We have had a lot of rain, so I have had a lot of time to read!
The non-fiction books this month include “Sidecountry” by The New York Times sportswriter John Branch. This is a collection of his coverage of the back stories in sports. Compelling reading and not just for sports fans. The memoir “The Ugly Cry” by Danielle Henderson would be a pretty standard tale of children abandoned by mother to be raised by grandparents, but the grandmother in her case is a foul-mouthed, take no guff, supremely practical woman making for a fast and funny read. Henderson is a former editor and current TV writer. “Bring Your Baggage and Don’t Pack Light” by Helen Ellis is her latest collection of essays. I enjoyed “Southern Lady Code,” her first book. She effectively uses humor to address serious and timely topics. She is one of the guests for the latest Post & Courier Author Luncheon.
“The Paper Palace” by Miranda Heller has some great writing, but also contains some horrific scenes of child abuse so beware. They are brief but shocking. Her descriptions of summers on the Cape are spot on. “We Are the Brennans” by Tracey Lange is the story of an irish family in small town New York. A bit like a daytime soap opera. Not nearly as good as “Ask Again, Yes” which is one of my all-time favorites. But a fine choice when you don’t really want anything too challenging. “The People We Keep” by Allison Larkin was a really good read until the ending which I found disappointing. But the story is good and the main character is resolute in her personal journey.
For those seeking serious literature, here are a few. “The First Day of Spring” by Nancy Tucker is agonizing yet ultimately hopeful. I almost abandon it in the first chapter, but stay with it and was rewarded by an outstanding portrait of a desperate child. “Ivory Shoals” by John Brandon is a must read. Twelve-year-old Gussie is making his way across post-Civil War Florida to meet his previously unknown father. The writing here is superb, both the environmental descriptions and the cast of characters. Don’t miss this one! “How to Kidnap the Rich” by Rahul Raina is another great read. At times slapstick, the story portrays the class divide of India and the desperation of those trying to make a better life — one way or another.
“Finley Donovan is Killing It” by Elle Cosimano is a lively romp about a woman who is accidentally hired to be a hitman while meeting with her book agent in Panera. A light but satisfying read with well written characters you can recognize. “The Photographer” by Mary Dixie Carter delivers a supremely creepy reality check. You will be suspicious of everyone and everything on social media after reading this. “Palm Beach” by Mary Adkins is a soapy look at the ultra-wealthy and how money can make life easier. An easy read, but certainly raises ethical and moral issues which would be good for discussion. “Everyone In This Room Will Someday Be Dead” by Emily
Austin introduces us to Gilda who struggles with chronic anxiety and psychosomatic illness. She finds herself accidentally hired as an office admin for a pastor presenting her with many uncomfortable challenges. For fans of “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.”
“Thief of Souls” by Brian Klingborg is an elucidating depiction of life in small town China. Inspector Lu Fei is determined to find the person who murdered a young woman even though his superiors want an expedient arrest- even if it is the wrong person. “The Drowning Kind” by Jennifer McMahon is a fantasy/mystery spin on a family saga of an estate in New York. I would not be swimming in that pool! “Dead of Winter” by Stephen Mack Jones is his third with ex-cop August Snow. Taking place in the underworld of Detroit and the enclave of Mexicantown, this is a plot filled with gangsters, guns and violence. Look for more with this lead character bringing justice to the streets.
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