Monday, January 28, 2013

Best Book Bets 1/29/13

(3 are actually funny though!) 

Guns - Stephen King
(NON-FICTION/KINDLE) Back in the day the book and the film adaptation of A Clockwork Orange went were battled in court as to their culpability in relation to violent acts that mirrored events in the story. The result was that they may influence how a crime is perpetrated but were not the impetus for the event. King himself was confronted for his novel Rage that was written under his non de plume, Richard Bachman (a name he reserved for his lesser-than novels.) Although his agreed with the above verdict he did see that while the novel addressed the problem of troubled teens drawn to vigilante violence he felt it may be an "accelerate" and asked his publisher to pull it from distribution. King is also a gun owner (he lives in Maine for Gosh's sake.) Again he took the time to address the situation and in a meager 25 pages, 8,000 words, gets to the heart of the matter more effectively than a two week commission. He addresses the media that covers such tragic events, the legislator that protects the industry with its dysfunction, the "gun enthusiasts" who refuse to give us their toys for the safety of our society all the while supporting the essence of the 2nd amendment. Intensely personal in voice (King the father, the neighbor, the American rings in every line.) Also reiterated its the communal frustration in the dysfunctional discourse of us as a people on an issue who's need for bilateral efforts should be self-evident. He released this as a Kindle Single you can download so to get the discussion cooking with immediacy. Read it for yourself, its less than a buck. Talk about it and then DO SOMETHING!
(JHU Press)
Reducing Gun Violence: Informing Policy with Evidence and Analysis - edited by Daniel W. Webster and Jon S. Vernick
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) AIf you want less personal passion influencing your decisions on this matter may I suggest this hot-off-the-presses release that covers a consensus that gun violence in the United States is an urgent public health issue. Experts discuss gun policy and violence researching the implications for policymakers and citizens. The constitutionality of recommended policies is covered. The weakness of current federal gun policies and the efficacy of various state laws designed to reduce firearms are compared. Other countries approaches and results are also considered. A scholarly compendium that will prove a valuable addition to the debate for both sides.

Daddy Love - Joyce Carol Oates
(FICTION/CLOTH) With more than 70 books under her belt Oates gives King a run for his money. She does in the horror department as well. When I say that I mean that nobody fleshes out the real life boogeymen of dysfunction we all confront in life better than her. With her unblinking style she now tackles one of our deepest fears, the abduction of a child. A mother's child is taken from her arms in a parking lot. She is then left for dead after being run over by the getaway van. Now it gets dark. The title character is a deranged preacher who abducts boys to brainwash into being his son and lover. The child's parents never give up searching, their obsession leaving their marriage in tatters. The boy grows older and fights to avenge his captor before he becomes a monster himself. The result is the most disturbing page-turner since Peter Straub's A Dark Matter. The almost detached writing style adds to the repugnant chill that permeates this study of survival.

White Dog Fell from the Sky - Eleanor Morse
(FICTION/CLOTH)   The in the trenches immersion into the political unrest of Africa that Verghese's Cutting for Stone offered its readers is shared by this special novel. Its South Africa in '76, apartheid in full effect. Isaac, a medial student, flees his country after his friend is murdered by members of the Defense Force and is smuggled into Botswana in a hearse. then dumped by the side of the road to fend for himself. He saves a thin white dog that is being abused and they bound one with the other. Together they search for a new beginning. Isaac soon finds himself taken on as a gardener by an American couple. The wife grows fond of him and when he is compelled to leave to fight the injustices all around him the wife follows opening herself up to the beautiful and dangerous world outside her safe confines. It is a tale of perseverance and loyalty, the best qualities of dogs and people treated like one.

Insane City - Dave Barry
(FICTION/CLOTHI know, when I think of Barry lately I think of his antidotal tales of being a parent that are amusing at best. Now a decade since his last adult novel he reassures that not only can he bring the funny but he can weave quite the thriller. In a style reminisant to Hiaasson, or better, Elmore Leonard. This rollicking novel outdoes the movie The Hangover with its absurd confrontations. Seth the groom-to-be is the brunt of pranksters,The Groom Posse who's antics soon hat soon land them in some very deep doo-doo. Gangsters, strippers, pimps, pythons and some very bad men stand between Seth and the alter. The threats are real not just farce and Barry delivers crackerjack timing that builds the tension as well as the absurd humor. 

Delphine - Richard Sala
(FICTION/CLOTH  This is an old school chiller that plays like Snow White redux. A man searches for the Delphine who had just disappeared without a trace save for a cryptic piece of paper. Think Prince Charming in search of his true love. This is as dark as the original tale told by the Brother Grimm, Sneewittchen, and is complimented by grey illustrations that further evoke the classic storytelling. And grim it is. I know this sounds like kid's fare but the tale is far more mature due to its violent nature. Trust me, there are no blue bird's a' chirping and pumpkins drawn by mice in this rendition, just a solid tale of love in the face of diabolical adversity.

