A Selfie as Big as the Ritz drew me in with its brilliant title and mesmerizing cover art. I loved reading the clever stories packed into this slim collection, which is Lara Williams’ debut. She captures her characters at various points in their lives, with sharply observed details that feel simultaneously unique and familiar.
Month: May 2018
Check It Out Blog
The holiday this weekend allows time for reading among the BBQs and parades in honor of our fallen service men and women. If you want to keep your reading on the Memorial Day theme, check out one of the following books.
Memorial Day by Vince Flynn
CIA intelligence has pointed to a major terrorist attack on the United States, just as the nation’s capital prepares for a grand Memorial Day tribute to the veterans of World War II. Racing to Afghanistan, Mitch Rapp leads a commando raid on an al Queda stronghold in a remote border village–and defuses plans for a nuclear strike on Washington. The crisis averted, the special ops work is done. But Rapp knows, in the face of a new kind of enemy, nothing is as it seems–and it’s up to him alone to avert a disaster of unimaginable proportions.
Code Talker by Chester Nez
During World War II, the Japanese had managed to crack every code the United States used. But when the Marines turned to its Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret military language, they created the only unbroken code in modern warfare–and helped assure victory for the United States over Japan in the South Pacific. Chester Nez is the only surviving member of the original twenty-nine code talkers–and this is his story.
Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel
Follows the challenges that face soldiers and their families once they return home from overseas deployments. The author focuses on those suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, the invisible wounds of war. Finkel explores the pain of a widow dealing with the loss of her husband and the despair of families whose service members come home angry and violent. The book also shows how the military seeks to help hurting soldiers and their families as suicide rates of soldiers and veterans soar.
Fobbit by David Abrams
In the satirical tradition of Catch-22 and M*A*S*H , Fobbit takes us into the chaotic world of Baghdad’s Forward Operating Base Triumph. The Forward Operating base, or FOB, is like the back-office of the battlefield – where people eat and sleep, and where a lot of soldiers have what looks suspiciously like a desk job. Darkly humorous and based on the author’s own experiences in Iraq, Fobbit is a fantastic debut that shows us a behind-the-scenes portrait of the real Iraq war.
Shoot Like a Girl by Mary Jennings Hegar
On June 29, 2009, Air National Guard major Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar was shot down while on a Medevac mission on her third tour in Afghanistan. Despite being wounded, she fought the enemy and saved the lives of her crew and their patients. But soon she would face a new battle: to give women who serve on the front lines the credit they deserve…
I appreciated the audiobook Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter because it served as a jumping off point for further reading, viewing, and listening. I became interested in reading books about the Golden Age of Hollywood, viewing movies of that era, particularly Cleopatra, and listening to more books read by the actor Edoardo Ballerini.
This is the week that Royal Wedding Mania reaches fever pitch, and that may have sparked your appetite for stories of romance between the ‘common’ and the crowned! If you are looking for noble attraction, whether spontaneous, arranged, or under false pretense, try one of these contemporary tales that range from the sweet to the spicy:
by Rachel Hauck
When a jilted girlfriend meets a reluctant crown prince, they discover the power of God’s love to heal hearts and change a nation.
by Jenny Frame
Beaa, the director of a hospice charity, must spend six months working with Queen Georgina, Britain’s first openly gay British monarch, and immediately sparks fly.
by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
by Wendy holden
In this “right royal romantic comedy,” three women look for love, and one of them may have found a real prince in disguise.
by Hester Browne
London gardener Amy Wilde falls for a stranger she meets at a friend’s party and is astonished to learn he is a prince, a situation that leads to a scandalous engagement and Amy’s doubts about whether she will enjoy life as a royal.
by Lori Wick
Born to a simple life, Shelby agrees to an arranged marriage with the widowed Prince Nikolai but struggles to overcome the emotional distance the prince keeps between them.
by Megan Mulry
While despairing of her romantic prospects in the wake of a bad breakup, Bronte Talbott engages in what she believes will be a rebound fling with a man who is subsequently revealed to have royal ties.
by Meg Cabot
Princess Mia and her Prince Charming plan their fairy tale wedding – but a few poisoned apples could turn this happily-ever-after into a royal nightmare.
by MaryJanice Davidson
Set in an alternate reality in which Alaska is its own country, Christina is hired by the King to become the wife of his unruly son in a business arrangement that leads to chaos, passion, and eventually true love.
Adapted from the underground comic, The Storm Riders follows two young men, each possessed of superhuman fighting skills, who are forcibly apprenticed to a ruthless master following the murder of their parents. Cloud and Wind encounter an enormous cast of fellow warriors and navigate a number of dense soap-opera subplots before turning upon their nemesis for a dazzling climax of effects-laden combat, offering enough hypnotic visuals and virtuosic fight sequences for even the most jaded action fan.
