Monday, September 17, 2018

There, There

I could find no fault with this debut novel by Tommy Orange, other than I didn’t want it to end. Orange weaves the personal stories of several Native American Indians who live now or grew up in Oakland, California. He covers many of the problems faced by Indians trying to make it in today’s world. Trying to connect with their heritage. Trying to not drink so much. Trying to find family. Trying to just stay alive. Each small chapter is told from the perspective of one character, but through their stories we begin to understand everyone else’s. Tension builds, clues are dropped, and readers know that something dreadful will happen. Everything comes to a head at the Oakland Powwow. Orange is a truly amazing storyteller. I am already impatient for him to write more. Highly recommended to readers who like Louise Erdrich.

~Kelly Currie

Sunday, September 02, 2018


Abandoned by Allison Brennan

Investigative reporter Max Revere was abandoned by her mother Martha at the young age of nine. Leaving Max with her own parents, whom Max had never met, Martha sends only periodic postcards. Years later, the postcards have stopped coming, and Max decides to start investigating what really happened to her mother. She learns that Martha was all-in for fun and had become involved with an art thief and con man who had stolen from another art thief. Martha's postcards have provided clues of the missing art, along with information that led up to Martha's disappearance.

A lot of deep dark secrets begin to surface. The author will not disappoint you in this fast reading mystery.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

The Great Believers

Rebecca Makkai opens her tremendous new novel with a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald: "We were the great believers. I have never cared for any men as much as for those who felt the first springs when I did, and saw death ahead, and were reprieved--and who now walk the long stormy summer." The "great believers" of Makkai's novel are the multitudes of gay men who were caught up in the first months of the AIDS crisis in the mid 1980s. She focuses her lens on Chicago and introduces us to a group of male friends who are seeing their friends dying one by one. Because many of them have been rejected by their families for being gay in the first place, they have formed their own sorts of families and moral support. It's hard to remember now how much shame was forced upon and carried by gay men and women back then. Testing for the virus was relatively new, and even raising the courage to approach a doctor and take the test was a momentous decision. You could be fired from your job, harassed by strangers, evicted from your home, beaten up, or killed if your "secret" came out to the world. The book follows two alternating narratives, one in the mid 1980s where we see the world through the eyes of Yale, a young gay man working for an art gallery, and one in 2015, where we follow Fiona, whose brother Nic was one of Yale's friends and was one of the earliest AIDS deaths among their group. We see how the men's deaths impacted their friends and families, and continues to affect them 30 years later. A remarkable, sensitive, and personal look at a heartbreaking period in our country's history. Highly recommended.

~ Kelly Currie

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

After a climate apocalypse that causes the ocean levels to rise quickly, most of the world is destroyed. In the Southwest United States, Dinétah, a former Navajo reservation, remains standing thanks to the help of mythological gods who have returned to Earth. The residents of Dinétah are scared, distrustful, and plagued by monsters that were unleashed when the waters rose. Maggie Hoskie is not your typical hero; she is a monster hunter with great and volatile clan powers and a difficult past. Her grandmother was killed by monsters when she was a teen, and now Neizghání, an immortal prince to whom she was apprenticed, has abandoned her. Adrift and heartbroken, Maggie sets off on her own on a job from the trickster god, Coyote. She’s not alone for long, though, as she grudgingly accepts the help of Kai, a medicine man with his own mysterious past. As Maggie and Kai set off on their mission, they discover that dark forces are gathering to oppose them and Coyote’s task is not nearly be as straightforward as he said it would be.

Trail of Lightning is Rebecca Roanhorse’s debut novel, and the first book in The Sixth World series. Her short story ‘‘Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience’’ (Apex, 2017) recently won the 2018 Hugo and Nebula awards. I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more of her in the future, and I can’t wait.


Monday, August 20, 2018

Jar of Hearts by Jennifer Hillier.

Business executive Georgina Shaw is arrested and charged with being an accessory to murder after the remains of a missing teenager are discovered buried in a wooded area near her childhood home. Calvin James, a man that Shaw was romantically involved with many years ago, was also arrested and charged with murder.

The victim: Angela Wong, a vivacious and popular teenager who went missing fourteen years earlier after an evening of drinking with best friend Georgina and Georgina's boyfriend, Calvin James.

After receiving a five-year sentence for her role in covering up the murder of Angela, Georgina is sent to a women's correctional facility where she suffers the daily humiliations of life in lock-down. Calvin James, now dubbed as the Sweet-bay Strangler, is also tried and convicted of murder.

Released from prison after serving her time, Georgia attempts to slip undetected into her hometown and live quietly with her father, but the situation soon becomes complicated. Bodies begin turning up and the manner in which they've been killed is eerily familiar. Much like Angela Wong.

Cathy Kesterson