Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Best Book Bets - 3/26/2013

Spring has sprung, the crocuses croaked (they are presently peeking their little green heads out of the snow.)  Sorry about that. The Bookie didn't see a shadow weeks ago, thus four more weeks of Winter. Instead the prognosticator of sure-bet books was busy perusing new titles you can feel confident dropping some cold, hard cash on. 6 fiction, 2 non-fiction, 2 young adult, 2 independent reader, even 2 titles to fill your holiday baskets!
The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards - Kristopher Jansma
(FICTION/CLOTH) This debut is a grand rights of passage story of an aspiring writer that takes us across the world enriching our lives as much as it does our protagonist who searches for the meaning of his life. Kristopher has always wanted the literary fame his schoolmate Julian has acquired; the bestseller, the notoriety. He also has always had eyes on Julian's friend Evelyn. Emotions clash and the friendship of the three ends. Kristopher attempts to use this life experience to influence his art but in turn his words have profound impact on the very life he attempts to chronicle. He seraches the world for the answer, a journey that brings him back to his best friend, now in seclusion. A funny, brash, self-aware work of literary tomfoolery that concludes with a wry be-careful-what-you-wish-for.

(Random House)
The Burgess Boys  - Elizabeth Strout
(FICTION/CLOTH) How do you followup a lauded and successful book like Olive Kittridge? Strout knows the answer is all in developing a character you will care about and a story to motivate them. Brothers Jim and Bob lost their father early in life. They both left rural Maine soon after to acquire success in the big city. Jim became a corporate lawyer while Bob dedicated himself to being an attorney for the people. Their sister never left. Now the child she has raised is in big trouble and she reaches out to her brothers. What proceeds is a test to the strength of their family bond in spite of all the dark history they left behind. Strout's impeccable word craft is a joy to read and she gives us glimpses into each characters pathos that is bare bones and honest. How do you followup a Pulitzer prize winning novel? Follow it up with one even better than the last.

Ordinary Grace - William Kent Krueger
(FICTION/CLOTH) 1961, the sunset of the age of innoscence in our country, all soda jerks with crew cuts and doo wop instead of rock. Frank Drum was about to grow up fast when his sister is murdered. Nothing could possibly be the same; not for the young boy barely in his teens, not for his family led by his minister father or the congregation he led. In order to solve the murder the small town's secrets are revealed and nothing is as it once seemed the day before she passed. This novel is a devastating rites-of-passage story cloaked in a murder mystery. The real mystery is how these characters can move on in life without being indeligibley affected by such a profound event.

The End of the Point -  Elizabeth Graver
(FICTION/CLOTH)  The New England coastline is such an evocative setting to cast people searching for meaning in their lives. The coast as a family focus point is a classic but Graver breathes life into the setup by letting the jetty point of buzzard's bay be the looming metaphor for where the Porter family members are, at the end and looking forward. Its starts in 1942. The family has an estate at Ashaunt Point. It is the American Dream until the Army base arrives and with it temptations and diversions for the family. We visit the family again and again through the years, each time the family summer home can't shelter the family from the events that are continually shaping the country. The novel speaks of our yearning for what in hindsight was the simplicity of the past while finding the strength in what we have in life to face the challenges of the present. This may be this year's first solid beach read.
(St. Martins)
Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald Therese Anne Fowler (FICTION/CLOTH)  There are many that would think that to even pitch the premise of this novel would be literary blamsphamy. After all The Great Gatsby has become one of the benchmarks with which great American literature is measured. Zelda's early years takes a lot of guts and while this isn't the caliber of Fitzgerald (little is) it is a solid story that takes the word novel literally. She is only 17 when she meets Francis. We watch the glitz of prohibition design her into a scandlous piece of eye-candy to accompany her husband's racy novels. She embraces the role and goes for the ride rubbing elbows with the likes of Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. The time comes when she has to be herself, but just who is that and can she embrace it in time to help her husband and herself break the downward spiral of opalescence? Only this take on history will tell.

