The Best of 2017: Author Interviews and Favorite Reads

I stayed afloat during 2017 for one reason only, human connection between myself and authors I admire and falling into books that gave me hope, let me cry, and let me hide between calls (all the calls) to my congressmen, fighting for my rights and the rights of others. Trying to hold extended family close to my heart when differences were tearing us apart, and generally trying not to slip into apathy and resignation was a full-time job. Here are just a few of the interviews and books that kept me afloat (click on author interviews in the blog menu for even more). May they encourage, shelter, challenge, and set you an a strong course for the coming year.

Happy Reading!!

Interviews:

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Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of the Esa Khattak/Rachel Getty mystery series and the new fantasy, The Bloodprint, talks generational trauma, revenge, and healing across time and continents.

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Rafi Mittlefehldt, author of the gorgeous YA coming of age novel, It Looks Like This, talks family connections, religious rifts, and the danger and survival of belonging.

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Dorit Rabinyan, international bestselling author of All the Rivers, talks integrating visual art into a narrative and finding other’s humanity admist chaos.

Some Favorite Reads:

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Mothers, Tell Your Daughersby Bonnie Jo Campbell (Short stories about families, rural life, and the truths we hide from ourselves)

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Under the Udala Trees by Chinelo Okparanta (a young girl explores her identity as a lesbian in Nigeria while trying to maintain the powerful connection with her mother and society)

The Art of Waiting by Belle Boggs (essays on infertility, family, sociology, and the inter workings of the human heart)

Family is Complicated

mothers tell your daughtersFor some the word mother is comfort. For some it is fear. For some it is heartbreak. For many of us it is all of those things at the same time and then some. In this searing collection of short stories, Bonnie Jo Campbell lets us into the lives of mothers, daughters, grandparents, sisters, husbands, kids and all the people who make up our modern families who are trying to survive as best they can. Taking an unflinching view at post-industrial America, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters is a collection of voices that will stay with you long after the story is over. Continue reading “Family is Complicated”

99 Puzzles to Solve

NinetyNineStoriesAboutGod Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Joy Williams returns with a lightning bolt collection of flash fiction. Each piece is numbered and named and explores the human connection and disconnection with God and the mysterious. This is devotional book for the intellectual, the searcher, and the brave.ninety-nine stories of God is fascinating, thought-provoking, amusing, and profound.

Whether God is in an animal’s fur we have carelessly stripped away or in a message from the universe for one who is grieving this book of stories and parables is in itself a meditation on belief and a journey into the mind of a writer and human who sees the world uniquely.

What I love most about William’s collection is that each story is something I am turning over and over in my mind like rocks in a tumbler, smoothing out the surface of the idea and yet wanting to continue to turn the crank to see what else I will find. As a new reader of Williams, I now want to read her previous works and the works that influenced her and the works she hates to understand her literary sensibilities.

Williams will be read forty years from now, as I am discovering her work forty years from when she started writing. The mark of a great. Continue reading “99 Puzzles to Solve”

But what if…

 

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Who should read this: fans of Choose Your Own Adventure, poets, nihilists, optimists, history nerds, musicians, and those searching for meaning in life

The story: A child dies shortly after birth, the same child lives to die in adulthood in a mass grave, the same woman, older, has to explain her life to survive, and so it goes on. Will she ever rest in peace? In a series of five books, the same character will die. Between each book is an intermezzo, a what-if, a turning of the die, chance intervenes, and the character lives on through European history spanning three wars, only one cold. With eloquence, the author creates five different lives, all lived by the same woman. Each voice is distinct, each life a new iteration of what was and what could be. The ultimate Choose Your Own Adventure for adults. Continue reading “But what if…”

Unlock the Surreal

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Take a trip into avant-guarde with this luminous collection of stories tenuously connected by keys. Sometimes it is best things are left locked, but in these stories, you will hope that the characters turn the lock, so you can see what might be. Modern fairy tales that read as stories and pieces of art come alive, echoes of surrealist painting, nightmares, and unknown worlds firmly grounded in the real will keep you spellbound. So much to discuss and so much to try to decipher, a literary fiction book club pick that mustn’t be missed. -BCA Continue reading “Unlock the Surreal”

Ten minutes to laughter…

American Housewife CoverCasual murders in a brownstone, deadly decorating wars, a reality show revolt, rehabilitating pageant kids who many or may not be willing, and a book club with unique benefits are just a few of the situations that Helen Ellis spins with sharp satire, leaving you laughing, groaning, and saying amen. Do not miss this collection of short, short stories. Addictive and stunningly spot-on, once you start you won’t be able to put it down. Begging to be shared, this little book is going to be one of this year’s big things. -Ms. Alderman

Helen graciously answered some questions for me! Just like her book, her answers left me laughing, thinking, and eagerly awaiting her next book! Read on for her frank talk on writing, feminism, and how to type with a cat who thinks it’s a parrot… Continue reading “Ten minutes to laughter…”