Hello and welcome back to the much-delayed Friday Fiction Feature! Tabatha is back again (see, I got here eventually) to bring you yet another installment of new, old, popular, and obscure fiction. Today I’m here to highlight a great friend of the expat reader, the e-book. Normally a stolid fan of real paper and glue books, I have found my personal library horribly limited by the confines of my suitcases, and the even more inflexible airline weight restrictions. As such, I have had to take refuge in the digital library, and so today’s selection will serve to highlight, in some small portion, the vast stores available to those bereft of real old-book-smell.
The World of Poo by Terry Pratchett
No list of e-books would be complete without a contribution by Terry Pratchett, whose collected (and uncollected) works litter every online “recommended reads” list I have ever seen. However, as I have already included Good Omens, and a random assortment of Discworld novels, the only way left to include one, is the top of my “Recommended Reads” list for today (though I shudder to know why), Pratchett’s bestselling children’s book full of interesting facts for the young and old, The World of Poo.
A charming tale for people of all ages (but especially for young Sam Vimes) from the pen of Miss Felicity Beedle, Discworld’s premier children’s author.
From Snuff: ‘Vimes’ prompt arrival got a nod of approval from Sybil, who gingerly handed him a new book to read to Young Sam. Vimes looked at the cover. The title was The World of Poo. When his wife was out of eyeshot he carefully leafed through it. Well, okay, you had to accept that the world had moved on and these days fairy stories were probably not going to be about twinkly little things with wings. As he turned page after page, it dawned on him that whoever had written this book, they certainly knew what would make kids like Young Sam laugh until they were nearly sick. The bit about sailing down the river almost made him smile. But interspersed with the scatology was actually quite interesting stuff about septic tanks and dunnakin divers and gongfermors and how dog muck helped make the very best leather, and other things that you never thought you would need to know, but once heard somehow lodged in your mind.’
X (Kinsey Millhone Book 24) by Sue Grafton
Mostly this book is here to remind you that e-books do not limit you fair readers to the obscure reaches of the library I tend to haunt, and the new best-sellers are easily within reach. So have no fear, those edging into the pool of e-books, you can get all the same novels you would find in a bookstore, only the endings are more surprising because it’s harder to tell how many pages you have left.
*Also, as a foreign language teacher, I can definitely confirm the trickiness of the innocuous letter X–really, I challenge you, think of 3 words off the top of your head you can use to easily show a room of 3-year-olds how to pronounce x (and “in a box” doesn’t count!)
X: The number ten. An unknown quantity. A mistake. A cross. A kiss.
X: The shortest entry in Webster’s Unabridged. Derived from Greek and Latin and commonly found in science, medicine, and religion. The most graphically dramatic letter. Notoriously tricky to pronounce: think xylophone.
X: The twenty-fourth letter in the English alphabet.
Sue Grafton’s X: Perhaps her darkest and most chilling novel, it features a remorseless serial killer who leaves no trace of his crimes. Once again breaking the rules and establishing new paths, Grafton wastes little time identifying this sociopath. The test is whether Kinsey can prove her case against him before she becomes his next victim.
The Girl on the Train: A Novel by Paula Hawkins
The Girl on the Train sounds like a Good Hitchcockian tale–something like Rear Window except it replaces the obsessive binocular vigils of an immobile man with the casual creepiness of the bored commuter, casually making up stories in the lives of strangers who forgot to close their curtains.
A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.
Mystic Mayhem (Mystic Isle Mysteries Book 1) by Sally J. Smith & Jean Steffens
Mystic Mayhem is an unusual kind of mystery, not because this seems to be another cozy mystery (Cozy Mystery: a genre characterized by grisly murders, numerous dangerous suspects, some variety of baked goods, and cute romance, all wrapped up inside a pastel-colored cover), but because this time the mystery and magic seems to involve some rather hectic interviews with the murderee himself. I do wonder what kind of problems the ghost causes to manage to show up and still not solve the mystery…
From the acclaimed writing team of Sally J. Smith & Jean Steffens comes a hilarious first book in a brand new mystery series that will keep you guessing until the end…
Melanie Hamilton is not your average artist. She brings home the bacon by inking tattoos at New Orleans’s Mansion at Mystic Isle, a resort in the middle of the bayou that caters to fans of the peculiar and paranormal, but her true passion comes alive when she volunteers restoring Katrina-ravaged landmarks. Between her day job, her restoration work, and selling her paintings in Jackson Square, Mel’s life is more hectic than Bourbon Street on Fat Tuesday. But when a guest of the resort, a millionaire’s widow, is poisoned, and Melanie’s close friend is arrested for the murder, things go from hectic to downright dangerous.
Mel joins forces with the resort’s delish manager, Jack Stockton, to prove her friend’s innocence. Soon they find themselves dealing with séances, secret passages, the ghost of the millionaire himself, gators, swamp rats, and a sinister killer who proves that not everything is what it seems in the Louisiana bayou.
Come on along, and get your creep on.
Leave it to Jeeves and Other Works by P.G. Wodehouse (Unexpurgated Edition) by P.G. Wodehouse
Now that you’re firmly convinced you can get the newest and hottest books around, it’s time to bring in some of the oldest and coolest. My personal favorite this last week or so has been…really anything by P.G. Wodehouse. These books offer the lexical challenge of decoding outdated slang (which is almost comforting to those of us who can’t decipher new slang), but mostly, it provides very witty writing, with very clever plots, all of which are about absolute morons (who will cheerfully admit that they are such).
Arguably P.G. Wodehouse’s most endearing character, Reginald Jeeves is a “gentleman’s personal gentleman” (a valet) to the foppish Bertie Wooster. Subtle and clever, Jeeves carefully oversees Wooster’s life, often coming up with complicated plans to extricate young Wooster from the latest calamity in his life, be it legal, social, or womanly.