Archive for January, 2012

Charles Dickens at 200

Monday, January 30th, 2012

February 7 is Charles Dickens’s 200th birthday.  Britain is going bonkers!   On this side of the Atlantic we are also seeing a plethora of tributes to Britain’s first literary superstar; for instance, a new film adaptation of  Great Expectations is slated to hit the big screen this year.

Why not try these titles from the library in honor of Dickens’ birthday?

  Becoming Dickens: the invention of a novelist by Robert Douglas-Fairhurst (Find in our catalog)

Summary in our catalog:  “Becoming Dickens tells the story of how an ambitious young Londoner became England’s greatest novelist. In following the twists and turns of Charles Dickens’s early career, Robert Douglas-Fairhurst examines a remarkable double transformation: in reinventing himself Dickens reinvented the form of the novel. It was a high-stakes gamble, and Dickens never forgot how differently things could have turned out. Like the hero of Dombey and Son, he remained haunted by “what might have been, and what was not.” In his own lifetime, Dickens was without rivals. He styled himself simply “The Inimitable.” But he was not always confident about his standing in the world. From his traumatized childhood to the suicide of his first collaborator and the sudden death of the woman who had a good claim to being the love of his life, Dickens faced powerful obstacles. Before settling on the profession of novelist, he tried his hand at the law and journalism, considered a career in acting, and even contemplated emigrating to the West Indies. Yet with The Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist , and a groundbreaking series of plays, sketches, and articles, he succeeded in turning every potential breakdown into a breakthrough. Douglas-Fairhurst’s provocative new biography, focused on the 1830s, portrays a restless and uncertain Dickens who could not decide on the career path he should take and would never feel secure in his considerable achievements.” 

  Charles Dickens: a life by Claire Tomalin (Find in our catalog)

Summary in our catalog:  “The tumultuous life of England’s greatest novelist, beautifully rendered by unparalleled literary biographer Claire Tomalin. When Charles Dickens died in 1870, The Times of London successfully campaigned for his burial in Westminster Abbey, the final resting place of England’s kings and heroes. Thousands flocked to mourn the best recognized and loved man of nineteenth-century England. His books had made them laugh, shown them the squalor and greed of English life, and also the power of personal virtue and the strength of ordinary people. In his last years Dickens drew adoring crowds to his public appearances, had met presidents and princes, and had amassed a fortune. Like a hero from his novels, Dickens trod a hard path to greatness. Born into a modest middle-class family, his young life was overturned when his profligate father was sent to debtors’ prison and Dickens was forced into harsh and humiliating factory work. Yet through these early setbacks he developed his remarkable eye for all that was absurd, tragic, and redemptive in London life. He set out to succeed, and with extraordinary speed and energy made himself into the greatest English novelist of the century. Years later Dickens’s daughter wrote to the author George Bernard Shaw, “If you could make the public understand that my father was not a joyous, jocose gentleman walking about the world with a plum pudding and a bowl of punch, you would greatly oblige me.” Seen as the public champion of household harmony, Dickens tore his own life apart, betraying, deceiving, and breaking with friends and family while he pursued an obsessive love affair. Charles Dickens: A Life gives full measure to Dickens’s heroic stature-his huge virtues both as a writer and as a human being- while observing his failings in both respects with an unblinking eye. Renowned literary biographer Claire Tomalin crafts a story worthy of Dickens’s own pen, a comedy that turns to tragedy as the very qualities that made him great-his indomitable energy, boldness, imagination, and showmanship-finally destroyed him. The man who emerges is one of extraordinary contradictions, whose vices and virtues were intertwined as surely as his life and his art.”

