Archive for September, 2010

Traditional Mysteries Making a Come-back

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

Making a come-back are traditional mysteries – with clues to follow, red herrings to confuse, and multiple and diverse suspects.

  A Darker God: a Laetitia Talbot Mystery by Barbara Cleverly

“Aspiring archaeologist and occasional detective Laetitia Talbot returns to 1920s Greece to stop a brutal killer.” (catalog notes)

  Last Nocturne by Marjorie Eccles

“What could make a successful, happily married man take a gun and shoot himself? What made a young artist on the brink of fame throw himself to his death? These are the questions facing Chief Inspector Lamb and his assistant, Detective Sergeant Cogan. All paths seem to lead to the enigmatic figure of Mrs. Isobel Amberley and a mysterious event that took place one winter’s night in Vienna.” (catalog notes)

  Hazard by Gardiner Harris

“A down-trodden inspector investigates a deadly accident in a coal mine in a town where everyone is protecting a secret he might now want to uncover.” (catalog notes)

  The Fourth Assassin: an Omar Yussef Mystery by Matt Beynon Rees

“The relentless cycle of violence and retribution follows Palestinian detective Omar Yussef to New York City, where he must deliver a speech at the U.N. on schooling in the Palestinian refugee camps, in Rees’s excellent fourth mystery.  When Yussef’s son, Ala, is arrested after a decapitated body is found in Ala’s Brooklyn apartment, Yussef’s search for the real killer leads him from Atlantic Avenue to Coney Island and back to the U.N. Secretariat.” (catalog notes)

  City of Dragons: a San Francisco Mystery by Kelli Stanley

What is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

Voted Amazon’s Best Book of the month for July 2010, this novel, set in Nova Scotia, deals with a father who has long been separated from his daughter. Wyatt Hillyer aging and alone wonders what legacy he can leave his daughter, Marlais. He decides to record his memoirs in a letter to her. His memoirs disclose the tragedies in his life that resulted in Marlais’ mother leaving Nova Scotia with their daughter. The novel describes life in Nova Scotia at the start of World War II and the fear of its inhabitants of threats from German U Boats. This is a steadily paced, clear and precise story. Well plotted with real characters and reference to actual historical events its combination of  tragedy and hope reflects a series of events that could have happened.

Bibliography to 2010

Novels
The Northern Lights (1988)
The Bird Artist (1994)
The Museum Guard (1998)
The Haunting of L (2002)
Devotion (2007)
What Is Left the Daughter (2010)

Collections
The Wishing Bone Cycle (poems) (1982)
Kiss in the Hotel (1989)
Northern Tales (1990)
The Girl Who Dreamed Only Geese (1997)
The Chauffeur (2002)
Between Heaven and Earth (2004)

Nonfiction
How Glooskap Outwits the Ice Giants (1989)
Trickster and the Fainting Birds (1999)
My Famous Evening (2004)
In Fond Remembrance of Me (2005)

Bibliography source: fantasticfiction.com

The Facebook Effect

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

  The Facebook Effect: the Inside Story of the Company that is Connecting the World by David Kirkpatrick (Find this boook in our catalog)

If you liked Accidental Billionaires, the story of the founding of Facebook, you will probably enjoy this.  This is what it says in our catalog:  “…Veteran technology reporter David Kirkpatrick had the full cooperation of Facebook’s key executives in researching this fascinating history of the company and its impact on our lives. Kirkpatrick tells us how Facebook was created, why it has flourished, and where it is going next. He chronicles its successes and missteps, and gives readers the most complete assessment anywhere of founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, the central figure in the company’s remarkable ascent. This is the Facebook story that can be found nowhere else.How did a nineteen-year-old Harvard student create a company that has transformed the Internet and how did he grow it to its current enormous size? Kirkpatrick shows how Zuckerberg steadfastly refused to compromise his vision, insistently focusing on growth over profits and preaching that Facebook must dominate (his word) communication on the Internet. In the process, he and a small group of key executives have created a company that has changed social life in the United States and elsewhere, a company that has become a ubiquitous presence in marketing, altering politics, business, and even our sense of our own identity. This is the Facebook Effect.”

Book to Movie – The Social Network

Monday, September 27th, 2010

  The Social Network, based on the book The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal by Ben Mezrich (Find this book in our catalog), opens this Friday, October 1.  Jesse Eisenberg stars as Mark Zuckerberg, the Harvard student who achieved fame, wealth and controversy after creating Facebook.

