Those who love speculative fiction and are looking for something new and well-written, should run to get a copy of Rebecca Roanhorse’s Trail of Lightning. In her debut novel, most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of climate apocalypse, and Dinétah (the Navajo Nation) has arisen. A magical wall has been built to keep the Diné safe from the outside madness but it can’t keep them safe from the monsters and witches who have awakened. Maggie Hoskie survives in this harsh world using her skills as a supernaturally gifted killer, nicknamed monsterslayer. When Maggie is called to find a girl taken by a monster, she finds she has taken on more than she bargained for. Reluctantly partnering with Kai Aviso, who has powers of his own, they travel the rez in search of clues, battling monsters and more.
Roanhorse creates a wonderful magical world, one obviously based on Native American mythology. I, being completely ignorant of that mythology, found it enthralling and I found myself constantly looking things up on Wikipedia. Her sharp writing and dynamic characters kept me glued to the book until I was done. There’s definitely strength in the book and it’s great to see Native American representation in the fantasy world. Roanhorse is the first Native American to win a Nebula! Unfortunately now, dear Reader, I have to wait until next April for the next book, Storm of Locusts. Argh!
A fantastic debut, that strides the line between adult and YA fiction, Rabbit Cake tells the story of 12-year-old Elvis Babbit, whose mother recently drowned while sleepwalking. Elvis loves facts and studies phenomena almost obsessively, yet when her school counselor convinces her she needs 18 months to properly grieve, she finds out all kinds of things she doesn’t know yet. How to keep her older sister who also sleepwalks from poisoning herself while sleep-eating or why her father has started wearing her mother’s silk robe around the house? And how did her mother, always a strong swimmer, manage to drown?
Hartnett manages to effortlessly capture Elvis’s voice, her bewilderment and her love for her family and friends in Freedom, Alabama. There’s something special about Elvis that makes the reader want to throw your arm over her shoulder and tell her everything’s going to be okay.
As I mentioned in my last post some weeks ago, I’m now a sales rep for Penguin books selling to independent bookstores in New England. I’ve got a car, a laptop, a shitload of galleys, and I drive around visiting my accounts talking about the next season’s books. Or at least that’s the idea. Except I live in New England, more specifically in Cambridge, MA, across the river from Boston. We’ve gotten over 70 inches of snow in the last and are expecting more this coming week. We’ve run out of places to put that flaky menace and after a while, it just gets tiring (or maybe that’s just February). Suffice it to say, I’ve had to reschedule a lot of appointments and juggle my schedule. No big deal. (A photo of my street for perspective.)
So far when I am able to do sales calls, I have a great time. I love nothing more than talking about books with other book lovers. And Penguin publishes some great stuff. I’m reading more variety than I normally would so I can confidently talk about the titles to buyers. All in all I’m digging this new job, no pun intended.
Sorry for the silence around here. I started a new job in November—I’m now a Field Sales Manger for Penguin Random House, selling Penguin books to the independents here in New England. I’ve been busy setting up a home office, getting to know my accounts, and reading Summer 2015 books.
While adding a few books to my Reading List, I noticed that I’m almost at 100 books for 2014. I’m not pressuring myself to hit 100, but sere’s hoping I do it. I’m about to get on a 6 hours flight to San Francisco, so I’m sure I can get at least 1-2 read. It was interesting going my reading list. There were definitely a lot of books that I forgot that I had read and clearly didn’t stick with me. But then there were the ones that did. Here, in no particular order, are my favorite books of 2014.
- Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay
- The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison
- Another Great Day by Geoff Dyer
- Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty
- The Martian by Andy Weir
- Boy, Snow, Bird by Helen Oyeyemi
- Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
- Nobody is Every Missing by Catherine Lacey
- A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James
- Neverhome by Laird Hunt
- The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
- All 3 of the Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante
One of my resolutions for 2015 is to write more here. I’m hoping to review some books, post about cooking projects, and perhaps write some observations about the life of a sales rep. I’m pretty sure I make the same resolution every year, but now that I’m working from home, with no boss looking over my shoulder, I can post as I please! And it’s work-related, so there.
Happy holidays folks. See you in the new year.