  Drood: a novel by Dan Simmons (Find in our catalog)

Summary in our catalog:  “Based on the historical details of Charles Dickens’ life, “Drood” explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author’s last years and may provide the key to his final, unfinished work: “The Mystery of Edwin Drood”.”  “On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens — at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world — hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever . Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums of London and his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterraneanLondon-mere research . . . or something more terrifying? Just as he did in The Terror , Dan Simmons draws impeccably from history to create a gloriously engaging and terrifying narrative. Based on the historical details of Charles Dickens’s life and narrated by Wilkie Collins (Dickens’s friend, frequent collaborator, and Salieri-style secret rival), DROOD explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author’s last years and may provide the key to Dickens’s final, unfinished work: The Mystery of Edwin Drood. Chilling, haunting, and utterly original, DROOD is Dan Simmons at his powerful best.”


Family Fiction You May Have Missed

Thursday, January 26th, 2012

  American Music by Jane Mendelsohn (Find this book in our catalog)

Summary:  “From the author ofI Was Amelia Earhart,a luminous love story that winds through several generations-told in Jane Mendelsohn’s distinctive, mesmerizing style. At its center: Milo, a severely wounded veteran of the Iraq war confined to a rehabilitation hospital, and Honor, his physical therapist. When Honor touches Milo’s destroyed back, mysterious images from the past appear to each of them, puzzling her and shaking him to the core. As Milo’s treatment progresses, the images begin to weave together in an intricate, mysterious tapestry of stories. There are Joe and Pearl, a husband and wife in the 1930s, whose marriage is tested by Pearl’s bewitching artistic cousin, Vivian. There is the heartrending story of a woman photographer in the 1960s and the shocking theft of her life’s work. And the story of a man and woman in seventeenth-century Turkey-a eunuch and a sultan’s concubine-whose forbidden love is captured in music. The stories converge in a symphonic crescendo that reveals the far-flung origins of America’s endlessly romantic soul and exposes the source of Honor and Milo’s own love. A beautiful mystery and a meditation on love-its power and limitations-American Musicis a brilliantly original novel.”

  The Perfect Reader by Maggie Pouncey (Find this book in our catalog)

Summary:  “In this delightful debut novel, a daughter of a quaint New England college town returns to confront her father’s legacy and the surprising pieces of life he has left behind. Maggie Pouncey has created an unforgettable charac­ter in the young, headstrong, and quick-witted Flora Dempsey, the only child of Lewis Dempsey, beloved former college president and a famous academic in the league of Harold Bloom. On hearing the news of her father’s death, Flora hastily quits her big-city magazine job and returns to her hometown to in­habit his house. But even weightier is her appoint­ment as her father’s literary execututor:  it seems he was secretly writing poems at the end of his life-love poems, to a girlfriend Flora didn’t even know he had. Suddenly besieged by well-wishers and literary blog­gers alike, Flora has no choice but to figure out how to navigate it all: the fate of the poems, her relation­ship with the girlfriend who wants a place in her life, her memories of her parents’ divorce, and her own uncertain future. At once comic and profound, Perfect Reader is a heady, uplifting story of loneliness and of the spur to growth that grief can be. Brimming with life, and with the elbow-patchy wisdom and energy of her still-vivid father, Flora’s story will set her free to be the “perfect reader” not only of her father’s life but of her own life as well.”

  Abide With Me: a Novel by Elizabeth Strout (Find this book in our catalog)

Summary:  “In the late 1950s, in the small town of West Annett, Maine, a minister struggles to regain his calling, his family, and his happiness in the wake of profound loss. At the same time, the community he has served so charismatically must come to terms with its own strengths and failings-faith and hypocrisy, loyalty and abandonment-when a dark secret is revealed. Tyler Caskey has come to love West Annett, “just up the road” from where he was born. The short, brilliant summers and the sharp, piercing winters fill him with awe-as does his congregation, full of good people who seek his guidance and listen earnestly as he preaches. But after suffering a terrible loss, Tyler finds it hard to return to himself as he once was. He hasn’t had The Feeling-that God is all around him, in the beauty of the world-for quite some time. He struggles to find the right words in his sermons and in his conversations with those facing crises of their own, and to bring his five-year-old daughter, Katherine, out of the silence she has observed in the wake of the family’s tragedy. A congregation that had once been patient and kind during Tyler’s grief now questions his leadership and propriety. In the kitchens, classrooms, offices, and stores of the village, anger and gossip have started to swirl. And in Tyler’s darkest hour, a startling discovery will test his congregation’s humanity-and his own will to endure the kinds of trials that sooner or later test us all. In prose incandescent and artful, Elizabeth Strout draws readers into the details of ordinary life in a way that makes it extraordinary. All is considered-life, love, God, and community-within these pages, and all is made new by this writer’s boundless compassion and graceful prose.”

