January Mini-Reviews

January Mini Reviews

1. Against the Country // Ben Metcalf. I tried to read this. Twice. I didn’t finish. Quite honestly, I’ve got nothing on this one. Except suicidal chickens. (I’m serious.)

Notable quote: “Town for me will forever remain a place where one put a bag of questionable design on one’s head for Halloween, and acquired what candy as the bag allowed, and vomited in surprise and fury the next morning on the filthy tile floor outside an aunt’s efficiency apartment, wherein slept a beloved infant cousin whose metal-toothed sire was unaccounted for an who would in time (the infant) grow up to burn down his high school and find steady if unsung work as an adjunct to the beef industry. My younger sister’s memories of town may be few but surely include the day the worse-off people around the corner, whose sole consolation in life appeared to be the fried-chicken dinner as area philanthropist stood them to once each week, leashed a mutt by means of a frayed electrical cord plugged into an outdoor socket, so that the entire neighborhood might hear the poor creature’s shrieks as it caught fire and perished. She has shown a fondness for almost all God’s animals since.”

Single line synopsis: It wasn’t for me, but it may be for you – although don’t fall for the promise of “a gift for fans of Southern Gothic and metafiction alike” (that it is not).

2. Descent // Tim Johnston. Out on a run one morning with her little brother, 18 year old Caitlin Courtland disappears and her little brother Sean is found badly injured. What happened? How do the Courtlands cope? Will they ever know the truth? Set in the Colorado Rocky Mountains, this is an intense thriller about what happens in the aftermath of one family’s tragedy.

Notable quote: “Long after everyone else has given up and gone home and gotten on with their lives, he would keep on believing because, without evidence, you could never kill his belief.”

Single line synopsis: A solid, intelligent thriller for fans of the genre and literary fiction alike.

3. Emma and Otto and Russell and James // Emma Hooper. Etta has never seen the ocean and sets out to walk to the eastern coast of Canada, leaving her husband Otto behind. Russell loves Etta, as does Otto. James is her companion of sorts. You’ll have to meet him for yourself.

Notable quote“People could say things about Owen. They could. But they don’t. We don’t. Words are strong. The strongest. Worse than bruises on gravel. Etta considered this. Things people had said, whispered, when Alma left. The deep and unexpected surge toward violence she’s felt. To throw her body in the way of the words.”

Single line synopsis: An odd, touching story about love, aging, and what haunts us – highly recommended.

What are the best books you’ve read this month?

12 thoughts on “January Mini-Reviews

  1. Oooh nice #CanLit representation! I pretty much just read The Luminaries. Slowly. It was good… not the greatest. I also read NW by Zadie Smith. She is the greatest.


  2. I can’t wait to read Etta and Otto- it’s on hold at the library. I have loved several books I read this month: Us Conductors, Girl Runner, The Stone Angel, And the Birds Rained Down, and Love Letters of the Angel of Death. It’s been a good month for me.


  3. Egads — suicidal chickens?? 🙂 I have been looking forward to Descent, and I will add Emma & Otto & Russell and James to my list.


  4. Thanks for these minis, very helpful. Can’t wait to get to Descent, have heard many good things. My favorite read of January (which I am sure will be on my best of 2015 list) was Animal Weapons by Doug Emlen. Non-fiction science and nature goodness that had me in giddy nerdvana. Also loved Jamie Mason’s Monday’s Lie, out next week.


  5. Really enjoyed this month Kamchatka by Marcelo Figueras a fine blend of storytelling in an interesting historical context, Argentina’s Dark Ages, not so many years ago.


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