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!

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