Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Best Book Bets - 6/11/13

Thugs called monkey? Monkeys in pirate hats? Ghostly lakes and things that go bump in the dark woods? Unseemly pasts that come back to haunt? BFFs forever throughout it all? Must be the beginning of the summer read season. Enjoy!

Bad Monkey  -  Carl Hiaasen   
(FICTION/CLOTH) I don’t know how I like Hiaasen best; as the quirky writer of infectious independent readers for teens like Hoot and Flush or the oddball mystery writer with a treasure trove of Florida eccentrics to populate his yarns. Well this month it’s the latter. Just in time to fill my beach bag he comes up with and equally hilarious and suspenseful tale of Miami vice. Near-do-well police officer keeps a frozen arm in his freezer. He believes that if he solves its mystery and the murder he suspects his life will turn around. It’s the best appendage used as a plot driver since Bambi’s baby toe in The Big Lebowski. Yancy follows the leads and an assortment of characters only Hiaasen could dream up until he’s face to face with the bad monkey himself, a deliciously badass criminal. Put on extra sunscreen, you will get lost reading this welcomed beach read.
If You Were Here  - Alafair Burke
(FICTION/CLOTH) A woman saves a teenager from a subway accident and becomes this hour’s heroine. McKenna Wright is working on a feature article on the event when she swears she recognizes the woman on the security video as her long lost friend Susan who disappeared shortly after military service a decade before. Now she has two stories to uncover. What she learns about the mystery woman, her disappearance and why she’s back will have the reporter doubting everything about her life. A riveting tale of a woman lost in a mystery in The Big apple who seeks the truth no matter what the cost.

The Silver Star  - Jeannette Walls

(FICTION/CLOTH) First came her memoir The Glass Castle, then her fictionalized account of her grandmother’s childhood, Half Broke Horses. The latter lacked the rooted-in-reality impact of her debut. Silver Star however learns how to recapture that desperate rooting for the in peril characters with her young character Bean and her older sister Liz after her flighty mother Charlotte leaves them with barely enough to get by. They wind up at at the run-down mansion of their uncle. Bean loves her sister, her smarts remind her of her mother. They start a life in a new town but eventually the bookish nature of her sister brands her as different. One day something awful happens, of course, because its Wall’s novel and Bean has to come to her sister’s defense. Tough and passionate, this is Walls finally finding her narrative voice.

Time Flies -  Claire Cook  
(FICTION/CLOTH) Summer approaches, the plovers are nesting, its time for a cozy summer read and no one out there dolls out the pick-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps with the help of a friend by your side and smell the sea air better than Cook. Her recipe seems similar, two friends at a crossroads, an emotional train wreck up ahead and further up the road a life lesson learned. The trick is each time out the author finds the uniqueness of her characters and allows them to find there own way. Relating with her characters and following them through their trials is like test runs for ourselves when we get to our own forks in the road. Here Melanie faces divorce, a looming high school reunion and the fantasy of a new start with an old flame. The only thing stopping her is the miles between Atlanta and New England and a fear of the highway. Enter friend by your side… Essential accessory for visiting the shores, sunglasses, sunblock, and this feel-good novel.
The Last of the Camperdowns  Elizabeth Kelly
(FICTION/CLOTH)  Riddle is living out her summer in Wellfleet, MA as her father runs for office. Her family is well to do and a lot is expected from her to live up to. One day she becomes the witness to a crime that sends her inside herself. The truth of the event could jeopardize her father’s campaign and that reality reinforces her silence. The event becomes fodder for her others who wish ill will upon her family. Only Riddle can set things right if only she could muster the courage. Part thriller, part comedy of manners, you will be pleased to spend the summer with the troubled Camperdowns.

Cradle Lake  - Ronald Malfi
(FICTION/TRADE)  Its perfect that this is being released in paperback rather than a more dignified cloth bound. I mean that in a good way because this novel has all the promise to be one of those dog-eared, spine curled books pasted down from one reader to the other throughout the summer. Aln and Heather Hammerstun go away to a family home in the Smoky Mountains to heal their marriage. It all starts well. The neighbors are, well, perfect, Stepford perfect. On the far end of their property they find a path adorned with strangely chiseled markers. At the end is a lake that when you immerse yourself into acts like a fountain of youth. Alan considers bringing his troubled wife to the lake, after all what could go wrong? He is warned but the potential of the lake’s restorative powers is overwhelming. Scary stuff here my friends.

