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  • Joel Cunningham 3:30 pm on 2014/09/04 Permalink
    Tags: , cover her face p.d. james, diana wynne jones, donna tart, , , , , mean streak, michael ende, percy jackson's greek gods, , , , , , , the never-ending story, ,   

    What to Read Next if You Liked The Long Way Home, Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, Mean Streak, The Secret Place, or The Magician’s Land 

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    What to Read 94The Long Way Home, by Louise Penny, is the 10th volume in the best-selling mystery series featuring Armand Gamache, the (now former) head homicide inspector with the Sûreté du Québec. Penny’s mysteries offer up an addictive blend of literary prose and classic mystery tropes. The style will appeal to fans of P.D. James, the Grand Dame of British mystery writers, whose most popular books feature London Chief-Inspector Adam Dalgliesh. The 14-book series begins with the author’s evergreen 1962 debut, Cover Her Face.

    Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, by Rick Riordan, isn’t the next novel in the popular YA adventure series, but more of a reference book that covers all of the major players in the ethereal realm, as narrated by wiseacre Percy. For this kind of thing done to perfection, Diana Wynne Jones’ The Tough Guide to Fantasyland is nigh-indispensable. Written in the form of a tourist guidebook, it smartly (and smart-aleck-ly) unpacks the cliches of the fantasy genre with razor wit. Sample entry: “APOSTROPHES: Few names in the fantasy realm are considered complete unless they are interrupted by an apostrophe somewhere in the middle.”

    Mean Streak, by Sandra Brown, is a breathless romantic thriller about a woman who is kidnapped, only to discover that her captor may have rescued her from the real danger she faces from the ones she trusts most. For another suspense yarn that manages to meld sex and Stockholm Syndrome, pick up Wild Orchids, by Karen Robards, in which a woman is held hostage but later makes the curious decision to leave her family behind and hunt down the man that imprisoned her.

    The forthcoming The Secret Place, by Tana French, continues the Dublin Murder Squad series, the landmark literary mysteries that began with In the Woods. French’s novels are known for their rich characters, ambiguous plotting, and well-crafted prose, all qualities you’ll find in spades in The Little Friend, by Donna Tartt. Sandwiched between a supernova debut like The Secret History and the Pulitzer-winning The Goldfinch, Tartt’s sophomore outing has been unjustly overshadowed as of late, but you should really give it a chance. Its palpable Southern atmosphere and young female protagonist provide a good approximation of what might happen if a murder mystery broke out in the middle of To Kill a Mockingbird.

    The Magician’s Land, by Lev Grossman, concludes a brilliant trilogy about a disenchanted young man who finds out that magic is real, and so is the fantasy world described in his favorite childhood stories—but each is both less and more fantastical (and far darker) than he ever imagined. Though ostensibly written for children, The Neverending Story, by Michael Ende, tackles similarly juicy material, probing what value there is to be found in living vicariously through stories. I love the ’80s movie as much as anyone (FIGHT AGAINST THE SADNESS, ARTAX!), but the book is leagues better.

    Have you read The Long Way Home, Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, or Mean Streak?

  • Joel Cunningham 4:24 pm on 2014/08/28 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , donald harington, donna tart, , in the kingdom of ice, jan karon, , , lightning bug, little children, , somewhere safe with somebody good, , , the terror, ,   

    What to Read Next If You Liked Paper Towns, The Goldfinch, Big Little Lies, In the Kingdom of Ice, or Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good 

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    What to ReadPaper Towns, by John Green, has practically everything you could want in a YA novel: a mystery, a revenge plot, an epic road trip, and unrequited love. I say “practically everything,” because what it lacks, of course, is a screaming case of Mad Cow Disease. For that, you’ll have to turn to Going Bovine, by Libba Bray, winner of the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award. It’s a hilarious, surreal coming-of-age story about a boy with a weird terminal illness who hits the road with a punk-rocker and a lawn gnome for one last hurrah.

    The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt, is the year’s biggest bildungsroman, a character-focused mystery in the best Dickensian sense. Though it doesn’t have quite the sweep of Tartt’s Pulitzer Prize-winner, Carol Rifka Brunt’s Tell the Wolves I’m Home tells an equally moving story of love and loss, following the journey of 14-year-old June Elbus to come to grips with the death of her beloved uncle after learning he wasn’t entirely the man she thought she knew.

    In Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty explores the darker side of suburban life, following the intersecting lives of three women in a well-off community whose children all attend the same preschool, and all of whom have told lies both big and little to cover up some scandalous secrets (the women, not the kids…the kids don’t seem to be hiding anything nefarious). For another twisted take on parents suffering through a midlife crisis, Little Children, by Tom Perrotta, offers a master class in the subject, tracking the fallout from the affairs (and affairs) of a couple trapped in a hermetically sealed marriage within a hermetically sealed upper-class neighborhood.

    In the Kingdom of Ice, by Hampton Sides, offers a thrilling, (literally) chilling, true-life account of an ill-fated 19th-century expedition to the North Pole. For a wickedly fictionalized take on a similar historical tragedy, grab a blanket and a copy of The Terror, by Dan Simmons. An arctic voyage to force the Northwest Passage goes from bad to worse when the HMS Terror is trapped in uncharted frozen waters and, already weak from scurvy and fatigue, the crew members discover they may not be alone on the ice.

    After a nine-year wait, Jan Karon finally returns to the sleepy, fictional North Carolina community of Mitford in Somewhere Safe with Somebody Good, offering up another slice of downhome comfort food for her longtime fans. If you’re looking for another series of books that explores the ins and outs of small-town life, the late Donald Harington’s woefully under-read Stay More novels, which chronicle the history of a postage stamp of a town in the Ozarks, offer an invaluable literary experience, reminiscent of the best of John Irving. The series starts with 1970′s Lightning Bug.

    Have you read Paper Towns, The Goldfinch, Little Big Lies, or In the Kingdom of Ice?

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