Stuck On The Sox – Rich Lindberg
This rather light-hearted history of the White Sox, focused primarily from the early 50s until its publication in 1978, comes from noted Chicago historian Rich Lindberg. I was intrigued when I saw the cover in a Twitter post by one of the NBCSN flunkies, so I ran out to Amazon and found a used copy for a reasonable price.
Truth be told, this really wasn’t worth it. Aside from 1977, the mid-to-late 70s was not really a great time in White Sox history, and, because of my age, it isn’t a time that I really relate to. Yeah, there were some names in there, but, for the most part, my life isn’t improved by having read this book. That said, it was less than 200 pages, so if you happen across it, why not give it a shot?
Red Sector – Diane Carey
In the latest entry of the Double Helix series, a commander who spent years as a prisoner on a quarantined planet volunteers to go back to help Spock, Bones, and Dr. Crusher find an heir to the Romulan royal family, which has been decimated by an artificial virus, similar to what was seen at Terok Nor and an outbreak the Enterprise had encountered years earlier.
Diane Carey brings us Red Sector, the third entry in the Double Helix series which focuses mostly on the pair from OG Star Trek, with the Next Gen crew playing a bit supporting role. She deftly avoids the problems I had with the previous installment, with plot overlap trying to investigate and solve for a mysterious plague, by skipping that part of the story altogether. The disease is a given, with the action focused on rescuing the one person who can potentially cure it from a bad situation. With three more entries to go, I am cautiously optimistic on where the series is headed.
Save Yourself: A Memoir – Cameron Esposito
Comedian Cameron Esposito checks in with her first memoir, a collection of essays detailing her growing up in the western suburbs of Chicago as a devout Catholic, going to Boston College and discovering her sexuality, coming out to friends and family, moving back to Chicago, finding both herself and a career, and, finally, taking the leap to move to LA.
I have never seen Esposito perform live, despite the best of intentions. I had tickets to see her in Toronto back in 2015, but she had to cancel due to an acting gig. I had loose plans to see her this spring as part of her book tour, but, thanks to a certain pandemic, that show didn’t happen either. Thus, at least for the time being, this book is the closest I will get to her work for awhile. And an enjoyable book it was.
Point B: A Teleportation Love Story – Drew Magary
In his latest effort, Drew Magary introduces us to Anna Huff, a high school junior intent on finding out who killed her sister years earlier. When her roommate, the daughter of the CEO of the world’s only porting provider, disappears from school after one night, she combines her two obsessions and, with the rag-tag group of friends she manages to make, attempts to bring down the new world order. In this world, Huff sees her two obsessions overlap, as the search for her roommate/crush overlaps with the search for her sisters’ killer. Finding one leads her to the other, and, ultimately, the life she has always wanted.
While Magary’s previous novel was a bit of an acid trip, Point B is more of a straightforward story of love and revenge, with the science fiction framework of teleportation wrapped around it. It’s a pretty realistic take on an unrealistic scenario, which helped ground the tale. It would have been easy to just add teleportation to the world without going into detail on how it changed things, but Magary builds out the entire world, thinking through the effects this new technology would have on tourism, the workforce, real estate, and international politics. If he can keep producing content of this quality, then I will continue to be on board.
Fractured – Karin Slaughter
Fractured, the second entry in the Will Trent series, follows the state investigator, who teams up with a detective from Atlanta PD when a brutal crime scene leads to the discovery of a kidnapped girl. The investigation leads to old acquaintances and feelings of inadequacy as the police try to find the missing girl before her time runs out.
Last year, I had my first experience with this series from author Karin Slaughter, taking in the 8th and 1st entry in that order. Once again, there was a personal connection between Trent and one of the primary players in the investigation, a crutch that I fear Slaughter leans on way too often. That said, I finished the book in less than a week, so it must have had something going for it. I look forward to continuing the series and seeing where it goes from here. Hopefully in order.
The Wife Between Us – Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen
In The Wife Between Us, authors Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen introduce us to two women, Vanessa and Nellie, and the man they share between them. As Vanessa deals with the tatters of her life following the end of her relationship, Nellie prepares for her upcoming wedding. But, twist, they are actually the same woman! Now that their, or her, ex is moving on to a new fiancé, Vanessa decides to warn her of the dangers awaiting her, even if it means putting herself back in danger.
