of them.  In chapters that alternate between their stories from 1937 to 1947, Love weaves a tale of forbidden love, clashing cultures, and the pressures of war.  Antonio is pressured by his brother, Valentino, to join the Fascists, but he does not believe in their cause, and even though he has an arranged marriage, he wants to provide for his wife on his own through his talents.  Olivia is making her way in the world with the talents she has, dancing the tango, but even as she makes some ill-advised choices, she continues onward through the loneliness and pain.

When war is clearly coming, Olivia marries a bohemian Englishman, Bernard, who soon becomes Antonio’s patron, helping him find a musical tutor and gigs in London.  Bernard continues to be consumed with his work with refugees from the countries conquered by Hitler, and his wife is left to fend for herself much of the time.  Her passionate nature cannot be denied for long, and the outbreak of war is the only thing that can suppress it.  Love has created two characters driven by their passion for artistry, but each is confined by different circumstances — a strict moral culture and a fear of loss.

The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom by Alison Love is more than a love story between two or even four characters, it is a look at how fear can cause even the most rational of us to employ terrible tactics to make ourselves feel safe.  Despite a slow build, Love has created a memorable family in the Trombettas, and their struggles become emotional for the reader. 

RATING: Quatrain

GIVEAWAY: To Enter leave a comment with email address about why you want to read this book.  Open to U.S./Canada readers ages 18+

Deadline is May 11, 2016.

THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!

About the Author:

Alison Love is a novelist and short story writer. Her debut novel, Mallingford, published in the UK and Germany, was described in The Times as ‘the kind of book that reminds one why people still like reading novels’, while her second, Serafina, is set amidst the political intrigues of 13th century Amalfi. Her latest novel, The Girl from the Paradise Ballroom, has been published in the UK, the USA and Germany (as Das Lied, das uns trägt). Alison’s short stories have appeared in several magazines and anthologies, and her story Sophie stops the clock was shortlisted for the Bristol Short Story Prize in 2013.

 

 

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (audio)

Source: Public Library
Audiobook, 9 CDs
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TransAtlantic by Colum McCann, narrated by Geraldine Hughes, reads like a collection of interconnected stories, beginning in 1919 following WWI.  Aviators Jack Alcock and Arthur Brown set course for Ireland from Newfoundland to heal old wounds after WWI, but before readers are engaged enough, the story shifts to 1845 when Frederick Douglass is on an international lecture tour in Ireland about the abolitionist cause. This portion of the book was the most engaging, where Douglass’ fears of being called slurs or targeted for the color of his skin is top of mind, even in nation where the Irish long for freedom from oppression.

The hardships of the famine would seem to bring the Irish and Douglass to the same side of freedom, but there are too many obstacles. As the novel moves to more modern stories, including Senator George Mitchell’s trip to Belfast to broker peace in the late 1990s, the chance meetings and encounters have clearly had lasting effects on history, even if their details have been forgotten or lost.  Connecting all of these stories are women — Irish housemaid Lily Duggan, mother and daughter Emily and Lottie, and Hannah Carson.

The narration by Geraldine Hughes is flawless, and she never once pulled me out of the story.  She carefully narrated each interconnected story, and the novel took on a cohesion that was unexpected.  However, readers may want to pick up a print copy of this so they do not miss any of the nuance in McCann’s writing.

TransAtlantic by Colum McCann, narrated by Geraldine Hughes, is a sweeping book that speaks to the minor moments in our lives and how they can have ripple effects across the ocean and across history.

Rating: Quatrain

About the Author:

Colum McCann is the author of two collections of short stories and four novels, including “This Side of Brightness,””Dancer” and “Zoli,” all of which were international best-sellers. His newest novel “Let the Great World Spin” will come out in 2009. His fiction has been published in 26 languages and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, GQ, Paris Review and other places. He has written for numerous publications including The Irish Times, Die Zeit, La Republicca, Paris Match, The New York Times, the Guardian and the Independent.

M Train by Patti Smith (audio)

Source: Public Library
Audiobook, 6 CDs
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M Train by Patti Smith, narrated by the author, is a poetic and meandering memoir that illustrates how the writing life can not only be rich with inspiration but also frustratingly slow and difficult.  Smith spends much of her time drinking black coffee in different cafes, and as she interacts with those she meets and in her projects, she is still holding on to the pain of loss, as her husband passed away too young.  While the loss of her husband is there with her as she rides the subway (there is an M train in New York City that travels between Queens and Manhattan), travels to Tangiers and other foreign locations, it does not take center stage.

Memories drag her daily ruminations into different directions, and these memories are all that are left of those she loves and who have inspired her as a woman, an artist, a poet, and as a person.  She is obsessed with crime dramas and coffee, and her writing is on napkins, in blank pages of books she’s reading (for the upteenth time), and on scraps and in notebooks.

You can see some elements of the memoir online.

