Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Library Loot (Aug 31, 2011)

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Marg from The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader that encourages bloggers to share the books they've checked out from the library.  If you'd like to participate, just write up your post - feel free to steal the button - and visit the above 2 blogs to see who has the Mr. Linky this week. Don't forget to check out what others are checking out!


Our library is closing soon for about 5 weeks to complete some renovations, so I have been stocking up!

Witches on the Road Tonight
by Sheri Holman

By the best-selling author of The Dress Lodger, Sheri Holman's new and most ambitious novel to date, Witches on the Road Tonight, uncovers the secrets and lies that echo through three generations of one Appalachian family.  It is a deeply human, urgent exploration of America's doomed love affair with fear.

On the eve of World War II, eight-year-old Eddie Alley lies in bed watching his first horror movie, hand-cranked and flickering on the bare wall of a backwoods cabin.  In 2011, Eddie's daughter, Wallis, an anchorwoman for a twenty-four-hour news channel, lies in bed with a stranger, spinning ghost stories.  Between these two nights winds the story of the Alley family -- Eddie's mother, Cora, an Appalachian mountain witch who slips out of her skin after nightfall; Captain Casket, Eddie's alter ego, a campy 1970's TV horror-movie host; and Jasper, the orphaned boy Eddie brings home, who is determined to destroy Eddie's illusions even if it means destroying himself.

Deftly moving from the rural, Depression-era South to modern New York City, Holman teases out the dark compulsions and desperate longings that can blur the line between love and betrayal.  Witches on the Road Tonight is an unflinching story that digs at the roots of myth -- both familial and societal -- and beautifully renders our perpetual yearning to make sense of the past in our present.



Left Neglected
by Lisa Genova

Sarah Nickerson is like any other career-driven supermom in Welmont, the affluent Boston suburb where she leads a hectic but charmed life with her husband Bob, faithful nanny, and three children -- Lucy, Charlie, and nine-month old Linus.

Between recruiting the best and brightest minds as the vice president of human resources at Berkley Consulting; shuttling the kids to soccer, day care, and piano lessons; convincing her son's teacher that he may not, in fact, have ADD; and making it home in time for dinner, it's a wonder this over-scheduled, over-achieving Harvard graduate has time to breathe.

A self-confessed balloon about to burst, Sarah miraculously manages every minute of her life like an air traffic controller.  Until one fateful day, while driving to work and trying to make a phone call, she looks away from the road for one second too long,  In the blink of an eye, all the rapidly moving parts of her jam-packed life come to a screeching halt.

A traumatic brain injury completely erases the left side of her world, and for once, Sarah must pay close attention to the details surrounding her, including her formerly absent mother.  Without an awareness of the food on the left side of her plate or even her own left hand, she is forced to search for answers in the void of this strange hemi-world -- both about the past and her uncertain future.

Now, as she wills herself to regain her independence and heal, Sarah must learn that her real destiny -- her new, true life -- may lie far from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets.  And that a happiness and peace greater than all the success in the world is close within reach if only she slows down long enough to notice.


Powers: A Novel
by John B. Olson

"Bury me standing.  I must be buried standing."

Deep in the swamps of southern Louisiana, Mariutza's beloved grandfather whispers his ominous last request -- and dies in her arms.  All her life he's looked after her, trained her in the old Gypsy ways and kept her hidden away in the swamp.  But now. . .

The Badness has found her.

Mari's only hope is to find Jaazaniah the Prophet, the legendary hero of her grandfather's bedtime stories.  But how can a girl who has never left the swamp survive the terrifying world of men long enough to find a saviour who may not even exist?

In the heart of New orleans, musician Jazz Rechabson runs for his life.  Everyone is out to get him. Soldiers, government agents, mysterious hoooded men.  What do they want?  And who is the beautiful young woman who haunts his waking dreams?

Can strangers from different worlds come together in time to unmask a horrifying enemy?  And if they do, will they be able to stand?



Mother's Milk
by Edward St. Aubyn

Celebrated English author Edward St. Aubyn's brilliant and scathingly witty family portrait examines the shifting allegiances between parents, children, husbands, and wives.

