To Be Read // February 2017

For once, I think I might actually PLAN what I want to read for the next month. Heretofore, I’ve always subscribed to a serendipitous schedule: if I’m meant to read a book, it will find me! (Har, har. I know… That’s like waiting in one’s apartment for the love of her life to just knock on the door. Naive, naive.)

I’ve been racing through books so fast this year thanks to NetGalley and Blogging for Books that I’ve decided I might want to take stock of what I have and what I should read based on upcoming publication dates and events. Look at these beautiful specimens of literary magnificence below! I can hardly wait!

For more on my February TBR list and information about an author’s book reading that—gasp!—isn’t taking place in New York City or Chicago or some other urban metropolis which I cannot access… please read on. 

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Review: I Liked My Life by Abby Fabiaschi

screen-shot-2017-01-28-at-4-43-06-pmStephen Covey’s famous 7 Habits of Highly Effective People champions the idea of meditating on the end of one’s life — what do you want to have done? … what kind of person do you want people to say you are? — to reevaluate his current stage and actions. It’s a great tool to consider if one is in the right career field or if she’s treating people the way she feels one should; if offers strategies to make the necessary changes if the answers aren’t up to par, too.

I’m reminded of this concept with Fabiaschi’s I Liked My Life since it begins with the suicide of Maddy Starling whom is narrating her puppeteer aspirations from the after life. She liked her life. She enjoyed her family and friends, and she found purpose in volunteering. So why did she not begin with the end in mind and only end all of it? As readers continue through the story, the fictive scenarios beg readers to consider their own lives and how they’re treating those around them as well.

Why did she end it? Who is to blame? These questions and many more permeate the entirety of the narrative for her husband Dave and her daughter Eve. They are left stranded in a quagmire of despair and self-loathing, thinking—as we all likely would—they’re to blame for her unexpected death.

But to what extent do family members really know one another? How responsible are those closest to us for our emotional state and stability? As the narrative plays out, Fabiaschi offers interesting answers to these questions, among others, as readers come to understand just why Maddy would end her life.

For more on I Liked My Life, set to be published by St. Martin’s Press on Jan. 31st, 2017, please continue. 

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Taking the Shoulder

blue-856818_1280It was a brisk 27 degrees this morning as I took my walk around the small town I call home. The sun decided to grace the day behind some hazy January gray, and the blue that peaked in was as breezy as a Jamaican sky. My pup, a Beagle Basset mix—a Bagle, if you will—did his job and pulled me along down the road for a mile and a half.

About halfway through our jaunt, we reach a section of road that has a semi-gravely shoulder. It’s my favorite part of our walk because the crunch and skidding of rocks immediately ricochets memories of walks I used to take with my grandmother.

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Review: Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-8-56-33-pm“Nothing to Prove.” “Why We Can’t Stop Trying So Hard.”

Well… The title AND subtitle hooked me, just a dead fish in the water. Why, yes I am tired of feeling like I have to prove myself to everyone, all of the timethank you for noticing! I thought.

If you’re like me, you also feel pulled in a million directions. If you have a job, if it’s not your boss it’s your employees (in my case, it’s students). If you’re a parent, it’s the consistent need and want of any and every age, even from great, loving kids. If you’re in a relationship, it’s the constant worry and concern over someone else; do they need anything? …can I help them in some way?

Life is hard. But Jennie Allen’s Nothing to Prove is definitely the book for Christian women* (even fallen away and non-believers) to reconnect with life, love, and Jesus.

For more on Nothing to Prove, set to be published by WaterBrook (an imprint of Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House) on Jan. 31st, 2017, please continue.  

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Review: Our Short History by Laura Grodstein

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-8-39-25-pmOur histories are defined by how much time we have, or so we’re led to believe. My history with my son? Eleven years. My history with my friends? Going on twenty-five or so for the closest–twenty-eight for the shoe-ins, my cousins. My history with my parents? Thirty. (Not counting what I’m sure were their terribly boring first four years of marriage all alone without children. How did they ever survive?!)

Our histories are as long as we are allowed to make them.

Karen Neulander’s history with her son, Jake? Six years. So very short, indeed. Diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer in her early forties, the campaign manager no one wants to tousle with is now facing the toughest of all opponents: impending death. Grodstein offers a glimpse into Karen’s fictive experience of an all-too-real ordeal in her novel, which is set to be Karen’s book to her grown-up, future Jake; throughout the book itself, Karen details her current cancer updates, advice for her son, and family stories which she’ll not be around to tell.