  The Year That Follows by Scott Lasser (Find this book in our catalog)

Summary:  “The story of a woman’s search for her brother’s lost son, orphaned in the wake of his sudden death, drives Scott Lasser’s riveting new novel–a work of stunning economy and momentum about a woman’s quest and a family’s longing for wholeness and completion. Cat is a single mother living in Detroit when her brother is killed in New York, and she sets off in search of his child. Her search is still under way when she gets a call from her father. Sam is eighty and carrying the weight of a secret he has kept from her all her life. He asks Cat to visit him in California, intending to make his peace. Cat’s journey–toward her father, and her brother’s infant son–and Sam’s journey toward his daughter, his lost son, and a new relationship to both his future and his past are woven into this superbly realized novel about families and the mysteries and ambiguities that inhere in our most primal relations. The result is a deeply stirring work that explores the complexities of home and heritage, and the bonds that even death is powerless to diminish.”


The Aristocrat’s Lady by Mary Moore

Tuesday, January 24th, 2012

  The Aristocrat’s Lady by Mary Moore (Find in our catalog).  Moving about in London at the height of the social season is difficult at the best of times but add an personal accident then it seems nearly impossible to do.  Nicole has endured an accident that is not readily apparent.  She has learned with the help of a faithful servant, Toby, and her mother and sister navigate the ins and outs of society.

While taking a breath of fresh air on the terrace while at a ball she and her mother are attending she meets Lord Devlin. Lord Devlin is a well-known notorious flirt who sees only her beauty and wants to know her better.

Because of Nicole’s secret she believes God has prepared her to never marry, but still she enjoys this time of getting to know Lord Devlin.  Nicole also wonders how and when she should tell him of her devastating secret.  This secret has already turned one man from her.  As Lord Devlin, who has been hurt in the past by distrust, tries to learn more about  Nicole Beaumont he senses that despite her wit and outspokenness she is hiding something.

Will the Aristocrat’s Lady’s devastating secret be a blow to both of their futures, or will God bring them to a second chance at forgiveness, faith, trust and love?  Let Mary Moore’s novel lead you down the path of second chances and love and a new beginning.

Posted by Christy

Deadly Pursuit by Irene Hannon

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

  Deadly Pursuit by Irene Hannon (Find in our catalog).  Alison is almost completely recovered from a car accident that has left her with a limp. Then big brother Cole asks her to help out his new partner Mitch Morgan by being his date for a family event. Letting her weakness to help people in need get the better of her she agrees to this one time date.

Meanwhile, between disturbing telephone calls and packages left on her doorstep Alison believes someone is stalking her for some unknown reason. Cole thinks it might do with one of her child protection cases. When her tormentor’s attention gets a bit more personal and violent Alison decides there is a need to do more than ignore the calls and packages and finally asks for help. Her faith in God has gotten her thru most situations but this seems to need a more physical intervention.

To the rescue come Cole and Mitch. As Alison and Mitch work closely together to discover who and why this person is doing this their attraction for each other grows. Mitch discovers that keeping Alison safe is more than just a job; his future happiness may depend upon on it. Can love and romance bloom as they sort through God’s plans for them and work out the stalker’s motives before it’s too late?

Posted by Christy

Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master

Friday, January 20th, 2012

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America have announced that Connie Willis will be honored with this year’s Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award for her contributions to the literature of science fiction and fantasy.

