If it weren’t for all the past critical praise for The Age of Miracles, it might have been a hard recommendation to sell. A coming of age story set amongst a backdrop of a dystopian, dying world? Surely we’ve all heard this story before. Thanks to The Hunger Games and Divergent, most book readers probably aren’t in a rush to read another story like it either. But The Age of Miracles’ approach to sci-fi and blossoming teenagers is anything but cliche. If anything, its speculative nature proves that sometimes human beings do strange things when faced with things they can’t control.
Despite being a story about the “end of the world,” the novel moves at a lingering pace. The calamity in Karen Thompson Walker’s novel can’t be killed or destroyed in a war, and so the events that unfold echo the actions of its characters, who move with uncertainty against an inevitable black death. In Miracles, the disaster is the slowing of Earth’s rotation, resulting in longer days that have catastrophic effects in both nature and biology.
|Recommended by Tiffany White||Tuesday, August 18th, 2015||No Comments »|
Stephanie Kallos’ novel Language Arts revolves around a teacher whose life is falling apart and who has to learn how to pick up the broken pieces in order to find healing.
The star of the story is Charles Marlow, a high-school English teacher who is enamored with the subject of language arts (hence the title). Despite his scholarly skills, he is frustrated because his daughter just left for college, his wife left him, and he finds it difficult to connect with his son, who has autism. However, with the help of an Italian-speaking nun and a clever art student, Charles may finally learn how to mend the broken pieces of his life and find peace.
Kallos has a compelling cast of characters that you can’t help but feel sorry for in their vulnerable fragility. There is also an interesting juxtaposition with how Charles struggles to connect with his son Cody and his fascination with a childhood classmate who wore all white and likely shared Cody’s diagnosis.
Language Arts is ultimately a story about the difficulty of communicating without words. From how Charles struggles to connect with his son to his fascination with an old childhood classmate, Charles’ struggles culminate into a beautiful moment that ties art, language arts, and family all together. Although the non-linear format may confuse some readers, Language Arts is a fascinating look into the secrets and pieces that build a life.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Monday, July 27th, 2015||No Comments »|
Time Trips are a series of Doctor Who stories that are at a perfect length between short story and novella. It’s basically like reading a Doctor Who episode in text. These stories all feature different doctors, so even if for some odd reason your favorite doctor is someone other than Nine (the greatest Doctor of all time, obviously), you can probably find your favorite doctor in a Time Trip adventure.
One of these ebooks, Doctor Who: The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Time Traveller by Joanne Harris, is one of those wonderful Doctor Who adventures that blends zaniness with dark elements. In this short story, the Third Doctor finds himself in a bright, cheery village where everything is just a little too perfect and the villagers live in fear of even mentioning their fears. Each resident has a storybook occupation, like the Baker or the Postman, and live in a village that resembles the innocence of a child’s imagination. However, there is something ominous in the background that no one dares mention. Continue Reading →
|Recommended by Meg Stivison||Monday, July 13th, 2015||No Comments »|
Heidi Pitlor’s The Daylight Marriage follows an unlikely couple as they fall in love, get married, and settle down in the suburbs only to discover that their romance is dying, which leads to an unspeakable tragedy.
Pretty Hannah had it all, but her one major flaw is that she’s impulsive. She winds up falling in love with her exact opposite: an introverted climate scientist named Lovell. At first their relationship is happy as can be but their marriage winds up taking a downward spiral and Hannah makes a choice that will wind up changing her life forever.
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Friday, June 5th, 2015||No Comments »|
Ann Packer’s engrossing novel The Children’s Crusade follows one California family through the decades as they deal with the ups and downs of life.
In 1954, Bill Blair finds a wooded area in what will eventually become Silicon Valley and purchases the land in the hopes of creating a rustic homestead. Unfortunately, life is nothing like his romantic dreams because his wife Penny is mercurial and chafes at being a housewife, so art is her only solace. The Blair family is dysfunctional, and 30 years later, they are thrown into turmoil when the youngest of Penny and Bill’s children returns home
|Recommended by Amanda Ferris||Friday, May 29th, 2015||No Comments »|
I was assigned Elizabeth Gaskell’s Mary Barton in college and absolutely loathed it. “I get how influential the politics are, but the writing is awful!” I whined to my Welsh professor. He told me that Mary Barton was indeed an early version of Gaskell’s more successful and polished novel, North and South, and showed me a link to the BBC mini-series on Netflix. Richard Armitage’s chiseled jaw and broody expression greeted me. That image bought my literary loyalty to Gaskell.
Continue Reading →
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Thursday, May 14th, 2015||No Comments »|
For cancer books people have turned to bestsellers like The Fault in Our Stars and My Sister’s Keeper, and I’m pretty sure most people’s awareness of Alzheimers before Lisa Genova’s debut novel, Still Alice, came from how it was portrayed in The Notebook. Genova’s newest release, Inside the O’Briens, traverses even more new ground by sifting through the emotional aftermath of being diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease.
Inside the O’Briens proves that Genova has a formula and premise that she’s mastered and is able to tell a well-developed and insightful story from. While it’s been the general consensus from reviewers that this story is bogged down by long descriptions of the medical details behind Huntington’s, it’s clear that Genova is deeply committed to heightening awareness for the disease.
|Recommended by J. Harbinger||Friday, May 1st, 2015||No Comments »|