Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Best Book Bets - 4/23/2013

So this the week that Baldacci gives us The Hit. He one of the better mystery thriller writers out there and the Bookie's sure It'll please the author's fan base. He assumes they already know that it's hitting the stacks this Tuesday. No need for the Bookie to pull it out of the slush of new releases even though it is a safe bet. Same thing goes with Kristin Hannah's new book, Fly Away. The lovers of her  touchey-feeley populist prose will be glad she released a new novel in time for summer. These preordained bestsellers don't need the Bookie's Midas touch even if they worthy of it. The Bookie makes an exception with the new release by bestselling author Lisa Scottoline; timely in a world of PTSD and bravely out of her wheelhouse. Read all about it, it's another winner from the Bookie!

The Golem and the Jinni  -  Helene Wecker  
(FICTION/CLOTH) Just over a year ago we were blessed by the phantasmagorical debut novel The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This year's darling debut is tonally is akin, enchanting and fantastic combining the historical reference of Diana Galbandon with the supernatural freshness of Ursula K. LeGuin. The tale is woven from Jewish/Arab folklore. It is turn of the last century Manhattan. Chava the girl golem rises from clay due to Kabbal gone wrong. Ahmad the jinni, think of him as a ghostly Flash. They both are tethered from this world, afraid of what they could afflict upon it. Together  they fight to survive in our world until a disaster tears them away from our existence and each other. Where do their hearts lie? Read on and be transported to a heartfelt phantom world.

(Little, Brown)
Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls  - David Sedaris 
(FICTION/CLOTH) This is intentionally put in our fiction section though Sedaris' books are listed as memoir. He has on more than one occasion referred to them as fictionalized truth. No matter, this man can't write an unfunny word, one of the few writers who bring tears of laughter to The Bookie's eyes. The title sounds like it might be a sequel to his set of animal parables,Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary, but it is luckily a new set of general essays from his quirky life. He takes us on a whirlwind world tour of the left of center. If you need a good laugh come along for the ride. He gives Costco the same treatment he did Macy's in his first collection. You'll never look at the store and its inhabitants the same way again.
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots - Jessica Soffer
(FICTION/CLOTH) This is a beautiful story about familial love;the strength and bounds of our biological and adopted families and the family of friends we grow as we go through life. It is also about food and how it is the thing that bounds both families, races, and societies. It is also about loss and blame, at least that's what you assume when we look at Lorca's arm. She so wants the love of her chef mother but feels she being shipped off to boarding scholl for being nothing but a nuisance. If only she could make her mother's favorite, rare recipe, masgouf, she could win her approval. She starts taking cooking lessons with Victoria who grieves the loss of her daughter. Together they cook through their troubles learning their bond may be closer than it first appears. Sweet without being saccharine, tart when needed, this is a full portion of emotional goodness without any filler.

(St Martins)
Don't Go -  Lisa Scottoline  
(FICTION/CLOTH) This author knows the psyche of women and has built a loyal following. Her heroine's are strong willed, family centric Valkyries. Here she takes the same qualities and switches genders with doctor Mike. He answers the call to war to help the troops in Afghanistan, leaving the wife and child he loves to contend with him away. While the doctor heals our troops his wife dies at home Before him is a new war as he attempts to start his life and career again with a baby girl who doesn't even know him as her Dad. Scottoline pulls out all the emotional tender hooks she juggles so well as we struggle with the good doctor as he fights for truth, justice and a fractured but functional version of the  American dream of family.

(Pamela Dorman)
The House at the End of Hope Street Menna Van Praag
(FICTION/CLOTH)  This debut novel reads like a beautiful dream. In this dream there is a house that is filled with talking portraits that serve as muses for the damaged people who come to visit. Alba finds herself on Hope Street (sic) at it's door and takes a chance staying there with its caretaker, the elderly Peggy. They hit it off nicely each in need of company and a sympathetic ear. She soon witnesses the buildings magic as it starts to heal her emotional wounds. She is destined to be the next individual touched by the house. She's in good company; Beatrix Potter, George Eliot, a cast of literary characters have been similarly been saved, moved,within its's walls. Its a light-hearted dream dreamt by a reader, visions bathed in English lavender.

