Monday, September 30, 2013

Nevermore: Haywood Smith, Neil Gaiman, & Paulo C

As we’ve said before, the folks of Nevermore read widely.  Here are some of the fiction books they’ve discussed recently:

Haywood Smith is back with another laugh out loud book about the problems of folks of a certain age. In Out of Warranty, recent widow Cassie is struggling with the sudden loss of both her husband and her health insurance.  She’s been told her illness is psychosomatic, but when a diagnosis is finally made she has no way of paying for treatment and the bills are mounting rapidly.  Cassie decides she needs to find a new husband with insurance, but where does one meet such a man these days?  While waiting at the doctor’s office for the umpteenth time, she meets Jack, a curmudgeonly recluse who agrees to help her set up an online dating account.  The book takes on real life problems with humor and the main character, Cassie, is one most people can relate to.  Our reader enjoyed it.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman was a bit of a challenge for our Nevermore reviewer.  The premise is that the Old Gods—the Norse gods, the Celtic, etc.—traveled to the New World from the Old World, brought over by the immigrants.  The problem is that they’re weakening as their believers dwindle so they decide the only way they can regain their power is to take on the gods of the New World in epic battle. Who are these new gods?  Well, they’re sort of the soul of America, from outlandish roadside attractions to the latest and greatest in personal technology or finance. Our reviewer said he found it unbelievable but compelling.  He wasn’t quite sure where the author was going because the story seemed to go all over the place and yet at the end he could see it had all been well planned and executed.  He says he’s glad he read it so I’ll take that as a recommendation.

Several Nevermore readers are fans of Paulo Coelho and were looking forward to his latest, Manuscript Found in Accra.  Our reader was disappointed.  While Coelho’s writing was as lovely as ever and the ideas /philosophies beautifully expressed, this book doesn’t have much in the way of a narrative structure.  The premise has a group of people under siege who go to a wise man for answers.  They ask a series of questions and he replies.  The result, while interesting, didn’t carry the power of some of Coelho’s other works, such as The Alchemist.

The Nevermore Book Club meets every Tuesday at 11:00 am in the Frances E. Kegley Conference Room. Enjoy coffee and doughnuts courtesy of Blackbird Bakery while hearing about some good books!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Nevermore: Whitey Bulger, Grant Wood, & Fixing the Climate

James “Whitey” Bulger is one of the best known modern crime figures, even more so after the recent trial which resulted in his conviction for racketeering, involvement in multiple murders, and several other charges. Several factors make Bulger’s case particularly compelling:  his family connections (a brother was a state senator, while another was a court clerk magistrate), his claims of being granted immunity by the FBI, and his eluding capture for over a decade.  Whitey Bulger:  America’s Most Wanted Gangster and the Manhunt that Brought Him to Justice by Kevin Cullen is an exhaustive look at Bulger’s life and crimes, with “exhaustive” being the key word, according to our reviewer.  She did find it fascinating enough to plow through to the end.

Grant Wood:  A Life by R. Tripp Evans explores the life of an artist whom most people know for “American Gothic,” the painting of the farm couple with the man holding a pitchfork.  It’s one of the most parodied American paintings, showing up as everything from a promo for a reality TV show to cat jewelry.  Yet most people know very little about the artist behind the painting, including that he worked in a variety of mediums from stained glass to metalwork.  Our reader says this book really explores who Grant Wood was, taking the reader behind the plain, all- American persona he created to look for the real person.  The book also offers some intriguing insights regarding some of Wood’s work.  The author is a professor of Art History at Wheaton College.

Roger Pielke, Jr., a professor of environmental studies at the University of Colorado, was tired of having scientific facts bent to serve various political agendas, so he set out to write a book to separate fact from hyperbole.  Pielke’s goal is to make an argument for climate policies that will work and that have a chance of being implemented instead of pushing for meaningless objectives.   The resulting book is The Climate Fix:  What Scientists and Politicians Won’t Tell You About Global Warming. Our reader thought there were a number of helpful explanations which made the debate clearer.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Christmas in October!

It seems the holidays come faster and faster these days.  This year I saw Halloween items out after the Fourth of July; by Labor Day there were aisles of fall goods.As of September 12,  I saw the Christmas items being stocked on shelves.

The book world isn't immune to the phenomenon either. There are a number of Christmas themed books coming out in October, including some by favorite authors which should be showing up on our reserve list.  Here are some you many want to add to your list:

Duck the Halls by Donna Andrews begins with Meg Langslow after some holiday pranksters who put skunks in a church, but then a murder enters the picture as well.

