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This is Spinal Crack: Joe Ide’s RIGHTEOUS

October 15, 2017 – 10:14 pm | 4 Comments

Here we are doing another Spinal Crack chat already. Lauren and I are shocked it didn’t take us another 1.5 years.
We were motivated by a book we both loved, Joe Ide’s Righteous (out Oct. 17), the …

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Nerdy Special List October 2017

October 6, 2017 – 12:52 am | 2 Comments

October is one of my favorite months. The leaves change colors—well, not in L.A. but back east in pictures from family. The weather is cooler so I don’t have to sweat my back off every day, and we have Halloween, when I can laugh at people’s costumes and eat all the leftover candy.

And then there are fall books. October has such strong releases that even after three of us fought over the same book (Joe Ide’s Righteous; Erin won the wrestling match), we had no shortage of other titles to recommend.

Read on for this month’s picks.

From Jen at Brown Dog Solutions:

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash (William Morrow, October 3)

Wiley Cash’s third novel is based on the story of Ella May Wiggins, a white woman working in an integrated North Carolina textile mill. Wiggins works nights six days a week—approximately 70 hours—and earns nine dollars. Abandoned by her husband with four small children, Wiggins has very few options if she wants her family to survive.

When she learns about a union rally in a nearby town, she risks everything and attends on her only day off. Her personal story and singing talent grab the attention of the union organizers, and she soon finds herself the poster child for the movement.

Cash’s rich sense of place, enthralling narrative, and compassion make The Last Ballad a wonderful reading experience. The illustrations of early union efforts remind us of the sacrifices that were made to build the United States into the country it is today. Relating it to current events only makes the themes all the stronger. Another winner for Cash.

Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi (Razorbill, October 31)

Debut author Tochi Onyebuchi has created a profoundly gripping fantasy world, using influence from Nigerian folklore and the age-old, universal idea of haves and have-nots.

In this world, there are the powerful mages who can extract sin from people in the form of beasts, and aki who are needed to kill and eat the sin once it’s been withdrawn. The aki then bear the burden of the sin, in their hearts, minds, and on their skin in the form of tattoos.

Taj is a cocky young aki who gets tangled in a sinister plot to destroy his homeland. He must team up with a young mage to defeat the evil forces and protect his loved ones. Beasts Made of Night is brilliant and intense. It touches on powerful themes like justice, inequality, and family. And it unhooked this fantasy skeptic from her stronghold on reality and delivered her into an amazing realm of magic and wonder.

From Erin at In Real Life:

Righteous by Joe Ide (Mulholland Books, October 17)

What do ruthless Chinese gangsters, a loan shark with a horrific past, a beautiful lawyer, and a DJ have in common? They’re all part of the case Isaiah Quintabe investigates in Joe Ide’s impressive sophomore novel.

IQ heads to Las Vegas on a case that is close to his heart, while also investigating his brother’s death ten years earlier. Ide balances mystery, action, humor, and danger perfectly, and has a singular ability to create a cast of characters as engaging and fascinating as any you’ll meet, and the cases IQ investigates are worthy of his skills.

From Lauren at Malcolm Avenue Review:

The Dirty Book Club by Lisi Harrison (Gallery Books, October 10)

In 1962, Gloria Golden and three twentysomething girlfriends live by Prim: A Modern Woman’s Guide to Manners. Then, at a monthly potluck, over martinis and Neil Sedaka on the hi-fi, they explore a copy of The Housewife’s Handbook to Selective Promiscuity.

For the next 54 years, the group meets to secretly discuss evocative books, pushing the boundaries of their truths and repressions. Their fabulous history is the background for a new generation when Gloria’s gang passes the club on to four young women who hardly know each other and sometimes don’t even like each other.

Though filled with ribald humor and infused with a fantastic Golden Girls/Maude vibe, there is plenty of substance as well. Funny and warm, smart and sassy, it’s an all-around satisfying read.

Where the Sun Shines Out by Kevin Catalano (Skyhorse Publishing, October 17)

My tagline when I recommend this debut, and I’ve been doing that quite a bit lately, is “Gird your loins.” It’s not for the faint of heart, but man, is it worth the pain if you’re a fan of grit-lit.

Two young brothers are abducted in a gut-clenching opening and only one returns alive to their small hometown in New York. The impact on the surviving brother, his family, other members of the town, and the town at large are explored in depth over ten interrelated stories that strip life to its core and then probe it with a red-hot poker. This is never done for the sake of shock value, but always in furtherance of the characters and story.

If, like me, you’re a lover of great writing that pushes your comfort zone, look no further. As an added bonus, the cover is glorious.

