Friday, January 11, 2013

Best Book Bets - 1/8/2013

 Welcome to year 2 of the Best Book Bets as chosen by the ubiquitous Literary Bookie. Each week we provide concise recommendations based on analysis of the publishing market, consensus of reviewers and the Bookie's insight into authors and, of course, the Bookie's "gut" feeling, and above all else, the books themselves. Sign up for weekly e-mail reminders (only 1 post a week and the Bookie only shares his hunches, never names) Coming out of the gate we have some goodies to add to your "to be read" book pile.

The Folly of the World - Jesse Bullington
(FICTION/CLOTH) It seems that distopian fiction has become all the rage every since Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Here we have a fantastic tale of the end of days that takes place in... 1421? Holland's low countries are devastated by the raging sea in essence destroying the world as they know it.  Opportunity and survival lead the hand of both con men and locals as they attempt to wallow in the desolation. I especially like the feral girl who is more equipt to persevere than those with all their faculties. It is a battle of society at its worst and at its most brave that is hauntingly described and meticulasly researched. A great adventure to start the new year giving thanks.

Finding Camlann - Sean Pidgeon
(FICTION/CLOTH) Anyone with a love for sword and sorcery caught the bug when they first read Mallory's tales of King Arthur, his knights, and the mythical Camelot. Here is paydirt, a detective story for the fantasy loving bibliophile. A Welsh poem is unearthed providing new eveidence that King Arthur indeed walked the moors and entices literary scholars and archeologists alike. What follows is a celebration of research and revelation as the characters follow their hearts as well as their intellectual curiosity as they strive to prove the legend real. The intricacies of the splendid storytelling is an homage to the great tale tellers of yore as the archeologist Donald Gladstone teams up with Julia Llewllyn, a linguist shares passions for their crafts and each other. As intricate as a Dan Brown novel but fueled more by heart than by curiosity.

Life! Death! Prizes! - Stephen Ma
(FICTION/CLOTH) This is the type of story that builds heroes (just look at Batman.) In the last year of his teens Billy's mother is killed in a botched robbery and he finds himself the heir apparent to his younger brother Oscar. There are adults in his life, an aunt, teachers, a father abstinentia, but Billy knows what's best for his brother. His child-rearing skills is enough to make a social worker's hair turn grey but it is all out of love. Along with his dedication comes an obsession over his mother's killer and as he continues to obsess over him the more he puts his brother at risk. Billy's desperation is palpable as he fumbles through an adult world as only a teenager would. As you read you hope that his life lessons don't come too late.  

(E.P. Dutton)
The Last Runaway - Tracy Chevalier
(FICTION/CLOTH) Akin to Philippa Gregory, this is one of those authors who write historical dramas that are as effortlessly accurate as they are compelling. Her bestseller Girl With a Pearl Earring captured the imagination of the world a while back. Now she takes her gift of historical narrative and focuses on America during the time of the Underground Railroad. Honor Bright flees England and is taken in by religious do-gooders who find nothing wrong with slavery. It is then that she is introduced to the Railroad and the brave freedom fighters. Will she be able to defy convention and liberate herself while seeking justice for all? An era is captured in meticulous detail driven by the conflicting emotions of a troubled era in our history.

Truth In Advertising - John Kenney
(FICTION/CLOTH) This sharp debut novel will move you and make you laugh. You might be able to succeed in business without really trying but Finbar Dolan begins to realize that it doesn't apply to life. He pulled himself by his bootstaps, left his meager beginnings in Boston behind to become the top of his field. As a super bowl commercial account's deadline approaches his personal life begins tWith a strong sense of humor and pointy irony, Finbar has to come to terms with what is truly important in his life. Its all about life, family life, love life, business life. Oh, let us not forget, its alot about diapers.

Little Wolves - Thomas Maltman
(FICTION/CLOTH) This novel has the same unsettling tone as Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone as it scours the prarie of Minnesota trying to unearth the truth behind the vicious murder committed by the son of the town's pastor. It is much more than your conventional rural mystery, it delves into the mythos such events evoke, a tone, possibly a fate, its people can't overcome. Using the pastor's wife's knowledge of folklore and mythology the author paints the impact of such lurid events in broad epic strokes. This is a mystery novel that would be more appropriately placed in the literature section of your bookstore.

