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The Last Girlfriend on Earth: And Other Love Stories
Simon Rich
The Dog Stars
Peter Heller
The Devil in Silver - Victor LaValle Pepper is brought to the New Hyde mental institution, because he got into a fight with the police. He believes that the police have dropped him there, rather than do all the paperwork it would take to arrest him. He's sure that he'll be out after the weekend, but many weeks later he finds himself just another drugged out patient in the ward. They are all frightened of the wards' oldest resident, who sometimes slips into their rooms in the middle of the night, but why?

Pepper chooses to stay behind and help his fellow inmates, and by the end of the novel, he has grown and benefited from what originally seemed a mistake. This novel is filled with great lines that I wanted to highlight. It is also chock-full of humor and pathos and a cast of unforgettable characters.
Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why - Bart D. Ehrman Misquoting Jesus is an amazing piece of historical work. I -- like so many -- grew up with the bible in my house. Over the years I lost my faith as something that just didn't have any basis in fact, but I still find the study of religion very fascinating. Bart Ehrman has done an excellent job here, laying out who has copied and interpreted the New Testament over the centuries. His research is impeccable, and all the more impressive, since he started off as an evangelical, who thought the bible was the inerrant word of God. His views are not pretentious or threatening; just a great historical detective book, that will have you rethinking the most well-known book in the world.
The Rook  - Daniel O'Malley A smart funny thriller about Her Majesty's supernatural secret service, that is -- thankfully -- the first of an upcoming trilogy. Myfanwy Thomas, the title character, is smart, feisty and has extraordinary powers, which come in mighty handy. The rook -- one of two, along with bishops, chevaliers, pawns and retainers -- battle whatever supernatural enemy rears it's ugly head, for queen and country...hopefully without queen or country ever knowing. This is a compelling read that will leave you anxiously waiting for the second installment.
Attempting Normal - Marc Maron Brutal, raw honesty. That's what I've always liked about Marc Maron's style of stand-up and his book of essays, recounting his rise to success in his own garage, is just a open and sometimes painful to read.
My Dog: The Paradox: A Lovable Discourse about Man's Best Friend - Matthew Inman, The Oatmeal I think this book is hilarious, and I'm not even a "dog person." Maybe that's why I find it so funny.
God, No!: Signs You May Already Be an Atheist and Other Magical Tales - Penn Jillette I've always enjoyed Penn and Teller's shows, and I am a fan of their "Bullshit!" program on Showtime, so I expected to be entertained by Penn Jillette, a self-described atheist.

As I got into the book I realized that atheism was just a loosely tied thread through the essays, but the book was more of a collection of entertainment tales (Sigfried & Roy, David Copperfield, etc.), which were only mildly funny.

Penn also describes himself as an "asshole," and I have no argument with him there. By the end of the book, it became more of a rambling libertarian screed ("let everyone take guns and knives on to airplanes..");and I hurriedly finished the book, so that I could read something by someone not so proud of being a loud, brash asshole.
The Shining Girls - Lauren Beukes I hate that the press blurb on the back of my advance copy says, "The Time Traveler's Wife meets The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Those kinds of comparisons are silly and usually wrong. That being said, The Shining Girls feels like a cross between Cloud Atlas and Silence of the Lambs. I guess even I can't help the needless comparisons.

What drew me into the book immediately was the writing (even though my ARC was a little choppy) and the way Lauren Beukes kept me turning pages to try and figure out how this was all going to turn out. Harper makes quite a menacing serial killer, and his ability to jump into different eras, just by opening a door add to the thrill.

I was not a fan of the Dragon Tattoo series. I read the first in the trilogy and thought it was ridiculous, not feminist in any way, and at times downright tedious. In young Kirby Mazrachi, the female survivor of Harper's attacks, we have a heroine that will kick ass and take names later.

As I hurriedly turned pages towards the end of Shining Girls, I wondered how Ms. Beukes would end this chronologically entangled murder mystery, and I was quite pleased with her enigmatic, yet satisfying conclusion.
Fellow Mortals - Dennis  Mahoney This was a compelling first novel, with interesting characters, but some of the plot just seemed so contrived. So much so that by the end I was guess what was going to happen, and rolling my eyes when my prediction came true. Dennis Mahoney is certainly a writer to watch and there were some brilliant lines in Fellow Mortals that stayed with me. My actual rating would be more like three and a half stars. A fine debut, but with some of the faults of first novel plotting.
Fiend - Peter Stenson Yes, it's yet another apocalyptic zombie novel, but this time the only survivors are those people who were high on meth at the time, and the only way to avoid catching zombie fever is to stay high on meth. A ragtag group of addicts must locate a cooker, and supplies in order to survive. Zombies and their inherent gore are here as expected, but in the end Fiend is more about the horrors of addiction, and who you may want to have by your side at the end of the world.
Boot and Shoe - Marla Frazee Have you ever misplaced your best friend, because a squirrel got all up in your business? Well, that's exactly what happens to Boot and Shoe, two canine best friends, but their reunion is sweet and will get a chuckle or two out of any parent. A beautiful book about two doggie friends.
The Sense of an Ending - Julian Barnes A tale about aging and the pitfalls of memory filled with exquisite prose. Barnes has crafted a philosophical novel that packs an emotional punch at the end. The Sense of an Ending is not a long novel, but it will stick with you long after you have finished it.
The High-Life - Jean-Pierre Martinet, Henry Vale Wonderful translation. It just begs to be reread.
Dancers Among Us: A Celebration of Joy in the Everyday - Jordan Matter Opening this book was like creating a cloud break and letting some sunshine into my life. Throughout this book, dancers celebrate life with movement, and no trampolines, wires or digital enhancement of any kind were used. Dancers Among Us is a joy!
Life After God - Douglas Coupland This book meandered, and I think Coupland was attempting to tackle some big issues here, but it just didn't work for me. The section describing the nuclear meltdown scenarios was overlong, and in the end the book just didn't gel. It also felt too much like a memoir to call it a novel, but I guess the names were changed to protect the innocent, or something like that.
The Age of Miracles - Karen Thompson Walker A coming-of-age tale set against a natural disaster unlike any previously known. Juila is eleven and an only child, living with her parents in Southern California. As the story begins, it has been discovered that the earth's rotation has begun to slow. It's almost not noticeable at first, but then "the slowing" starts to effect gravity, the weather and plant life.

The Age of Miracles is a fine debut, that would also be perfect for younger readers. There is sadness, death, and a deep sense of loneliness for Julia; but there is also the feelings of first love, and the understanding of adult complexities that come very quickly at this age. Karen Thompson Walker obviously learned quite a bit, working as an editor. The book moves at a brisk pace, and the reader may even get a little choked up by the end.
A Million Heavens - John Brandon Can you sing your way into heaven? Is there a heaven? John Brandon weaves a tale of possibilities and synchroncities that will have you turning pages, wondering where the story will turn next. Brandon is one of America's most creative young writers and I would recommend anything he has written.