Hut's Place
 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

April 17, 2016
 Fast, Fun Reads Arrive on Indie Paperback Bestseller List
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman. The word most used to describe Backman's previous book, A Man Called Ove, is "charming," and it is springing up again in reviews of his latest. The author has been a hit in his native Sweden for a while now, and his novels have now been translated into more than 25 languages, ensuring further charm. In Ove, Backman tells the story of a widowed neighborhood curmudgeon whose life is turned upside down by a rambunctious family that moves in next door. In this new novel,  we meet precocious, 7-year-old Elsa whose best and only friend is her feisty, somewhat unbalanced grandmother. Elsa's parents are divorced, and school is rife with bullies, but Granny saves the day with her wonderful stories set in the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When cancer takes her grandmother, Elsa discovers that she has left behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged and that she, Elsa, has been charged with delivering those missives. That leads her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and old crones, but it also takes her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother's fairy tales.

Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll. This debut thriller is about a woman tr ying to keep a terrible secret from her past from destroying her near-perfect present life, which includes a successful, enviable career and an upcoming marriage. Knoll moves between past and present to tell Ani FaNelli's story, and she is adept with plot twists and page-turning suspense. There have been inevitable comparisons to  Gone Girl, but this excerpt from a Los Angeles Review of Books review offers a different opinion that may help you decide if Luckiest Girl Alive is for you:

"However, I have found enough personality in Knoll's debut novel to let her stand on her own, rather than label her 'the next Gillian Flynn.' Knoll's version of the feminist crime novel is more steeped in pop culture than Flynn's, and Ani's psyche has nothing to envy of Amy's: they are both troubled, and they both put up outstanding gender and class performances. But while Amy is more private and emotional, Ani relies on modern fashion references that will thrill even Vogue, Cosmo, and Glamour readers..."

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. While not a new title, Me Before You has returned to the bestseller list (complete with new cover) because of the June 3 release of the movie version, the trailer of which is making the rounds in theaters. Moyes is a bestselling author of romantic novels, and Me Before You is no exception - not great literature but a book populated with  interesting characters that earned praise from the likes of both O, the Oprah Magazine and Anne Lamott in People. Here's a brief plot summary:

Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an ordinary life, with a steady boyfriend and close family who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life - big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel - and now he's pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.  Not surprisingly, he's acerbic, moody, and bossy. But Louisa refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.

Poignant New Novel From Jane Hamilton Arrives This Week

The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton. There's been lots of pre-publication buzz about this new novel, and Hamilton certainly has the pedigree with titles like The Book of Ruth and A Map of the World on her resume. The Excellent Lombards is a coming-of-age story featuring Mary Frances "Frankie" Lombard, who would love nothing more than  for life on her family's apple farm to remain idyllic and constant. Alas, her kinfolk are a complicated bunch and running a family farm is a constant struggle, so Frankie's future isn't going to be what she imagined.

In a starred review of the novel, which arrives this week, Booklist wrote, "Hamilton's lushly pleasurable novel of radiant comedy, deep emotions, and resonant realizations considers the wonders of nature, the boon and burden of inheritance, and the blossoming of the self."


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Hi, I'm Hut Landon. I used to own a local independent bookstore and was head of the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA) in San Francisco for many years. Now semi-retired, I work part-time as an independent bookseller.

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