May is Get Caught Reading month! Caper stories typically center around the main character performing crimes in full-view of the reader. Up your reading game by reading stories about characters that are just doomed to get caught as they swindle, thieve, and con their way across the plot.
The Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle
Join former lawyer and wine connoisseur Sam Levitt across France from Paris to Bordeaux, as he is called in to investigate the disappearance of a expensive collection of wine. This is decadent, fast-paced mystery also comes with menu and wine-list recommendations!
The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch
The first in the Gentleman Bastard series follows infamous con-artist Locke Lamora, the head of a crew of thieves. A well-built setting paired with intricately designed crimes makes this a great read for fantasy and crime readers alike.
Faking It by Jennifer Crusie
Humor and romance unite to create a little con-artist mayhem. This playful romp is packed with characters that are a little loopy and a plot that will keep you on your toes!
The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam by Chris Ewan
Charlie, a novelist of caper stories, moonlighting as a thief stumbles into a job that turns ugly when his employer is almost beaten to death that he is now a suspect of. His writing is going have to wait as he must clear his name of murder without admitting his own theft.
Cathleen of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory:
It may be a meet-cute you’ve seen before, but when Drew and Alexa are stuck in an elevator together, their connection is made with such charm that it becomes entirely fresh.
Drew is a pediatrician on his way to the wedding of his ex and his best friend, so when he finds himself dateless, it isn’t…ideal. When he meets Alexa, the mayor’s chief-of-staff, in the stalled elevator, he’s struck by how smart and funny she is — not to mention quite attractive – so he impulsively invites her to be his plus-one. He’s surprised to hear himself ask, but even more surprised when she agrees! So begins a wedding weekend built on a lie, but the chemistry is undeniable.
The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory is told in alternating points of view with winning banter and a bit of narrative wink. The warmth and fun with which Drew and Alexa navigate falling for one another is completely charming, and when those inevitable obstacles emerge, you can’t help but hold your breath for the happily-ever-after ending they deserve.
For more entertaining stories of relationships that begin in pretense and become real…
by Lucy Parker
A London actor with an image problem is paired with a charity-minded ingénue for a publicity-driven romance that takes them both off guard.
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Presented with the choice between jail and marrying a stranger, flighty Daisy Devereaux becomes the newest member of a traveling circus beside a husband who is determined to change her uptown ways.
by Julia Quinn
The Duke of Hastings will stop at nothing to keep the matchmakers at bay, even if it means pretending to be engaged to the lovely Miss Bridgerton, but strong feelings on both sides soon complicate the plan.
by Shannon Stacey
In preparation for her grandmother’s visit, Emma recruits a recently returned army vet to be her fake fiancé, but when their pretend relationship turns into something real, they must make some difficult decisions.
by Beverly Jenkins
When the first meeting of a spirited mail-order bride and a young widowed doctor results in a gunshot wound, the planned marriage of convenience seems to hold promise of more sparks than either expected.
The arrival of May brings with it Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. This year we focus on five fantastic new books from some of our favorite authors, ranging from debuts to books released after seasoned careers.
The Leavers by Lisa Ko
One morning, Deming Guo’s mother Polly goes to her job at the nail salon and never comes home. Left with no one to care for him, eleven-year-old Deming is eventually adopted by two white college professors who move him from the Bronx to a small town upstate. They rename him Daniel Wilkinson in their efforts to make him over into their version of an “all-American boy.” But far away from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his new life with his mother’s disappearance and the memories of the family and community he left behind.
The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen
From a young Vietnamese refugee who suffers profound culture shock when he comes to live with two gay men in San Francisco, to a woman whose husband is suffering from dementia and starts to confuse her for a former lover, to a girl living in Ho Chi Minh City whose older half-sister comes back from America having seemingly accomplished everything she never will, the stories are a captivating testament to the dreams and hardships of immigration.
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant–and that her lover is married–she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son’s powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.
Where the Past Begins by Amy Tan
Bestselling author Amy Tan’s memoir reveals the truths and inspirations that underlie her extraordinary fiction. By delving into vivid memories of her traumatic childhood, confessions of self-doubt in her journals, and heartbreaking letters to and from her mother, she gives evidence to all that made it both unlikely and inevitable that she would become a writer. Through spontaneous storytelling, she shows how a fluid fictional state of mind unleashed near-forgotten memories that became the emotional nucleus of her novels.
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
In a country teetering on the brink of civil war, two young people meet—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed. They embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . .