Saturday, December 31, 2011

Books Burning Holes in My Shelves

Thanks to the Christmas holidays, some generous bloggy friends, and some generous publishers, I have a stack of books burning a hole in my shelves!!! Many of my books have been boxed up and stored away for the last six months or so, and that part of my reading life has actually been really helpful. I can't spend too much time perusing endless choices when I only have 20 or so physical books to choose from and the stock of stuff on my e-reader. It streamlines the waffling, in other words.

Here are the books at the tippy top of my stacks really calling my name right now...

I've started The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa, and I've already bumped off 40 pages or so before a bitchin' headache bloomed. This was a gift from the lovely Nancy at Bookfoolery and Babble. She was kind enough to send along her copy when I mentioned wanting to read it recently. This one feels cozy and pleasant so far, and I can't wait to see where Ogawa takes the story. I'm also really impressed with the beautiful translation by Stephen Snyder.

BlurbHe is a brilliant math professor, with a peculiar problem — since a traumatic head injury, he has lived with only eighty minutes of short-term memory. She is an astute young housekeeper with a ten-year-old son who is hired to care for him. And between them a strange, beautiful relationship blossoms. Though the professor can hold new memories for only eighty minuets, his mind is still alive with elegant equations from the past; and through him, the numbers, in all of their articulate order, reveal a sheltering and poetic world to both the housekeeper and her son.

After I added Melissa Marr's Graveminder to my list of hopefuls for Christmas, I received it in the mail from the publisher! I'm pretty sure I had a CRS moment and forgot I'd requested it in the first place. Hmmphf! Either way, I'm glad to have it. This looks like a fun book when I'm in the mood for something light and paranormal. 

BlurbRebekkah Barrow never forgot the attention her grandmother Maylene bestowed upon the dead of Claysville, the small town where Bek spent her adolescence. There wasn't a funeral that Maylene didn't attend, and at each one Rebekkah watched as Maylene performed the same unusual ritual: She took three sips from a silver flask and spoke the words "Sleep well, and stay where I put you." Now Maylene is dead, and Bek must go back to the place she left a decade earlier. She soon discovers that Claysville is not just the sleepy town she remembers, and that Maylene had good reason for her odd traditions. It turns out that in Claysville the worlds of the living and the dead are dangerously connected; beneath the town lies a shadowy, lawless land ruled by the enigmatic Charles, aka Mr. D. If the dead are not properly cared for, they will come back to satiate themselves with food, drink, and stories from the land of the living. Only the Graveminder, by tradition a Barrow woman, and her Undertaker—in this case Byron Montgomery, with whom Bek shares a complicated past—can set things right once the dead begin to walk.

Tides of War by Stella Tillyard was another book provided by the publisher. I haven't had a chance to jump in, but reading the early pages of this one makes me think it's a promising read. I also enjoyed Wendy's review over at CaribousMom. I don't read enough sweeping historicals, and I think I'll be in the mood for this one really soon.

BlurbTides of War opens in England with the recently married, charmingly unconventional Harriet preparing to say goodbye to her husband, James, as he leaves to join the Duke of Wellington's troops in Spain. Harriet and James's interwoven stories of love and betrayal propel this sweeping and dramatic novel as it moves between Regency London on the cusp of modernity: a city in love with science, the machine, money, and the shocking violence of war in Spain. 

Ghost Light, by Joseph O'Connor, is yet another book I saw in a publisher's e-mail, and I jumped on it without hesitation. It looks a little dark and moody and maybe a little seedy in spots. Just the kind of historical novel I want to curl up with underneath the new quilt I received for Christmas.

BlurbA powerful and deeply moving masterpiece about love, partings and reconciliation — and of the courage involved in living on nobody else's terms. Dublin, 1907. A young actress begins an affair with a damaged older man, the leading playwright at the theatre where she works. Outspoken and flirtatious, Molly Allgood is a Catholic girl from the slums of Dublin, dreaming of stardom in America. Her lover, John Synge, is a troubled genius, whose life is hampered by convention and by the austere and God-fearing mother with whom he lives. Their affair, sternly opposed by friends and family, is quarrelsome, affectionate and tender. Many years later, Molly, now a poverty-stricken old woman, makes her way through London's bomb-scarred city streets, alone but for a snowdrift of memories. Her once dazzling has faded but her unquenchable passion for life has kept her afloat.

Finally, Wendy was kind enough to host a giveaway for The Marriage Artist, by Andrew Winer, and I've been itching to read it ever since it arrived. I've seen good reviews of it here and there in the blogosphere, and y'all know I'm a cover nut, and I like this one a lot. Not to mention the inclusion of art and scandal. Woohoo!

BlurbWhen the wife of renowned art critic Daniel Lichtmann plunges to her death, she is not alone. Lying next to her is Benjamin Wind, the very artist Daniel most championed. Dedicating himself to uncovering the secrets of their relationship, Daniel discovers a web of mysteries leading back to pre--World War II Vienna. Ambitious, haunting, and stunningly written, The Marriage Artist is an “elaborate psycho-political-sexual puzzle, with...hard truths, startling visions, and eerie insights into the mystical and memorializing powers of art, and that endless hunger we call love” (Booklist).

While these aren't the only books burning holes in my shelves, I did take the time to make a specific stack of books to read sooner rather than later. They've been sitting across from my favorite blogging spot for a while now, staring at me and mocking me. Little temptresses! 

Have you read any of these books? What books are calling out to you the loudest right now?

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