September 2019 Book List

My September booklist is a bit late this month. No apologies because I am into reading Frederick Douglas: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight and, although it is not at all difficult to read, it is long and I have not had as much time to read (because I subscribed to Netflix, very naughty). I have been tempted away from print media for a while. But I will be back and I already have other books clamoring for my attention. Salman Rushdie has a new book and it is calling to me along with all the new fiction on the Amazon list this month. The New York Times Book Review has changed it’s format and I will have to get used to the new setup, so I did not include those books on this month’s list. I will have to get with the new program. 

Amazon

Literature and Fiction

Dominicana: A Novel by Angie Cruz *

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie *

The Secrets We Kept: A Novel by Lara Prescott *

Gun Island: A Novel by Amitov Ghosh *

The World That We Knew: A Novel by Alice Hoffman *

The Water Dancer: A Novel by Ta-Nehisi Coates *

The Grammarians: A Novel by Cathleen Schine *

The Dutch House: A Novel by Ann Patchett *

Red at the Bone: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson *

Opioid, Indiana: A Novel by Brian Allen Carr *

Mysteries and Thrillers

The Nanny: A Novel by Gilly Macmillan

The Institute by Stephen King

A Better Man (a Chief Inspector Gamache Novel) by Louise Penny

Land of Wolves (Walt Longmire Mystery) by Craig Johnson

The Secrets We Kept: A Novel by Lara Prescott

Mycroft and Sherlock: The Empty Birdcage by Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Anna Waterhouse

The Glass Woman: A Novel by Caroline Lea

Cold Storage: A Novel by David Koepp

The Chestnut Man: A Novel by Sören Sviestrup

The Girl Who Lived Twice by David Lagercrantz

Biographies and Memoirs

Make it Scream, Make it Burn (Essays) by Leslie Jamison

Over the Top: A Raw Journey of Self Love by Jonathan Van Ness

The Soul of Care: The Moral Education of a Husband and a Doctor by Arthur Kleinman

High School by Sara Quin, Tegan Quin

The Ride of a Lifetime: Lesson Learned from 15 Years as CEO of Walt Disney Company by Robert Iger

Year of the Monkey by Patti Smith

Call Sign Chaos: Learning to Lead by Jim Mattis, Bing West

Permanent Record by Edward Snowden

Sontag: Her Life and Work by Benjamin Moser

Prisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control by Stephanie Kinzer

Nonfiction

We Are the Weather: Saving the Planet Begins at Breakfast by Jonathan Safran Foer

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don’t Know by Malcolm Gladwell

She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story that Helped Ignite a Movement by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey

How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo

How to: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems by Randall Munroe

Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs? Big Questions from Tiny Mortals About Death by Caitlin Doughty, Dianné Ruz

Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life by Nir Eyal

The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garett M. Graff

Something Deeply Hidden: Quantum Worlds and the Emergence of Spacetime by Sean Carroll

Super Pumped: The Battle of Uber by Mike Isaac

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Last Ones Left Alive: A Novel by Sarah Davis-Goff

The Testaments: The Sequel to the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

A Little Hatred (The Age of Madness) by Joe Abercrombie

A Song for a New Day by Sarah Pinsker

The Nightjar by Deborah Hewitt

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Publisher’s Weekly

Aug. 5th

Without a Prayer: The Death of Lucas Leonard and How One Church Became a Cult by Susan Ashline – NF

King of the Court by Travis Dandro – Memoir

Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law by Haben Girma – Memoir

The Wolf Wants In by Laura McHugh – Thriller

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silva Moreno-Garcia – F

City of Windows by Robert Pobi – Thriller

The Right Swipe (Modern Love #1 by Alicia Rei  – F

Say You Still Love Me by K A Tucker – F

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware – Thriller

The Remainder by Alia Trabucco Zerán trans. From Sp. By Sophie Hughes

Aug. 12

Rule of Capture by Christopher Brown – Science Fiction Thriller

The Last Ocean: A Journey through Memory and Forgetting by Nicci Gerrard (dementia) NF *

Gods with a Little g by Tupelo Hassman – F *

Unbreak Me by Michelle Hazen – F – Romance

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee – YA *

Kochland: The Secret History of Koch Industries and Corporate Power in America by Christopher Leonard – NF *

The Perfect Son by Lauren North – F

Inland by Téa Obreht

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa trans. from Japanese by Stephen Snyder – F

Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan by Alan Paul and Andy Aledort – NF

