Monday, November 26, 2012

Best Book Bests - 11/27/2012

Buy a book for a reader, not a reader for the Bookie!

I need the tactile feel of the pulp under my fingers, well chosen words raised on them, for me to fully appreciate the reading experience. I was told when I was very young that I could go anywhere between the pages of a book. I wasn't told their true magic, that I could see that world through other people's eyes, that I could laugh with them, mourn with them, and stand in awe beside them as the words presented symmetry to the chaos we call life. In short, reading a book is an intimate affair. The pages are warm, the non-glare of a digital readers screen o so cold. In these days when daylight is at a premium there is no decision to be made. Here's this week's chestnuts to read, read, as opposed to virtually read over an open fire (real please, no fireplace DVDs).

City of Dark Magic  by Magnus Flyte
CLOTH. How's this for a recipe? First-time novelist Flyte weaves historical fiction with romance, combines a rapier wit with a penchant for the mystical, all to produce a suspense thriller. The studies of musician Sarah uncovers a mystery hiding in Beethoven's artifacts. The Immortal Beloved he made reference to was indeed flesh and blood, especially blood. Before you can say hocus-pocus she is unearthing a murder mystery and a discovering a romantic interest. If that doesn't sound convoluted enough, let's see, Prague may be the portal to hell, Sarah's handsome prince is an ancient dwarf and her sexual liaisons lead her to drugs that allow her to play with the time line continuum. I know what you're thinking, it sounds like every other funny, spooky, historical romance you've ever read... NOT!

The Black Box  by Michael Connelly
CLOTH. This is the 18th time we get to follow Harry Bosch as he solves crimes. In many other author's hands (I'm talking to you, Patterson) this could just be another cookie-cutter mystery thriller. This time out however Connelly takes one of the most famous backdrops of racial tension and uses it to reveal the corruption of apathy in post-riot Los Angeles. Stacey Coon is acquitted for the Rodney King beating that instigated the urban unrest. A woman's body is found shot dead in the aftermath, a case barely investigated during the melee. Leave it to Bosch decades later with a bullet from the crime scene to reveal the crimes behind the crime. Sometimes the greatest danger isn't on the streets. A mature, heartfelt thriller told by a master who still knows how to surprize us as the mystery unfolds.

Life Among Giants  by Bill Roorbach 
CLOTH. David, the Lizard, has a bright future, popularity and athletic talent that promised an ivy league education and stardom. That is until his parents are killed and he spends his days trying to solve their murders. He still gets all he was promised, an NFL career, life among the rich and famous, even dalliances with a famous dancer but still the mystery that clouds his life wears on him. What will it take for The Lizard to be an active participant in his privileged life? The truth? It is a dizzy ride along with the haves as he searches for the one thing that will give relevance to his opulent lifestyle. As the mystery unravels you fear for both David and his older sister that the truth will not set them free but damn them. Reading this novel allows you to look through their jaded eyes at the world from the inside of their limo longing for contact.

Cascade by Maryanne O'Hara
CLOTH.  Being from New England, novels set there have a natural appeal to me. In the 1930s Desdemona was building a reputation as an accomplished artist in Boston when marriage and family obligations tear her from her dreams. The Depression hits and in the concurrent rebuilding of the infrastructure of America her hometown is slated to be flooded to provide water for Boston where her dreams had died. Desdemona's dreams still wait her there in the form of a fellow artist and love interest. Will she break from her established responsibilities as wife and daughter or defy convention and finally live her life for herself? Does she even live in a time where that is even an option? Her moral dilemma will bond you with her as she struggles with life first torn apart by poverty, now by impending war, each pulling her away from true love.
(William Morrow)
Sacre Bleu; A Comedy D'Art  by Christopher Moore 
FICTION/TRADE PAPER. Starting with Lamb (the tale of Jesus' teen years told by his best friend, Biff), Moore has proven to be an outrageous satirist. His obsessions, once set, are truly that, he takes everything to its intellectual extreme. If its Jesus, Santa or bloodsucking freaks, he puts every convention on its head just for a laugh. This book came out earlier this year and has just came out in paperback in time for gift-giving season. If you are looking for the perfect book for art lovers, humor lovers, literature lovers, even lovers, then this book could fit the bill. WARNING: You couldn't be any more left of center than in one of his novels. Potential side effects; side stitches, unexpected knowledge of the art of the French Masters, and a disorientation enhanced by not knowing what is historical fact and what is glorious hooey!

