So if you follow me on Instagram (I’m @olduvaireads how about you?), you might have seen that Wee Reader has the flu! Poor thing. He’s on antibiotics and Tamiflu. Both look equally unpleasant. But they’re working! He’s doing a lot better today. Far less tired and no more fever. But still, I wanted to keep him at home, so we left him with grandma and the rare chance to play iPad games, and while the Husband ran errands with Wee-er Reader, I went to the library for a glorious child-free 40 minutes!! So I had to make the most of it. I grabbed books for the kids, some of my holds, and spent some time upstairs amid the graphic novel shelves where I pulled a load of books! And then because I still had some time, I wandered the scifi/fantasy and mystery shelves. And found some gems which I have to save for another day because my bags were stuffed and my shoulders aching.
An Untamed State – Roxane Gay
Whee! My hold came in! This month I’m attempting to read from the Tournament of Books shortlist
Roxane Gay is a powerful new literary voice whose short stories and essays have already earned her an enthusiastic audience. In An Untamed State, she delivers an assured debut about a woman kidnapped for ransom, her captivity as her father refuses to pay and her husband fights for her release over thirteen days, and her struggle to come to terms with the ordeal in its aftermath.
Mireille Duval Jameson is living a fairy tale. The strong-willed youngest daughter of one of Haiti’s richest sons, she has an adoring husband, a precocious infant son, by all appearances a perfect life. The fairy tale ends one day when Mireille is kidnapped in broad daylight by a gang of heavily armed men, in front of her father’s Port au Prince estate. Held captive by a man who calls himself The Commander, Mireille waits for her father to pay her ransom. As it becomes clear her father intends to resist the kidnappers, Mireille must endure the torments of a man who resents everything she represents.
An Untamed State is a novel of privilege in the face of crushing poverty, and of the lawless anger that corrupt governments produce. It is the story of a willful woman attempting to find her way back to the person she once was, and of how redemption is found in the most unexpected of places. An Untamed State establishes Roxane Gay as a writer of prodigious, arresting talent.
Silence Once Begun – Jesse Ball
It’s on the Tournament of Books shortlist
From the celebrated author of The Curfew, Jesse Ball’s Silence Once Begun is an astonishing novel of unjust conviction, lost love, and a journalist’s obsession.
Over the course of several months, eight people vanish from their homes in the same Japanese town, a single playing card found on each door. Known as the “Narito Disappearances,” the crime has authorities baffled—until a confession appears on the police’s doorstep, signed by Oda Sotatsu, a thread salesman. Sotatsu is arrested, jailed, and interrogated—but he refuses to speak. Even as his parents, brother, and sister come to visit him, even as his execution looms, and even as a young woman named Jito Joo enters his cell, he maintains his vow of silence. Our narrator, a journalist named Jesse Ball, is grappling with mysteries of his own when he becomes fascinated by the case. Why did Sotatsu confess? Why won’t he speak? Who is Jito Joo? As Ball interviews Sotatsu’s family, friends, and jailers, he uncovers a complex story of heartbreak, deceit, honor, and chance.
Wildly inventive and emotionally powerful, Silence Once Begun is a devastating portrayal of a justice system compromised, and evidence that Jesse Ball is a voraciously gifted novelist working at the height of his powers.
The New York Five – Brian Wood, Ryan Kelly (Illustrator)
The first of many graphic novels for Comics February
The long-awaited sequel to THE NEW YORK FOUR! There’s nothing more exciting than college life in the big city. But complications can follow you from dark places – and not just from your boring hometown. In THE NEW YORK FIVE, Riley’s sister Angie is making a name in the Lower East Side with her new band, and now Riley is the black sheep of the family. Lona’s murky past appears to have been hiding an alarming proficiency for stalkerism, and Merissa and Ren will confront uncomfortable situations involving older men. But who is the “five” in THE NEW YORK FIVE?
The Last Unicorn – Peter S. Beagle, Peter Gillis (Adaptor), Renae De Liz (illustrator), Ray Dillon (illustrator)
Whimsical. Lyrical. Poignant. Adapted for the first time from the acclaimed and beloved novel by Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn is a tale for any age about the wonders of magic, the power of love, and the tragedy of loss. The unicorn, alone in her enchanted wood, discovers that she may be the last of her kind. Reluctant at first, she sets out on a journey to find her fellow unicorns, even if it means facing the terrifying anger of the Red Bull and malignant evil of the king who wields his power. Adapted by Peter B. Gillis and lushly illustrated by Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon
Dancer – Nathan Edmondson (Writer), Nic Klein (Artist)
The multiple sell-out miniseries from the writer of WHO IS JAKE ELLIS? and the artist of VIKING, DANCER is the story of a retired assassin who must protect his ballerina love from a sniper stalking them both through the back alleys of a wintry Europe.