Unnatural Creatures - edited by Neil Gaiman
(FICTION/CLOTH) This certainly looks like the year of the Gaimen and he is indeed an unnatural creature with a volume of creative output this past year. Just this week alone there are two releases. This is a collection of stories chosen by him of things he loves; things that go bump or grr in the night. Want to read about werewolves? Got you covered. Something more exotic, a griffin maybe? Right here.16 tales of obscure and fascinating creatures possessing maniacal powers to keep the reader enchanted.A Gaiman story is included in the bunch (
The only thing that isn't creepy about this collect is that the proceeds go toward the literacy nonprofit 826DC.(maybe we need to do this for the Boston chapter of 826, Hmmm.)

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation - Michael Pollan 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) You know Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals, and  his  proclamation of the omnivore, In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto. His gift is analyzing food and its cultural significance in our society. He does this without presenting the material in a textbook style. His writing is akin to artisan bread. That that and Wonder Bread, essentially have then same ingredients but ohhh the difference. Here takes the four elements and begins a dissertation on what they contribute to the preparation of the food we eat. He elevates the profession of chef to a revered position in our tribes. His exclamations of the alchemy of cooking, how fungus ferments or heat caramelizes is indeed culinary magic and how in some parts of the world elevates the practitioners of these arts to the status of shaman.Throughout history food has been the centerpiece of our existence, the very glue that holds us together.

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II -  Mitchell Zuckoff   
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) The author who captivated the world with his documenation of surviavl in Shangrila comes back with another riviting account of life lived on the edge. Part survival story worthy of Jon Krakauer, part wartime thriller the likes of Clancy, Zuchoff presents this quest as if it was a Michael Bay blockbuster. It starts with the crash of two planes during World War II, a missing rescue partyt, and an unforgiving frozen wasteland.The survivors now have to combat against an unforgiving Artic Winter, 148 days more dangerous than their enemy. This book is a riveting page turner made even more impactful because this is non-fiction, people!

(Little,Brown YR)
manicpixiedreamgirl  -  Tom Leveen
(YOUNG ADULT)  This is like the best Glee episode ever, girlfriend; part because it flows in practically real time and because it has none of that irritating singing by actors who are so not high school age. The high drama doesn't take place on the stage at this high school. Tyler Darcy wants to be a writer, heck he is a published author now. He's somebody. His drama club friends have always had his back, shared his dream including his girlfriend but on this night he can't stop thinking about his high school infatuation Becky. Is he cool enough now to approach her, share his feelings for her or will that act destroy all that he has going for him.The drama reads real without the annoying quirky characters that drag down the television series it at times eerilly mimics.

(Blue Rider)
The Humanity Project - Jean Thompson
(YOUNG ADULT) It doesn't take long for the impact of Newtown to reach the book shelves. Luckily when the related themes are in the hands of a tried and true young adult author ( The Year We Left Home) we get a novel that is both suspenseful and thought-provoking. Linnea is the survivor of a school shooting. She is taken away from the town ad forced to live with her previously absent father. The only person Linnea can confide her feels to is the neighbor's handyman Conner, who is equally as troubled as her.Together they get involved with their parents and a neighborhood nurse's pet Humanity Project that aims to reward people to be good. Shouldn't that be its own reward and can you really repress the bad in the world. An interesting device to get us to ask the questions of a difficult new day. In the end its all about hope for all of us broken people, a powerful message after the smoke clears.

(Balzer + Bray)
House of Secrets -  Chris Columbus, Ned Vizzini, Greg Call
(INDEPENDENT READER)  Columbus knows a thing or two about telling tales to young ones. A Spielberg protege he went from penning parts of Gremlins and Goonies to directing films like Home Alone, a couple Harry Potter films and The Lightning Thief. Like the projects or not, he's got the chops and lends his sense of story to the first of the book series. Mr Walker loses his job and his kids have to move into the gothic Kristoff House constructed by a man obsessed with the occult. That can't be good.The adventure begins as they discover the secrets behind the house, its creator and their own family. Even though you start to think you've read variations of this before, it still makes for a fun ride., and to think that this is only book one!

