All The Ugly and Wonderful Things, Bryn Greenwood, Thomas Dunne Books, August, 2016
This is a book that I could not put down, other than to work or sleep. Greenwood draws her characters truthfully and deeply, so much so that I feel like I know the characters, their society and culture, from my work in parts of Kentucky, Kansas, and some inner big cities like Baltimore, Kansas City and parts of Brussels.
What I recall is a sense of defeat but a battle to not surrender and a type of cynicism about life that makes any change something beyond just conversion. At the heart of this story is that no matter how improbable, no matter how odd, no matter how unlikely, life still continues to let us believe love conquers all. Wonderful writing that is extremely visual and insightful.
The Bones of Paradise, Jonis Agee, William Morrow, August 2016
It’s not often that I read a galley almost a year ahead of printing and wish the book was available sooner, but this is one such title. Now, finally, it’s out!
The Bones of Paradise is a big rich historical fiction and mystery set in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. I love how the story unfolds in layer upon layer, building the plot and building characters, like the sun and earth build a fine wine. The use of the Ghost Dance and the terrible massacre during a cold winter is presented in a manner that unfolds its many depths like few other books I have read in either fiction or nonfiction.