FAIREST has explored the secret histories of the most stunning beauties in Fabletown: Cinderella, Snow White, Briar Rose, Rapunzel, and the list goes on and on. In FAIREST IN ALL THE LAND, the best names in comics take their turns fleshing out the pasts of the loveliest Fables in existence. For all those wanting to dive into FAIREST or FABLES, this original graphic novel is a fantastic entry point, as well as a great new chapter for those that have been following Bill Willingham’s fairy tale epic for years.
Pretty Deadly Volume One: The Shrike – Kelly Sue Deconnick; Emma Rios
KELLY SUE DeCONNICK (Avengers Assemble, Captain Marvel) and EMMA RÍOS (Dr. Strange, Osborn) present the collected opening arc of their surprise-hit series that marries the magical realism of Sandman with the western brutality of Preacher. Death’s daughter rides the wind on a horse made of smoke and her face bears the skull marks of her father. Her origin story is a tale of retribution as beautifully lush as it is unflinchingly savage.
Rose and Isabel – Ted Mathot
Bizarrely, Goodreads hardly has any information on this book! Not even a synopsis!
Here’s a review on Part-time Fanboy in case you’re interested!
The year is 1864.
In the ravaged and violent landscape of the American Civil War, two sisters from the Callaghan family of Virginia search to find their three brothers, soldiers who have gone missing while fighting for the Union army.
The Big Skinny: How I Changed My Fattitude – Carol Lay
Here’s the skinny: After a lifetime of yo-yo dieting with pills, hypnosis, and ill-informed half-measures, Carol Lay finally shed her excess pounds and kept them off. Now this California cartoonist shares her experiences in a funny, genuine, and eye-popping graphic memoir that tells Carol’s story and shows you how you can do it, too.
Of course when it rains it pours, a few of my library e-book holds came in too!
Dept. of Speculation – Jenny Offill
Also on the Tournament of Books shortlist. This one I’m really looking forward to! And just realized that it’s a rather short book at just 182 pages!
Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all.
Jenny Offill’s heroine, referred to in these pages as simply “the wife,” once exchanged love letters with her husband, postmarked Dept. of Speculation, their code name for all the uncertainty that inheres in life and in the strangely fluid confines of a long relationship. As they confront an array of common catastrophes—a colicky baby, bedbugs, a faltering marriage, stalled ambitions—the wife analyzes her predicament, invoking everything from Keats and Kafka to the thought experiments of the Stoics to the lessons of doomed Russian cosmonauts. She muses on the consuming, capacious experience of maternal love, and the near total destruction of the self that ensues from it, as she confronts the friction between domestic life and the seductions and demands of art.
With cool precision, in language that shimmers with rage and wit and fierce longing, Jenny Offill has crafted an exquisitely suspenseful love story that has the velocity of a train hurtling through the night at top speed. Exceptionally lean and compact, Dept. of Speculation can be read in a single sitting, but there are enough bracing emotional insights in these pages to fill a much longer novel.
The Book of Strange New Things – Michel Faber
It begins with Peter, a devoted man of faith, as he is called to the mission of a lifetime, one that takes him galaxies away from his wife, Bea. Peter becomes immersed in the mysteries of an astonishing new environment, overseen by an enigmatic corporation known only as USIC. His work introduces him to a seemingly friendly native population struggling with a dangerous illness and hungry for Peter’s teachings—his Bible is their “book of strange new things.” But Peter is rattled when Bea’s letters from home become increasingly desperate: typhoons and earthquakes are devastating whole countries, and governments are crumbling. Bea’s faith, once the guiding light of their lives, begins to falter.
Suddenly, a separation measured by an otherworldly distance, and defined both by one newly discovered world and another in a state of collapse, is threatened by an ever-widening gulf that is much less quantifiable. While Peter is reconciling the needs of his congregation with the desires of his strange employer, Bea is struggling for survival. Their trials lay bare a profound meditation on faith, love tested beyond endurance, and our responsibility to those closest to us.
Marked by the same bravura storytelling and precise language that made The Crimson Petal and the White such an international success, The Book of Strange New Things is extraordinary, mesmerizing, and replete with emotional complexity and genuine pathos
Have you read any of these books?? What did you get from your library this week?