The holidays have arrived at last. The temperatures here in Central Florida hover around in the balmy 70s and we're enduring another tropical storm as I write. I'm dusting off the holiday cookie schedule and adding an oatmeal chocolate chip to the line up.
Before I get into new books that might interest you, I'd like to brag a bit.
Two of my latest children's books won First Place (!) in the Royal Palm Literary Awards in their respective categories.
Okay, enough about me. What's new in books?
The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg
Bud Threadgood returns to Whistle Stop in this heartwarming sequel to Fried Green Tomatoes. I'm definitely reading this one!
The Cold Millions by Jess Walter
"The Dolans live by their wits, jumping freight trains and lining up for day work at crooked job agencies. While sixteen-year-old Rye yearns for a steady job and a home, his older brother, Gig, dreams of a better world, fighting alongside other union men for fair pay and decent treatment. Enter Ursula the Great, a vaudeville singer who performs with a live cougar and introduces the brothers to a far more dangerous creature: a mining magnate determined to keep his wealth and his hold on Ursula. Featuring an unforgettable cast of cops and tramps, suffragists and socialists, madams and murderers..."
Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M. Danforth
The Arrest by Jonathan Lethem
The synopsis of this book at Amazon is just too complicated to summarize here. But there is this: "Plain Bad Heroines is a devilishly haunting, modern masterwork of metafiction that manages to combine the ghostly sensibility of Sarah Waters with the dark imagination of Marisha Pessl and the sharp humor and incisive social commentary of Curtis Sittenfeld into one laugh-out-loud funny, spellbinding, and wonderfully luxuriant read." Creepy cool stuff, if you ask me.
"Before the Arrest, Sandy had a reasonably good life as a screenwriter in L.A. An old college friend and writing partner, the charismatic and malicious Peter Todbaum, had become one of the most powerful men in Hollywood. Now, post-Arrest, nothing is what it was. Sandy, who calls himself Journeyman, has landed in rural Maine...then Todbaum shows up in an extraordinary vehicle: a retrofitted tunnel-digger powered by a nuclear reactor. The Arrest isn’t post-apocalypse. It isn’t a dystopia. It isn’t a utopia. It’s just what happens when much of what we take for granted—cars, guns, computers, and airplanes, for starters—quits working..." Sounds like a lot of fun.
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah
"One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance. In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation." I love a sweeping historical novel!
Welcome to the Holidays!
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
"16-year-old Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on her favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. Dash, in a bad mood during the holidays, happens to be the first guy to pick up the notebook and rise to its challenges. What follows is a whirlwind romance as Dash and Lily trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations all across New York City. But can their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions, or will their scavenger hunt end in a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?" Oh, this sounds like so much fun! We need fun right now...
Skipping Christmas by John Grisham
"Luther and Nora Krank are fed up with the chaos of Christmas. The endless shopping lists, the frenzied dashes through the mall, the hassle of decorating the tree...where has all the joy gone? This year, they decide that just this once, they'll skip the holidays. They spend their Christmas budget on a Caribbean cruise set to sail on December 25, and happily settle in for a restful holiday season free of rooftop snowmen and festive parties. But the Kranks soon learn that their vacation from Christmas isn't much of a vacation at all, and that skipping the holidays has consequences they didn't bargain for. A modern Christmas classic...a charming and hilarious look at the mayhem and madness that have become ingrained in our holiday tradition." Who knew Grisham had a sense of humor?
In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
"...this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world—the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy. The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake…she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again. With one hilarious disaster after another sending her back to the plane, Mae must figure out how to break free of the strange time loop—and finally get her true love under the mistletoe" It's Groundhog Day for Christmas!
The Stupidest Angel: A Heartwarming Tale of Christmas Terror by Christopher Moore
"'Twas the night (okay, more like the week) before Christmas, and all through the tiny community of Pine Cove, California, people are busy buying, wrapping, packing, and generally getting into the holiday spirit. But not everybody is feeling the joy. Little Joshua Barker is in desperate need of a holiday miracle. No, he's not on his deathbed; no, his dog hasn't run away from home. But Josh is sure that he saw Santa take a shovel to the head, and now the seven-year-old has only one prayer: Please, Santa, come back from the dead." Classic Christopher Moore! A must-read.
All descriptions, except where noted, are taken from Amazon.
My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell
The first in the Durrells of Curfu Trilogy. The tv series is wonderful.
My Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
The Ice House by Laura Lee Smith
The ending was a bit pat, but a great read.
My Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail by Bill Bryson
History, nature, wild stories, quirky characters...and Bill. A great read.
My Goodreads Rating: 4 stars
Birds, Beasts, and Relatives by Gerald Durrell
The second book in the Corfu Trilogy. You don't have to read the first one first, but...why not?
My Goodreads Rating: 5 stars
Okay, time for the shameless plug. Scroll on by for more on words...