Thursday, May 23, 2013

Best Book Bets - 5/21/13

Just in time for the unofficial start of summer, the odds-maker of the printed word, The Literary Bookie presents the latest Bookie's Dozen (O.K., it's 14 pickets but if Bakers can have 1r, then...) 6-2-2-2-2 (6 Fiction - 2 Non-Fiction - 2 Young Adult - 2 Independent Reader - 2 Children's) 14 red hot best bet picks (The Bookie's dozen come hot off the press where the Baker's dozen comes from an oven.)

And the Mountains Echoed  -  Khaled Hosseini  
(FICTION/CLOTH) It’s been six years since the author breathed life into his homeland, Afghanistan. His first novel, The Kite Runner is already a summer reading list title for teens. His follow-up, A Thousand Splendid Suns painted the passion he has for his country in even more lavish strokes. This time out he pulls the iris open wide to include a vast array of locales and customs; from Paris to San Fran and seemingly everywhere in between. His narrative strains under his ambition but his observations of human interaction and an acute sense of detail when the details reflect the souls of the characters are as spot on as his takes on Kabul. Diverse characters paths cross, each affecting the other in immeasurable ways. Like all of his books it is about the familial passions that fight with themselves; ultimately healing but not without a sizable amount of emotional damage in their wake. Plus there is a metaphorical reference to legendary monster named Dic and you know The Bookie can’t get enough of that! A fine book for his fan base.

(Random House)
The Redeemer  - Jo Nesbo and Don Bartlett 
(FICTION/CLOTH) Just as King said about Barker pertaining to the genre of horror I would like the spirit of Stieg Larssen to rise long enough to proclaim, “I have scene the new face of crime mystery and his name is Jo Nesbo!” I’m not alone thinking this author deserves such praise. Martin Scorsese, his equivalent in film, one who can making griity crime drama into an art form, is presently in production on his earlier novel, The Snowman. His character is Harry Hole, an investigator battling his own demons, each time out getting closer to being that which he hunts. On night a Salvation Army officer is shot dead in the cold streets of Oslo in a bungled hit. Hole hunts for the assassin, The Redeemer, before he can complete his mission. The hit is also tangled up with Hole’s past and an abused girl a decade in his past. His writing grabs you by the collar and shakes, never lets you go, providing one cliffhanger after another. Start here or at the beginning of Hole’s saga (this is #4.) You’ll be set for the summer!

The Fall of Arthur  - J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien

(FICTION/CLOTH) Fans of Tolkien would break into a fourth breakfast just to read the napkins of the author never mind an entire novel. It’s a fine work, shades of fleshing out evident and you can tell why he left it in the drawer to pursue his own pathos with The Hobbit. Arthur the cuckold breaks through his depression when he learns Mordred has once again rebelled. With Lancelot banished from his table he needs to coax his men together for one last battle. The text has been edited by Tolkien’s son though a rougher draft may have appealed to die-hard fans. Christopher explains his process in a series of essays but it the remaining tale the proves a rough wireframe on which to build Middle Earth.It sure beats reading napkins, but if you find any, especially penned by both Tolkien AND C.S. Lewis, let me know!

The Whispering Muse -  Sjon, trans. by Victoria Cribb  
(FICTION/CLOTH) Now here’s the stuff of legend, a man is seated at the captain’s table each night of a cruise. Each evening the second mate weaves a tale to end all tales. They take all who listen to some fantastic place far from the drear of their lives. Sjón, the author (one name, like Bjork) uses a highly stylized poetic delivery; a magical realism that is effective in its sparse detail. As the tale unfolds and all the crew and guests reflect on the growing myth it alters the perspective of all on board. Its like the best sea stories or tales told before a fire, heavy on tone, like on logic; all you know is you feel the character’s dread ebb and fall with the tide. It is truly enchanting, you too will believe in the power of story to have lifelong effects on you as well. 
Screwed Eoin Colfer
(FICTION/CLOTH)  Colfer is best known for his intergalactic young adult series Artemis Fowl. Well he's also dabbled in the mystery genre with a novel entitled Plugged. This sequel continues to follow Daniel McEvoy. He uses his finely honed skill at writing thrills and undulating plotlines to keep the pages turning but he also humble enough to realize that he is not at par with the masters of the genre and so takes a postmodern shot at black comedy more in line with Haiasson and Leonard than Patterson and Ludlum. The Irish underground has its grip on New Jersey. McEnroy sifts through a stereotypical parody of a cast of characters. Its refreshing to read a book in this genre that doesn't take itself too deadly serious. With its laughs and thrills it makes for a satisfying beach read.   

The Resurrectionist; The Lost Work of Dr. Spenser Black - E.B. Hudspeth
(FICTION/CLOTH) I don't know which is more disturbing, the manical work of the troubled Dr. Black or his obsessive etchings of his work. Its the 1800's, bathed ghostly by gaslight. Son of a grave robber turned respective doctor believes that all the mythical beasts existed before being erased by a little thing called evolution. The biography of the doctors rise to fame from working with his father, to researching the carnival circuit to his Lovecraftian disappearance is written with the detachment of a documentarian of the day. The appendix is where the chill hits home. The Codex Extinct Animalia is the disturbing sketchbook of the deranged doctor, obsessive in detail and disturbing in probability. Enter the mind of Dr. Black, if you dare!

