My February 2015 Reading List.

The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters
Atmospheric is not a strong enough descriptor for Waters’s The Paying Guests. The disruptive effects of losing a generation of men in World War I seem to ooze from the pages of this beautifully written and closely observed novel. Alone in a house that is now both too big and too expensive for them, Francis and her mother must take in lodgers– euphemistically called paying guests – an action that will change their lives more than they expected.

Single, Carefree, Mellow by Katherine Heiny
Heiny’s insightful and engaging collection of shorts centers on young women at crucial junctions of their careers and relationships. Astutely observed, and full of wry and often melancholy humor, 
Single, Carefree, Mellow has poignantly recognizable women dealing in and with heartbreak, indecision, infidelity, and grief. Heiny slyly points out that the outcomes of larger-than-life situations often hinge on the absurdly mundane fine details.

The Damned by Andrew Pyper
The Damned introduces readers to Danny Orchard, the best-selling author of a book detailing his near death experience, which incidentally kills his twin sister. Danny is also in the unique position of protecting his loved ones from said jealous, clingy sister. Pyper’s delightfully appalling meditation on the nature of evil and the afterlife greatly benefits from its solid grounding in the rich, layered history of the once thriving, now urban blighted, city of Detroit. The Damned is a two-pronged terror ride, as fantastical as it is intelligent, and as fun to read as it is disturbing.

A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott
Fans of historical fiction should flock to this well-crafted and entertaining novel that double dips in the tumultuous filming of 
Gone With The Wind and the lively relationship between vivacious Carole Lombard and, the much more reserved, Clark Gable. Alcott’s careful historical research is vividly rendered in the experiences of Julie, a novice screenwriter whose good luck lands her a job with Lombard, and provides the frame for this lighthearted but historically enlightening romance.

The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson
Swanson’s riveting debut novel introduces readers to 1962 Detroit, and Kitty—embattled bookstore owner who finds relief from the stress of the day in a rich dream life. There, she is Katharyn, the mother of two endearing children, and the wife of the perfect husband. As the dreams become more detailed, Kitty finds it hard to distinguish which life and family are real. Swanson brings the past and both identities to such  vivid reality that it is a feat not to race through to find out if the blurred lines of both lives can find a satisfying resolution.

The Listener by Rachel Bausch
Bausch’s stunning and emotional debut novel captivates with its deft exploration of the intricate lives of a widowed therapist and his troubled young patient, Noah, with whom he shares surprising connections. Detailed with fully realized characters, surprising twists of plot,
The Listener graces us with rich and wonderfully observed moments, revealing the sensitive balancing act of striving and failing in our roles as friends and lovers, parents and children. The vulnerability and depth of these characters are not soon forgotten.

The Lost Boys Symphony by Mark Andrew Ferguson
The nature of friendship and love is often complicated but Ferguson ups the ante of close friends, Henry, Val and Gabe’s sorrow filled love triangle with the appearance of two of Henry’s future incarnations. By turns philosophical and surreal, The Lost Boys Symphony escapes classification, but is instead a tense, beguiling and haunting read, which daringly explores the boundaries of love, addiction, madness and their influences on the construction of personal reality.

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