Wednesday, August 31, 2011

April Finds This Book "Hefty But Devour-able"

Prue McKeel’s life is ordinary. At least until her baby brother is abducted by a murder of crows. And then things get really weird.

You see, on every map of Portland, Oregon, there is a big splotch of green on the edge of the city labeled “I.W.” This stands for “Impassable Wilderness.” No one’s ever gone in—or at least returned to tell of it.
And this is where the crows take her brother.

So begins an adventure that will take Prue and her friend Curtis deep into the Impassable Wilderness. There they uncover a secret world in the midst of violent upheaval, a world full of warring creatures, peaceable mystics, and powerful figures with the darkest intentions. And what begins as a rescue mission becomes something much bigger as the two friends find themselves entwined in a struggle for the very freedom of this wilderness.


A wilderness the locals call Wildwood.


Wildwood is a spellbinding tale full of wonder, danger, and magic that juxtaposes the thrill of a secret world and modern city life. Original and fresh yet steeped in classic fantasy, this is a novel that could have only come from the imagination of Colin Meloy, celebrated for his inventive and fantastic storytelling as the lead singer of the Decemberists. With dozens of intricate and beautiful illustrations by award-winning artist Carson Ellis, Wildwood is truly a new classic for the twenty-first century.

 
April says:
"I have to begin with this:  This book is wordy.  Wordy.  Wordy.  It's long.  Five hundred sixty pages long, to be annoyingly exact.  I'm sure, when it's printed, it could break a young reader's hands as they
fight to hold it up; and all powers forbid they fall asleep with it! It might smother them!

But even with the colossal word count, Wildwood is a great book.  It is devour-able.  Meloy's language conjures every facet in each image he lays before the reader down to the curls in a bandit's smelly mane.  And Ellis' illustrations are a delightful addition to the narrative that by no means take the task away from one's imagination.

Prue McKeel has to be one of the strongest eleven year olds I've met since I turned twelve.  She's independent and headstrong and really the best big sister any little sibling could ask for.  Prue proves this when she heads into the Impassable Wilderness after a murder of crows steals her little brother, a toddler called Mac who has a penchant for screaming out "POO!".  The Impassable Wilderness (I.W.) is that old creepy wood just outside of town (town = Portland, OR) that no one has succeeded in taming (read building up), so it just looms there, laughing in the face of commercial expansion.  There are rumors, legends, and scary stories about poor folk throughout the years who have wandered into the I.W. and the few who have wandered back.

But when Prue wanders in accompanied by Curtis (a boy who is not so much a friend of Prue's as a boy who has a crush on her), she finds the I.W. is actually Wildwood--a progressive little place with coyote armies, an Avian Principality, mail routes, and bandits.  The two heroes (Prue and now Curtis) are quickly separated and forced into action on two fronts of a magical cold war that has been brewing for fifteen years and is now ready to bubble out of the pot.

Despite its length, Wildwood is full of action; and the ability to flip between the points of view of Prue and Curtis keeps the story fresh and snappy.  I truly believe this is a great bedtime (or in general) read aloud book for the whole family.  There are plenty of opportunities for great character voices and the sections/chapters tend to be short enough that stopping mid-action isn't likely to happen.

And now you have a wordy review for an equally wordy book."

This Timely Debut Novel Is Getting Plenty of Attention

Ten years after 9/11, a dazzling, kaleidoscopic novel reimagines its aftermath

A jury gathers in Manhattan to select a memorial for the victims of a devastating terrorist attack. Their fraught deliberations complete, the jurors open the envelope containing the anonymous winner’s name—and discover he is an American Muslim. Instantly they are cast into roiling debate about the claims of grief, the ambiguities of art, and the meaning of Islam. Their conflicted response is only a preamble to the country’s.

The memorial’s designer is an enigmatic, ambitious architect named Mohammad Khan. His fiercest defender on the jury is its sole widow, the self-possessed and mediagenic Claire Burwell. But when the news of his selection leaks to the press, she finds herself under pressure from outraged family members and in collision with hungry journalists, wary activists, opportunistic politicians, fellow jurors, and Khan himself—as unknowable as he is gifted. In the fight for both advantage and their ideals, all will bring the emotional weight of their own histories to bear on the urgent question of how to remember, and understand, a national tragedy.

In this deeply humane novel, the breadth of Amy Waldman’s cast of characters is matched by her startling ability to conjure their perspectives. A striking portrait of a fractured city striving to make itself whole, The Submission is a piercing and resonant novel by an important new talent.

Read an excerpt from the book.

Listen to an radio interview with the author about the book.

TC Tidbit: Tolkine's Influential Reading List

See the books that most influenced his writing.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A Family Storm

Birds of Paradise

In the tropical paradise that is Miami, Avis and Brian Muir are still haunted by the disappearance of their ineffably beautiful daughter, Felice, who ran away when she was thirteen. Now, after five years of modeling tattoos, skateboarding, clubbing, and sleeping in a squat house or on the beach, Felice is about to turn eighteen. Her family—Avis, an exquisitely talented pastry chef; Brian, a corporate real estate attorney; and her brother, Stanley, the proprietor of Freshly Grown, a trendy food market—will each be forced to confront their anguish, loss, and sense of betrayal. Meanwhile, Felice must reckon with the guilty secret that drove her away, and must face her fear of losing her family and her sense of self forever.


This multilayered novel about a family that comes apart at the seams—and finds its way together again—is totally involving and deeply satisfying, a glorious feast of a book.



Jackie says:
"The Muir family has been falling apart for years, though the last five have been the most notable because those are the years without Felice.
 
At the age of 12, Felice chose to be a street child, not for the rebellion that her parents and the police thought, but as a self-devised punishment for something she was never able to explain to anyone else.  Her father, Brian, and her brother, Stanley, write her off with the "we don't negotiate with terrorists" mentality.  Her mother, Avis, mourns and creates fantasies of sugar and flour that has made her artisan bakery a success among Miami's corporate elite yet aren't enough to rebuild her broken heart.  Brian's distance from his wife has led to other discontents and longings at his office, where he is a corporate lawyer for a huge development firm.  He finds himself suddenly surrounded by temptations that begin to drive him mad.  Stanley, who once was his mother's shadow in the kitchen until her jealousy and distraction pushed him away, is now busy with his organic food co-op and the rising costs of everything as Florida grows people and condos and concrete.  Birds of Paradise follows these four characters in the few months prior to Hurricane Katrina, the familial storm nearly as powerful as the tropical one headed their way. 

This book is a powerful story of the connections and complications of family and the ability to reinvent ourselves over and over again that makes the Muir family seem like old friends as the last pages turn."

A Different Take On Being Left Behind

The Leftovers

What if—whoosh, right now, with no explanation—a number of us simply vanished?  Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down?

That’s what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened—not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children.


Kevin Garvey, Mapleton’s new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized community. Kevin’s own family has fallen apart in the wake of the disaster: his wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne.  Only Kevin’s teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she’s definitely not the sweet “A” student she used to be.  Kevin wants to help her, but he’s distracted by his growing relationship with Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family on October 14th and is still reeling from the tragedy, even as she struggles to move beyond it and make a new start.