(Harper Teen)
The Silver Dream; an Innerworld Novel - Neil Gaiman, Michael Reaves and Mallory Reaves
(INDEPENDENT READER)  Here's that Gaiman guy again part of a writing team launching a new science fiction series for young readers that plays with alternative worlds, quantum physics, a whole heap of heady stuff. The writing style however is assessable, never as daunting as the subject matter. Young Joey has just saved the world. That world is Altiverse. Joey can walk from our dimension to there. He makes an alliance for piece with the freedom fighters in that dimension. It seems that Joey is not the only one who can pass through and when Acacia follows him Joey's plans for peace are averted. Boom! Zap! The two make an uneasy alliance to save both worlds, dimensions, what have you... my head hurts.

(Balzar + Bray)
 That Is NOT a Good Idea!  - Mo Willems
(CHILDRENS) You gotta love this guy, Mo; what with his Knuffle Bunny, bus and hot dog lovin' pigeon, not to mention Piggie and Elephant who give Bert and Ernie a run for their money. Now he builds another children's storybook classic. Using the motif of the silent picture as his palette Willems tells the good and evil battle between a yummy goose and a hungry wolf. Its classic mashup of Tom and Jerry with Little Red Riding Hood fare with hysterical call outs the kids will want to join in on. An interactive chuckle you will be forced to read again and again and not reading it again and again would not be a good idea! (next time louder, kiddos!)

Steam Train, Dream Train - Tomi Ungerer
(CHILDREN) Isn't it the cutest thing ever how kids go through phases of fascination; sharks, moneys, bears, fairies, trucks and last but not least Trains. Here is a beautiful bedtime book for the choo-choo obsessed kiddo in your crib. This guy gave us Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site that fed off the truck fetish. Now the softly detailed dream train pulls into the station with a menagerie of animals and ice cream. Yawn! Yum! Choo! Chew! Next stop, Slumberland!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Best Book Bets - 4/16/2013

Spring ahead into another fine selection of new releases, each a sure thing, drop it all on red and spin the wheel. You have the Bookie on your side.

(St Martins)
Palisades Park -  Alan Brennert 
(FICTION/CLOTH)  Brennert is responsible for the delectable novels Moloka'i and Honolulu. This time he puts his unique talent of letting time and place reveal the lives of his characters on the Big Island, specifically Jersey before and after the big war, a time when the obsessions of his earlier novels became a part of American fascination. The park becomes a microcosm of the nations dreams, ambitions, and dreams as we follow spunky Antoinette (Toni) as she grows with the time watching the changing social climate re-examine the American Dream. Brennert gets under the sepia of an old-time postcard and breathes life into the fading images and in no small way into how we view our own life's journey.

London Falling  - Paul Cornell 
(FICTION/CLOTH) First, what an evocative cover, am I right? Second, nice idea to take an investigation gumshoe mystery formula and put the which end is up? time line continuum formula in the mix, huh? This is a world where magic is the norm and when inspector Quill learns than his murder victim had struck a deal with a mean spirited spirit then the powder keg is lit. Murders occur, the memory of them erases and the spiral continues. The novel becomes a paranormal cloak and dagger as the detective hunts down drug dealers, murders, and the Dark Lord himself before London and himself are no more than a forgotten memory. Heady stuff to be sure.

(Five Star)
One Man's Castle - J. Michael Major
(FICTION/CLOTH) Where's the line drawn, when the victim becomes the monster? This debut thriller draws that line boldly and in red. A man caught in a botched break and enter is recognized as the man who had murdered his wife year's before. He only did 6 short years in prison and vowed to kill the homeowner for testifying. The homeowner protects himself by returning the favor brutally. Ravaged by the act he chooses to share the act with his wife's family. Then the now killed killer's body is discovered. What's next? What truths and motives will be revealed. Read on. Well honed effort for a newbie that will make you turn pages.

