Five books to read in January 2016

Here are five fiction books to check out this month. I’ll try to add some non-fiction and different genres (maybe even some male writers) in future months.

January 2016

Mr. Splitfoot – Samantha Hunt (1/5)

Two timelines that deal with ghosts, secrets, and hidden treasure. Years ago, Ruth survives a horrendous foster home where she meets Nat. They become best friends, and eventually they hustle people by claiming to be mediums who can talk to dead loved ones. Eventually, Ruth shows back up and locates her long-lost niece Cora. She’s mute now, but convinces her adult niece to walk across upstate New York on a life-altering course where fact and fiction blends and the ghosts of haunted past come crashing back to reality. (My review. Plus an interview with her that I conducted.)

American Housewife: stories – Helen Ellis (1/12)

Satirical short stories about what it’s like to be a woman in America. The 12 short stories offer  humorous insight from anywhere ranging from pre-WWII Manhattan to reality television. There is a bite to the writing that can be overly sarcastic, but the writer gets her point across. Whether it be about a beauty pageant getaway or an epistolary story that reveals the deepest of secrets.

My Name is Lucy Barton – Elizabeth Strout (1/12)

The titular character is staying in the hospital after a surgery. The main narrative focuses on the time when her distant mother arrives to check on her. As the visits continue, the complicated history of Lucy’s life come into focus. We find out a lot in this short novel. Pulitzer Prize-winning Strout has proven she knows how to develop realistic and extraordinary characters, and continues to do so with this release.

The Portable Veblen – Elizabeth McKenzie (1/19)

Cultures clash in this story about a couple whose engagement might not last long enough to make it to the wedding day. Veblen is the daughter of overbearing parents and her life is anything but well planned out. She’s vastly adrift compared to her fiance. Paul, a rising neurologist, shouldn’t be successful if you look at his lineage. His parents were hippies and weren’t the best of parents. Now the two must navigate who they are and what love they want in the world.

Girl Through Glass – Sari Wilson (1/26)

A coming of age story set against the competitive and intense world of ballet dancing. An extraordinarily gifted 11-year-old dancer who becomes entangled with an enigmatic mentor. She works hard and obtains great skill at a cost she may not be willing to pay. Interspersed throughout the debut novel is a modern narrative of an adult dance instructor, whose life mirrors the past in more ways than one. (My review. Plus an interview with her that I conducted.)

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