Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Best Book Bets - 10/30/2012

All Hallow's Read Eve!

If Sandy taught us one thing its that there is nothing scarier than real life. That, and of course, dropping your hard earned moolah on an unrecommended book. The Bookie's got you covered. This week we have some late Halloween picks and some transcendent works of fiction.

NOTE: Until midnight on Halloween night you can upload a free copy of S.E. Toon's latest short story, Got Your Nose, created to celebrate this year's All Hallow's Read. Learn more about the new holiday tradition by clicking the tab above.

Motherless Child  by Glen Hirshberg
CLOTH. This is not an easy book to find but it is worth the search. In celebration of Halloween this book is released by Earthling Publications. It is a welcome addition to the onslaught of vampire fiction. Nobody sparkles here. We have evil, dark and old in the form of The Whistler who take two mothers of young children and transform them into blood suckers. Now begins an intense battle between maternity and monster, friendship and fiend as the mothers battle with their fate. They set out to protect their children even as they long to be reunited. meanwhile The Whistler has designs on one of them infatuated by her lingering human drive. The writing is top notch and the exploration of the characters pathos makes this one horror novel you can sink your teeth into.

(Deckle Edge)
The Elephant Keeper's Children by Peter Hoeg
CLOTH.  Hoeg's bestselling novel, Smilla’s Sense of Snow ushered the reader into a surreal world of the protagonist's mind, to see the world through there eyes. He has created another fascinating take on the selectivity of reality. He has created a fictional island world for his characters to inhabit. As Hans, his teen narrator, Hoeg tells us the story of a land run by the mysterious governing body, the Grand Synod and the mystical elephant keepers. He takes the time to flesh out the world and the pressure it puts on Peter and the other youth. The children are the sane one here and they persevere in spite of a carnival of odd adults to save his parents. It is a challenging read filled with humor and insight, a meditation on how faith and family loyalty drives the best of us.

(Little, Brown)
Ask the Passengers  by A.S. King 
CLOTH. Like The Age of Miracles, this novel could fit just as well in the young adult section as it does in literature. Similar to the aforementioned novel King uses an otherworldly device to illustrate the coming of age. Astrid Jones finds herself falling in love with a girl but feels that she can't tell her family, or anyone. She makes a habit of lying in her backyard and watching airplanes fly overhead, each filled with people going, away, as she wishes she could. It is with these faceless unknowns she finds a safe place to confide her secrets. This becomes the stepping off point for this young girl as she confronts societal pressures and conflicting feelings of self worth and guilt. It is more than a rite of passage, its a transcendent tale of not just coming out, but coming through puberty realizing one's relevance in the world. This book not only captures the struggle and intense loneliness of the bullied and the ostracized it gives the other people in their lives a sense of just how it feels to confront their undeniable feelings.

(Simon Schuster)
The Secret Keeper  by Kate Morten
CLOTH. "I just can't put this down.Its just what you hope a novel will be," a trusted avid reader told the Bookie so we took a peak. It certainly has a good pedigree, Morton was responsible  for The Secret Garden which was a bestseller and won her many a loyal reader. Here she has another generational tale starts in  England in 1959. A farm girl yearns for more than the hum drum of her life. She then witnesses a crime and gets her first glimpse of the darker side of the world that lies beyond the farmlands. Switch to present day, the girl is a revered actress and returns to the farm of her youth only to gets caught up in the mystery behind the crime from long ago and its connection to her mother. Flashing back and forward the pieces start to connect in a satisfying mix of character and plot. "I didn't want the novel to end," I was told and what better recommend can you get? Morten has proven time and again that she has a unique talents at intertwining family secrets with character's longings. Put another log on the fire, its going to be a long night.

(U. of Washington)
Pumpkin: The Curious History of an American Icon   
by Cindy Ott
NONFICTION/CLOTH. You see it all around you, Pumpkin Mania! So you only have a day before Halloween to pick this up. You have Thanksgiving coming around the corner, another holiday that celebrates this revered gourd. We put it on a pedestal, pick favorites that we won't even eat and when we do consume them its primarily only at special holiday times where elsewhere in the world its a basic staple. We carve them, bake them, drink them, chuck them... Why? This should be more of an academic work but instead it is an insightful read on how we instil meaning in the everyday. It examines origins, traditions and how its significance has grown in our society. A Great Pumpkin indeed!

