Just A Clause by Lorna Barrett (3 out of 5) 

•June 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The latest in the Booktown series has Tricia hosting a book signing for author Steven Richardson. And a sidewalk sale. Life does imitate art…because my store had both on Saturday, and I finished this on Friday. Oh, irony. In the book, all’s well does not end well when a heckler disrupts throughout the signing. The alleged, Carol, is also spotted slapping the author after the signing. Topping off Tricia’s dismay, her ner-do-well father, John, shows up out of nowhere, after running off months before and leaving Tricia and her sister Angelica to make good on his many debts to the town. He’s also slapped by Carol, to the bemusement of both of his daughters. Tricia kinda of makes a date with the author for the next day, and she and Angelica take the fog for a walk, and surprise! They find Carol’s dead body. The town police chief is right up in Tricia’s grill, because she is known as the “town jinx” with her knack of stumbling on dead bodies. Things get downright odd quick, as Angelica and Tricia try to find out why their father and mom are suddenly separated, why Richardson is suddenly investigating Carol’s death as a fiction book for him to write, and then one of Tricia and Carol’s darts opponents turns up dead. Who is killing people? It’s up to Tricia and her sister to try to put the pieces together. The chief is supposedly holding multiple cards of potential suspects, but he never shows them or does more than pester Tricia, so it’s clear to the reader that our girl is on her own again. Maybe she should stockpile zucchini as a potential defense in the next murder in the series. 

I love the Booktown series, but as I said, I sometimes feel as if there are too many revolving story arcs going on at once. This one has two murders, a home renovation gone mad, an impending wedding, micommunication over bridal showers, x-rated bookstores, secrets of the dead being held captive by Grace even when Tricia asks for help, an estranged mom, the impending murder case against Angelica’s ex, a potential future job for Tricia, her ex’s depression over his job taking a back seat to his family, her other ex moving on, etc. There is no end to all of it. Well, that’s not true. There’s an end to most of it, most importantly, both murders are solved. However, it was clear to me pretty quick who did it. It was also clear to me that the other arcs Barrett started, most are left untied. I am going to hope she ties up all those loose ends with her next book. They are mighty distracting to those who like a nicely tied up package at the end of their book. 

(Once Upon A Book Club) Everybody’s Son by Thrity Umrigar (5 out of 5) 

•June 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This month’s Literature Bandits pick is by an author that I am a fan of, but honestly, haven’t read in awhile. I already had a classic and a memoir last month, so it was time for some straight up fiction goodness. Umrigar didn’t disappoint. 

Anton is a young boy sitting alone, locked in a humid apartment, for a week. The electricity has been shut off for non payment, there is no phone to call for help, the food is rotting away in the fridge, and the poor kid has no sir conditioning. What the hell is going on here?! Anton’s drug addict mother Juanita left him alone to go score drugs, only she never returns. The poor kid busts out a window, badly cuts himself in the process, and escapes. He is picked up and placed in protective custody. Meanwhile, lawyer David and his wife Dee have a rare chance to foster Anton while his mom goes to prison after child abandonment charges are brought against her. They jump at the chance, although they know it will bring challenges the like they have never seen. Anton is a young, streetwise African American kid going to live in an upper class neighborhood of white people. His schooling leaves a lot to be desired, and he struggles in the school he goes to, despite the homeschooling Dee gives him. Dee struggles with how tenacious David is about raising Anton past the foster period. The thing that drives David is his grief over the some he and Dee lost to a car accident. This very same grief causes David to make a very rash decision involving Anton’s future when his mom is due to be released from jail after several years. It changes the entire landscape of the book. Anton grows up to be an intelligent, outgoing young man who decides to run for a government office. In the midst of the electoral process, his dad suffers a heart attack, and Anton receives a letter from his long absent mother, now living in Georgia. The contents of this letter..one line in particular…cause the young man to see red, and he decides to make a secret trip to Georgia to confront his mom. What he learns from that makes him question those who raised him, the values he believes in, and yes, even himself. Wow. What a book!! I was rooting for Anton the whole book. And although I wanted to punch David for his selfish (or is it selfless?) gesture regarding his foster son and the biological mother, I had to recognize it came from a place of deep-rooted fear and grief. The importance of one’s roots and family tree are universally stressed here. The importance of the unrequited love for someone to have a better life than the shit pile of cards they have been dealt is a huge factor in the story here. But no one should take for granted your family tree, and that gets a very real testimonial throughout the story. Umrigar has taken the reader on an inspiring, heart-rending story of family, loss, and love. Love is the universal theme here. It colors perceptions as much as it colors the pages. But, dear reader, you would be remiss for not opening your heart to this story. And yes, it’s a wonderful story, especially for a book club. Do it. 