Silent Night is a Spenser story begun by Robert B. Parker and completed by Helen Brann.  Spenser and Hawk are on the case when a teenage boy tells them his mentor is being threatened.

Spirit of Steamboat
by Craig Johnson is a holiday themed Longmire story in which a young woman brings back memories of Walt’s first year as a sheriff and raises questions about Walt’s predecessor.

Anne Perry, best known her Thomas & Charlotte Pitt and Monk mysteries, has written a Christmas themed book each year for the last decade or so.  This year’s title is A Christmas Hope.

Starry Night by Debbie Macomber has the joys and comforts of Christmas, as might be expected from this best-selling author.

Thomas Kinkade’s Cape Light:  Songs of Christmas by Katherine Spencer will be out in early November.  Spencer was often credited as co-author of the Kinkade books, both the Cape Light and Angel Island series. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman

Reviewed by Jeanne

Have you ever tried to remember something from your childhood? Not the stories told over and over, but some of those half-remembered exploits that seem almost dreamlike, leaving you to ponder whether something really happened or not.  That’s the tone of the latest novel from Neil Gaiman, his first adult book in some years. 

As the story opens, a man is seeking to slip away from a funeral for awhile. He decides to go for a drive and ends up at a house he lived in as a child, following the road to an old farmhouse where he used to play with a girl named Lettie who lived there with her mother and grandmother.  Odd how he had forgotten all about it, but then he begins to remember in bits and pieces at first, then more fully about that time.  Money had been tight so his family took in a lodger, a man who stole the family car and then committed suicide.  Strange events begin take over, coins found and then hurled, good intentions gone awry as something has been unleashed. An odd woman appears at his house, one who charms and seduces the boy’s parents and sister, while menacing the boy.  The narrator becomes the focus of two opposing forces, one seeking to preserve the world while the other will destroy it.

This book is a good example of how a powerful and sophisticated story can be told in few pages, and should serve as an object lesson for any number of writers today who feel the need to pad their books with a lot of unnecessary detail.  (My personal theory is that this is one reason YA literature has become so popular with adults.  Some authors seem to lose sight of idea of storytelling and pack in unnecessary side plots and scenes which do little to advance character or plot.  YA books tend to get to the point.) Even though the scenes are remembered, the horror comes through strongly, without being overly graphic; they’re bone-chilling rather than gory.

Gaiman is at the top of his game here, employing beautiful prose and imagery while making the fantastical seem real as he seamlessly blends reality, fantasy and folklore into an unforgettable tale.  I know it’s one I’ll remember for a long, long time, and –like the narrator—periodically revisit, to see if what I’ve remembered is true.

And if you haven’t read Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, I would recommend it as well.  It’s classified as a children’s book and is a Newbery Award winner.  It can be summed up by a variation on a proverb:  It takes a graveyard to raise a child.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin

Reviewed by Jeanne

Sherlock Holmes seems to be everywhere these days.  Two TV series, one American and one British, feature modern versions of the great sleuth and both are successful.  Movies continue to be made, the most recent series of films featuring Robert Downey, Jr. as Holmes.  One would think that a character created back in 1887 would have worn out his welcome by now, but people keep molding him in slightly new images to suit the times.

To add to this present bounty of Sherlocks, I read recently that Sir Ian MacKellen will play the Great Detective in a movie based on the book A Slight Trick of the Mind by Mitch Cullin.  I’ve read a number of Sherlock pastiches but had not read this one, so I decided to give it a try.

It’s 1947 and a ninety-three year old Sherlock has retired to the county to keep bees.  He is a shadow of his former self; his mind plays tricks on him, and he loses track of both events and people and yet, he still has dazzling moments of clarity and memory.  He walks with two canes, and is looked after by a housekeeper and Roger, her young son, who has taken an interest in bees as well.  He still receives inquiries from all over the world, dismissing most, but occasionally taking an interest in a letter—mostly those to do with bees and royal jelly, not cases to be solved.  He has recently taken a trip to post-war Japan on one such errand, but is having some trouble recalling the details.  Meanwhile, Roger has come across an account of a case Holmes dealt with years before, but that account is woefully incomplete.  It involves a woman who captured Holmes’ imagination, though he can’t quite say why and the boy hopes that some day he will learn what happened.

