Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cathy Loves "this gem of a novel."

Stewart O'Nan's thirteenth novel is another wildly original, bittersweet gem like his celebrated Last Night at the Lobster. Valentine's weekend, Art and Marion Fowler flee their Cleveland suburb for Niagara Falls, desperate to recoup their losses. Jobless, with their home approaching foreclosure and their marriage on the brink of collapse, Art and Marion liquidate their savings account and book a bridal suite at the Falls' ritziest casino for a second honeymoon. While they sightsee like tourists during the day, at night they risk it all at the roulette wheel to fix their finances-and save their marriage. A tender yet honest exploration of faith, forgiveness and last chances, The Odds is a reminder that love, like life, is always a gamble.

Cathy says:
"The Odds is a small novel that packs an emotional wallop.  Art and Marion Fowler are at the end of their ropes,  with their marriage, careers and finances unraveling at an alarming rate.  A last hurrah, a Valentine's  weekend at a posh gambling resort on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, which needless to say they can ill afford, will determine their future.  Anyone in a long relationship will nod  and cringe as O'Nan subtly and  brilliantly lays out their frailties, strengths, foibles and deep affection.   Suspenseful and sweet.  I loved this gem of a novel."

Two "oppo" Insiders Tell Their Tale

In politics, finding the dirt is a multimillion-dollar business.

It’s called opposition research—“oppo” to insiders. Few Americans are aware of its existence, yet oppo has become an integral part of the campaign process, hastening the implosion of countless office-seekers around the country.

For nearly two decades, former journalists Alan Huffman and Michael Rejebian have been uncovering the buried truths about political candidates, from presidential appointees all the way down to local school-board hopefuls. We’re with Nobody is the eye-opening account of their life as opposition researchers—a remarkable adventure across the American political landscape and through the often seamy underbelly of U.S. politics. From doing battle with reluctant, sometimes purposefully misleading bureaucrats to arriving in an unmarked police car for a clandestine meeting on the New Jersey waterfront, We’re with Nobody offers readers a revealing slice of national and political life: a close-up look at today’s political process, the fallible men and women we often choose to represent us and the little-understood industry of trying to bring candidates’ weaknesses to light.

TC Tidbit: Handmaking A Book

Monday, January 30, 2012

Pssst! Wanna read some Smut? Pete Thinks You Do

One of England’s finest and most loved writers explores the uncomfortable and tragicomic gap between people’s public appearance and their private desires in two tender and surprising stories.

In The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson, a recently bereaved widow finds interesting ways to supplement her income by performing as a patient for medical students, and renting out her spare room. Quiet, middle-class, and middle-aged, Mrs. Donaldson will soon discover that she rather enjoys role-play at the hospital, and the irregular and startling entertainment provided by her tenants.

In The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes, a disappointed middle-aged mother dotes on her only son, Graham, who believes he must shield her from the truth. As Graham’s double life becomes increasingly complicated, we realize how little he understands, not only of his own desires but also those of his mother.

A master storyteller dissects a very English form of secrecy with two stories of the unexpected in otherwise apparently ordinary lives.

Pete says:

"Pssst! Wanna read some Smut?

I thought as much. It was obvious to me. But please consider that this smut is not wrapped in dark plastic, hidden behind the check out counter, or tucked beneath some teenager's mattress. No, the smut of note is easily accessible, more specifically located in the new paperback fiction section. Smut by Alan Bennett, consists of two novellas.  And while not nearly as lustful as the title suggests, both stories are humorous, intriguing, and highly entertaining. In the first story, the person one would expect least likely to engage in voyeurism (the prim widow Mrs. Donaldson) suddenly can't get enough when the opportunity presents itself. In the second, Graham, the perfect banker son, is perhaps not all that he seems. Yes, his fingernails are exceptionally clean, but what does that prove exactly? Read this funny little book and you'll find out all his secrets -- and more!"

The Story of a Friendship, In Letters


Edward Gorey and Peter Neumeyer met in the summer of 1968. Gorey had been contracted by Addison-Wesley to illustrate Donald and the . . . , a children’s story written by Neumeyer. On their first encounter, Neumeyer managed to dislocate Gorey’s shoulder when he grabbed his arm to keep him from falling into the ocean. In a hospital waiting room, they pored over Gorey’s drawings for the first time together, and Gorey infused the situation with much hilarity. This was the beginning of an invigorating friendship, fueled by a wealth of letters and postcards that sped between the two men through the fall of 1969.

Those letters, published here for the first time, are remarkable for their quantity and their content. While the creative collaborations of Gorey and Neumeyer centered on children’s books, they held wide-ranging interests; both were erudite, voracious readers, and they sent each other many volumes. Through their discussions of these books, one marvels at the beauty of thoughtful (and merry) discourse driven by intellectual curiosity.

The letters also paint an intimate portrait of Edward Gorey, a man often mischaracterized as macabre or even ghoulish. His gentleness, humility, and brilliance—interwoven with his distinctive humor—shine in each letter; his deft artistic hand is evident on the decorated envelopes addressed to Neumeyer, thirty-eight of which are reproduced here.

During the time of their correspondence, Peter Neumeyer was an assistant professor at Harvard University and then a professor at Stony Brook University in New York. His acumen and compassion, expressed in his discerning, often provocative missives, reveal him to be an ideal creative and intellectual ally for Gorey.

