San Diego ~ 5943 Balboa Avenue, Suite #100, San Diego, CA 92111 ~ 858-268-4747
Redondo Beach Satellite ~ 2810 Artesia Blvd., Redondo Beach, CA 90278 - 310-542-6000
San Diego ~ 5943 Balboa Avenue, Suite #100, San Diego, CA 92111 ~ 858-268-4747
Redondo Beach Satellite ~ 2810 Artesia Blvd., Redondo Beach, CA 90278 - 310-542-6000
Check out what we (MG staff and friends) have recently read and enjoyed, and other recommended reads.
HOT OFF THE PRESS!
Check out the older not-so-hot-off-the-press reviews from each staff member.
From our August 2016 Newsletter:
As booksellers, we are always looking for something new; a book that explores unchartered territory where others have not yet gone. We found it.
What is Dark Matter? Some of that answer is for scientists and others much smarter than me to explain, though this extraordinary novel does a great job initiating readers to the concept of a window into the fifth dimension.
Jason Dessen is a very smart man. He is also a very content man, who lives a simple life as college physics professor with his wife, Daniela, and teenage son, Charlie, in suburban Chicago. He often wonders where his life would have led him if he had made different choices, like pursuing his theories about quantum mechanics. When he finds out, the results are not what he or anyone else could have predicted. I don’t want to ruin this wild ride of a novel with any of the plot lines; I just suggest that you run to Mysterious Galaxy and pick up this book immediately. Just don’t plan to do anything else until you have turned the last page. – Terry
This July Indie Next Pick is an Easter egg-filled examination and celebration of popular culture and fandom, and a great story. I confess I was cautious at first, concerned that with its literary imprint and blurbs, the convention circuit setting might be just a device. But Proehl rapidly reassured me with his alternate universe parallels to comics, television shows, and familiar convention inhabitants. Proehl mostly supersedes the tropes of the genre through affectionate and knowing point of view characters, from former-cult-TV-series lead actress and fugitive mother Valerie Torrey, her precocious son Alex, indie comics creators Brett and Fred, and rare-as-a-unicorn female comics writer Gail. Their stories are interwoven with tales of the AHTW universe’s comics characters, and Valerie’s retellings of episodes of her show as bedtime stories for Alex. AHTW didn’t quite push every fannish button for me, but like a really good Joss Whedon show, it succeeded so well I am loath to quibble about the shortcomings. – Maryelizabeth
When describing this book, my first instinct is to quote the opening to Charlie’s Angels: “Once upon a time, there were three little girls…” Except these three grew up Asian American in an alternate San Francisco where demonic invaders from another dimension periodically wreak havoc, and have invested some people with superpowers. San Francisco’s premier superheroine is Aveda Jupiter. Aveda’s assistant is her childhood BFF, Evie Tanaka, who is also the caretaker for her teenage sister, Bea. Evie’s assistant role includes managing Aveda’s public image, including wardrobe clean-up after battling demonic cupcakes, and offering measured responses to a local columnist’s mean girl comments. But when Aveda is injured, Evie must doff her cartoon duck t-shirt and don the attire of the city’s protector. Can Evie handle the spotlight? A great fun read – and did I mention there’s hot nerd romance?! – Maryelizabeth
McHugh’s debut novel The Weight of Blood was one of my favorite books of 2014. It had the perfect combination of menace and page-turning suspense, all told in exquisite prose. In her sophomore effort, Arrowood, she manages to accomplish this once again. Arden Arrowood returns to her historic childhood home in Keokuk, Iowa after inheriting the family legacy. Tragedy struck almost twenty years ago when Arden’s twin sisters were abducted while playing outside. Arden struggles with her recollections of that fateful day; then she meets Josh, a cold case fanatic, who believes the man she initially suspected may have no involvement. The truth may be more horrifying than Arden could have ever imagined, and the result is a chilling atmospheric thriller that haunted me for days. – Sarah
Enter the 15th century Ottoman Empire, where Lada and her brother Radu have been wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia from a young age and cast into Ottoman rule. Together they learn to not only survive, but also help Mehmed, the son of the Sultan, claim his title and conquer the lands. Lada, who is a re-imagined Vlad the Impaler, is a brutal, fierce, unfeeling—and compulsively readable character. I loved the dual perspectives of both Lada and Radu, which lets us fully experience the tensions of religion, politics, war, and love in 15th century eastern rule. This is a novel rich in setting and thoughtful in narrative, and ultimately one I loved every minute of. – Kelly