From Patti at Patti’s Pens & Picks:

Breach of Containment: A Central Corps Novel by Elizabeth Bonesteel (Harper Voyager, October 17)

This is the third in a science-fiction series, and I am loving them!

After Elena Shaw has left Central Corps, she’s working as an engineer for a commercial shipping vessel. She meets up with her former ship and shipmates after a disastrous delivery on a planet that added more problems.

There are space rescues, tense communications, and Elena’s reunion with her ship, but with a corporation trying to rule the galaxy, will reunions save it?

While this is part of a series, this strong and page-turning story stands alone.

PCN’s recommendation:

We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union (Dey Street, October 17)

Whether or not you’re already a fan of Union’s screen work, you’ll likely want to be friends—or at least have drinks—with the actress after reading this collection of personal essays. She is funny, whip smart, and unafraid to make herself look ridiculous, like in detailing the home remedy she tried for her yeast infection to avoid being seen buying Monistat.

But as I was still laughing, she ripped me to shreds with the account of her rape at 19. And about her wearing mittens in her mostly white Chicago neighborhood because “thugs don’t wear mittens.” Union has faced obstacles but she’s a survivor, and readers will find her strength and sense of humor inspiring.

Which October releases are you excited about?

Text, Don’t Call: An Illustrated Guide to the Introverted Life

September 27, 2017 – 1:11 am | One Comment
text don't call

Being an INFJ (the rarest personality type), I was happy to come across this book. The following review appeared originally in Shelf Awareness for Readers and is reprinted here with permission.
Twenty years ago, as illustrator and …

Nerdy Special List August 2017

August 7, 2017 – 1:37 am | 7 Comments
the blinds

Summer is almost over and I’m relieved because I’m melting. But I’ve had more excellent reads this summer than I did in the past few years, and many of the standout books are August releases.
Here are our recommendations this …


July 19, 2017 – 11:53 pm | 7 Comments

I was in a bad reading slump recently. Picked up six novels and put them all back down after reading only the opening paragraphs. Nothing pulled me into its world, or introduced me to characters I …

Nerdy Special List July 2017

July 6, 2017 – 11:41 pm | 2 Comments
beautiful, terrible thing

Oh, man, it’s been so hot here, I’m tempted to run down the street naked and dive into random sprinklers. Mr. PCN said the neighbors would just think it’s a regular Friday.
The other day, I was reading …

Book Review: THE LIGHT WE LOST by Jill Santopolo

June 13, 2017 – 8:43 pm | One Comment
light we lost

Lucy and Gabe met as Columbia University students on 9/11, when emotions were running high and “our shields were down.” After spending a very intense day together, however, Gabe reunites with an ex, and Lucy …

Nerdy Special List June 2017

June 8, 2017 – 9:13 pm | 2 Comments
the child

School’s out and summer has started, which means lazy days—or in my case, lazier days. I blame it on the heat. And laziness.
But there’s one activity I’ll always do a lot of and that’s reading. The NSL contributors and …

Nerdy Special List May 2017–Take 2

May 8, 2017 – 12:44 pm | 4 Comments
where dead men meet

OK, let’s try this again. Earlier this post was unfinished but published without my knowledge or permission. While writing it, I experienced technical issues so I saved what I had and asked tech support to look into …

Nerdy Special List April 2017

April 10, 2017 – 6:34 pm | 4 Comments
cruel is the night

I’ll be having a birthday soon, which means I’ll have to confront something on my list of fears. This year’s challenge: spring cleaning. [Insert horror scream here.] I think I’ll read a book instead and hope the …


March 15, 2017 – 11:08 pm | One Comment

Does anyone need a refresher on the plot of this “tale as old as time”? The one about a girl whose kindness saves a selfish prince and his household from a curse? No? OK, great. I can jump straight into …

Book Review: DISTRESS SIGNALS by Catherine Ryan Howard

March 9, 2017 – 1:55 am | One Comment
distress signals

Catherine Ryan Howard’s Distress Signals—shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards’ Crime Novel of the Year after its UK release—opens with a man plunging off a cruise ship into dark waters, but readers will have to …

Nerdy Special List March 2017

March 7, 2017 – 1:18 am | 2 Comments
follow me down

March brings spring, and whoo boy, I could use some spring right now. Heavy rains (causing a tree to fall on a friend’s car—while she was in it) were rough, turning me into more of …

Oscars 2017: And the Winner for Biggest Flub Is…

February 27, 2017 – 2:49 am | 4 Comments
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Wow. I tuned into the Oscars hoping for at least one surprise and I got it, all right.
In case you’d bailed on the very long show and haven’t heard: the wrong best picture winner was announced (La …

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