More than anything else, Floating Worlds is the moving memoir of an extraordinary friendship. Gorey wrote that he felt that they were “part of the same family, and I don’t mean just metaphorically. I guess that even more than I think of you as a friend, I think of you as my brother.” Neumeyer stated, “Your letters . . . your existence has made something of this world that [it] hadn’t the possibility of before.”

TC Tidbit: Harlan Coben Already At Work On A Screenplay for His Not Yet Released Newest Thriller

Click HERE to read more about it at deadline.com.

About the book, which is coming out March 2012:

Megan is a suburban soccer mom who once upon a time walked on the wild side. Now she's got two kids, a perfect husband, a picket fence, and a growing sense of dissatisfaction. Ray used to be a talented documentary photographer, but at age forty he finds himself in a dead- end job posing as a paparazzo pandering to celebrity-obsessed rich kids. Jack is a detective who can't let go of a cold case-a local husband and father disappeared seventeen years ago, and Jack spends the anniversary every year visiting a house frozen in time, the missing man's family still waiting, his slippers left by the recliner as if he might show up any moment to step into them.

Three people living lives they never wanted, hiding secrets that even those closest to them would never suspect, will find that the past doesn't recede. Even as the terrible consequences of long-ago events crash together in the present and threaten to ruin lives, they will come to the startling realization that they may not want to forget the past at all. And as each confronts the dark side of the American Dream- the boredom of a nice suburban life, the excitement of temptation, the desperation and hunger that can lurk behind even the prettiest facades- they will discover the hard truth that the line between one kind of life and another can be as whisper-thin as a heartbeat.

With his trademark combination of page-turning thrills and unrivaled insight into the dark shadows that creep into even the happiest communities, Harlan Coben delivers a thriller that cements his status as the master of domestic suspense.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cathy Calls This Book "Important, Illuminating and Ultimately Affirming"

Cathy says:
"Jean Patrick Nkuba, a young Rwandan 800 meter phenom trains for the Olympics under the careful watch of his Hutu Coach as the Hutu-Tutsi violence escalates.  Running the Rift, Naomi Benaron's Bellwether Prize winning first novel takes a horrific period of history and brings it to the reader in a deeply human way, helping to clarify the historical issues between the two groups while writing about a beautiful country, its customs and landscape and citizens hoping for a better life and some stability.  As the novel progresses  and Jean Patrick continues to train,  he and his fellow Tutsi's are gripped by fear as they witness and endure unspeakable violence, until he is forced to literally run for his life.  Treachery abounds, even from the most trusted associates.  As difficult as the subject matter may be, it is important, illuminating and, ultimately affirming."

A Novel About Love and Family Found in the Most Unexpected Places

A heartwarming novel about larger-than-life characters and second chances.

Former academic Arthur Opp weighs 550 pounds and hasn't left his rambling Brooklyn home in a decade. Twenty miles away, in Yonkers, seventeen-year-old Kel Keller navigates life as the poor kid in a rich school and pins his hopes on what seems like a promising baseball career—if he can untangle himself from his family drama. The link between this unlikely pair is Kel’s mother, Charlene, a former student of Arthur’s. After nearly two decades of silence, it is Charlene’s unexpected phone call to Arthur—a plea for help—that jostles them into action. Through Arthur and Kel’s own quirky and lovable voices, Heft tells the winning story of two improbable heroes whose sudden connection transforms both their lives.

TC Tidbit: 12 Authors Who Wrote For The Movies

Take a look at the Huffington Post's slideshow HERE

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Guest Blogger Sara Lind Weighs in on "The Road"

The searing, postapocalyptic novel destined to become Cormac McCarthy's masterpiece.

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don't know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food-—and each other. The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, "each the other's world entire," are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

Sara says:

"A man and his son journey down a road.  They search for food and supplies, utterly alone and always on the edge of starvation.  They live in a world we could only imagine in our darkest nightmares: the earth is entombed in a nuclear winter.  Ash and cold and dark are the only things they see.

This is a dismal and depressing story, as it should be. But it’s not utterly without hope.  The man and his son are not completely alone: they have each other.  And they still have their humanity.  The boy was born mere days after the nuclear catastrophe (which is never clearly described) and this is the only world he has ever known.  There is, in the truest sense, no hope.  No point anymore in being moral, or good, or even, it might seem, alive.  And yet, the man and his son fight on.  They are “carrying the fire” – they are staying true to the morals in which they believe.  They are staying true to themselves.

McCarthy’s writing style is reminiscent of Hemingway: sparse, lean sentences tell the story without becoming overly emotional. Given the subject matter, it would be all too easy to be melodramatic, but McCarthy avoids this by concentrating on straightforward descriptions of the action. Every now and then, though, the simple prose is punctuated by descriptions so beautiful they make you catch your breath.

This book has no chapter breaks, which is meant, I suppose, to reflect the endless and unceasing monotony of day after day in a land ravaged by nuclear winter. And yet, the book is not monotonous.  The lack of chapter breaks just makes it that much harder to put it down.  Prepare yourself to stay up late reading, and then lose sleep pondering, this book. 

If the surest sign of a good book is that you can’t stop thinking about it after you close it, The Road is a wonderful book.  It will make you think. It will seep into your dreams. It will haunt you."

Read more from Sara on her blog, Diary of a Book Lover.