After reading a letter from a solicitor, Emily Cavanaugh, a fifty-one-year-old college professor and widow, becomes a wealthy landowner in Stoney Beach, Oregon. With the inheritance come the problems. Developers and the mayor want the property for a large hotel. Her cousin by marriage alternately seems to resent her and court her. Her renters have mixed reactions to her presence. Rumors hint that her aunt might have been murdered. The local sheriff is not helping. Luke Richards was her sweetheart in years gone by – the one who vanished and Emily never recovered. Then her housekeeper dies – murder or accident? Her property is set on fire. Emily and Luke, fearing she could be in danger, begin a serious investigation that leads her into her aunt’s past. This cozy mystery, complete with all the required components, is literate and well written. Emily is a remarkable main character who parallels the characters and experiences in her life to her beloved classics. Luke is a classic leading man. The story takes unexpected turns leading to a terrifying conclusion. Beware small towns, their secrets, and their residents. – Guest Reviewer Sandra Hale
If I told you the storyline of All the Ugly and Wonderful Things, you may not think this is a book for you. But if I tell you how much love and compassion are poured into the characters and the writing, you may change your mind. Despite the setting, many taboo subjects, and the huge age gap between the two main characters, this is a love story that will draw you in and stick with you long after you turn the last page.
Wavy meets Kellen when she is just 8 years old and Kellen is a young man of 21. They both have complicated and violent backgrounds and are immediately attracted to one another. Wavy’s parents are drug addicts and meth dealers who are beyond inept in taking care of both Wavy and her younger brother, Donal. As a result of her childhood abuse, Wavy refuses to communicate with almost everyone in her small world of family and school. Kellen was brought up in a life of violence and drugs, but has a heart of gold and intelligence that few notice or care about. They form an unbreakable bond through their shared history and the circumstances that make up their lives. This bond is strengthened and tested in ways beyond imagining and this is the storyline of this dazzling, page-turning debut.
From Our July Newsletter:
Imagine a United States of America where no Civil War occurred and Abraham Lincoln was assassinated before his inauguration. Four states, the Hard Four, still practice slavery. Victor is first introduced as Jim Dirkson, a former slave appealing to a pastor to find his wife who is enslaved in a mine in the Carolinas. We discover this is a ruse: Victor is a government agent who works with the U.S. Marshals to hunt down escaped slaves. His current mission is to infiltrate the Underground Airlines, a system that helps escaped slaves flee to Canada, and locate a slave named Jackdaw. Victor realizes those in command aren’t telling him the whole truth and he must find Jackdaw for his own reasons. A fast-paced compelling read that paints a grim and chilling picture of what could have been, with observations and experiences that remain timely in today’s world. – Sarah
I read the premise for this book and thought what a great idea – but will it live up to the hype? It does, it does! Bailey Chen is out of college and looking for work. She hooks up with an old high school friend who gets her a job as a bar back. When she accidentally mixes a drink from a secret stash of booze and then hits the streets, she discovers a demon prowling the dark alleys of Chicago; and the screwdriver she consumed gives her powers to fight this ugly monster. Yup, there is a secret society of bartenders, called ale-chemists, who take to the streets, fortified by spirits, to combat ugly demons. Last Call includes recipes for various mixed drinks with the history of the drink, spirits used, and powers given when the magical cocktail is mixed correctly. This is one of the most fun urban fantasies I have ever read, with a sharp, kick-ass heroine who faces demons, a pushy mom, a possibly unrequited love interest, and a plot to take over the world. You know you should be reading this with a tall, cool glass of your favorite libation close at hand. I can’t wait for the sequel. – Linda
Four Imperials awake to find themselves alone on a crash-landed freighter on an alien planet. A supposedly dead alien planet. One of these individuals, our hero, has emerged from an apparently sabotaged sleeper pod simply marked, “Admiral.” So he’s in charge, even if he doesn’t know much about being an admiral, and even though he’s a bit young to actually be one. (“It’s an honorary title.”) Trust issues aside, he IS a rather bright fellow with a quite annoying way of being right all the time … and saving the day, and everyone’s lives. Off we go! Admiral is a bit Miles Vorkosigan, with a dash of Starship Troopers, and perhaps a pinch of Jason Bourne … and a helluva lot of fun. Enjoy. – Guest Reviewer Patrick Heffernan
