Friday, April 30, 2010
by DuBois, Brendan
A thriller set in an alternate 1972, 10 years after the Cuban missile crisis erupted into a full-blown war that destroyed much of the U.S. and the Soviet Union--killing President Kennedy and Vice-president Johnson, causing massive and long-term power and food shortages, and forcing the U.S. to rely on British and Canadian aid for its very survival. At the center of the action is Carl Landry, a Boston Globe reporter whose investigation of an apparently unremarkable homicide lands him hip-deep in a conspiracy of almost unimaginably large proportions. Like the best alternate-history fiction (Robert Harris' Fatherland), DuBois' tale is a feast for the mind, a what-if story that's so plausible it reads, at times, like nonfiction. In every way, this is a first-rate novel and one that is sure to appeal to a wide variety of readers.- Booklist
A book of cover ups and conspiracies in a United States under martial law. Full of twists and turns, this novel picks up speed around the middle, and does not let go until the final page.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Sometimes a girl, no matter how good of a student she is or how well she follows her parents’ instructions, can get mixed up in the troubles of her friends and family. Set in the Ivory Coast of 1978, Aya follows its namesake character as she does her best to set things straight as people’s intrigues and meddling threaten to force some very dirty secrets out into the open. The book’s blurb says it best: an unpretentious and gently humorous story of an Africa we rarely see—spirited, hopeful and resilient.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
The following is a review from Publisher's Weekley. "Through the last decade the Northern Vermont town of Hardwick, population 3200, gradually evolved into a nationally respected source of "local food" and began to reap benefits. Hewitt, an area resident and family farmer, previously wrote about the area as a potential example of localized agriculture and economics, especially for a population whose residents' median income was below state average. But curiosity and healthy skepticism, along with his own investment, spurred him to this deeper investigation into the local personalities (and characters) driving the movement, and to observe, participate and reflect upon such odiferous activities as pig slaughtering. The resulting blend of analysis and reflection highlights the possibilities and perils of what Hewitt argues will impact the agricultural and economic future for better or worse." (Apr.)
Friday, April 16, 2010
Richard Russo's books are great -- tales told straight-forward about small town American life that are deceptively simple. He's even won the Pulitzer Prize. But his 1997 novel Straight Man remains my favorite. It's a great read and it's laugh-out-loud funny. Hank Devereaux is the chairman of the English department at West Central Pennsylvania University. Office politics in academia, the decay of small cities in the U.S., marriage and family life... this book covers a lot of ground while making you chuckle all the way through.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
The story revolves around Claudia, the daughter of the warden of Incarceron, who does not want to marry the heir to the throne. Because it is a feudal type society, marriages are arranged. The other character, Finn, is imprisoned in Incarceron, an actual dystopia, but believes, due to dreams and a tattoo on his arm, that he was at one time outside the prison's walls. Both Claudia and Finn come into possession of high tech keys to the prison which allow them to see and talk to each other. They begin to plot how to free Finn. But who is Finn, and how did he come to call Incarceron his home? Can Claudia manage to escape the marriage to the lout who is to become King? The mysteries abound and the plot thickens to keep readers so engaged that they will be drooling for the sequel.
This book is found in the Youth section but the complexity of the plot is sure to keep anyone 12 and over engaged. SH
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
by Robert Charles Wilson
One night in October when he was ten years old, Tyler Dupree stood in his back yard and watched the stars go out. They all flared into brilliance at once and then disappeared, replaced by a flat, empty black barrier. He and his best friends, Jason and Diane Lawton, had seen what became known as the Big Blackout.
As Tyler, Jason and Diane grow up space probes reveal a bizarre truth: The barrier is artificial, generated by huge alien artifacts. Time is passing faster outside the barrier than inside. Outside more than a hundred million years is passing for one day on Earth. At this rate, the death throes of the sun are only about forty years in our future. How do you maintain a sense of hope and purpose in a universe where, the more you learn about it, the more it seems to have little or no room for either?
Spin is about how people confront tragedy and face death when death is no longer a distant abstraction but an imminent threat. Some people try live as if nothing has changed. Others react in desperation, fear or hopelessness. Tyler, Jason and Diane each react differently to the impending end of the world.TB
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Miranda is a sixth grader, a latch-key kid, and living with her mother in New York City in 1978. At first I thought it was a bit odd that the author would decide to set the book in a time that is relatively unknown for children--1978 doesn't evoke a historical period dress or even a funny way of speaking, and it isn't likely to be a period of time that they would attach any significant event to. But if you were a parent reading this book to your child you might . . . ah-ha! What I would consider the toughest gig in writing--making it accessible for both children & adults--is achieved. Now all you need is a good story . . . .
Rebecca Stead doesn't disappoint with her story. New York City can be a scary place, especially for a kid who's expected to walk home from school and stay locked in the apartment until mom comes home. And what happens when your best friend, your only friend, who walks home with you every day decides they don't want to be friends anymore? And then you start receiving strange and ominous messages on tiny slips of paper? Whoa, now you've got the reader hooked.
It's not a scary story, though--that's the best part. You're far more concerned about Miranda staying away from the crazy guy who lives with his head under the apartment mailbox, or navigating the shifting friendships that consume the lives of middle schoolers, or helping her mother prep for The $20,000 Pyramid than you are the foreboding notes. The notes are essential to the story--they drive the narrative--but as with all things in life, in order to be believable the main character has to have some real-life stuff happening, especially since the story's resolution is of such a fantastic nature--but I may have said too much already! So do yourself a favor and get the book now, read it with your favorite child (or adult), and marvel at Rebecca Stead's masterful storytelling.