The Flamethrowers -  Rachel Kushner 
(FICTION/CLOTH) Here's a novel that considers whether art is an accelerator for social change or if its the by-product of radical ideology. Inspired by the pop art of Warhol's industrial art movement and an equally inspired passion for fast motorcycles a young artist in the 70's is the latest transplant in East Village following her rambunctious muse. There she finds love, radical theology and the bond between the two that goes fast on two wheels. Before she knows it she's in Italy plumb in the middle of revolution. Young Reno lives like the motto of female liberation was Live fast, die young. As in her National Book Award nominee, Telex From Cuba Kushner again gives the reader a lot to chew on, smart ideas masterfully written.

All That Is James Salter
(FICTION/CLOTH)  Every one or twice a year a novel drops that makes the Literati salivate. This is one such event and this time out I fervently agree. Salter, a PEN/Faulkner recipient doesn't let his words get in the way of the soul of the story of our protagonist, a WWII vet who returns from Okinowa to pursue his American dream of being a writer. Landing a job as a book editor he finds himself thrust into the world of literature. It was a simpler time reminiscent of Algonquin tables and exclusive soirees, a profession of intellectual privilege. He achieves his dream but love eludes him. He pursues it and soldiers on through the personal and national events in his life that get in the way. A powerful testament to what is important in life and how its pursuit sculpts who we are.

The Missing File - D.A. Mishani
(FICTION/CLOTH) It seems more and more that the satisfying mysteries are set in other countries. Perhaps it allows the land and the different cultures to be intriguing characters in the plot. This novel, translated from Hebrew takes place outside of Tel Aviv as we track down a missing teenage boy. This is Mishani's first novel  but he comes with haughty credentials being a crime writer and literary scholar in his home country. He takes his experience documenting the streets and studying master storyteller to elevate the mystery genre to literature. He takes us on a wobbly search for the truth and when the tables are finally turned you will be hankering for his next book, The Possibility of Violence."
Lifesaving Lessons: Notes from an Accidental Mother - Linda Greenlaw 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) You know Greenlaw, she the lobsterwoman from The Perfect Storm. She also has penned memoirs on being a woman in a man's world. She's brash, funny, and heartfelt. Makes perfect sense then that when 15 year old Mariah and her paths crossed that there would be a connection. After Mariah is subjected to abuse by the hands of her uncle Linda intercedes and gives the young girl safe harbor. The girl needs a home but Linda, a woman chiseled by the Maine weather and an unforgiving occupation isn't exactly the mother type. What follows is an exchange of needs, frustrations, and a love that can heal all.
Big Bad Book of Beasts; The World's Most Curious Creatures -  Michael Largo   
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) Lions, and tigers, and bears . . . and dinosaurs, dragons, and monsters. Oh my! This is one crazy besiary of animals, real and imaginged and how they each have influenced the meanings we have bestowed upon each. Part NatGeo, Part History Channel, Part Mythbusters, and Part Grimm, this collection of origins, superstitions and factoids makes for a remarkable read. 289  illustrations and even more antidotes about the inhabitants of the world. P.T. Barnum's mermaid, check, Jefferson's cursing bird, check. From aardvark to zooplankton, Biggest, smallest, baddest, most curious... you won't be putting this book down for quite a while. (too bad they discovered that striped spider as big as your head after publishing. It deserves its place her (...AS BIG AS YOUR HEAD!)

Taken  -  Erin Bowman
(YOUNG ADULT)  Yet another case of an indie-released series done good. Three volumes of the Taken series were released before Harper saw that the author has a good thing going. Here's the pitch; Boys vanish in this dystopian world once they hit 18. Poof! Caput! Its The Heist. Is there life on the other side of the wall that contains the town? Is it worse there than being "heisted"? Young Gray will be 18 soon and needs to answer these questions before he chances escape. More than a little similarity to Dashner's The Maze Runner series but with more of a girl friendly saccharine delivery.  You can be sure that with no men in town the ladies will chime in on the outcome.

Black Helicopters - Blythe Woolston
(YOUNG ADULT) We again have felt the indiscriminate horror of terrorism in our homeland. Its enough for adults to wrestle with never mind the youth. Here is a novel that attempts to get into the head of the assailant. Valkyrie White. a fifteen year old girl who seeks revenge for the destruction of her family by a foreign government. Its a ruthless regime picking off innocents from the skies. She has lost her home, her family and no heads out with her brother she decides to unleash her own revenge by making herself a sacrifice for the liberation of her people. A taunt and disturbing novel illustrating what oppression can turn one into.