For more on Our Short History, set to be published by Algonquin Books in March of 2017, continue. 

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We’re all coming down with The Privilege

capsize-184167_1920This time is a strange one. There have been so many events and upheavals and uprisings that, frankly, I’m feeling a little like I’m living in another decade. Surely this isn’t the aught-teens. Surely I’m not the same person I was in the late nineties when all we had to concern ourselves with were some pesky rumors about office aides and Whitewater (not that I knew a darn thing about either, at the time). Let it be known, also, that during that time, the main street in my town also had burgeoning small businesses aplenty with Enough To Go Around For Most.

What I’m saying is, I think we all got a little spoiled. And I can understand how people are really, super-duper upset right now—on both sides of the aisle, in Congress and at the grocery store.

However, let me plead with you for a second: please remember your privilege.

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Review: The Book Thieves by Anders Rydell

screen-shot-2017-01-20-at-2-01-14-pmI have lived in the midwestern United States for all of my life. Much of my physical travel has not included areas outside the borders of it, either. However, books have always provided me a glimpse of other nations and cultures—ways of life that have expanded my esoteric understanding of the world.

This limitation of my own reality is one of the reasons I get pretty bent out of shape when the topic censorship is raised. My personal belief system centers around free thought, even when—especially when—one’s ideas differ from my own. I want to know other views! How boring is life if everyone agrees all of the time?! Also, a limitation on free thought manifests into a ban on freedom of speech, which eventually includes a ban of public protest and journalism in addition to fiction and non fiction writing. Inevitably, censorship sets off a thunderous dynamo effect in my mind that schematically ends somewhere near book burning.

The Book Thieves by Anders Rydell seeks to explore the nature of how this existential and literal ban on the word came to be during the 1930s, including the Nazi looting of Europe’s libraries. “The theft of their culture was,” Rydell notes, “a way of robbing [the people] of their history, their humanity, and, in the final analysis, any possibility of remembrance.” This book is imperative not only in content but also in hope: let the world not forget from whence we came so we for certain do not return.

For more on “The Book Thieves,” set to be published by Penguin Group (Viking) in February 2017, continue.

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Review: Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel

screen-shot-2017-01-19-at-9-30-37-am6 million people dead… Countries bombing their own people… Chemical warfare… Green, buggy goo… all facets of Neuvel’s Waking Gods.

The cliffhanger in the epilogue of Book 1, Sleeping Giants, is answered in the first few sections of the book, which will appease many readers. All characters from the first book are also included, a loyal continuation of the plot; however, the story takes a dire twist early on when more of Themis’s kind materialize on earth, and it appears they may not all be friendly…

For more on Waking Gods by Sylvain Neuvel, due to be published by Random House (Ballantine) in April 2017, please continue.

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Review: Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by K. Rooney

screen-shot-2017-01-13-at-8-51-33-pmI am lucky to say I have several friends ranging in ages twenty to thirty years my senior. I find comfort in discussing life with those who have already surpassed my ethereal time period in it (ironic considering the first seventeen years of my life were quite the opposite). It is also true that the passage of decades usually leaves their wisdom and advice somewhat subdued; often, most don’t remember precisely the pricks of career and familial struggle and subjugation.

But some do, which is one of the reasons readers’ (and my own) attraction to Lillian Boxfish will feel so strong, once read. She is a woman of national acclaim, a first in her field of copywriting in the 1930s, and she’s lived her life quite fully. She is smart as a whip, with a wit so sharp she could cut you a criticism and leave you thanking her for want of a bandage. As readers walk the streets of Manhattan with her on the eve of 1985, they see not only Boxfish—both her own foibles and fallacies—but also her city’s, as she unforgettably traipses away the end of 1984.

To read more about Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk, set to be published this Tuesday, Jan. 17th, by St. Martin’s Press, continue.

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Review: 16 Words + Chris Bruno = Bible

screen-shot-2017-01-12-at-8-00-58-pmThis equation confused me too as I stared at the title of Bruno’s book The Whole Message of the Bible in 16 Words. I can tell you my first thought: “Liar, liar, pants on fire!”

Let’s be honest, the Bible is giant, and even those who sit in mass or worship service year after year do not know The Whole Thing. Yes, after so many years, attendees have technically heard, read, or sang the entire contents of the Bible. However, distilling it into sixteen words? *Insert skeptical chin scratch* What I’m trying to say is: I don’t believe you, Bruno!

To read more about if Bruno successfully kept this high-brow skeptic reading, continue. “16 Words” is due to be published February 28, 2017, by Crossway. 🙂 

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