The Book Bridge Autumn 2016
Welcome to the Autumn 2016 edition of The Book Bridge! We’re connecting each other to the books that we were most excited about reading lately.
This will probably be the last Book Bridge for this year unless I decide to host a year-end roundup edition. Watch for the next Call for Submissions, and check out the books other readers want to share with you now!
The Editor’s Pick
Amor Towles’ second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, was mentioned in the last Book Bridge, but people like Ann from Books on the Table are still talking about it!
A Gentleman in Moscow is absolutely wonderful — one of the rare books I read slowly towards the end, because I just didn’t want to finish. It’s a hard act to follow, and every book I’ve read since has seemed vaguely second-rate in comparison. The “gentleman’ of the title is Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov, a Russian aristocrat born in 1889, who is sentenced by a Bolshevik tribunal to lifelong house arrest in Moscow’s Metropol Hotel. The Count’s life is spared, unlike so many others of his class, because a poem he wrote struck the revolutionaries as sympathetic to their cause.
A Gentleman in Moscow contains all the elements that make me fall in love with a book: a beautifully constructed story connected to historical events, an appealing and multidimensional protagonist, and a sharp and engaging writing style that inspired me to underline dozens of passages.
We have our very first poetry recommendation this time, thanks to Serena:
Field Guide to the End of the World by Jeannine Hall Gailey (poetry, available now)
Jeannine Hall Gailey is hands down one of the best contemporary poets out there, and in her latest collection she tackles her own mortality. A speculative and fantasy writer of poetry, this collection has those similar references and even moments with pop culture. Even as she tackles the heavy theme of mortality, she does so with a sense of humor and admiration for the world around her, even if it is one in chaos. As I said in my review, “Gailey’s verse is unique, haunting, and cheeky, but at its heart, her poems teach us that to live is to take the good and bad together and laugh, enjoy life, savor it.” This would make a great book club discussion and could broaden readers horizons into genres outside their fiction worlds.
Fiction for Kids
Sarah is enthusiastic about two children’s books. One is a short play perfect for elementary-school class performances:
Six Kids and a Stuffed Cat by Gary Paulsen (fiction: children, available now)
It’s the first new play written for children to perform that I’ve seen in years. It comes packaged first with a prose version of the story and then the play. All you need to perform it is six kids, a plushy cat, a couple rolls of toilet paper, and an adult to make announcements from off stage.
The other is a middle-grade novel about an adventurous blended family:
Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts by Esta Spalding (fiction: children/MG, available now)
It’s a sweet story of a family of children trying to find a home. Imagine if Pippi Longstocking had brothers and sisters and had to find Villa Villekulla.
Fiction for Adults
The novel Jeanne recommends is a sequel, so she’s putting a plug for the first book in the series too!
Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley (fiction: SF/speculative/fantasy, available now)
It’s inventive and funny about the supernatural. Anyone who read his first novel, The Rook, will like it, and those who haven’t read The Rook yet–about a supernatural cop in London–should!
Kay is also excited about the next book in a series:
A Great Reckoning by Louise Penny (fiction: suspense/mystery, available now)
A GREAT RECKONING is the 12th book in Louise Penny’s acclaimed mystery series featuring Armand Gamache and the small, hidden town of Three Pines. Set in Quebec and filled with lovely descriptions of Canadian cities, towns, food, and scenery, each new book is my favorite – until the next one.
Penny’s writing is wonderful. She tells a great story each time and her puzzles are intricate. However, it’s the language she uses, the poetry, the lyrics, the vivid pictures she paints that keep the reader coming back over and over. We come to love the characters or hate them. It all depends. Louise Penny shows us that there is good in the world and there is great evil. There is light and there is darkness. The reader has to decide which side they will cheer for. My highest recommendation for a great mystery series is Louise Penny’s. Pick it up. You won’t regret it.
Serena is excited about a historical novel set during World War II but inspired by Jane Austen:
A Moment Forever by Cat Gardiner (fiction: historical, available now)
If you’re anything like me, you love books that you can fall into and live inside. A Moment Forever by Cat Gardiner is one of those books, and while she has written other Jane Austen-inspired books, this is a departure for her into WWII romantic fiction.
From the very first scenes, readers fall into the past as the present day character, Juliana Martel, enters the time-capsule that was her great-uncle’s former home in Brooklyn. Debutantes Elizabeth and Lillian Renner, are the daughters of a railroad magnate, but their lives are set on a different course when WWII begins and Elizabeth lays eyes on flyboy William Martel. Gardiner explores the effects of Fascism on the home front, the discrimination that occurred even within families, and how love can conquer all — but you won’t see this end coming. Gardiner’s description of the 1940s is immersive and she even has a song list for this novel.
And Kathy recommends two works of timely and topical contemporary fiction.
The Last Good Girl by Allison Leotta (fiction: suspense/mystery, available now)
I loved that former sex crimes prosecutor Leotta tackled campus rape in a work of fiction and I hope this book receives a lot of attention.
That one’s out in hardcover now, but Kathy also has an audiobook to tell you about:
The Choices We Make by Karma Brown (fiction: contemporary, available now)
This book addresses the issue of infertility in a unique way. I think many people will be able to relate to the two couples and their struggles. The audio is narrated by Cassandra Campbell and Jorjeana Marie and they both do an outstanding job.
Thank you to all of our enthusiastic contributors!
I hope they’ve given you some good suggestions for your TBR pile.
The Book Bridge will be on a break until after the first of the year. I hope we’ll all be more enthused about reading after the holidays!
Submissions for the next edition of The Book Bridge will open in early January 2017. I hope you’ll consider joining in to talk about your best reads from the end of this year!