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Nerdy Special List June 2018

June 11, 2018 – 10:01 pm | 2 Comments

Summer is here so that means packing 5 books for every 1 day of vacation you take, right? Consider stuffing the following titles into your over-the-weight-limit bags!
Jen at Brown Dog Solutions recommends:
Us Against You by Fredrik Backman …

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Nerdy Special List May 2018

May 14, 2018 – 6:49 pm | 4 Comments

Even though it’s not summer yet, I was inundated with May books that seem intended to be read in one sitting, as if we’re on vacation or something. And if we’re not, we’ll just have to say bye-bye to sleep. We had so many good books, Mr. PCN wanted to jump in with his own recommendation.

I’mma shut up now so y’all can start reading the following pronto.

Rory at Fourth Street Review recommends:

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner (Scribner, May 1)

Romy isn’t quite sure where she went wrong. Now serving two consecutive life sentences, Romy examines her choices, starting in her wild and neglected childhood, and how her choices may not have been choices at all.

Rachel Kushner’s The Mars Room is a remarkable novel about life in prison, life leading up to prison, and those that cross the path of prisoners—fellow inmates, a well-meaning GED teacher, police officers, and lawyers involved in the justice system.

It’s difficult to do justice in so few words to this hard, humane novel, but it’s a thoughtful, nuanced story of the circumstances that make up an entire life.

Buy it now

Lauren at Malcolm Avenue Review recommends:

Amateur Hour: Motherhood in Essays and Swear Words by Kimberly Harrington (Harper Perennial, May 1)

I admit it—I was sucked in by the promise of swearing. But there is much more to Kimberly Harrington’s essays than motherhood and swearing, and you don’t have to be a mother or a swearer to enjoy the hell out of them.

Harrington is caustically funny, and her satirical pieces are spot on. Her more serious essays, however, are where she truly shines. The order of the pieces seems to have been done by Satan, as a hilarious piece on the rules of trying to write with kids at home (if there’s no blood, don’t interrupt) can be followed by a devastating essay on marital troubles.

Whether funny or serious-funny, Harrington bares her emotions and evokes the same from her reader. Smart and sarcastic, varied in form and substance, this collection is a true gem.

Buy it now

The Lonely Witness by William Boyle (Pegasus, May 8)

A young woman administering communion to house-bound parishioners sends her already spinning life off on a dangerous trajectory when she begins following a mysterious man.

Elderly Mrs. Epifano tells Amy Falconetti her caregiver’s son has recently been showing up in her place and hiding in Mrs. E’s bedroom. Amy can’t help but get involved, and it’s not the first time she’s trailed a potentially dangerous man.

The Lonely Witness‘s first half is a knockout character study, followed by a volatile, action-packed second half. Boyle’s love of character and place shines though in this gritty noir chock-full of ambiguous morality and loyalty.

Buy it now

Erin at In Real Life recommends:

How It Happened by Michael Koryta (Little, Brown, May 15)

How It Happened starts with a question: How did the young couple wind up dead? The answer appears simple to some, but leads to more questions at the dark heart of a rural Maine community.

FBI investigator Rob Barrett is all in to find answers, but the more he searches, the further he seems to get from the truth, and as more people are pulled into the vortex of this mystery, it’s unclear whether we’ll ever know the answers.

This is Koryta’s masterful storytelling at its very best.
Buy it now

Guest recommendation from Mr. PCN:

He by John Connolly (Quercus, May 1)

The first page of this departure from Connolly’s Charlie Parker series is a photocopy of a Los Angeles court document. It signifies a name change from Arthur Stanley Jefferson to Stan Laurel. For the rest of the novel, Laurel, one half of the legendary comedic duo Laurel and (Oliver) Hardy, is referred to only as He.

In short, poetic chapters, Connolly reveals a complicated artist journeying from vaudeville to silent film to starring in talking pictures. Laurel’s contemporaries included Buster Keaton, Fatty Arbuckle, and the great Charlie Chaplin, which should solidify this novel as a film archivist’s dream.

Thanks to Connolly’s ability to peel back the layers of a person, fictional or otherwise, this story of good, bad, and necessary choices speaks to the triumphs and heartbreaks experienced by everyone treading this stage called life.