A Tale of Genes and Family Trees

A brilliant and emotionally resonant exploration of science and family history.

A vibrant young Hispano woman, Shonnie Medina, inherits a breast-cancer mutation known as BRCA1.185delAG. It is a genetic variant characteristic of Jews. The Medinas knew they were descended from Native Americans and Spanish Catholics, but they did not know that they had Jewish ancestry as well. The mutation most likely sprang from Sephardic Jews hounded by the Spanish Inquisition. The discovery of the gene leads to a fascinating investigation of cultural history and modern genetics by Dr. Harry Ostrer and other experts on the DNA of Jewish populations.

Set in the isolated San Luis Valley of Colorado, this beautiful and harrowing book tells of the Medina family’s five-hundred-year passage from medieval Spain to the American Southwest and of their surprising conversion from Catholicism to the Jehovah’s Witnesses in the 1980s. Rejecting conventional therapies in her struggle against cancer, Shonnie Medina died in 1999. Her life embodies a story that could change the way we think about race and faith.

Check out an interesting slide show explaining a bit about the book at jeffwheelwright.com

TC Tidbit: The Fascinating Inspirations Behind Beloved Children’s Books

from our friends at flavorwire.com

Friday, January 27, 2012

"There's a quiet storm brewing on the horizon, and I think it's about to come blowing in," says Pete

At least one-third of the people we know are introverts. They are the ones who prefer listening to speaking, reading to partying; who innovate and create but dislike self-promotion; who favor working on their own over brainstorming in teams. Although they are often labeled "quiet," it is to introverts that we owe many of the great contributions to society--from van Gogh’s sunflowers to the invention of the personal computer.

Passionately argued, impressively researched, and filled with indelible stories of real people, Quiet shows how dramatically we undervalue introverts, and how much we lose in doing so. Taking the reader on a journey from Dale Carnegie’s birthplace to Harvard Business School, from a Tony Robbins seminar to an evangelical megachurch, Susan Cain charts the rise of the Extrovert Ideal in the twentieth century and explores its far-reaching effects. She talks to Asian-American students who feel alienated from the brash, backslapping atmosphere of American schools. She questions the dominant values of American business culture, where forced collaboration can stand in the way of innovation, and where the leadership potential of introverts is often overlooked. And she draws on cutting-edge research in psychology and neuroscience to reveal the surprising differences between extroverts and introverts.

Perhaps most inspiring, she introduces us to successful introverts--from a witty, high-octane public speaker who recharges in solitude after his talks, to a record-breaking salesman who quietly taps into the power of questions. Finally, she offers invaluable advice on everything from how to better negotiate differences in introvert-extrovert relationships to how to empower an introverted child to when it makes sense to be a "pretend extrovert."

This extraordinary book has the power to permanently change how we see introverts and, equally important, how introverts see themselves.

Pete says:
"There are times when a quiet person is accused of being anti-social. And it's not like you can zing back with 'Oh yeah, well you're pro-social.' In all likelihood it'll be taken as a compliment, as in 'Thanks, I've always been a people person.' As a kid, I often got the question 'Why are you so quiet?' And as a kid I wasn't able to formulate that being quiet wasn't a disease, so my standard answer was simply 'I don't know.' So you grow up, and sometimes you don't fit in, and you wonder, 'Maybe I am broken in some way?' Quiet is a book I wish was around 25 years ago. This is a book for the quiet person you are and for the quiet person you know. They're not broken, and in most cases in no need of therapy or medication. They're doing just fine, perhaps even thriving.

A quiet person will not rush the podium when it comes to public speaking, but are often times better able to express themselves through the written word or through art. Though lacking in the gift of gab, their listening skills are perhaps more astute. Sometimes introverted personalities and extroverted personalities seek each other out as in an 'opposites attract' scenario. They complement each other nicely in many situations. But,
sooner or later, the extrovert will hear the call of the wild and want to party, while the introvert may seek nothing more than a quiet night with a good book. The author suggests many good compromising strategies for introvert/extrovert couples and also describes helpful techniques for raising quiet children. These kids probably won't end up auditioning for 'American Idol' or joining the cast of any reality-based television shows, but they're readers and thinkers and artists and engineers and scientists. They keep their heads down but work just as hard as anyone.

I recommend this book to parents, teachers, business leaders, and anyone else seeking a better understanding of reserved individuals, and learning ways to better utilize their many talents, often unseen and especially unheard. There's a quiet storm brewing on the horizon, and I think it's about to come blowing in."

This Acclaimed NY Chef Left Culinary Fame for the Farm

In this extraordinary new book Suvir merges his highly refined spice sensibility with the great produce of his adopted land. He also harvests favorite recipes from friends and worldwide travels such as the Farmhouse Crispy-Creamy Potatoes roasted with herbs, which he cleverly calls Herbes de Hebron as a riff on Herbes de Provence. And I was overjoyed to find the recipe for Manchurian Cauliflower, one of my favorite dishes at his New York City restaurant Devi, guaranteed to convert a professed detractor of the vegetable. Also gracing the book is a very special biscuit recipe—one that Suvir made for our breakfast along with his home-made jams. The secret to these exceptionally tender and buttery biscuits is that compared to most, they have half the cream and double the butter! Consummate host that he is, Suvir sent my father home with an ample supply of biscuits and jam, extending the visit back to the comforts of his own home.