Time moves back and forth in this beautifully written novel, with Sherlock recalling times long past while being unable to hang on to some parts of the present.  There are at least three main story threads, involving Roger who obviously worships Holmes, the long ago lady whose husband was sure she was involved in something untoward, and the Japanese gentleman who has an ulterior motive for contacting Holmes.  Sherlock’s observations, weariness, and meditations make for a fully realized character, someone quite different from the occasional one-dimensional versions of the character.

This is much more a literary novel than most Sherlock stories; in fact, it would have succeeded if the author had chosen the beekeeper to be someone other than Holmes, but using Sherlock does give the book an added poignancy.  The sections set in Japan after the Bomb are particularly memorable; again, not quite what I would have expected.  I’d recommend this to anyone who likes a well-written novel, but one in which not all answers are revealed.  If you’re a thriller or mystery fan, this might not be your cup of tea. And yes, I enjoyed it, though I do admit all the time-shifting sometimes made me pause and try to reorient my thoughts. The title is very well chosen, I think.

And I'll be really interested to see how they film this! Ian MacKellen should make quite a fascinating Holmes.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Man and His Ship by Steven Ujifusa

Note:  Guest reviewer Bill Wade is an active member of the Nevermore Book club and  history professor emeritus from King College. He thought this was a particularly wonderful and engaging book which deserves a wide readership, so he wrote a review.  Thank you!

Reviewed by Bill Wade

A Man and His Ship:  America's Greatest Naval Architect and His Quest to Build the S.S. United States by Steven Ujifusa is the story of William Francis Gibbs (1886-1967), indeed America’s greatest naval architect, whose life-long ambition was to design and build the world’s fastest, safest, and most modern ocean liner.  It was a quest which began in 1894 when his father took him to witness the launching of the S. S. St. Louis at a Philadelphia naval yard.  From that day forward Gibbs knew his ambition.

Born of a wealthy Philadelphia family, Gibbs was first sent to Harvard to study law, but he found the practice boring and spent his spare time studying technical books on maritime construction, continually adding to his knowledge and refining a set of plans on which he and his brother Frederic collaborated.  When the Titanic sank within hours of striking an iceberg in 1912, partly because its bulkheads did not extend to the full height of the hull, Gibbs made sure that on his liner they would.  Initially no ship-building concern would listen to a twenty year old youth without formal technical education, but the onset of World War I in 1914 gave him access to Admiral David Taylor, chief naval consultant of the U.S. Navy, and plans were drawn for a troop ship that could be converted to a peacetime liner.  But the end of the war scuttled such prospects, and the American acquisition of a former German liner, re-named the S.S. Leviathan, disrupted Gibbs’ hopes for a large post-war vessel.  He was only able to superintend the construction of a smaller liner, the Malolo, but when it was rammed by a Swedish freighter and remained afloat because of its sturdy bulkhead construction, attention was drawn to Gibbs’ design.

By the 1930s the major maritime nations—Britain, France, and Germany—were replacing their outmoded pre-World War I liners, and Gibbs held out hopes that a large American ship could challenge the Queen Mary, the Queen Elizabeth, and the Normandie, but the American Congress was reluctant to provide financial support, and once more Gibbs had to be content with the building of a smaller liner, the America, which was intended to sail in Pacific and Caribbean waters.  Then the advent of World War II meant the end of all pleasure travel on the world’s oceans, and existing liners were commandeered as troop ships.

With the end of World War II, opportunity finally came for Gibbs, now sixty years old.  The United States Lines, with cooperative financial support from Congress, called upon the famed architect to design the largest, fastest, safest liner ever.  The result was the S.S. United States, construction begun in 1949 and completed in 1952.  Without question it was a beautiful ship, the pride of America, boasting the latest technological advances in ship-building.  On its maiden sailing to Europe and back it easily broke all speed records, averaging about 36 knots.  And it set in motion a halcyon time when Americans by droves sailed with pride on this ship.  The retired Gibbs could often be seen at one of the parks of lower Manhattan, watching this beautiful vessel as it came into the harbor.

With the advent of jet airliners the day of the steamship was doomed.  The British suspended all trans-Atlantic sailing of their “Queens” in the late 1960s, and the United States was taken out of service in November 1969.  Fortunately, Gibbs did not live to see that day; he had died in 1967. For the years since there have been many proposals about what to do with this liner; it seemed too beautiful to break up.  Mostly it lay in a Philadelphia naval yard, the interior furnishing having been sold and still to be seen in American coastal restaurants.  Now owned by the United States Conservancy, continuing efforts are made to find a permanent berth for the ship.  Only recently, in 2012 has one more proposal been brought forward to provide some kind of new life, but its future remains uncertain.