With heart, intelligence and a rare ability to illuminate the struggles inherent in ordinary lives, Tom Perrotta has written a startling, thought-provoking novel about love, connection and loss.

***Special Tidbit***: This book has already caught HBO's attention.  They will be creating a a hour long drama series based on it--Perrotta is writing the pilot and will be an executive producer for the series.  

TC Tidbit: Cheney's Memoir Hits The Shelves

In My Time
In his unmistakable voice and with an insider's eye on history, former Vice President Dick Cheney tells the story of his life and the nearly four decades he has spent at the center of American politics and power.

Monday, August 29, 2011

"'The Fix is In' is the one book the 'powers that be' don't want you to read. So go ahead and read it," says Pete

Professional sports in America: it’s all about fair play and the goal of winning championships. At least that’s the spin. But could it be a massive showbiz operation filled with greedy owners, crooked referees, and coddled players, all with the unstated goal of grabbing as much money as possible?

Author Brian Tuohy provides a full-sourced saga of the corruption that has infected the storied histories of the NBA, MLB, NFL, NHL, and NASCAR.

With reality obscured by a complacent and often complicit sports media, The Fix Is In shines a light on a hidden history of clandestine arrangements between television networks and sports leagues, all against a background of drinking, drugging, and crime.

Finally, here’s a book that unflinchingly examines the sordid underbelly of the American sports industry.




Pete says:
"As football season fast approaches, and as you plunk down your dollars for expensive tickets and over-priced beer, you might consider whether what you're seeing is a fair and square sporting competition, or whether you're just seeing what somebody wants you to see. If you've witnessed a sporting event that just didn't look right, an outcome that  seemed strange, then maybe, indeed, the fix was in.

Brian Tuohy's book cuts through all the bull we're expected to buy and goes after the big shots (the team owners, the star players, the tv network bosses) and degenerate gamblers who may or may not be controlling the outcomes of games. You'll read about the usual suspects, Pete Rose, Jose Canseco, the 1919 White Sox for example, but also the many, many other athletes who shaved points, ran with mobsters, and took whatever performance-enhancing drugs they could get their hands on. You'll read about the possible Super Bowl fixes like when the upstart 1969 Jets beat the powerhouse Colts, a 'guaranteed' win as the legend goes. My favorite part was about Super Bowl XL -- Pittsburgh vs. Seattle. Seattle was driving down the field and about to win that game when very strange penalties kept going against them. I thought, there's no way they'll be allowed to win this one. And of course, they didn't. The Fix is In is the one book the 'powers that be' don't want you to read. So go ahead and read it."

The Autobiography of the Most Elusive Hacker In History


Kevin Mitnick was the most elusive computer break-in artist in history. He accessed computers and networks at the world's biggest companies--and however fast the authorities were, Mitnick was faster, sprinting through phone switches, computer systems, and cellular networks. He spent years skipping through cyberspace, always three steps ahead and labeled unstoppable. But for Kevin, hacking wasn't just about technological feats-it was an old fashioned confidence game that required guile and deception to trick the unwitting out of valuable information.

Driven by a powerful urge to accomplish the impossible, Mitnick bypassed security systems and blazed into major organizations including Motorola, Sun Microsystems, and Pacific Bell. But as the FBI's net began to tighten, Kevin went on the run, engaging in an increasingly sophisticated cat and mouse game that led through false identities, a host of cities, plenty of close shaves, and an ultimate showdown with the Feds, who would stop at nothing to bring him down.

Ghost in the Wires is a thrilling true story of intrigue, suspense, and unbelievable escape, and a portrait of a visionary whose creativity, skills, and persistence forced the authorities to rethink the way they pursued him, inspiring ripples that brought permanent changes in the way people and companies protect their most sensitive information.

Read an excerpt here.

TC Tidbit: Free Tool For Finding Great Books

from the website:

"Booklamp.org is the result of an exploratory project intended to help you find new books by comparing the content of the books themselves, similar to the way that Pandora.com matches music lovers to new music. We're attempting to help you find books with similar themes and writing style to books you've enjoyed in the past - comparing elements like Description, Pacing, Density, Perspective, and Dialog - while at the same time allowing you to specify details like... more Medieval Weapons.

It's impervious to outside influences like advertising budgets - so it's an equal friend to the front, mid, and backlist author. At BookLamp, we're a fan of the idea that it is what's in the book that matters most." 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

We're Crazy About This Book! Come Meet The Author Tomorrow Night!


A mesmerizing, moving, and elegantly written debut novel, The Language of Flowers beautifully weaves past and present, creating a vivid portrait of an unforgettable woman whose gift for flowers helps her change the lives of others even as she struggles to overcome her own troubled past.

The Victorian language of flowers was used to convey romantic expressions: honeysuckle for devotion, asters for patience, and red roses for love. But for Victoria Jones, it’s been more useful in communicating grief, mistrust, and solitude. After a childhood spent in the foster-care system, she is unable to get close to anybody, and her only connection to the world is through flowers and their meanings.

Now eighteen and emancipated from the system, Victoria has nowhere to go and sleeps in a public park, where she plants a small garden of her own. Soon a local florist discovers her talents, and Victoria realizes she has a gift for helping others through the flowers she chooses for them. But a mysterious vendor at the flower market has her questioning what’s been missing in her life, and when she’s forced to confront a painful secret from her past, she must decide whether it’s worth risking everything for a second chance at happiness.

 
Lisa C. says:
"'A rose is a rose is a rose,' wrote Gertrude Stein, and she was right - in so many ways, but she didn't further comment on the meaning of the different colors of roses. Yellow roses mean infidelity - or do they? In Vanessa Diffenbaugh's debut novel, The Language of Flowers, readers enter the world of Victoria, who has been in the California foster system since she was born. Like you might imagine, Victoria has trust issues, sort of hates the world, has a low self-esteem, and fights relationships of any kind. When she is emancipated from the group home - she lives on her own terms and finds a job working with the things she knows best - flowers. For although her caseworker and countless foster families think Victoria is unteachable and a waste of time, one foster mom, Elizabeth, knew better. She taught Victoria the language of flowers. Each flower has a meaning, and that's how Victoria communicates. Whether it's working for the floral shop or magically knowing what flowers people need to make their lives better, Victoria speaks through them. 

This might sound as if Victoria finds her place, cures the neighborhood of all its ills through flower bouquets and lives happily ever after, but that doesn't happen. Victoria has a lot to learn about the world and people. Hers continues to be a hard path to gain this knowledge and to learn to live and to love and be loved. Vanessa Diffenbaugh writes about what she knows. She is a foster mom and has experience in dealing with troubled kids coming out of the system to live with her family for a time. Her novel tells the story of one girl's life, and with as much that goes wrong for Victoria, inside, she keeps alive a glimmer of hope. The book also contains Victoria's Dictionary of Flowers which I enjoyed reading to see what meaning the flowers that speak to me carry, 'Cherry blossom - Impermanence; Bougainvillea - Passion; Marigold - Grief;  Pink Carnation - I will never forget you.'