Buy it now

PCN recommends:

Calypso by David Sedaris (Little, Brown, May 29)

My favorite humor essayist is back with this collection that finds him musing on mortality, as he’s nearing the age his mother died of cancer, and still processing the suicide of his sister Tiffany.

But if anyone can make you laugh about death, it’s Sedaris, who writes about family vacations at the beach house he bought (which he named the Sea Section), shopping for clothes with his sisters Gretchen and Amy (“Everything looks as if it has been pulled from the evidence rack at a murder trial”), and struggling with his softening feelings toward his ninetysomething father, with whom Sedaris has always had a difficult relationship.

Laughter may not solve everything, but Sedaris shows it sure can help make life more tolerable.

Buy it now

What are you excited to read this month?

Weekend Watching: KILLING EVE, A QUIET PLACE & BLOCKERS

April 8, 2018 – 7:54 pm | 4 Comments
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I had a lazy weekend—well, lazier than usual—and ended up watching lots of TV and movies. Good thing they were mostly entertaining. Here are some brief thoughts on the ones worth mentioning.
Killing Eve

I’ve been salivating …

Book Review: RED CLOCKS by Leni Zumas

February 28, 2018 – 1:20 am | One Comment
red clocks

This review is by contributor Thuy Dinh, coeditor of the literary online magazine Da Mau.
In Leni Zumas’s lyrical yet unsparing novel, red clocks symbolize the identity crises, haunting wombs, ticking time bombs of five female …

Book Review: THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED by Mick Herron

February 23, 2018 – 12:07 am | One Comment
this is what happened

Mick Herron’s standalone This Is What Happened begins in medias res, with 26-year-old Maggie Barnes hiding in a bathroom in a high-rise building during a dangerous spy mission.
Until recently, she was working in the corporate …

Nerdy Special List February 2018

February 15, 2018 – 11:42 pm | One Comment
sunburn

It’s Friday before a long holiday weekend for some. And after yet another school shooting.
When I’m heartsick, I turn to books to save me, and they always do.
Here are this month’s recommendations.
From Jen at Brown Dog …

Nerdy Special List January 2018

January 12, 2018 – 12:33 am | One Comment
chalk man

Hello, how is everyone? You’re all looking wonderful and that outfit totally suits you.
I hid from the internet for about 3 weeks over the holidays because I wanted to reclaim my mind space. Choose what …

Favorite Reads of 2017

December 8, 2017 – 11:46 pm | One Comment
IMG_4426 2

Though 2017 has been in the rearview mirror for almost a month, with skid marks I left on my way out, I wanted to look back to review my reading stats. Last year was rich for …

Nerdy Special End-of-Year List 2017

December 8, 2017 – 1:36 am | 4 Comments
9781501154591

While all the TV shows and commercials are depicting snow, here in L.A. it’s raining ash and debris. Happy holidays!
Because a smoke advisory is in effect, I have to stay inside and read. Luckily, cabin fever …

Mini Movie Reviews: Holiday Season 2017

November 26, 2017 – 9:41 pm | 2 Comments
Screen Shot 2017-11-26 at 7.13.34 PM

Hope you had a wonderful weekend! My Thanksgiving was nice and relaxing and the only drama occurred onscreen, with my trying to catch up on movies being touted as award contenders. If you’re wondering what …

Movie Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE

November 16, 2017 – 3:44 pm | 3 Comments
JLeague

I’ve been attending lots of award-season screenings and am behind in reviews, so I’ll do some in this format. Below are my quick thoughts on Justice League.
What you want to know up front: I liked …

Nerdy Special List November 2017

November 7, 2017 – 8:50 pm | 4 Comments
woman in camphor trunk

It blows my mind Thanksgiving is in a couple of weeks and Christmas is next month—I’m still wearing shorts!—but this is my favorite time of year so I say bring on the holidays. With time off, …

Book Review: THE CHILD FINDER by Rene Denfeld

October 18, 2017 – 8:47 pm | One Comment
child finder

As the titular character in Rene Denfeld’s The Child Finder, Naomi does exactly what her job description says: find missing children. Madison disappeared three years earlier, at the age of five, and her parents have …

This is Spinal Crack: Joe Ide’s RIGHTEOUS

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

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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