Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Best Book Bets -1/15/2013

The new year is starting with a bang in the publishing world. Here's this week's perfectas as chosen by the all-knowing bookie. For the kiddos check out the last recommend on the list, a storybook by Newbury award winning author Neil Gaiman. (the panda is mischievous by not creepy as you might expect from the macabre master.

The Death of Bees - Lisa O'Donnell
(FICTION/CLOTH) A couple of years back the novel Swamplandia! rocked my world. Here's another novel that takes a humorous look at the underbelly of suburbia and how ones actions come back to haunt you. Marnie and her sis Ellie bury their parents in their back yard on Christmas eve. What happened to their parents is a mystery to all THEN things start to get creepy. Their story is told by each of them as lies break down, secrets are revealed and you stop reading only to find that hours have past. This is a tale of need and lost as the girls and the old man they befriend search light in the dark Glasgow night. 

The One I Left Behind - Jennifer McMahon
(FICTION/CLOTH) McMahon weaves a disturbing investigative thriller about a serial killer who's M.O. is leaving the hand of his victims as evidence. 25 years ago when Reggie was just a teen his mother was abducted by the monster, a hand left, but no body ever found. Then one day his mother is found alive in a women's shelter. The now successful architect who had buried his past now makes it his mission to find the killer who spared his mother before he can strike again. It is a grisly tale told masterfully that combines dread and compulsion to read on. As the mystery unravels the author does not disappoint as she leads us down into the depravity of criminal Reggie seeks.

The Threads of the Heart - Carole Martinez
(FICTION/CLOTH) I love a novel that has fantasy elements that are firmly entrenched in the real world. Here we have Frasquita who has a unique gift that has been handed down from her family of sorcerers. She is able to fabricate the most beautiful garments that have the power to find one's flaws and deformities. Her village labels her a witch or worse, an adulteress and she is banished. With her familyt under her wings she travels through Spain into Africa searching for a new life devoid of her history of magic. This is a mythic tale of the need for rebirth, for new beginnings, the same incantation as the clothes she weaves. Beautiful and poetic, her adventure will speak to your heart.

A Memory of Light - Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson
(FICTION/CLOTH) When Robert B. Parker passed, I felt for the author chosen to continue his legacy. How do you continue the work of a man with such a distinctive style without aping his lexicon? Same pains are felt for Sanderson as he tackles Jordan's monumental body of work. Based on the notes and incomplete manuscript for the last chapter in the Wheel of Time odyssey the author estate has decided to release the ending in three parts entitled A Memory of Light. Tarmon Gai’don, the Last Battle, is at hand. The Dragon Reborn rises. The man of the hour, Egwene, is locked away in the white tower. Let it begin!

The Intercept - Dick Wolf

(FICTION/CLOTH) Law & Order has become the most success drama in television history with its countless spin-offs and reworkings. The brainchild of this juggernaut is Dick Wolf who's first novel is a a throw back to classic international thrillers. It has more twists and cliffhangers than the best episodes of his television work but with a distinctly different voice. Its NYC, the One World Trade Center at Ground Zero is celebrated and intelligence agencies fear a new threat is planned to commemorate the ceremony. Two agents, Fisk and Gersten, fight against the clock following one false lead after another before a new American nightmare is unleashed. As the clues are revealed all that is needed is the teeth-clenching steel chords that pre-empt a commercial break to make it complete. Tick, tick, tick... reveal (da-dummm!)

Sky Saw - Blake Butler
(FICTION/CLOTH) Alot of what is considered experimental fiction turns out to be literary thumb twiddling but some authors can hone in the fruits of there efforts into some chilling visions. Butler's word choice and sentence structure gets under your skin. The novel reads like a fever dream Butler's novel births the lovechild of George Orwell and Clive Barker in this troubling vision of the future where books rule over man and one's welcome euthanasia is denied. People are literally numbers for words are stronger than they are. Books even reappear after you destroy them. Man is ruled by the faceless Universal Ceiling makes Big Brother feel wimpy. What's more tortuous than losing your humanity? Find out by reading on.
Butler has penned four other novels and is the editor of the literary blog HTMLGIANTe.

Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes - Maria Konnikova
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) Many of the Bookie's fanbase as mystery novel lovers so when this book hit the shelves we knew we had to give it a shout-out. Sherlock Holmes deductive reasoning is the benchmark of analytical thought. Was his gift the trick of an author's pen or is it something systematic that any of us mere mortals in the real world can master? Konnikova hones her journalistic skills analyszing the concept of a brain attic, a place where we store and label data and builds strategies on how we too can be a mastermind. She is also a psychiatrist and is able to back up her theory with neuroscience. Insightful and informative (hunter's hat, magnifying glass, and pipe not included.)

Return of The Thin Man - Dashiell Hammet, editor Richard Laymen
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) Another classic of the who-dunnit is Dashiell Hammett's erasable Thin Man. Martinis were never more enjoyed or crimes more gracefully solved than by Nick and Nora. The novel was Hammet's biggest payday. The 1934 film was an even bigger hit and he was commisioned to kick out sequels that became "After the Thin Man" and "Another Thin Man". They started as novellas first and finally we get to read them as prose not screenplay. This is a grand swan song from a true master in his field. Chill the shaker, add gin and bitters and enjoy reading. The stories are more than an appetizer, they are a main course.

Paper Valentine - Brenna Yovanoff
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH) Of all the authors weaving dark romances for young adults Yovanoff has the most Gothic heart. Her tales of doomed misfits, like Mackie in her novel The Replacements,  pluck at the heartstrings while they gnaw at the gut. The key is that she draws real teens first then allows the macabre world to cast shadows over them and again she tops herself with this tale of Hannah, a girl who mourns the death of her best friend who know haunts her. All she wants is normal but that will never be until she makes things right and brings her BFF's killer to justice. Yes, tale's been told many times before but read through the author's style, the literary equivalent of charcoal drawings, the story seeps in to your own fears.

(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The Wrap-Up List - Steven Arntson
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH)  How's this for a new way to approach the apocalypse? In the distopian future just around the corner your mortality will be announced to you by eight foot grey reapers called Deaths. Once your days are numbered you have to scurry to fulfill your personal bucket list before you kick it. The novel is both spooky and sentimental as we follow teenager Gabriela as she receives her letter and she is forced to jump start her emotional life. First crush, friends, family and  in the end, the meaning of life are all met head on as the sickle nears.

Hokey Pokey - Jerry Spinelli
(INDEPENDENT READER) Spinelli is one of the most recoginized authors of children's chapter books but it has been a while since his last book. It was worth the wait for he returns at the top of his form delivering a fantastic fable of a town called Hokey Pokey, where childhood is captured in all of its innoscent perfection. Ride a bike, climb a tree, have an adventure. There are no adults, its a young child's vision of heaven. There are almost no rules in Hokey Pokey... almost. A young girl steals the bike of jack, one of the older children in town. A rule is broken and what was once bliss veers into chaos. In the distance they hear a train, nearing, but that can't be. There are no trains there. so it begins.

Chu's Day - Neil Gaiman, illus. Adam Rex
(CHILDREN STORYBOOK) Neil Gaimen, yes, THE Neil Gaimen. Yes, he did win the Newbury Award for The Graveyard Shift which was an independent reader novel BUT it did have a knife-wielding socio-path hunting down an orphan child. So what horrible things happen in this book for toddlers you may ask? A sneeze. No knives, no boogeymen. Chu is a rolly-pilly, cute as all get-out panda who can sneeze like nobodies business and everything seems to make him do so, books, diners, the circus... I bet you can see the punchline coming... Ahhhh-Chu!

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