I read this book in a day. I think it would make for a fascinating book club discussion. I look forward to meeting and introducing the author at the Colfax Tattered Cover on August 29th at 7:30pm. "

Jackie says:
"Victoria spent her whole childhood in the foster system, if you could call it a childhood.  She is filled with guilt, mistrust and desires only solitude when she 'ages out' of the system. The one thing that she knows and loves is flowers, and the Victorian language that is based on them.  She uses that knowledge to gain a job at a florist, who takes her under her wing and opens the world of possibilities that Victoria never had any access to before and still doesn't trust.  Throughout the book we find this reluctant, damaged flower bloom into a woman with a family and a future.  This is a wonderful, hopeful, intense read that really tugged at my heart.  This is Diffenbaugh's debut novel, which makes it even more impressive.  I urge all of you to read it, and I will definitely be eagerly waiting for more from this very talented writer (and foster mother, so she truly knows the foster system that she is describing in this book)."

The Science Behind Our High Stakes Blunders

Why do the smartest students often do poorly on standardized tests?

Why did you tank that interview or miss that golf swing when you should have had it in the bag?

Why do you mess up when it matters the most—and how can you perform your best instead?

It happens to all of us. You've prepared for days, weeks, even years for the big day when you will finally show your stuff—in academics, in your career, in sports—but when the big moment arrives, nothing seems to work. You hit the wrong note, drop the ball, get stumped by a simple question. In other words, you choke. It's not fun to think about, but now there's good news: This doesn't have to happen.

Dr. Sian Beilock, an expert on performance and brain science, reveals in Choke the astonishing new science of why we all too often blunder when the stakes are high. What happens in our brain and body when we experience the dreaded performance anxiety? And what are we doing differently when everything magically "clicks" into place and the perfect golf swing, tricky test problem, or high-pressure business pitch becomes easy? In an energetic tour of the latest brain science, with surprising insights on every page, Beilock explains the inescapable links between body and mind; reveals the surprising similarities among the ways performers, students, athletes, and business people choke; and shows how to succeed brilliantly when it matters most. 

In lively prose and accessibly rendered science, Beilock examines how attention and working memory guide human performance, how experience and practice and brain development interact to create our abilities, and how stress affects all these factors. She sheds new light on counter-intuitive realities, like why the highest performing people are most susceptible to choking under pressure, why we may learn foreign languages best when we're not paying attention, why early childhood athletic training can backfire, and how our emotions can make us both smarter and dumber. All these fascinating findings about academic, athletic, and creative intelligence come together in Beilock's new ideas about performance under pressure—and her secrets to never choking again. Whether you're at the Olympics, in the boardroom, or taking the SAT, Beilock's clear, prescriptive guidance shows how to remain cool under pressure—the key to performing well when everything's on the line.


TC Tidbit: NBA All-Star AND Children's Author!

Stoudemire is committed to turning kids, especially boys, into readers. In a statement, Stoudemire said, “I decided to write for children because although I am an avid reader now, I wish I had read more as a child. I hope that together with Scholastic, we can creatively inspire a new generation to read.”

The series, for middle-grade readers, will be called STAT: Standing Tall And Talented (named after his nickname)  for middle-grade readers  will be published by Scholastic. The series will be based on his life and the obstacles he overcame to become a successful sports figure.  The first book is due out in August 2012.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Modern Gothic Novel of Love, Secrets and Murder Set Against the Lush Backdrop of Provence

The Lantern
Meeting Dom was the most incredible thing that had ever happened to me. When Eve falls for the secretive, charming Dom in Switzerland, their whirlwind relationship leads them to Les Genevriers, an abandoned house set among the fragrant lavender fields of the South of France. Each enchanting day delivers happy discoveries: hidden chambers, secret vaults, a beautiful wrought-iron lantern. Deeply in love and surrounded by music, books, and the heady summer scents of the French countryside, Eve has never felt more alive.
But with autumn’s arrival the days begin to cool, and so, too, does Dom. Though Eve knows he bears the emotional scars of a failed marriage—one he refuses to talk about—his silence arouses suspicion and uncertainty. The more reticent Dom is to explain, the more Eve becomes obsessed with finding answers—and with unraveling the mystery of his absent, beautiful ex-wife, Rachel.

Like its owner, Les Genevriers is also changing. Bright, warm rooms have turned cold and uninviting; shadows now fall unexpectedly; and Eve senses a presence moving through the garden. Is it a ghost from the past or a manifestation of her current troubles with Dom? Can she trust Dom, or could her life be in danger?


Eve does not know that Les Genevriers has been haunted before. Benedicte Lincel, the house’s former owner, thrived as a young girl within the rich elements of the landscape: the violets hidden in the woodland, the warm wind through the almond trees. She knew the bitter taste of heartbreak and tragedy—long-buried family secrets and evil deeds that, once unearthed, will hold shocking and unexpected consequences for Eve.


Staying Close, Even Across Thousands of Miles

For many children who live far away from their grandparents, it can be hard to understand why they can't always be together. Patricia MacLachlan has created a bridge to close the distance by finding connections in memories and the moon they share.

A beautiful, lyrical poem coupled with Bryan Collier's rich collages, Your Moon, My  Moon celebrates the importance of staying close to your family, even across thousands of miles.

TC Tidbit: History's Ill-fated Literary Couples

from our friends at flavorwire.com

Friday, August 26, 2011

Dispatch from the Field: Joe Weighs in on Kultgen's Latest

"Chad Kultgen, author of two groundbreaking works that reveal the depths of the American psyche, The Average American Male and The Lie is back. And he's back with a vengeance. 

In his third novel, Men, Women & Children, Kultgen is tackling the American family. Here he follows the lives of a group of characters just entering their teen years, preparing to leave 8th grade for the rigors of high school. And these aren't the rigors of high school parents normally talk about; grades, etc. But the real stuff affecting kids: losing their virginity and trying to fit in. But there's more to these kids than just sex: they're also trying to navigate this internet-laden world of instant gratification and superfast expectations. Kultgen doesn't just follow the lives of these kids-turning-into-adults, he also follows the equally complex lives of their parents, navigating a world that is unlike the one they were promised. Dealing not only with their own choices, hormones, demons & desires, but while trying to raise their children the best they can.

How far would you go for your child? How easy is it to cheat on your spouse? How do you deal with lowered expectations? These are some of the questions Kultgen approaches with his sharp wit, unblinking eye, and laser of truth. Once more, the decisions and actions of the characters in a Chad Kultgen novel are not easy to read, but I feel like I've got a better understanding of this new American life having done so. Somehow he is able to cut to the quick of the questions, to dive into the meat that no one wants to talk about. Kultgen makes me cringe, but more often he makes me laugh. And he makes me think long after I'm finished reading his book. (And this is the kind of book you don't put down; you can't put down. I pawed through this novel in just over a day, reluctantly eating and sleeping.) The characters are real: flawed, subject to the base instincts that many of us think we can overcome. After reading this, I'm not sure I overcome these desires as much as convince myself I have...

