Staff Reviews of this Week's New Releases
Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams (release date: July 11)
Goodreads Description:This series of short, fictional vignettes explores our day-to-day interactions with an ever-elusive and arbitrary God. It’s the Book of Common Prayer as seen through a looking glass—a powerfully vivid collection of seemingly random life moments. The figures that haunt these stories range from Kafka (talking to a fish) to the Aztecs, Tolstoy to Abraham and Sarah, O. J. Simpson to a pack of wolves. Most of Williams’s characters, however, are like the rest of us: anonymous strivers and bumblers who brush up against God in the least expected places or go searching for Him when He’s standing right there. The Lord shows up at a hot-dog-eating contest, a demolition derby, a formal gala, and a drugstore, where he’s in line to get a shingles vaccination. At turns comic and yearning, lyric and aphoristic, Ninety-Nine Stories of God serves as a pure distillation of one of our great artists.
Katherine's Review:(3 out of 5 stars) I wasn't sure what to expect from these stories when I started this book, but I have to say I was definitely intrigued while reading them. Each story is unique and varies in length with some being only one sentence. Most stories do not have God (or the Lord) directly in them and when he does make an appearance, it is often in some humorous way. I have never read anything written by Joy Williams before and will definitely pay attention when I hear her name again.
The Last One by Alexandra Oliva (release date: July 12)
Goodreads Description:She wanted an adventure. She never imagined it would go this far.
It begins with a reality TV show. Twelve contestants are sent into the woods to face challenges that will test the limits of their endurance. While they are out there, something terrible happens—but how widespread is the destruction, and has it occurred naturally or is it man-made? Cut off from society, the contestants know nothing of it. When one of them—a young woman the show’s producers call Zoo—stumbles across the devastation, she can imagine only that it is part of the game.
Alone and disoriented, Zoo is heavy with doubt regarding the life—and husband—she left behind, but she refuses to quit. Staggering countless miles across unfamiliar territory, Zoo must summon all her survival skills—and learn new ones as she goes.
Amanda's Review:(4 out of 5 stars) I devoured this book. The concept is interesting enough but I think for me the main character made it amazing. Zoo, Mae, Sam... She's a fully defined flawed human woman. I really bought into this character. Her experiences and reflections read as very authentic.
The writing is good enough for that "I forget I'm reading and just drop into the story effect" which is all I'm really looking for. There were a few times that the elegance of an idea brought me out of it and made me re-read and mull over what I had just read.
I was pleasantly surprised by this ARC that I just picked up on a whim.
Katherine's Review:(4 out of 5 stars) I really enjoyed this book. The author does a fantastic job of drawing you into the story and making you invested in the outcome for the main character. Definitely a page turner!
The Invoice by Jonas Karlsson (release date: July 12)
A passionate film buff, our hero’s life revolves around his part-time job at a video store, the company of a few precious friends, and a daily routine that more often than not concludes with pizza and movie in his treasured small space in Stockholm. When he receives an astronomical invoice from a random national bureaucratic agency, everything will tumble into madness as he calls the hotline night and day to find out why he is the recipient of the largest bill in the entire country.
What is the price of a cherished memory? How much would you pay for a beautiful summer day? How will our carefree idealist, who is content with so little and has no chance of paying it back, find a way out of this mess? All these questions pull you through The Invoice and prove once again that Jonas Karlsson is simply a master of entertaining, intelligent, and life-affirming work.
Katherine's Review:(5 out of 5 stars) Wow. I loved this book! It made me think. Now that I've finished it, I want everyone else to read it too so that I can talk about it. What would happen if we were charged money for being happy and for positive experiences? How much is happiness worth? I really enjoy books in which I am presented with an outlandish idea and then I get to see how it all plays out. This book is quirky and unusual and I think if it were read in a book club there would be a lot to discuss.
Jill's Review:(4 out of 5 stars) The Invoice is a journey of self discovery which we take right along with the main character. What is more important for our happiness? Reality or perception? Is it more important if their hands really touched or is it enough if we just believe they lightly touched?
An entertaining book with a satisfying ending.