Gun Machine - Warren Ellis
(FICTION/CLOTH  A big argument in the gun debate is if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns. Case in point, NYC's underworld is rife of them. Following the trail of the man who killed his partner, John Tallow stumbles upon an arsenal of illegal guns stashed in an apartment. Each weapon was pulled from a dead person's hands and Tallow had discovered a monument built by a mass murderer. What if the hundreds of death were politically motivated as opposed to the illogical work of a madman? Tallow is about to find out as he digs deeper into the stories of the guns' owners. Over the top yet believable, this novel  set up for a big finish and it delivers in spades, maybe not Sam Spade, but something more current and far edgier.

Rage Is Back - Adam Mansbach
(FICTION/CLOTH) Its a common marketing tool in bookselling; "If you liked... then..." Well here you go, If you Liked The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, then dash to your bookstore and grab this powder keg of a novel. Believe it or not this is the same novelist who penned the bedtime book parody Go the F*** to Sleep that Samuel L. Jackson made famous by narrating . Well his threatening bass tones would be great to narrate the trailer for this urban epic. Brooklyn born Kilroy goes to prep school and deals drugs. His dad, Rage, a legendary graffiti writer is not in the picture as he grew up until now, 15 years later. To thwart a long time enemies majoial race Rage plots the ultimate tagging event of all time. He searches the underworld of New York City to assemble a who's-who of graffitti artists for his plan and the reader and his boy go along for the ride. The writing is sharp and at both times funny and tragic as we see witness his passion for the city in all its ugly glory. 
Prodigy - Marie Lu
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH)  A fierce combination of Hunger Games and Maze Runner, Legend, the first of the series, burst into the YA market. Now its followup is now available and does not disappoint. The American west is now a warring nation called the Republic, Well to do June and slum-raised Day, the boy June once thought killed her brother, bond together with the Patriots to defend the people. In this new chapter they team together to kill the evil new Elector. Day wants the new leader's blood spilt but June questions if the leader, Anden, is the problem or the promise of the future. Classic themes of epic struggle played in a distopian world with enough action to keep the most jaded teen reader flipping pages.
Fire Horse Girl - Kay Honetman
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH)    Some of the magic of reading is its ability to transport you into foreign lands and to see the culture through their eyes. He we have a passionate tale of Jade Moon, a stubborn and spiritually liberated girl in a land that forbids it. She emulates her zodiac sign, the fire horse with her unbridled imagination and stubbornness. Her spirit is more suited for America and when she gets the opportunity to go there, escorted by the debonaire young man Sterling Chance (I know "sic" but he is) she jumps at the chance. A romance is kindled on the ship. Once at Angel Island she is detained. Seems see is as unwanted in the States as she was at home. She will have to summon the traits of her zodiac avatar to find the courage to claim her dream. The book is Lisa See lite for the teen crowd, you grasp the struggle and root for Jade to live up to her legacy.

(Viking Juvenile)
The Tell-Tale Start  - Gordon McAlpine, illus. by Sam Zuppardi
(INDEPENDENT READER) (Viking Juvenile)) Edgar and Allan, brothers, brothers, they dress alike, scheme alike... you get the picture. They are also Edgar Allan Poe's grandnephews and share his dark side. They also own a, natch, black cat, Roderick Usher who is cat-knapped. They convince their folks to a road trip to find him. Along the way they discover creepy twin powers, a mad scientist stalker and their connection to the great writer of the macabre. A smart combination of literary wordplay akin to Lemony Snicket, a touch of Goosebumps and little science thrown in the mix akin to John Connelly's The Gates, this is the start of what should turn into an enjoyable early reader series.

The Bully Book - Eric Kahn Gale
(INDEPENDENT READER)   Each day 160,000 fear being bullied*. This tale is about just one. Middle school stinks especially if you're Eric Haskins. He's a grunt, this year's whipping boy. Jason is king bully. One of his henchmen is even Eric's former best friend Donovan. What went wrong? Why? Eric finds the answer when he discovers The Bully Book, the manual and rulebook for bullies. Within its covers are tricks on how to "make trouble" without getting in trouble, rule the school and, yes, grunt selection. This could be Eric's way out but how does he do it without becoming a bully himself? The book will make to mad, sad and then glad and is an easy read book that addresses issues. For a girl's perspective but just as easy a read seek out Poison Ivy by Amy Goldman Koss If you want a YA equivalent seek out The Revealers by Doug Wilhelm
*An estimated 160,000 students in the US refuse to go to school because they dread the physical and verbal aggression of their peers a day. 6 out of 10 American youth witness bullying at least once a day. - American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children

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