I can not recommend this book highly enough. If you're a parent of a soon-to-be-teenager, this will be uncomfortable, but enlightening reading. If you're like me, and merely a student of society, this is a must-read book. "

-Joe

Beck Czar Puts Out Another Hilarious Book


WE’RE KNEE DEEP— ARE YOU SHOVEL READY? 

Politicians who say anything and do nothing . . . People lamenting Constitutional rights they don’t have . . . Protesters equating everyone to Hitler . . . Teeth-gritting partisans! Tax-evading congressmen! Fact-evading Americans! If you’re incredibly disenchanted, if you feel that this great country of ours is suffering from chronic bullsh*t at the federal, state, and local levels, good news: Not only are you in good company, but here’s a book to make you feel a little bit better—


THE B. S. OF A.! 

Whether you voted for “hope” in 2008, or “change” in 2010, odds are you’re feeling a tad despondent. Here at last is a straight-talking, partisan-busting look at politics from humorist Brian Sack, who mercilessly pokes fun at The B.S. of A. with a double helping of objectivity and wit, pulling no punches and giving partisans, politicians, and their politics a well-deserved shellacking.

The B.S. of A. takes full advantage of our poorly understood First Amendment to fearlessly cut through the bull on both sides of the aisle and ask serious questions: Why does this enormous country have only two real parties? How does a bad idea become a terrible law with a misleading name? How can you identify the Seven Habits of Highly Partisan People? What’s the deal with this Constitution thing people keep citing? Can we stop comparing people we don’t like to Hitler.


You’ll find a handy glossary to thoroughly expand your political vocabulary. And, perhaps most important, you’re guaranteed to finish this book with a complete understanding of how to solve America’s biggest issues—including gun control and abortion!*

The B.S. of A.: You’re in it, so get to know it.

*Actually, these issues can’t be solved. Their complexity was misunderestimated.

TC Tidbit: Virginia School Bans Sherlock Holmes Book For "Anti-Morman Sentiments"

The book: A Study in Scarlet,  first published in 1887, is very special to fans because it is the book that Watson is introduced in.  The offending paragraph is:

"(John Ferrier) had always determined, deep down in his resolute heart, that nothing would ever induce him to allow his daughter to wed a Mormon. Such marriage he regarded as no marriage at all, but as a shame and a disgrace. Whatever he might think of the Mormon doctrines, upon that one point he was inflexible. He had to seal his mouth on the subject, however, for to express an unorthodox opinion was a dangerous matter in those days in the Land of the Saints." (via the Los Angeles Times)



What do YOU think?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

YA Debut of Best Selling Thriller Writer Gregg Olsen Kept Jackie Reading All Night

Murder is such a dirty word…

New York Times bestselling adult true crime author Gregg Olsen makes his YA debut with "Empty Coffin", a gripping new fiction series for teens based on ripped-from-the-headlines stories…with a paranormal touch.

Crime lives--and dies--in the deceptively picture-perfect town of Port Gamble (aka “Empty Coffin”), Washington. Evil lurks and strange things happen--and 15-year-olds Hayley and Taylor Ryan secretly use their wits and their telepathic “twin-sense” to uncover the truth about the town's victims and culprits.  Envy, the series debut, involves the mysterious death of the twins' old friend, Katelyn. Was it murder? Suicide? An accident? Hayley and Taylor are determined to find out--and as they investigate, they stumble upon a dark truth that is far more disturbing than they ever could have imagined.

 Based on the shocking true crime about cyber-bullying, Envy will take you to the edge--and push you right over.

Envy By Gregg Olsen from Sterling Publishing on Vimeo.


Jackie says:

"This is a very dark novel, as one would expect from Gregg Olsen.  What is unexpected is the fact that this is a young adult novel, the first in the Empty Coffin series.  I read it straight through--I couldn't leave the suspense and mystery--it is a VERY complex mystery.  This is a true-life inspired book related to cyber-bullying, but Olsen adds some great extras with secrets that have secrets and no small touch of paranormal involved.  It all centers around the death of Katelyn, and whether or not it is an accident or a suicide.  The twins next door, Hayley and Taylor, were once very good  friends of hers, until Katelyn became a loyal follower of cheerleader Starla. Now they  are trying to figure out what happened, spirited along by some secrets of their own.
 
This is truly an attention grabbing read--don't start it too late at night...or with the computer on.  Wha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!"

From Ranting To Writing

God. No!
From the larger, louder half of the world-famous magic duo Penn & Teller comes a scathingly funny reinterpretation of The Ten Commandments. They are The Penn Commandments, and they reveal one outrageous and opinionated atheist's experience in the world. In this rollicking yet honest account of a godless existence, Penn takes readers on a roller coaster of exploration and flips conventional religious wisdom on its ear to reveal that doubt, skepticism, and wonder -- all signs of a general feeling of disbelief -- are to be celebrated and cherished, rather than suppressed. And he tells some pretty damn funny stories along the way. From performing blockbuster shows on the Vegas Strip to the adventures of fatherhood, from an on-going dialogue with proselytizers of the Christian Right to the joys of sex while scuba diving, Jillette's self-created Decalogue invites his reader on a journey of discovery that is equal parts wise and wisecracking.

TC Tidbits: From Our Friends at Abe Books

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Dispatch from the Field: Joe Says This Book "compelled me to do nothing but read it, finish it, forsaking all other obligations."

The Most Dangerous Thing

Some secrets can’t be kept… 

Years ago, they were all the best of friends. But as time passed and circumstances changed, they grew apart, became adults with families of their own, and began to forget about the past—and the terrible lie they all shared. But now Gordon, the youngest and wildest of the five, has died and the others are thrown together for the first time in years.

And then the revelations start.

Could their long-ago lie be the reason for their troubles today? Is it more dangerous to admit to what they’ve done or is it the strain of keeping the secret that is beginning to wear on them and everyone close to them? Each one of these old friends has to wonder if their secret has been discovered—and if someone within the circle is out to destroy them.



 Joe says:
"It's been a while since I've come across a book that compelled me to do nothing but *read it, finish it*, forsaking all other obligations. It's been a while since I've come across a book that not only compelled me to do nothing but read the entire thing in one sitting, but that, while reading it, made me forget about all else. It's been a while, but Laura Lippman's latest stand-alone novel, The Most Dangerous Thing, is one of those special books.

Told from multiple (ten!) characters' points-of-view, and from three different time periods, this multi-layered and deeply engrossing novel takes the reader into a story of the power of not only lies, but truths. The story centers around Go-Go, Gordon, Halloran, whose family lives in a woodsy and isolated part of  Baltimore. Gordon has courted trouble his whole life, which ends as the story begins. His death brings together his brothers, Tim & Sean, and their two childhood friends, Gwen and Mickey, who now goes by McKey in an effort to distance herself from her past. They have never spoken about what happened the night Hurricane David hit Baltimore in 1979, but the events of that night have shadowed their lives ever since. In a fascinating plot move, the story shifts from character to character and from past to present. As it progresses, these characters become fully-formed people on the page.

