Monday, September 3, 2012

Best Book Bets - 9/4/2012

Goodbye Summer, Welcome Fall!
You've eaten your fair share of barbeque, shaken the sand from your beach chairs before putting them in storage and have started unearthing your sweaters and hoodies. Summer wanes but not so the release of new sure things in your local bookstore. Switch your beach bag for a book bag and enjoy this week's winners!

The Other Woman  by Hank Phillippi Ryan
CLOTH. It's hard to recommend the novel of a friend in the industry without it sounding like log-rolling. I knew Hank when she was first published at Harlequin and was falsely branded a romance instead of mystery writer. With each book her craft improved and her plotting tightened. She always had a tight grasp of character and this novel's television investigator, Jane Ryland, is no exception. Ryan? Ryland? Her protagonists always seem her doppelganger (not evil though) and she uses her own experience as an award-winning investigator to great effect. This is the book that breaks her into the big leagues of suspense. The combination of shady practices and coverups is perfectly timed just as the national stage is set on politics. Add a grisly investigation of a possible serial killer and a dectective/love interest (gotta have a little romance, eh?) and you have the perfect combination of elements ratcheting up the odds to an unexpected climax. You want your ladies smart and daring, meet Jane Ryland.

Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evanson
CLOTH. No matter how difficult things become in your life all it takes is one look around you to find someone in far more dire straights than yourself. The ol' 'ah, but for the grace of God go I.' Here we have Benjamin Benjamin who has hit his own personal bottom; family, home, job... everything; gone. In a process of rebuilding his life he takes a class on caregiving. Little does he know his new occupation will have him discover what's important in life as he bonds with one of his clients, a precocious 19 year old Ben who has severe muscular dystrophy. They embark on an unlikely road trip helping each other emotionally along the way. This novel is fresh, direct without being morose, and pumped with so much soulful insight, you'll be glad you went along for the ride with them.

One Last Thing Before I Go by Jonathan Tropper
 CLOTH. Nobody likes Jonathan Tropper. If they know who he is, they love him. A literary acquaintance came up to me recently announcing that "the new Tropper novel is coming!" with an enthusiasm rarely seen in a bookstore. It could be his unassuming writing style that leaves real emotion stark bare on the page, it could be his quirky characters that you always believe live and breath. Probably though, its how unashamed he is at letting you inside the underpinnings of his characters. Here we have divorcee Drew Silver, former drummer for a band now only referenced on VH1 flashback weekends. He's demoted to playing at weddings, his daughter is secretly pregnant and his heart is on the way out. He decides to forgo treatment with a 'carpe diem' attitude and enjoy his daughter and the future laid out before her. Tropper and Silver mull the importance and impact of one's life with, as always, humor, conflicting emotions, and heart.

(Lyons Press)
Conning Harvard by Julie Zauzmer & Xi Yu
CLOTH NONFICTION. Just as the latest cheating scandal has broken on the Harvard campus during the past week, this book drops. Wow! You remember the story that went down last year? The man, Adam Wheeler, who falsified his credentials on his application and was rewarded over $45,000 in financial aid. Once at the university he continued cheating the school out of grant money. Alas, he reached too high for when he applied for the Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships, a he was found out. Did that deter him? No. He repeated the pattern again and again with other universities before being nabbed. This book by Harvard Crimson reporters Julie Zauzmer and Xi Yu reads like a script. The readability reminds me of Ben Mezrich's Bringing Down the House that documented that M.I.T. scandal. Saddest fact is that each time Wheeler committed a falsehood, a worthy, honest student of promise was denied.

Independent Reader Hot Pick of the Week!

(Little Brown)
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher
CLOTH. Independent reader titles almost always seem  to be issue books, and that's not a bad thing, but after a while I think teenagers tend to zone out on the significance of the story. Here we have a novel that brings the impact of global headlines to life. Jamie's sister Rose died five years before in a terrorist bombing. He has to live with the sadness the event he barely remembers brought about and Rose's twin sister Jas has to constantly live in the shadow of the vase of remains. Not only does the novel give a face to the tragedies we read of every day, it is able to do so with a quirky humor that teen's can relate to. Sometimes touching on things too painful can be achieved by avoidance. This is a future summer read that the teens will actually enjoy as they see their world through another's eyes.

Young Adult Hot Pick of the Week!
Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough
IR/YOUNG ADULT. Isn't the next reading season after Summer Reads the Halloween Reads? It should be, though every season is that for me. You see, I love me a good, Gothic tale and we have ourselves one fine example here. The long lankin is a bogeyman from an old English ballad who is very much real and lurking in the dark of night hell bent on taking children's souls. Cora and her younger sister, Mimi may be next on its menu as they visit their elderly Aunt Ida. Ida is reminded of the family curse and has to fight to save the children from this long dormant evil. Atmospheric, you can almost taste the fog, and the novel is written in a sophisticated style as enjoyable (and all out spooky) enough for adults as it is for teens. Keep your night light on kiddies (heh-heh-heh-heh!).

No comments:

Post a Comment