Frozen Solid - James M. Tabor 
(FICTION/CLOTH) Have you ever read Who Goes There by John W. Cambell. You certaining have seen the films based on it The Thing From Another World or John Carpenter's remake. There is something about the desolation of the Arctic that evokes claustrophobic terror. Tabor brings that dread full force by setting this thriller on the South Pole where intrepid scientists known as Triage research under the ice for the one thing that could save our planet. Hallie Leland joins the team only to realize that Triage has more nefarious intentions for their discovery. They believe the cause of Earth's woes is overpopulation and only by using the new microbe as a carrier for a controllable epidemic can they save the world. Enter the effects of light deprivation, extreme weather, and paranoia and the race to save the world is on.

The Drunken Botanist - Amy Stewart 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH)  Every alcoholic drink is derived from a planet. Distilling and cultivating a delicate dance with their very toxins and nectar. This book will make you the most knowledgeable person to have bellied up to the bar as Stewart documents the origins and the science behind each elixir. Not only do you get the discovery and evolution of over 150 liquors so get delicious factoids to impress your friends. Did you know the American revolution was ignited more from the British insisting on the colonists buying their molasses rather than the superior French which made for an inferior rum rather than a mere tea tax? That ergot infected Rye may have accounted for the Salem witch seizures and visions? Tell me more! Another round bartender... do go on.

(Random House)
Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us -  Michael Moss  
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH)  Writing for the NY Times Moss won a Pulitzer Prize for exposing hamburger contamination in 2010. Now he connects the corrupt food processing industry to the national obesity issue by presenting in exhaustive detail how they use and promote the cheapest and worst food for continued profit. Not unlike the tobacco industry they learned long ago that products heavy laden with fat and empty carbs has an addictive quality. That's why they are called comfort foods, right? The numbers of national consumption will stagger you, the intent of the industry to not change even as they market themselves as doing so (Lite products are not Light products and so on) This book is Fast Food Nation on testosterone, an indictment to the industry and a wake up call to the nation. His narrative style makes this read like a conspiracy thriller but, trust me, his facts are not sugar-coated.

Let The Sky Fall -  Shannon Messenger
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH)  A lot of ethereal beings have shown up in young adult novels as of late, fairies, mermaids, goddesses and now a sylph. Audra is one an air elemental and after a massive tornado devestates teen Vane (as in weather?) she appears to him, perhaps to comfort him for the loss of his parents due to an atmospherical occurance she may be tied to. Awkward. Audra can read the wind, control it to some effect and after witnessing its destructive side has sworn herself to be Vane's guardian. Let fine by Vane, he becoming infatuated with her. But Vane has his own secrets, his own powers that Audra has to awaken him to before the destructive warrior power of the wind returns.
 An inventive variation on the paranormal romance that should entertain teens looking for something a little different (but only a little.)

You Know What You Have To Do - Bonnie Shimko
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH)  Spoiler alert: Do you think Dexter's sister has the sociopath gene like her brother? If she does then perhaps this could be a prequel of sort, her backstory. Maggie is a young teen who has a killer in her head always goating her to take a life. Nice set-up, huh? The voice however is like her inner-Dexter; he only wants her to kill people who have done wrong to the ones she loves. Is she a lovable antihero or just a troubled teen? Reading about her struggles is chilling, hearing killer-self's dark humor delivery gives you a guilty grin and the questions of who will win and what is right and wrong will drive you quickly to the last page.

(Roaring Brook)
Marco Impossible - Hannah Moskowitz
(INDEPENDENT READER) Junior high amateur criminals extrordinaire devise a plot where they will break into the high school prom. Granted it isn't Fort Knox but to them it is just as impermeable. The reason for the break-in is so that Marco can profess his love for Benji who will be playing at the prom. (like that's going to end nicely.) The highly implausible series of events makes for good fun that should play well for the tween crowd. After all, why can't their plans work when they are powered by love? Read and see.