This is a beautifully written book, with ample photographs of Gibbs and the United States.  The author is a graduate of Harvard and holds a master’s degree in historic preservation.  He lives in Philadelphia and serves on the Advisory Council of the S.S. United States Conservancy, an agency seeking to find a future for this great liner.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Grisham and King Sequels, Series News, and More!

Two sequels fans have awaited for years make their debuts this year.  The first is John Grisham’s Sycamore Row, which picks up some time after the events of A Time To Kill, his first novel.  Before wealthy Seth Hubbard commits suicide, he writes a new will—one that leaves most of his fortune to his black maid instead of his adult children. Lawyer Jake Brigance finds himself embroiled in another controversial trial in which racial tensions and long held secrets come to the surface in a Southern town.

The other is Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, which tells what happened to Danny Torrance after The Shining.  As the book opens, a middle-aged alcoholic Danny is using his gifts to ease the passage of the dying and trying to keep a low profile.  Then he meets a young girl who is being stalked because of her own paranormal gifts, and has to find it in himself to try to save her.  According to the prepublication reviews, you don’t need to have read The Shining to enjoy this one.

After two non-fiction books (the memoirs Eat, Pray, Love and Committed), Elizabeth Gilbert is back with a novel.  The Signature of All Things is a sweeping saga, which opens in 1800 with the birth of a baby girl, Alma Whittaker.  She grows up to be an accomplished young woman, learning Latin and Greek, and is a naturalist but her plain looks and intelligence seem to promise spinsterhood until she meets an artist with some unorthodox views on marriage. The story moves from America to Europe and expresses the wild intellectual expanse of the period, when amateurs created revolutions in science from geology to biology.

The Last Dark by Stephen Donaldson is subtitled The Climax of the Entire Thomas Covenant Chronicles which sounds as if it’s pretty definite.  The series began in 1977; The Last Dark is the tenth book in the series, which started as a trilogy.  (Don’t they all?)

On the other hand, there’s a rather surprising sequel in the works:  British author Sophie Hannah has been authorized to write a new Hercule Poirot novel thirty eight years after the publication of Agatha Christie’s final word on the detective.  Christie’s grandson acknowledged that his grandmother had provided an ending in order to prevent other writers from picking up the story, but believes that she would approve in the interest of bringing new readers to her work. The book is scheduled for publication in September 2014, which gives us plenty of time to reread Dame Agatha’s body of work.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Nevermore's Picks: The Guilty One and Detroit: An American Autopsy

One of the beauties of the Nevermore Book Club is that the members read and report on their own books so folks don't always read the same book. Still, there are some books that make the rounds of more than one reader.  Here are a couple of books which made a big impression on our members:

The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne is highly recommended by Nevermore.  British solicitor Daniel Hunt is handed the case of an eleven year old boy, Sebastian, who is accused of murdering a younger child in this psychological thriller. As he investigates, Daniel is forced to relive parts of his own childhood with his drug-addicted mother and his time in foster care. The author asks a lot of hard questions about child welfare and the criminal justice system, but also explores the nature of love, family and forgiveness. The fact that this is a first novel makes it all the more impressive. 

 Our readers found it hard to put down, and drew comparisons to Defending Jacob by William Landay and The Child Who by Simon Lelic, both of which deal with the same shattering premise. All three offer ample room for discussion of the juvenile justice system (or lack thereof) while being entertaining at the same time. Landay's book offers a lot of twists and turns in addition to great court room scenes, while Lelic is less on the identity of the murderer and more about the consequences of taking an unpopular stand-- and yes, there are still twists and turns.

The other top recommendation is for Detroit: An American Autopsy by Charlie Leduff.  How did Detroit go from one of the most vibrant, wealthy cities in America to being one of the nation’s poorest, a symbol of decay?  Investigative reporter Leduff, a native of Detroit, traces the trail of corruption and mismanagement, all the while revealing the human faces behind some of the stories such as firemen forced to sell their brass poles to raise money for equipment or policemen taking the bus to crime scenes.  One story involved a corpse left so long that it froze into ice several feet thick.  As someone commented, it’s like watching a car wreck—it’s horrible and horrifying but you can’t look away.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Parrot's Lament by Eugene Linden

When I was in school back in the day, it was considered heresy by some in the scientific community to attribute emotions and the ability to reason to non-humans. Anecdotal evidence was ignored; researchers would omit observations that they couldn’t fit into preconceived categories.  Then some scientists began to openly question assumptions on animal intelligence and behavior, bringing carefully detailed observations and well-designed tests to prove that non-humans are not just some evolutionary automaton but are, in some cases, capable of reason and emotion.  There were books about Koko, the gorilla who was taught sign language; Jane Goodall’s books about complex chimpanzee societies; observations on whales and dolphins; and even books about intelligent birds, such as Alex the African Gray Parrot.  I was particularly enthralled by When Elephants Weep:  The Emotional Lives of Animals by Jeffrey Masson, which made a broad case for emotional reactions without a biological or evolutionary imperative among all sorts of animal, from elephants to pigs to dogs to parrots.