(It Books)
Talking Pictures  edited by Ransom Riggs
NONFICTION/CLOTH. Riggs magical young adult novel Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children combined a classic Gothic tale of orphans and a town's hidden secrets with an at times disturbing collection of found photographs that captured the author's imagination. This is one of the author's obsessions, collecting these lost oddities at flea markets, awkward and inspired moments strangers' lives. Here he presents some of his collection without a storyline to back them up. Here you see the photos story-telling strength in their raw form. All the emotions are captured in faded sepia with the sparsest inscription alongside. Think of it as an arty PostSecret. As you take in this collection you share the author's fascination with their emotive quality. No wonder such photos inspired him to write one of the best children tales in many a year.   

1775 by Kevin Phillips
NONFICTION/CLOTH. 1776 gets all the props, even a musical and a holiday but it was the year before that was the stepping stone for that banner year. Phillips builds a detailed account of the increasing unrest that preempted Lexington and Concord. A hungry people, increased oppression from Britain and the foundations of a class based government so much like what the colonists risked life and limb to get away from; all building a powder keg that was sure to blow up eventually. Phillips more than hints at that being the very intention of the British, to force the conflict and strip away the colonists power once and for all. Little did they know how calculated the colonys were at preparing for the inevitable. A thoroughly researched and passionate argument.

 Young Adult Hot Picks of the Week!

Rootless   by Chris Howard
YOUNG ADULT, CLOTH. Here we have Banyan, kind of a post-apocalypse Lorax who wants to save the few remaining trees in his dying world. Trees were a thing of legend until a tattooed  stranger tells him of a land where they still exist. Before that day young Banyan constructed replicas of them for the rich and the privileged. After finding himself newly orphaned (of course) with nothing to lose he embarks on a journey through a desolate world battling pirates and even man-eating insects. On his journey he makes seemingly unwise alliances and learns that his obsession with the trees is more connected to his family than he ever knew. This brilliantly imagined world provides one thrill after another as treacherous wastelands are revealed and forgotten lands are ultimately discovered. An powerfully original take on dystopian fiction with ecology and genealogy at its heart.
(Houghton Mifflin)
Son by Lois Lowry
YOUNG ADULT, CLOTH. Every young adult I know has at one time or not had to read The Giver as a summer reading assignment. Good thing too, for this Newbery award-winning book, along with its sequel Gathering Blue are some of the best examples of distopian fiction.  Little did we know that Hunger Games would propel such themes into the pop culture lexicon. Less slam-bam than Suzanne Collins, Lowry's voice has a more lyrical quality that counters her chilling vision of future society, more reminiscent of Atwood's Handmaid's Tale. This summer she has delivered the fourth and final in the series. Water Claire finds herself in a land devoid of emotion. Pregnant women are vessels not mothers, offspring product, not children. Still, the government can't refuse her heart and she joins in the final clash between good and evil for no better reason than reunion and the sanctity of family.

Beta   by Rachel Cohn
INDEPENDENT READER, CLOTH. With all the hubbub over Cinder this past summer here is one futurist young adult thriller that way have been glossed over. Similar to The Giver orThe Uglies series, Beta presents a world of conformity except this time it isn't the dominance over humans to contruct a utopian society, it is achieved by building the perfect societal beast. Elysia is born (constructed) a teenager, a blank chip off the assembly line. It takes the death of a real life girl to infuse this replicant with life experience. What could go wrong? She has been built to serve the remaining people on the island of Desmene. So this perfect female creature with the underlying heart of a dead girl becomes curious, then envious of the comforts and emotions of the human inhabitants. Any sign of humanity would result in her dissemblance so she plays along, and learns. Also, she's not the only one in the population of machines to feel these human emotions. Anyone who have read I, Robot can tell you this will not end well. This is a series so only the seeds of revolt are planted but in all it makes for a compelling read.

1 comment:

  1. Bookie loves comments! Here's one from a regular, "Bwhy you gotta hate on ebooks? They're good for readers, authors and publishers. People who might not ordinarily buy a hardcover (they're huge and take up lots of space) may pony up for a digital copy, publishers won't lose money on unsold copies so they can sign more new talent, and libraries and collectors can still get paper copies. And don't get me started about backlist!"
    WHAT DO YOU THINK? Chime in (Christmas chimes OK)