Willis is the author of 15 novels and more than 50 short stories and novellas. Her many prizes include seven Nebulas, eleven Hugos and four Locus awards.  Check out these books of hers from the Harford County Public Library:

  All Clear

When three Oxford historians become unexpectedly trapped in 1940, they struggle not only to find their way home but to survive as Hitler’s bombers attempt to pummel London into submission. Meanwhile, in 2060 Oxford, the historians’ supervisor and seventeen-year-old Colin Templer are engaged in a frantic and seemingly impossible struggle to find them.


When a time-travel lab suddenly cancels assignments for no apparent reason and switches around everyone’s schedules, time-traveling historians Michael, Merope, and Polly find themselves in World War II, facing air raids, blackouts, unexploded bombs, dive-bombing Stukas, rationing, shrapnel, V-1s, and two of the most incorrigible children in all of history–to say nothing of a growing feeling that not only their assignments but the war and history itself are spiraling out of control.

  Inside Job

“In Willis’s charming tale of the paranormal, Rob, a professional skeptic, and Kildy, his too-good-to-be-true ex-actress sidekick, try to debunk a psychic channeler, who just might be hosting the spirit of legendary skeptic H.L. Mencken. Willis fans will find the funny, snappy narrative familiar, from the “how can you not know I’m in love with you” relationship to the quick-witted social commentary. Apt quotations from Mencken or Inherit the Wind, Jerome Lawrence and Robert E. Lee’s play inspired by the Scopes trial, which Mencken reported, head each chapter. While not as tightly woven as one of Willis’s typical short stories nor as layered as her novels (Passage, etc.), this novella is still highly enjoyable, somewhat educational and will leave readers happy at the end.” Agent, Ralph Vicinanza. (June 24) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beauman

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

  Rebecca’s Tale by Sally Beauman (Find this book in our catalog)

With the runaway popularity of the second series of the TV period drama Downton Abbey now halfway through on PBS has come a renewed interest in all things English country house.  The rituals and traditions of all the people in a great house from the chatelaine to the boot boy hold endless fascination, and so does the back story of the decline of the English aristocracy, beginning in the Edwardian era and continuing to the final throes of the great estates immediately after WWII.

Rebecca’s Tale, a retelling of the story of Rebecca de Winter, and the great Cornish house of Manderley first imagined by Daphne du Maurier in 1938 in her novel, Rebecca, should please all lovers of tales of a bygone and elegant era, when people of all classes were bound by convention yet the privileged often lived a life of frenetic dissipation as all they knew of the world slipped away.

Rebecca’s Tale is set in 1951, the beginning of the end of the class system after the Second World War, and it looks back through the eyes of several witnesses to the events of 1927, the year Rebecca de Winter, mistress of the legendary country house, Manderley died in a mysterious boating accident.  In this version her husband, Maxim de Winter was exonerated by the coroner for all blame in Rebecca’s death. A verdict of suicide was returned, but local gossip has always maintained that  Maxim must have had more to do with it, given the scandal surrounding Rebecca’s lifestyle.  The magistrate at the time was Colonel Julyan.  He is now severely ailing and living in a clifftop house in seclusion with his daughter, Ellie.  Ellie is devoted to her father and has given up all her ambitions to look after him.  Though she does not resent this she is very lonely.  Readers will enjoy the many ways this book subtly explores the nature of love.  At the same time there is a very gothic feel to the way it explores the various obsessions of its characters.

Colonel Julyan has always been obsesed by Rebecca.  In many ways has had his life ruined by his friendship with her – his reputation was besmirched when he did not do enough in many people’s eyes to get to the bottom of Rebecca’s death.  He has the reputation for knowing more than he will say - about her origins, her secret life and her death - and rumor has it that he has an extensive archive of evidentiary documents.  Over the years he has refused to talk to journalists who have come to research the legendary socialite and hostess Rebecca’s life and death; but the burden of the past  is starting to make him ill, so he decides to cooperate with a smart new researcher who has come to the little Cornish town.  In the middle of their negotiations about what will be revealed, a series of mysterious parcels starts to arrive containing installments of Rebecca’s own diary.  Who has sent them and do they truly Reveal Rebecca’s thoughts and motives?  Was she lying yet again in this diary supposed to reveal her true self as a legacy to her unborn child? Rebecca is not the only one who conceals her identity under layers of obfuscation and partial truths.  Who is Thomas Grey, the young journalist, for instance, and what is the real reason for his obsession with Rebecca?