The Plateau by Maggie Paxson NF

The Retreat by Sherri Smith – Thriller

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk trans. from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones – F

Catfish Lullaby by A C Wise – Horror novella

Aug. 19

The Cruel Stars by John Birmingham – Science Fiction

The Second Biggest Nothing by Colin Cotterill – F

Coventry: Essays by Rachel Cusk – Essays

A Good Provider is One Who Leaves: One Family and Migration in the 21stCentury by Jason De Parle – NF or based on a true story

Going Dutch by James Gregor – F

Tidelands by Phillippa Gregory – F

The Warehouse by Rob Hart – F

Meet Me in the Future by Kameron Hurley – Short Stories

The Whisper Man by Alex North – Thriller

The World Doesn’t Require You by Rion Amilcar Scott – Short Stories

Machine by Susan Steinberg – Thriller

This Poison Will Remain by Fred Vargas trans. from Frenchy by Siân Reynolds – Mystery

Aug. 23

Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat – Short Stores

From the Shadows by Juan José Millas trans. from Sp. By Thomas Bunstead and Daniel Hahn – F

A Better Man by Louise Penny – Mystery

The Ventriloquists by E R Ramzipoor – F

Gender and Our Brains: How New Neuroscience Explodes the Myths of Male and Female Minds by Gina Rippon – NF

Aug. 30

Unbreakable: The Woman Who Defied the Nazis in the World’s Most Dangerous Horse Race by Richard Askwith – NF

We the Survivors by Tash Aw – F

Women War Photographers from Lee Miller to Anja Niedringhaus by Anne-Marie Beckmann and Felicity Korn – NF

Dominicana by Angie Cruz – F *

Quichotte by Salman Rushdie – F *

The Art of Statistics: How to Learn From Data By David Spiegelhalter – NF

The Bone Fire by S D Sykes – Whodunit

Fashionopolis: The Price of Fast Fashion and the Future of Clothes by Dana Thomas – NF

The Sweetest Fruits by Monique Truong

Fall by Neal Stephenson – Book

From a Google Image Search – The Verge

When Neal Stephenson takes on a subject he does not fool around, or he does but with purpose. In Fall, Neal Stephenson takes on the small topics of our times like how to fix the internet, immortality, artificial intelligence, and the Singularity. He even gets in a prolonged jab at modern American culture when he takes us with Sophia to Ameristan for a quick and terrifying visit (hint: the border is made up of WalMarts).

Who is Sophia? She’s Dodge’s great niece. Dodge, also known as Richard Forthrast, is the key character in this sprawling novel. One of Dodge’s last acts before entering a clinic for a simple procedure (which proves fatal) is to be distracted by a red leaf that he catches on the palm of his hand before it hits the pavement (Fall). He asks “if we lived on as spirits or were reconstituted as digital simulations” would things still have “quale” (for example) ‘the subjective experience of redness’.

Dodge, although his demise is premature, has made legal arrangements to have his brain frozen (a legal dilemma since the cryonics company has folded, but also not a dilemma because Forthrast is a very wealthy man with relatives who love him). So his brain is separated from his body until those at the forefront of using computers to scan brains and preserve them in digital form can progress. Once this is accomplished Dodge awakens in an empty digital simulation, a digital afterlife. But Dodge earned his fortune as the inventor of a popular world-building game called T’Rain. He begins to build a world to give the afterlife form. Back on earth living people can watch Dodge’s simulation unfold (he remembers his name as Egdod)

Dodge’s cohorts and rivals are Corvallis Kawasaki (cohort) and Elmo Shepherd (rival) and, of course his niece Zula, mother of Sophia (loyal family). A fake nuclear incident which leaves many people believing that the town of Moab, Utah was attacked points out some of shortcomings of the internet. “The Internet – what Dodge used to call the Miasma – had just gone completely wrong. Down to the molecular level it was still a hippie grad school project. Like a geodesic dome that a bunch of flower children had assembled from scrap lumber on ground infested with termites and carpenter ants. So rotten that rot was the only thing that was holding it together.”

Our intrepid computer wizards and coders invent a new way to protect an individual’s identity by using their actual “lifeprint”, called a PURDAH (Personal Unseverable Designation for Anonymous Holography). The internet needs to keep expanding to keep Dodge and all the new souls being scanned into the afterlife alive. Then Dodge, creator of the land mass of the afterlife from his Palace to the Knot, decides to see if he can bring forth new souls in the Landform Visualization Utility (LVU). When he is ultimately successful his old rival El (Elmo) Shepherd feels the entire design has been taken in the wrong direction. He decides to end his own life (he has a fatal disease anyway) and get scanned into Dodge’s creation. He ousts Dodge and takes over.

