Monday, December 29, 2014

We hope you had a wonderful year of reading this year and that our blog has been a helpful reference. Wishing you a happy end to this holiday season and a Happy New Year.

Happy Reading-

Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.
–P.J. O’Rourke

A.R. Braithwaite's Best of 2014
I was kept up at night reading this book, because not only was it engaging, I was sincerely scared. Sarah Lotz creates an alternate world, wherein the horrifying events of her novel in fact happen, and I think she is accurate in the ways she thinks people would react to such catastrophes happening - especially the media. She gets at the core of what makes people feel fear, what people might feel in their final moments of life, and splays them open for everyone to internalize. Overall I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys thrillers, creepy stories, mysteries, or just plain amazing writing, creating a fascinating story from multiple points of view. I can definitely see myself reading it again, but I do recommend reading it in a well lit room when you are not home alone, you should also expect to be challenged in your beliefs about the world and politics, whether they be liberal or conservative. (review)

Anthony Doerr creates a masterful puzzle with the way he interweaves Marie-Laure and Werner's lives. The beauty in this work truly shows when these contrasting characters try to trust and accept each other despite the chasm that life has built between them. This is not to be mistaken as a sentimental tale, but tears of relief and sadness are shed, I think Doerr explains it best in these lines, "Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever." & "After awhile... even total darkness is not darkness." These lines, and many more, talk about the importance of seeing, finding light even when it doesn't seem to be there, it is not sentiment but bitter darkness that can give way to the light one can find in life. At times it is simple and sharp, at others it is more open for interpretation and poetic, but it all makes sense in the context of the story Doerr is telling and how he fits it all together in the end. There is also the hauntingly true and seriousness of war intertwined with the tantalizing myth of the Sea of Flames. I love it when fiction intermingles reality with mysticism and the magical or mythological. Doerr does this too with expertise and unique ingenuity. (review)

Peter Heller is a poet, he knows how to use paragraph breaks and negative space to his advantage, making the entire book a work of art and sparse prose. Every paragraph, every line, has a purpose and felt necessary to the work as a whole. Many times Heller simply has a word as a sentence itself. "Well." That one word takes hold of the reader, took hold of me, every time and forced me to ponder all of the possibilities that could follow or be encapsulated from the words coming before it. The way Heller writes his main characters, in this case Jim, makes me feel like I am inside of the character and needed what that character needs. I understood Jim on a level that I don't find common in literary works. I was all in and I couldn't come out until I knew what Jim knew, found what he found. Overall I felt that The Painter is a book I would recommend to people who enjoy bitter humor, violence and crime, poetic prose, or simply being taken into another person's perspective of a different world altogether. Of course, if you enjoy reading and fly-fishing Peter Heller's work is for you as well. (review)

Doni Faber's Best of 2014

This is an endearing book about loving imperfect people and how their imperfections can get in the way of your life goals despite their best intentions. Lucy's mom has schizoaffective disorder and has a mental breakdown just as Lucy and her best friend Cam were planning to compete in a robotic programming contest. (review)

I have to include this one because Dianna Wynne Jones is my favorite author. This has an intricate plot like many of her other books and a spirited young girl who has to take charge of a rigged quest when her aunt, the current Wise Woman, becomes incapacitated. This book was finished by Dianna's sister and though I thought the join was obvious, it was a pleasure to get to read one last book.

After seeing people walk around with gas masks last winter due to inversion, I knew climate change is no longer something that can be ignored. Naomi's book is incredibly important and incredibly difficult to read. Known for her muck-raking, she improves upon her other books by offering many viable solutions. But it is still difficult to read because it seems unlikely that Naomi's solutions will become policy unless everyone reads this book and agitates for them! Naomi does a great job of detailing why capitalism is the culprit for the deteriorating conditions we live in.

As an admitted bibliophile, this book about how a bookseller builds his community was a fun read. I absolutely loved the dialogue. It felt like the sort of banter my friends might have with each other. I wanted more. (review)

Hikari Loftus' Best of 2014
This ended up being my favorite book this year. It wasn't a particularly happy book, and there were some pretty disturbing parts to it as well, but the writing was gorgeous. Over all, I found it a completely engrossing and magically intriguing story that I simply could not forget long after I'd finished it and moved on to other novels. Leslye Walton gives us three generations of a strange and sorrowful family history that walks the fine line between reality and magic beautifully. On the surface this story is about a girl with wings, born to a mother with a magical sense of smell, with a grandmother who can read an omen in the wind or a fallen spoon. But the underlying theme is how Love can change and shape a person, a life, and how our view of Love can make or break us. (review)

I cannot help but choose this one. What a treat for a foodie and a pirate lover like myself. Eli Brown writes a fun novel about a gourmet chef who is kidnapped by pirates and forced to cook amazing meals (with no repeats) once a week in exchange for his life. I was completely mesmerized by the chef's ability to turn coarse pirate ship fare into extravagant meals. Pretty much it means I have no excuses for the quality of meals I put out at home. The main characters are wonderfully developed and fleshed out, the main plot was interesting, the pirates awful (as they should be), and the explanations of food, cooking, and eating transformed food, its preparation and consumption into romance and religion. Really a treat to read. (review)

For all you word nerds, there is this book. As a writer and a journalist who has worked through the downfall of printed newspaper, this book really hit home for me. Set in the not-so-distant future, The Word Exchange is an intelligent and clever novel that points out through the story and in the actual writing itself how much of our language we are losing due to our reliance on digital devices and our lack of face to face communication. There were a few things in this book that made it hard to read and a few minor annoyances, but I had to add it to my best of list as a stand out because the word craft was just excellent and I really enjoyed the reading as a whole. (review)

"Words, then, are born of worlds. But they also take us places we can't go: Constantinople and Mars, valhalla, the Planet of the Apes. Language comes from what we've seen, touched, loved, lost. And it uses knowable things to give us glimpses of what's not. The Word, after all, is God." -The Word Exchange


Post a Comment