Month: June 2017

Check It Out Blog

Fiction: The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais

Each time I see The Hundred Foot Journey by Richard C. Morais on a book list or book shelf, I’m reminded of Lao Tzu’s quote, “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” In this case, the distance is one hundred feet, the space between two restaurants, one run by Indian immigrants and one run by locals in the small French city of Lumiere.  It is also the distance between people of two cultures who must make a journey of their own to understand and embrace what is different. This is not, however, only a story about accepting new people and new ways of thinking, it is a story filled with humor, intoxicating food, madcap escapades and wonderfully multidimensional people. The rollicking Haji family is not the antithesis of the serene Chef Mallory but they are compliments, and the way their stories meld is evocative of a perfectly rich French cream sauce combined with a lush Indian curry.

Fiction: No, But I Saw the Movie: The Best Short Stories Ever Made into Film

No But I Saw the Movie book cover

Calling all film buffs! Looking for short stories that fit your interest? Editor David Wheeler has you covered. No, But I Saw the Movie: The Best Short Stories Ever Made into Film collects the gems that inspired the marvelous scripts of classic movies, including two that became Academy Award Best Picture winners (It Happened One Night and All About Eve).

Spotlighting a lush variety of short fiction including westerns (High Noon), musicals (Guys and Dolls), suspense (Rear Window), science fiction (2001: A Space Odyssey), comedy (Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House), and horror (Psycho), this anthology will help you appreciate both the authors of the source material and those who recognized the genius that could be adapted into great entertainment.

Fiction: The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore

To visit Edward Kelsey Moore’s The Supremes at Earl’s All-You-Can-Eat, you’ll need to be prepared for steamy, humid weather, raucous laughter, and occasional visits by the ghosts of a couple wise-but-misbehaving women. This is all par for the course for Odette, Clarice, and Barbara, who aren’t about to slow down after sixty-some years of persevering through racial injustice, unfaithful spouses, and unexpected deaths. In fact, they’re just as determined as ever to live life on their own terms. You’ll shed tears of joy and sorrow and laugh heartily as you join this special group of women at their favorite diner.

Nonfiction: The Disappearing Spoon And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean

Disappearing Spoon book cover

Fun fact: a spoon made of gallium, a metal with a low melting point, will come undone in something as mild as a cup of tea. Though that trivia may be the anecdotal inspiration for the title The Disappearing Spoon and Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table, it’s no spoiler. Author Sam Kean presents witty tidbits from history all inspired from the mapping of elements which make up the periodic table – as well as those yet to be discovered. Written in a light, readable style, but filled with authoritative information probably not included in your science texts, this book (or audiobook) will appeal equally to those with only a passing interest as well as to more dedicated history buffs or to serious science fanatics. Prepare to have your brain tickled with a unique combination of fun and educational.

Audiobook: Morgue Drawer Four by Jutta Profijt

Morgue Drawer Four audiobook cover

As a finalist for one of Germany’s most prestigious crime novel awards, Morgue Drawer Four could have been…stiff. Dear listeners, it isn’t. Instead we have mild-mannered Martin who likes the solitude of his work as a coroner. One day he performs his customarily precise autopsy on car thief Pascha — and then begins hearing the man’s ghost. First smart-alecky and then downright obnoxious, Pascha wants Martin to get to the bottom of the ‘accident’ that claimed his life.

Reader MacLeod Andrews effectively plays up Pascha’s wry, self-absorbed narration as well as the tension of Martin’s out-of-character escapades. Written by Jutta Profijt and translated from German by Eric J. Macki, this odd-couple pairing of reluctant detective and annoyed ghost is a promising pick for those who like action-driven mysteries with a decidedly sarcastic bent.

Fiction: The Bum Magnet by K. L. Brady

The Bum Magnet book cover

Charisse is a hard working successful real estate agent who has built her perfect life save for one flaw: the men in it. For some reason she continues to get tied up with players. However, her luck might be changing when she meets the gorgeous Dwayne Gibson. K.L. Brady’s The Bum Magnet is a breezy romance that will have you “aww-ing” at Dwayne’s smooth moves one moment and laughing at Charisse’s observations in life on everything from music to birth control pajamas.

Fiction: 1984 by George Orwell

George Orwell’s prescient 1984 is the dystopian novel against which all others are measured, even almost 60 years later. It would be impossible to read this and not see a plethora of connections between the hurriedly detached society in which Winston Smith resides, where people are too wrapped up in the tawdry details of entertainment magazines to resist the increasing attacks on their privacy and freedom, and our own, where headline news spins 24 hours a day and citizens must take it upon themselves to learn which news is fake and which is true. It is just this muddled reality of which 1984 forewarns. In Winston’s case this fake news is propagated by the government, in an attempt to mollify the populace and severely cripple even their desire to stand up for themselves. Censorship, Surveillance and Mind Control were all employed to stifle humanity, but will Winston overcome these elaborate mind games?

Cathleen’s Pick: Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

Cathleen's Pick - RoughneckThe embattled, soulful Roughneck by Jeff Lemire is a winter noir story that is both gritty and beautiful. Expert brushwork teases out different flavors of night sky, and the landscapes reflect the characters’ shifting degrees of serenity, menace, bleakness, and volatility. A harsh tale of family dynamic and of recovery, and one that has lived under my skin for months.

Fiction: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Stepping off the bustling streets of San Francisco into the dark, antiquated Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four Hour Bookstore to look for a job might seem like an odd choice for a web designer, but the reality of the early 21st century Great Recession leaves Clay Jannon looking for work in whatever capacity he can find it. Realizing almost immediately that this bookstore is even stranger than he initially assumed, he wonders how it is able to stay in business with virtually no customers. Oddest of all is that the regulars who frequent the store never buy anything, and instead spend hours looking through books in seemingly indecipherable languages. Through a web of puzzles, secrets and clandestine meetings, author Robin Sloan explores the links between our modern computer-driven culture and the dynamic and ubiquitous book culture it is predicated on.

Choose Your Mystery: Big City P.I. or Small Town Inspector?

We love a mystery. Setting can be crucial to a whodunit, whether it be the isolation and limited resources of a small town or the overwhelming suspect pool and crusade against the system of the big city. Here are two puzzlers in which the investigator finds that crimes of the present are linked to scandals of the past.

HardballHardball book cover by Sara Paretsky

Seasoned private investigator V.I. Warshawksi follows her cases where they lead, but she doesn’t expect a missing person’s case to take her back to an ugly time in Chicago’s past. Not only does the death of a young black woman at a peaceful march led by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1966 come into play but also ties to Warshawki’s own family history. In the present, V.I.’s own fresh-out-of-college cousin is kidnapped after her arrival in Chicago, but that’s a separate mystery — isn’t it?

 

 

Red Bones book coverRed Bones by Anne Cleeves

You can’t get much more small-town than the remote Shetland Islands, an area that is spoiled for lack of major crime. When Inspector Jimmy Perez is called to the scene of a shooting death, one of an eccentric grandmother, it first appears a tragic hunting accident. However, the bones at a nearby archaeological dig may not be nearly as old as first believed, and that may shed light on the current investigation. You may know the story from the BBC series Shetland, but don’t miss the full impact of the novel’s tight plotting and atmosphere.