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Thursday, 01 August 2013 09:59

The end is nigh Heaven's Fall'

Sci-fi trilogy reaches conclusion

There's a definite bittersweetness when a trilogy comes to an end. If you've been truly engaged by an overarching work of literature, seeing that work reach its conclusion while satisfying can make for a difficult goodbye.

The time has come to bid a fond farewell to a good one.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 24 July 2013 16:05

The sins of the father & Sons'

Novel explores the hidden truths of family and fiction

Tales of fathers and sons have a tendency to be a little overwrought. Family sagas have that built-in sense of melodrama that can sometimes overwhelm otherwise solid storytelling. Finding the line between big feelings and narrative clarity can be hard, but when that balance is struck, the results can be truly remarkable.

'& Sons' (Random House; $27) is one such remarkable result. It is both sweeping and subtle, a grand epic and intimate family portrait all rolled into one. Author David Gilbert offers a look at the consequences of greatness and the toll it can take both on one's family and one's self. 

Published in Buzz
Thursday, 11 July 2013 09:54

Monsters and meth Fiend'

Debut novel offers fresh take on zombies

As with any art form, trends play a big part in the literary realm. Whenever a genre or subject sees a surge in popularity, more and more authors jump into the fray. This is a mixed blessing at best; while some writers have something new and unique to add to a subject, many others are simply along for the ride, attempting to cash in on something that has achieved a certain level of cultural prominence.

The paranormal has seen such a surge in recent years. Wizards and vampires have had their respective moments in the sun, while a current pop-lit darling is the idea of the zombie. Now, with such a wealth of material out there, it can be difficult for an author to put any kind of personal stamp on the walking dead.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 03 July 2013 10:35

Aliens among us The Humans'

Sci-fi tale offers outsider's take on humanity

The best science fiction acts as a sort of funhouse mirror, reflecting aspects of our existence back at us in ways that, while twisted, remain recognizable. The genre provides a certain degree of freedom when it comes to exploring ideas; it offers us a removed glimpse at ourselves.

Author Matt Haig has given us one such glimpse with his latest novel 'The Humans' (Simon & Schuster, $25).

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 13:23

The power of parallels The Beautiful Land'

Time travel tale an engaging read

Since 2008, Amazon.com has held a contest for aspiring writers called the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. Winners are selected from amongst thousands of entries; they are awarded contracts and their books are published.

Alan Averill was the 2012 winner. His book, 'The Beautiful Land' (Ace Trade, $15), offers an interesting take on the concept of time travel. There's also a love story, plenty of horror and a liberal dose of humor thrown in for good measure.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 19 June 2013 13:21

Anxious, nervous, hip Taipei'

Tao Lin's latest novel captures a generation plugged in

For every generation, there is a list of artists and writers trying to capture the spirit of the age. Few come close - F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jack Kerouac are candidates. No doubt Tao Lin's aim with his current novel was more modest, but truly it is an honest portrayal of what has come to be known as The Internet Generation.

'Tapei' (Vintage, $11.43) is Tao Lin's latest novel. Still in the flowering stage of his career, his other works include 'Richard Yates' and 'Shoplifting from American Apparel.' This provocative novel makes an excellent addition to his budding oeuvre.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 05 June 2013 11:32

The ride of your life Joyland'

King's powerful new novel defies genre definition

Truly great storytellers are a rare and precious thing. Few (if any) contemporary authors tell as good a story as Stephen King does. Back in the day, King was too often painted by the 'horror' brush and semi-dismissed. While things have certainly changed in the past decade-plus, there are still those who look at him as a penner of scary stories and nothing more.

But he's more than that. Much, much more. And his latest offering, 'Joyland' (Hard Case Crime, $12.95), is simply one more example of how truly great he can be.

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 29 May 2013 13:20

Roam if you want to

'The Kings and Queens of Roam' Wallace at his finest

Placing elements of the magical or mystical into a realistic world setting doesn't always work. Sometimes, it feels forced as if someone is trying to tell two separate stories simultaneously, with the disparate elements failing to synchronize.

But when magical realism works, it really works.

 

Published in Buzz
Wednesday, 08 May 2013 14:10

The 5th Wave' powerful and compelling

Young adult book quality reading for all ages

While it is important to make a distinction when it comes to young adult fiction, there is no doubt that YA literature is at its absolute best when it blurs that line between 'young' and 'adult.' Just because a book's primary audience skews younger doesn't mean that it can't be well-written. It doesn't mean that it has to be condescending in any way. Kids know when they are being talked down to; the best YA stuff always respects the intelligence of its audience.

Make way for the next big thing in young adult fiction. 'The 5th Wave' (Putnam, $18.99) is coming.

Published in Buzz
Maine native's latest explores the power and perils of family

Elizabeth Strout was born in Portland and raised in a variety of small towns across Maine and New Hampshire. After an academic and professional career that sent her far and wide, she still spends time living in Maine, splitting her time between here and New York City.

She is also a Pulitzer Prize winner, having taken the award for fiction in 2009 for her short-story collection 'Olive Kitteridge.'

Published in Buzz
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