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Read This! Laurie's July Picks

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Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

You know when you read that kind of book where you want the world to melt away and not bother you until the final page is on the horizon?  That is Dark Matter, the hot book from 2016 finally out in paperback.  All the reviews are correct; it is THAT good. Think science-fiction meets The Time Traveler's Wife, and then put it on steroids and you have the gist of this book.  Jason Dessen is an physics professor at a small college in Chicago, married to a previously aspiring artist, raising their fifteen year old son.  Both adults are aware of opportunities missed career-wise, but have chosen a happy family life over professional accolades.  However, after attending a friend's celebration over a big international science award, Jason is kidnapped into an alternative universe.  Yes, you heard that correctly...and here's where the story gets creative and amazing. In another life, Jason didn't marry Daniela, didn't have a son, and invented a lil box where one could travel to parallel universes.  Mind blowing to say the least! The rest of the book is a rock-n-roll ride through a variety of life choices, as Jason tries to find his way back to Daniela and his own life.  This is a five-star, can't-miss, don't-you-dare-not-read-this-one kind of book:)

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz

The best way to describe this book...Agatha Christie meets Arthur Conan Doyle.  Shades of Hamlet exist as well, as we have a book within a book.  Or perhaps it is just the biggest nerd book ever, as scores of anagrams, puzzles, and codes inhabit these pages as well.  In other words, this is a very clever, delicious, well-written mystery.  The book begins with Susan, a literary agent who receives the latest manuscript of famed who-dunnit writer Alan Conway, a nasty, bitter author who makes her small publishing company quite bit of money, but is generally a pain in the ass.  As we the reader get caught up in Conway's latest book, we almost forget that it is a 'book within a book.' Thus, when Conway unexpectedly dies, mysteries abound both in real life, as well as the manuscript.  I understand all the rave reviews and accolades for this book; it is an extremely well-constructed puzzle with so many red herrings, you'll be chasing them for days! Author Anthony Horowitz, the only author given permission to write new Sherlock Holmes novels by the official Sherlock Holmes society, is one talented writer - do not miss this one if you are a fan of a jolly good mystery.

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed

I was thrilled to get this book from Net Galley after reading the premise:  An adult-style The Giver meets The Handmaid's Tale in this futuristic, creepy debut novel by Jennie Melamed, a psychiatric nurse who worked at my alma mater, the University of Washington.  I read voraciously, finishing this book in just one day.  The story is set on an island somewhere, occupied by descendants of the ten original founders.  Each family is only allowed to have two children; the birth of a son is celebrated, while the birth of a daughter is cried over and mourned (you will find out why as the story builds into a creepy, societally approved father/daughter incest). The summertime brings a wild rumpus, as the youngsters are freed from home, work, and school and live wild for those months, only to be brought back into the fold as the first frost hits.  This tale follows a few of the young girls, as we see the story through their eyes; a rebellious older teen who starves herself in order to not come to 'fruition,' a new wife who loves her husband but is terrified over her pregnancy; and a young teen who sees a horrific truth on the beach and thus instigates some deep questioning of how young mothers have died. I was all in on this book, however I was not impressed with the end as much as I was with the rest of the book. Although good friends (with great reading taste) of mine disagree, and loved the conslusion. This would be a provocative book club choice, as it would definitely induce great conversation.

Home Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow by Yuval Noah Harari

By the author of the internationally acclaimed book Sapiens, Harari is back with his 'brief' look into tomorrow (okay, it is not brief - it was 15 hours of listening!).  This is not my normal genre, somewhere between science and philosophy, but I cannot tell you how many times I said "Really??" as I listened to the audio.  The author does a skillful job of going back and forth through time, showing us the history of certain aspects of life and then the theories of where the future might take us.  For example, in the past our main issues were around famine, war, and plague, yet the future holds very different problems.  Will we create a 'super' homo sapien due to genetic testing, technology, and need?  What is the difference between humans and animals and do we will deserve to be at the top of the food chain? Will religions around a god become defunct, and instead center around data - the analysis, the usage, and the importance of data?  Good grief, the algorithms that have been created to gerrymander voting districts is nothing compared to what Google and Facebook can do with our likes and our searches (ie. pick the perfect life partner for you!) Harari posits that our futuristic goals will center on the never-ending search for bliss, immorality, and deification.  However, he does emphasize the ideas as theories, and not unchangeable facts.  Overall, this was a truly fascinating listen that will forever make me look at certain aspects of our world through a different lens.

Reviews reposted with permission from Laurie's Lit Picks.


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