Georgette reviews: Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies

51PmoPKQLhL-2It sounds grim to say it, but some of the best books I have read this year revolve around dying (See also: The Bright Hour by Nina Riggs). This weekend delivered another title that is sure to be at the top of my favorite non-fiction titles this year. Michael Ausiello is well known as a former editor and writer for TV Guide and has spent the last 17 years working at Entertainment Weekly. He’s known for his witty and fun interviews with celebrities. This book levels a whole different playing field at him when his partner of 12 years, Kit, is diagnosed with an aggressive and rare form of cancer. The gamut of emotions is played out for us as the duo are told that Kit’s cancer is stage 4 and he has a year or less to live. Ausiello takes us through their relationship, their marriage in the face of the terrifying diagnosis, the illness, and having to come to terms with losing his soulmate. This is NOT a grim book; rather, a celebration of a unique bond between two men in love with life and one another, faced with the worst possible news anyone could receive. There is humor, love, respect, grief, and tears, but joy can often be found in the hardest and darkest of times. Michael Ausiello’s book proves it.

 

Spoiler Alert: The Hero Dies: A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Other Four-Letter Words is in stores now. (Simon and Schuster, $26.00, ISBN 1501134965).

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New Releases 9/19

The Cuban Affair-Nelson DeMille

51ZohO7DvsL35-year-old Mac is living in Key West after five years in the Army. He has Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, and a massive debt, due to his charter fishing boat “The Maine.” Soon an offer comes along that could clear his debt once and for all. Provide his charter services to Cuba for a fishing tournament and receive two million dollars. Mac suspects the journey is more than just a fishing trip, but the money and his clients, including a beautiful woman named Sara, are just too difficult to walk away from. With his signature humor and heart-pounding pace, DeMille once again shows us why he’s a master of the genre.

(Simon and Schuster, $28.99, ISBN 1501101722).

 

To Be Where You Are-Jan Karon

51-keSqqDqLTo Be Where You Are is the fourteenth novel in the bestselling Mitford series. For fans of the series, it will feel like coming home again.  The novel weaves together the everyday lives of two Kavanaugh families, with a cast that readers around the world have grown to love like their own.

(Penguin, $28.00, ISBN 0399183736).

 

 

 

Jane, Unlimited-Kristin Cashore

51gFUAcAVcLJane has lived a normal life until her aunt Magnolia is lost while on an expedition in Antarctica. While mourning her aunt, Jane becomes swept away by Kiran Thrash, a glamorous acquaintance who appears and asks Jane to accompany her to a gala at Tu Reviens, her family’s island mansion. Jane recalls her aunt telling her that if she ever received an invitation to Tu Reviens, she must go. Jane finds herself venturing to the estate, where her story takes a turn. For, at Tu Reviens, every choice comes with either a reward or a price.

(Penguin, $18.99, ISBN 0803741499).

 

The Ninth Hour-Alice McDermott

619sXNwVJELFrom award-winning author Alice McDermott comes a story about the Irish-American experience in Brooklyn. The novel follows a widow, her daughter, and the nuns who serve their community. A powerfully affecting story that spans the twentieth century, it’s written with McDermott’s elegant prose and intelligence that we’ve grown to know and love.

(FSG, $26.00, ISBN 0374280142).

 

 

 

Autonomous-Annalee Newitz

41dpyqzR+eL._SY346_A pharmaceutical pirate named Jack who travels the world in a submarine. A military agent and his robot partner. These are the central characters in this fast-paced science fiction thriller. Jack’s latest drug is leaving a trail of lethal overdoses, compelling people to become addicted to their work. On her trail is the military agent and robot partner, racing to put an end to the epidemic that is tearing apart lives and flooding New York City.

(Tor, $25.99, ISBN 0765392070).

Georgette reviews: Little Fires Everywhere

51Ea7sxchWL._SY346_Anyone who read Celeste Ng’s debut novel, Everything I Never Told You, knows the woman has a gift for pulling you into her narrative and not letting you go until the story has been told. Little Fires Everywhere is another shining example of that. Ng sets the story of a family, two outsiders new to town, and a highly publicized custody battle in Shaker Heights, Ohio (her hometown). Shaker Heights is what I expect would be a great setting of a modern day adaptation of The Scarlet Letter. Everything and everyone are regulated- until Mia and Pearl move into town and set things on tilt, just by being themselves. All is fine and dandy until a custody battle between adoptive parents and the biological mother of the child splits the town, friendships, and precarious family dynamics into an inferno of right, wrong, and a conclusion that will leave you quietly stunned. If you want a steadier, less bleak Jodi Picoult, Celeste Ng is your next destination.