Hold Fast - Blue Balliett
(INDEPENDENT READER) Early live in Chicago. Her Dad is gone but that's not like him. He's not one of those dads. A life threatening event moves them to a shelter. Her family is desparate. Still her questions remain as to the whereabouts of her father and she sets out to find him before more bad catches up with them. Balliett has a keen sense of combining motive with motion and with an economy of words she gets to the heart of both her characters and her readers. What I love is Early's inquisitive nature causes her to do research and where does that begin, in a library, a hub of a community's information.

The Matchbox Diary - Paul Fleischman, illust. Bagram Ibatoulline
(CHILDREN)  This is a celebration not only of the tradition of story telling but of the trans-formative powers it has when it is becomes a part of the family tradition. A little girl's grand-dad has a cigar box full of memories; little pieces of ephemera, each with a tale to tell. The girl chooses one item at a time and with each a story is woven of the man's early years, from the little girl's age on up, each a little treasure of life he can recall and share with her. The story is just them talking, letting the warm illustrations of Ibatouline bathed in the sepia of yesteryear to fuel our own imaginations.
Dream Friends - You Byun
(CHILDREN)  More because of the development of their brains than anything else children are pre-wired with a dislike of sleep. That's while intuitive classics like Goodnight Moon as such a godsend. Well here is another sleeping aid that is sure to be a land-of-Nod favorite. When Melody sleeps she visits her closest friend. In the real world, awake, she has none. Through the power of her dreams however she is shown how to find a real life friend. Just like with adults answers can be found when you sleep. The delicate illustrations are soothing and welcoming (plus who wouldn't want to dream of riding a house cat like a horse?)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Best Book Bets - 03/19/2013

Spring's just around the corner, don't you worry and so is the I'm-so'sick-of-Winter-I could-just... Bookie. At least there is a new batch of books to brighten your days and warm your nights. 6 novels, 2 non-fiction, 2 Young Adult, 2 Independent Reader's and 2 Children's in the mix. Open a cover and enjoy! (! is the last sure bet this week)

When She Was Gone - Gwendolen Gross
(FICTION/CLOTH) When will they learn that small town secrets never remain buried? The day before college young Lindsay Hart disappears leaving her mother Abigail to search for clues as to the whereabouts of her lost daughter. In doing so she has to keep her illict affair with a barista on the down low while she investigates all the various people in her daughter's life. So many people are effected by the event all dealing with grief in their own way, save one, who is just putting on a show, keeping the truth under wraps. Gross has a voice similar to Tom Perotta, another author with a talent of showing us the underbelly of suburbia. A jarring tale of that will keep you guessing, worrying and above all else, feeling for the characters, mostly the lost Lindsay.

Wool  - Hugh Howey
(FICTION/CLOTH) If the inexplicable success of 50 Shades of Grey wasn't enough to convince you that self-publishing is changing the face of the book industry, look no further than the success story of Hugh Howey. In 2011 he released Wool as a short story. Sci-fi diehards demanded more and he released a second volume, then another, all based on the building viral popularity. This led to the movie industry bidding on the property and finally this week, a "legitimate" publisher releases an actual hardcover omnibus edition of the book series. What is it about? A dystopian future where mankind hangs by a thread. A little Bradbury, a little Orwell, a dash of Atwood, and liberal amounts of Suzanne Collins and the legions of science fiction that inspired her. While I'd recommend any of the authors mentioned before this, it makes for good pulp fair; well structured obstacles and characters to root for without too much science in the fiction.

(Washington Sq.)
Heart Like Mine - Amy Hatvany
(FICTION/CLOTH) Grace is taking a romantic leap of faith when she agrees to marry the dreamy Victor Hansen and inherit an immediate family who still care for (and take care of)  their erratic mother Kelli. Second marriages come with their challenges but when the first wife dies of questionable causes days after the wedding the ante is raised. Grace has to deal with the shadow of the children's mother, especially with the effects the death has on Kelli's daughter Ava who had been essentially running the family before Grace came on the scene. We follow Grace and Ava as they each tell us their pasts, their pains and the strength it takes to accept they they are two of a kind; women who lead with their hearts.

