Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Judge Hunter

Pepys. Readers looking for an escape from the present for laughs about the past with a nod toward contemporary life are those most likely to love reading Christopher Buckley’s novel titled, The Judge Hunter. Set in the 17th century, the novel mixes historical figures like Samuel Pepys and Peter Stuyvesant with an interesting cast of fictional characters. The plot and schemes are funny, the prose fast-paced, and the wit smile provoking. Buckley pokes Puritans and Quakers with equal fervor. I was thoroughly entertained by this novel. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase The Judge Hunter from amazon.com.

My Ex-Life

Ensemble. For those readers who find pleasure in spending time with an ensemble of interesting characters, consider reading Stephen McCauley’s novel titled, My Ex-Life. The central characters are undergoing dramatic changes in their lives and that provides the tension for the plot. Secondary characters provide terrific comic relief and reduce focus on looming deadlines in the lives of the protagonists. Underlying these relationships there is a deep caring for others that shows up in many forms. The setting, a seaside Massachusetts town, is presented with just enough detail to become vivid for readers. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase My Ex-Life from amazon.com.

Noir

Perky. I always finish reading a Christopher Moore novel in high spirits. Even when he takes on noir, he does it in a perky way. His latest novel titled, Noir, is set in San Francisco following World War II and the hijinks of a large cast of interesting characters kept me entertained throughout the novel. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Noir from amazon.com.

The Mars Room

Prison. Rachel Kushner grabbed me in the first few pages of her novel titled, The Mars Room, and didn’t let go until the very end. Protagonist Romy Hall is heading to prison for a long time and we don’t know why for hundreds of pages. But we do get to know life inside prison to such an extent that I started to wonder how much time Kushner spent in prison or whether she ever worked as an exotic dancer as she describes working in the Mars Room. I’m confident that neither is the case, but those thoughts arise because of Kushner’s literary skills and the ways in which she draws us into places and into the lives of people that are deep and rich. Prison society, poverty and justice are all displayed by Kushner as her finely written prose takes readers to places and people we may not typically encounter in our lives. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase The Mars Room from amazon.com.

Love and Ruin

Independent. Paula McLain continues her fiction about the wives of Ernest Hemingway with a novel about his third wife, Martha Gellhorn, in a novel titled, Love and Ruin. Martha couldn’t be more different from Hemingway’s earlier wives: she’s a courageous and talented journalist with a successful career. Her independence from Hemingway leads her to escape his shadow. Fans of McLain’s historical fiction are those readers most likely to enjoy this latest novel. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Love and Ruin from amazon.com.

Two Steps Forward

Path. In France, it is called Le Chemin de St. Jacques. In Spain, it is called El Camino de Santiago. It is the pilgrim path that ends in Spain in Santiago de Compostela. In their novel titled, Two Steps Forward, Graeme Simsion and Anne Buist, present the journey of a woman named Zoe and a man named Martin who meet on this pilgrim path. Zoe left California for this pilgrimage following the sudden death of her husband. Martin left England following a messy divorce, and his engineering background led him to design and field test a cart for pilgrims to use on this journey. What Zoe and Martin find on the journey will bring smiles to most readers. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Two Steps Forward from amazon.com.

The Immortalists

Siblings. Would you live differently if you knew the date of your death? Chloe Benjamin explores that question in her finely written novel titled, The Immortalists. After the four Gold siblings visit a fortune teller and are told when they will die, each individual makes choices about life because of what was foretold. Thanks to her finely written prose and deep character development, skeptical readers can overlook the magical dimension of their shared formative experience. Each sibling chooses differently how to incorporate into their lives what they were told in their youth. Benjamin develops each sibling’s life by drawing readers into specific times and places as she steadily maintained the novel’s momentum. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase The Immortalists from amazon.com.