Eventually, of course, all the friends and enemies of Dodge die (or are murdered) (bots are no better than their owners). The population of Earth is declining. Who will be left to make sure the afterlife is supplied with enough energy to continue to exist? How do we get to the Singularity?

It’s a long strange trip (from the Grateful Dead song ‘Truckin’). Neal Stephenson is always amazing and Fall might just be the quintessential gamer fantasy novel/or you might think it is just past weird. As for me, although it lagged in a few parts, it worked. That does seem like one way we could get to the Singularity and leave the Earth to its own devices to recover from humans. On the other hand, I have not signed up for any tech leading to a digital afterlife, and as far as I know, no such tech exists. I don’t think the afterlife looked all that appealing unless you were a member of the ‘Pantheon’. We may find out if books copy life, or if life copies books. Keep your ears open.

August 2019 Book List

From a Google Image Search – Books

Here is my list of books published in July, available in August. Lots of fiction, not as much nonfiction. If you are someone who loves crime books or thrillers and these kinds of books top your summer reading list then you are all set. There is also quite a bit of interesting science fiction and fantasy for you if that is your taste. And there are several good biographies and memoirs that were published recently. The ones that struck me when I read the summaries are starred. If you Google a book you will get a very short summary of what it’s about. Go to Amazon or your library for a longer description if you’re not sure what to pick. Don’t worry, you can’t keep up. Just dive in and carve out a little niche for yourself. Happy reading. 

Amazon

Best Books of August

Literature and Fiction

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center

American Saint by Sean Gandert *

Chances Are…by Richard Russo *

Tidelands by Philippa Gregory *

Inland by Téa Obreht *

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christi Lefteri *

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokaczuk, Antonia Lloyd-Jones *

Summerlings by Lisa Howorth *

Gods with a little g by Tupelo Hassman

Mysteries and Thrillers

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin *

The Bitterroots by CJ Box

The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware

The Whisper Man by Alex North

The Last Widow (Will Trent) by Karin Slaughter

The Whisperer (13) (Inspector Sejer Mysteries) by Karin Fossum, Kari Dickson

True Believer (2) (Terminal List) by Jack Carr

The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney

A Keeper by Graham Norton

Don’t Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokaczuk, Antonia Lloyd-Jones

Biographies and Memoirs

Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law by Haben Girma

Idiot Wind: A Memoir by Peter Kaldheim

Alexander the Great: His Life and His Mysterious Death by Anthony Everitt

Barnum: An American Life by Robert Wilson

Natural Rivals: John Muir, Gifford Pinchot, and the Creation of America’s Public Lands by JohnClayton

Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan by Alan Paul, Andy Aledort

Nights in White Castle: A Memoir by Steve Rushin

The Sober Diaries: How One Woman Stopped Drinking and Started Living by Clare Pooley

Nobody’s Victim: Fighting Psychos, Stalkers Pervs and Trolls by Carrie Goldberg

Into the Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver by Jill Heinerth

Nonfiction

Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties by Tom O’Neill, Dan Piepenbring

Ludicrous: The Unvarnished Story of Tesla Motors by Edward Niedermeyer

Strange Harvests: The Hidden Histories of Seven Natural Objects by Edward Posnett

The Deep History of Ourselves: The Four-Billion-Year Story of How We Got Conscious Brains by Joseph Le Doux *

How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi

The Mosquito: A Human History of our Deadliest Predator by Timothy Wineqard

The Intelligence Trap: Why Smart People Make Dumb Mistakes by David Robson *

The Ghosts of Eden Park: The Bootleg King, the Woman Who Pursued Him, and the Murder that Shocked Jazz-Age America by Karen Abbott

The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier by Ian Urbina

Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Gurkha and the Lord of Tuesday by Saad Z. Hossain

Do You Dream of Terra-Two? By Temi Oh

Blood of an Exile (Dragon of Terra by Brian Haslund)