This book is blessed with many glorious photographs, by the brilliantly talented Ben Fink, which illustrate the recipes and lifestyle that Suvir and Charlie share with sincere and engaging eloquence. For me every word rings true because it perfectly reflects my two visits to the farm. Once again I saw the huge golden white rooster who prefers to hang out with the bucks (male goats) to his own hens but sits trustingly and contentedly in Suvir’s embrace, and the alpacas whose lovely beige and brown furs become exquisitely soft yarn for knitting in the cold winter months and about whom Suvir says: ”They protect the goats and sheep, amuse us with their personalities, and enrich us with their fiber.”

Suvir is one of those rare individuals who possess a magnetic personality. All are drawn to him and want nothing more than to remain by his side to bask in the dynamic warmth, humor, generosity, and love that he radiates. But there is another side to Suvir—that of a sharply clever and playful master of the tease and please. He is full of surprises and his recipes reflect all of these enticing qualities. How wonderful to have this book by one’s side to cook from and to dream of an idyllic Masala Farm existence.

--excerpt from the Forward to the book, written by Rose Levy Beranbaum, author of The Cake Bible and 8 other cookbooks

Read an interview with Suvir Saran from Top Chef Masters.

Jackie says:
"This is an absolutely beautiful cookbook, with eclectic recipes and plenty of farm stories making a tasty side dish to the clear culinary skills.  I can't believe he got thrown off of Top Chef!"

TC Tidbit: Steinbeck on Falling In Love

Read the letter he wrote his son HERE.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

This Book Made Lynn Both Laugh and Ponder

Boyet Hernandez is a small man with a big American dream when he arrives in New York in 2002, fresh out of design school in Manila. With dubious financing and visions of Fashion Week runways, he sets up shop in a Brooklyn toothpick factory, pursuing his goals with monkish devotion (distractions of a voluptuous undergrad not withstanding). But mere weeks after a high-end retail order promises to catapult his (B)oy label to the big time, there's a knock on the door in the middle of the night: the flamboyant ex-Catholic Boyet is brought to Gitmo, handed a Koran, and locked away indefinitely on suspicion of being linked to a terrorist plot. Now, from his 6' x 8' cell, Boy prepares for the trial of his life with this intimate confession, even as his belief in American justice begins to erode.

With a nod to Junot Diaz and a wink to Gary Shteyngart, Alex Gilvarry's first novel explores some of the most serious issues of our time with dark eviscerating wit.

Lynn says:
"I just finished the simultaneously delightfully funny and dead serious debut novel, From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant by Gilvarry and would be remiss not to give you a heads-up that this book is gonna be HOT! The primary voice in the narrative is that of Boyet R. Hernandez, Filipino immigrant to NYC and aesthete extraordinaire, who unwittingly lands himself in Gitmo due to a seemingly innocuous business decision. Though a passionately talented fashion designer for women's upscale clothing, 'Boy' agrees to fabricate two expensive suits for a somewhat shady, but disarming male character who.... well, let's just say the liason leads to more scrutiny by Homeland Security than anyone might ever want in their life. The way this writer brings together the world of haute couture and the world of extraordinary renditions and satirizes all the unknown known unknowns is both a wickedly funny and a scathingly serious piece of fiction sure to elicit accolades comparing the writer to Kafka, Heller and Vonnegut and to be a book group choice for lively discussion.  Michael Hastings, whose article in Rolling Stone magazine on General McChrystal caused such a stir says 'Finally, a young American novelist who has the guts to confront the absurdity of the last decade...'-- I agree.  Gilvarry's 'Boy', with his book-length confession (did I mention he was raised Catholic?) in preparation for his upcoming tribunal, tells all (all the known knowns anyway) about his pre-rendition fashionista tribe and his post-'Overwhelming Event' fellow prisoners, guards and interrogators (and with no small helping of the coyote wisdom witnessing with an eye obsessively accustomed to nuance, color and drama) and had me laughing out loud as well as stopping in my tracks to ponder the human tragedy of it all by the final chapters."

Joe Pike and Elvis Cole Are Back!!!

When the police tell a wealthy industrialist that her missing son has faked his own kidnapping, she hires Elvis Cole and Joe Pike-and Cole soon determines that it was no fake. The boy and his secret girlfriend have been taken, and are now lost in the gray and changing world of the professional border kidnappers who prey not only on innocent victims but also on one another-buying, selling, and stealing victims like commodities. Fortunately, the kidnappers don't yet know who the boy is, but when Cole goes undercover to try to buy the two hostages back, he himself is taken and disappears. Now it is up to Pike to retrace Cole's steps, burning through the hard and murderous world of human traffickers . . . before it is too late.

Meet the author yourself tomorrow night at 7:30 at our Colfax Avenue store.

TC Tidbit: Cormack McCarthy, Screenwriter!

Read more about it at deadline.com

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Jackie Wants You To Give This Unusual Debut Novel A Chance

Isabel is a single, twentysomething thrift-store shopper and collector of remnants, things cast off or left behind by others. Glaciers follows Isabel through a day in her life in which work with damaged books in the basement of a library, unrequited love for the former soldier who fixes her computer, and dreams of the perfect vintage dress move over a backdrop of deteriorating urban architecture and the imminent loss of the glaciers she knew as a young girl in Alaska.

