Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Scanning the Backlist (1)


I've really enjoyed seeing more and more bloggers embracing the exploration of backlist titles - so much so that I was inspired to examine my own personal backlist consisting of authors I've reviewed on the blog.  I went back through every author I've reviewed and checked out his or her backlist - and for some, even found new books I hadn't realized were released.  I'm thinking I'll make this a regular feature, since it's going to take me a while to profile all the great books I've found - and as I keep reading, I'll find even more.

Sarah Addison Allen
I absolutely loved The Peach Keeper and The Girl Who Chased the Moon - looking up her backlist titles led me to a great discovery: Garden Spells, Allen's first book.  

For nearly a decade, 34-year-old Claire Waverley, at peace with her family inheritance, has lived in the house alone, embracing the spirit of the grandmother who raised her, ruing her mother's unfortunate destiny and seemingly unconcerned about the fate of her rebellious sister, Sydney, who freed herself long ago from their small town's constraints. Using her grandmother's mystical culinary traditions, Claire has built a successful catering business -- and a carefully controlled, utterly predictable life -- upon the family's peculiar gift for making life-altering delicacies: lilac jelly to engender humility, for instance, or rose geranium wine to call up fond memories. 
Garden Spells reveals what happens when Sydney returns to Bascom with her young daughter, turning Claire's routine existence upside down. With Sydney's homecoming, the magic that the quiet caterer has measured into recipes to shape the thoughts and moods of others begins to influence Claire's own emotions in terrifying and delightful ways. 
One last thing to note: since my reading of The Peach Keeper, Allen has released another novel, Lost Lake, which is on my TBR list.

Emma Donoghue
Donoghue's Room was one of the very first books I received from a publisher to review.  And it more than exceeded my hopes - it's still one of my favorite books.  I was excited to discover that, in addition to Astray, her short story collection that I already own, she has a book of fairy tale retellings titled Kissing the Witch.

Told with luminous voices that shimmer with sensuality and truth, these age-old characters shed their antiquated cloaks to travel a seductive new landscape, radiantly transformed. Cinderella forsakes the handsome prince and runs off with the fairy godmother; Beauty discovers the Beast behind the mask is not so very different from the face she sees in the mirror; Snow White is awakened from slumber by the bittersweet fruit of an unnamed desire.
Nora Gallagher
The Sacred Meal is one of the first five books I ever reviewed on this blog, and was the very first book I ever received from a publisher.  I was pleased to see that Gallagher has a memoir, Things Seen and Unseen, that explores a year in church liturgy and describes her journey to faith.

Whether writing about her brother's battle against cancer, talking to homeless men about the World Series, or questioning the afterlife ("One world at a time"), Gallagher draws us into a world of journeys and mysteries, yet grounded in a gritty reality. She braids together the symbols of the Christian calendar, the events of a year in one church, and her own spiritual journey, each strand combed out with harrowing intimacy. Thought provoking and profoundly perceptive, Things Seen and Unseen is a remarkable demonstration that "the road to the sacred is paved with the ordinary."

1 comment:

  1. This is an AWESOME feature idea. I may have to copy you and do this at some point (with credit to you for the idea of course!). :) Because I've stepped way back from ARCs lately, I've been having a grand ol' time exploring backlist titles that I ignored for a long time.

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