Noir by Christopher Moore

NoirSummary:

It’s not every afternoon that an enigmatic, comely blonde named Stilton (like the cheese) walks into the scruffy gin joint where Sammy “Two Toes” Tiffin tends bar. It’s love at first sight, but before Sammy can make his move, an Air Force general named Remy arrives with some urgent business. ’Cause when you need something done, Sammy is the guy to go to; he’s got the connections on the street.

My take: Three looks

This is my third Moore book, and they are always very entertaining. I particularly loved the “wiseguy” feel of the dialogue, the choppiness of the conversations, and the straight-from-1940s-Hollywood imagery. Also, just returning from a trip to San Francisco, I was very familiar with the locales in the story.

The chapters are just enough to leave the reader wanting more, and add much motivation to the reading rhythm. The way it is written made it a page-turner for me. 

Moore always throws in a bit of the fantastic, though, and this novel was no exception. It wouldn’t be his writing if he didn’t demand the reader to suspend belief for at least part of the story. The fact that there was an alien who learned to drive, and a narrating snake named Petey should be enough for you to add this one to your TBR.

Recommended. 

Short Story Saturday: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu

Multi-award winner “The Paper Menagerie” anchors this wonderful collection of short stories by Ken Liu. As a matter of fact, this title story is the only one to win the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy awards. I read this book in August of 2016. That is two years ago, and a few of the stories still crash into my mind occasionally. paper menagerie.jpg

For example, “State Change” is a story that I think of often. It was poignant, thought-provoking and a little crushing. It challenged the status quo, made me question things I had been told/taught my entire life, and had me reflect on my very essence. What is MY truth, versus the truth I have been led to believe?

“The Paper Menagerie” is a beautiful story about the complexities of heritage, race, and (what I clung to most savagely) the intricacies, both beautiful and ugly, of a mother-son relationship. Fraught with emotion, imbued with years and experience, and finally, seeking forgiveness and reconciliation, it doesn’t take hundreds of pages to touch a heart or strike a nerve.

Various lengths and many different premises make up this wonderful collection, many of which have won awards on their own. Do yourself a favor, and pick this one up. Or better yet, purchase it for your collection. You are going to want to read it several times.

What it Means When a Man Falls from the Sky by Lesley Nneka Arimah

Summary:

Man falls from sky

A dazzlingly accomplished debut collection explores the ties that bind parents and children, husbands and wives, lovers and friends to one another and to the places they call home.

My take: 3 looks

Since I am planning to feature this book on one of my Short Story Saturday spotlights, I will keep this review short and sweet. Some of the stories made no sense to me, feeling as if I were dropped into the middle of a conversation which ended before it was truly over. Like the middle of a sandwich with no bread. However, most of the stories had me on the edge of my seat, flipping pages with anticipation.

At first I was a bit reminded of “A Good Man is Hard to Find” by Flannery O’Connor because of the jarring nature of the ending of the opening story. I just didn’t expect it. However, Arimah is her own storyteller, with a distinct taste of African culture, yet universally relatable tales. It is with interest that I note a repetitive theme in mothers and daughters. As an only child, a daughter, to a very present mother, I appreciated this, and read these stories several times.

Written to shock, console, engage the little gray cells, and entertain, don’t let this one pass you by. Recommended

Short Story Saturday

To truly be a “reader”, you have to read every genre. One genre that is often overlooked is the short story. I am going to take the next few weeks to focus on this wonderful genre.

Today, I spotlight one of the most memorable short stories I have read in my 52 years: “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson.

lotteryPublished in The New Yorker magazine in 1948, it is known as one of the most famous short stories in the history of American Literature. The nature of the story lulls the reader into a false sense of a pleasing and satisfying ending. With quite a twist ending, many subscribers to the magazine cancelled their subscriptions.

It has since been adapted for all sorts of media, including radio, television, and film.

If you have not read this wonderful piece of literature, or haven’t read it lately, I encourage you to do so. It is just as relevant now, perhaps even more so, as it was decades ago.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me! After several frustrations with the blogging site, I decided to branch out, move up, and get my own site through WordPress. Welcome and thanks for joining me as my blogging enters a new phase, and my reading journey continues!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

seven husbandsSummary:

Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one in the journalism community is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?

My take: 3 looks

This is a book that was recommended through the Modern Mrs. Darcy site by Anne Vogel. I love a clever title, so I couldn’t resist adding it to my TBR. After a rather lengthy and frustrating reading dry spell, I picked this one up after The Book of Polly . I felt like I was on a roll, and I wanted another light read to keep my reading mojo going.

This was just the ticket. I loved the style of the book. In the first few pages, there was set-up, memoir, and excerpts from trade magazines. Because of this style switch-up, I was immediately intrigued, and because of the story telling, I was hooked.

Based on what could be a slew of Hollywood legends like Rita Hayworth (married 5 times), Lana Turner, and Elizabeth Taylor (both married 7 times), Evelyn Hugo is a beautiful and ambitious actress in the heyday of the motion picture industry. As she nears the end of her life, she has decided to tell her life story, no holds barred, to a relatively unknown magazine writer, Monique.

What follows are great tales of Evelyn’s past, woven with stories of Monique’s present, culminating in what was a shocking climax. This has made me look at the other titles under Jenkins Reid’s belt, adding them to my ever-growing list.

Recommended.

The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall

The Book of Polly 

Summary:
Willow is desperately hungry for clues to the family life that preceded her, and especially Polly’s life pre-Willow. Why did she leave her hometown of Bethel, Louisiana, fifty years ago and vow never to return? Who is Garland Jones, her long-ago suitor who possibly killed a man? And will Polly be able to outrun the Bear, the illness that finally puts her on a collision course with her past?

My take: 3 looks

This was a good summer book. Light, funny, and not a lot of reading effort required.  With seven books to her credit, several of which are on my TBR, Hepinstall is a solid member of the fiction world.

To write about a young girl (Willow) so preoccupied with the death of her aging mother (Polly) was a little bit of a stretch for me. After all, I was a young girl once, and I know that an obsession about death is pretty far from the typical preteen’s mind.

On the other hand, I like the treatment she gave to Willow’s older brother and sister. They were introduced on the periphery and the reader gets to know them both as they weave in and out of Polly and Willow’s every day lives. It was the perfect way to see quirks, likes, imperfections, and finally, the love they both have for the matriarch of the family. Digging a bit into the personal lives of each, but only as deep as you would as an outsider looking in, there really was a nice balance to their characters.

Add a variety of colorful neighbors, a brother’s childhood friend who returns to their lives, and a dog who can smell cancer in people, and you have a pretty good ride. It’s not high literary fare, but it will hit the spot.

Recommended.