Glaciers unfolds internally, the action shaped by Isabel's sense of history, memory, and place, recalling the work of writers such as Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, and Virginia Woolf. For Isabel, the fleeting moments of one day can reveal an entire life. While she contemplates loss and the intricate fissures it creates in our lives, she accumulates the stories--the remnants--of those around her and she begins to tell her own story.

Read the first chapter courtesy of Poets&Writers.

Jackie says:
"This is a very interesting debut novel told in short vignettes.  The main character is a twenty-something woman whose life story is played out in a single day for the reader through her memories, her encounters, what she observes, what she wishes.  It is a quiet story told with great understatement and a fluid way with words, but with astonishingly deep meaning floating in the gentle episodes.  It's difficult to describe, but a pleasure to read.  Give it a chance."

The Power of the Ordinary Person

There are few books that attempt to interpret the world and how it is run. The Leaderless Revolution offers a refreshing and potent contrast to the Panglossian optimism of Tom Friedman's The World is Flat but, like that book, it offers a way of understanding the world of the 21st century that is both clear and easily comprehensible. Carne Ross takes different angles on contemporary issues - economics, politics, the state of democracy, the environment and terrorism - wrapping them into a unified explanation of how money and power function to control the lives of the earth's inhabitants, such that they feel powerless to affect their collective future. It seems that mankind has settled upon liberal democracy as the ideal form of government. Its triumph with the collapse of communism signalled the end of ideological struggle and thus of history. The Leaderless Revolution will show however that even in democracies, many if not most of the population feel that they are excluded from any agency over the issues that most trouble them, while governments appear less and less able to influence the global problems that threaten our peace and comforts. Mining the rich but little-examined histories of both cosmopolitanism and anarchism, The Leaderless Revolution shows how both ideas, in combination, are relevant and necessary for the problems of today. Not only an antidote to our global crises; Carne Ross offers, moreover, a route to fulfillment and self-realisation.

TC Tidbit: Speilberg Talks About "Warhorse" and His Upcoming Movies (based on books!)

Read the interview HERE.

Books he reveals as part of his movie making plans:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Miki Loved Curling Up With This Book

Once upon a time, Hudson knew exactly what her future looked like. Then a betrayal changed her life and knocked her dreams to the ground. Now she’s a girl who doesn’t believe in second chances, a girl who stays under the radar by baking cupcakes at her mom’s diner and obsessing over what might have been.
So when things start looking up and she has another shot at her dreams, Hudson is equal parts hopeful and terrified. Of course, this is also the moment a cute, sweet guy walks into her life—and starts serving up some seriously mixed signals. She’s got a lot on her plate, and for a girl who’s been burned before, risking it all is easier said than done.

It’s time for Hudson to ask herself what she really wants, and how much she’s willing to sacrifice to get it. Because in a place where opportunities are fleeting, she knows this chance may very well be her last....

Miki says:

"Every winter, I have the same problem.  What to read?  I have all of this time inside with a comfy old chair my grandpa gave me, but never seem to find the right book for the occasion.  When it is cold and snowy outside, I want winter themed book, a creamy cup of coffee, and a thick blanket.  I want escape into a cozy world that is not mine.  Books about summer or the beach just don't do it for me in the winter.  Luckily, Sarah Ockler's newest novel landed on my desk between snowstorms.  I could not wait to get home, kick off my snow boots, and get to reading.  Finally, my ideal winter reading had arrived.

I am happy to report that Ockler did not disappoint.  She delivered a novel full of winter delight.  Her characters are talented, smart, and mature.  Although the main characters are strong and easy to fall in love with, the smaller characters can steal your heart just as easily.  Hudson's little brother, known as Bug, is just such a wonderful addition to the story.  Every time he appeared in the story, I found myself smiling.  If anyone knows a kid like this one, please let me know.  I must adopt and/or babysit him.  

The storyline was had the typical love, lust, friendships, and problems, but somehow it is still original and unpredictable.  Like the characters, the story is complicated but at times, seems so simple.  Ockler really has a way of balancing the elements of her writing. 

Lastly, if the hockey boys, ice skating, and story don't hook you in, the chapter titles will.  Every chapter begins with heavenly cupcake ideas.  I can't wait to try some of them out.  Yum!"

What Happens To Society When Your Children's Language Is Killing You?

In The Flame Alphabet, the most maniacally gifted writer of our generation delivers a work of heartbreak and horror, a novel about how far we will go, and the sorrows we will endure, in order to protect our families.

A terrible epidemic has struck the country and the sound of children’s speech has become lethal. Radio transmissions from strange sources indicate that people are going into hiding. All Sam and Claire need to do is look around the neighborhood: In the park, parents wither beneath the powerful screams of their children. At night, suburban side streets become routes of shameful escape for fathers trying to get outside the radius of affliction.

With Claire nearing collapse, it seems their only means of survival is to flee from their daughter, Esther, who laughs at her parents’ sickness, unaware that in just a few years she, too, will be susceptible to the language toxicity. But Sam and Claire find it isn’t so easy to leave the daughter they still love, even as they waste away from her malevolent speech. On the eve of their departure, Claire mysteriously disappears, and Sam, determined to find a cure for this new toxic language, presses on alone into a world beyond recognition.

The Flame Alphabet invites the question: What is left of civilization when we lose the ability to communicate with those we love? Both morally engaged and wickedly entertaining, a gripping page-turner as strange as it is moving, this intellectual horror story ensures Ben Marcus’s position in the first rank of American novelists.