Former cop Adrian Wall has just been released after 13 years in prison for the murder of Julia Strange. At the same time, suspended Detective Elizabeth Black is about to face criminal charges in the death of two men she shot 18 times while trying to rescue Channing Shore from a basement where the two held her captive. Elizabeth cannot explain why she fired so many shots, nor can she clarify exactly why she is so anxious to see Adrian or why she is so certain he was innocent. There is Beckett, her former partner, who is insistent that she stay away from Adrian; 14-year-old Gideon Strange, Julia’s son who Elizabeth has been close to ever since she held him at the murder scene thirteen years ago; and her preacher father, comforting to everyone except his own daughter. Meanwhile, Adrian listens to the calm voice of his dead cell mate, Eli, who held onto a secret the evil warden could not squeeze out of him. These multi-faceted characters and more are the genius of John Hart, along with a bold story line that twists and turns and keeps this book in readers’ hands (even if they really should be doing other things!) – Bunny
Hamilton is a master at his craft and this series starter proves this yet again. Minutes after Nick Mason is released from a maximum security prison after serving five years of his 25-year sentence, his freedom is taken once again. Though no longer behind bars, he finds himself at the beck and call of Darius Cole, a criminal mastermind who is serving a double-life term, but who has the financial power to rule those who serve him from his prison cell. Nick finds himself caught between two lives: the one where he was once a husband, a father, and a petty thief ... and a second life waiting for phone calls dictating his movements into a life of crime he never imagined for himself. I am waiting breathlessly for the next installment! – Terry
On a very cold winter’s day, the Branson Beauty’s three-hour cruise turned into a nightmare. The paddle boat ran aground on a nearly frozen pond with more than 100 passengers, plus crew and entertainment, aboard. Recently appointed Sheriff Hank Worth became the point man for their intricate rescue. The company man wanted it kept quiet. But with every rescue agency responding and all the townspeople watching, that wasn’t going to happen. Hours later, after the surgically altered boat is docked and all the passengers are safe, Hank and the first mate find the body of a young girl in the locked captain’s dining room.
Written with both humor and poignancy, this mystery delves into the politics, relationships, and class structures of a small town, as the new sheriff ruffles the feathers of the rich and powerful. This is an easy-to-read, enjoyable book filled with unexpected plot twists and surprises. I look forward to the next installment of the series as I wonder if Hank, who is no team player, will be able to hang onto his job in the impending election. – Guest Reviewer Sandra Hale
This Savage Song is a wonderful young adult novel set in a post-apocalyptic America, where the two main characters, August and Kate, must confront monsters, human and otherwise, their own fathers, who happen to be the enemy warlords of their divided city, and themselves, as they are drawn into irrevocable choices by the dark appeal of their own savage natures. But infusing this bleak world is an intense yearning for redemption, to bring good out of evil and beauty out of horror that lends this book a deeply-felt and wholly remarkable spiritual quality. The pacing is fast, the narrative enthralling, but it is the depths of the novel--its acuteness of moral imagination and perception--that will stay with you afterwards. My highest recommendation. – David
Arf is the sequel to Woof and continues the adventures of Bowser and Birdie. Bowser is still in charge of home front security for the Gaux family, so when there is a break-in, he starts the investigation to find the intruder with the stinky aftershave and even stinkier cat companion. No one knows why someone broke in, as nothing seems to be missing. Someone is also asking questions about Birdie’s father, a police officer killed several years ago, and the cold case involving his murder. Bowser knows he’s looking for a man with a strong limeade aftershave scent mixed with cat, but why can’t these humans, even Birdie, catch this trail of odors and help him out? If you’ve read Spencer Quinn’s Chet and Bernie series, then you know that the author speaks dog fluently and also writes a suspenseful mystery suitable for all ages. – Linda
From Our June 2016 Newsletter:
The residents of Black Spring can never leave their town because of Katherine Von Wyler, a 300 year old witch who has her mouth and eyes sewed shut. Katherine walks silently through the town’s streets and appears in residents’ homes at random times, including when they eat dinner, watch television or sleep. The town’s populace both fear and respect her because of her power — those who leave town slowly contemplate suicide and eventually take their own life. However, the witch isn’t the only threat in Black Spring. Like all good horror/thriller stories, the horror of Hex lies in its ability to expose the extremes of individual and group behavior. Even kind and smart people are susceptible to groupthink and bloodlust. Hex feels very fresh and original, with truly shocking and unsettling moments that will stay with you well beyond the last page. – Jared
Right from the start of Hawley’s page turner, you know you are reading something extraordinary. The characters are beautifully drawn, the story is tight and compelling, and you will have a hard time putting down this sure-to-be-a-hit thriller.