P.K. Pinkerton and the Petrified Man -  Caroline Lawrence
(INDEPENDENT READER)  This British author has takled pirates. gladiators and now has found a unique genre of young reader's fiction, the western. This is the second in the Pinkerton series originally entitled The Case of the Good Looking Corpse. A P.I. in the wild west P.K. settles down in Virginia City only to discover yet another murder needing to be solved. With Poker Face Jace, a gambler who can read people, he sets out to bring the bad hombres to justice. A fun mash-up of genres continues.

(Roaring Brook)
Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace - Nan Marino
(INDEPENDENT READER)  Tweens don't get embarrassed, they get mortified. If you have a tween dealing with such debilitating emotions then here's a character they can relate to, Elvis Ruby. He has talent, got the chops as they say in the bizz. He was this close to being the equivalent of tween American Idol when he chokes big time. Froze. Now he has to hide from the mocking press and he retreats to the title's palace in New Jersey to work for the summer. There he meets Cecilia who might be just the thing to pull him out of his funk.

Art2-D2's Guide to Folding and Doodling; an Origami Yoda Activity Book - Tom Angleberger
(CHILDRENS) From the humorous yet twisted mind that brought us The Strange Case of the Origami Yoda, Darth Paper Strikes Back, and The Secret of the Fortune Wookie comes a manual on how to creaked the paper-folded icons of the Star Wars Franchise. Also how to doodle like a Jedi Master. He makes the crafts fun, even gives you cool paper to fold. The humor from his kids novels is peppered throughout and this should be as much fun for your kid as it is for you. May the farce be with you. Fold the paper, don't try, do, there is no try. (If you are board with crafts, try Pod pencil racing! How? Its in the book young Jedi.

Fog Island - Tomi Ungerer
(CHILDREN)  Is it ever too early to give your young'n the willies? (Quit nodding your heads, "..and then the bow breaks.." come on give me a break!) This author/illustrator is held in high reguard and once you flip through this atmospheric storybook you'll know why. Brother and sister Finn and Cara live in the world of magical Ireland. They live a simple life off the sea. The children are warned about the doomed island which of course makes them want to explore. Duh! skeletons, spooky old men and mysteries lie deep in the shadows. The evocative imagery and the technique of explaining less so your own mind can give you a chill is a powerful combination in this new classic about wandering from home after being warned. Boo!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Best Book Bets - 4/9/2013

Batter up! Here's the literary home runs from the Bookie! Check out three books for the sportie (think foodie)in your life (perhaps that's you!) Let the baseball and the Spring reading seasons begin.
(Houghton Mifflin)
The Shelter Cycle  - Peter Rock 
(FICTION/CLOTH)  We hear a lot about cult mentality as of late. It conjures both fear and fascination for we all can see the allure of promised rapture. Francine and Colville have grown up with such utopian promises ingrained in them. Their church prepared for the ultimate war to end all wars while the two children played with abandon in the wilds of Montana safe with the belief that they were being watched over. The seven horsemen never come. Flash forward twenty years and the two reunite to solve the mystery of a missing girl. The cult's beliefs are hard wired into who they are and how they see the world having them question what is truth and what is deception. A disturbing vision based on real life events searches for meaning in this thing called life.

The Perfect Ghost  - Linda Barnes
(FICTION/CLOTH) Em and Teddy couldn't be any more different. They are the perfect writing team; Teddy is all razzle dazzle and Em is in the literary trenches always lost in their latest celebrity expose. Teddy dies filling Em with the loss of the love of her life and the agoraphobic fear of facing the world alone. She continues their last book on a famous, reclusive film director in his honor. She moves to the director's estate on Cape Cod  to work. There he finds the new man in her life quite engaging. Questions pertaining to Teddy's death arise to test Em's grasp on being a person in the world. The director's story also has things in the shadows and with a seasoned  mystery writer's precision Barnes has all the reveals come to a head in this collision of two lives sculpted by dread.

