Literature

Literature

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin travels to fairy tale land with a couple of adventurous siblings in the audio edition of Sarah Mlynowski’s first Whatever After novel, Fairest of All.

Title: Fairest of All (Whatever After, #1)

Author: Sarah Mlynowski

Runtime: 3 hours, 20 minutes

Publisher: Scholastic Audio

AISN: B00HZ7FSV2

Returning to a book you've read multiple times can feel like drinks with an old friend. There's a welcome familiarity — but also sometimes a slight suspicion that time has changed you both, and thus the relationship. But books don't change, people do. And that's what makes the act of rereading so rich and transformative.

Every writer knows the paralyzing terror of the blank page. For poet Tess Taylor, the antidote to fear came through farming.

Taylor is the author of Work & Days, a new volume of poetry inspired by her year spent working on a farm in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts. She was there living alone in a cabin as part of a writer's residency, finishing her first book of verse, and "had nothing to do but write," she says. "The idea of facing the blank page for that much time really scared me."

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin is paired up with an unlikely couple in author Kemper Donovan’s The Decent Proposal.

Title: The Decent Proposal

Author: Kemper Donovan

Pages: 305

Publisher: Harper

ISBN: 978-0062391629

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

'Every Heart' Is A Doorway To Winning Fantasy

Apr 9, 2016

Seanan McGuire's award-winning novels and short stories have been testing the parameters of genre fiction for years now, but always with a deep love of horror and fantasy. That hasn't changed in her new novella, Every Heart a Doorway. Rather, she's doubled down — and in half the number of pages. Tight and tautly told, Every Heart grabs one of speculative fiction's most enduring tropes — the portal fantasy, where a person slips from the real world into a magical realm somewhere beyond — and wrings it for all the poignancy, dark humor, and head-spinning twists it can get.

The very mention of the Silk Roads creates an instant image: camel caravans trudging through the high plains and deserts of central Asia, carrying silks, spices and philosophies to Europe and the larger Mediterranean. And while these ancient routes may remain embedded in our imagination, they have, over the past few centuries, slowly faded in importance. The region today is home to despotic regimes, failing states and endless conflict. But historian Peter Frankopan thinks that the Silk Roads "are rising again."

It's 9:30 on a Thursday night and Chinese and foreign jazz fans descend on the JZ Club in Shanghai's former French Concession. Glasses clink and the splashing sound of cymbals ripple through a cabaret setting bathed in soft red light.

Andrew Field, an American historian, says clubs like JZ represent a return to Shanghai's cosmopolitan past.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin searches for answers with a not-so-mild-mannered single mom in Maggie Barbieri’s latest Maeve Conlon novel, Lie in Plain Sight.

Title: Lie in Plain Sight

Author: Maggie Barbieri

Pages: 326

Publisher: Minotaur Books

ISBN: 978-1250073440

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

Food, clothing, and shelter: How have these three basic necessities been inflated into a culture of consumption that now threatens to deplete the resources of the planet that gives us life? That's the question at the heart of Frank Trentmann's new book, Empire of Things. Trentmann has the bona fides to back up his exhaustive probe into consumerism: He's a decorated academic and the award-winning author of Free Trade Nation: Commerce, Consumption, and Civil Society in Modern Britain and The Oxford Handbook of the History of Consumption.

Murder And Crows In 'Taxidermist's Daughter'

Mar 29, 2016

A colony of jackdaws. A tiding of magpies. A storytelling of rooks. A murder of crows. These whimsical collective nouns roost at the heart of Kate Mosse's new gothic thriller, The Taxidermist's Daughter. Posing the dead as living creatures has an honored place in the psychology of horror, from Norman Bates' stuffed critters in Psycho, to his real-life forerunner, Ed Gein, the mad taxidermist of deepest, darkest Wisconsin. Mosse employs taxidermy as a clever device over which to drape the skin of her story.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin moves into a mysterious little town with the audio edition of Natalie Lloyd’s A Snicker of Magic.

Title: A Snicker of Magic

Author: Natalie Lloyd

Runtime: 8 hours, 12 minutes

Publisher: Scholastic Audio

AISN: B00INC9W4M

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

Helen Oyeyemi is one of literature's weird sisters. She's kin to the uncanny likes of Angela Carter, Shirley Jackson and Jeanette Winterson, whose names trail down the back covers of her books like a pagan invocation.

True Love And Time Travel In 'Patience'

Mar 22, 2016

Daniel Clowes may be one of the most notable comic artists of our era, a pillar of the '80s-'90s scene who's continued to do great work up to the present day, but he does tend to fixate. His recent books have focused, laserlike, on a human type that's shown up repeatedly in his comics over the last 20 years: a lonely, self-hating man living in his own head, desperate for connection, yet sabotaging it when the chance comes.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin is on the case with a couple of Hollywood hotshots in Michael Murphy’s latest Jake and Laura mystery, The Big Brush-Off.

Title: The Big Brush-Off

Author: Michael Murphy

Pages: 206

Publisher: Alibi

AISN: B00XG9BTC0

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

Consider something we use every day but don't think about unless, of course, we lose them: keys. They lock doors, turn on cars, keep valuables safe. More poetically, they can open minds and hearts.

Writer Helen Oyeyemi has been thinking a lot about keys. In fact, she's written an entire book about them, What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours — nine short stories (she says she could have written 900) about the power of keys.

The world has a seriously busy day today. March 21 isn't just the date of President Obama's historic trip to Cuba, Apple's highly anticipated iPhone event and Matthew Broderick's 54th birthday.

It's also the busiest spot on the United Nations' calendar of international observances — on this one day, it marks five different "Days." Here's a rundown:

Before she was a writer, Sara Baume set out to be a visual artist.

"First and foremost I see; I see the world and then I describe it ..." she says. "I don't know another way to write. I always anchor everything in an image."

Baume's process works — a review in The Irish Times called her debut novel a "stunning and wonderful achievement by a writer touched by greatness."

Baume loves words, and she loves fitting words together so they flow like poetry.

This week the world's been treated to a commentary on immigration reform from a surprising source: William Shakespeare.

There are books that keep you turning pages to find out what's going to happen, and others to find out how it happened. Elizabeth Poliner's beautiful first novel falls squarely into the please-tell-us-all-about-it group.

On this week’s Shelf Discovery, Kristin travels through time with author Mo Daviau’s indie rock time travel love story, Every Anxious Wave.

Title: Every Anxious Wave

Author: Mo Daviau

Pages: 213

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

ISBN: 978-1250067494

And read Kristin's full review on NightsAndWeekends.com.

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