Shrouded Loyalties by Reese Hogan

The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War) by R F Kuang

Cry Pilot by Joel Dane

Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buston

Turning Darkness into Light by Marie Brennan

The Gossamer Mage by Julie E Gernada

The New York Times Book Review

Crime

Conviction by Denise Mina *

More News Tomorrow by Susan Richards Shreve *

The Island by Ragnar Jonasson

Finding Mrs. Ford by Deborah Goodrich Royce

Fiction

Last Day by Domenica Ruta *

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson *

The Body in Question by Jill Ciment *

Nonfiction

The Guarded Gate by Daniel Okrent *

The Way We Eat by Bee Wilson *

Big Business: A Love Letter to an American Anti-Hero by Tyler Cowen

A Thousand Small Sanities by Adam Gopnik (defense of liberalism) *

The Buried by Peter Hessler

The Shortlist (books on mental illness)

The Edge of Every Day: Sketches of Schizophrenia by Marin Sardy

Mind Fixers: Psychiatry’s Troubled Search for the Biology of Mental Illness by Anne Harrington

Tyrannical Minds: Psychological Profiling, Narcissism, and Dictatorship by Dean Haycock *

Podcast 50 Best Memoirs – https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/05/books/review/50-best-memoirs-past-50-years

July 12

Great Summer Reads

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

The Lager Queen of Minnesota by Pamela Dorman

The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore

The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess

The Travelers by Regina Porter

Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kivok

Fiction

Clyde Fans: A Picture Book by Seth *

Patsy by Nicole Dennis-Benn

Nonfiction

A Good American Family by David Maraniss

Vasily Grossman and the Soviet Century by Alexandra Popoff

Running to the Edge by Matthew Futterman

The Making of a Justice by Justice John Paul Stevens

The Land of Flickering Lights by Michael Bennet

The Thirty-Year Genocide by Benny Morris and Dror Ze’evi

July 19

Fiction

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead *

Crime

Knife by Jo Nesbo

The Shameless by Ace Atkins

The Body in the Wake (Faith Fairchild) by Katherine Hall Page

The Hard Stuff by David Gordon

Fiction

Mostly Dead Things by Kristin Arnett

A Philosophy of Ruin by Nicholas Mancussi

Lanny by Max Porter

The Shortlist (Story Collections)

Rain by Mia Couto

The Sun on My Head by Giovani Martins

Arid Dreams by Duanwad Pimwana

Nonfiction

My Parents/This Does Not Belong to You by Aleksandar Hemon (Memoir)

Appeasement by Tim Bouverie (Neville Chamberlain)

The Crowded Hour by Clay Risen

July 26th

Recursion by Blake Crouch (alternate reality thriller)

Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman

The Need by Helen Phillips

The Doll Factory by Elizabeth Macneal

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Empty Hearts by Juli Zeh

The Escape Room by Megan Goldin *

Publishers Weekly 

July 5

The Substitution Order by Martin Clark (legal thriller)

Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem by Daniel R Day (memoir)

Stay and Fight by Madeline Ffitch – F

Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking it all with the Greatest Chef in the World by Jeff Gordinier – NF

Ash Kickers (Smoke Eaters #2) by Sean Grigsby (Science Fiction/Fantasy)

The Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez (F) (Rom-Com+)

The Chain by Adrian McKinty (F) (thriller) *

The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America by Margaret O’Mara (NF)

The Need by Helen Phillips (F) (crossover, thriller, sci-fi, literary)

The Toll by Cherie Priest (F) (‘Gothic tale’)

Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renki (NF)

George Marshall: Defender of the Republic by David L Roll (NF)

Say Say Say by Lila Savage (F) *

Supper Club by Lara Williams (F) *

July 12

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone *

Native Tongue by Suzetter Haden Elgin *

Red Metal by Mark Greany and H Ripley Rawlings IV (F)

Greasy Bend by Kris Lackey (F) (2 investigations that connect)

Stubborn Archivist by Yara Rodrigues Fowler (F)

Four Men Shaking: Searching for Sanity with Samuel Beckett, Norman Mailer, and My Perfect Zen Teacher by Lawrence Shainberg (Memoir)

They Call Us Enemy by George Takei, et al

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (F) *

The Rage of Dragons (The Burning #1) (Fantasy)

July 19

Rocket to the Morgue by Anthony Boucher (F)

Desdemona and the Deep by CSE Cooney (F) (Fantasy/Sci Fi)

The Gomorrah Gambit by Tom Chatfield (F) (high tech thriller)

Jade War by Fonda Lee (F) (Fantasy)

Lady in the Lake by Laura Lippman (F) (Crime novel)

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCullock (NF)

Gravity is the Thing by Jaclyn Moriarty (F)

