Karen Joy Fowler, Booth
I like Fowler maybe 50% of the time -- I liked her book Sarah Canary
, and her one about the Jane Austen reading club, but I haven't liked much else she's written. She's big in the SFF community even though most of her books are not fantasy or SF, because she was involved with the award formerly known as the Tiptree Award; and she's written some fantasy works, one of which won a Nebula.
Anyway, Booth is not fantasy or science fiction. It's a long look at the Booth family, focusing only somewhat on the acts of their best known member, John Wilkes Booth. Abraham Lincoln's own life runs like a rivulet through the book, right up until John Wilkes Booth and he collide.
This is a really long and really well-done book. Even if you don't care about Lincoln or JWB, this one is worth reading, just for the depth of the writing and characterization. It's also a historical novel, and the look at the world of 1820-1880 is fascinating.
An excellent novel. Highly recommend.
Elizabeth Strout, Oh, William
I'd never read any Strout, but I picked this one up while browsing the new book section at our library, and I enjoyed it enough that I checked out some of Strout's other books. I did not like them as much, but this one was pretty good. It's the story of a woman's relationship with her first husband, as well as their daughters and friends. William is about 70, as is Lucy Barton (the narrator), and Lucy reflects on him and on their life together. It's a very quiet and not very heavily plotted novel, short enough to read in one sitting.
If you like very calm novels this one is for you.
John Scalzi, Kaiju Preservation Society
A Scalzi novel -- so a lot of banter between a small group of friends, some of whom work together. Not much in the way of characterization, and the banter gets on my nerves after a while, but very readable.
I did like the premise here, which is a "What if," (what if nuclear weapons create portals between different universes); and I really liked the first twenty or thirty pages. The ending I didn't like as much, mainly because I was losing interest by that point.
If you like light fiction filled with in-jokes and quips, this one might be for you.
Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, Gwendy's Button Box, Gwendy's Magic Feather, Gwendy's Final Task
Stephen King books, so compulsively readable and a bit icky. I re-read the first one because the last one just came out, and discovered there was a middle one as well, so I read that too. If you don't have anything else to read, these will kill some hours. The last one is the weakest, the first one the strongest.
The premise is that a weird guy gives ten year old Gwendy custody of a magic box. She can fuck up the world with it, but it's better if she doesn't. The weird guy thinks she's morally strong enough not to fuck up the world. Meanwhile, the box also makes her life better in various magical ways. In the last two, those ways come at a cost; but in the first, not so much.
Readable, but not remarkable.