A Nearly Perfect Copy - Allison Amend
(FICTION/CLOTH) With the mystery of the Gardner Heist back on the international stage literature feeds off the ever-facinating world of art with books like The Art Forger and now this gem. The attention to detail of the author mirrors that of an art thief but her goals are far loftier. Elmira life was a successful businesswoman who ran a prestigious auction house. Then personal tragedy hits and she scrambles without forethought to keep the remnants of her life together. Artist Gabriel shares her desperate nature and their lives intertwine and the thin line between deception and survival is drawn. This book is more about constructing a shell of a normal life than it is about forgery. A sad and profound search for meaning between the fine lines.

The Interestings -  Meg Wolitzer
(FICTION/CLOTH)  Emperor's Children is a book club and literary favorite. Wolitzer follows up that laudable achievement by sculpting a contemporary novel written with the same focus on time and place and how it shapes people. Six teens bond at summer camp in the sixties but as the years past each of these creative people chose separate paths. Many put their dreams on the shelf and settled for a life of relative normalcy while others achieve celebrity status only to lose something on the way. They are all motivated by the changing times, opportunity, and drive as we follow them through the years as their lives intersect at the crossroads of the Big Apple. What is important in life, how living with the soul of an artist is bipolar in relation to finding it. 

(Coffee House)
Submergence J.M. Ledgard
(FICTION/CLOTH)  This is tough stuff, not the blockbuster bang bang shoot'm up novel of the military thriller genre, think more North Dark 40 rather than Cussler or R.R. Martin. Ledgard knows this stuff too having been a war reporter for The Economist in Africa. James Moore is held hostage by jihadist fighters. He has been caught spying on al-Qaeda and has now entered a world of torture. Meanwhile off Greenland Danielle, a bio-mathematician, dives into the deep sea trenches feeding her lust for knowledge.  They are connected for a year before they had a romantic entanglement that they each return to as they find each other alone driven by duty and destiny. Where each character's mind go to as they face their solitary lives is poetic and prophetic; a disturbing artistic vision.

(WW Norton)
Harvard Square - AndrĂ© Aciman
(FICTION/CLOTH) This is the modern interpretation of the costs of coming to our country to pursue the American dream. Does one have to surrender their cultural roots to be fully immersed in the melting pot or is the retention of the strengths of your lineage what makes a uniquely resolute country? A Egyptian jew goes to Harvard dreaming of tenure and academic respect befriends an Arab cab driver and living life on the edge is too much for the previously cloistered student. Living the night life threatens his dream and just as decides to buckle down his friend is threatened with deportation. What is more important the dream or the reality of their friendship. Bold and always character-driven this novel has you rooting for them both as their bond is tested.
Secret Lives of Sports Fans; The Science of Sports Obsession - Eric Simmons 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) Rah, Rah, Rah! This book is Outliers for the sports enthuisiast; the best of both worlds, a book on sports and science. Why are we fans? How does our devotion effect us on a molecular level? How does our banner waving define us as a culture? We rarely contemplate such things but we know it feels good. Even Mets fans reap the benefits of fanaticism. Simons research is as exhaustive as his work on NPR's RadioLab and he is able to present the ramifications of his data in an entertaining and fascinating manner. You'll never look at a tailgate party the same way again.

Baseball as a Road to God: Seeing Beyond the Game -  John Sexton   
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH)  To the true devotee of America's sport, Baseball (not Football, sorry) following the boys of Summer is a religious experience. Sexton agrees and proceeds to show through antidotes and theological reasoning that the sport is indeed a conduit to the otherworldly. Faith in our teams defies reason and rewords us with heroic antidotes that rewards the fan even when ultimate victory eludes them. Isn't the adage, "wait until next year" a pure act of faith in and of itself? Curese, holy grounds (ball fields), superstition, it all is contemplated with delicate devotion. So next time you skip out to catch a weekday game explain that you are going to church. You won't be far off.

