We Others, Steve Millhauser. The stories gathered here unfurl in settings as disparate as nineteenth-century Vienna, a contemporary Connecticut town, the corridors of a monstrous museum, and Thomas Edison's laboratory, and they are inhabited by a wide-ranging cast of characters, including a knife thrower and teenage boys, ghosts and a cartoon cat and mouse. But all of the stories are united in their unfailing power to surprise and enchant.
The 1st section of this book has 7 new stories - all of which I liked - but my favorites are, The Slap, where an unknown assailant goes around slapping unsuspecting, seemingly random people; and The Next Thing - describes what will happen when mega-retail companies like Ikea & Walmart take over the World.
The 2nd section has 14 "selected" stories. My favorites are The Barnum Museum - which was VERY similar to The Next Idea (mentioned above); and August Eschenburg who is obsessed with automatons. I found quite a few of the stories in this section to be just okay and I didn't at all get, A Protest Against the Sun, in which a girl and her family go to the beach where nothing significant happens, then they pack up and head home; and The Eighth Voyage of Sinbad, which seemed long, rambling and aimless.
Overall, I liked most of the stories but I think a few of the "selected" stories could have been cut out of this hefty 400 page book.
Desperate Duchesses, Eloisa James. Roberta St. Giles knows that the Duke of Villiers is the only man for her, but convincing the sinfully sexy nobleman that they belong together won't be easy. Fortunately, Roberta's much-removed cousin Jemma has just the plan to bring them together. But once Jemma's visiting brother, Damon, discovers Roberta's intentions of wedding Villiers, he offers his help, never expecting that he would also fall in love with her.
I really liked this - the story was interesting and I appreciated the depth of the characters & engaging plot. But, I was a bit disappointed that after the intense build-up, the events that led to the ending of the engagement felt a bit contrived and rushed. And although I loved Damon, we really didn't know much about him other than his feelings for Roberta. But despite all that - I loved the book - although not as much as When Beauty Tamed the Beast (see Weekly Reading with Will Grayson, Will Grayson and The Beauty Who Tamed the Beast).
A Visit From the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan. Winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.
Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs.
The Lock Artist, Steve Hamilton. 2011 Edgar Awards Winner for Best Novel and one of the ALA Alex Award Winners.
Marked by tragedy, traumatized at the age of eight, Michael, now eighteen, is no ordinary young man. Besides not uttering a single word in ten years, he discovers the one thing he can somehow do better than anyone else. Whether it's a locked door without a key, a padlock with no combination, or even an eight-hundred pound safe ... he can open them all.
What are you looking forward to reading this week? I'm working on books for the 2012 reading challenges that I'm participating in.