Scott Burroughs is a painter who is just starting to make a “splash” in the art world when he accepts a ride on a private plane from Martha’s Vineyard to Manhattan. Also on the plane are business man, media mogul, and millionaire David Bateman, his wife, and two children, Rachel, age nine, and JJ, age four. Completing the passenger list is Bill Cunningham, a stock broker who may be in trouble with the SEC, and his wife, Sarah. Fifteen minutes into the flight, the plane crashes into the ocean. Scott and JJ are the only survivors.
Scott manages to swim himself and the young boy to safety, only to find themselves (and the incident) under intense media scrutiny. Much of the novel is the back story of each passenger on the plane, building a link between the present and what actually happened in the minutes before the plane crash. Before the Fall combines the investigation into the accident and the relationship between Scott and JJ to create a compelling drama in the midst of a media circus. Noah Hawley is an Emmy, Golden Globe, PEN, and Peabody Award-winning author, screen writer, and producer and this debut thriller is sure to be another winner. –Terry
The fourth installment to this mystery series featuring investigative reporter Ellie Stone may be my favorite yet. Set in 1961 Adirondacks, it opens with the chief of police, Tiny Terwilliger, asking Ellie to take photos of two men who have plummeted to their deaths off Baxter Rock. Their deaths are deemed accidental. Meanwhile, Ellie runs into childhood friends at nearby Arcadia Lodge and is drawn to their nights of wine and music, although she’s drawn to charming Isaac the most. The more she learns about this group of left-wing Jewish intellectuals, the more suspicious she becomes, especially when she discovers one of the dead bodies is a former friend of theirs. Ellie tries not to let her feelings for Isaac cloud her judgment as she wades through long-buried secrets, religious fanatics, and Cold War ideology. This whirlwind romance brings out a softer side to the typically tough protagonist which I found endearing and real. – Sarah
Kit, in the simplest and most unhelpful terms, is a phenomenaut. In the research department at ShenCorp, Kit projects her conscience into synthetic animals, learning about the wildlife around us. But ShenCorp is not without their share of dubious ethical practices and unsavory secrets. Like her, we jump between two narratives, one of her last days in the research department, the other of Kit fleeing from the commercial wing of ShenCorp. Set in the near future, The Many Selves of Katherine North examines identity, corruption, and empathy toward animals and humans alike. In her debut novel, Emma Geen expertly transplants the reader into the minds and lives of animals and keeps the reader on their toes. – Gray
Aunt Emily’s inn is about to host a weekend house party for a few friends and neighbors to celebrate remodeled rooms and new furniture. Unstable antique furniture, unwanted guests, a raging blizzard, and a body turn the pleasant weekend into a locked room mystery with moonshine and southern hospitality to lighten the tragedy. Daisy McGovern, one of the inn’s longtime residents, has too many suspects, too many questions, and very few allies in the search for a possible killer. Rick and Beulah are stranded at a local bar. The recently hired maid is in hiding. The obnoxious husband and wife that are paying guests would love to buy the inn. In the midst of the blizzard, a stranger shows up. Both Daisy and Aunt Emily classify the new man as a fake. Unfortunately, they can’t classify him as a murderer as he found the body seconds after he arrived. As the storm rages and the lights go out, another body presents itself. Join familiar characters as this traditional, stranded with no help, mystery plays out. The tension ratchets up along with the stakes. No one will see the ending coming. This delightful book staggered and leaped in directions I never expected. And I desperately want the next installment as the last page left me stunned. – Guest Reviewer Sandra Hale
Midnight is a boy trying to start a new life. Wink is the wild, unpredictable bright eyed girl who is his new neighbor. And Poppy is the beautiful bully who always gets her way. This is their story. Brief chapters in each of their perspectives make up this tumultuous, twisted story of deceit, love, and jealousy. Tucholke’s ghostlike writing borders on the gothic and its twists and turns leave the characters and readers alike guessing who is telling the truth. The book moves quickly and yet lingers in the best way possible, leaving you to question what—and who—is real. Ethereal, strangely timeless, and haunting, this book stays with you long after you turn its last page. -- Kelly