This is the first time I've read Laura Lippman, but reading this book, I understand why so many people love her. In a surprising move, the story shifts from the perspectives of the children to their parents. Once again, Lippman alternates between the past (this time, just after the hurricane) and the present, revealing a different side to the story so far. When the novel returns to the children's (now adults themselves) perspective, the book comes to a (for me, very swift) page-turning conclusion. There were twists in this novel, and things I thought I had figured out only to be out-foxed by Laura Lippman. And that made me love the book all the more. This novel is more than a what-a-mess-have-we-made-of-our-lives story. It is about the power that both lies and truth can wield on our lives. It is a book I am going to think about for a long time."

You can come meet Laura Lippman and get a signed book on Wednesday, September 7 at 7:30 pm at our Colfax Avenue Store. 
Reminiscent of such novels as A Confederacy of Dunces and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Bed is a darkly funny and surprisingly tender debut novel about two brothers, one of whom refuses to leave his bed on his twenty-fifth birthday.

Mal Ede, a child of untamed manners and unbounded curiosity, is the eccentric eldest son of an otherwise typical middle-class family. But as the wonders of childhood fade into the responsibilities of adulthood, Mal's spirits fade too. On his twenty-fifth birthday, disillusioned, Mal goes to bed—back to his childhood bed—and never emerges again.

Narrated by Mal's shy, diligent younger brother, Bed details Mal's subsequent extreme and increasingly grotesque transformation: immobility and a gargantuan appetite combine, over the course of two decades, to make him the fattest man in the world. Despite his seclusion and his refusal to explain his motivations, Mal's condition earns him worldwide notoriety and a cult of followers convinced he is making an important statement about modern life. But Mal's actions will also change the lives of his haunted parents, his brother and the woman they both love, Lou.

In Bed, David Whitehouse has put a magnifying glass on contemporary society. Hailed as a "momentous" (The Bookseller) debut in the UK, Bed is a mordantly funny and ultimately redemptive parable about mortality, obesity, celebrity, depression and the broken promises of adulthood. It is one of the most audacious debut novels in years.

BED by David Whitehouse - US Trailer from James Lees on Vimeo.

TC Tidbit: Financial Journalist and Non-Fiction Writer Michael Lewis Scores A Movie Deal With Brad Pitt




This movie is based on Micheal Lewis' book by the same name.  Check it out here.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cathy calls this book, "Gorgeous, exquisite, moving, timely, timeless, sweet, heartbreaking.


Nuri is a young boy when his mother dies. It seems that nothing will fill the emptiness that her strange death leaves behind in the Cairo apartment he shares with his father. Until they meet Mona, sitting in her yellow swimsuit by the pool of the Magda Marina hotel. As soon as Nuri sees her, the rest of the world vanishes. But it is Nuri’s father with whom Mona falls in love and whom she eventually marries. And their happiness consumes Nuri to the point where he wishes his father would disappear.

Nuri will, however, soon regret what he wished for. His father, long a dissident in exile from his homeland, is taken under mysterious circumstances. And, as the world that Nuri and his stepmother share is shattered by events beyond their control, they begin to realize how little they knew about the man they both loved.

Anatomy of a Disappearance is written with all the emotional precision and intimacy that have won Hisham Matar tremendous international recognition. In a voice that is delicately wrought and beautifully tender, he asks: When a loved one disappears, how does their absence shape the lives of those who are left?



Cathy loves this book, saying:
 
"An 11 year old boy and his father, lost and lonely since the recent death of the boy's mother meet Mona, a beautiful young Arab-English woman at a resort on the coast of Egypt.  Two years later, Nuri, the boy, and Mona, now his stepmother, learn of the mysterious disappearance of Kamal Pasha el-Alfi  while breakfasting at the Montreux Palace on Lake Geneva.  Exotic locales underscore the essential tragedy of a family without its homeland, a family built around many complicated lies, and a boy seeking answers to his father's enigmatic life and unsolved disappearance.  Hasham Matar's writing is clean and spare and spears your heart."

"The New 'It' Boy of Nordic Noir" says the London Times


Jussi Adler-Olsen is Denmark's premier crime writer. His books routinely top the bestseller lists in northern Europe, and he's won just about every Nordic crime-writing award, including the prestigious Glass Key Award-also won by Henning Mankell, Stieg Larsson, and Jo Nesbo. Now, Dutton is thrilled to introduce him to America.

The Keeper of Lost Causes, the first installment of Adler- Olsen's Department Q series, features the deeply flawed chief detective Carl M├śrck, who used to be a good homicide detective-one of Copenhagen's best. Then a bullet almost took his life. Two of his colleagues weren't so lucky, and Carl, who didn't draw his weapon, blames himself.


So a promotion is the last thing Carl expects.


But it all becomes clear when he sees his new office in the basement. Carl's been selected to run Department Q, a new special investigations division that turns out to be a department of one. With a stack of Copenhagen's coldest cases to keep him company, Carl's been put out to pasture. So he's as surprised as anyone when a case actually captures his interest. A missing politician vanished without a trace five years earlier. The world assumes she's dead. His colleagues snicker about the time he's wasting. But Carl may have the last laugh, and redeem himself in the process.
 
Because she isn't dead . . . yet.

Read an excerpt here.

TC Tidbits: Music From "True Blood"

Check out the exclusive sneak peek from EW here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

“A great big rich and romantic slice of World War II history of ...women left behind on the home front to carry on without the men they love."--Fannie Flagg


Ellen Baker is beloved for crafting intimate domestic stories that resonate deeply with readers. In I Gave My Heart to Know This, the award-winning author returns with a sweeping multigenerational saga of the searing power of war, memory, friendship, and family.

In January 1944, Grace Anderson, Lena Maki, and Lena’s mother, Violet, have joined the growing ranks of women working for the war effort. Though they find satisfaction in their jobs at a Wisconsin shipyard, it isn’t enough to distract them from the anxieties of wartime, or their fears for the men they love: Lena’s twin brother, Derrick, and Grace’s high school sweetheart, Alex. When shattering news arrives from the front, the lives of the three women are pitched into turmoil. As one is pushed to the brink of madness, the others are forced into choices they couldn’t have imagined—and their lives will never be the same.
 
More than five decades later, Violet’s great-granddaughter, Julia, returns to the small farmhouse where Violet and Lena once lived. Listless from her own recent tragedy, Julia begins to uncover the dark secrets that shattered her family, eventually learning that redemption—and love—can be found in the most unexpected places.


Beautifully written and profoundly moving, I Gave My Heart to Know This is a riveting story of loyalties held and sacred bonds broken; crushing loss and enduring dreams; and what it takes—and what it means—to find the way home.

Read the inspiration for this story from the author herself.

Read the first chapter of the book here.

School's Starting, And Bailey Is Ready!

Bailey

Meet Bailey, a dog who surprises and charms his fellow human classmates with his irrepressible antics.