The Prophets of Smoked Meat - Daniel Vaughn 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) Anthony Bourdain loves inginous food from all over the globe. It makes sense that the first book on his imprint would be a gushing valentine to a land and the food that best represents it. In this case its Texas and its beloved BBQ. Daniel Vaughn had the enviable task of sampling over 500 restaurants, stands and smokers throughout the state for research. Be careful what you wish for is the lesson learned for his conclusion is that the blessed smoked meats most of us in the country chow on is garbage. This book is part an extension of his blog Full Custom Gospel BBQ and part road trip through the recipes, the inventors and the plateful after plateful of the alchemy of meat, smoke, and flame.

American Gun: A History of the U.S. in Ten Firearms -  Chris Kyle 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH)  Whether you are on the left or the right of the gun regulation issue one thing is undeniable, guns have defined us as a population throughout our history. Kyle, an ex-SEAL and author of American Sniper certainly learned lesson one of a troop, love your gun. He uses ten of them to illustrate the dtate of the nation at the time and how they were integral in that era. Starting with the Kentucky rifle all the way to sniper preferred H&K M4, Kyle not only presents his research of the weapon in American history but hunts down and shares first-hand what its like to fire said weapons. A fascinating lens to look back at our history reenforcing how gun culture is deeply entrenched in our culture. If only all the people in our nation were so reverent towards these weapons.

Gorgeous  -  Paul Rudnick
(YOUNG ADULT)  What if your fairy godmother was a world famous fashion designer in a trailer park? How's that for a setup. As soon as you can say bippity boppity boo Becky Randle does from hum drum to va-va-voom with the zip up of one of his dresses. The novel takes on an 80s film comedy devise where the world sees her as the most beautiful teen in the world but she only sees her mousey self in the mirror. Becky becomes Rebecca, the toast of the town. Enter her prince, really, a prince who will need to fall in love with the real her, her inner Becky, in order to find true love. Campy, cleverly written fairy tale for the YA set.

School Spirits - Rachel Hawkins
(YOUNG ADULT) Hawkins takes her paranormal romance writing skills to teen lit with glee. Teens and monsters, I know, been there, read that, but Izzy is one spunky girl you want to fight alongside. She comes across as a 15 year old version of the paranormal romance heroines; write what you know, right? For Izzy its a family thing, hunting magic and slaying beasts. One day Izzy's sister vanishes and her mom decides to call the family business quits. Wouldn't you know it but the high school at the new town they move to is haunted. Hate that! Izzy has to try to fit in at school, vanquish the haunters and find her sister. Will there be a romantic angle as well? You betcha!

(Dutton Juvenile)
Theodore Boone: The Activist -  John Grisham
(INDEPENDENT READER) I get perturbed by so many adult literature authors getting into the young adult novel biz (Patterson, really? REALLY!?) I draw an exception with Grisham just as I did with Robert B. Parker when he was alive. Why? Because there aren't enough novels at this reading level that boys can comfortably sink their teeth into. Boone is a teen investigator, natch, who discovers corruption in his town and feels pressure to be the whistle blower. Enough twists and turns to keep the kids caring and a nice nod towards making moral decisions and being eternally vigilant.

Odessa Again - Dana Reinhardt
(INDEPENDENT READER)  If it was only that simple... Odessa discovers that by stamping her foot in a secret way on her bedroom floor she can rewind her life by one day. Erase, erase, a chance to coreect your wrongs, do that which you wish you did only moments after you didn't.Adjusted school tests seems a logical beginning. She starts to feel that it shouldn't be all about her and tries to tweak her brother's popularity and her parents marriage with adverse results. That's the the thing with time-line continuum, it always comes back to bite. Still Odessa wants to help, magic or none. You root for her in all her gushing passion for friends and family, you'll want to stamp on your floor in hopes of winding back a day in hopes of meeting her face to face.

Friends  - Mies van Hout
(CHILDRENS) When Happy was first released I was captivated by the textural illustrations and the feelings they evoked. The world agreed. Now comes another stellar achievement in children's illustration. Friends is sparse on words allowing the pictures to tell the story. Plus friends has the cuddliest monsters you've ever seen. They do everything that friends do together from cuddle to tease (friendship is not always sugary sweet) After reading this I'd leave milk and cookies under my bed in hopes of having one of them living there.

A Funny Little Bird  - Jennifer Yerkes
(CHILDREN) This is the charming tale of an invisible bird. See it? How can you, its invisible? But there it is. The lonely bird thinks if it gets flashy plumage it will make it popular. She certainly stands out, even to a hungry fox! A ruckus ensues and she loses her flashy new accoutrements. Again safe, the bird learns a lesson and finds itself less lonely. Beautiful illustrations fill the store with charm.

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