A Tale for the Time Being - Ruth Ozeki
(FICTION/CLOTH)  This brilliantly conceived new novel hails how the written word possesses such powers; from recollection, to redemption, and most importantly inspiration. Nao, a student in Tokyo, bullied and alone, decides to write about her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun. Each day she writes in her diary... A novelist who lives on the other side of the Pacific, Ruth, finds a Hello Kitty lunchbox, a remnant of a tsunami hundreds of miles away. Inside is Nao's writings and the story of similar souls unfolds. Sharp wit, moving prose, and inspirational insight without ever being sappy documents this waltz of shared passions as they weave a mythology of interconnected humanity.

The Mapmaker's War: A Legend -  Ronlyn Domingue
(FICTION/CLOTH)  The secret to the orgin of the world lay in the hands of Aoife, a young woman being trained to be a cartographer for her kingdom. She discovers a peaceful people beyond the confines of her world and sharing her knowledge of these non-threatening settlements targets them as an enemy. She tries for peace resulting in her banishment and the the destruction of both worlds she cared for. The tale of her life is narrated by Aoife's elder self as she shares her the pains and the sacrifices of her journey that set up a story that hasn't yet ended. Don't believe me, the followup novel The Chronicle of Secret Riven is already set for 2014.

Double Feature - Owen King 
(FICTION/CLOTH) What is worse than being a young writer who's father is a bestselling author in his own right? How about if your older brother also gains critical acclaim and writes a bestseller. Oh, and what if your Mom is a published author as well? Welcome to the life of Owen King. How do you beat the odds and the self-imposed pressure? Write nothing like them seems to be the answer. After a series of well received shorts King has come up with a witty, postmodern paean to the film industry. Sam Dolan makes films. His dad Booth was a B-movie actor who still rests on the laurels of his cult status. Sam has surrounded himself with a cast of deliciously flawed characters; each bizarre archetypes of Los Angeles at its most dysfunctional. King makes Sam's life a hoot to read about as he searches for his own broken version of normal. The only monsters here are human. Relating to characters has always been the key to his Dad's success so, like his brother, he has learned something he could make his own.
Once Upon a Flock: Life with My Soulful Chickens - Lauren Scheuer 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) What is it with chickens? First there was the great memoir of a Boston writer Brian McGrory's Buddy, a tale of a rooster that teaches him how to love and now this. Lauren Scheuer gets it in her head that building a coop and raising backyard chickens would be a good hobby. She was never the scrap booking type. Her family were hesitant until Lauren's dream came true and the chickens came home to roost (in a good way.) Guarded by the family terrier, Marky, the chickens are able to live out their lives and inspire all who live among them. When you read about Hatsy, Lil' White, Pigeon, and Lucy you too will be moved by their antics.

Fever -  Mary Beth Keane 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH)  Have you ever gone to work with the flu and everybody tells you to, "go home, Typhoid Mary!"? Here's the story of patient zero of the epidemic that scorged the early twentith century. Her story is presented with masterful narrative style by Mary Beth Keane who the National Book Foundation deemed one of the sharpest new voices out there. Ireland born chef-at-heart Mary Mallon arrives in America and works her way to the position of cook at Castle Garden. When someone notices that disease followed her culinary career they brandish her as the carrier and put her in isolation for three years, released only if she agrees to never cook again. To obey was to not live in Mary's eyes. Keane exposes the injustices of the time, the panic of the population and the indelible spirit of a turn of the century vanguard.

(Margaret K. McElderry)
Clockwork Princess -  Cassandra Clare
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH)  Run or travel by blimp to the bookstore to pick up the satisfying conclusion to the impressively actualized Infernal Devices finale. Tessa is now a bride but happiness doesn't follow. The Shadowhunters of London are again being demonized by the minions of Mortmain. The heartless killing machines, the infernal devices, are near complete but not without Tessa. The other parts of her romantic triangle, Jem and Will, fight for her life and the future of her world when she is abducted. If you haven't read the series yet, start now! What a great Spring season of reading you have begun.

