The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances by Ellen Cooney was definitely a change from my normal reading. Seeing the word dog in the title of the book is what initially caught my eye, but once I started reading I soon realized this was not a cute little dog story, but a tender story of broken people and broken dogs and how they help one another. It took a few chapters to get into the book, but I soon discovered that dogs and humans really are very much alike.
The mathematician in the debut novel Mathematician’s Shiva is Rachela Karnokovitch, a fictional professor at the University of Wisconsin who was a Polish-born Soviet defector and formidable woman of intellect. This is an enjoyable book for those who like to read humorous and heartwarming stories with a Wisconsin connection. The story is told by her son Sasha as he looks back on the time in January 2001 when she died, and the family observed shiva, the Jewish custom of 7 days of mourning.
Summer is winding down and beach season is almost over. In a feeble attempt to hold on to those last days of summer I grabbed On the Rocks by Erin Duffy off of the new fiction shelves. The cover picture displays what looks like a tranquil afternoon spent on the beach, but this book was anything but tranquil. On the Rocks is a well written and highly amusing look at one woman's attempt to put her life back together after a very public breakup - via Facebook.
Sweetness #9 by Stephan Eirik Clark is a satirical debut novel about the food additives industry. In 1973 David is a young flavor chemist or flavorist hired by a big company to research an artificial sweetener called Sweetness #9. He notices that the lab rats and monkeys being fed Sweetness #9 are becoming obese and showing behavioral problems. Before he gets very far with his concerns, he is fired.
Being a true Southerner means keeping up appearances at all costs. As a result, many Southern couples put on pretenses and sometimes lead double lives. In The Stories We Tell by Patti Callahan Henry, Eve and Cooper Morrison are that golden couple, seemingly leading the ideal life as the cream of Savannah society. But, things are not always as they seem. This powerful novel about the value of truth focuses on the Morrison family and the one night that changed the dynamics of their family forever.
Here’s a debut novel for people who liked The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and the TV series BreakingBad. As in The Goldfinch, The Objects of Her Affection is set in the world of art and priceless antiques, and as in Breaking Bad, the main character turns to illegal activity to get money for her family. The story starts in 2005 and ends in 2007. Main character Sophie is married to Brian, a curator at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
The family saga first introduced in The Apple Orchard by Susan Wiggs continues in The Beekeeper's Ball, the second installment of the Bella Vista Chronicles. Former celebrated chef Isabel Johansen is opening a destination cooking school focusing on local produce and products at Bella Vista, her family estate in the sleepy Sonoma town of Archangel. Isabel is a reserved, organized woman and seems so together, but when renowned journalist Cormac "Mac" O'Neill arrives on the scene he certainly shakes things up.
Last year Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith was published and received great reviews. Then it was revealed the Galbraith was really J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. Rowling has shown that she can write mysteries as well as fantasy with the Cormoran Strike series under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith. The next book in the series after Cuckoo’s Calling is Silkworm and was recently published. This is a traditional hard-boiled procedural mystery. London P.I.
In the mood for some lighthearted poetry loaded with canine silliness? Classic Poetry for Dogs: Why Do I Chase Thee by Jessica Swaim will have you howling with laughter. This hilarious little book is a spoof on well-known poems from the point of view of canine authors like Elizabeth Basset Browning, William Shakespaw, Rover Frost, Edgar Allen Pug, and others. Some poems are a little bit naughty, but I suppose even sophisticated dogs enjoy down-to-earth humor.
The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is a touching story about people who love books and about the people they love. A.J. is a middle-aged widower who owns Island Books on Alice Island, MA. He is quirky and prickly and still grieving for his wife Nic who died in a car accident. Things are not going well for A.J. His meeting with Amelia Loman, the new representative for Knightly Press, ends badly with A.J. ranting about the current state of publishing.