Bad Pharma: How Drug Companies Mislead Doctors and Harm Patients - Ben Goldacre 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH)Have you read Stiff? Hop about Spook? You must have read Bonk. Yes? Then you will freak out over this author's latest entry in his catalog of crazy, creepy nonfiction science books. This time he pulls the veil from the pharmaceutical industry revealing it in all its greed based ineptitude. He shows us with countless evidence how impossible it is to fix the health care industry when it is run by the drug makers. Even the education of our health care professionals is funded by them and the thoroughness of their education is on a need to know basis. Dr. Goldacre gives us all the gory details with an entertaining presentation. His forensic obsessions will make you question everything you thought you knew about health care and will fill you with caution next time you reach for a bottle of pills.

(Blue Rider)
The Dude and the Zen Master - Jeff Bridges , Bernie Glassman 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) The world according to The Big Lebowski. 'nuff said? It has been noted that the lead character of that Coen brothers comedy was indeed a zen master. Here's a book that delves into Bridge's inspiration that made every line sound like a parable. It is equal part meditation and chuckle-fest as the actor and his guru friend meander about Buddhism, the connectivity of all things and the joyful joke of this thing called life. Be in the moment, even in hard times, find your smile, except your place in the punch line, and above all else, let your inner Dude abide.

(Random/Schwartz & Wade)
Peanut - Ayun Halliday
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH) What if you don't stand out? What if you have had it being part of the wallpaper? In the case of Sadie, you pretend to have an allergy. A lie as broad as that is hard to keep up in a world where peanuts are, like, everywhere. The novelist is the hippest mommy in the business; a world traveller that gave us the hysterical Don't Touch Monkey and the alterna-mom memoir The Big Rumpus. She uses her humorous writing style to deliver a novel that is smart enough for adults and snarky enough for teens this novel is equal parts tragic and comic this coming-of-age tale rings true in its pathetic desperation to be somebody, anybody, even a person who's kryptonite is lagumes.

Dead and Buried - Kim Harrington
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH) Its a real joy when you see a novelist write to her potential. Harrington always had the goods.  Her Clarity series for the YA paranormal romancers out there and her Nancy Drew inspired Sleuth or Dare chapter books mysteries of Darcy and Nora are written in a nonthreatening narrative style that reflects her audience. She again tells a tale with the voice of her readers in this stand alone but this time combines her talents with a classic Gothic haunted house vibe and the strength of her writing soars. The problems of being a new girl at school fade in comparison to being visited by the restless soul of a murdered girl who seeks to avenge her death. The parallels of the two girls situations, both wanting to move on, be it in life or in afterlife gives the story a deep resonnence that reflects the teen wallflower. Did I mention that Jade's encounters and subsequent investigation is creepy as all get out?

They Call Me a Hero: A Memoir of My Youth - Daniel Hernandez with usan Goldman Rubin
(INDEPENDENT READER NON-FICTION/CLOTH) I can't think of a more timely memior for kids in the aftermath of the tragedy in Newtown. Daniel was by the side of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and is credited with helping save her life. He doesn't see it that way. He wasn't a hero, he just did what needed to be done. Its his selfless perspective that rises in this inspiring memoir. We follow him through his life, the moments that led him to the tragic events and his work since that fateful day. It is as much about caring on after such events as it is about his brush with fate. Daniel says that, "Heroes are people who spend a lifetime committed to helping others.” If that's the case he is well on the way and by telling his story he hopefully will inspire a legion of heroes.

The Terrible Thing That Happened to Barnaby Brocket - John Boyne, illus. by Oliver Jeffers
(INDEPENDENT READER/CLOTH) Don't all tweens feel different? They all will then relate to Barnaby, an  8-year-old boy who floats. That's right, the laws of gravity are not for him. His family wishes he was just like everybody else but Barnaby is just, well, Barnaby the floating boy. Then, you guessed it, its time for a whirlwind (literally) adventure around the globe and beyond where he eventually discovers himself in all his uniqueness. The novel's quirky approach to individuality is refreshing and makes for a satisfying read for tweens everywhere. Normal is sooo over-rated!

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