 

Little Fires Everywhere is in stores now. (Penguin, $27.00, ISBN 0735224293).

Everything I Never Told You is out in paperback now. (Penguin, $16.00, ISBN 0143127551).

 

Intro to romance: by Rebecca

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If you’re hoping to get into the romance genre, the first decision to be made is what kind of romance you’d like to read. There are genres and sub-genres for everything. You can also narrow it down by the “hot” factor. Just how steamy are you hoping for?

If you’re looking for the truly classic romance, there are always the novels that fall under “Literature” with a capital “L.” Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are all classic romances.

Now that the classic heavy-hitters are out of the way, let’s talk current authors…

If you want a hot contemporary series set in Chicago, Kate Meader, famous for her Chicago Fire Dept. trilogy, has a new series about the Chicago Rebels, a fictional professional hockey team. The first book, Irresistible You, came out this August.

If you are looking for something historical, I could talk for days about my favorite Regency (all the action takes place in early 19th century England) authors Julia Quinn, Tessa Dare, Laura Lee Guhrke, and Sarah MacLean. MacLean is currently on the fourth book in her Scandal and Scoundrel series, which begins with The Rogue Not Taken. 

If you’re looking for another Fifty Shades, I would direct you to Jess Michaels’ Everything ForbiddenSomething Reckless, and Nothing Denied. Set in the Regency period, they are every bit as hot as Fifty Shades, with couples whose emotional depth and strength may surprise you.

If you’re looking for Downton Abbey meets the PBS series Frontier House in book form, look no further than Katie MacAlister’s The Corset Diaries. It’s a hilarious take on what happens when 21st-century people have to live as early 20th century Edwardians in an English country house for a reality tv show. MacAlister specializes in hot and funny in almost all genres, so any title appeals.

Really, you can find almost anything in romance. Just go with your own heart’s desire. If you look for it, you’ll find it. A detailed list of the authors and books mentioned can be found below.

 

Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte. ISBN: 0141439556, Penguin.

Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte. ISBN: 0141441143, Penguin.

Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier. ISBN: 0380778556, HarperCollins.

Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen. ISBN: 0553213105, Random House.

Irresistible You (Chicago Rebels #1), Kate Meader. ISBN: 1501180886, Simon and Schuster.

Flirting with Fire (Hot in Chicago #1), Kate Meader. ISBN: 1476785902, Simon and Schuster.

The Duke and I (Bridgertons #1), Julia Quinn. ISBN: 0062353594, HarperCollins.

The Duchess Deal, Tessa Dare. ISBN: 0062349066, HarperCollins.

The Truth About Love and Dukes, Laura Lee Guhrke. ISBN: 0062469851, HarperCollins.

The Rogue Not Taken (Scandal & Scoundrel #1), Sarah MacLean. ISBN: 0062379410, HarperCollins.

Everything Forbidden, Jess Michaels. ISBN: 0061283940, HarperCollins.

The Corset Diaries, Katie MacAlister. ISBN: 0451411129, Penguin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Frances reviews: Warcross

IMG_5080For those of us seeking a proper pre-game for the Ready Player One movie coming out in March, Marie Lu’s Warcross is not a bad bet. Set in the not so distant future where technology verges on dystopian, it’s mostly the same old problems that plague our protagonist, Emika Chen. Emika’s a hacker/gamer/bounty-hunter/badass-chick with some colorful hair, but for all her attitude, she is lonely and desperate for cash. When she hacks into Warcross—the global game and simulation sensation—in order to steal a valuable item, she surprises not only herself but also the enigmatic, suit-wearing, billionaire-inventor of the game, Hideo Tanaka. Instead of a jail sentence though, Hideo offers her a job: to unmask the mysterious “Zero,” a hacker who has been hiding in the game, and to discover what his end goal is.

Although there is a romance (I wonder with whom??? It’s a thinker!), it wasn’t paced right for me, and they didn’t have much-established chemistry. Similarly, while the mystery served its purpose, it wasn’t really a page-turner. The fun of this book is in discovering the delightful game of Warcross. There are rivalries, and power-ups, and team roles, and youthful grievances: a perfect blend of nerdy and thrilling.

