Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Mountains and Plans Booksellers' Recommendations: The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Wolf by Wolf and These Shallow Graves

I recently attended the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers' Trade Show where I got lots of wonderful recommendations for new books coming out in 2016.  However, I also was alerted to three new novels by favorite authors that have  recently been released.  The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness (The Chaos Walking Trilogy) is a satire of the "Chosen One" genre that focuses on the kids living normal lives while the Chosen Ones battle other worldly beings. Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin (The Walled City) is an alternate history fantasy which focuses on a shape-shifting concentration camp survivor in a world where Hitler won WWII. Finally, These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly ( A Northern Light and Revolution) is a turn-of-the-century murder mystery about an aspiring reporter investigating her father's death.

In Mikey's town the heroic "indie kids" have battled the undead, vampires, soul eating ghosts and are now trying to keep the Immortals from finding a vessel for their Empress to inhabit, so that they can take over the world.  Meanwhile, Mikey and his friends are just trying to get through senior year.  Mikey, whose dysfunctional family includes an alcoholic dad, a power hungry politician mom, and an anorexic sister, is struggling to overcome his OCD issues and get up the courage to ask his longtime crush Hanna to prom.  Each chapter opens with a brief description about the battle with the Immortals, but then switches to chronicling the trials and tribulations of being a "normal" kid amidst the chaos.  In The Rest of Us Just Live Here, Ness's parodies of the "Chosen Ones" novels are hilarious, with the underlying message being everyone is special in one way or another.

Wolf by Wolf, a story about Yael, a girl who survived Nazi concentration camps, imagines what would happen if Hitler won the war.  Yael, the Jewish subject of Nazi experimentation is now an Aryan looking girl who can shape-shift, assuming other people's identities.  A resistance fighter, Yael is charged with assuming the appearance of a cross-country motorcycle racer, Adele Wolf. Adele won the last Axis Tour, a global motorcycle race, and got to dance with Hitler.  Yael's plan is to pose as Adele, win the race, and kill Hitler during the victory dance.  She doesn't count on Adele's brother Felix accompanying her, nor her former lover Luka alternately helping her, then thwarting her plans. Can Yael keep her identity secret, win the race and carry out her plans?  The action in this alternate history fantasy is wonderfully fast paced, and the ambiguous, yet satisfying, ending will leave readers anxious for the sequel in the duo-logy.

In These Shallow Graves the year is 1890 and the only thing expected of Josephine Montfort is that she marry a suitable upper-class man and settle down; but Jo, an aspiring reporter, has other ideas. When her father dies of wounds supposedly suffered during a gun cleaning accident, Jo is determined to find the truth.  Enlisting the help of Eddie Gallagher, a reporter at her father's newspaper, she risks her reputation and searches for clues in the seamy underworld of NYC.  As Jo learns more about her family's sordid history, she struggles with family and societal expectations and her attraction to Eddie, who is an orphan and self-made man.  The suspense-filled story line moves forward with clues and revelations that keep the reader one step ahead of Jo, and the short chapters make this a satisfying page-turner.

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