In this coming-of-age story set during the siege of Leningrad, Lev and Kolya, a teenager and a young soldier who have both been arrested for petty crimes and sentenced to death, are given one last chance by a Colonel to save their lives if they can achieve the impossible: find a dozen eggs for his daughter's wedding cake. The next few days Lev and Kolya go on an epic journey to find this rare ingredient, navigating the terrors and sadness of their desperate city. After crossing into German territory, Lev and Kolya must depend on each other more and more and their unlikely friendship strengthens as their mission reaches new levels of danger and consequences.
The modern-day odyssey is based on the experiences of the author's own grandfather, a now-retired Lev, who lives in Florida. Although set within a period of a few days, the events that happened effect the teenager for the rest of his life. This story should not be missed.
One of the perks of being a librarian is seeing all the new books come in before they go out to the shelves. In the past, we've occasionally picked some new, yet-to-be-shelved titles to feature here and let our readers in on the fun. We haven't done a post like that in too long, so here are some picks from our newest new book cart!
Lister, Michael. "The Big Goodbye" (MYS)
"Stylish, retro, and highly entertaining. Michael Lister's PI Jimmy "Solider" Riley is a compelling noir hero." (From the book jacket)
Maberry, Jonathan. "Dead of Night" (F)
"A prison doctor injects a condemned serial killer with a formula designed to keep his consciousness awake while his body rots in the grave. But all drugs have unforeseen side effects. Before he can be buried, the killer wakes up. Hungry. Infected. Contagious. This is the way the world ends. Not with a bang...but a bite." (from the book jacket)
Oates, Joyce Carol. "The Corn Maiden and other Nightmares" (F)
"The seven stories in this stellar collections may prompt the reader to turn on all the lights or jump at imagined noises." (from the inside flap)
Su, Tong. "The Boat to Redemption" (F)
"Raw and absurd, realistic yet astonishing, the new novel by Su Tong...portrays a people caught in the stranglehold of their own desires and needs, constantly observed by a Party that sees everything and forgives nothing." (from the inside flap)
Levine, Robert. "Free Ride: How Digital Parasites are Destroying the Culture Business and how the Culture Business can Fight Back" (364.1662 L665)
"In an incisive chronicle of media's collision with the Internet, jounalist Robert Levine narrates how the culture business succumbed to the siren song of "free." Fearless in its reporting and analysis, Free Ride is an epic tale of value destruction and the business history of the decade." (from the inside flap)
Hitchings, Henry. "The Language Wars: a History of Proper English" (420.9 H675)
"Henry Hitchings...examines grammar rules, regional accents, swearing, speling, dictionaries, political correctness, and the role of electronic media in rehsaping language.... Peopled with intriguing characters--including Jonathan Swift, Lewis Carroll, and Lenny Bruce--The Language Wars is an entertaining tour through the often combative history of the English language." (from the inside flap)
The murders of three Christian children are being blamed on the innocent Jews of 12th century Cambridge, England in the first installment of this historical mystery series. In order to clear their name, King Henry calls for an expert, a master of the art of death, to determine who is really to blame. Instead, he gets a mistress, Adelia Aguilar, a trained physician from Salerno, Italy. She is talented, stubborn and on a dangerous mission to discover the real killer, who is still roaming Cambridge, perhaps under her very nose.
Adelia is definitely out of her element among the strict social confines of her surroundings, but she still manages to gather clues based on the forensic evidence she collects from the corpses of the dead children and with the help of her travel companion, Simon, and the young eel catcher, Ulf. The book is a medieval spin on a forensic thriller and readers will enjoy the rising tension as Adelia hones in on the killer.
2011 has seen a lot of wonderful novels, many of them by well-established authors. But there have also been quite a few break-through successes for brand-new authors. Many of the most popular and well-reviewed books of the year have been debut novels from first-time authors or authors who had only published short stories or memoirs previous to their novelistic success. Here’s hoping the years to come bring more great novels from these rising stars!
Benaron, Naomi. Running the Rift
Harbach, Chad. The Art of Fielding
Morgenstern, Erin. The Night Circus
Obreht, Tea. The Tiger’s Wife
Russell, Karen. Swamplandia!
Torres, Justin. We The Animals
Waldman, Amy. The Submission
Well, it’s 2012, amazing as that may seem, and most people are looking ahead to the new year, making their resolutions…and resolving not to break them this time. But before we move forward, let’s take a moment to look back over the last year and remember some of the great novelists and writers who passed away. Though they themselves are gone, here’s to hoping their great works of fiction and nonfiction survive for many years to come!