Meet the author tonight 1/25/12 at 7:30 at our Colfax Avenue store.  He will be there to read and discuss his book.

TC Tidbit: The State of the Graphic Journalism Art

from our friends at graphicnovelreporter.com.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dispatch From The Field: Joe and "The Face Thief"

The real reason we have faces, she thought,
is to hold back what we’re thinking from the world.

Eli Gottlieb’s previous novel, Now You See Him, was acclaimed by reviewers as “irresistible…moving” (New York Times Book Review), “a triumph…of literary suspense” (Los Angeles Times), and “gorgeous” (USA Today). With The Face Thief , Gottlieb returns with a driving, compulsively readable novel that probes the wellsprings of human greed and of loyalty beset by temptation.

Gottlieb introduces us to the mystery of the charismatic Margot, a promising journalist who morphs—with stunning panache—from a high-achieving affluent twenty-something into a grifter making her living by preying on the weaknesses of men. Gifted with an unerring ability to “read” people due to her studies of the ancient Chinese art of face reading, and able to rearrange her look and persona with uncanny skill to fit the social situation, she is an avenging angel, shattering marriages and draining bank accounts.

What drives her in her quest to deceive and disarm? In exploring this question, The Face Thief toggles fluidly forward and back in time, drawing vivid portraits of Margot’s rocky childhood and her adult victims: an amiable, newly married man enticed into a catastrophic fraud; an esteemed teacher outwitted by his most dangerous student; and a well-meaning New York City cop tripped up by his belief in redemption.

Ingeniously constructed and exquisitely written, The Face Thief swirls a hypnotic dance of predator and prey, creating a contemporary landscape where the educated are violent, the beautiful ugly, and the well-intentioned hapless. And yet we never give way to despair because the protagonists of the book push back against the maelstrom and attempt tirelessly to right their toppled lives.

Joe says:
"This is a novel where nothing is as it seems. Following three characters whose lives are linked through deceit, failed trust, and crime. There is Margot, a woman who knows how to use her beauty and men's desire to get ahead in life. But has her luck run out? She fell (or was she pushed?) down a staircase and is recuperating in a hospital, visited by a man who may be helping her, just as he may be falling in love with her. Then there is the Lawrence, the man who teaches Margot how to read faces. After his marriage is nearly ruined, does he realize that she doesn't really need the lessons, and he's the one being played. And finally, there's John Potash, who, in an effort to increase his sizable nest egg, ends up losing everything to Margot's deceit. This novel is a thriller, and an excellent one at that. Gottlieb tells the story from differing points of view, and as the characters' lives further entangle, the pages really start to fly by. As much as I loved Now You See Him, I loved The Face Thief more. Eli Gottlieb continues to thrill the reader with his writing - crisp, thick with meaning and light on the eye. I was fascinated by the passages about face reading, entranced by Dan France's bedside manner, and rooting for each of the characters to sort the mess their lives had become and somehow get it right. I enjoyed this book more and more as I read, and was a little sad when it ended. Not disappointed in the ending in the least, but to leave these characters behind."

Come meet the author tomorrow night (Tuesday, Jan. 24) at 7:30pm at our Colfax Avenue store.  

Six and a Half Months To Prove A Very Important Point

It started as a school project…but turned into so much more.

Growing up, Gaby Rodriguez was often told she would end up a teen mom. After all, her mother and her older sisters had gotten pregnant as teenagers; from an outsider’s perspective, it was practically a family tradition. Gaby had ambitions that didn’t include teen motherhood. But she wondered: how would she be treated if she “lived down” to others' expectations? Would everyone ignore the years she put into being a good student and see her as just another pregnant teen statistic with no future? These questions sparked Gaby’s school project: faking her own pregnancy as a high school senior to see how her family, friends, and community would react. What she learned changed her life forever, and made international headlines in the process.

In The Pregnancy Project, Gaby details how she was able to fake her own pregnancy—hiding the truth from even her siblings and boyfriend’s parents—and reveals all that she learned from the experience. But more than that, Gaby’s story is about fighting stereotypes, and how one girl found the strength to come out from the shadow of low expectations to forge a bright future for herself.

The Lifetime Channel has created a movie of Gaby's story.  It will premier on January 28, 2012.

TC Tidbit: 10 Legendary Bad Boys of Literature

from our friends at flavorwire.com.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

When A Book Takes Over A Life, Hilarity Ensues

After a college graduate with a history of hapless jobs reads Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Treasure Island, she is dumbstruck by the timid design of her life. Convinced that Stevenson's book is cosmically intended for her, she redesigns her life according to its core values: boldness, resolution, independence, and horn-blowing.

Treasure Island!!! is the first title in the new Tonga Books imprint, headed by Alice Sebold, author of  The Lovely Bones, and published by Europa Editions.

Jackie says:
"This is about an obsession with a book that goes wayyyyyyy to far.  The 'heroine' of the book (who never gives us her name), a 25 year old just drifting about without any sort of ambition but a history of crappy jobs, gets goaded into reading Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.  She gets swept up in the sense of adventure and decides to live her own life based on what she deems are the 'Core Values' of the book:  Boldness, Resolution, Independence and Horn-Blowing.  And so her own adventure begins--with some hilarious results and no few character quirks that left me alternately wanting to straggle her, laughing out loud or cringing--sometimes all at the same time.  This is another interesting debut novel by an award winning essayist and well worth the time to read in the name of good fun."

