Thursday, August 31, 2006

New Fiction for September

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted and my wonderful excuse is that I and my fellow colleagues have been ordering books like crazy! Here are some of the September releases that should be on the shelves soon…

September 1
The Dissident by Nell Freudenberger
Accepting an artist residency from a wealthy Beverly Hills family, a famous performance artist and political activist becomes increasingly entangled in the lives of his hosts and reveals the artistic subculture that shaped his Beijing past. A first novel.

September 5
Dark Angels by Karleen Koen
An ambitious young woman, Alice Verney risks everything for pride and status as she deals with the political intrigues, private passions, shifting alliances, and social machinations of the Restoration court of King Charles II. By the author of Through a Glass Darkly.

The Book of Fate by Brad Meltzer
When Ron Boyle, the supposed victim of an assassination, is spotted alive and well in Asia eight years after his purported death, former presidential aide Wes Holloway, permanently disfigured in the same attack, stumbles into the heart of a baffling conspiracy involving Masonic history, an enigmatic code invented by Thomas Jefferson, and the Book of Fate, a repository for disturbing secrets.

A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon
Newly retired George Hall becomes convinced his rash is cancer. His home life is going crazy with his wife having an affair and his daughter getting married for the second time. George’s son Jamie’s life becomes traumatic when his sister fails to invite his lover to the wedding. All this is to much for George, as he goes insane, in a dignified and polite manner, of course.

The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld
The Interpretation of Murder leads readers from the salons of Gramercy Park, through secret passages, to Chinatown --- even far below the currents of the East River where laborers are building the Manhattan Bridge. As Freud fends off a mysterious conspiracy to destroy him, Younger is drawn into an equally thrilling adventure that takes him deep into the subterfuges of the human mind.

The Devil in the Junior League by Linda Francis Lee
A member of the exclusive Junior League of Willow Creek, Texas, Fredericka Mercedes Hildebrand Ware's perfect life begins to unravel when her husband betrays her, steals her money, and vanishes, and the only way she can keep from becoming fodder in the JLWC gossip mill is to get the tacky wife of wealthy but tasteless lawyer Howard Grout into the elite society.

Dark Celebration by Christine Feehan
Despite the dangers to his lifemate Raven and their daughter Savannah, Mikhail Dubrinsky, Prince of the Carpathians, risks everything to protect his people from the extinction of their species, as Carpathians gather from around the world to take on their adversaries in an ultimate showdown.

September 12
Under Orders by Dick Francis
Sid Halley, former jockey-turned-detective, returns. Death at the races is not uncommon, but three in one day--including a winning horse and champion jockey--are more than enough to raise Halley's suspicions.

The Mephisto Club by Tess Gerritsen
On Christmas Eve, Boston Medical Examiner Maura Isles is summoned to the scene of a brutal killing and teams up with Detective Jane Rizzoli to investigate the victim's ties to Joyce O'Donnell, a cantankerous psychologist, and to a sinister cabal called the Mephisto Club, a group devoted to a study of evil in all its malevolent forms.

September 18
Paint it Black by Janet Fitch
From the bestselling author of "White Oleander" comes a powerful story of passion, first love, and a young woman's search for a true world in the aftermath of loss.

September 19

The Mission Song by John le Carré
Working as an interpreter for British Intelligence translating intercepted phone calls, wiretaps, and voice mails, Bruno Salvador, the abandoned son of an Irish father and Congolese mother, is sent to a mysterious island to interpret a secret conference among Central African warlords, only to find himself in the middle of a dangerous conspiracy.

Imperium: A Novel of Ancient Rome by Robert Harris
Harris reimagines a lost biography of Cicero actually written by Cicero's secretary, Tiro.

Fear of the Dark by Walter Mosley
Fearless Jones and Paris Minton return in a fast-paced thriller about family and revenge.

Brothers by Da Chen
Follows the divergent lives of two brothers, sons of a powerful general and born at the height of the Chinese Cultural Revolution--Tan, born the son of the general's wife into luxury and comfort, and Shento, the child of the general's mistress, raised by an old healer and his wife after his mother's suicide--as their fates collide when they unwittingly fall for the same woman.

When Madeline Was Young by Jane Hamilton
After being left brain damaged, with the mind of a seven year old, following a bicycle accident, Madeline, Aaron Maciver's beautiful young wife, is cared for by Aaron and his second wife along with two children of their own, in an insightful novel, narrated by Aaron's son Mac, that follows the Maciver family through four decades.

Moral Disorder: Stories by Margaret Atwood
A new collection of short fiction presents ten stories that capture important moments in the course of a life and in the lives intertwined with it, in a volume that ranges from the 1930s to the 1980s, is set in a variety of locales, and includes such works as "The Bad News,” "The Art of Cooking and Serving,” "My Last Duchess,” "The Boys at the Lab,” and the title tale.

