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Thursday, March 27,2014

Book reviews: Notes from Neil

Some Spring Novels

by Neil Rajala

Thursday, Mar. 27 — I often start things off with a comment about the weather, but after this late-March week I'd rather change the subject. How about the NCAA basketball tournament? Nope, just looked at my bracket in shambles. How about books? Here's what we're reading:



ABOVE
Isla Morley

I'm going to take my best shot at it, but this is going to be a difficult book to review. There are just too many opportunities to offer spoilers with even the barest description of the plot. So allow me to walk on eggshells for a bit:

At 15, Blythe Hallowell is abducted by her school's librarian and imprisoned in an abandoned missile silo in rural Kansas. Her captor is a survivalist who has convinced himself that he's saving her from an impending global apocalypse. The author's description of Blythe's forced acceptance of her new underground world is effectively frightening and creepy. Reading what she goes through is as claustrophobic for the reader as it is for the main character. The ludicrous, clumsy attempts by her captor to convince her to see her new life as a good thing are frustrating, even infuriating. The title of the book is both a description of Blythe's dream of once again living above ground and in the sunlight, and an ominous hint that what she'd find by re-emerging wouldn't be the familiar (and familial) Kansas small-town life she left behind. A gripping and emotional book with many unexpected twists. kobo eBook



THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY
Gabrielle Zevin

This book is the hands-down winner when it comes to the most-read book by booksellers so far this year. Why? Because it's a truly surprising and moving novel about a bookstore owner, his family life and his customers.

The small Island Books on Alice Island off the east coast is the setting; A.J. Fikry is the widower who owns the store and has perfected his role as the island curmudgeon. A stolen rare book and a baby abandoned in the book store set the novel in motion, igniting new relationships and revealing truths about exisiting ones. The redemptive power of love, the healing bonds of community and (what hooked all of us in the biz) the joy of reading and sharing literature are what drive this exceptional story.  kobo eBook



SOUS CHEF: 24 HOURS ON THE LINE

Michael Gibney

Having once worked as a line cook in a busy restaurant or two, Mr. Gibney's hour-by-hour description of what that life is like was marvelously familiar and entertaining. I could empathize every step of the way with the pressure, the intensity, the heat and the barely controlled pandemonium of a restaurant's "backstage".

A question I was left with, though, is whether or not someone who has never been in that line of work would find the book as fascinating. Do folks who go out to enjoy a meal in a favorite restaurant really want to know what happens between the placing of the order and the arrival of the food, no matter how expertly it's described? Would a book this accurate and unflinching be too much like a favorite magic trick explained? I'd be curious to know what you think.
kobo eBook

The publishers are ramping up the release schedules lately. Tis the season. I'd love to hear about what you're reading and enjoying these days. What have I missed?

Until next week,


Neil

NeilNeil Rajala is Currently Director of Community & Business Services for Schuler Books, Neil's decade with the company has included the wearing of many different hats - and lots and lots of reading.

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