Like the dilapidated bungalow she buys on Rockaway beach just before Superstorm Sandy, Smith endures the everyday erosion of life, the waves that threaten to break us and smash us into pieces.  The only testament to our strength is to continue onward and to move forward through our lives chasing our passions and enjoying every moment we are graced with.  Her empty house on Rockaway is where her memories rattle around, emerging only when necessary, allowing her to look back on how much her life has evolved and how much she wants to hold onto as much of it as she can.

The self-narrated M Train by Patti Smith is numbing in the amount of loss in one person’s life, but her life is not that different from that of others who struggle against the tidal wave of loss.  Memory can help us hold onto those we love, but even those are eroded by time.  Many of us have a hard time moving on, and in her memoir, she explores this in depth.

Rating: Quatrain

Photo: © Jesse Dittmar

About the Author:

Patti Smith is a writer, performer, and visual artist. She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary merging of poetry and rock. She has released twelve albums, including Horses, which has been hailed as one of the top one hundred albums of all time by Rolling Stone.

Please visit her Website.

 

 

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem (audio)

Source: Public Library
Audiobook, 8 CDs
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My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, narrated by Debra Winger, is not only about the feminist movement, but also literally about her life as an activist and a woman on the road, who practiced the art of active listening.  Learning in India of a decentralized way of making decisions and interacting, Steinem learned that discussing different points of view on an even plane, without hierarchy, can be much more productive and diplomatic.  Debra Winger is a great narrator because her cadence is very similar to Steinem’s narration of the introductory material.

I love how her parents left their mark on her early on – a mother who wanted a different life than the one she lived and a father who had a hard time staying still, traveling and selling as much as possible.  Her early life and how she travels from one place to the next are captivating, but there are times that the narrative wanders pretty far afield, leaving readers at sea as to what time period they are in until she mentions another year or date.  Steinem, co-founder of Ms. Magazine, has a deep fear of public speaking on her own, though she would speak before groups with others.

Among the most memorable events are the large convention she organizes for the women’s movement, her talk at Harvard University that was mostly male, and her interactions with taxi drivers and others on the streets because she does not drive.  As someone who gets that question a lot about why I don’t drive, this part of the story resonated with me.  I want to be and remain connected to my world, and separating myself in a car alone is not accomplishing that at all.  Steinem says that her adventure begins the moment she walks out the door.

Her discussion of the election process is very similar to what I as a mere voter expected, even though she had more of an insider’s perspective.  In particular, her struggle during the Democratic primary to choose between President Obama and Hillary Clinton was fascinating.  While many people voted because they wanted a woman president and others voted for a black president, Steinem’s thought process was more detailed based upon their track records and their abilities, and more.  For those interested in politics and the political process, these aspects of the book are wonderful, and for those who listen, they will see that they need to adopt Steinem’s ability to listen and examine the minute details of each candidate before voting.

My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, narrated by Debra Winger, is engrossing in that it provides a detailed account of the women’s movement, the civil rights movement, and the political process.  How did women get the vote, how did they use and keep it, and are voices of women heard now?  Steinem is optimistic in our ability to change and evolve into a more inclusive society through careful listening toward shared solutions.

***I read this as part of Emma Watson’s Book Club on GoodReads***

About the Author:

Gloria Marie Steinem is an American feminist, journalist, and social and political activist who became nationally recognized as a leader of, and media spokeswoman for, the women’s liberation movement in the late 1960s and 1970s. A prominent writer and key counterculture era political figure, Steinem has founded many organizations and projects and has been the recipient of many awards and honors. She was a columnist for New York magazine and co-founded Ms. magazine. In 1969, she published an article, ” After Black Power, Women’s Liberation”, which, along with her early support of abortion rights, catapulted her to national fame as a feminist leader.

The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling (audio)

Source: Audible
Audiobook, 14+ hours
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The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, narrated by Simon Vance, was our November book club selection and is a steampunk alternate history set in 1855 in England.  Vance is a wonderful narrator as always, so there were no issues in that regard.  The novel seeks to explore the political and societal implications of when Charles Babbage succeeds in building an analytical computer, the Difference Engine, creating a barely recognizable world in which technological advancements are ubiquitous and enabling Britain to become more powerful and the United States to become more fragmented than unified.  However, as the water and the air become more polluted, the wealthy are able to flee outside of London, while the laborers are stuck in the city with the soot and pollution.  The anger this engenders, causes the laborers to become revolutionaries, rising up and calling for anarchy.

Intelligence agencies, difference engines (computers) and secrecy abound in this topsy-turvy world, but on audio, some of the intricacies are lost.  A lot of the narration is spent on describing clothes, surroundings, some of the machines, and mundane actions, like opening containers and whether people are wearing gloves.

Among the minutiae, a mystery about computer punch cards emerges, and everyone seems to want them.  Paleontologist Mallory is the only interesting character, but his segment in the plot ends and the final third of the novel plods along once again.  At least he lasted longer than the other interesting character, Sybil Gerard.  While some believe the cards can be used to place bets and win big, it is clear that’s a red herring.  The tug-of-war between the luddites and the ruling class that espouses the benefits of technology and advancement is often lost in the narration, which takes on several iterations — the only clue that the narrator is an outside observer.