Magic Time by Doug Marlette
Carter Ransom, a son of Mississippi, had the great fortune and terrible luck of falling in love in '64 with a New York-born civil rights worker who was killed. Carter's father presided over the first trial of the murders, but now the question, among many others, is whether the good judge was knowingly involved in a cover-up.

September 26

She Ain’t the One by Carl Weber and Mary B. Morrison
In this exciting collaboration, "New York Times" bestselling author Weber and "Essence" bestselling author Morrison bring their powerful talents together to deliver a gripping novel about the ultimate player who has finally run into the wrong woman.

For One More Day by Mitch Albom
Mitch Albom mesmerized readers around the world with his number one New York Times bestsellers, The Five People You Meet in Heaven and Tuesdays with Morrie. Now he returns with a beautiful, haunting novel about the family we love and the chances we miss. For One More Day is the story of a mother and a son, and a relationship that covers a lifetime and beyond. It explores the question: What would you do if you could spend one more day with a lost loved one?

Selected titles from Publishers Weekly and Baker & Taylor. Annotations from Baker & Taylor , Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Martian Chronicles

In honor of Ray Bradbury's birthday August 22, 1920:

The Martian Chronicles is made up of a collection of short stories written by Ray Bradbury during the 1940s along with "filler" vignettes to tie these stories together. The "novel", published in 1950, tells the future of space travel to Mars starting in 1999. The vignettes follow multiple expeditions to Mars, starting with the first expeditions to later mass colonization.
This is science fiction, speculative fiction, at its best; even if you are not a fan of science fiction, this is a very accesible book with plenty of philosophical themes thrown in.
Perhaps my favorite vignette is the one on the automatic house. This house cleans itself, prepares breakfast for the human inhabitants, and recites poetry. What the house can not realize is that the owners have been annihilated in a nuclear blast, and all that remains of them are their shadows on the outside wall.
Another favorite features Walter Gripp. Walter Gripp lived on the outskirts of a major settlement on Mars. He comes back to town to refurnish his supplies, only to find that everyone has left to return to Earth rather hastily. The streets are empty, the cash registers are full of money, and he has the whole town to himself. He's lonely as the last man on Mars, until the phone rings one day.
The short story format makes this an easy read, and a definite recommendation from me. Enjoy!

2006 Quill Book Awards nominees

Okay, get your quills ready, hahahaha!! Just joking, the Quill Book Awards nominees were just named and you, yes…you, can vote on the winners. The awards ceremony is to take place October 10 and it is to be televised but vote now! You can run down to any Borders or just go Quills page gives a list of the categories

Monday, August 21, 2006

NonFiction - Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

The Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick takes an in-depth look into the history of the Pilgrims and their beginnings in the New England area. He picks up with the pilgrims in the early 1600s while they are still in England and the Netherlands and concludes with the end of the King Philips War in 1676. Unlike most history books this is easy to read and is written so that the reader is drawn into the everyday lives of both Native Americans and Pilgrims. Unlike the history of the Pilgrims we all probably learned about in school Nathaniel gives a historical accurate account of those first few decades in America. During the first 50 years or so we see the Pilgrims and Native Americans live in a fairly peaceful coexistence. However, as we move from one generation to the next we see the peace fall apart and distrust cultivate as the colony grows and the founding Pilgrims pass away. This distrust culminates with King Phillips War in 1675. As the author moves through the book he attempts to tell the true story of those years by acknowledging both short falls and successes of the Native Americans and Pilgrims. For example, Captain Miles Standish is portrayed as someone who did not trust Native Americans and even delighted in their suffering. We also come to see Benjamin Church (the great Indian fighter) as someone who reluctantly fought and treated his “enemies” with compassion. We also see Benjamin as a progressive thinker who had more humane ways of settling conflict. On the Native American side we see how the many tribes of the New England area were played off against each other and that perhaps Phillip (the instigator of King Phillips war) was not the sole responsibility for the war and was not as powerful and courageous as we have been told. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning about how America truly got its beginning in the early to mid 17th Century.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

