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review 2017-09-21 22:38
The Afterlives by Thomas Pierce
The Afterlives: A Novel - Thomas Pierce

Another one that won't come out until January, sorry! but these are just the ones that are exciting me right now!


Jim Byrd died of heart failure. He was revived in time and being a young man suffered no lasting damage. After the installation of a new device to monitor his heart he makes a full recovery. What gnaws at him is the fact that he has no memories of his experience. He saw no light at the end of the tunnel and he realizes he needs to know what, if anything, happens after death.

A routine task at work leads him to a haunted house and leads him to reconnect with an old girlfriend. Following a whim he comes into contact with a haunted house and, coincidentally, an old girlfriend. Him, his father, and his girlfriend are all pulled into the mystery of this house and the larger question of life after death. Religion, technology, philosophy, love and fear intersect in The Afterlives as we follow Jim's quest for understanding. The stories of those who lived in and visited the haunted house periodically break up the story and deepen the mystery.

Thomas Pierce's writing was a pleasure to read. He tackles enormous issues with respect and genuine insight. His characters often deliver their lines and thoughts with a wry sense of humor. Once I picked the book up, I could hardly put it down. I haven't read anything like it in a long time.

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review 2017-09-21 20:21
Excellent Women - Barbara Pym,Jayne Entwistle

Marvelous. Fabulous. Hilarious. Poignant. I now understand why friends of mine RAVE about Pym. I'm besotted. Her ability to keep the reader's interest, to mine the drama and the comedy from the smallest of moments, is matched only by her insight into the hearts and minds of her characters -- ordinary women living ordinary lives.


God, I wish more people wrote like this today. In a world where every writer seems obsessed with creating new forms and experimenting to the ragged ends of experimentation, what an oasis a book like this is. Murial Spark, Elizabeth Taylor (the writer, not the actress), Jane Gardam... Barbara Pym. I plan to read everything she wrote.


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review 2017-09-19 21:00
The Snow Child - Eowyn Ivey

I love fairy tales, and this one is no exception. I also appreciate that the wild, snowy Alaskan landscape is as much a character as the 50-year-old husband and wife who are the protagonists. Inspired by a Russian fairy tale, Ivey has done a lovely job of balancing the magical world with the very real difficulties and savagery of life in the high north. The images Ivey chooses work perfectly and the characters are all well-drawn, even the somewhat unearthly presence of the 'snow child' herself.


Like the best of fairy tales, this one is equal parts light and dark, and the transformations are complicated and at times disturbing. Thank goodness for that.


My only issue with the book, and what stopped me from giving it five stars, is that it's a tad too long. Well, more than a tad. There is a good deal of detail that might have been removed in favor of pacing. Still, I recommend it for anyone who has a soft spot for magical tales. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

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review 2017-09-16 19:02
Ruby: A Novel - Cynthia Bond

Well, that was quite a ride. Beautifully written -- Bond is a marvel at the sentence level -- and magical in more ways than one... and thank God for that, because the story itself is brutal. Small towns have never been portrayed more unflatteringly, nor has church life (if you can call it that).  I imagine the author might have taken some flack from some members of the Black community, as Alice Walker did with The Color Purple, and Walker's book is a stroll through the rose garden compared to this one. While I'm not sure it's for everyone, since the misogyny and violence is extreme, but it's an important book, less concerned with entertaining you than with forcing you to bear witness. Bond is one hell of a writer. 

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review 2017-09-15 03:19
THE DINNER by Herman Koch
The Dinner - Herman Koch,Sam Garrett

Paul and Claire meet his brother, Serge and his wife Babette, for dinner one evening to talk about their children.  Serge is running for Prime Minister and wants to do damage control.  The other three have other ideas.


The story is told in flashbacks of the relationships and events of Paul's life.  I liked Paul but I never warmed to most of the characters.  I have a lot of questions for them. 


This is probably a book I would never have picked up on my own had it not been for my book club.  There is a lot to discuss and think about in this book.  How do people make the choices they do?  Very thought provoking and timely.

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