The Difference Engine by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling, narrated by Simon Vance, is convoluted  and mysterious to its own detriment.  Overall, while readers may enjoy Vance as a narrator, this book might get a better reception in print.  However, this particular novel also has a number of confusing plot lines that intersect haphazardly, almost as if the writers were trying to confuse the reader.  Unfortunately, at some point readers may give up caring about uncovering it.  This is an overly stylized novel aimed at a sliver of readers, with a very masculine tone and vaunted scientific jargon and theories.

What the Book Club Thought:

We all agreed that the plot didn’t take up much of the book, and that the mystery reveal at the end was kind of a let down, especially given all that had happened to obtain the punch cards.  Some of the characters were disliked, the choice of a paleontologist was an odd one for some, and a few of us skimmed or did not finish the book.  Those of us who did finish the book thought that it had been more of a world-building exercise.  Moreover, some of the things that happened in the background are things that some of us would have rather had in the main parts of the story.  Overall, none of us really cared for any of the characters too much and thought that the book was wordy at best.

About the Authors:

William Ford Gibson is an American-Canadian speculative fiction novelist and essayist who has been called the “noir prophet” of the cyberpunk subgenre.

Bruce Sterling is an American science fiction author who is best known for his novels and his work on the Mirrorshades anthology. This work helped to define the cyberpunk genre.

All the Words Are Yours: Haiku on Love by Tyler Knott Gregson

Source: Penguin Random House
Hardcover, 144 pgs.
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All the Words Are Yours: Haiku on Love by Tyler Knott Gregson is a collection of haiku poems — though not all of them include references to nature — about love and all of its manifestations. This small collection, however, is just a taste of what love can mean, bring, and be to many of us. These verse reveal a poet who is romantic and optimistic, as these poems espouse not only how passionate love can be but also how transformative and consuming it is.

I am broken down
and shattered into pieces
You are still barefoot
Your soul knew my soul
long before we needed skin
to spend a life in.
Lay down your roots now, 
let them wrap tight around mine,
sink deep in the soil.

In each of these short haiku, readers will get a glimpse of the form and its power to punctuate a feeling or a moment, so that they can stop and listen to their own feelings and thoughts, compare their own past and present loves, and be more introspective. Gregson lays his heart out and is unafraid of those who would poke fun at his cheesy lines or his unabashed love expressed in intimate ways. It’s like peering into his life, watching how he forms attachments, reveres them, and carries them forward.

All the Words Are Yours: Haiku on Love by Tyler Knott Gregson could be a romantic gift for your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend on an anniversary, as an every day gift, or something special for Valentine’s Day, that most commercial of holidays.  However, Gregson’s haiku also challenges the traditional use of the form, driven by nature imagery, to consider more abstract things as natural because we are aware of them — such as love or the soul.  Some of these haiku also leave you breathless.

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella (audio)

Source: Public Library
Audiobook, 12 discs
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Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella, narrated by Rosalyn Landor, is a wonderful breath of fresh air in which readers are introduced to Lara Lington and her great aunt Sadie Lancaster.  Part ghost story and party mystery, at its heart this is a story about respect, family tradition, and history.  Unlike Kinsella’s hilarious Shopaholic series, there is a great deal more heart and emotion in this one.  Lara is struggling in her new line of work as a head hunter, after her business partner left her in a lurch, but once she’s accosted during a funeral by a ghost, she has little choice but to look beyond her own plans and go on an adventure she’ll never forget.

Sadie and Lara make a fantastic team as they try to locate her great aunt’s favorite necklace, and in the meantime, Sadie’s whispers are making their way through many lives with some hilarious results.  Lara has spent a lot of time hoping for the best and pining away for her ex-boyfriend, pretending that all is well.  But when Sadie enters her life, she’s forced to really reassess where she’s been and what she’s been doing with her life.  Sadie, who didn’t think she amounted to much in 105 years and lost the one true love of her life, spent a great many years having fun and barely committing to anything or anyone.  They are opposites in many ways, but they teach each other how to truly live.  Rosalyn Landor is a terrific narrator who does excellent voices for male and female characters, as well as a stellar British accent.

Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella, narrated by Rosalyn Landor, is utterly enjoyable from start to finish, and Kinsella’s characters will have readers itching to break out flapper dresses and dance the Charleston.

About the Author:

Madeleine Wickham is a bestselling British author under her pseudonym, Sophie Kinsella. Educated at New College, Oxford, she worked as a financial journalist before turning to fiction. She is best known for writing a popular series of chick-lit novels. The Shopaholic novels series focuses on the misadventures of Becky Bloomwood, a financial journalist who cannot manage her own finances. The books follows her life from when her credit card debt first become overwhelming (“The Secret Dreamworld of a Shopaholic”) to the latest book on being married and having a child (“Shopaholic & Baby”). Throughout the entire series, her obsession with shopping and the complications that imparts on her life are central themes.