Follow Bailey the dog as he gets ready and goes to school. Should he wear the red or blue collar? Both are so fashionable! Will he be late? That squirrel is a distraction! And what about Bailey's homework? Would you believe he ate it? That is what dogs do, after all.


In this funny new book from the best selling children's illustrator Harry Bliss, school proves to be an unexpected place for Bailey to do all sorts of things he loves: reading, fetching, painting, digging, singing - and making friends!




TC Tidbit: Happy Birthday To Ray Bradbury! 91 Years Young Today!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Even A Double Tragedy is No Match For Faith, Love and the Power of Forgiveness

The Sacred Acre

After the citizens of Parkersburg, Iowa, survive a F-5 tornado that nearly destroys their entire town, they are stunned by the murder of their beloved football coach, Ed Thomas, at the hands of a former player. What happens next in this incredible true story provides a lesson in grace and forgiveness that inspired the entire country.

On a Sunday in May 2008, an F-5 tornado struck the town of Parkersburg, Iowa, killing eight people and destroying 250 homes and businesses within 34 seconds. The next day, Parkersburg's beloved football coach, Ed Thomas, made a stunning prediction: 'God willing, we will play our first home game here on this field this season.' One hundred days later, the home team scored a victory on the field they dubbed 'The Sacred Acre,' serving as a galvanizing point for the town to band together and rebuild. But just as Parkersburg was recovering, another devastating tragedy struck. While working with a group of football and volleyball players early one morning, one of Ed's former students walked in and gunned him down point blank. Ed Thomas was 58. The murder of this hometown hero spread across national news headlines. Ed's community and family reeled from shock. Yet the story doesn't end here. What happened next proves that even a double tragedy is no match for faith, love ... and the power of forgiveness.

See an ESPN interview with Coach Thomas after the tornado.

Every Page Has An Interactive Spin To It!

Spin

Your head will spin when you look at this amazing book. Each page has a unique paper-engineering element that allows you to flip, spin, and even turn the picture to see something completely different. Is that a horse peeking his head above the fence? Turn the disc and spin - it's a squirrel! Is that a bird flying in the sky? Pull the tab and flip - it's a fish! Kids and parents alike will be amazed by these optical illusions. Be prepared to flip over this book!


TC Tidbits: There's A New Dr. Seus Book Coming Soon!

It's the literary equivalant of buried treasure! Seuss scholar/collector Charles D. Cohen has hunted down seven rarely seen stories by Dr. Seuss. Originally published in magazines between 1950 and 1951, they include "The Bear, the Rabbit, and the Zinniga-Zanniga " (about a rabbit who is saved from a bear with a single eyelash!); "Gustav the Goldfish" (an early, rhymed version of the Beginner Book A Fish Out of Water);  "Tadd and Todd" (a tale passed down via photocopy to generations of twins); "Steak for Supper" (about fantastic creatures who follow a boy home in anticipation of a steak dinner); "The Bippolo Seed" (in which a scheming feline leads an innocent duck to make a bad decision); "The Strange Shirt Spot" (the inspiration for the bathtub-ring scene in The Cat in the Hat Comes Back); and "The Great Henry McBride" (about a boy whose far-flung career fantasies are only bested by those of the real Dr. Seuss himself).

In an introduction to the collection, Cohen explains the significance these seven stories have, not only as lost treasures, but as transitional stories in Dr. Seuss's career.  With a color palette that has been enhanced beyond the limitations of the original magazines in which they appeared, this is a collection of stories that no Seuss fan (whether scholar or second-grader) will want to miss!

Place a pre-order now!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

"'Counterstrike' scores a direct hit. Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker, two of America's most respected national security correspondents, provide pathbreaking reporting on and incisive analysis of the secret war against Al Qaeda after 9/11."--Lee H. Hamilton, former congressman and co-chair of the 9/11 Commission

Inside the Pentagon's secretive and revolutionary new strategy to fight terrorism--and its game-changing effects in the Middle East and at home


In the years following the 9/11 attacks, the United States waged a "war on terror" that sought to defeat Al Qaeda through brute force. But it soon became clear that this strategy was not working, and by 2005 the Pentagon began looking for a new way.

In Counterstrike, Eric Schmitt and Thom Shanker of The New York Times tell the story of how a group of analysts within the military, at spy agencies, and in law enforcement has fashioned an innovative and effective new strategy to fight terrorism, unbeknownst to most Americans and in sharp contrast to the cowboy slogans that characterized the U.S. government's public posture. Adapting themes from classic Cold War deterrence theory, these strategists have expanded the field of battle in order to disrupt jihadist networks in ever more creative ways.

Schmitt and Shanker take readers deep into this theater of war, as ground troops, intelligence operatives, and top executive branch officials have worked together to redefine and restrict the geography available for Al Qaeda to operate in. They also show how these new counterterrorism strategies, adopted under George W. Bush and expanded under Barack Obama, were successfully employed in planning and carrying out the dramatic May 2011 raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed.

Filled with startling revelations about how our national security is being managed, Counterstrike will change the way Americans think about the ongoing struggle with violent radical extremism.

From the Rare Perspcitive of Women at War

Nineteen-year-old Kate Brady joined the army to bring honor to her family and democracy to the Middle East. Instead, she finds herself in a forgotten corner of the Iraq desert in 2003, guarding a makeshift American prison. There, Kate meets Naema Jassim, an Iraqi medical student whose father and little brother have been detained in the camp. 

Kate and Naema promise to help each other, but the war soon strains their intentions. Like any soldier, Kate must face the daily threats of combat duty, but as a woman, she is in equal danger from the predatory men in her unit. Naema suffers bombs, starvation, and the loss of her home and family. As the two women struggle to survive and hold on to the people they love, each comes to have a drastic and unforeseeable effect on the other’s life.

Culled from real life stories of female soldiers and Iraqis, Sand Queen offers a story of hope, courage and struggle from the rare perspective of women at war.


Read Benedict's Salon piece "The Private War of Women Soldiers".


TC Tidbits: Inside the National Book Awards

Check out this great interview with Harold Augenbraum, executive director of the National Book Foundation.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Meet the Author Tonight!

Striking the right balance between career and motherhood is one of the most stressful, heart-wrenching tasks facing women today. In Torn, 47 women explore the conflict between the need to nurture and the need to work, and reveal creative solutions for having the best of both worlds. Their stories offer hope and inspiration, but also expose the messy realities of modern motherhood: from breast pump mishaps to battles with cancer, diaper blowouts to debilitating depression, competitive cupcake baking to coming home from war. In the end, the reader can find comfort that there is no perfect mother, nor is there a perfect balance when it comes to kids and career. Also included are highly topical stories of mothers serving active military duty in Iraq and Afghanistan; and stay-at-home mothers being forced back to work after a long hiatus because of the economic crisis.

