Friday, June 18, 2010

A Cup of Sugar for June

Welcome to "A Cup Of Sugar". We're borrowing a few reviews from our neighbors at Tattered Cover to make something that we hope everyone will like. So dig in to the treats they've helped us make here; they've come up with some delicious reviews.

Lean on Pete, by Willy Vlautin, $13.99 paperback, HarperCollins
In Willy Vlautin's latest novel, he takes us into the forgotten Northwest: the deserts of Oregon and Washington and into the heart of another run-down life. This time it's 15-year Charley Thompson. His home life isn't much to speak of, and his work life isn't much either. While working at a run-down racetrack on the outskirts of Portland, Charley befriends Pete, a workhorse being run to death. When Charley's life becomes desperate, he makes a last ditch effort to save both himself and Pete. Vlautin's writing is perfect: spare, heartbroken and honest. How Vlautin manages to find the most down-trodden characters in the forgotten parts of America and provide them (and luckily us) with just enough hope to keep on going is what makes me want to read more by him. This book takes a detour to Denver, which was quite a fun bit, as Charley spends quite a few sad nights on Colfax... at Pete's, at the Lion's Lair, at the Bluebird... --recommended by Joe

The Passage, by Justin Cronin, $27.00, hardcover, Random House
This book is a modern day Frankenstein tale -- literary science fiction on an epic scale.
You may have heard that it is a vampire book, which is only vaguely true. This is more
of an outbreak book, that involves a virus that can mutate people into a sort of vampire
like creature, most often called "Virals" or "Smokes." It began as a very convert
government project using death row prisoners, high up in the Colorado mountains. Except the monsters they created were far, far smarter than their inventors could ever have dreamed of. While the Virals are the constant threat, the real story lies in how the
humans try to adapt to a rapidly changing world where they are an isolated minority and
prey to the creations of "science." This book is reminiscent of Stephen King's The
Stand in its scope, diversity of slowly intertwining story lines, and bold look at
humans in crisis, as well as an overlying mystical quality to it that waxes and wanes
throughout the hundreds of pages of the book. This tale grips you hard and won't let you go. I was literally exhausted when I finished reading it because I lived every moment with those people--Cronin's story telling ability is mesmerizing. -- recommended by Jackie

Day for Night, by Frederick Reiken, $24.99, hardcover, Little, Brown
This is an intelligent, skillfully written, sometimes complex and challenging novel that invites the reader into an awareness of the myriad ways we are connected. In ways we know of but don't full understand; in ways we may only be dimly aware of. It's about
families, past and present, and families to come. There is heart in this novel, as well as questions to ponder. "We are complicit in all we see and comprehend that what we see will never coincide with absolute reality." It's a book I might read twice, just to enjoy the masterful ways he weaves the stories together, as well as to wonder along with him about the narratives that make up our lives. -- recommended by Linda

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