This is what it says about the book in our catalog: “The high-energy tale of how two socially awkward Ivy Leaguers, trying to increase their chances with the opposite sex, ended up creating Facebook. Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg were Harvard undergraduates and best friends–outsiders at a school filled with polished prep-school grads and long-time legacies. They shared both academic brilliance in math and a geeky awkwardness with women. Eduardo figured their ticket to social acceptance–and sexual success–was getting invited to join one of the university’s Final Clubs, a constellation of elite societies that had groomed generations of the most powerful men in the world and ranked on top of the inflexible hierarchy at Harvard. Mark, with less of an interest in what the campus alpha males thought of him, happened to be a computer genius of the first order. Which he used to find a more direct route to social stardom: one lonely night, Mark hacked into the university’s computer system, creating a ratable database of all the female students on campus–and subsequently crashing the university’s servers and nearly getting himself kicked out of school. In that moment, in his Harvard dorm room, the framework for Facebook was born. What followed–a real-life adventure filled with slick venture capitalists, stunning women, and six-foot-five-inch identical-twin Olympic rowers–makes for one of the most entertaining and compelling books of the year. Before long, Eduardo’s and Mark’s different ideas about Facebook created in their relationship faint cracks, which soon spiraled into out-and-out warfare. The collegiate exuberance that marked their collaboration fell prey to the adult world of lawyers and money. The great irony is that while Facebook succeeded by bringing people together, its very success tore two best friends apart.”

HCPL also has available the audiobook, both on CD and downloadable.

Epistolatory Fiction

Friday, September 24th, 2010

If you liked the fact that The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows (Find this book in our catalog) is a story that unfolds through letters, you might like these stories also based on letters and diary entries.

   The Pull of the Moon by Elizabeth Berg

“Uncomfortable with the fit of her life, now that she’s in the middle of it, Nan gets into her car and just goes – driving across the country on back roads, following the moon; and stopping to talk to people.  Through conversations with women, men, with her husband through letters, and with herself through her diary, Nan confronts topics long overdue for her attention.” (from our catalog notes)

  We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

Two years before the opening of the novel, Eva’s son, Kevin, murdered seven of his fellow high school students, a cafeteria worker, and the much-beloved teacher who had tried to befriend him.  Now Kevin is currently in a prison for young offenders in upstate New York.  In trying to make sense of what happened Eva addresses her estranged husband, Frank, through a series of startingly direct letters.  She relates the story of Kevin’s upbringing, fearing that her own shortcomings may have shaped what her son became.  She confesses to a deep, long-standing ambivalence about both motherhood in general – and Kevin in particular. How much is her fault?  (from the book jacket)

  The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver

“Harrison William Shepherd, the product of a divorced American father and a Mexican mother. After getting kicked out of his American military academy, Harrison spends his formative years in Mexico in the 1930s in the household of Diego Rivera; his wife, Frida Kahlo; and their houseguest, Leon Trotsky, who is hiding from Soviet assassins. After Trotsky is assassinated, Harrison returns to the U.S., settling down in Asheville, N.C., where he becomes an author of historical potboilers (e.g., Vassals of Majesty) and is later investigated as a possible subversive. Narrated in the form of letters, diary entries and newspaper clippings, the novel takes a while to get going, but once it does, it achieves a rare dramatic power that reaches its emotional peak when Harrison wittily and eloquently defends himself before the House Un-American Activities Committee.”  (from the Publishers Weekly review in our catalog)

  Homeland by Barbara Hambly

“As brother turns against brother in the bloodbath of the Civil War, two young women sacrifice everything but their friendship. Susanna Ashford is the Southerner, living on a plantation surrounded by scarred and blood-soaked battlefields. Cora Poole is the Northerner, on an isolated Maine island, her beloved husband fighting for the Confederacy. Through the letters the two women exchange, they speak of the ordeal of a familiar world torn apart by tragedy. And yet their unique friendship will help mend the fabric of a ravaged nation. The two women write about books and art, about loss and longing, about their future and the future of their country. About love. About being a woman in nineteenth-century America. About the triumphant resilience of the human spirit. Their voices and their stories are delineated in indomitable prose by an award-winning writer who captures in intimate detail a singular moment in time.”  (from our catalog notes)

  The Letters by Luanne Rice and Joseph Monninger

“In this unique collaborative novel, “New York Times” bestselling author Rice and fellow author and friend Monninger create a couple’s emotional journey as revealed through fictional letters.”  (cataolg notes) A husband and wife, after separation and the death of their adult son, explore what their marriage has meant and means to them both.

Historical Whodunits

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

  Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin

“A chilling, mesmerizing novel that combines the best of modern forensic thrillers with the detail and drama of historical fiction. In medieval Cambridge, England, four children have been murdered. The crimes are immediately blamed on the town’s Jewish community, taken as evidence that Jews sacrifice Christian children in blasphemous ceremonies. To save them from the rioting mob, the king places the Cambridge Jews under his protection and hides them in a castle fortress. . . Without the taxes received from Jewish merchants, his treasuries would go bankrupt. Hoping scientific investigation will exonerate the Jews, Henry calls on his cousin the King of Sicily-whose subjects include the best medical experts in Europe-and asks for his finest “master of the art of death,” an early version of the medical examiner. The Italian doctor chosen for the task is a young prodigy from the University of Salerno. But her name is Adelia-the king has been sent a mistressof the art of death. . . As Adelia’s investigation takes her into Cambridge’s shadowy river paths and behind the closed doors of its churches and nunneries, the hunt intensifies and the killer prepares to strike again . . .” (from our catalog notes)

