Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Best Book Bets - 4/30/2013

What a Spring and it looks like April is going out like a lion in the world of books as well. Find yourself a place in the sun, take your Clariton, and crack the spine of one of these sure bets. Literary Spring had sprung!

(William Morrow)
NOS4A2  -  Joe Hill  
(FICTION/CLOTH) Why is it that sons don’t learn from their fathers? Save for the illustrious Stand mammoth opuses have been the downfall of Stephen King. Now here comes his son, rightful heir to the crown of macabre with this whopping 700 page un-merry Christmas epic. The monster’s refuge is called Christmasland where he holds captive the children he’s stolen. Only one ever escaped. Her name is Vic and she longs to even the score with the monster (O.K., spoiler alert, vampire, as in Nosferatu,duh) Plus, she’s older now and Manx just took her kid.She may have the gift to do it too for she can ride anywhere with her bike and the Shorter Way bridge. So Fantasy battles Horror maybe a bit longer than they have to be the creepy nether world of Manx will keep you up nights. Creepy pen and ink drawing interspersed are just an extra plus, a visual extension of his sacrilege vision.

(AA Knopf)
The Woman Upstairs  - Claire Messud 
(FICTION/CLOTH) Nora has all but hung it up by the time we catch up with her in his new novel by the author of The Emperor's Children. She has become a borderline recluse until she meets young Reza, a student in her class. He becomes a victim of bullying, labeled a terrorist by the cruel children. Reaching out to him she bounds with his parents Shandar, a half-Muslim and his arty Italian wife Sirena. She starts to care for them deeply but her involvement in their lives creates fisures in the couple's relationship that may not be able to be repaired. If it wasn't for the purity of intention of Nora it would read as a cautionary tale but in the end this novel analyzes the blind courage it takes to love and live one's own life. 
The Enchanted Life of Adam Hope - Rhonda Riley
(FICTION/CLOTH) Take all the conventions of a wartime historical romance and add a unique supernatural twist. Teenage Evelyn discovers a burned soldier on the family property. She tends to him only to find that he doesn’t need her help. He is otherworldly, and heals on his own and fast. He is a fascinating stranger who can open Evelyn’s eyes to a whole new world. Isn’t that what love feels like? It does for her and a romance akin to Time Traveler’s Wife ensues. The novel considers the courage it takes to fall in love with someone completely, be they alien or

Maya's Notebook -  Isabel Allende  
(FICTION/CLOTH) This book has all the by-the-throat actions of the bestseller Don Winslow's Savages while remaining a poignant tale of living ones life despite the odds. Allende researches the seedy world of drug cartels with the same exhaustive detail she brings to her historicals. Maya, a late teen finds a way to break free from the world of drugs and crime. Finding refuge on and island with other abused misfits she comes to find that her safe haven is only temporary and her past will literally catch up with her. The balance of introspection with the gritty suspense is mesmerizing. Just shows you that no topic is taboo for great writing in the hands of a master like Allende, and perhaps, Oates.
Blood Makes Noise Gregory Widen
(FICTION/CLOTH)    This is a new take on the speculative history fiction novel. Usually they are quite grand in scope. This focuses on an isolated incident, Eva Peron’s death and the use of her exquisite corpse to deitify the ruler for political gain. Not only that, her body may house something as valuable as political control over Argentina. What follows is a gripping adventure with CIA rogues and bad people of power all hunting for the truth that only possession of Peron’s body will reveal. Only one man alive knows and he’s being hunted. The novel is as much about how the reign of people of power lasts far beyond death as it is about weaving a suspenseful story.

The Pink Hotel - Anna Stothard
(FICTION/TRADE)  Does the legacy of a parent, however astrayed from the child, indelibly make an impression on the personality of the child? Its certainly true for a  teenage girl in London who learns of her mother’s death in The States. She gathers all the artifacts she has built her vision of her mother with and heads to Los Angeles to discover just who she was. Thrust into an unseemly City of Angels she discovers where she got a lot of her spunk from. The writing is far more tender than the people and places she goes to give her mother’s life, and in turn, her own some meaning; perhaps why she was and Orange Award contender previously (and perhaps. again.)
(Oxford U)
Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing - Melissa Mohr 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) Swears are so taboo, so adult, yet so satisfying to have past one’s lips. Kids have potty mouth, teens swear a blue streak, some people swear like a sailor. He…heck, ten of them launched George Carlin’s career (and a whole wave of blue comics.) This book goes from swearing as in testimony to fits of road rage and what gives those words power. It even looks into how we feel when we swear, how saying them effects the body and the brain. This is a thorough scholarly work not just a novelty sure to elevate your cursing to ne heights (or is that lows?)

Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard -   Laura Bates  
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) Some would say that this author is out of her mind; teach Shakespeare in  a maximum security prison. She believed that the Bard’s words were moving, little did she know to what extent. Enter Larry Newton, one badass of a lifer who found he was attending one of her classes. In the stories he saw himself. For the next ten years he studies Shakespeare’s work with her guidance. He will never leave prison but now seeing his life through the pages he more accurately is accountable for his crimes and has built coping mechanisms for being a lifer that would not have come to him without the interpretive inspirations of the playwright.

Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass  -  Meg Medina
(YOUNG ADULT)  Here’s a new book with bullying themes that works on two levels. It feels real, has an urban feel to the cast of mean girls each trying their damnedest to define themselves. Second, it is not a difficult read; it remains accessible to the teens who are more comfortable flipping thumbs on a cell phone than flipping pages behind a book. Piddy’s gonna get messed up, that’s the word around school and the young Latin girl who never did nothing to nobody has to watch her back.  She is quite resourceful balancing studying, work and an unstable family life but looking over her shoulder every second waiting for Yaqui to strike is a full time job and is taking its toll. This doesn’t look for afternoon special answers to her dilemma, it just has the reader rooting for her as she tries to keep her life together.

Nobody's Secret - Michaela MacColl
(YOUNG ADULT) Nothing ruins a budding young adult historical romance than when the boy dies. Thus is the case for a young Emily Dickinson, yes, you heard me right. This handsome rouge, Mr. Nobody, steals her heart on day and then is found face down in a pond the next. Nix the romance, we’ve got a murder mystery on our hands lead by a younger version of one of the times great minds. MacColl dots her eyes when it comes to building her world and breathing life into this incantation of Ms. Dickenson. Poetic one moment, an intriguing mystery the next, always driven by a romantic melancholy. A surprisingly well tied together tale.
(MaCmillan Childrens)
Relish: My Life in the Kitchen -  Lucy Knisley
(INDEPENDENT READER)  First the book is a graphic novel (all the middle-school grade kids go yay!) Knisley does more with a self-satisfied grin than a page of pathos described ever could. This could be entitled, The Autobiography of a Foodie as a Young Woman. We follow her memoir of slowly being seduced by the foods that define the moments of her life. We even get some of her families’ chestnuts to try out for ourselves. It also touches on eating in a sustainable manner. If this doesn’t breed the next Gordon Ramsey or Julia Child it will at least invoke an appreciation for the culinary (and illustrative) arts.
The Tale of Raw Head and Bloody Bones - Jack Wolf
(INDEPENDENT READER)  1751, right in the heart of the Age of Enlightenment young Tristan is growing into quite an accomplished surgeon. With all healing comes pain. That’s what young Tristan likes the most, the pain, inflicting it. Well part of him anyways. He explores his past cloaked with wild superstitions of fairies and goblins and the like. He is sure that somewhere in that dark is the secret behind his psychosis. Will he learn the secret to what lurks within before his medical career surrenders to madness. Read on if you dare.

(Harry N. Abrams)
How to Be a Cat  - Nikki McClure
One word in print and a thousand subtleties revealed it the intricate cut paper, McClure’s signature style. The cat, more of an overgrown kitten is quite adapt at illustrating for the child some of the feline words (pounce) while some are a bit of a stretch even for her. If a child has a cat in their home this will become a favorite as they follow the kitten struggling to be cat for its mom just as the child tries to seem “all grown up” for their parents. Pass the milk, in a saucer of course.)
Again! - Emily Gravett
(CHILDREN) As any adult would reads and/or watched RR Martin's Game of Thrones is aware, dragons live and are quite the awesome pet. This Korean import presents a gender neutral toddler fire-breather who will become a bedtime favorite just as little dragon’s book is for he/she. The baby dragon wants to hear the same story over and over, again, and AGAIN until, you guessed it, sleep comes, unfortunately for the parents and not for the over-stimulated child. Oh, and the illustrations are just as magical as the young dragon believes his favorite book is.

1 comment:

  1. have to be the creepy nether world of Manx will keep you up nights. Creepy pen and ink drawing interspersed are just an extra plus, a visual extension of his sacrilege vision. Extra Bookie