Through the eyes of the different protagonists readers will enjoy learning about the mystery that was Rebecca.  They will be thrilled to learn that there are many more secrets than the secrets of Rebecca’s death.  Throughout it all, as in the original novel, Rebecca, the grand house of Manderley looms, a potent and haunted force even in ruin.


Books Feature in Golden Globe Wins

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

  At the Golden Globe awards this past Sunday, January 15, the influence of books was much in evidence.  The Descendants, based on the book by Kaui Hart Hemmings (find the book in our catalog), won best drama motion picture and best actor (George Clooney).

The summary of the book in our catalog:  “Narrated in a bold, fearless, hilarious voice and set against the lush, panoramic backdrop of Hawaii, The Descendants is a stunning debut novel about an unconventional family forced to come together and re-create its own legacy. Matthew King was once considered one of the most fortunate men in Hawaii. His missionary ancestors were financially and culturally progressive-one even married a Hawaiian princess, making Matt a royal descendant and one of the state’s largest landowners. Now his luck has changed. His two daughters are out of control: Ten-year-old Scottie is a smart-ass with a desperate need for attention, and seventeen-year-old Alex, a former model, is a recovering drug addict. Matt’s charismatic, thrill-seeking, high-maintenance wife, Joanie, lies in a coma after a boat-racing accident and will soon be taken off life support. The Kings can hardly picture life without her, but as they come to terms with this tragedy, their sadness is mixed with a sense of freedom that shames them-and spurs them into surprising actions. Before honoring Joanie’s living will, Matt must gather her friends and family to say their final goodbyes, a difficult situation made worse by the sudden discovery that there is one person who hasn’t been told: the man with whom Joanie had been having an affair, quite possibly the one man she ever truly loved. Forced to examine what he owes not only to the living but to the dead, Matt takes to the road with his daughters to find his wife’s lover, a memorable journey that leads to both painful revelations and unforeseen humor and growth.” From the Hardcover edition.

Other winners involving films and series that began with books were:  Best director: Martin Scorsese for Hugo, based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

 Best animated feature film: The Adventures of Tintin, based on the graphic novels by Herge

Best actress in a comedy or musical: Michelle Williams for My Week with Marilyn, based on the book by Colin Clark.

Best actor in a series made for TV: Peter Dinklage  in Game of Thrones, based on the book by George R.R. Martin.

Best actress in a motion picture made for TV: Kate Winslet in Mildred Pierce, based on the novel by James M. Cain.

Best supporting actress: Octavia Spencer for The Help, based on the book by Kathryn Stockett.


Thrillers You May Have Missed

Friday, January 13th, 2012

  Plea of Insanity by Jilliane Hoffman

Summary: “The prosecutor-Julia Valenciano. Young and ambitious, and facing a case that could launch her career. The defendant-David Marquette. A successful Miami surgeon and devoted family man. The victims-Marquette’s own wife and three small children. The plea-Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity. The perfect father and model husband, David Marquette seemingly just snapped. His experienced defense team claims paranoid delusions caused by schizophrenia drove him to slaughter his entire family. But the state suspects Marquette’s insanity defense is being fabricated to disguise murders that were cold blooded and calculated. Worse, Julia believes Marquette could be responsible for a string of unsolved, brutal homicides. Could he be one of the most prolific and elusive serial killers in the country’s history? To bring him to justice, Julia must embark on a terrifying personal journey back into her own past-something she has struggled to forget for fifteen years. And this will lead her to confront a future so chilling, she’s not sure she will ever be able to face it… Plea of Insanity confirms Jilliane Hoffman as a major thriller writer at the peak of her powers.”