In his book, Linden covers the same broad expanse of creatures, though primates figure prominently.  (Linden is the author of other books which examine primate intelligence, especially when it comes to language use.) This isn’t a jargon-laden scientific tome, but more carefully gathered stories from zookeepers, researchers, animal trainers, and other observers which Linden groups together to illustrate certain levels of reasoning.  The writing is friendly, light and fun without being silly or condescending, and for the most part Linden is restrained in drawing conclusions.  The stories themselves are often hilarious, such as the chimps who managed to get into a section where painters had left materials and the zookeepers returned to find their barriers dismantled, paint covered chimp infants, and a mother chimp wearing painter’s gloves.  The zookeeper’s angry reaction caused the chimps to offer all sorts of appeasement gifts as well as hastily cleaning up the babies.  Then there was the orangutan Chantek, who is the star of a number of stories.  One story I particularly enjoyed had Chantek visiting with some circus animals.  All went well until Chantek was introduced to a tiger, whereupon the terrified orangutan ran through the University of Tennessee campus, across the football field and to his trailer where he locked two sets of doors and hid in his hammock with a cover over this head.  His trainer had to crawl through a window to get inside the trailer.

However, my favorite story is illustrated with a photo on the book jacket. It shows a man paddling a boat with a leopardess holding a cub in her mouth.   Harriet the leopard had been orphaned and hand-raised by the researcher in the photo. She had been successfully released into the wild, mated, and produced two cubs.  When the region was flooded, Harriet carried her cubs to her old camp with the humans for safety.  When the waters receded, she carried one cub back on her own but when she returned for the second, she climbed into the boat and waited for the researcher to take her and her cub across the river. She knew what the boat was for, and she trusted the man to take her where she needed to go.

In short, this is a book to charm and delight, not intended to provide hard data to convince skeptics.  Personally, I was indeed charmed and delighted, and came away with a few new insights to intellectual and emotional intelligence.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The Heist by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg

Reviewed by Kristin

At first glance, The Heist promises to be about the thrilling adventures of FBI Special Agent Kate O’Hare as she chases down international crook Nicolas Fox.  Of course it doesn’t hurt that Nick is handsome and charmingly appealing to even tough-girl Kate—oh wait, yes, that is a problem.

Kate and Nick have a history.  Kate’s mission for the past several years has been to find this criminal mastermind.  Thwarted at every turn, Kate is obsessed by all the ways Nick has slipped out of her net.  Two years ago, Kate was almost successful, but Nick slipped away.  In fact, while Kate had dozens of FBI agents searching for him, Nick was lounging in HER hotel room, ordering room service, watching pay-per-view, and looting the mini-bar.

Kate runs an operation where she captures Nick as he attempts to steal the Crimson Teardrop diamond from the Roland Larsen Kibbee Art Collection in San Francisco.  But Nick has an even bigger con in mind as he manipulates the FBI into offering him a job, working alongside Special Agent Kate O’Hare.

Soon, Kate and Nick are sailing toward a private island in an attempt to capture Derek Griffin, an investment banker who absconded with $500 million of his company’s money right as the FBI was about to arrest him for running a pyramid scheme.  Kate and Nick have recruited a cast of supporting characters that add to the adventure.  Piracy, Mexican gangsters, damsels in distress and high-speed chases are all in a day’s work for Nick and his reluctant partner Kate.

This book is extremely “Evanovich.”  In fact, it’s so “Evanovich” that one day after finishing the book, I couldn’t remember the main character’s name.  All I could come up with was “Stephanie,” and I was sure that couldn’t be it.  Within the first few chapters, Kate is slapping herself on the forehead and yelling “Ugh!” as she is frustrated by Nick.  Throw in the obvious physical attraction to the bad guy who’s maybe a good guy, and you have a new series that might as well feature Stephanie Plum.

Perhaps Goldberg’s co-writing does hold down the number of times Kate slaps herself on the forehead or allows herself to give in to little fantasies about Nick.  I hadn’t read anything by Goldberg previously, and was interested to learn that he is a bestselling author and writer for the television series “Monk."

