This historical debut novel is about a young woman in turn-of-the century England who finds independence and love when she leaves London and journeys to a seaside resort for employment. Betsey Dobson boards a train from London with nothing other than her battered valise and bruised ego. After trying to make it in a male-dominated world, she is finally able to find herself--and a man whom she can love--in this idyllic setting. Not all goes smoothly but, of course, in the end she is better for it. An enjoyable read!
Lunatics by Dave Barry
The Night Strangers by Chris Bohjalian
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson
The Wind Through the Keyhole by Stephen King
8 by Dustin Lance Black
The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson by Robert A. Caro
American Sniper by Chris Kyle
Why Read Moby-Dick by Nathaniel Philbrick
Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good by Kevin Smith
Named one of the best graphic novels of the year by Library Journal, The Hypo gives us a glimpse into a little-talked-about period of Abraham Lincoln's life before he became president. As a 28 year-old lawyer, criticized young politician, burdened with debt and new to Springfield, Lincoln is constantly struggling with meloncholia, or "the hypo". Far from the wise, confident leader he will be known as years later, this portrait of Lincoln is one of a deeply-flaw, self-critical and sometimes miserable young man. Even when he meets his intellectual match in Mary Todd, Lincoln battles with his fear of failing to meet expectations. Only when he overcomes a nervous breakdown is he able to confront his insecurities and begin to evolve into the force we have all come to know him as. A love story, political drama and biography in one, The Hypo, is an engaging look at of our most famous president. Emotionally rendered in black cross-hatching and reflective of the period in language and scenery, the story is a beautiful example of a graphic novel that also functions as a vivid historical account.
Sixteen year old Rue Silver thinks she might be going crazy. Her mother vanished a few weeks ago, her father has been acting very strangely, and now Rue has started to see things…strange beings walking among the people of her town. But then Rue learns that not only are those strange beings real, but she herself is one of them. Her mother is a faerie, one of the Good Neighbors of human folklore, and Rue herself is half-faerie as well. Not only that, but Rue’s grandfather has a sinister plot to steal the entire town away to create a new faerie realm and a prophecy has declared that only his own flesh can stop him. Since Rue’s mother shows no signs of doing so, Rue has to take it upon herself to save both her peoples from each other.
The three volumes of this urban fantasy graphic novel (Kin, Kith, and Kind) are a fascinating self-contained story of the fair folk in the modern world. Rue is a sympathetic character, and her assortment of friends and family members add depth and interest to the story. The illustrations, all black and white, are detailed and switch easily between the mundane and the bizarre as Rue moves between the worlds.
Frank Nichols is running. Running from memories of WWI’s trench warfare…memories that still wake him up at night sweating and thrashing…running from the fall-out from the two year affair he conducted with married colleague Eudora which ended in her divorce and his unemployment. Luckily, he has someplace to run to; he has inherited a house and property in small Whitbrow, Georgia, from an aunt he never knew. His aunt’s letter urged him to sell the property without visiting, but instead, Frank and Eudora decide to start their lives fresh in Whitbrow. Frank is planning to research and write a book about his great grandfather, a slave owner known for particular cruelty. Eudora has taken a job at the local grade school. At first, all is well in Whitbrow. Eudora is settling in nicely with her students and Frank is happy to spend his days talking to the men at the local general store. But when impoverished Whitbrow makes the decision to cease a strange local tradition—every month on the full moon, the town sends sacrificial pigs into the woods across the river—all hell begins to break loose. Strange things are seen in the woods, and people begin to die. Frank soon finds out that those who live across the river have a far more personal connection to him and his family than he could have imagined.
This is that rarest of books, a novel that is literary first and horror second. The characters, especially Frank, are fully-realized, believable, and interesting. The setting is atmospheric and vividly rendered, with the racial tensions of the time and place completely realized. The horror elements, when they are introduced, are creepy and visceral. Highly recommended.
We've all had our share of the "best of" lists of 2012 but here is one you may have missed! The New York Times posted a slide show of the best designed book covers from the past year and asked graphic designers why they were so great.
Next time you pick up a book, spend a little more time contemplating what's on the outside, it may be a work of art.
Emil Larsson is a contented bachelor living the high life in 1791 Stockholm. He has risen up in the world, managing to purchase for himself the position of sekretaire in the government, and he spends his evenings drinking and gaming in Mrs. Sparrow’s parlor. But when his superior tells Emil he must marry or lose his sekretaire position, Emil is at a loss. Mrs. Sparrow, by now a friend, does a special favor for Emil…a card-based fortune-telling she calls the Octavo. This special layout is meant to define the eight people one must find in order to create the future one desires. Emil is not certain he believes in it, but he goes along with the reading and begins attempting to put together his Eight. In the process, he finds himself caught up, not in a quest for love, but in political manuevering that might end in his death if he is not careful, and King Gustav’s if he cannot prevent it.
Fast-paced, colorful, vibrant, and quite unique. The mystical aspect of fortune-telling is subdued with the emphasis on the historical context. Sure to be enjoyed by fans of well-written historical fiction.
The subtitle to Hand’s new collection of short stories gives the reader some clue about what to expect here. These stories straddle a line between literary fiction, the fantastic, and horror, moving gracefully between all three. Dark and beautiful, filled with rich language and sensuous imagery. A stand-out in the collection is the Hugo-nominated “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon.” Recommended for fans of A.S. Byatt, Caitlin Kiernan, and Tanith Lee.
Before there were Steve Jobs and Apple, there were Edwin Land and Polaroid. Land was a charismatic, inventive leader, holding over 500 patents. Land didn’t set out to reinvent photography; his first project was perfecting a synthetic polarizer. Land eventually succeeded; polarized sunglasses as we know them might not exist today without his efforts. From this humble beginning, manufacturing polarizing film for car headlights and sunglasses, Land managed to build his company into the hugely influential multi-national it became. He did this in much the same way Jobs did many years later; that is, by hiring the best minds available to him in any and all specialities, and then turning them loose in well-stocked labs to see what they could come up with. This approach worked well for a long time, but the end was inevitable. Several bad decisions and some bad blood led to Land stepping away from the company he’d built. That was the beginning of the end; Land’s sucessors did not have the same passion and ingenuity and the company changed hands several times before declaring bankruptcy twice, the second time in 2009.
While the behind-the-scenes details of Polaroid’s rise to the top and rapid fall are fascinating, this is truly Land’s story. Very few people today are aware of his contributions to technology and to business. A worthwhile read.
(alphabetically by author)
- By the Iowa Sea: A Memoir of Disaster and Love – Joe Blair
- Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity – Katherine Boo
- A Land More Kind Than Home – Wiley Cash
- Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk – Ben Fountain
- Crusoe: Daniel Defoe, Robert Knox, and the Creation of a Myth – Katherine Frank
- Some Kind of Fairy Tale – Graham Joyce
- The Song of Achilles – Madeline Miller
- The Lady in Gold: The Extraordinary Tale of Gustav Klimt’s Masterpiece, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer – Anne-Marie O’Connor
- NW – Zadie Smith
- Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from “Dear Sugar” – Cheryl Strayed