Crisis in the Red Zone: The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History and of the Outbreaks to Come by Richard Preston (NF)

Good Girl, Bad Girl by Michael Robotham (F) (Crime) (forensic psychologist)

Glory and It Litany of Horrors by Fernanda Torres (F)

The Last Astronaut by David Wellington (F) (Space thriller)

July 26

Can Two Women Ever Be – Too Close by Natalie Daniels (F)

A Capitol Death by Lindsey Davis (F) (a Flavia Alba novel)

Smokescreen by Iris Johansen (F) (thriller)

God Land: A Story of Faith, Loss and Renewal in Middle America by Lyz Lenz (NF)

The Hound of Justice (The Janet Watson Chronicles) (F)

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen (F) (Fantasy)

The New Girl by Daniel Silva – Book

Having read all of Daniel Silva’s spy novels that feature Gabriel Allon and his team of talented Israeli intelligence specialized spies, I could not resist getting to The New Girl as soon as possible. None of the other books (there are 18 of them) deals with a global situation that is quite as recent as the one we find here. Silva always uses his spy Allon, now the head of the Israeli Intelligence Service to make sure that bad actors pay for the mayhem they cause and that the activities of the bad actors cease and desist. Often evil doers must die to insure that they will not eventually practice their crimes and terrors at some other point in the future.

This time Daniel Silva wants to remind us of how important journalists and journalism are to maintaining the freedoms that people treasure. We are reminded that one of the first things dictators often do is shut down the free press and support a press that is merely a mouthpiece for the leader. The most shocking recent example involved the murder and dismemberment of Jamal Khashoggi by a Saudi assassination team sent into a Turkish embassy, perhaps by Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) the heir to the throne in Saudi Arabia, although he denies it. In a way this novel attempts to do the same thing that Quentin Tarantino did in his most recent movie Once Upon a Time in Hollywoodby righting a wrong, although in both cases we know that a fictional revision of history cannot really right a past wrong. However revenge fiction can offer some personal satisfaction.

The names have been changed of course, MBS becomes Khalid bin Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. who is buying a painting in NYC from our old friend Sarah Bancroft, occasionally part of Gabriel’s team, when his daughter  at a exclusive private school in kidnapped. She is only twelve. Who would know where she was? Who would abduct her? The reasons are not as mysterious. There could be many reasons why Khalid might attract violence. Stealing a child is a low-life way to get the attention of someone this powerful and it is probable that it involves a hope to get Khalid out in the open in order to kill him.

Omar Nawwaf is the name of the fictional character who faces the same fate as Khashoggi and whose murder disgusts people around the world and causes us to stop noticing that MBS is handsome and to just remember that he is ruthless. The world reacts similarly to the killing of Omar Nawwaf in Silva’s book but people who know about the kidnapping of his daughter (very few people) do not believe in punishing the child for the sins of the father. Omar was trying to give Kahlid information about a plot against him by his uncle when he was assassinated. Omar’s wife, Hanifa Khoury, eventually shares what Omar learned with Gabriel, but only to help save the child.

How does it all end? Well, as usual, bummer, I can’t tell you. All the other Gabriel Allon books deal with history that is further in the past. You may feel that this particular piece of global terror is too fresh to qualify for Silva’s fictional treatment of it. People’s reactions will probably be personal and varied. Although many of my favorite characters appear and there is the beginning of a romance that readers should like (but Gabriel does not think will work), I can’t help but feel that it may have been too soon to approach this subject.

Photo Credit: from a Google Image Search – Houstonia

Also find me on Goodreads.com as Nancy Brisson

https://thearmchairobserver.com/

 

Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone – Book

Gladstone-Empress Tor.com

Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone – Book

A space opera of world building, world destroying, planet eaters, strange goddesses who stride across space, like the Suicide Sisters, and a “ragtag” group, united by a mission – Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone is a mashup of Star Wars and a complex video game, all brought to life with words rather than actual graphics.

Viv knows only Earth. She is a businesswoman. She has not been truly ruthless, but she has been heedless of other’s feelings as she climbed her way to the top of the business world. Just as she is in an enormous server room about to finish uploading a program which could give her dominion over her world, the Empress of Forever, very green and powerful in ways Viv has never even imagined reaches in and grabs ahold of Viv’s heart and zaps her into a place in space called High Cacereal. How is Viv still alive? How will Viv get home? How will she get back to Magda to make sure she is safe? How will she find out what happened when she sent out her virus before it was completely loaded?