Despite the similarities to the Plum series, I did enjoy the quick-read and will look forward to reading the next one.  I have a feeling that Kate and Nick will continue their simmering sexual tension (just like Stephanie Plum and Ranger) and get into all sorts of high-jinks during their continuing assignments for the FBI.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Oathbreakers by Mercedes Lackey

Reviewed by Holly White

Oathbreakers is set in Mercedes Lackey’s world of Valdemar and is the second book in the “Vows and Honor” series, following Oathbound.

Oathbreakers continues the story of Tarma, the warrior woman, Sword-sworn, and Kethry, her blood-sister (like blood-brothers, only female), a White Winds mage.  Their goal now is to retire from being traveling-warrior-and-mage for hire.  Often, they did not even get the “hire” part of it, thanks in large part to Leslac, the minstrel, who had written numerous songs in their praise, which inaccurately portrayed them as being pure altruists, unwilling to accept mere money in return for their aid, only content that justice had been done.  This was proving to be a bit expensive for them.

Tarma and Kethry wanted to start a school where they could teach their skills to the next generation of mages and warriors.  Friends advised them to hire out with a mercenary company: not only would their reputation bring them high fees but it would give them both additional experiences that would be useful in their school.

Tarma and Kethry joined the Sunhawks, the most elite mercenary company around, often hired by the wealthiest nobles, which would also give them connections for the school.  Idra, the Sunhawks’ leader, was also a princess of Rethwellanin, but not in direct line for the throne, in which she was not interested anyway, preferring to fight. Things went well at first, with both Tarma and Kethry establishing themselves as an integral part of the Sunhawks, but then it all started to go south.

Idra had returned to her country after her father’s death to cast her vote as to which brother should be king after him.  One brother was both interested in and qualified for the rule of Rethwellan, and the other was neither.  It seemed a mere formality, but a message from Idra indicated there might be a delay.  After no word from her for months, Tarma and Kethry set out to visit Rethwellan in disguise to see what they could learn.  They found a tyrant on the throne.  Idra and her brother  had disappeared, and the people who were supposed to be their contacts didn’t trust them, and so Tarma and Kethry could not get any information. 

Before it was over with, the two would travel to Valdemar, all the Sunhawks mercenaries would unite in a battle for which they didn’t care if they were paid, Tarma would have to prove herself willing to give up everything she had ever held dear, Kethry would have to call on powers she never had the need to call on before, the minstrel Leslac would be dealt with once and for all, and someone would find love.

I loved this story; it was a bit slow going at the beginning, but by the halfway point, I could not put it down.  I highly recommend this book. You don't have to read Oathbound first, but you will have a richer reading experience if you do because you'll know the characters' backgrounds.

If you love fantasy tales with warriors, battles, mages, disguises, magical beasts that can talk to you in your mind, court intrigues, strategies that involve surprise endings, and the hope of good winning over evil, I think you will love this book as I do.  One more to add to my “Favorites Shelf!”

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Read It Before You See It!

Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp is winning rave reviews from the critics. It’s the story of a teenage romance, but it’s not bubble gum.  Neither is the book, which was a finalist for the National Book Award in 2008.  Tharp is another one of those YA authors too good for adults to miss. The movie is an independent film and as of this writing, hasn’t made it to local theaters.

Fall is often the time for more “serious” movie releases after a summer of lighter entertainment.  There are a number of book related releases coming out this year:

  • A new version of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations is due out, this one starring Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes and Jeremy Irving as Pip.
  • William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying comes to the screen, directed by and starring James Franco.
  • Carrie with Chloe Grace Moretz, Julianne Moore is the newest film adaptation of Stephen King’s novel.
  • Ender’s Game, based on the book by Orson Scott Card is due out in November. Harrison Ford is one of the stars.
  • Big Sur, based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Jack Kerouac,  stars Kate Bosworth, Josh Lucas, and Anthony Edwards.
  • The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort tells the inside story of his excesses in the corporate world, including crime, corruption, and drugs.  Leonard DiCaprio, Matthew McConaughey, and Jonah Hill star, Martin Scorsese directs.
  • The Book Thief, based on Markus Zusak’s book of the same name, is set in Nazi Germany and is narrated by Death.  This is another YA book that adults have enjoyed, and the movie version starring Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson should appeal to a wide audience as well.
  • The Hunger Games:  Catching Fire, based on the best-selling series by Suzanne Collins, is based on the second book in the series.