After two quick trips to points both east and west, here is the current status of my reading life:
1. Lies in the Dust: A Tale of Remorse from the Salem Witch Trials by Jakob Crane/Art by Tim Decker. This graphic novel tells the story of Ann Putnam Jr., 14 years after the trials. Ann was one of the girls at the center of the accusations that led to the deaths of the so many. I never knew that she felt remorse--honestly I never thought too much about what happened to any of the girls. Crane does a great job of pulling readers in to Anne's adult (and that of the siblings she raises) and shows how much the attitudes of Salem's residents changed. (It's interesting to me that they blamed her rather than themselves.) Crane also explains why Ann did what she did & the influence her parents had on her actions.
Tim Decker's spare black & white line drawings are the perfect complement to the story, with sad and soulful eyes that can not be denied. A great read for 8-12 year olds (or teens who want to know what happened.)
2. The Family by David Laskin. Oh, this one hurt. Laskin tells the story of 3 branches of his Jewish family--the one that emigrated to the US and became financially successful (founding Maidenform bras!), the one that emigrated to Palestine and still lives in Israel today and the one that stayed behind in Eastern Europe and was 100% killed in the WW2.
It's not a memoir but a history and nearly impossible to put down. I liked that Laskin removed himself from the story and let the history speak for itself. So much to say on this book but mostly, that it needs to be read.
3. Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore & The Cure for Dreaming by Cat Winters. I am putting these 2 in a piece with Celine Kiernan's Into the Grey about offbeat scary stories that I'm pitching to LARB.
Dark Metropolis is set in an alternate world similar to a certain degree to Europe during the two world wars. Thea's mother has been suffering from separation from her father, believed to be killed in a recent war. Thea supports them by waiting tables in a swanky Jazz Age-ish club along with her best friend Nan. When her friend goes missing, Thea turns detective and teams up with Freddy who is at the heart of the mystery.
In The Cure for Dreaming, budding suffragist Olivia lives in Portland, OR in 1900 with her father while her absent mother works in the theater in NYC. A hypnotist arrives to give shows in town and Olivia's dad hires him to "cure her of her dreams" and accept her role as a dutiful daughter (and future wife for some fine young man). Olivia and "Henri" bond on a serious level and end up changing some minds and seeing the world in a different way. (Though don't expect the happy ending that my summary might be suggesting.)
Both of these are good reads and creepy in unexpected ways and I'm looking forward to writing about them (and Into the Grey).
4. 14 Days to Alaska by Troy Hamon. Sounds exactly like the title suggests--an engaging journal of two brothers on a plane trip from Ohio to King Salmon, AK in a small single-engine aircraft. Part of the hook here is that the author was learning to fly as they went and the airplane was his brand new (57-year old) purchase. Hamon is funny and honest and the trip itself is pretty interesting. I'm reviewing this one for ADN.
5. Rewilding Our Hearts by Marc Bekoff. For Booklist, so that's all I can say!
6. The Public Library by Robert Dawson. I really loved this so much. Great pictures and wonderful essays. I think it needs to be widely read--Dawson does a great job of showing just why libraries are such a vital part of America's past & present (and future). I think a lot of folks who might not get that would understand better after this book. It's important and beautiful and powerful; probably one of the best books I've paged through this year.
7. Right now I have 2 more books going for Booklist, both of which need to be reviewed by the 14th. Otherwise, I'm going through a backlog of magazines which is always a good way to spend some time.
In the next few days I'll catch up on my reviewing and writing and share some cool family history pics among many many other thins I need to blog about!