Meet Me In The Bathroom: Rebirth and Rock N’ Roll in New York City 2001-2011 (5 out of 5) 

•June 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

What a fantastic rendering of the NYC music scene between 2001-2011. My friend Felicia came in and ordered this book a few weeks back. Once I saw what it was about, I had to order it. Those 10 years were some of the best of my life, and that music coming down from the NYC? Ask me how The Strokes, The White Stripes, and Ryan Adams shaped my life over that decade. You may get an entire chapter of a book out of it (It may be called SoCo & Scorpios) The NYC scene seemed to generate from a little-known band called Jonathan Fire*Eater. I have to say, after reading the testimonials of how awesome they were, I am going to find something they’ve done and see for myself. It’s never too late to discover music, people. Throw in charismatic figureheads like Moby, Rob Sheffield, James Murphy (LCD Soundsystem), Har Mar Superstar, Karen O, Marc Maron, Alan Light, Marc Spitz, Interpol, Simon Reynolds, and even that mopey fucker Conor Oberst (aka Bright Eyes), and others, and you have quite an oral history of a bright and exciting time on the music scene. This music fanatic had quite a lovely time reading this while sitting at the hospital the other day. If you love even one of the artists named, seek out a copy of this book right away! It’s out right now, courtesy of Dey St, an imprint of Harper Collins. I guarantee a lot of laughter, some shocking moments, one or two sad moments, and if you aren’t the least bit motivated to check out some new music from this collection, well, you’re in trouble. One of my favorite music books in recent years. 

The Silent Corner by Dean Koontz (3 out of 5)

•June 12, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I won this galley through Shelf Awareness. This is the start of a new series. Jane Hawk has lost her husband, a former Marine, to suicide. Not an uncommon occurrence among military professionals, but when a bunch of smart and talented people start committing suicide, en masse? Something is going on…Jane goes off the grid (the silent corner of the title) and tries to get to the bottom of it. Unfortunately, some very powerful and dangerous enemies have the same idea, and begin a dangerous pursuit. I am thrilled that Koontz is bringing Jane back. I liked her spunk and her determination to get the answers, without being connected to civilization. Brilliant! My only complaint is that the answers and the rocky path to getting there didn’t yield much in the way of surprises. Meaning that I wasn’t terribly shocked by how it played out. I still love you, Dean Koontz, but I think I love Jane Hawk a little bit more. 

Emma In The Night by Wendy Walker (5 out of 5)

•June 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment

This was a doozy. Definitely #2 on the psychological favorites list for 2017. “Behind Her Eyes” is still first, but wow! This is something else. It’s not out yet, it’s slated for arrival on the shelves in August. St. Martin’s Press is publishing this one. Put it on your TBR list NOW! 

Cass and Emma Tanner disappeared three years ago, after the car and a pair of shoes are all that is found on a dark beach. The question of what happened to the girls is a step closer to being solved when Cass shows up at her parents’ house one night, hysterical and telling them that they need to go find Emma, who is on an undisclosed and secluded island somewhere off the coast of Maine. The detective and his assistant in charge of the case are stunned and then hopeful, but several things that Cass is telling them don’t seem to add up. From there, you have Cass telling her side of the story, and the detectives telling theirs. The one thing established throughout most of the book is that this has to be the most messed up family dynamic in years. I’ve read a lot of books, but shit, these people?! These people are all sorts of messed up! So don’t think there is a saving grace amongst them, because really, the family is beyond anything I have read about. Kudos to the author for doing her research on the family’s psychological basket of lunacy, because without that quorum of quibbles, I’m not sure I would have bought this story as convincingly as I did. But oh, once the whole story comes out….WOW! Read it and recommend it when it comes out. Unbelievable! 

Doctor Who: Touched By An Angel (4 out of 5) by Jonathan Morris

•June 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Those damn Weeping Angels are never far from my subconscious. I am STILL creeped the fuck out by them. Even reading about them. Although I got a steal of a deal on this hardcover edition on Shamazon. 2 dollars? Hell yeah. Anyway, I do still enjoy reading about what the little fuckers are up to and especially anything with the Good Doctor, Rory, and Amy Pond. This was a quick and fun read. And as always, there is always a message behind it. This one was about revisiting your past and being careful what you wish for…because you just might get it. In spades.

Rebecca Whitaker dies in a car accident in 2003; her grieving husband Mark gets an envelope that was sent 8 years ago. The contents read, ” You can save her”. Nothing is that easy, and the Doctor, Any and Rory quickly realize the Weeping Angels are using his grief and the history to try to feed upon the world. Can they keep the present and past versions of Mark separate and save the world from the Angels yet again? 

I always love that there are novelizations derived from the show, because you can keep finding new stories starring the same old devils and keep it fresh for the die-hard fans as well as the newfound flock. This was another great tale in the series. 

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See (4 out of 5) 

•June 8, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I like Lisa See a lot. I was very excited to hear she had a new one coming out in March. I think Wendy sent it to me around the holidays. Suffice to say, here we are in June and I am just now getting around to it. It is out in hardcover (since March, actually) from the publishers at Scribner (a Simon & Schuster imprint), so go grab a copy. I enjoyed it immensely. 

Li-yan, one of the few girls in the Yunnan village who doesn’t buck the new ways of the world, helps a stranger in a Jeep navigate the ways of the village. He finds the tea he was looking for and Li-yan finds herself having a baby out of wedlock, and leaving the baby (Haley) by an orphanage. Haley grows up a well adjusted American, while Li-yan wonders every minute of every day where her baby is. The tea that is a way of life for the Yunnan may provide answers as it provides comfort through the generations. I loved the story of the two women trying to forge a connection through tenuous means, and learning to grow up and beyond the culture and to try to find one another. Every time you pick up a Lisa See book, the learning experience grows, as does your appreciation for the fine writing experience you have just been a part of. Go and be part of the experience!