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Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Holiday Best Picks 2018

It was an excellent year for good books. And it's also the time of the year when people are shopping for gifts for their favorite bibliophile. This selection represents some really good book this year. These are great holiday gifts that don't shift too far into gratuitous violence or explicit sexual content. They are great for anyone who loves great stories and creative writing. My pick for book of the year would have to go to A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Season's Greeting to all of you getting ready to spend the mid-winter reading. Spend time and embrace the Icelandic tradition of reading in bed with a fine bit of chocolate, and soon our days will start expanding along with our imaginations. 

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn is a short epistolary novel, but the premise and the creativity of this book will not only intrigue readers - it will draw them into the seemingly devastating events that are not only taking place in the story but in the physical book itself. Compelling and often understated, this book is elegant in its simplicity. This is a great gift book for readers of the Christmas Book Flood this might be the perfect all night book read that will challenge the reader to not only follow the fascinating life of a small town and their strange heritage that might turn them all to ruin as the entire town comes unglued. 

The next book might not be a one sitting type book, but it is a stunning and mythical book based in the First World War. It has always been a passion to read novel around this time and The Hawkman: A Fairy Tale of the Great War by Jane Rosenberg LeForge is a stunning novel on myth, fairytale,  history, and the realities of war. 

If a possible function of writing a novel is to explain how we might save ourselves with stories, The Hawkman pushes on these ideas between harsh and desperate reality of war and the beauty that tales and dream possess. The result is this beautiful novel built on the traditions of fairy tales but refined in poetry and prose capturing the human depth of loss and love. 

The next book is certainly a speculative fiction that has done well this year. The Book of M by Peng Shepherd innovates the dystopian novel with surprising twists and turns. The plot is simple but hard to imagine: perfect for creating tension and chaos. The novel is based on the idea that for some unknown reason, people's shadows begin to disappear. And with the loss of their shadows, they begin to lose memories until they are lost. They can't remember how doors work, how to get home, or how to eat, or even if they should. Check it out if you are curious and it will leave a lasting impression on you. What I like most about this novel will be how completely useless this would be to make into a movie. The concepts, plot, and ideas are so language and word-based that turning it into a movie not only would ruin this book, but it would also take the imaginative vision of the story and can it into a silly film. Shepherd's writing and imagination in this one really push new territory for magical realism, dystopian stories, and what creative novels should look like in the future - if you can remember. 

The last pick is The Orphan of Salt Winds by Elizabeth Brooks and while it pushes and pulls the contemporary life into the past, it holds some beautiful mysteries so careful in the prose of the writing. When the orphan Virginia Wrathmell is brought to Salt Winds, an epic old home by the marsh in Tollbury, she is introduced to her adoptive parents Lorna and Clem. They live in the shadow of secrets and tension that leaves Virginia on guard and always watching. 

This is an elegant and lyrical debut novel. While this is a stunning coming of age novel, it is also based on the history and the vision of a life lived in a complicated and visionary life. Mixed with natural and humanistic figurative language, Brooks captures the natural essence of the setting, the time, and the timeless vision of the choices the characters make. In terms of form, there are some beautiful turns in this story that are designed in an elegant and meticulous way. It is clear the author spent time refining the elements of this novel to create a pitch-perfect timeless novel based in the expanse of history. It is a novel that haunts the reader. Like Howard's End by E. M. Forster, this novel is about the place where the setting and the world around the characters breath a vitality to the story. Such a tender and compelling story about history, family, love, and loss all captured in this stunning debut novel.