"Torn comes at a pivotal time in history,” says editor Samantha Parent Walravens. “Women’s disillusionment with the career-family juggle has been escalating since the mid-1990s. The idea of women pursuing high-powered careers while also baking cookies and reading bedtime stories is increasingly seen to be unrealizable by ordinary mortals. Mothers today are getting real. They are freeing themselves from the unrealistic expectation to be everything to everybody (and look fabulous while doing it!). The Age of the Superwoman is dead." 
                                                                                                                                                                                          Torn touches on themes familiar to a wide audience. It gives voice to the hopes and fears of: anxious young professionals who are contemplating motherhood; parents overmatched by the competing responsibilities of work and family life; stay-at home mothers; and women trying to “on ramp” back into a career. In the end, the reader can take comfort in the knowledge the real challenge facing women today is not juggling their many roles, but reevaluating their expectations of what is possible and accepting that success does not equal “doing it all.”



TONIGHT at 7:30 at our Colfax Avenue Store:
Samantha Walravens is an award-winning journalist, writer and mother of four children. She was an editor for PC World magazine before leaving journalism to chase the Internet dream in the mid-1990s. She has since returned to her true passion, writing, and has published articles on topics including politics, business, lifestyle and women’s issues. Walravens will discuss and sign the new book Torn: True Stories of Kids, Career & the Conflict of Modern Motherhood. Striking the right balance between career and motherhood is one of the most stressful, heart-wrenching tasks facing women today. In Torn, forty-six women examine the conflict between the need to nurture and the need to work, and reveal creative solutions for having the best of both worlds. Local contributors to this collection will join Samantha for this event.

New In Paperback

My Hollywood

Claire, a composer and a new mother, has moved to Los Angeles so that her husband can follow his passion for writing television comedy. Suddenly the marriage—once a genuine 50/50 arrangement—changes, with Paul working late and Claire left at home with baby William, whom she adores but has no idea how to care for.

She hires Lola, a fifty-two-year-old mother of five, who is working in America to pay for her own children’s higher education back in the Philippines. Lola stabilizes the rocky household, and soon other parents try to lure her away. But what she sacrifices to stay with Claire and “Williamo” remains her own closely guarded secret.


TC Tidbit: You KNEW This Would Be Coming

And it is--the "official", Oprah sanctioned , coffee-table book look back at the show.  It will be out in November.  You can preorder NOW, and you probably should, because you just know it's going to be on a million Christmas lists!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Visit the 1980's in 2044


At once wildly original and stuffed with irresistible nostalgia, Ready Player One is a spectacularly genre-busting, ambitious, and charming debut—part quest novel, part love story, and part virtual space opera set in a universe where spell-slinging mages battle giant Japanese robots, entire planets are inspired by Blade Runner, and flying DeLoreans achieve light speed.

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place.

Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets.

And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.
 
For years, millions have struggled fruitlessly to attain this prize, knowing only that Halliday’s riddles are based in the pop culture he loved—that of the late twentieth century. And for years, millions have found in this quest another means of escape, retreating into happy, obsessive study of Halliday’s icons. Like many of his contemporaries, Wade is as comfortable debating the finer points of John Hughes’s oeuvre, playing Pac-Man, or reciting Devo lyrics as he is scrounging power to run his OASIS rig.

And then Wade stumbles upon the first puzzle.

Suddenly the whole world is watching, and thousands of competitors join the hunt—among them certain powerful players who are willing to commit very real murder to beat Wade to this prize. Now the only way for Wade to survive and preserve everything he knows is to win. But to do so, he may have to leave behind his oh-so-perfect virtual existence and face up to life—and love—in the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

A world at stake.
A quest for the ultimate prize.
Are you ready?

*Check out the very fun website for the book.*

Jackie says:
"This is 384 pages of pure '80s geekfest fun, turbo injected and ready to bogey to every video on the brand new MTV.  I spent my whole teens in the 1980s (be polite and don't do the math, please), and I remember vividly about 75% of the references, and had vague memories of the other 25%.  You'll "get" the book even if you are '80s proficient', but you won't remember nearly as many embarrassing facts about yourself as those who are will.

The book is actually set in the year 2044, where the world has turned to a dark and nasty place.  To survive it, most people spend most of their time in Oasis, a computerized virtual reality that has endless worlds to explore, schools to go to, fun things to do.  Things got REALLY interesting when the game's creator, James Halliday, a man obsessed with the '80s, died and left his vast fortune to anyone who can find a very special 
'Easter egg' (a hidden treasure in a game for those not in the know).  With the rampant poverty in the world, there are millions looking for this thing.   Wade Watts is one of them.  He's just turned 18 and has no prospects other than winning the contest.  Not only does he want the money, he wants to keep the teams from IOI, a corrupt corporation if ever there was one, from winning and taking control (and ruining) Oasis, which has been his home for all of his life.

I can't really tell you more about this because it's just too much fun to experience completely on your own, much like the gamers that populate this book.  This is part adventure, part love story, part social commentary and completely fun to experience.

 
Drop your quarter now: Ready Player One."

A New Thriller of Betrayal and Revenge


Wolf Hadda’s life has been a fairy tale. From his humble origins as a Cumbrian woodcutter’s son, he has risen to become a hugely successful entrepreneur, happily married to the woman of his dreams.


A knock on the door one morning ends it all. Universally reviled, thrown into prison while protesting his innocence, abandoned by friends and family, Wolf retreats into silence. Seven years later, prison psychiatrist Alva Ozigbo makes a breakthrough. Wolf begins to talk, and under her guidance he is paroled, returning to his family home in rural Cumbria.

But there was a mysterious period in Wolf’s youth when he disappeared from home and was known to his employers as the Woodcutter. And now the Woodcutter is back, looking for the truth—and revenge. Can Alva intervene before his pursuit of vengeance takes him to a place from which he can never come back?

The Woodcutter is a treat that both lovers of the Dalziel and Pascoe series and newcomers to the always masterful work of Reginald Hill will devour.

TC Tidbit: Stephen King's Newest Novel Already Optioned For Film

The book itself isn't coming out until November, but you can check it our here.


Read more about the movie here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Lynn Really Wants People To Be Talking About This Book

I am just now in my last chapter of this marvelous book and had to stop to write this review of it since I can't stand not having anyone who's read it to talk with about it!!  In The Ripple Effect: The Fate of Freshwater in the 21st Century, Alex Prud'homme takes the reader on an often riveting tour of the state of freshwater all around the globe,
but focuses mostly on the USA.  Readers fascinated by The World Without Us will be hooked reading about NYC's uniquely challenging water concerns. Those with personal
connections to places like New Orleans, the Baca Ranch in Colorado, Las Vegas, Nevada, not to mention the states of California, Arizona and Alaska will likely, like me, be
encouraging friends and family with equally or stronger ties to READ THIS BOOK to better understand this precious resource and the trajectory of its properties converging with
human influence connecting with, well, pretty much everything. And learn how we can and do impact its quality and accessibility with our daily habits as well as apathy or
willingness to look at what is, to put it mildly, a 'force of nature' -squarely in the eye, with every ounce of humility & care that that might inspire.

