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.


1 comment:

  1. I was thinking of getting Harvard Square. I read another book by Aciman that I just adored. I need to save up some book money first, though. :)