Posts Tagged ‘short stories’

May Reading Wrap-Up

May 30, 2008

I read 14 books in May. I likely would have read more, had it not been for the reading ennui I experienced near the beginning of the month and the resulting theme read of some long books. If I hadn’t had two four-hour plane rides and a fair amount of time in airports and on public transit, I probably wouldn’t have attained 14. It didn’t hurt that both “Monique and the Mango Rains” and “Someday My Prince Will Come” were so engaging that I read them each in basically one sitting.

Of these books, two were read for ReaderViews, three (well, 2.5) for a theme read on Dracula/vampires, one was provided by Literary Ventures Fund, one was read for book club, one for LibraryThing Early Reviewers, one for a LibraryThing group read, two ‘just because,’ and three were sent to me for review.

Note: The titles of the books link to my reviews.

My Reading Wrap-Up for May

Fiction (Novels)

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – Buy on Amazon

Dracula by Bram Stoker – Buy on Amazon

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood – Buy on Amazon

The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (review to follow later today) – Preorder on Amazon

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides (review to follow after book club) – Buy on Amazon

Fiction (Short Stories)

Politics Noir edited by Gary Phillips – Buy on Amazon

Historical Fiction

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff – Preorder on Amazon

The Aviary Gate by Katie Hickman – Buy on Amazon

Memoir

Someday My Prince Will Come by Jerramy Fine – Buy on Amazon

Monique and the Mango Rains by Kris Holloway – Buy on Amazon

Have I Got A Guy for You! edited by Alix Strauss (review coming) – Buy on Amazon

Storm Over Morocco by Frank Romano – Buy on Amazon

Nonfiction

Kings and Queens of England: A Tourist Guide by Jane Murray

Vlad the Impaler by M.J. Trow – Buy on Amazon

Top Pick for the Month

Monique and the Mango Rains cover

“Monique and the Mango Rains,” by Kris Holloway, is the story of Kris’ time in the Peace Corps in Mali, particularly her interaction with Monique Dembele, Kris’ host and the village midwife. Monique was an amazing woman and this is a well written, amazing story. David Ebershoff’s “The 19th Wife,” Andrew Davidson’s “The Gargoyle,” and Jerramy Fine’s “Someday My Prince Will Come” were in a close three-way tie for second place with “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Middlesex” not far behind (man, I read some fantastic books this month!), but there was such power in Holloway’s story, that I was compelled to choose it for the top honor. The only thing that could have made this book better was if it was three times as long.

Reminder: There is still time to get in on the contest! All of these books (and any others I have reviewed) are up for grabs!

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Politics Noir – Book Review

May 9, 2008

Politics Noir: Thirteen Dark Tales From the Corridors of Power

Edited by Gary Phillips
ISBN 978-1-84467-161-8, released April 7, 2008
Reviewed by Jen Cardwell for Reader Views 05/08

The Dark Side of Politics
3.5 Stars

“Politics is a blood sport the public follows 24/7,” Gary Phillips states in the introduction of “Politics Noir”. During an election season such as this one, politics can be dirty, disgusting, and frustrating. While he could not possibly have predicted the drawn-out nature of the Democratic Primary, Phillips picked a perfect year to solicit stories about the darker side of politics.

There are a wide variety of stories contained in “Politics Noir”. In his introduction, Phillips maintains that he gave the other authors no direction other than the title of the book, and they all knew where to go from there. The stories are primarily focuses in the United States, or around U.S. politics, with a single story representing ‘politics noir’ in Ireland. The stories run the gamut from presidential scandals and presidential races to small town elections and the politics of race on a very local level.

My appreciation of the stories varied somewhat, more due to my interest in some themes over others than to any deficiency in the writing. Perhaps my favorite story was “Collateral Damage” by Robert Greer. This was the story of two presidential candidates, locked in a race for their party’s nomination. The candidates are Hannah Rossmore Stenton, wife of a deceased Senator who had been corrupt and womanizing in life, and Broderick Losomma, son of a white father and black mother. Clearly, this is a blatant retooling of the 2008 Democratic nomination race, which I found interesting since the current race is still going on, as of the writing of this review. I also quite enjoyed the story-telling style of Michele Martinez in her story, “Ambition.”

By and large, the stories in “Politics Noir,” in addition to simply chronicling corruption and vice, do so in a traditional ‘noir’ style, reminiscent of early 20th century crime fiction. Like so much pulp literature, there was a good deal of sex, violence, and foul language of which readers should be aware before picking this book up. Overall, I think those that will be most interested in this book are those who are fans of noir literature and those who are very interested in, but cynical about, politics.

Buy This Book on Amazon – Politics Noir: Dark Tales from the Corridors of Power