The book is in the present tense, which I think is meant to add to the punky, punchy beat of the story, but really is just distracting. Warcross doesn’t need all that glitz and glam, and in general, Lu happily dispenses of such literary fanciness and instead sticks to the tried-and-true YA script. Overall, the book is fun, light, and fast—good for the teen audience it’s aiming at, as well as for adult Frances.

 

Warcross is in stores now. (Penguin, $18.99, ISBN 0399547967).

New Releases​ 9/12

Little Fires Everywhere-Celeste Ng

51Ea7sxchWL._SY346_If you read Everything I Never Told You, you’ll know that Celeste Ng is a phenomenal writer. Ng is back with her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, which focuses on the Richardson family and a single mother and her daughter, all living in the tight-knit community of Shaker Heights, Ohio. The novel does a superb job of examining motherhood, identity, and privilege, and it keeps the reader racing towards the end, desperate to see how the final scene plays out. Trust Allie, our social media coordinator. She read this novel in four hours, while on a road trip.

(Penguin, $27.00, ISBN 0735224293).

 

 

What Happened-Hillary Clinton

51gKtH9dzOLFor the first time, Hillary Rodham Clinton is revealing what she was thinking and feeling during the 2016 presidential election. It is her story of the campaign and its aftermath. It’s her most personal memoir to date, discussing the mistakes she made, the challenges she’s faced, and what it was like to get back on her feet.

 

(Simon and Schuster, $30, ISBN 1501175564).

 

 

Forest Dark-Nicole Krauss

5184jk3++5LIn her fourth novel, Krauss (History of Love, Great House) follows two characters, both at a crossroads in their lives. 68-year-old Jules Epstein and a young writer named Nicole each travel to Israel on separate missions. What follows is a story of self-realization and metaphysical journey.

 

(Harper, $27.99, ISBN 0062430998).

 

 

Braving the Wilderness-Brené Brown

51KKA+VTF5L._SY346_From the bestselling author of Daring GreatlyRising Strong, and The Gifts of Imperfection comes a timely and important new book that challenges what we think we know about true belonging in our communities, organization, and culture. Brown defines what it means to truly belong in an age of increased polarization and argues that what we’re experiencing today is a spiritual crisis of disconnection. It’s easy to stay quiet in today’s culture, rather than show up as our true selves and brave the wilderness of uncertainty and criticism. Yet the wilderness is where we truly belong, and it’s the most sacred place we will ever stand.

(Random House, $28.00, ISBN 0812995848).

 

The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye-David Lagercrantz

51FZIeDjcWLThe latest Lisbeth Salander novel is here! Lisbeth is on the hunt to uncover the remnants of her traumatic childhood. With the help of journalist Mikael Blomkvist, perhaps Lisbeth can finally tap into her past. Once again the duo are the heart of this thrilling, fast-paced novel, a novel that takes on some of the most insidious problems facing the world at this moment.

 

(Knopf Publishing Group, $27.95, ISBN 0451494326).

 

 

A Column of Fire-Ken Follett

61jrkNQRseLIn 1558, the ancient stones of Kingsbridge Cathedral look down on a city torn apart by religious conflict. As power in England shifts precariously between Catholics and Protestants, royalty and commoners clash, testing friendship, loyalty, and love. Follett’s latest novel is set during one of the most turbulent and revolutionary times in history and is one of his most ambitious works to date. A Column of Fire will delight longtime fans of the Kingsbridge series and also fits as the perfect introduction for new fans to the series.

(Viking, $36.00, ISBN 052595497X).

 

David reviews: Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site

61xKaMrQimLIf you have (or know of) young kids (I have two) that enjoy a good story before bed, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site more than fills the bill. Sherri Duskey Rinker (author) and Tom Litchtenheld (illustrator) take us on an end-of-the-day visit to the construction site where all the hardworking trucks are preparing for a good night’s sleep. The Crane Truck folds his boom back in and the Cement Truck’s drum spins one last spin…

What I find most appealing about this story is the rhythm of the verse, which lends itself to creative oral interpretations. A slower singsong cadence and near whisper will surely put your child to sleep before story’s end, while a faster staccato cadence and higher pitch will have the little one engaged throughout.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site has everything a child could want in a storybook including wonderful illustrations that only compliment the story. This book has become a bedtime staple in my home and I anticipate many more readings well into the future.

shh… goodnight construction site… goodnight.

 

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site is in stores now. (Chronicle Books, $7.99, ISBN 1452111731).