The Murmurings - Carly Anne West
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH)  Spooky voices in your head? Are they a psychological condition or something else, something not you? Nell's sister heard such voices and eventually took her own life. Correction, everyone thinks she committed suicide except Nell who knew her sister better than anyone. She could never do it. Now the voices are in Nell's head just as she begins to figure out what really happened. What if it is crazy and it runs in the family? What if the voices are others and they can manipulate her do things she never would on her own? The answers (or is it the questions) lay within the covers of this suspenseful book that feeds on the fears of teenagers dealing with the epidemic of suicide all around.

OCD, the Dude, and Me - Lauren Roedy Vaughn
(INDEPENDENT READER) You gotta love Danielle; she is what some may call "unique." She is keenly self aware of her frizzy orange clown hair and her politically incorrect body size. She lashes out with a snarky attitude and scathing homework writing assignments. Do to her illicit compositions she is sent to the school shrink who enrolls her in a social skills class, like that wouldn't further ostracize herself from her peers. There she meets Daniel, another outlier at her school, who is obsessed with The Big Lebowski. What's not to love about this guy, dude! Danielle just may have found where she fits in. There is a lot to be said about just "abiding."

The Menagerie - Tui T. Sutherland, Kari Sutherland
(INDEPENDENT READER) Young Zoe has been born into one tough family. Her family has been bestowed with the responsibility of guarding the Menagerie. One day a boy about her same age tracks her down to tell about a griffin that was hiding under his bed (so that's why the creepy things hide there, they feel safe.) They had to have escaped from the Menagerie while her family was on watch. Logan and Zoe need to return the baby mythical creatures before Zoe's family is to blame. It isn't an easy thing to do unnoticed. As their friendship blooms a bigger question comes to light, who let the griffins out and do they have it it for Zoe and her family?

I Dare You Not To Yawn - Helene Boudreau, illus. Serge Bloch
(CHILDREN)  What a great late night game this book is; a story that challenges the child to stay up all the while lulling them to sleep. You will enjoy repeated readings even for the most sleep-resistant among us. Cozy blankets, warm puppies, fuzzy orangutans... Hey! What was that? Hold it in. One yawn is all it takes to lead you to the land of slumber. Just be careful you don't nod off yourself! Yaaaawwwwnnnnn...

! (Exclamation Mark) - Amy Krouse Rosenthal & Tom Lichtenheld
(CHILDREN)  Hopefully you already have a copy of their last children's classic picture book, Duck! Rabbit. From this creative duo comes a new book to amuse and teach. Using ! as a symbol of individuality, the story unfolds about a punctuation mark searching for a place to fit in. Its not always easy but when you do find that special place, that place that allows you to be you, then... Pow!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Best Book Bets - 3/12/2013

Spring ahead, that's the promise anyways. Until then we have some new books to help you through the last of this Winter's nights. Throw another log on the fire and crack on of these sure things open.There is not a one you will consider using as kindling. 6 novels including one by a true master, 2 non-fictions, 2 young adult, 2 independent reader, and 2 to keep the kiddos smiling while they they are wrapped warm and being read to.

The Accursed - Joyce Carol Oates 
(FICTION/CLOTH) With well over fifty novels to her credit Oates output is enough to make Stephen King blush. She has written in every form and genre imaginable and neer a dud among them. This is a novel that she had put away for a while. It is our good fortune that she was able to progress past the death of her first husband and recommit. The result is seen in the emotional urgency of her latest work. This gem has her signature cast of horrors both paranormal and tragically all to ordinary. A small town of literati including the author of The Jungle, Upton Sinclair are put on trial by the devil himself after  a innocent is hanged and the incident is swept under the rug by the townspeople. It reads like a finely detailed historical with garish strokes of blood chilling dread; perfect Joyce.
Rage Against the Dying - Becky Masterman
(FICTION/CLOTH) The beginning of this novel will creep you out no end as you encounter sexual deviancy from the perspective of the perpetrator. Then you are thrust into one of the best crime dramas since Gone, Girl as we follow FBI agent Brigid Quinn as she hunts down the real killer of the biggest case of her career, one she had thought solved and confessed to long ago. Alas a normal life elludes her as one revelation after another reopens the case in alarming and unexpected pace. Don't worry, Quinn is the best at what she does and is well up for the challenge even if it destroys her personal life. Masterman is a fierce new voice in the crime novel marketplace.
(Blue Rider)
Mary Coin - Marisa Silver