A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald
 by Errol Morris
NONFICTION, CLOTH. The biggest injustice ever perpetrated at The Academy Awards was when Morris' first documentary, A Thin Blue Line was not allowed to be considered for Best Documentary because it used reenactments of the featured crime that altered based on the perspective of each person interviewed. It was inspired, accurate, well-researched, and resulted in an innocent man being released from prison. He uses the same investigation chops here, understanding that using a little storytelling helps us discover the truth. Here we have the MacDonald murder case where a police officer was convicted of murdering his family in Fort Bragg. The husband always claimed his innocence and after a 20 year investigation, Morris proves it out. He shows us how the media and the judicial system can be complicit in such acts of injustice. You may never trust the news or the status que of the system again. Makes for a great book but I feel guilty wishing it was a film.

 Young Adult Hot Picks of the Week!

Dead Girl Moon by Charlie Price
YOUNG ADULT, CLOTH. What if you were a teen an stumbled upon a dead body but you knew that in your hometown the police weren't necessarily your friends. Grace a runaway does her best to cover up her discovery but her efforts fail and she is becomes a suspect. Small town corruption rules as the teens learn that the authorities are covering up for a local big wig and they would do anything to keep the deep pockets from being implied, including murder. A touch of The Outsiders realism keeps you engaged as the teens scramble to remain free and disclose the truth. Captures adolescent neurosis and brings up the age old question, "Are you paranoid if they really are all out to get you?"
Burning Blue by Paul Griffin
YOUNG ADULT, CLOTH. This novel brings the horror of acid burning to stateside. Nocole was born wealthy and beautiful. Suddenly Nicole's world is forever altered when she is deformed by an unknown assailant. Her life comes crashing in around her and she becomes the latest media fodder. One other teen, Jay, who sees himself as a freak himself, decides to use his geekish prowess at computer hacking to find the criminal that attacked her. What starts as a mission to avenge Nicole's tragedy turns to an act of devotion. The more Jay learns the more he has to confront his feelings for her and the real motivation behind the incident. The who and why will challenge what the reader believes about love, beauty and obsession.

Goblin Secrets  by William Alexander
INDEPENDENT READER, CLOTH. This came out earlier this year before the Bookie started posting but since it just got a National Book nomination I thought I should point it out. Plus, it's almost Halloween and we have goblins here... and witches! A clockwork witch named Graba collects stray children. The youngest acquisition is Rowanie who had been searching for his actor brother. In Zombay where they live, acting is prohibited so Rowanie runs away to join a troupe of play-throwing goblins. Natch. Oh yeah, the goblins want to find him too because he may be the only person that can save the town from disaster. Trippy stuff yes, but Rowanie's passion to reunite with his brother and even the sympathetic goblins need for family and survival breathes life into this surreal adventure.
Zom-B   by  Darren Shan illust. by Cliff Nielson
CLOTH. We only have two more days to celebrate Zombie Preparedness Month so here we go (NOTE: for YA zombie lovers, Jonathan Maberry's Flesh and Bone is now out,. Go buy, like a zom hungry for brains!!) Be it a social commentary of our times (society chooses its monsters as a reflection of the fears of the day) Zombie's are all the rage. Here is a chapter book for the kiddo who loves his reads on the dark side. Zombies attack Ireland. B (our narrator and eventual zombie)  lives with his racist fatherhen news reports start appearing of a zombie outbreak in Ireland, B's abusive and racist father has taught B to be a bit of a bully himself. His fighting skills however brings him friends when then the zombie attack his school. He shows his schoolmates how to defend themselves against the undead and each other and finds purpose in his life on the way. Comes with some gruesome illustrations and is the start of a series so there are more short, brutal adventures to come.

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