Bean's Back, Looking For The Cure

Ender’s Shadow explores the stars in this all-new novel...

At the end of Shadow of the Giant, Bean flees to the stars with three of his children--the three who share the engineered genes that gave him both hyper-intelligence and a short, cruel physical life. The time dilation granted by the speed of their travel gives Earth’s scientists generations to seek a cure, to no avail. In time, they are forgotten--a fading ansible signal speaking of events lost to Earth’s history. But the Delphikis are about to make a discovery that will let them save themselves, and perhaps all of humanity in days to come.

For there in space before them lies a derelict Formic colony ship. Aboard it, they will find both death and wonders--the life support that is failing on their own ship, room to grow, and labs in which to explore their own genetic anomaly and the mysterious disease that killed the ship’s colony.

TC Tidbit: How To Organize Your Book Shelves

from the folks at apartmenttherapy.com

Saturday, January 21, 2012

"Move over Bond and Bourne," says Jackie


A former soldier turned movie star turned spy must stop a catastrophic nuclear weapons deal. 

This gripping thriller from Thomas Caplan propels readers around the globe-from Hollywood to Rome, the Black Sea to the Mediterranean-and to the very brink of nuclear abyss.

The novel's charismatic hero, former covert operative Ty Hunter, has become, almost by accident, the number one film star in the world. When he is recruited on a clandestine mission to thwart the transfer of nuclear warheads into rogue hands, he must deploy every skill he has as an actor, soldier, and spy. Donning his fame as a disguise, Ty matches wits and muscle with the enigmatic billionaire Ian Santal and his nefarious protégé Philip Frost-two supremely sophisticated adversaries- even as he falls in love with the entrancing young woman closest to them both, the jewelry designer Isabella Cavill.

In prose that is both elegant and powerful, The Spy Who Jumped Off the Screen gives us a breakneck parable of good and evil-and a hero in the tradition of James Bond and Jason Bourne, who is sure to become an icon of the genre.

Read an interview with the author about the book, and about his former roommate, Bill Clinton.

Jackie says:
"Move over Bond and Bourne, there's a new badass spy in town.    Meet movie star Ty Hunter, who is actually an ex-special ops kind of guy.  He tracks the nukes, fights the bag guys, loves the girl and generally has one heck of a time that all started with the Cannes Film Festival and a glamorous party on a yacht.  This is fast paced thrill ride and has a definite cinematic quality to it that keeps the pages turning."

It's All About Chance

When Charlotte Rainsford, a retired schoolteacher, is accosted by a petty thief on a London street, the consequences ripple across the lives of acquaintances and strangers alike. A marriage unravels after an illicit love affair is revealed through an errant cell phone message; a posh yet financially strapped interior designer meets a business partner who might prove too good to be true; an old-guard historian tries to recapture his youthful vigor with an ill-conceived idea for a TV miniseries; and a middle-aged central European immigrant learns to speak English and reinvents his life with the assistance of some new friends.

Through a richly conceived and colorful cast of characters, Penelope Lively explores the powerful role of chance in people's lives and deftly illustrates how our paths can be altered irrevocably by someone we will never even meet. Brought to life in her hallmark graceful prose and full of keen insights into human nature, How It All Began is an engaging, contemporary tale that is sure to strike a chord with her legion of loyal fans as well as new readers. A writer of rare wisdom, elegance, and humor, Lively is a consummate storyteller whose gifts are on full display in this masterful work.

TC Tibit: "Killing Lincoln" To Become a National Geographic Documentary

Read more about that HERE.

About the book:
The anchor of The O'Reilly Factor recounts one of the most dramatic stories in American history—how one gunshot changed the country forever. In the spring of 1865, the bloody saga of America's Civil War finally comes to an end after a series of increasingly harrowing battles. President Abraham Lincoln's generous terms for Robert E. Lee's surrender are devised to fulfill Lincoln's dream of healing a divided nation, with the former Confederates allowed to reintegrate into American society. But one man and his band of murderous accomplices, perhaps reaching into the highest ranks of the U.S. government, are not appeased.

In the midst of the patriotic celebrations in Washington D.C., John Wilkes Booth—charismatic ladies' man and impenitent racist—murders Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre. A furious manhunt ensues and Booth immediately becomes the country's most wanted fugitive. Lafayette C. Baker, a smart but shifty New York detective and former Union spy, unravels the string of clues leading to Booth, while federal forces track his accomplices. The thrilling chase ends in a fiery shootout and a series of court-ordered executions—including that of the first woman ever executed by the U.S. government, Mary Surratt. Featuring some of history's most remarkable figures, vivid detail, and page-turning action, Killing Lincoln is history that reads like a thriller.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Jackie says, "This January is a HOT month for YA releases. Here's just a few!"

"This is the second book in the Across the Universe trilogy, and the story moves at a tremendous pace.  Things are more and more unsettled as the population comes off the controlling drub Phydus.  Violence and political unrest are increasing, as is the death count,  and Elder and Amy are in a race to find and figure out mysterious clues left by a now frozen criminal that might help them save the ship.  There are many major revelations as the action ramps up, with one heck of a cliff-hanging conclusion.  Revis picks up exactly where she left off in Across the Universe and does not disappoint."