  Absolution by Murder: a Sister Fidelma Mystery by Peter Tremayne

“An ecclesiastical conclave to settle major divisions between the Roman and Celtic branch of Christianity is held at Whitby in 664. When a major proponent of the Celtic way, the Abbess of Kildare, is murdered, Sister Fidelma, a fellow Celtic follower and legally trained scholar, is asked to investigate. She is paired with her ideological opposite, Brother Eadulf, on the Roman side, who is shrewd, highly educated and immediately smitten with the outspoken sister.”  (from the Publishers Weekly review in our catalog)

  Medicus: a Novel of the Roman Empire by Ruth Downie

“Gaius Petrius Ruso is a divorced and down-on-his luck army doctor who has made the rash decision to seek his fortune in an inclement outpost of the Roman Empire, namely Britannia. When he rescues an injured slave girl, she drags trouble in her wake.”  (catalog notes)

  The Novice’s tale: a Sister Frevisse Medieval Mystery by Margaret Frazer

“The arrival of lusty, blaspheming dowager Lady Ermentrude at St. Frideswide convent in 1431 causes quite a stir, but before the obnoxious woman can get what she came for–her niece, the novice Thomasine–she is murdered.”  (notes from publisher)

More Intepid Explorers

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

These are  tales of obsession and quests for lost cities and fabulous treasures.

  The Lost City of Z : a tale of deadly obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

  Exploration Fawcett : journey to the lost city of Z by Percy Fawcett ; arranged from his manuscripts, letters, log-books, and records by Brian Fawcett

  The Race for Timbuktu: in search of Africa’s city of gold by Frank T. Kryza

  Barrow’s Boys: a stirring story of daring, fortitude, and outright lunacy by Fergus Fleming

  Sea of Glory: America’s voyage of discovery: the U.S. Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842 by Nathaniel Philbrick

  River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s darkest journey by Candice Millard

Baltimore Book Festival

Monday, September 20th, 2010

The 15th Annual Baltimore Book Festival will take place on Mount Vernon Place, Baltimore on September 24, 25, and 26.  Read more….

In 2010, the 15th annual Baltimore Book Festival will welcome more than 225 celebrity, nationally known and local authors including Holly Robinson Peete, Rodney Peete, Barbara Bradley Hagerty, Nigel Barker, Ree Drummond, Michele Norris, Sherri Sheppard, Judge Glenda Hatchett, Jesse Ventura, Warrent St. John, Amy Dickinson (“Ask Amy”) and Matt & Ted Lee

The Children’s Bookstore Stage is once again to be packed with favorite authors and illustrators.  Highlights include: Judith Viorst, Michael Buckley, Peter Earnest, Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier and Carrie Ryan.

Freedom by Franzen

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

An author finds himself on the cover of Time Magazine, in the middle of a media scrum about his fat new novel.  No pressure, eh?  But Jonathan Franzen can relax.  He’s done all right with Freedom, an exercise in the sort of intelligent upper-middle-class sociology that is both at home on the best-seller list and safe to discuss at a dinner party of Swarthmore grads.  While he may never room for eternity with Faulkner or Fitzgerald in the canonical House of Fiction, he’s earned his strut in the sun here in the land of twenty second attention spans.

As he did in The Corrections, Franzen has conjured a family that comes alive and squirms free of the sometimes programmatic framework the author has built for them. Progressive, high-minded people who probably mirror Franzen’s own political views but are so ornery and insufferable they’ve got to be those real-life neighbors you can’t stand.  And their pain is real, too.  The reader’s nose, if it was inclined to be elevated at the start of the narrative, drops lower and lower as this family unravels.  Things take a heartening, Oprah-esque turn in the final pages, and while a curmudgeon might withhold approval (bah, humbug!) the redemption is arguably earned.

Bottom line:  read it.  It’s worth your time.

A Reader from Tacoma Park

New and Forthcoming True Crime

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

  Scoundrels in Law: the trials of Howe & Hummel, lawyers to the gangsters, cops, starlets, and rakes who made the Gilded Age by Cait Murphy

“Scoundrels in Law offers an inside look at crime and punishment in the nineteenth century, and a whirlwind tour of the Gilded Age. Gangsters and con men. Spurned mistresses and wandering husbands. Strippers and Broadway royalty. Cat killers and spiritualists. These were the friends and clients of Howe & Hummel, the most famous (and famously rotten) law firm in nineteenth-century America.” (catalog notes)

  Fall of the House of Walworth: a tale of murder and madness in Saratoga’s Guilded Age by Geoffrey O’Brien

“A spellbinding tale of madness and murder in a 19th-century American dynasty.” (catalog notes)

  The Girls of Murder City: fame, lust, and the beautiful killers who inspired Chicago by Douglas Perry

“Perry vividly captures Jazz Age Chicago to tell the true story of the murderesses who became media sensations and inspired the musical “Chicago.” (catalog notes)