The Tale of the Holly How by Susan Wittig Albert

The Tale of the Holly How is the second cozy in the Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter, a sweet little mystery series combining the life of Beatrix Potter with the lives of the little animals in the sleepy little village of Sawrey. Well, maybe not too sleepy as the story opens up the Beatrix discovering the suspicious death of an old crotchety shepherd, Ben Hornby. His ill favored year started out with cows dying, a barn burning and finally his death. But as one member of the community departs, another is introduced. A new little girl has come to town. An orphan from New Zealand come to live with her cold haughty grandmother is plagued by rumors that she is an unruly child. To Beatrix, she is reminded of her own silent rigidly proper upbringing and is compelled to reach out to help only to find nefarious dealings going on in Tidmarsh Manor.
As Beatrix puzzles out the clues left at the scene, the animals are dealing with problems of their own. A badger family has disappeared and the word in the pasture is a badger baiting contest is soon to be held. The illegal human sport known as badger baiting (similar to illegal dog fighting) was outlawed in 1835 but still goes on. The woodland and domestic creatures find out and do their bit to fight back against the cruel members of the human race.
Wittig takes the bit of fantasy with animals and incorporates more into this second go around. More with the wilder creatures out in the field are described as she introduces Bosworth Badger XVII and his Brockery, a small hostel for other traveling creatures. It was definitely a cute quick read. BTW “how” is actually another name for “hill.”

Thursday, August 10, 2006

New Book Club!

Henderson Libraries will be starting a new book club in September. The Not-So-Grown-Up Book Club will try and encourage reading for busy college and career patrons who just want something quick to read. The first book will be handed out September 7th at 3:00 p.m. at the Gibson Library. After the first meeting, the book club will meet the first Thursday of each month at Gibson. Here’s a brief summary of the first book we will be reading:

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson
"Case One: Olivia Land, youngest and most beloved of the Land girls, goes missing in the night and is never seen again. More than thirty years later, two of her surviving sisters, each achingly lonely in her own way, reunite when their cruel and distant father dies. There, among the clutter of their childhood home, they unearth a shocking clue to Olivia's disappearance." "Case Two: All of Theo's happiness is tied to his devoted daughter Laura. He delights in her wit, her effortless beauty, and selfless love, and in the fact that she's taken a position at his prestigious law firm. But on her first day on the job, a maniac storms into the office and turns Theo's world upside down." "Case Three: Michelle looks around one day and finds herself trapped in a hell of her own making. A very needy baby and a very demanding husband make her every waking moment a reminder that somewhere, somehow, shed made a grave mistake and would spend the rest of her life paying for it - until a fit of rage creates a grisly, bloody escape." "As Private Detective Jackson Brodie investigates all three cases, startling connections and discoveries emerge. Jackson finds himself inextricably caught up in his clients' lives; their grief, their job, their desire, and their unshakable need for resolution are very much like his own."--BOOK JACKET.

To discuss this book, come to Gibson October 5th , 3:00 p.m. Contact Elizabeth at 564-9261 or Nicole at 564-9287 for more information.

Category: Mystery

The Ruins: A Novel by Scott Smith

Get out your survival handbooks for a trip into the South American jungles!!! Scott Smith’s The Ruins is a taut creepy horrific foray displaying human survival skills and reactions of the desperate at its best…and worst. Four friends, Jeff, Amy, Eric and Stacey, on a break from the college life head down to the beautiful Cancún beaches for fun in the sun. A popular tourist spot, they end up meeting new friends from Greece and Germany. Matthias, the German, is worried about his brother. Henrich left with a girl to an archaeological dig in the jungles of South America and has not returned. Jeff, excited about a different type of day trip convinces everyone to go. The four friends, Matthias, and one of their new Greek acquaintances, Pablo, take a bus then a taxi to the ruins. The taxi driver warns them against visiting the ruins, the Mayan village members try and prevent them from going into the area. But the second the small party steps onto the hill heading up to the dig, the Mayan’s prevent them from leaving the area, trapping them with the threat of spears and guns. Now, faced with the prospect of surviving with dwindling supplies, the group must deal with their situation. Without giving too much away, let’s just use that clichéd old phrase and say things start to go terribly wrong.

Scott Smith’s first book, A Simple Plan (1993), was a blockbuster thriller which eventually turned into an Oscar nominated screenplay. The Ruins is heavier on the horror especially as the book nears its end. I found it interesting to view the various ways each individual coped with having to survive and how their worst traits came out. Interacting with each other seemed to get harder and harder for this group. Instead of trying to work together, the group started fragmenting. It also pointed out to me how woefully inadequate I would be trying to survive for even one day, especially first aid skills (not that I’m planning on getting lost in wild areas!). Anyway, The Ruins is a good solid summer horror read, perfect for when you are lying in the beach in Cancún!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Wheel of Time Series - Robert Jordan

Robert Jordan is the only fantasy writer I’ve ever read, except Tolkien and CS Lewis. Somehow I’m always drawn back to this story, and this time I’m determined to make it through the entire series by reading one book a month. I’m currently on a re-read of Book 4, Shadow Rising.

