At first glance, One Shot at Forever, is obviously a book about baseball. Don’t let the title fool you, however, because it’s really about so much more. Set against the backdrop of the 1970 and 1971 baseball seasons, Ballard tells to stories of Lynn Sweet, the Macon High School baseball players, their families, and their town. As a new English teacher, Sweet was already causing a stir in Macon, despite his popularity among his students.
When a missing 9-year-old girl from a small town in southern Missouri is found dead and a second has gone missing, Frank Curry, the editor from a small Chicago newspaper, sends Camille Preaker to get the scoop. Both events just happen to have occurred in her hometown, Wind Gap, where her mother, stepfather and younger sister still live and to where Camille has no desire to return. She comes from a very—maybe dysfunctional is too tame a word to describe her family, but I will say it—dysfunctional family.
Before reading Doc by Mary Doria Russell, the only thing I knew about the famous Doc Holiday was that he looked remarkably like Val Kilmer and often suggested his peers might be Daisies. What a delight to read about this fascinating and complex gentleman. Russell tells Doc’s story from the very beginning; John Henry Holiday’s birth. His hold on life was tenuous from the start, as he was born with a hare-lip.
In The Leftovers, Perrotta puts human relationships under a microscope, sometimes to chilling effect. The town of Mapleton has never stopped reeling after the Sudden Departure, when large numbers of random people simply vanished into thin air. When the smoke clears, those left behind not only grieve for their friends and family who are suddenly gone, but also wonder why they were spared (or not spared).
Catherynne M. Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making is a wonderful, magical fairy-tale fantasy that is aimed at children but doesn't talk down to them—and is written in a way that will appeal to adults, too.
Not being a regular romance reader, I can’t say how Silk is for Seduction compares to its romance brethren. I will say, while I found the story to be absolutely ridiculous, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Marcelline Noirot, along with her two sisters and daughter, has clawed her way out of poverty and a cholera epidemic to become a contender in the English milliner business. In the hopes of winning a key customer from her sole competitor, Marcelline travels to France to woo the Duke of Clevedon.
I freely admit it—I had to make a second, running start at Dark Harvest. But once I got past the idea that the evil presence holding the entire town captive was a pumpkin-headed boy with a butcher knife, the story was plenty creepy for my taste. Every Halloween, all boys between the ages of sixteen and nineteen are set loose on the town to prevent the October Boy from getting to the church before midnight. The winner earns the one and only ticket out of town.
Even if you have no desire to ever own backyard chickens, Chick Days is wonderful fun. After making a case for keeping chickens, Woginrich describes her top ten breeds, and then illustrates the day-to-day development of three varieties of chickens. Professionally photographed, the pictures and layout are easy to follow, fun to look at, and complement the accompanying text perfectly.
No one loves anthropomorphisization more than me. So Unlikely Friendships is just the kind of book I like to savor over a warm mug of cocoa. Holland describes “friendships” between species, sometimes even predators with prey. Everyone knows about the gorilla Koko and her kittens, which are included here.
Published in 1978, Once a Runner is dated; but charmingly so. While there is a noticeable absence of iPods, cell phones, and cable television, exclamations of “Great God in Heaven” and “they don’t know a flying you-know-what about spring sports” are the most notable indicators. Quentin Cassidy is a collegiate “miler”. After he is expelled from the fictional Southeastern University, fellow runner, friend and former Olympian Bruce Denton mentors him as he prepares to break the four minute mile.