Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Little Book

Over 30 years in the making, "The Little Book" by Selden Edwards just arrived at the Tattered Cover!

Here is Jackie's review:

The Library of Congress cataloging for this book is: 1. Rock musician--fiction. 2. Time travel--fiction. 3.Vienna(Austria)--fiction. 4. Austria--History--1867-1918--Fiction. And it is definitely all of those things. But it's SOOOOOOOOO much more. This book tells a story that keeps looping back upon itself and back upon itself and back upon itself. It introduces us to the likes of Freud and Samuel Clemens, Hitler and the Empress of Vienna. It's a history lesson and a brilliant work of science fiction. It's a love story. It's a travelog. It's intellectual, political, psychological and sociological. It's a fairy tale. But mostly, it's an amazing book that took this author 30 years to write, finish and get published. Fans of The Time Traveler's Wife or Somewhere in Time will LOVE this book. So will fans of WWII intrigue/spy fiction. Really, this book offers something for everyone who is willing to suspend their disbelief and just let the story unfold. 5 stars absolutely.

And here is Joe's review:

A little over a month ago, Jackie wrote about a 5-star novel she'd recently read called "The Little Book". And she's right; it's absolutely fantastic. 5 Stars.

Selden Edwards tells the tale of Wheeler Burden, 60's rock star, college baseball star,
and son of an even more iconic man who died at the hands of the Gestapo. Somehow Wheeler
wakes up in 1897 Vienna, a city in the middle of an unparalleled explosion of art, philosophy, thinking, and building surrounded by an empire quickly crumbling. While we never really find out HOW Wheeler got there, we do learn why, and to what affect.

Jackie said she thought the book was science fiction, and I disagree. Although time travel is not something readily explained in most general fiction, for non-fans of sci-fi, there is nothing to be afraid of here. Art, philosophy, a tremendous love story all blend here along with a touching story of father and son and fascinating discussions of Freud's work.

This book was fun to read (especially since I lived in Vienna and frequently miss the city, described in rich detail here) and I think is going to be fun to sell!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jackie's Lingering Creepies

I was writing a review on another site of Edward Levy's 1980's book The Beast Within , one of the creepiest books of all times and has been the stuff of nightmares for me for years (the traveling salesman chained in the basement by a madman, the cheating wife's corpse fed to him, the inevitable escape and reign of terror)--the story lingers still. Writing about that long ago read but vividly remembered book made me think of other books that have given me "the lingering creeps". Here's my list so far:

It by Stephen King (I didn't have a problem with clowns until this book, and now all the painted faces at something as different as Cirque du Soleil make every hair on my body stick up!)

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (I actually go out of my way to NOT work the nights when Ellis is signing at the store--dark and crazy things live in that man's head and I just don't want to be anywhere near him.)

The Monkey's Paw by W.W. Jacobs (Made me afraid of the knock on the door!)

Hannibal by Thomas Harris (the dining scene!)

Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris (the soup!)

(Interestingly, Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon, both creepy in their own right, do not bother me nearly as much so they don't make the list!)

Are You In The House Alone? by Richard Peck The terror of being stalked with no one believing you--and this is a young adult novel!

Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin (the conception scene especially) Published in 1967 and STILL creeping people out!

I'm sure I could go on--I've read plenty of horror in my time. But I really want to hear from others. Please comment and add your "lingering creepies"--Halloween isn't THAT far away you know! waaahaaahaaaa!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Some of Jackie's Recent Recommendations

Bookseller Jackie may read more than any other bookseller here at the Tattered Cover. Many of us are amazed by the number of books she tells us about. Here are a few of her latest recommendations:

1. A Week in October by Elizabeth Subercaseaux
Chilean born Subercaseaux has crafted what feels like a delightfully old-fashioned novel set in modern times. The formality and reserve of it makes a stark comparison to much of today's writing--and a wonderful change of pace. Clara Griffin is married to a successful but distant man--their marriage has grown stale at the very least, and he's been cheating on her. Then she discovers that she has cancer, and she feels the need to say things too long unsaid in the gentlest way possible--she writes a "novel" in a notebook, kept in a drawer where it seems that her husband is most likely to find it. Much of this book shows us the dance between these two people as one reveals veiled truths and the other has to absorb them without admitting he's been reading them. Truth is a fluid thing in this book--there's some "he said-she said", but the rest is indefinable to the very end. I found it to be a very interesting read.

2. Brida by Paulo Coelho
I've never read anything by Paulo Coelho before, so I was rather surprised by the pagan spirituality of this little novel. It's the story of Brida, an Irish girl in training to become a witch. It is full of beautifully worded prose--I found myself making little tics and stars beside many paragraphs to go back and examine again (my apologies to those who get the book after me, lol). There is some seriously high minded spirituality folded into this simple book about a woman's quest to learn to use her powers and her heart. I was especially intrigued with the Catholic Christianity woven within the more traditional magical teachings and philosophies. This is, apparently, one of Coelho's earlier works that has finally been translated from the original Portuguese. I found it a good way to whet my appetite for his other works before I come to a decision of what it is I think of him as a writer.

3. Rules of Deception by Christopher Reich
The political climate that this international spy thriller is based on could not be more current or better researched--agencies within agencies, leaders lying to their people, wars being started for public reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with the agenda behind them--it's all there. Reich won the International Thriller Writers Award a couple of years ago, and it doesn't take long to figure out why. Fans of Robert Ludlum and Tom Clancy will embrace this author with open arms and sleepless nights as they push through his books many twists and turns that lead to spectacular endings. Men will love the action and technical details, women will love the strong central female character who is full of surprises. And every fan of thrillers will love the white knuckle last few chapters. Some readers may be bothered by an undercurrent of anti-American sentiment, but given the settings and situations is this book, it would be clearly a plot flaw for it NOT to be there.

4. The Midnight Twins by Jacquelyn Mitchard
Mitchard is a rare breed of writer who can capture the emotions and hearts of both the adult fiction and the teen fiction world (She's the author of the tearjerking Deep End of the Ocean, among many other books) . I agree with the publisher that this book is a 12 and up--it deals with some fairly violent themes as the book goes on--but the story is gripping and suspenseful and easily kept THIS adult's attention--in fact there were points where I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.
This is the story of Mally and Merry, identical twins who, on the eve of their 13th birthday, discover there is more to their minds and talents than just being able to communicate with each other telepathically (not unheard of in twins, especially identicals). These new talents begin to tear their lives apart as they pull away from each other trying to deal with and/or deny them. But they are a part of a generations old tradition of powerful women and what is required of them cannot be avoided or denied--and it's very nearly the death of them.

The story is tight for the vast majority of the book--my only gripe is with the last chapter. Mitchard becomes a bit ham handed trying to tie up too many loose ends and give the reader the back stories of too much. My best guess is she's trying to lay the groundwork for a follow up novel with these characters, but it was done in such a below par way I was severely disappointed--it was tedious and anticlimatic. For that reason alone I give it 4 out of 5 stars.