The novel's perspective carousels between each member of the Melrose family -- the same family featured in St. Aubyn's trilogy Some Hope -- starting with Robert, who provides an exceptionally droll and convincing account of being born; to Patrick, a hilariously churlish husband who has been sexually abandoned by his wife in favor of motherhood; to Mary, who's consumed by her children and an overwhelming desire to not repeat the mistakes of her own mother.  All the while, St. Aubyn examines the web of false promises that entangle this once illustrious family, whose last vestige of wealth -- an old house in the South of France -- is about to be permanently donated by Patrick's mother to a new-age foundation.

An up-to-the-minute dissection of the mores of child-rearing, marriage, adultery, and assisted suicide, Mother's Milk showcases St. Aubyn's luminous and acidic prose -- and his masterful ability to combine the most excruciating pain with the driest comedy.  Once Mother's Milk is absorbed into the bloodstream of American culture, postpartum depression will never be the same again.



The Sea
by John Banville

The author of The Untouchable now gives us a luminous novel about love, loss, and the unpredictable power of memory.

The narrator is Max Morden, a middle-aged Irishman who, soon after his wife's death, has gone back to the seaside town where he spent his summer holidays as a child -- a retreat from the grief, anger, and numbness of his life without her.  But it is also a return to the place where he met the Graces, the well-heeled vacationing family with whom he experienced the strange suddenness of both love and death for the first time.  The seductive mother; the imperious father; the twins -- Chloe, fiery and forthright, and Myles, silent and expressionless -- in whose mysterious connection Max became profoundly entangled, each of them a part of the "barely bearable raw immediacy" of his childhood memories.

Interwoven with this story are Morden's memories of his wife, Anna -- of their life together, of her death -- and the moments, both significant and mundane, that make up his life now: his relationship with his grown daughter, Claire, desperate to pull him from his grief; and with the other boarders at the house where he is staying, where the past beats inside him "like a second heart."

What Max comes to understand about the past, and about its indelible effects on him, is at the center of this elegiac, vividly dramatic, beautifully written novel -- among the finest we have had from this extraordinary writer.



The Devil and Miss Prym
by Paulo Coelho

A community devoured by greed, cowardice, and fear.  A man persecuted by the ghosts of his painful past.  A young woman searching for happiness.  In one eventful week, each will face questions of life, death, and power, and each will choose a path.  Will they choose good or evil?

In the remote village of Viscow -- a village too small to be on any map, a place where time seems to stand still -- a stranger arrives, carrying with him a backpack containing a notebook and eleven gold bars.  He comes searching for the answer to a question that torments him:  Are human beings, in essence, good or evil?  In welcoming the mysterious foreigner, the whole village becomes an accomplice to his sophisticated plot, which will forever mark their lives.

Paulo Coelho's stunning novel explores the timeless struggle between good and evil, and brings to our everyday dilemmas fresh perspective:  incentive to master the fear that prevents us from following our dreams, from being different, from truly living.

The Devil and Miss Prym is a story charged with emotion, in which the integrity of being human meets a terrifying test.


Ripple
by Mandy Hubbard

Lexi is cursed with a dark secret.  The water calls to her, draws her in, forces her to sing her deadly song to unsuspecting victims.  If she succumbs, she kills.  If she doesn't the pain is unbearable.  To keep herself and those she cares about safe, she shuts herself off, refusing to make friends or fall in love -- again.  Because the last time she fell in love with a boy, he ended up dead.

Then Lexi finds herself torn.  Against her better judgment, she's opening up again, falling in love with someone new when she knows she shouldn't.  But when she's offered the chance to finally live a normal life, she learns that the price she must pay to be free of her curse is giving him up.

Mandy Hubbard spins a sea-ravaged tale of melancholy beauty, and the choices one girl makes between land and waves, love and freedom, her future -- and her heart.


Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood
by Marjane Satrapi

Originally published to wide critical acclaim in France, where it elicited comparisons to Art Spiegelman's Maus, Persepolis is Marjane Satrapi's wise, funny, and heartbreaking memoir of growing up in Iran during the Islamic Revolution.  In powerful black-and-white comic strip images, Satrapi tells the story of her life in Tehran from ages six to fourteen, years that saw the overthrow of the Shah's regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution, and the devastating effects of war with Iraq.  The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran's last emperors, Marjane bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country.

Persepolis paints an unforgettable portrait of daily life in Iran: the bewildering contradictions between home life and public life and the toll repressive regimes exact on the individual spirit.  Marjane's child's-eye-view of dethroned emperors, state-sanctioned whippings, and heroes of the revolution allows us to learn as she does the history of this fascinating country and of her own extraordinary family.  Intensely personal, profoundly political, and wholly original, Persepolis is at once a story of growing up and a reminder of the human cost of war and political repression.  It shows how we carry on, with laughter and tears, in the face of absurdity.  And, finally, it introduces us to an irresistible little girl with whom we cannot help but fall in love.


The White Tiger
by Aravind Adiga
Narrated by John Lee

Balram Halwai is a complicated man.  Servant.  Philosopher.  Entrepreneur.  Murderer.  Over the course of seven nights, Balram tells us the terrible and transfixing story of how he came to be a success in life -- having nothing but his own wits to help him along.

Balram's eyes penetrate his native India as few outsiders can.  And with a charisma as undeniable as it is unexpected, Balram teaches us that religion doesn't create virtue, and money doesn't solve every problem -- but decency can still be found in a corrupt world, and you can get what you want out of life if you eavesdrop on the right conversations.

Sold in sixteen countries around the world, The White Tiger recalls The Death of Vishnu and Bangkok 8 in ambition, scope, and narrative genius, with a mischief and personality all its own.  Amoral, irreverent, deeply endearing, and utterly contemporary, this novel is an international publishing sensation.


A Discovery of Witches
by Deborah Harkness
narrated by Jennifer Ikeda

Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research.  Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery, so she banishes the book to the stacks.  But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library.


The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking, Book 1)
By Patrick Ness
Narrated by Nick Podehl

Prentisstown isn't like other towns.  Everyone can hear everyone else's thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise.  Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee -- whose thoughts Todd can hear, too, whether he wants to or not -- stumble upon an area of complete silence.  They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden -- a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives.  But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?



The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking, Book 2)
by Patrick Ness
Narrated by Angela Dawe and Nick Podehl

Fleeing before a relentless army, Todd has carried a desperately wounded Viola right into the hands of their worst enemy, Mayor Prentiss.  Immediately separated from Viola and imprisoned, Todd is forced to learn the ways of the Mayor's terrifying new order.  But everything is shrouded in secrets.  Where is Viola?  Is she even still alive?  And who are the mysterious Answer?  And then one day, the bombs begin to explode. . .


Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking, Book 3)
by Patrick Ness
Narrated by Angela Dawe, Nick Podehl and Macleod Andrews

As a world-ending war surges to life around them, Todd and Viola face monstrous decisions.  The indigenous Spackle, thinking and acting as one, have mobilized to avenge their murdered people.  Ruthless human leaders prepare to defend their factions at all costs, even a a convoy of new settlers approaches.  And as the ceaseless Noise lays all thoughts bare, the projected will of the few threatens to overwhelm the desperate desire of the many.  The consequences of each action, each word, are unspeakably vast: To follow a tyrant or a terrorist?  To save the life of the one you love most or thousands of strangers?  To believe in redemption or assume it is lost?  Becoming adults amid the turmoil, Todd and Viola question all they have known, racing through horror and outrage toward a shocking finale.

3 comments:

Cat said...

Yikes - don't know what I'd do if the library closed for that long!
Some great books you have in your pile.

Happy reading!

bermudaonion said...

You got a lot of great books! I really want to read Left Neglected.

Brenda said...

I have had A Discovery Of Witches on my bookshelf for a while and need to read it. I also have a few library books that need to be reviewed. I have become hooked on checking out library books and reading them on my kindle! Every time I visit your blog I find something new I want to read :).

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