Well the answers to those questions will not be quick in coming. Viv first saves the Empress’s enemy Zanj, a feisty space pirate who has been imprisoned for 3,000 years, one of the once-famous Suicide Sisters. Zanj, never one to sit still can use the Cloud to travel through space. The first of the group hunting the Empress that Zanj and Viv meet is the loveable Hong, a monk with lots of courage and common sense. Then Xiara of the piloting Ornclan is added, and Gray of the Grayframes. Of course our band of Empress-haters must travel to every corner of Max Gladstone’s  and Zanj’s world to see the damage the Empress has wrought.

Since Viv arrives in this world from the world of business she brings with her the wisdom success in business has taught her. This blend of How-to-Succeed-in- Business book lore, self-help psychological teachings, warcraft, and science fiction is kind of dazzling. How do people think up this stuff? It’s Linked in, Instagram, and World of Warcraft all rolled into one.

Despite this odd marriage of disciplines, Max brings his fantasy-built world richly alive for us. The novel is fun to read and as Viv learns the lesson that would have sealed her success as a businesswoman or made winning irrelevant, so do we. There is no I in team, but having the support of a truly connected team allows you to realize the very best version of yourself. Empress of Forever introduced me to a whole other kind of fantasy/science fiction novel for the computer age, perhaps intended for younger readers. Still, I found it fascinating to see how the genre is being transformed, and I made some new fictional friends.

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner – Book

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner is a sort of a “cover” of the classic book Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. This time there are only two girls in the Kaufman family who live in a little “Dick and Jane” house on Alhambra Street. They are named Jo (Josette) and Beth (Bethie) – the mom is Sarah and the dad is Ken.

My initial negative reactions to Mrs. Everything were decidedly generational. In Alcott’s book Jo and Beth didn’t have sex. Jo had ambitions that were not considered feminine, and she was aware that she would find it difficult to fulfill those ambitions, but she did not seem to struggle with her sexual identity, hardly an acceptable topic when Alcott wrote her novel.

However I got over myself. After all I am a child of the sixties. I did not find Bethie’s “rebirth” odd. I heard more than a few primal screams in my time. What bothered me more was the stereotypical presentation of the two sisters differing prepubescent personalities. Not every girl who likes sports and doesn’t care to play with dolls or wear dresses will be lesbian or have a sexual identity anywhere on the LGBTQ spectrum. The only saving grace for the lack of research into the subject can be found in the fact that the characters were intended to parallel the character differences between Alcott’s Jo and Beth.

Modern Jo knew that she was attracted to girls when she was in high school and she had quite a long relationship with her best friend. Her heart was broken for the first time when her first love got married to her high school sweetheart, a boy. Jo could never have pleased her mother by being as feminine as her mother wished her to be, and once her mother learned of Jo’s true sexual orientation, Sarah’s constant disapproval insured that Jo would be happy to leave for college.

Bethie (Beth) was every bit as feminine as her mother would wish her to be. She got lots of positive reinforcement. However, the lives these sisters actually lived most likely will not match the trajectory you think they are on. They were born into a decade of radical change. Trite but true, life happens.

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner is about identity and reality, bravery and duty, social pressure, love, and broken hearts. It did not push the button in me that said “eureka, this is a great book”, but perhaps the way readers experience the quality of this book will turn out to be generational.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Chicago Tribune

Look for me at thearmchairobserver.com and on goodreads.com as Nancy Brisson

July 2019 Book List

July 2019 Book List

If you are a fan of real space travel, there is a list of books related to the Apollo 11 moon landing, which happened around the same time as Woodstock, 50 years ago this year. I also found both interesting fiction and nonfiction available in June, enough titles to make me wish I could read faster. Print the list out, mark it up. Remember you can almost always find a summary on Amazon and at your library or your library’s web site. Some people get a lot of reading done in the summer. Happy 4 th of July.

