ii. books to be read.

This is the second installation of five books I still haven’t read but should and definitely plan to. I know, I’m ashamed. Feel free to judge me. Here we go:

The Truth of All Things by Keiran Shields

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Blurb: When Deputy Marshal Archie Lean is called in to investigate a prostitute’s murder in Portland, Maine, he’s surprised to find the body laid out like a pentagram and pinned to the earth with a pitchfork. He’s even more surprised to learn that this death by “sticking” is a traditional method of killing a witch.
Baffled by the ritualized murder scene, Lean secretly enlists the help of historian Helen Prescott and brilliant criminalist Perceval Grey. Although skeptical of one another’s methods, together the detectives pursue the killer’s trail through postmortems and opium dens, into the spiritualist societies and lunatic asylums of gothic New England. Before the killer closes in on his final victim, they must decipher the secret pattern to these murders–a pattern hidden within the dark history of the Salem witch trials.

Note: I really love the title of this story; it speaks to me. Also, how cool is the author’s name? Keiran Shields. It sounds like the covert name of an international spy or something. Personally, if I was a leader of a Colombian drug cartel, I’d love to get killed by someone called Keiran Shields. I don’t know, that’s probably weird. Anyway, who doesn’t love a good ol’ detective story?

Something Missing by Matthew Dicks

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Blurb: A career criminal with OCD tendencies and a savant-like genius for bringing order to his crime scenes, Martin considers himself one of the best in the biz. After all, he’s been able to steal from the same people for years on end—virtually undetected. Of course, this could also be attributed to his unique business model—he takes only items that will go unnoticed by the homeowner. After all, who in their right mind would miss a roll of toilet paper here, a half-used bottle of maple syrup there, or even a rarely used piece of china buried deep within a dusty cabinet?

Even though he’s never met these homeowners, he’s spent hours in their houses, looking through their photo albums and reading their journals. In essence, Martin has developed a friendship of sorts with them and as such, he decides to interfere more in their lives—playing the part of a rather odd guardian angel—even though it means breaking many of his twitchy neurotic rules.

Along the way Martin not only improves the lives of others, but he also discovers love and finds that his own life is much better lived on the edge (at least some of the time) in this hilarious, suspenseful and often profound novel about a man used to planning every second of his life, suddenly forced to confront chaos and spontaneity.

Note: I am seeing a criminal/detective pattern here, which is quite odd since I don’t tend to lean that way. Anyway, this story seems like an interesting twist of guardian angel, thievery, and meddling in one another’s life.

The First True Lie by Marina Mander

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Blurb: Meet Luca, a curious young boy living with his mother, a taciturn woman who every now and then tries out a new father. Luca keeps to himself, his cat, Blue, and his favorite toys—words. One February morning his mom doesn’t wake up to bring him to school, so Luca—driven by a deep fear of being an orphan—decides to pretend to the world that his mom is still alive. At first it’s easy. Luca dresses himself for school, makes sure Blue gets his dinner, and manages to avoid nosy neighbors. He and Blue camp out in the living room and embark on imaginary expeditions to outer space, and Luca dreams about marrying his school crush, Antonella. Soon, however, the laundry starts piling up, the fridge emptying—and the smell of Mama’s decaying body begins to permate the apartment. 

As Luca grapples with what to do, we ultimately witness something much more poignant than the morbid circumstance—a young boy’s journey to the point at which he can say: “I am no longer an orphan. I am a single human being. It’s a matter of words.”

Note: As absolutely morbid as this sounds, I’m intriguid.

The Unthinkable Thoughts of Jacob Green by Joshua Braff

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BlurbIt’s 1977. Jacob Green, a Jewish kid from suburban New Jersey, sits on the stairs during his family’s housewarming party, waiting for his father, Abram–charming host, everyone’s best friend, and amateur emcee–to introduce him to the crowd. Housewarming parties, Annie Hall parties, and bar mitzvah parties punctuate Jacob’s childhood and require command performances by all the Green family members. But when the confetti settles and the drapes are drawn, the affable Abram Green becomes an egotistical tyrant whose emotional rages rupture the lives of his family.

Jacob doesn’t mean to disappoint his father, but he can’t help thinking the most unthinkable (and very funny) thoughts about public-school humiliation, Hebrew-school disinclination, and in-home sex education (with the live-in nanny!). If only his mother hadn’t started college at thirty-six (and fallen for her psychology professor). If only he were more like his rebellious older brother (suspended from Hebrew school for drawing the rabbi in a threesome with a lobster and a pig). If only Jacob could confront his overbearing father and tell him he doesn’t want to sing in synagogue, attend est classes, write the perfect thank-you note, or even live in the same house with Abram Green. But, of course, he can’t. That would be unthinkable.

This self-assured, comic, yet piercing first novel deftly captures the struggle of an imperfect boy trying to become a suitable son.

Note: This is a book I can’t say much about except that when I finally turn that last page and I’ll write a review here, I can’t hope but wonder what it’ll be like.

Hills like White Elephants by Ernest Hemingway

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Blurb: The story, told nearly in its entirety through dialogue, is a conversation between a young woman and a man waiting for a train in Spain. As they talk, it becomes clear that the young woman is pregnant and that the man wants her to have an abortion. Through their tight, brittle conversation, much is revealed about their personalities. At the same time, much about their relationship remains hidden. At the end of the story it is still unclear as to what decision has or has not been made, or what will happen to these two characters waiting for a train on a platform in Spain.

Note: It’s a short story, I know, but I still wanted to add it so I wouldn’t forget that THIS NEEDS TO BE READ.

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