Sunday, August 25, 2013

'Shift Omnibus'

In November of 2012, I reviewed the incredible novel, 'Wool', written by the equally-incredible Hugh Howey.  I couldn't say enough about his story.  I recommended it to friends, family, and even our thrift shop customers.  And a few have come back to tell me how much they enjoyed it.

But the most asked question was, "Is he writing a sequel?"

Oh, yeah, he did.  And you're in for another long night of reading.  As for me, it took me days because I hated to reach the end.  That, dear reader, is the sign of a well-told story.  

'Shift Omnibus' does reveal how everything began, but it soon reaches the time frame of 'Wool'.

'Shift Omnibus' tells the story of a man named Troy who awakens in Silo 1.  It is his turn to oversee the comings-and-goings of the occupants...and to keep an eye out for unusual happenings.  But Troy begins to question everything around him, including the 'big boss', Thurlow, who is a master at keeping secrets and maintaining lies. When Troy starts digging, answers begin to pop up, and he finds he isn't the man he thought he was.  He learns just why and how he and countless others are forced to live underground.  As he remembers his past and the part he played in the deception, he grows ever more curious about the trust he holds for those who haven't earned it.

The chapters move from past to present, and back again. Major characters seem to live forever, while a beloved character from 'Wool' sets up the third book in this fascinating trilogy.

There is a bloody revolution in one of the silos, pitting friend against friend, mentor against student, and Mission, the major character in that scenario, is one of my favorites.  His past is heartbreaking which makes his rage well-earned.

But it is near the end, when we read about young Jimmy, that honest tears are truly shed. We suffer along with him; experience his loneliness, find hope in his love for a new companion, and sob when the years pass and we find that Jimmy has taken back his alias, Solo.  And then there is the end, when hope springs anew.

Major things are in store for the residents of the silos, and thanks to the fantastic writing of Mr. Howey, I'm sure you'll be up all night, biting your nails and unable to put down the book.

As for me, I'll be taking it slow with the final novel, 'Dust'.

'Shift Omnibus' is available at bookstores everywhere.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

'Forever, Interrupted'

"Have you ever heard of supernovas?  They shine brighter than anything else in the sky and then fade out really quickly, a short burst of extraordinary energy..."

Some book reviews are so easy to compose.  When I am come off reading a story that is so beautifully written, so well edited, it's everything I can do to keep myself from writing a review right then and there.  Instead, I sit and digest the story, remembering what passages affected me the most.

And then, along comes a book that affected me throughout the whole story.

"Forever, Interrupted" by Taylor Jenkins Reid is the story of Elsie and Ben, two single people who meet at a take-out pizza place on New Year's Day.  Their chemistry is immediate; so immediate, they fall in love, move in together, get married...and are separated by death, all in the space of five or six months.  One might think that 'love at first sight' does not exist, but it does (it has happened to me), and it's eloquently told in this heartbreaking story.

I'll admit it:  I cried just three pages into the story.  I cried when Elsie met her mother-in-law, Susan.  I cried when I read the various chapters pertaining to the courtship of Elsie and Ben because I knew what was coming.

But I didn't realize how deep the grief shared by both women would be.  And I almost thought that Elsie would never be able to swim to the surface and grab back her life.  

Ms. Reid has written a novel that is much more than mere 'Chick Lit'.  It is a story of grief, an emotion that almost all of us have encountered at some time or another.  It could be from the death of a family member, or a friend or coworker.  Even (and sometimes more heartbreaking) from the death of a beloved animal.  I could relate to the grief; every stage that Elsie encountered reverberated in my own life.  You might think that Ben is 'too good to be true', but he is a sincere, flawed man who finds true love and isn't afraid to go for it.

Being a huge book lover, I was pleased to find various mentions of books; Elsie is a librarian, Ben loved reading Young Adult books (not the sappy, 'real' ones.  He loved fantasy, but not the 'vampire' genre).  And near the end, when the story beautifully comes together, books are a huge catalyst for Elsie's new life.

This is a thoughtful story, and very well-written.  It's not light.  It has substance.

When I got to the end, when I read that last sentence, I cried anew.

And so will you.

So, now I must leave and go buy a new box of tissues.

Book Hog also suggests 'Goodbye for Now', by Laurie Frankel.  These two novels accompany 
each other very well.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


When I viewed my news feed on Facebook today, I was absolutely delighted to see a 'thank you' from the Chet the Dog page for my review of Spencer Quinn's soon-to-be-released book, 'The Sound and the Furry'.  I thank you, Chet the Dog page (and Mr. Quinn); your story was an absolute delight to read and review.

So, my day started off to be a happy one.

But I've been saddled with a dilemma.  I just finished reading the new book, 'Tampa', by Alissa Nutting, and while I love her style and voice, I felt more than a bit uncomfortable with the whole premise.

I'll be frank:  It's about a female eighth grade English teacher who harbors a sexual obsession for fourteen-year-old boys.  

Celeste Price has it all:  Beauty, a rich husband, a great teaching career, and a red Corvette.  But her one weakness is fourteen-year-old boys, and she goes after them like a shark hunting prey.  She's meticulous and smart, and in a few weeks into the new school year, she's found her latest victim. Sweet, quiet Jack Patrick is in awe of his new teacher, while Celeste celebrates his naiveté.  When he finally learns that she wants him in the most sexual way, he agrees to keep quiet about their affair.  But despite the fact that Celeste is a swift thinker and an insatiable lover, something trips her up.  And it isn't good.

'Tampa' will most certainly become the latest controversial novel of this publishing season (think 'Lolita') due to it's uncomfortable subject matter.  And while I felt a great distaste for the character of Celeste, I loved Nutting's style. Good writing and truthiness (thanks, Stephen Colbert) should make a reader feel uncomfortable until we can relate to the subject matter, but this one...  Not for me.

I hope that Ms. Nutting goes on to write a story that won't leave such a bad taste in my mouth.  Teachers are supposed to be trusted, and when I read even a fictional account about a predatory instructor, I feel as if I have to wash out my eyes.

But I'll still be a fan, Alissa.  I just hope your next novel doesn't make me cringe.

'Tampa' by Alissa Nutting, is available at your local bookstore and library.