501 Baseball Books Fans Must Read Before They Die -  Ron Kaplan   
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH)  I've never been a big fan of the ...Before Ya Die series but this book is the labor of love from a baseball fan turned obsessive academic. From Aaron To Zipfel its all here, America's game studied from ever angle, analysis to novels, stats to biography, from the success of Red Sox Century to the  failure of Eight Men Out, it's all here. Just taking all the titles and putting them in one place is akin to collecting all the blind men's recollections of an elephant; you see the sport as the cultural phenomena it is. Too heady an observation? You got me. Think of it this way, just read a book a week listed here and you'll be the smartest fan at the bar.

Orleans -  Sherri L. Smith
(YOUNG ADULT)  New Orleans as the backdrop of a dystopian novel? What a great idea. In this recent American catastrophe we saw all the elements that make up a solid genre entry. Life changing natural events of God-like proportion change the world as we know it. Restoration appears to be a class war; each faction clinging on to their beliefs for survival of the lives once lived. Resentment, greed, grief... its all there. Smith uses it as a jumping off point for this tale. Delta Fever follows a series of devastating events. Those not effected go one with life as The Outer States assuming the Delta to be a lifeless wasteland but survivors exist and have formed their own tribe. We follow Fen and Daniel fight through the Delta to save the life of a baby who may be the only hope for the future of the tribe. Twists and turns abound but its the haunting vision of this world we saw on television that really brings it home.

(Little, Brown)
Trinkets - Kirsten Smith
(YOUNG ADULT) Mean Girls as grifters about sums it up. Shoplifting isn't about the haves and the have nots, its all about the act of shoplifting, the thrill, the danger, the wrongness of it all. Tabitha and Elodie know just how intoxicating the crime can be. They gather up other kleptos from a Shoplifters Anonymous meeting and construct a massive steal-off that feeds each of the girls compulsions while showing their vulnerabilities. We follow each of them, get inside their heads as they realize that one of the most important tenants of recovery comes from a supportive community that non-judgmentally excepts you as a friend, flaws and all.

(Alfred A Knopf)
Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin -  Liesl Shurtliff
(INDEPENDENT READER)  Destiny is his name and, well, destiny is his game. His name actually is Rump, that's it, Rump. You can imagine the bullying and taunting that ensues. That is until he finds that gold spinning wheel. As a rapper said once, "Mo money, mo trouble" and little Rump finds it out quick. With his friend, get this, little red riding hood, by his side Rump heads out in search of his full name, the fate of his mother, and to break the curse of badness his magic has unleashed. An amusing reworking of fairy tales with all the conventions of a destiny quest reworked enough to feel fresh. And yes of course the have the prerequisite nasty queen to deal with; what fairy tale would be complete without one?
Zebra Forest - Adina Rishe Gewirtz
(INDEPENDENT READER)  An escaped inmate changes children's lives forever by revealing the truths of their families. Sounds like Great Expectations but this clever debut novel is its own orginal. Annie was taught to lie by her Gran, a master of deceit. One truth (or lie) she did tell Annie and her younger brother Rew was that their father died in a fight. Annie has her own stories she shares with her brother painting their Dad as a pirate with a slew of adventures. Then the man from Gran's tale visits and the truth that lingers within the best stories (lies) can be told. Well plotted and tense, the reader will wants to spend their days in the forest to hear more stories and figure out which and what is the truth.

Tea Rex - Molly Idle
(CHILDRENS) Girls like tea parties. Guys like dinosaurs. Some gals like dinosaurs. Less guys tea parties. But what if a dinosaur liked tea parties? Well all I can say is watch out furniture and I certainly hope dinosaurs have pinkies to stretch out when they sip their teas of imagination. Illustrations drawn to emphasize the absurdity of proportion is sure to spill some giggles in this adorable party in Jurassic Park.

(Knopf YR)
Ribbit! - Rodrigo Folgueira, illus. Poly Bernatene
(CHILDREN)  Wait! That's a pig not a frog! Shouldn't that say Oink! ? Not so for this little pig on a rock as if it was a toadstool. "Ribbit!" he belches to the surprise of all fogs within earshot. Was the pig mocking the frogs or did he just want to fit in? A blast (or should I say, a RIBBET!) to read aloud  this tale of friendship and being different and misunderstood is charming.