(FICTION/CLOTH) The photograph of the migrant mother by Dorothea Lange is one of the most iconic photographs in American history, capturing the devastation of The Great Depression and the determination of the human spirit against seemingly insurmountable odds. Silver even uses it as her cover of her first novel since The God of War. This becomes the starting off point for this inspired novel as it follows the life of the photographer and of her subject as there lives continue long after the photograph is published. One is lathered with notoriety while another contends with survival. One woman self-involved, another selfless, we witness their lives unfolding in parallel contending with similar life-testing moments in vastly different ways. The words are vibrant, the stories compelling, and the sense that a photograph, no matter how famous is but a snapshot, a moment in time captured, its meaning nothing more than interpretations of life resonates in the lives of these two women who are both polar opposites of each other.

A Map of Tulsa - Benjamin Lytal
(FICTION/CLOTH)  This novel captures the tone of Larry McMurtry's Last Picture Show. It is a tone poem to first love, a girl and a home town, each equally embraced by this debut author. Instead of the 50's its the 90's and instead of Texas its Oklahoma, but that aside the passion, the uncertainty, and the willingness to appreciate the world is the same. Jim Praley comes home from college ready to take the journalism world by storm. What he discovers in Tulsa is an earthy romance both with a free spirit of a girl and with the town he left behind. A New Yorker staffer, Lytal knows his craft but you don't expect the lyrical nature of his prose. Where McMurtry is a literary minimalist, Lytal is more in the Eggars/Chabon camp; whatever it takes to bring us to an honest place.

A Turn of Light - Julie E. Czerneda
(FICTION/CLOTH) Paranormal romance for adults? Czerneda weaves a classic piece of fantasy while dodging many of the genre's trappings. Marrowdell is at the junction between this world and the Verge which is accessible at sunset akin to twilight in much folklore. Jenn is a special woman with her feet in both worlds, it is to her normal. She also has an invisible friend she never grew out of. Her friend, Wisp takes the form of a dragon meaning to take her to the other side. With a man by her side she might have the strength to leave. A flubbed spell turns the dragon into a man just as the two of them realize that the Verge doesn't just deliver friendly beings like Wisp. Now the real adventure begins. You don't need to be a D&D devotee to enjoy this book. The elevated language makes this novel read far better than most young adult fare and should please even the casual fantasy reader.

Red Doc> -  Anne Carson
(FICTION/CLOTH) Carson revisits her crowning triumph, Autobiography of Red, a mythic tale of Geryon, a red-winged demon boy. Referred to as "G" in this sequel, he's grown past adolescence and approaches adulthood . He is still moody, his classic soul bored by our insipid pop culture, and he still lusts for some connection with the world around him. Coming in at 192 pages this oddly challenging book is still epic but in a personal way. "To live past the end of your myth is a perilous thing" and for a demon, to own human emotions can be devastating. Oh, did I mention it was poetry? Yes, poetry, alive and well and beating with a demonic fervor.
Wave - Sonali Deraniyagala
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) This memoir is less about the devastating events that occurred December 26th, 2004 in Sri Lanka than it is about the refusal to give up even in the face of the unfathomable horror of a tsunami. Although a survivor, Deraniyagala lost her whole family to the ocean. She describes the event as it unfolds in unflinching detail. The real story begins the next day as she struggles to reassemble some semblance of a life after the water recedes. Her struggling with her fate is intersperced with glimpses of the people she loved and the life she lost. Only by putting the memories to bed in her heart can she truely move forward. We read along as she finds the courage to embrace both the past and the life she is still living.

