Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Paperback Reader

I'm catching up. Honestly I am. And this week I've enjoyed that rare pleasure of reading genuine paperbacks, leaving them lying around the house, one in the bedroom, one on the sofa, one on the chair, then carrying them, then wondering where I left them and where's my pencil so I can take notes about what I'm reading there. Of even greater pleasure is the fact that all five paperback books were so thoroughly enjoyable, so grab a coffee, pull up a chair, and see which ones would catch your fancy:

First is Past the Last Island, by Kathleen Flanagan Rollins, is a beautifully evocative novel of prehistory, set in the Pacific Islands. Second in her Misfits and Heroes series, it continues to tell the story of those unlikely strangers who rise above their world instead of fitting in, and so help the world they know to grow bigger. It's a rich, elegant, complex novel; enjoy it with some 4-star, rich, elegant, complex flavored coffee.

Moving forward in time (and even time-travelling a little), The Freedman and the Pharaoh’s Staff, by Lane Heymont, is a fascinating tale of post-Civil War America, where a black man in the south finds his world turned upside down when his brother-in-law commits a crime. The story's a fascinating mix of realistic Klansmen, mystical powers in darkest Louisiana, a very scary touch of time-travel, and genuinely interesting characters. The contrast between South and North is very nicely drawn as the action moves to New York, and the whole, despite it's distinctly odd premise (Ancient Egypt, Civil War America and WWII Germany all rolled into one), is truly intriguing and enticing. Enjoy with a 5-star bold dark coffee for some seriously dark and scary scenes.  

Rain Dogs, by Baron R. Birtcher, is set in the much more recent history of America's War on Drugs, just beginning in the 1970s. Gritty realism characterises the violent scenes of this tale, but it's paired with lyrically descriptive prose as the protagonist travels from verdant forests of Northern California to the deserts of Mexico. A novel that keeps you guessing, redeeming some characters even as others fail, this is one to enjoy with a 5-star bold, dark, intense cup of coffee.

Coyote Winds, by Helen Sedwick is a middle-grade, ya (and everyone else) novel set in a mix of Dustbowl Colorado and the present day. Wild winds, a wild but wounded coyote, and a boy who's just lost his grandfather, trying to make sense of the story left behind... This one's stunningly evocative and beautifully told--the sort of tale that will haunt you afterwards and have you listening to the wildness in your heart. Enjoy it's elegant complexity with a rich elegant 4-star coffee.

And finally, if you've just read about a struggling teenager in Coyote Winds, What Color is Monday? By Carrie Cariello should fit right in on your reading list. A personal recollection of a mother living with her now-eight-year-old autistic child, this book's inviting, intriguing, and honestly pleasing to read. Young Jack is not a sick kid who'll never get well; he's a child whose character hides and reveals itself to those willing to see. And this book is a lovely helpful depiction of just one "different" kid and how we can all relate better to difference in others. Enjoy with a well-balanced 3-star coffee.



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