  The Shimmer by David Morrell

Summary: “When a high-speed chase goes terribly wrong, Santa Fe police officer Dan Page watches in horror as a car and gas tanker explode into flames. Torn with guilt that he may be responsible, Page returns home to discover that his wife, Tori, has disappeared. Frantic, Page follows her trail to Rostov, a remote town in Texas famous for a massive astronomical observatory, a long-abandoned military base, and unexplained nighttime phenomena that draw onlookers from every corner of the globe. Many of these gawkers–Tori among them–are compelled to visit this tiny community to witness the mysterious Rostov Lights. Without warning, a gunman begins firing on the lights, screaming “Go back to hell where you came from,” then turns his rifle on the bystanders. A bloodbath ensues, and events quickly spiral out of control, setting the stage for even greater violence and death. Page must solve the mystery of the Rostov Lights to save his wife. In the process, he learns that the decaying military base may not be abandoned at all, and that the government may have known about the lights for decades. Could these phenomena be more dangerous than anyone could have possibly imagined?

  Diamondhead by Patrick Robinson

Summary: “When Navy SEAL Mack Bedford’s fellow officers are brutally killed by Iraqi insurgents using a devastating, new anti-tank Diamondhead missile, Mack avenges their murders by gunning down the then unarmed attackers, ultimately getting himself court-martialed and kicked out of the Navy in the process. To make matters worse, Mack then learns that the Diamondhead missiles were sold illegally by French industrialist and infamous politician Henri Foche. Mack suspects that Foche will succeed in his campaign to become the next French President, and fears that his election will result in the spread of international terrorism. In addition, Mack has a gravely ill son whose life can only be saved by an experimental and unaffordable foreign medical procedure. So when the town’s shipbuilding magnate asks Mack to help assassinate Henri Foche, Mack finds himself agreeing. His reward is a chance at survival for both his son and his hometown.”

  Empire of Lies by Andrew Klavan

Summary: “Sustained by a deep religious faith, Jason Harrow has built a stable family and become a pillar of principle and patriotism in the Midwest. Then the phone rings, and his past is on the other end of the line. A woman with whom he once shared a life of violence and desire claims her daughter is missing–and Jason is the one man who can find her. Returning to New York City, Jason finds himself entangled in a murderous conspiracy only he can see and only he can stop–a plot that bizarrely links his private passions to the turmoil of a world at war. Hunted by terrorists and by the police, Jason has only hours to unravel an ex-lover’s lies and face the unbearable truth: In order to prevent a savage attack on his country, he’s going to have to risk his decency, his sanity, and his life.”


Popular Science – Explore the Future in your New Year’s Reading

Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

  The Edge of Physics: a journey to Earth’s extremes to unlock the secrets of the universe by Anil Ananthaswamy

Summary: “In this deeply original book, science writer Anil Ananthaswamy sets out in search of the telescopes and detectors that promise to answer the biggest questions in modern cosmology. Why is the universe expanding at an ever faster rate? What is the nature of the “dark matter” that makes up almost a quarter of the universe? Why does the universe appear fine-tuned for life? Are there others besides our own? Ananthaswamy soon finds himself at the ends of the earth–in remote and sometimes dangerous places. Take the Atacama Desert in the Chilean Andes, one of the coldest, driest places on the planet, where not even a blade of grass can survive. Its spectacularly clear skies and dry atmosphere allow astronomers to gather brilliant images of galaxies billions of light-years away. Ananthaswamy takes us inside the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope on Mount Paranal, where four massive domes open to the sky each night “like dragons waking up.” He also takes us deep inside an abandoned iron mine in Minnesota, where half-mile-thick rock shields physicists as they hunt for elusive dark matter particles. And to the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, where engineers are drilling 1.5 miles into the clearest ice on the planet. They’re building the world’s largest neutrino detector, which could finally help reconcile quantum physics with Einstein’s theory of general relativity. The stories of the people who work at these and other dramatic research sites–from Lake Baikal in Siberia to the Indian Astronomical Observatory in the Himalayas to the subterranean lair of the Large Hadron Collider–make for a compelling new portrait of the universe and our quest to understand it. An atmospheric, engaging, and illuminating read, The Edge of Physics depicts science as a human process, bringing cosmology back down to earth in the most vivid terms.”