Brian Jacques, 2/5/11
Diana Wynne Jones, 3/26/11
Joanna Russ, 4/29/11
William Sleator, 8/3/11
Susan Fromberg Schaeffer, 8/26/11
Anne McCaffrey, 11/22/11
Christopher Hitchens, 12/16/11
The phrase “comic book” still conjure visions of Batman and Archie for many people. But comic books have grown up and spawned a whole new generation for readers to enjoy. Normally known as “graphic novels” to distinguish them from the comic books of our youth, they are not a static genre but a format which, like regular “word only” books, comprises a wide variety of genres and content. A good starting place for someone interested in giving these grown-up comics a try would be one of the many graphic novel adaptations of classic literature. The visual illustrated content provides these familiar stories with an extra level of depth and interest that many find very engaging! Frequently, these classics are shelved under the name of the artist or writer who produced the adaptation, so for your reference, the original author will be included in parentheses in our list.
Appignanesi, Richard. Twelfth Night (William Shakespeare)
Butler, Nancy. Sense and Sensibility (Jane Austen)
Chwast, Seymour. Dante’s Divine Comedy (Dante Alighieri)
Edginton, Ian. The Sign of the Four (Arthur Conan Doyle)
Hamilton, Tim. Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury)
Hinds, Gareth. The Odyssey (Homer)
Kuper, Peter. The Jungle (Upston Sinclair)
Mairowitz, David. The Trial (Franz Kafka)
So you've read Tina Fey's Bossypants...now what? Feed your appetite for another humorous read with Mindy Kaling's honest memoir. The Emmy-nominated writer and actress on The Office tackles everything from growing up chubby to her unabashed love of chest hair. The randomness of the amusing topics covered is anchored by the important eras in her life as well as her friends, family and evolution of her career.
Kaling doesn't hold back on exploring her faults, her ego (which she is always trying to keep under control) and the million other things that make her human. Her smart and witty prose will make you laugh-out-loud more than a few times.
You may have heard that Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland was based on a real life Alice who, while taking a boat ride on a lazy summer day, asked Carroll to tell her a story which then became the iconic children's tale. The daughter of the Dean of Oxford University, Alice lived both a charmed and restrained life next door to Dodgson, a.k.a Carroll, who was a mathematics professor at the university and a close family friend of the Liddells. Melanie Benjamin removes the idyllic lens that covers this myth and reveals the more complicated nature of the relationship between Alice Liddell and Charles Dodgson, one which was speculated to be darker than it appeared.
The book follows Alice from childhood to old age as she struggles against the confines of Victorian culture and her family, naively navigating her strange relationship with Dodgson and the impact it has on the rest of her life; the strained connection she has with her competitive older sister and mother, as well as the opportunities and misfortunes she experiences in the realms of love and family.
If you are looking for a charming tale, you will not find it here. Rather, Benjamin paints a picture of a girl who became entwined in something far more damaging than she imagined; a memory that would come to haunt her for the rest of her life. For historical fiction fans, this is a gem. Benjamin is a wonderful storyteller who balances fact with human feeling very well. Prepare to have your perspective of this children's classic changed forever. Make sure to pick up Benjamin's latest novel, Mrs. Tom Thumb.
This beautifully crafted story opens with Atkinson introducing the reader to three seemingly unrelated crimes: a missing child from thirty years ago, a murderous office rampage, and a new mother who kills her husband after a mental breakdown. Private investigator Jackson Brodie has been hired to solve the cases by the loved ones left behind who desperately need closure. While the investigations have been cold for years, Brodie slowly begins to weave together the details of each one until all three have startling revelations.
While the book contains a good mystery, Atkinson also delves into the lives of the family members who hired Brodie, touching upon the deep emotional impact of the missing and the murdered along with the power of suspicion and doubt. In all three cases, the resolution was closer than any wished to see. Readers will enjoy both Brodie's struggle to unearth long-forgotten evidence, connect with his clients as well as his attempts to resolve his own disappointments, both past and present. Those looking for a refreshing and different mystery will enjoy Atkinson. Make sure to check out the rest of the Jackson Brodie mysteries, including the latest, Started Early, Took My Dog.
Pilot Chip Linton is plagued by the guilt he feels after an unsuccessful water landing claimed the lives of 39 of his passengers and crew. He and his wife Emily and their 10-year-old twin daughters decide to start over and move to a rambling old Victorian house in a small town in New Hampshire. But Chip, suffering from PTSD, phantom pains, and depression, does not find rest and respite in their new home. He quickly becomes obsessed with a strange door in the basement—a door bolted shut with exactly 39 heavy-duty carriage bolts. When Chip’s phantom pains increase, he begins to understand that what he’s feeling are the fatal injuries sustained by three crash victims—a young woman, and a father and daughter. The three begin appearing to Chip and the dead father attempts to convince Chip to kill his own daughters to provide playmates for the dead girl. Meanwhile, Emily is being befriended by a group of women in the town, all of whom are named for plants, all of whom have greenhouses filled with strange and exotic herbs and flowers, and all of whom have a very unusual and sinister interest in the Linton twins.
The Night Strangers is slow-starting, with a gradual and inexorable build-up to the truly creepy ending. However, many readers may wish Bohjalian had focused more on either the ghost story or the herbalists’s plot, the two stories being so unrelated outside of their cast that at times it feels one is reading two different books at once.