Monday, October 31, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Hi! Remember me?

The last couple of weeks have been really busy for me, between the bookstore and my new hobby of background acting. I've filmed episodes of shows such as "Blue Bloods," "Younger,"  "The Detour" and "The Americans." It's so fun. I've gone from having nothing to do for the past two years to being somewhat frantic and overscheduled, but I'm loving it.

And of course I'm reading. Always reading.

I finished several books in the past few weeks, and set a couple aside too.

My bedside book is the seasonally appropriate A Season with the Witch, a semi-funny memoir/reportage piece about a guy who spends October in Salem, Massachusetts, and finds out how and why folks live with and manage the Witch Trial legacy. It's fun and interesting; I was born in Salem and grew up spending a lot of time there right up to my late 20s so I'm interested in this outsider's take on something I've always taken for granted.

I'm also reading Dan Chaon's Ill Will, not coming out till March but also totally appropriate for the Halloween season. It's another literary thriller from the master who brought us the amazing Await Your Reply back in 2009. So far, so very good.

And that's it for me right now. I finished my official Halloween read, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House, which I loved, and a couple of other things too. Maybe I'll even have a review sometime soon.

What are you reading, Halloweeny or not? Have a great day, whatever you're up to.

Monday, October 10, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I finished Her Every Fear, by Peter Swanson; it was a fun, solid commercial thriller that I think dark-suspense readers will enjoy when it comes out in January. I'd recommend it for Halloween because it scared me but you will have to wait.

This week I have too many books going. Now that I'm really up and running at my new job I'm taking home galleys and buying books again and right now I'm a little overwhelmed- again.

I started reading Caitriona Lally's Eggshells, a galley I received from Melville House. It's a story about an Irish woman who believes she was left by fairies and is looking for a way back. She's trying to make friends and find her way in what she thinks isn't her own world. So far I would say it's voice-driven and enjoyable.
I also started Paula Hawkins of-the-moment The Girl on the Train, which is a big movie right now and was a big book when it came out, that season's answer to Gone Girl and I can see why. Since then, and since its paperback release, it's become a big book-club book too. I plan to see the movie once I'm finished with the book, which I anticipate easily polishing off this week.

Finally I took the store's galley of The Nix, by Nathan Hill, a chunkster out now and a book I don't know anything about. I read the opening chapter, a self-contained short story about how a boy's mother abandons the family bit by bit, and I'm intrigued enough to continue. Have you read this book? What did you think?

That's it for me. What are you reading this week?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Review: THE CROSSROADS, by Niccolò Ammaniti

The Crossroads, by Niccolò Ammaniti. Published 2010 by Canongate Books. Translated by Jonathan Hunt. Literary Fiction.

Also published in English as As God Commands and winner of the 2007 Strega Prize, Niccolò Ammaniti's The Crossroads is a heartbreaking and breathtakingly suspenseful coming of age story set far from tourist Italy in a working-class community impacted by drugs, immigration and economic collapse.

Cristiano Zena is thirteen and living with his father Rino in a dilapidated house cluttered with garbage and resentment. Cristiano's mother is gone and the boy idolizes his narcissistic father, on whom he depends and feels he must protect. At the outset Rino orders his son to kill a dog that's making too much noise and even this episode is laced with suspense. Will Cristiano do it?

Of course he does, and when Rino and his buddies Danilo and Corrado aka Quattro Formaggi plan a get-rich-quick robbery scheme, Cristiano doesn't question it. Meanwhile he's navigating his hardscrabble adolescence in the only ways he knows how- through violence and confusion. He has a run-in with a local bully that ends badly, and gets teased by two girls in his class, Fabiana and Esmeralda. Then the night of the robbery comes, and things take place that no one could have planned.

This sequence, "The Night," is a novel in and of itself, a heart-pounding, cinematic sequence that interleaves the perspectives of Rino, Danilo, Quattro Formaggi, Cristiano and Fabiana. By the end of "The Night" all of them will have passed a point of no return. The book is a little slow to start but once you get here you won't be able to stop until the heartbreaking end.

I really loved this book but it was a difficult read at times. Rino is a bitter man whose rancor is passed on to his son even as he says he wants something better for the boy. Cristiano can't see the difference between his father and himself, while Rino's friends drown in their delusions. But it's Fabiana who pays the ultimate price.

Like I said, it's a tough read but I can't recommend it enough if you think you're up to the task. I'm glad I gave it a shot. Uncompromising and impossible to forget, The Crossroads will leave an indelible mark on your heart.

Rating: BUY

FTC Disclosure: I did not receive this book for review.

Monday, October 3, 2016

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I finished The Long Room, by Francesca Kay, and I have some thoughts on it I'll share with you soon. It comes out in November.
Now I'm reading, and almost done with, Peter Swanson's Her Every Fear, a murder mystery thriller coming out in January. I'll tell you more when I'm finished but I think this is one that crime readers will want to check out as soon as it hits the shelves in the new year. He had a big book a few years ago with The Girl With A Clock For A Heart, which I haven't read but I'm thinking now I need to check that one out too. This one is genuinely creepy and frightening. The next galley on deck is Catriona Lally's Eggshells.

Today I'm starting Boualem Sansal's latest Harraga. He's an essential modern writer.  I'm reading it because the last book of his I read, The German Mujahid, was such a stunner. I'll have more to say once I actually start.
And I'm struggling through the final chapters of The Barbary Coast. I want to finish it but it's just going to take some time.

What are you reading this week? Let me know in the comments!