Raising Cubby - John Elder Robison 
(NON-FICTION/CLOTH) Seeing the world through another person's eyes was never more appropriate than with this author's Look Me In The Eye. It was insightful, compassionate, and even funny at times, all the while giving us a glimpse of the world through the eyes of an individual with Asperger's. Now Robison kicks it up a notch adding fast cars, a dangerous lifestyle, fatherhood, and things that go BOOM to the mix. His unique mode of communication with his son keeps us grinning and as time passes seeing his offspring as a reflection of himself as a youth fills us with forebode. This memoir goes beyond his view of the world and functioning in it and shows us the fears and emotional ties that hold his life together.
Feral Nights -  Cynthai Leitich Smith
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH)  Who needs werewolves when you can have were-everything? Bear with me as I set this up for you. Were-possum Clyde from her Tantalize series bump in the night into a were-cat named Yoshi as they try to solve the murder of were-armadillo Travis. The road leads to a were reserve where (sic) they are all hunted for sport. I know, sounds as hocky as all get-out but it all works because of the skills of a proven storyteller and the simple fact that you care about all the were-critters, especially meek Clyde, always a fan favorite. Tonight a hero will arise!
(Balzer + Bray/Harperteen)
Crash and Burn - Michael Hassan
(YOUNG ADULT/CLOTH)  It sure didn't take long for Newtown-based stories to hit the young adult book shelves. Here is a book about characters with an unhealthy obsession with destruction. Crash Crashinsky averted a school tragedy by preventing classmate David Burnett from setting off his arsenal at school. He becomes a national hero of sorts. Little do people know the back story of how he is linked to the potential massacre. While far more candy-glossed than King's Rage Hassan mulls over the cause and effect of alienation and seeing oneself as a loner and how slippery a slope it is to go from depression, repression to rage. A bitter pill for the troubled teen.

Navigating Early - Clare Vanderpool
(INDEPENDENT READER) We're always a sucker for a novel with a New England local and it definitely becomes a character in this tale of a formerly landlocked boy from Kansas when he is sent to school in Maine. e befriends Early Auden, a most unusual boy who tracks bears and is obsessed with the mathamatical number Pi. Driven by the legend of The Fish, a local who never came back from WWII they set on their own adventure on the Appalachian Trail in search of black bears and their destiny. Like math, sometimes there are no easy answers.

(Little, Brown)
The Cats of Tanglewood Forest - Charles de Lint, illus. by Charles Vess
(INDEPENDENT READER) To live in Tanglewood Forest and never been touched by the magic all around her? INCONCEIVABLE! Lillian hunts for fairies everywhere in the forest but to no avail. After having her life saved she becomes a wisp of her own and is transformed into a kitten by the cats that inhabit the magical forest. Thus begins her tale from kitten to cat to magic touched youth as she lives out the fable of her dreams. Whimsical illustrations fill in the world she roams making for a light romp towards destiny.

Nugget & Fang - Tammi Sauer, illus. Michael Slack
(CHILDREN)  Kids love sharks. It's a fact. Take one sharp- toothed blue and have him buddy-up with a minnow of a fish Nugget and how can you resist. Is it a friendship or just Fang's next meal? Turn the page (Bummm-bum. Bummm-bum. Bum-bum-bum-bum...) When Fang meets his minnow friend's school will he  Greatr illustration as fun as this story of taking a chance on friendship.

Pirates vs Cowboys - Aaron Reynolds, illus. David Barneda
(CHILDREN)  When it comes to ornery hombres that kids love it's a toss-up between pirates (arrrr!) or cowboys (yippie ki yi yay!) Burnt Beard's crew looks for treasure in the wild west only to lock horns with Black Bob and his posse. Seems there can only be one band of scallywags in this county. To add to the conflict Cowboys don't understand pirate-speak and visa-versa. Great fun from the twisted mind that brought us the demented Creepy Carrots last year.Sure to be a new bedtime favorite as long as you act out the parts.