Amazon

Literature and Fiction

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes  *

Deep River by Karl Marlantes

The Last Book Party by Karen Dukess  *

Stay and Fight: A Novel by Madeline Ffitch*

Very Nice: A Novel by Marcy Dermansky  *

The Great Unexpected: A Novel by Dan Mooney  *

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead  *

The Lager Queen of Minnesota: A Novel by J. Ryan Stradel

The Most Fun We Ever Had: A Novel by Claire Lombardo *

In the Full Light of the Sun by Clare Clark *

Mysteries and Thrillers

Lock Every Door: A Novel by Riley Sager

Lady in the Lake: A Novel by Laura Lippman

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

A Nearly Normal Family by M. T. Edvardsson

The Possession (The Anomaly Files) by Michael Rutger

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

The Friend: A Novel by Joakim Zander

The Need by Helen Phillips

Wanderers: A Novel by Chuck Wendig *

The New Girl (Gabriel Allon) by Daniel Silva *

Big Sky (Jackson Brodie) by Kate Atkinson  *

Biographies and Memoirs

Stronghold: One Man’s Quest to Save the World’s Wild Salmon by Tucker Malarkey

Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem: A Memoir by Daniel R. Day

Hitler: A Life by Peter Longrich

This is Not a T-shirt: A Brand, a Culture, a Community – A Life in Streetwear by Bobbie Hundreds

The Vagabonds: The Story of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison’s Ten-Year Road Trip by Jeff Guinn

Casting into the Light: Tales of a Fishing Life by Janet Messineo

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Elsinger, Steven Scott, illus. Becker – Memoir

The Lie: A Memoir of Two Marriages, Catfishing and Coming Out by William Dameron

George Marshall: Defender of the Republic  by David L. Roll

The Life of John F Kennedy Jr.: America’s Reluctant Prince by Steven M. Gillon

Nonfiction

Hungry: Eating, Road-Tripping, and Risking It all with the Greatest Chef in the World by Jeff Gordinier

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Drive-Thru Dreams: A Journey through the Heart of America’s Fast Food Kingdom by Adam Chandler

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Killer of the 21stCentury by Maureen Callahan

The Last Leonardo: The Secret Lives of the World’s Most Expensive Painting by Ben Lewis

The Story of the Deadliest Ebola Outbreak in History and of the Outbreaks to Come by Richard Preston

Range: How Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World by David Epstein *

I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum

Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch

In the Valleys of the Noble Beyond: In Search of the Sasquatch by John Zada

Science Fiction and Fantasy

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Salvation Day by Kali Wallace

Wanderers: A Novel by Chuck Wendig  *

The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep: A Novel by H. G. Parry

The New York Times Book Review

June 7

Fiction

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

Loudermilk by Lucy Ives

Bakhita by Véronique Almi

Spring by Ali Smith

Crime

This Storm by James Ellroy

The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz

Murder in Bel-Air by Cara Black

The Body in the Castle Well by Martin Walker

The Shortlist

The Selected Works of Abdullah The Cossack by H. M. Naqvi

There’s a Word for that by Sloane Tanen

Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe by Evan James

Nonfiction

The Queen by Josh Levin

No Visible Bruises by Rachel Louise Snyder

Generation Wuss by Bret Easton Ellis

The Pandemic Century by Mark Honigsbaum

The Pioneers by David McCullough

Range by David Epstein

Gropius by Fiona MacCarthy

Moneyland by Oliver Bullough

June 14

Nonfiction

Underland by Robert Macfarlane

L.E.I.: The Lost Life and Scandalous Death of Letitia Elizabeth Landon, the Celebrated Female Byron by Lucasta Miller

The Death of Politics by Peter Wehner

The Right Side of History by Ben Shapiro

Clear and Present Safety by Michael A. Cohen and Micah Zinko

Women’s Work by Megan Stack

The Conservative Sensibility by George Will

Love Your Enemies by Arthur C. Brooks

The Case for Trump by Victor Davis Hansson

Fiction

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

Greatest Hits by Laura Barnett

Machines Like Me by Ian McEwan

Where We Come From by Oscar Cásares

The Short List (from France)

Life of David Hockney by Catherine Cusset, trans. by Teresa Lavender Fagan

Exposed by Jean-Phillippe Blondel, trans. by Alison Anderson

Lie With Me by Philippe Besson, trans. by Molly Ringwald

June 21

50th Anniversary of Apollo 11

Hasselblad and the Moon Landing by Deborah Ireland

Apollo’s Legacy: Perspectives on the Moon Landing by Roger Launius

Shoot For the Moon: The Space Race and the Extraordinary Voyage of Apollo 11 by James Donovan

Apollo To The Moon: A History in 50 Objects by Teasel Muir-Harmony

Chasing the Moon: The People, the Politics, and the Promise that Launched America Into the Space Age by Roger Stone and Alan Andres

American Moonshot: John F. Kennedy and the Great Space Race by David Brinkley

One Giant Leap: The Impossible Mission that Flew Us to the Moon by Charles Fishman