  Present at the Creation: the story of CERN and the large hadron collider by Amir D. Aczel

Summary: Author of many well-received books on science and mathematics (including Fermat’s Last Theorem, Aczel turns his attention to the scientists at CERN and the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) that they hope will be able to re-create the conditions present at the birth of the universe. In clear prose, the author explains the Standard Model of particles and their interactions, and shows how the LHC will (hopefully) confirm this and other key theories in contemporary physics and cosmology. A book that conveys the excitement and wonder of cutting-edge science, readers will find themselves engrossed in Aczel’s account of what may be the most important single experiment in the history of science.” Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (”

  The Hidden Reality: parallel universes and the deep laws of the cosmos by Brian Greene

Summary: “From the best-selling author ofThe Elegant Universe and The Fabric of the Cosmos:his most thrilling and accessible book to date-a state-of-the-art tour of the cutting-edge science that is changing the way we see our world. In recent years, a growing body of work-based on the principles of quantum mechanics, cosmology, and string theory-has been steadily converging around a proposal that our universe is actually only one of many universes. In fact, research supports a number of different models of parallel universes in which our world appears: for instance, as one of many bubbles; in a rapidly growing bath of universes, or as one of numerous cosmic slabs separated from one another through additional spatial dimensions. Brian Greene, with his trademark impartiality, crystal-clear prose, and inspired use of analogy, opens up the strange worlds of the ldquo;multiverse, taking us on a journey grounded firmly in science, and limited only by our ima ginations.” From the Hardcover edition.

  Physics of the Future: how science will shape human destiny and our daily lives by the year 2100 by Michio Kaku

Summary: “Imagine, if you can, the world in the year 2100. In Physics of the Future , Michio Kaku-the New York Times bestselling author of Physics of the Impossible -gives us a stunning, provocative, and exhilarating vision of the coming century based on interviews with over three hundred of the world’s top scientists who are already inventing the future in their labs. The result is the most authoritative and scientifically accurate description of the revolutionary developments taking place in medicine, computers, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, energy production, and astronautics. In all likelihood, by 2100 we will control computers via tiny brain sensors and, like magicians, move objects around with the power of our minds. Artificial intelligence will be dispersed throughout the environment, and Internet-enabled contact lenses will allow us to access the world’s information base or conjure up any image we desire in the blink of an eye. Meanwhile, cars will drive themselves using GPS, and if room-temperature superconductors are discovered, vehicles will effortlessly fly on a cushion of air, coasting on powerful magnetic fields and ushering in the age of magnetism. Using molecular medicine, scientists will be able to grow almost every organ of the body and cure genetic diseases. Millions of tiny DNA sensors and nanoparticles patrolling our blood cells will silently scan our bodies for the first sign of illness, while rapid advances in genetic research will enable us to slow down or maybe even reverse the aging process, allowing human life spans to increase dramatically. In space, radically new ships-needle-sized vessels using laser propulsion-could replace the expensive chemical rockets of today and perhaps visit nearby stars. Advances in nanotechnology may lead to the fabled space elevator, which would propel humans hundreds of miles above the earth’s atmosphere at the push of a button. But these astonishing revelations are only the tip of the iceberg . Kaku also discusses emotional robots, antimatter rockets, X-ray vision, and the ability to create new life-forms, and he considers the development of the world economy. He addresses the key questions: Who are the winner and losers of the future? Who will have jobs, and which nations will prosper? All the while, Kaku illuminates the rigorous scientific principles, examining the rate at which certain technologies are likely to mature, how far they can advance, and what their ultimate limitations and hazards are. Synthesizing a vast amount of information to construct an exciting look at the years leading up to 2100, Physics of the Future is a thrilling, wondrous ride through the next 100 years of breathtaking scientific revolution.”


Real Authors Solve Imaginary Murders

Monday, January 9th, 2012

What would it have been like if a real author of mystery and intrigue had been involved in a real crime?  Several writers have brought their fertile imaginations to bear on this entertaining question.  Here are some fine examples of imaginary crime writing using real authors as amateur sleuths.  Click on a highlighted title to find the book in our catalog.

