Once upon a time, Morwenna did magic and played with fairies. Now that she's been made to leave Wales to live with her father in England, she knows nobody and the fairies won’t even speak to her. The only thing that makes her life manageable is her science fiction book club at the library. Among Others is a wonderful coming-of-age novel — as well as a book about the power of books — that will keep the reader wondering whether it is truly a fantasy novel, or whether Morwenna is an unreliable narrator living in a world of pretend to escape a disturbed childhood.
Ensign Andrew Dahl is the newest crew member on the starship Intrepid. He's quite proud of his accomplishment until he realizes that something is very wrong aboard the ship. Crew members seem to avoid away missions as if their lives depend on it — and they do. On every away mission something seems to go horribly wrong and only the captain, chief science officer, and Lieutenant Kerensky are immune to the danger. The title references Star Trek, where the characters wearing red shirts could generally be counted on to die. Even so, you need not be a Star Trek fan or a fan of science fiction in general to enjoy Redshirts. John Scalzi is an incredibly creative and masterful writer, very skilled at creating characters with whom readers can connect on an emotional level as well as at making readers laugh.
In the beginning, Nick and Amy had a happy marriage — or a seemingly happy marriage, at least. Now, on their fifth wedding anniversary, Amy is mysteriously missing. Nick receives a call from a neighbor that his front door is standing open and arrives home to find evidence of a struggle, and his wife gone. Gone Girl was one of the big books of 2012, and it isn’t hard to see why. Flynn has written a deliciously twisted book about two very damaged people and the tangle of secrets that is their marriage. Gone Girl is a great choice to get your book club gabbing or to help you escape completely from holiday stress. As a bonus, you’ll probably finish the book and feel much, much better about your own relationships.
Not all historical fiction is about kings and queens in far-off lands: there is much out there that's about everyday people who just happened to live in a different time, and perhaps place. Laura Moriarty's The Chaperone takes place in the early 20th century with a main character, Cora Carlisle, who is acting as a chaperone for the soon-to-be famous silent film star Louise Brooks on her first trip to New York. Despite the setting, The Chaperone is first and foremost a novel of self-discovery as Cora tries to uncover the secrets of her past. Although Cora's overarching issues could belong to a woman in any time period, Moriarty gives readers a vivid image of the America of a century ago, so much so that you would almost believe you had seen it for yourself.
Many readers think of memoirs as falling into two camps: the unendingly inspirational and the tales of woe. Well, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened certainly has uplifting moments, as well as sad ones — what life doesn’t? — but what it has the most of is laughs. Jenny Lawson is open and vulnerable about her strange but loving upbringing as well as her bouts of depression and anxiety. What she has that is unique, however, is a finely honed (and slightly bizarre) sense of humor that allows her to laugh at herself and the strangeness of her life thus far, making her easy to relate to, even for readers for whom Lawson’s upbringing might as well be a foreign land.
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