"This is a fantastically creative sci-fi tale that follows the very basic story line of Cinderella, but with considerable futuristic upgrades that add to the story in a very colorful way.  For instance, Cinder is a cyborg, though she tries to keep that a secret because she's got a tough enough life as it is without dealing with a bunch of cultural disapproval and disdain.  She get's enough of that from her guardian/step-mother and her oldest step-sister (the younger one isn't so bad).  She's the top mechanic in the land, and the family's only real source of support, though at home she's treated more like a servant than a bread-winner.  Then she accidentally meets the Prince, her little step-sister becomes deathly ill with the plague that has ravaged the planet, and Cinder get's sold off to be a medical guinea pig for the cure.  And this is just the beginning of the adventure.  This is the first book of the Lunar Chronicles, and I predict that it is going to be a smash hit.  Luckily, there are three more books coming, Scarlett (2013), Cress (2014) and Winter (2015).  Boy, it's gonna be hard to wait for them!"

"Amanda Hocking is one of those publishing prodigies--she sold over a million copies of her self-published books and has a huge on-line following.  After reading "Switched", now being published by St. Martin's Griffin, I understand why.  This is great stuff.  She has created the world of the Trylle, the modern day, PC, not your Grimm character trolls, who secretly trade their own babies for human babies, then collect them again once they've grown up and have begun to manifest powers.  Trylles have all sorts of possible powers,many related to the natural world, but mixed breeding and young Trylles refusing to remain in the isolated Trylle communities are threatening Trylles everywhere, and the present queen is not going to allow that.  Switched concerns Wendy, a 17 year old who suddenly finds herself in mysterious danger and is whisked away by a Trylle tracker only to find out that she is, in fact, the Princess, and there are many, many expectations placed upon her because of that.  And, it seems, she is one of the most powerful Trylles of all.  Thank heavens Book 2, Thorn, is coming out in February, and Book 3, Ascend, is coming out in April, so we all can find out what happens to the reluctant Princess and her people--human and Trylle."

A New Series Is Born From Old School Crimes

Introducing a new historical crime series that The New York Times Book Review called "CSI: Georgian England" and Tess Gerritsen called "chillingly memorable"

A body in a field. A murder in a music shop. A missing heir to a great estate. These three seemingly separate mysteries prove to be intimately intertwined in Imogen Robertson's thrilling debut novel Instruments of Darkness, an engrossing blend of eighteenth-century history, forensic science, and classic suspense.

The year is 1780. Bold, unconventional navy wife Harriet Westerman finds the body of an unidentified man in the fields of her country manor. The only clues to his death lie in his hand: a torn slip of paper and a ring with the crest of Thornleigh Hall, the neighboring estate. Years ago, the heir to the hall ran away, never to be heard of again, and the family—now only a crippled father, his whorish new wife, and his drunkard son—slowly fell into disrepute. At the same time, London is seized by riots, but widower Alexander Adams has a happy home and a successful music shop. Then, without warning, Adams is murdered in broad daylight—in front of his two young children—and without any apparent motive. Hidden away in the safety of a friend's house, the two children mourn the loss of their father while living in fear that the murderer will return for them.

Determined to solve the murder, Harriet turns to the one person who can help her. Gabriel Crowther—anatomist and recluse—has exactly the scientific knowledge and disregard for the conventions of society needed to uncover the truth. Despite his solitary life, Crowther has an astute understanding of human nature and enjoys the intellectual challenge that the crime presents. This, combined with Harriet's keen empathy and sense of justice, makes them a formidable pair, unrelenting in their pursuit of the truth. Yet their dogged determination unearths more than even they anticipated, threatening to reveal Crowther's own dark secret and risking the security and happiness of Harriet's entire family.

From squires to scullery maids, the grime of London to grand estates, Imogen Robertson has created a world rich in period detail and rife with dramatic tension. She is a brilliant new voice in the world of historical suspense, and with Instruments of Darkness she offers a web of intrigue, false clues, and macabre science, and the novel's shocking final twist will leave readers talking—and clamoring for more.

TC Tidbit: USA Today's List of Books Winter Books To Watch For

read the list HERE.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cathy's Top Ten of 2011 List

Do You Have A Moment?

From the creators of Six-Word Memoirs comes The Moment, a collection of personal stories from writers both famous and obscure revealing how a single instant changed their lives forever. An innocuous decision, an unforeseen accident, a chance conversation, a tag sale, a terrorist strike, a tweet . . . sometimes all it takes is a single moment to redirect the course of an entire life.

The Moment unveils everyday people’s inner lives in narratives of all shapes and sizes, with stories from six to 1,000 words, photographs, comics, illustrations, handwritten letters, and more. It’s enough to change your life forever.

Read an interview with Editor Larry Smith about the book.

Jackie says:
"I'm a huge fan of Larry Smith and the books that he puts out, as well as Smith Magazine.  I was delighted to see this book on my desk a little while back, and I've been sipping from it ever since.  I can only read a few of the 'moments' at a time, because they are sometimes profound, or heart-breaking, or hilarious, and they all need to be savored.  I've also spent a lot of time thinking about the 'moments' in my life,  which one would be THE one, and if I would ever be as brave as these people about sharing it.  This is great book to start out a new year on, though, really, it's a great book PERIOD."