  Angel With Two Faces: a Mystery Featuring Josephine Tey by Nicola Upson

Summary:  “Exhausted and disillusioned with the world of theater in May 1935, Josephine Tey has traveled to Cornwall to spend the summer with her friends the Motleys at their run-down but beautiful country estate. Ready to begin work on her second mystery novel, Tey finds much to inspire her in the landscape and its legends. Meanwhile, the Motleys have become involved in an amateur production at the nearby Minack Theater. Detective Inspector Archie Penrose has returned to his roots in Cornwall to attend the funeral of a family friend, a young estate worker who died in a tragic riding accident. Penrose has a few questions about the circumstances surrounding the fatal occurrence. And when the Minack Theater proves to be the stage for a real-life tragedy, Penrose and Tey together must investigate an audacious murder and confront an evil suggesting that there are darker things than death.”

  Murder on the Cliffs: a Daphne Du Maurier Mystery by Joanna Challis

Summary: “Walking on the cliffs in Cornwall, Daphne du Maurier stumbles upon the drowned body of a beautiful woman, dressed only in a nightgown, her hair strewn along the rocks, her eyes gazing up to the heavens. Daphne soon learns that the mysterious woman was engaged to marry Lord Hartley of Padthaway, an Elizabethan mansion full of intriguing secrets. As the daughter of the famous Sir Gerald du Maurier, Daphne is welcomed into the Hartley home, but when the drowning turns out to be murder, Daphne determines to get to the bottom of the mysteries of Padthaway–in part to find fresh inspiration for her writing, and in part because she cannot resist the allure of grand houses and long buried secrets.”

  The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte by Laura Joh Rowland

Summary: “Upon learning that she has been falsely accused of plagiarism, the normally mild-mannered Charlotte Brontë sets off for London to clear her name. But when she unintentionally witnesses a murder, Charlotte finds herself embroiled in a dangerous chain of events that forces her to confront demons from her past.–From publisher description.”  “…Throughout her adventure, Charlotte lures readers into a fast-paced and vividly imagined romp through Victorian history.”

  Jane and the Madness of Lord Byron: Being a Jane Austen Mystery by Stephanie Barron

Summary: “The restorative power of the ocean brings Jane Austen and her beloved brother Henry, to Brighton after Henry’s wife is lost to a long illness. But the crowded, glittering resort is far from peaceful, especially when the lifeless body of a beautiful young society miss is discovered in the bedchamber of none other than George Gordon-otherwise known as Lord Byron. As a poet and a seducer of women, Byron has carved out a shocking reputation for himself-but no one would ever accuse him of being capable of murder. Now it falls to Jane to pursue this puzzling investigation and discover just how “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” Byron truly is. And she must do so without falling victim to the charming versifier’s legendary charisma, lest she, too, become a cautionary example for the ages.”

  Drood by Dan Simmons

Summary: “On June 9, 1865, while traveling by train to London with his secret mistress, 53-year-old Charles Dickens — at the height of his powers and popularity, the most famous and successful novelist in the world and perhaps in the history of the world — hurtled into a disaster that changed his life forever. Did Dickens begin living a dark double life after the accident? Were his nightly forays into the worst slums ofLondonand his deepening obsession with corpses, crypts, murder, opium dens, the use of lime pits to dissolve bodies, and a hidden subterraneanLondon-mere research . . . or something more terrifying? Just as he did in The Terror , Dan Simmons draws impeccably from history to create a gloriously engaging and terrifying narrative. Based on the historical details of Charles Dickens’s life and narrated by Wilkie Collins (Dickens’s friend, frequent collaborator, and Salieri-style secret rival), DROOD explores the still-unsolved mysteries of the famous author’s last years and may provide the key to Dickens’s final, unfinished work:The Mystery of Edwin Drood.Chilling, haunting, and utterly original, DROOD is Dan Simmons at his powerful best.”