Nonfiction

The Plaza by Julie Satow

War and Peace by Nigel Hamilton  *

Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells by Pico Iyer

The White Devil’s Daughters by Julia Flynn Siler

Assad or We Burn the Country by Sam Dagher

Fiction

Original Prin by Randy Boyagoda

Orange World by Karen Russell (Short Stories)

Strangers and Cousins by Leah Hager Cohen

Big Sky (Det. Jackson Brodie) by Kate Atkinson  *

Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada

The Poison Thread by Laura Parcell

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda

Children of the Ghetto by Elias Khoury

Walking on the Ceiling: A Novel by Aysegül Savas

The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grames *

All the Good Things by Claire Fisher

How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee

June 28

Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner  *

The Electric Hotel by Dominic Smith

My Life as a Rat by Joyce Carol Oates

America Was Hard to Find by Kathleen Alcott

Juliet the Maniac by Juliet Escoria

Riots I Have Known by Ryan Chapman  *

Nonfiction

Democracy May Not Exist But We’ll Miss It When It’s Gone by Astra Taylor

The Problem of Democracy by Nancy Isenberg and Andrew Burstein

The America: The Case for The Nation by Jill Lepore

Never Lovely So Real (Nelson Algren Biography) by Colin Asher

People, Power, and Profits by Joseph E. Stiglitz

Ill Winds by Larry Diamond. *

Spying of the South by Tony Horwitz

Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson Greene

Bottle of Lies by Katherine Eban

Picnic Comma Lightning by Laurence Scott

Publisher’s Weekly

June 7

Elderhood, Redefining Aging, Tranforming Medicine, Reimaging Life by Louise Aronson (NF)

Bunny by Mona Awad (F)  *

Recursion by Blake Crouch (Thriller)

Honestly We Meant Well by Grant Ginder (F)

Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune by Rosalie Lim (F)

The Darwin Affair by Tim Mason (Thriller)

The Stonewall Riots: A Documentary History by Marc Stein (NF)

Paris, 7 A. M. by Liza Wieland (Based on life of poet, Elizabeth Bishop) (F)

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner (F)

The History of Living Forever by Jake Wolff (F)

June 14

The Body Lies by Jo Baker (F)

Fake Like Me by Barbara Bourland

The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung (F) *

Roughhouse Friday: A Memoir by Jaed Coffin (F)

Empress of Forever by Max Gladstone (Science Fiction). *

The Capital by Robert Menasse (F)

Eyes in the Sky: The Secret Rise of Gorgon Stare and How It Will Watch Us All by Arthur Holland Michel (NF)

Conviction by Denise Mina (Thriller)

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda (Thriller)

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (F) (YA to Adult)

Flash Count Diary: Menopause and the Vindication of Natural Life by Darcey Steinke (NF)

June 21

Drive-Thru Dreams: A Journey Through the Heart of America’s Fast Food Kingdom by Adam Chandler (NF)

Happiness, As Such by Natalia Ginzberg, trans from Italian by Minna Zallman Proctor

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes (F) *

The Maze of Transparencies by Karen An-hwei Lee.(F) *

Chaos: Charles Manson, the CIA, and the Secret History of the Sixties by Tom O’Neill with Dane Piepenbring (NF) (True Crime)

Murder in the Crooked House by Soji Shimada, trans. from Japanese by Louise Heal Kawai (puzzle mystery)

The Friend by Joakim Zander from Swedish by Elizabeth Clark Wessel (Thriller)

June 28

American Predator: The Hunt for the Most Meticulous Serial Killer of the 21 st Century by Maureen Callahan (NF)

The Best Science Fiction of the Year, Vol. 4 by Neil Clarke (Science Fiction Short Stories)

Second Sight by Aoife Clifford (Crime Novel)

Very Nice by Marcy Dermansky (F)  *

Betrayal. In Time: A Kendra Donovan Mystery by Julie McElwain (F)

Shadowlands: Fear and Freedom at the Oregon Standoff by Anthony McCann (NF) Cliven Bundy and Son)  *

Maggie Brown and Others by Peter Omer (Character Sketches)

The Me I Used to Be by Jennifer Ryan (F)  *

Lock Every Door by Riley Sagar (Thriller)

The Public Option: How to Expand Freedom, Increase Opportunity, and Promote Equality by Genesh Sitaramen and Anne L Alstott (NF) (Favors public opinion)

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig (F)  *