Spring into April with some good reads

Nobel Prize winner Kazuo Ishiguro’s newest work is a look into the near future. “Klara and the Sun” is the story of an Artificial Friend purchased for a young girl who is afflicted with an unnamed illness. Is it a musing on the future of AI or a metaphor for religion? You decide. The idea of “uplifting” children is chilling but not a bit unbelievable. 
Kristin Hannah is a widely read author whose “The Four Winds” is a saga of the tragic days of the Dust Bowl and Depression. It is an unblinking depiction of how we treat one another and the role of family, but mostly it is an exhausting account of the workload required of the women of that era. 
“Exit” by British writer Belinda Bauer is a well-paced murder mystery. Felix Pink is living a very routine, bland retired life when, in a heartbeat, he is running from a murder scene. An entertaining, darkly funny read. Sarah Langan gives us “Good Neighbors” – when a sinkhole opens up in a leafy Long Island neighborhood it makes a hole in more than the street. What is really behind those front doors and friendly faces? A frighteningly realistic tale.
For a whimsical, lighthearted detour, pick up Jane Smiley’s “Perestroika.” The Paris setting is charmingly detailed as are the characters both human and beast. This is a refreshingly light read. In the historical fiction genre, “The Kitchen Front” by Jennifer Ryan uses a cooking competition as a vehicle to highlight the challenges of cooking during the strict rationing of WWII in Britain. Throw in some British class friction to round out the story and you have an entertaining and informative story. 
On the other side of the globe, Te-Ping Chen’s short story collection “Land of Big Numbers” is a shrewd depiction of the influence of the Chinese government on the lives of citizens both in-country and emigrated. Chen is a journalist for the Wall Street Journal and this is her debut publication. “The Postscript Murders” by Elly Griffiths is a mystery romp propelled by a trio of unlikely characters – a Ukrainian caregiver, a former monk and a retirement home resident — who are the only ones who find the death of a 90-year-old
to be suspicious. The key detail being that the 90-year-old was a consultant to mystery writers for her deliciously brilliant methods of killing their characters. Sarah Penner’s “The Lost Apothecary” is a thriller set in 18th century London and toggles to present day
and a wanna-be historian who is researching an artifact found in the mud of the Thames. I found the historical portion to be more compelling. I was seduced by a glowing review to read “The Blizzard Party” by Jack Livings. My mistake. If you think the sun rises and sets on the Upper West Side, this book is for you.
For non-fiction lovers, “The York Patrol” by James Carl Nelson is a recounting of the heroic actions and subsequent life of Alvin York, who was awarded the Medal of Honor in World War I. The military action is scrupulously detailed and a bit over my head but the story of this reluctant hero is fascinating.
For more information, go online to beckysbookclub.com.

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