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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Read These Books: Super Deluxe Edition

Awhile back I told you about All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld. Well since then, it's caught on like wildfire around here. What can I say, I have excellent taste (full disclosure, I was told to read this by a friend who read it, so really she should get all the credit). Robert, Katherine, and Mark B. have all read it and LOVED it.

Here's what I had to say about it:
If you're looking for a tidy little book, a book that ties up all its loose ends, fits all the puzzle pieces together, resolves every mysterious plot line...this is not the book for you. But who wants that anyway? Life isn't tidy, so this just feels more real. 

All the Birds, Singing is crammed full of hidden pasts, unraveling lives, and mysterious strangers. A bleak and wind-whipped British island is home to Jake Whyte, a solitary woman who raises sheep and keeps the locals as far away as she can. She's hiding something, and now her sheep are being hunted and mutilated, and Jake might be next. 

What makes this book impossible to put down is the unique structure Evie Wyld employs. In alternating chapters, between the the eerie present day mystery, she tells the story of Jake's secret past in the burning isolation of rural Australia. But these flashbacks run backwards in time, bringing the reader ever closer to the tragic secret that sets Jake's life spiraling out of her control. 

This is a dark but beautiful book that I just could not put down. Even a week after reading it, it's lingering on my mind. Plus, I really like a book title with punctuation in it.

And Mark seconds:
One of my favorite books in recent years. This is a page-turner to the nth degree with scenes that will burn a permanent place in you memories.

Most of us here have really different reading tastes, so it's not often that so many of us will like the same books. Imagine our surprise when it happened again, just a few weeks later. Now, this next book isn't actually out yet, so I'll be sure to remind you about it as its release date approaches. But, you really must read Station Eleven.

I never actually clarified this, but I heard that Robert had read and enjoyed Station Eleven, and since I have liked several of Robert's suggestions, I grabbed the first advance copy that turned up in the store.

I loved it. Then Mark read it and he stayed up til 4:30 one morning to finish it. And then Alex read it, and he can't stop talking about it.

And it is so good. It's post apocalypse, but really different than other dystopian novels I've read. I have a hard time describing it so I'll let the jacket copy tell you all that. Just know that it's smart and  beautifully written and you'll be tearing through it when it comes out September 9th.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. 

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them. 

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave. 

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

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