See You in the Cosmos, by Jack Cheng (2017)

See You in the Cosmos, by Jack ChengI cheerfully admit to being a low-level space geek, and I can pinpoint my interest precisely to September 1977, when Voyager II and Voyage I (yup, in that order) were launched into space in search of interstellar pals. Each spacecraft carried a Golden Record intended to introduce any intelligent life to life on Earth. Eleven-year-old Alex Petroski has decided to launch Voyager III, complete with a Golden iPod filled with his own recordings for aliens to discover. Overtly a transcript of his recordings, this creative heart-filled novel tells the story of Alex’s remarkable journey over several days, both literally and figuratively. Literally, he and his beloved pup Carl Sagan travel from his home in Colorado to the Southwest High Altitude Rocket Festival in Albuquerque where Alex will launch his homemade rocket into space. Read more of this post

Best. State. Ever. by Dave Barry (2016)

Best. State. Ever. by Dave BarryIt’s getting harder to find humour in what’s happening across the line, so I turned to an old stand-by who delivers exactly what I needed in his latest offering, subtitled A Florida Man Defends his Homeland. Humourist Barry, formerly known for his Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper columns, now publishes a series of children’s novels, as well as continuing to write books for adults like this one. In Best. State. Ever., Barry rejects the idea that Floridians are dumb, but accepts that it’s definitely the state of weird, starting with, natch, the 2000 election and its hanging chads. Read more of this post

The Passenger, by Lisa Lutz (2016)

The PassengerWhen Tanya Dubois discovers her husband Frank’s body at the bottom of the stairs, she panics. She had nothing to do with it, but she instantly goes on the run and assumes a new identity. Again. She can’t afford to have the police looking into her background. We don’t know why, but we know she is escaping a past that involved another person’s death. Now Amelia Keen, she ends up in Austin, TX, where she meets Blue, a woman whose own murky past means she immediately recognizes a fellow liar. Amelia has to trust Blue when circumstances force them into an unlikely criminal partnership. But in no time at all, the past appears on Amelia’s doorstep and she’s on the run again. Read more of this post

The Rejected Writers’ Book Club, by Suzanne Kelman (2014, 2016)

The Rejected Writers' Book ClubThe way to find literary gems is to take a chance on all kinds of offerings. In this case, a delightful cover initially attracted me, followed by the description. Small-town librarian Janet Jones and spouse Martin are empty-nesters living in Southlea Bay, located on a fictional island in Puget Sound off Seattle. They moved there from California, where difficult daughter Stephanie still lives. Determined to catch the rascally raccoons invading the garden, Martin turns to building a trap using duct tape and birdseed, while Janet does some research that lands her at a meeting of the Rejected Writers’ Book Club, led by the forceful Doris Newberry (a joke for children’s lit lovers). Read more of this post