I have a soft spot for bizarro stories. You know what I mean, the weird, but captivating, tale that you never fully understand but like nonetheless. Here are a few of our recommendations for the next time you want to embrace the weird.
Coaltown Jesus by Ron Koertge (Candlewick, Oct. 8, 2013)
“‘Oh dear,’ said Jesus.
Walker was able to ask ‘What?’ They’d stopped in front of a Balk’s Hardware. A sign in the window said,
ALL KINDS OF NAILS
Jesus stared at his hands. ‘I mean nails are a miracle and God is in them, but they still give me the shivers.’”
Ron Koertge specializes in strange stories and he's an author whose books reliably work for me. Koertge's known for his verse novels, but this is more of a fractured prose (my term) style that works for this odd little story of a boy who seeks, and receives, divine intervention in coping with his brother's death. This is an irreverent little story with one of the more unusual doses of magical realism I've read. It's a short book at 128 pages, so if you're looking for something completely outside your normal wheelhouse that'll make you laugh, check out Coaltown Jesus.
I also recommended Koertge's Lies, Knives and Girls in Red Dresses, a collection of fairytales retold in poetry, if you're looking for more Koertge weirdness.
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The second installment in Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle series, The Dream Thieves, is out today and I've been pondering just how to write about it. I've come to the conclusion that this series is so very complex, while also being subtle, that it's nearly impossible for me to "review" the books in this series in a traditional sense.
In lieu of an actual exhaustive review of The Dream Thieves (you can read our not-review of The Raven Boys here, by the way), I thought I'd completely cop-out and provide you with a list of five things I'm still pondering after reading The Dream Thieves.
#1 The Dream Thieves is even more dreamy and atmospheric that The Raven Boys.
It was mint and memories and the past and the future and she felt as if she’d done this before and already she longed to do it again.
These novels are rooted in their atmosphere, intricate mythology and tangled relationships that they're going to either work for readers or leave them wondering what the hell they just read. And I mean that in a good way--I adore this series and believe it's different from anything else on the shelves at the moment. Reading this series feels more like I'm experiencing the story, rather than reading a book--it's just that immersive.
I enjoy novels with a bit (or a lot) of the occult and ghost-y elements. As you know, I am a fan of the creepy, so those elements fit the bill perfectly. I've recently read three that I enjoyed and thought I'd share my thoughts with you.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
•Portland, Oregon–––––October 14, 1918•
The day before my father's arrest, I read an article about a mother who cured her daughter of the Spanish flu by burying her in raw onions for three days.
Thus begins a truly fine fantastic debut novel about sixteen-year old Mary Shelley Black. Her father’s been arrested for treason, her boyfriend’s fighting overseas, influenza threatens to deplete the population–it’s a fearsome world, a bleak reality for Mary.
Cat Winters captivated me with her unusual historical novel, In The Shadow of Blackbirds.
Interspersed throughout the book are photographs of the era. Images of this bleak period in American history bring stark life to the words skillfully woven into a story of a young girl who sees the spirit of her lost love crying out to her as she struggles to maintain her own balance in a world twisted with fear and injustice.
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