My feelings on the book are sort of split. Prior to the big twist, I was quickly losing interest in where things were going. Or not going. After the twist, things started to pick up, but I feel like too much time was spent getting there. Overall, I guess I would say I enjoyed the experience, but I feel like there was an opportunity to tighten things up which would have made it more enjoyable.
I see that there is another offering from this author team out in the world. I guess I saw enough here to give it a chance, if I come across it at a reasonable price on the Kindle store.
Dare Me – Megan Abbott
In Megan Abbott’s Dare Me, a team of high school cheerleaders adjust to their new coach, while navigating the back-stabbing and in-fighting of their social structures. When the coach’s boyfriend ends up dead, it pits some of the girls against one another, as old jealousies and rivalries come back to the forefront.
I’ll admit, the fact that this book was being turned into a television series is what drew me in, even though I’m not watching the USA series. This was a weird read, where I was invested enough to want to know what happened next, but not invested enough to sit down and really spend the time to find out. If I happened across one of Abbott’s other works for a reasonable price, I might check back in with her, but I don’t see myself seeking her out.
Mrs. Fletcher – Tom Perrotta
Mrs. Fletcher is the second Tom Perrotta novel I’ve read after watching the adaptation on HBO. This duo coming of age story revolves around Eve Fletcher, a divorcée undergoing a mid-life crisis, and her son Brendan, a college freshman having trouble adjusting to not being the popular athlete he was in high school. She experiences a sexual reawakening that was missing from her earlier life, while he runs afoul of sexual norms while trying to navigate college life.
I can’t say the Mrs. Fletcher was a bad novel, but I can say I would have enjoyed it much more had I either read it before watching the series or if I had waited longer after the series concluded. The series was a pretty faithful adaptation, which led to not much in the way of surprises when going through the novel. The one big difference was the ending, where the series ended a chapter or two prior to the end of the book, which did provide more of a closure and wasn’t as abrupt. The other big difference, at least to me, was in the presentation of Brendan. In the series, he came off much douchier than he does in the book, with naivete replacing what came off as outright malice on the screen.
Between this and The Leftovers, I’m interested in looking into more of Perrotta’s work. I should probably do so before HBO gets ahold of it, to try and get a pure reading on my feelings about his work.
Liz Phair – Horror Stories
Liz Phair, who entered the public consciousness in 1993 with the release of Exile In Guyville, brings us her first memoir, a collection of essays detailing events in her life from childhood to the present. I’m sure there’s an audience out there that will appreciate this, I sadly am not part of it.
Phair has been a favorite since I discovered her on an episode of 120 Minutes way back when, so I was excited to read what she had to say. While I certainly wasn’t expecting a rock-and-roll tell-all of the alternative music scene of the 90s, I was expecting something other than what we got: a lot of naval gazing and apologizing for the alleged indiscretions of her youth, which she’s woke enough to recognize, but never actually atone for. Rumor has it that she had signed a two book deal with Random House. If that’s the case, odds are that I’ll be giving the next one a pass.
Embrace Your Weird: Face Your Fears And Unleash Creativity – Felicia Day
Felicia Day returns with Embrace Your Weird, a self help book aimed at getting readers to overcome their fears about being creative and completing something (anything). Aside from Day’s personal anecdotes and self-learned wisdom, she provides numerous exercises intended to nurture each reader’s unique, creative voice. If I was looking to expand my creative activities, I could see myself partaking of the activities and having them make a difference in my ability to move forward.
More important than the book itself was the opportunity meet Felicia Day at an event put on by the good folks at Anderson’s Bookshop. Unlike the previous events they’ve put on that I’ve attended, this one included the opportunity for a photo with the author. I’ve been a fan of Day’s since her appearances as one of the potential slayers in the final season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, so getting the opportunity to shake her hand and exchange some small talk in exchange for a photo was well worth the drive out to Naperville on a rainy Saturday afternoon.