Monday, November 5, 2012

Best Book Bets - 11/6/2012

Fall Back = More Time To Read!

Leaves are falling and thermostats are rising in the land of literary prognosticators. No better time to pick up a good book, save for on the beach, or in the throws of Winter, or in the return of warmth in the Spring... O.K. There is NO bad time to crack the spine of your next read. Here's some help to make your reading time even better.

Flight Behavior  by Barbara Kingsolver
CLOTH. Here's another one of those literary heavyweights whose titles drop in time for giftgiving season. The case with Kingsolver is that she delivers classics (brillient fiction like Poisonwood Bible or even her nonfiction work on the benefits of eating and living locally, Animal Vegetable, Miracle)that are accessible to the average reader. That is simply because they are so deeply entrenched in the emotional outcome of there protagonist that anyone can relate. Set in Feathertown, Tennessee, we have young Dellarobia. While struggling with life and love in her rural squalor she comes upon a forest where a silent red fire smolders. The revallation of her discovery to the world would surely ostracize her from the world but it could also free her from the isolation of her life. A great portrait of person struggles and the bravery it takes to break free fueled only on faith.

The Care and Feeding of Exotic Pets  by Diana Wagman 
CLOTH. There is something about abduction stories that really get under my skin. Even when they are thoroughly original like Room, I can't help throw them in with torture porn. That said this story of now-single mom Winnie's kidnapping by a deranged man who's obsession is his pet iguana proved an acceptation. Winnie is smart and resorceful and rather than constantly trying to escape she tries to get under the skin of her captor. It is this psychological chess game that ratchets up the suspense more than the kidnapper's ulterior motives. Dark humor, reptile miscellany, and a keen sense of how crime has been elevated to celebrity status makes this a must read for people who aren't freaked out by such things. Moral? Don't mess with a mama bear!

(W W Norton)
Magnificence: A Novel by Lydia Millet
CLOTH.  Here's another tale that uses the window dresssing to help set the thematic tone of the novel. Lydia Millet inherits a mansion complete with all of its baggage. Included is a vast array of taxidermy decorating the Pasadena palace in the past and stuffed death. As she begins to reconstruct her own life she commits to the care and mending of the artifacts. What follows is a cast of equalling damaged characters coming to reside in the estate who need similar tending. Other family members of course she this as nothing short of crazy. Lydia and her new found acquaintances must fight for there survival. Not only is the mansion an all encompassing metaphor, his is a labaryinth of widing halls, secrets and revelations for both the reader and the characters to discover. Truely transcendent writing from a modern master.
(Reagan Arthur)

The Snow Child  by Eowin Ivey 
TRADE PAPER. First released back in February this had become one of the Bookie's favorite books of the year and I'm not alone. Talk to anyone who's read it and the gush over the emotional ride it takes you on. Its Alaska in the 1920s. A brutal land to live off of, especially for the childless Jack and Mabel. Their love has grown as desolate as the landscape. One day, perhaps a vain attempt to recapture their spark, they build a small child out of the season's first snowfall.  The next day, the sculpture is gone but they see a blonde girl and a fox running between the trees. The girl Faina is both a confounding mystery and a potential miracle. The couple wrestle with the girl's existence, seduced by witnessing their dreams come true but cognizant that they live in a world where prayer's are often denied. You will be as mesmorized as the couple from page one.

Boston Noire 2: The Classics  edited by Dennis Lehane
CLOTH. Local mystery writing hero edits yet another collection of tales filled with New England flavor and draped in the shadows of Boston's back streets. There are 14 tales including David Foster Wallace, Linda Barnes, and even Lehane himself who proved with his collection, Coronado, that he's no slouch when it comes to short stories. Where New York is a backdrop of cold grey hussel and busseling and Los Angles, a bleached stucco of soullessness, Boston gives us an old school back drop of brownstones, cold shores and colonial decay, Boston Sepia if not Noir. These are some strong standards, a great companion to the original collection, for lovers of Denis' work and for mystery lovers in general.

Elsewhere by Richard Russo
NONFICTION/CLOTH. Russo is the kind of writer that I am so jealous of, like Anne Tyler, he is able to make subtle dramatic arches out of the every day and make the reader commit to his characters and hang on their every seemingly trivial action. With a grace similar to his Emire Falls Russo makes a narrative out of his own life experience without imbedding them in fictional characters. He grows up in the 50s in a community that lived of of (and died because of) the leather business he learned early that life could be cruel and not always fair. With his mother instilling him with dreams of a life beyond his hometown, the two of them chart a new future realizing that there are parts of home that you can never shake off. Funny, sad, and moving, this book would be another one of his great novels if it wasn't a memoir.

Hallucinations by Oliver Sacks
NONFICTION, CLOTH. At one point in time everyone will admit that they had seen something that really wasn't there. Some call them ghosts, UFOs, religious epiphanies or what have you but for that moment they were as real as the hand on their face. Welcome to the word of hallucinations. As Andrew T. Weil alluded to in From Chocolate to Morphine man constantly hungers for transcendent experiences. What if they can be explained as away by science? Once considered a phenomena reserved for the clinically insane, Sacks, a thought provoking archivist of new science ( The Man who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, Musicophilia) presents the facts of hallucinations alongside historical antidotes questioning their paranormal other-worldliness and even our very perception of our reality. This is a good trip!

 Young Adult Hot Picks of the Week!

Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zach Stentz
YOUNG ADULT, CLOTH. Like Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, we have a autistic narrator unraveling the clues to a crime. HIs life experience, seeing our world as an outsider is perfect for the task. Colin Fischer's condition manifests itself with an inability to be touched, disdain for anything blue and an inability to read facial expressions. What he is very attuned to however is details which he notes and connects with miraculous detail. A gun is found in school, a bully is fingered and  his only chance of proving his innoscence comes from one of his victims, Colin. Together they teach each other about growing up and chancing on friendship (and how to be an unlikely crime fighting team.) The writing team are action screenwriters are they know how to move a plot along  to keep young hands turning pages.

(Little, Brown)
Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor
YOUNG ADULT, CLOTH. If you have already read the first book in this series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, there is no need in me recommending this. If not, the first book should simultaneously come out in trade paperback (read; cheaper!) so run to the bookstore now. Karou, our lead character and heroine, is plagued by her fate, to make monsters and collecting teeth for Brimstone to fight a war that can only lead to more darkness. Now an orphan she goes it alone. On the other side of this war of the gods is her star crossed lover Akiva. Two lovers on opposite sides, each not believing in their causes. Will they have what it takes to usurp the regeimes and reunite? And what about the poor Chimeras? There is so much original, punk mythos coming at you from Taylor's creative mind your mind will spin. The end will leaving you hanging for the forthcoming finale but what do you expect in the era of paranormal trilogies.

Curse of the Thirteenth Fey; The True Tale of Sleeping Beauty   
by Jane Yolan
INDEPENDENT READER, CLOTH. Forget Stephen King, Yolan has written over 300 books from The Devil's Arithmetic to How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night? (one an essential summer read title, the other an adorable storybook.) In this foray into the paranomal young adult market she reimagines the fairytale of Sleeping Beauty. In lesser hands this could have been just another in a long line of contemporary re-tellings but in Yolan's masterful hands we get a tale knee deep in mythology. Fated with following rules or bursting into stars young Gorse does everything to stay on the straight and narrow. Her youthful, bumbling nature finds her weaving a spell that will curse families, kingdoms , and herself. All fairytales aside, this is the true, authoritative account of the incident, rife with back stories and boundless imagination. Smart, funny, and from what I'm told, true!

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