The series features the shepherd Rand al’Thor, who discovers he can channel, meaning that he has magical powers. Unfortunately, gosh darn, these powers are tainted for all men, and he will eventually go mad and perhaps destroy the ones he loves, and quite possibly the world as he knows it. He is also a reincarnation of Lews Therin Telamon, The Dragon, who fought The Dark One in another Age. Rand, The Dragon Reborn, must fight the Dark One again in The Last Battle, because The Dark One and his Forsaken have escaped from their prison once more.

As we come to find out, Rand is from a very powerful, though isolated, little village, The Two Rivers. His friends have special powers of their own. Mat, the Trickster, has inherited memories of battle strategy, therefore, he can and will be a great general. He is also very lucky in games of chance. Perrin, my personal favorite, is a quiet, broad-shouldered blacksmith, who can talk to wolves. He may or may not be able to keep himself from turning more animal than man.

Egwene, who Rand thought he would marry, can also channel. Women who channel are not in danger, once they learn, although channelling on their own kills one in every 4 women. Egwene is very powerful in her own right. Nynaeve, another favorite of mine, was the Village Wisdom, and is a few years older than the rest. She is a Wilder, one who taught herself to channel on her own, though she didn’t know it. She is the most powerful Aes Sedai (the name for women who can channel) in the series, but as of Book Four, she can only channel when angry. But really, don’t make her angry. She can also be extremely stubborn, to put it mildly.

The World of the Wheel of Time Series is filled with the fierce, desert-dwelling Aiel, the cryptic, manipulative Aes Sedai, their bound, powerful Warders, the elegant, vastly cruel Seanchan, the exotic, sea-faring Atha’an Miere, the gentle Ogier (but, really, don’t make them angry, either), and the honor-bound Shienarans, to name a few. It is fascinating to see these people struggle through the growth of their powers while they’re wrestling with the reasons they have the powers in the first place. Believe me, only a few of them are happy they can wield Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Spirit, or have inherited memories they can’t explain.

Beneath all the magic and the epic battle between good and evil lies a coming of age story, and a story of trust. All characters have some struggle between what they want to do, and what it is their duty to do. As the Shienarans say, “Death is lighter than a feather, and duty is heavier than a mountain.”

Jordan has completed and published Book 11 of the series. Supposedly he has promised that if Book 12 has to be 2000 pages, it will be the last in the series. We’ll see what happens. Until then, I will continue on. Perrin has just returned to The Two Rivers, with a price on his head by the Whitecloaks. Rand, Mat and Egwene are in the desert with the Aiel, and Nynaeve is hunting the Black Ajah. Where will duty take them next?

Monday, August 07, 2006

A Country Affair by Rebecca Shaw

Rebecca Shaw starts a new light-hearted series of a veterinary clinic’s staff and patients of Barleybridge a village in the Yorkshire hills. Kate gets a job as an accountant/receptionist at the clinic but had secretly harbored a wish to become a vet herself. Just barely missing getting into vet school by a low chemistry score, Kate figures the next best thing is to get any kind of work she can get but her over-qualifications cause strife among the front office staff. But that is not Kate’s biggest problem. She also has Adam, an ex-boyfriend, stalking her, creating major trouble as she becomes closer to the sexy Scott, the Australian vet. Joy, the office manager, is in love with the head vet Mungo which shines clear as day, much to the consternation of Joy’s husband Duncan. Weaving around all the office shenanigans are the more memorable patients, Miss Chillingsworth and her cat, Phil the farmer and his bull as well as the weekly fight in the waiting room between Mungo’s dog Perkins and patient dog Adolph.

If you’re looking for high drama, this is not it. More towards the casual feel good read. It actually is a bit of a ramble through the town of Barleybridge and seeing its inhabitants in action (almost like if you were watching BBC’s Ballykissangel series). In fact, I can totally see this as a PBS/BBC special.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

P. D. James

P.D. James, one of the most famous British mystery authors celebrates her 86th birthday today! Winner of several prestigious book awards, all of her novels featuring her most well known character, Scotland Yard’s Adam Dalgliesh, has been made into television series first with actor Roy Marsdon and more recently a BBC version with actor Martin Shaw. Random House publishers has created a very flashy webpage with some fun info about P.D. James including writing tips . The British Council, Arts division page also includes a critical perspective in addition to her back ground information .

If you have missed her latest Inspector Dalgliesh novel from 2005, The Lighthouse, be ready for an Agatha Christie-esque plot when Dalgliesh must uncover a murderer on a remote island off the Cornish coast. NPR interviewed James when it came out last December speaking of her new book and how mysteries have changed over the years.

Or if you’re in the mood to watch her latest movie adaptation endeavor, The Children of Men, a futuristic story of London in 2027, is out in theaters at the end of September 2006.