(Grand Central)
The Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story -   Lily Koppel 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) Here’s The Right Stuff for the ladies left behind. When the space race began it was the wives of the Mercury program astronauts who became media starlets. Each became an icon, the Bettys and Veronicas of the American Dream. As years past, reality hit, divorce, depression, death, and scandal haunted them. Only acting as their own support group could they all endure the years after fame faded. It is a story of sisterhood thrush upon an unwitting group of ladies while they languished in the limelight.
The Attacking Ocean; The Past, Present, and Future of the Rising Sea -  Brian Fagan
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) What is it with the ocean? You know you’ve watched the footage day in and day out and asked that question. Here Fagan attempts to answer that question with current, disturbing findings and even more alarming prognostications. The seas have risen but not inordinately so. The oceans are warming contributing to the turmoil but the real reason is we, the people who are so set on overpopulating on its shores. The presentation of his research is an interesting take on a natural drama taking place on our doorstep. It will certainly fuel the debate on both sides when it comes to global warming and the impact of temperature change on the generations to come.

(Henry Holt)
Siege & Storm  -   Leigh Bardugo
(YOUNG ADULT)  aka The Grisha 2, Menaakle boogaloo! Alina is a Sun Summoner, a heritage she fights hard to keep a secret. When the Darkling returns emboldened and with new power she needs to return home and live her legacy. Still the darklings powers are seductive and draw her into its spell. She needs to hold strong for her people if not for her soul. Will love betray her and return her dark? The fate of the world is in the balance. Alina is a great, flawed heroine you nervously root for. And yes, there are pirates of sorts, privateers to be precise, so the novel got that going for it as well.

Dance of the Red Death - Bethany Griffin
(YOUNG ADULT) A teen paranormal romance fueled by the dark prose of Poe? I’m in! This is actually the sequel (and conclusion, no 5 volume series here) of Masque of the Red Dance. When the readers last heard of Araby, her world had been destroyed by death and disease. Now revenge is all she can think about. Revenge best served during a minuet. She will avenge the misdeeds perpetrated against her family and her homeland at the masked ball. The finale turns into an Eyes Wide Shut for the YA crowd. She could die in the process but things need to be made right. Griffen captures the atmospheric gloom Poe so effectively conjured and gives it a modern twist of rebellious spirit in Araby.
Far Far Away -  Tom McNeal
(INDEPENDENT READER) McNeal, an author already proficient in writing for young adults creates a fresh take on the Grimm fairy tales that have become all-the-vogue as of late. Jeremy has had a tough life. His parents left him to care for his family and he has become ostracized by his hometown of NeverBetter. You see he hears voices, not just any voice but the voice of Jacob Grimm as in Brothers Grimm. With him as his tour guide things could never go well. There is one person who is infatuated by Jeremy’s quirk, the infatuating Ginger. With fair maiden in hand let the fairy tales commence! McNeal’s writing style fits the yarn with clever wordplay and antiquated terms of phrase, just enough not to alienate the less efficient reader.

(Little Brown)
Pi in the Sky - Wendy Mass
(INDEPENDENT READER)  I’m first thinking that we have mixed our math up with our fantasy but save for its nods to quantum physics there is just the right amount of science in the fiction. This spacy tale follows Joss who’s Dad is the Supreme Overlord. He’s the youngest in the clan and so all he lords over is pie delivery. One morning Earth is gone and it becomes Joss’ task to find it. With earthling Annika by his side he can not fail. This easy reader has a lot of Douglas Adams intergalactic wackiness that keeps you grinning when the story gets too pat. Read on and prosper!
(Little Brown)
Nighttime Ninja  - Barbara Dacosta, illus. Ed Young
(CHILDRENS)  There are not enough bedtime books for dudes who will not sleep so here you go. Great pictures done with broad strokes tell of the ninja who stalks through the house after everyone else is asleep searching for treasure. It’s a fun adventure that lets the child participate in the suspense.

Shimmer and Splash: The Sparkling World of Sea Life -  Jim Arnosky
(CHILDREN) Here is the follow-up to Arnosky's Creep and Flutter and Slither and Crawl (YUKKO!) Now here comes a kinder, gentler catalogue of critters for young ones to marvel at. The detail of the pages created by this award -winning illustrator are impeccable and the variety of animals and scales and textures is dazzling; stingrays, eels, dolphins, jellyfish to the oh-so-popular sharks. To the thrill of the read to many of the pages even fold out. Children will marvel at all the beauty beneath the waves. Who knows, the book might help breed the next Jacque Cousteau!

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