Written before the Fukushima nuclear power plant catastrophe, I'd imagine when the paperback eventually comes out, the author might include a pretty interesting addendum.  But even if he doesn't, as it stands, this book is one astoundingly complex, yet highly readable, (not at all 'dry'.... sorry I just had to say that) accessible piece of superb journalistic writing that delves into how freshwater flows through the human world,
explaining the 'ripple effects' of floods and droughts, the hidden costs of agriculture as we now know it, the processes involved in hydrofracking, gold-mining and nuclear energy production, all the while examining the economics of water from Cochabamba, Bolivia to the bottled water you may have been drinking today, and historical human solutions to sometimes shockingly frightening water problems ranging from brilliant to
disastrous.  Business as usual is frequently the elephant in the room and the many people you'll meet in the book whose livelihoods, passions, or power revolve around freshwater are as intriguing a group as you'd ever run across in a thriller or epic novel, and will have you not only rethinking your next trip to the carwash but paying much closer attention to the astonishing ways water is being used, privatized, wasted, respected or
controlled in your household, community, bioregion and world.   Reviewers are writing that Prud'homme has done for our understanding of water what Pollan did for the food system or Yergin for oil. My hope is that this book will do what it does a whole lot faster.

--Lynn

A leading brain scientist's look at the neurobiology of pleasure-and how pleasures can become addictions.



 
Whether eating, taking drugs, engaging in sex, or doing good deeds, the pursuit of pleasure is a central drive of the human animal. In The Compass of Pleasure Johns Hopkins neuroscientist David J. Linden explains how pleasure affects us at the most fundamental level: in our brain.

As he did in his award-winning book, The Accidental Mind, Linden combines cutting-edge science with entertaining anecdotes to illuminate the source of the behaviors that can lead us to ecstasy but that can easily become compulsive. Why are drugs like nicotine and heroin addictive while LSD is not? Why has the search for safe appetite suppressants been such a disappointment? The Compass of Pleasure concludes with a provocative consideration of pleasure in the future, when it may be possible to activate our pleasure circuits at will and in entirely novel patterns.

TC Tidbit: Explore a Database of Authors Who Visit Book Clubs

from our friends at GalleyCat.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Debut Author Matt Norman Has "the making of a powerful voice in fiction", says Jackie


Tom Violet always thought that by the time he turned thirty-five, he’d have everything going for him. Fame. Fortune. A beautiful wife. A satisfying career as a successful novelist. A happy dog to greet him at the end of the day.

The reality, though, is far different. He’s got a wife, but their problems are bigger than he can even imagine. And he’s written a novel, but the manuscript he’s slaved over for years is currently hidden in his desk drawer while his father, an actual famous writer, just won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. His career, such that it is, involves mind-numbing corporate buzzwords, his pretentious archnemesis Gregory, and a hopeless, completely inappropriate crush on his favorite coworker. Oh . . . and his dog, according to the vet, is suffering from acute anxiety.


Tom’s life is crushing his soul, but he’s decided to do something about it. (Really.) Domestic Violets is the brilliant and beguiling story of a man finally taking control of his own happiness—even if it means making a complete idiot of himself along the way.

Jackie says:
"Tom has always lived in his father's shadow--he's a renowned author who has just won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction (and just as renowned a womanizer).  So Tom is keeping the fact that he has just finished his own book an extreme secret.  What he is not keeping so secret is the fact that his job as a public relations copy-writer for a huge company makes him crazy.  His daily clash with one of his uptight, tie-wearing co-workers is laugh out loud funny.  What's not so funny is the fact that Tom is experiencing erectile dysfunction and it's beginning to crush his marriage.  Factor in his most recent crazy step-mother, his own mother leaving his big hearted stepfather, the enticing 23 year old copy-writer in his office and the possibility that his wife is having an affair, it was only a matter of time before Tom went berserk.  And boy did he ever!

Norman has a lyric writing style that made me frequently stop and re-read a sentence or two because it was so beautifully written.  This book deals with some profoundly difficult issues with tremendous humor without ever degrading the pain and drama that were involved in them.  This is his debut novel.  I certainly will be eagerly watching for more from him in the future--he's got the making of a powerful voice in fiction."

New Voices in Food Features The Young and Innovative In The Culinary World

New Voices in Food showcases interesting young cooks. It's a list dedicated to discovering and nurturing the new visions in food writing.

Aimed at a younger audience, the series has a young, edgy but stylish look and is essential reading for all budding foodies. New Voices in Food launched last summer in England and this spring in the U.S.

 My Kitchen: Real Food From Near and Far by Stevie Parle

My Kitchen is an eclectic collection of delicious and varied recipes from one of the world's most exceptional young culinary talents. Here is hot young chef Stevie Parle's life in food so far, gleaned from his travels and his intimate knowledge of ingredients.  This charming mixture of stories and recipes is divided into twelve monthly chapters, with dishes based around seasonal bounty and Stevie Parle’s global inspirations. Though his influences are incredibly wide, Parle understands the rules of food and doesn't mess with the classics. Instead he finds new ways to approach old recipes, using his vast creativity and impeccably trained craftsmanship.

Within each chapter, he gives a master class about a single food, with the aim of teaching readers how to cook better by watching subtle changes in the pan and paying attention to the life cycles of fresh produce.  Anecdotes are woven into recipes, ingredients mix with memories.  Throughout is solid technique, advice, and tips on what to do with a surplus of any one food.


 Alice's Cookbook by Alice Hart

Alice Hart is an exciting and authoritative new young voice on food who loves to share her culinary knowledge with friends. In this book she encourages her generation of 20- and 30-somethings to cook the original, modern food they enjoy to fit the lifestyles they lead.  She builds her recipes around lazy brunches with friends, picnics in her trademark camper , shared suppers and special occasions.

Dip into Alice’s Cookbook in January to find an inspirational New Year brunch, or during August for a vibrant and memorable summer kitchen supper. Each recipe is designed to fit into busy social lives: Hands-on cooking times are provided for each dish, menus are adaptable to seasons and availability, and advice is given to scale quantities up or down to feed a crowd (or not). making this the perfect volume for a new generation of cooks.  As Alice says, it's not just about cooking, it's about enjoying life.

TC Tibit: Literary Quiz--How Well Do You Know Joseph Heller and "Catch-22"?

Take the USA Today quiz.









Fifty years after its original publication, Catch-22 remains a cornerstone of American literature and one of the funniest—and most celebrated—books of all time. In recent years it has been named to “best novels” lists by Time, Newsweek, the Modern Library, and the London Observer.

Set in Italy during World War II, this is the story of the incomparable, malingering bombardier, Yossarian, a hero who is furious because thousands of people he has never met are trying to kill him. But his real problem is not the enemy—it is his own army, which keeps increasing the number of missions the men must fly to complete their service. Yet if Yossarian makes any attempt to excuse himself from the perilous missions he’s assigned, he’ll be in violation of Catch-22, a hilariously sinister bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but if he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved.

This fiftieth-anniversary edition commemorates Joseph Heller’s masterpiece with a new introduction by Christopher Buckley; a wealth of critical essays and reviews by Norman Mailer, Alfred Kazin, Anthony Burgess, and others; rare papers and photos from Joseph Heller’s personal archive; and much more. Here, at last, is the definitive edition of a classic of world literature.