Great Reads

Zama, Farahad. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People

Retiree Mr. Ali is at loose ends, knocking about the house aimlessly and annoying his wife. She is happy, then, when he decides to start up a marriage bureau to assist families looking to set up arranged marriages for their children. Contemporary India has modernized in many ways, but it is still considered inappropriate for people to make their own matches, or love marriages, and after a slow start, Mr. Ali’s Marriage Bureau for Rich People begins to do a lively business—so much so that he takes on an assistant, young Aruna. Aruna herself has marriage woes; her family is suffering financially and her father refuses to entertain any matches because he will not be able to pay for a large wedding and a good dowry.  Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. Ali are fighting to keep their son, a young man now and a political activist, safe—but he defies their wishes and leads demonstrations against the government on behalf of India’s poor farmers.

Often mentioned as a readalike for Alexander McCall Smith’s Number 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, the comparison is a fair one. The Marriage Bureau for Rich People shares the interconnected-vignette style, charmingly wise and understated tone, and emphasis on culture and community seen in McCall Smith’s series.  Though the characters have their problems, nothing very terrible happens to anyone, and the reader is swept quietly along as the characters go about their daily lives in modern India.

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Snyder, Scott and Stephen King. American Vampire

 

In a graphic novel series billing itself as “a new vampire for a new century,” Western outlaw Skinner Sweet is accidentally transformed into a vampire when the blood of an old European-style vampire splashes across his mortally wounded body.  No one realizes that Sweet is undead in his grave—until years later when graverobbers dig him up and get a terrifying surprise. Sweet is a different breed of vampire than his creators; he is stronger and faster, powered by the sun and thus able to walk and hunt by day, able to transform horribly with a distended jaw and huge talon-like fingers, and with a different set of weaknesses.  He proceeds to set about feuding with the old breed European vamps, mostly  rich old men who seek to keep American industry under their thumbs as they did European, as well.  Not until decades later does Sweet create another of his kind, and he inexplicably chooses a spunky young wanna-be actress in 1920s Hollywood, Pearl Jones, who has been abused horribly by the European vamps in charge of the studios. As the series progresses, Pearl becomes one of the focus characters, as do the descendants of the sheriff who originally sought to put Skinner Sweet behind bars—and later, in his grave.

Vibrant, colorful, and dynamic illustrations contribute effectively to this compelling new spin on the vampire story.  Skinner Sweet and Pearl Jones make a perfect odd-couple of protagonists as each deals with becoming a monster in a very different way, drawn to one another despite themselves. A lot of fun!

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Moore, Christopher. Practical Demonkeeping

 

Former seminary student Travis O’Hearn inadvertantly unleashed a demon straight from Hell when he stumbled across an ancient invocation hidden instead a set of candlesticks.  He’s not actually a fan of being in control of an extremely powerful demon, and has spent most of the last 70 years trying to get Catch to stop eating people—or at least to only eat criminals and other nasties. But now Travis—who still looks 20-something thanks to the demon Catch’s graces—is closing in on a solution to his problem in the small town of Pine Cove, California. He lost the candlesticks all those decades previously and has come to believe that the second candlestick contained the invocation to send Catch back to Hell.  And he's finally located the woman who took the candlesticks from him, now a grandmother in her 90s, living in Pine Cove. Now Travis, along with a motley crew of Pine Cove’s losers, eccentrics, and petty criminals—along with one aeons-old King of the Djinn—have one last chance to get rid of the demon once and for all, before Catch can break free of Travis’s control and destroy the world.

Funny, irreverant, clever, and fast-paced, Moore’s first novel already displays his trademark wit.  Those who enjoy Practical Demonkeeping won’t want to miss the other Pine Cove novels, The Stupidest Angel and The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove.

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Just a Thought -- Book Expo America 2012

 

You may have noticed last week that the Readers Advisors desk was missing two of its regular librarians. We headed off to New York City to meet with hundreds of other librarians, along with booksellers, publishers, authors, and bibliophiles of all stripes at this year’s Book Expo America conference. Held every year in June, BEA is a great way to keep up with what’s happening in the world of books, from forthcoming hot titles to book club reading suggestions to those pesky eBooks and how libraries and publishers can work together to make them available to patrons.  A highlight is always getting to meet the authors themselves, of course, and get books signed!  We came back with piles and piles of great forthcoming books that we think you’re just going to love. Here are just a few of the great titles you have to look forward to!

 

Diaz, Junot.    This is How You Lose Her, September 2012.

Evison, Jonathan.    The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, August 2012.

Jacobson, Howard.  Zoo Time, October 2012.

Jakobsen, Mette.   The Vanishing Act, September 2012.

Millet, Lydia.     Magnificence, November 2012.

Powers, Kevin.     The Yellow Birds, September 2012.

Roorbach, Bill.    Life Among Giants, November 2012.

Shapiro, B.A.  The Art Forger, October 2012.

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Just a Thought -- Scotland is the New Sweden?

 

When we visited the Book Expo America conference last week, one thing we heard over and over is that publishers think that “Scotland is the new Sweden.” Anyone who’s been paying attention to trends in mystery novel publishing probably knows what that means, but in case you don’t, mysteries set in Sweden have been hot properties ever since the break-out success of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That trend may finally be waning slightly, and publishers have turned their eyes toward another cold, bleak country as the setting for mystery stories…Scotland! If you’d like to get ahead of the trend, here are some authors who’ve been publishing mysteries set in Scotland already.

 

Bolton, S. J.  Sacrifice.

Jardine, Quintin. Skinner’s Rules.

MacBride, Stuart.  Cold Granite.

McClean, Russel. The Good Son.

McDermid, Val. The Distant Echo.

Mina, Denise.  Garnethill.

Rankin, Ian.  Knots and Crosses.

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