Book Lovers

The Financial Lives of the Poets
Jess Walter

Matt Prior was a successful business journalist when he left that job and tried out a new venture: business advice in verse, poetfolio.com.  Now, he’s lost his job and his website, his family’s house is close to foreclosure, his wife is Facebook-cheating on him, and he’s thinking about selling pot to help make his house payments. On top of that, he’s barely sleeping while his dementia-laden father offers loopy quips about football players’ beards and sexy female newscasters. This is a darkly funny (sometimes uproarious) book about the financial times we live in and the lengths one man goes to in order to keep his family together.

Feb 25, 2011
Andy
Full Dark, No Stars
Stephen King

In each of the four stories in Stephen King’s new collection, an ordinary person encounters a dark stranger-on a country road, within the person they love, or even inside themselves-and is surprised to discover what it brings out in them. The strength of each tale is not in the twists and turns of the plot itself, but in following the protagonist through his or her negotiation of their own limits for suffering and capacity for malevolence. The narrator of “A Good Marriage” discovers a terrible secret about her husband that devastates the life she loves. In “Fair Extension,” a man is given the opportunity to escape his immediate fate by visiting misfortune on his best friend, while in “1922” a man does the unthinkable to preserve the life he loves and in so destroys everything in it. My personal favorite was the revenge tale “Big Driver,” in which the victim of a terrible crime gives full control to her fragmented psyche in her quest for revenge.

Feb 20, 2011
Anonymous
Bob Dylan in America
Sean Willetz

Love his voice or hate it, Bob Dylan is a songster. And it should come as no surprise that Willetz, a Princeton professor of history, focuses as much on the history of the  music and lyrics that Bob Dylan borrows from as much as as he does the songs themselves. Willetz investigates Dylan's influences both major and minor (such as the 1930s bluesman Blind Willie McTell and the classical composer Aaron Copland, whom Dylan never acknowledged but Willetz does a connect-the-dots logic through the first 50 pages). Since Willetz is an historian, he can tend to cover these topics exhaustively. But the parts about the making of influential albums like Blonde on Blone and Love and Theft and tours like the Rolling Thunder Revue  provided new (to me) insights into the work of this great, American artist.

Feb 16, 2011
Andy
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Stieg Larsson

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is the first book in Larsson's internationally best-selling "Millennium" trilogy, which revolves around a brilliant young hacker named Lisbeth Salander. Lisbeth and Mikael Blomkvist, a journalist who has recently been convicted of libel, team up to solve the 40-year-old disappearance of a young girl named Harriet Vanger. The Vanger family owns the successful Vanger Enterprises, but the members of the family despise each other. Mikael is asked to solve Harriet's disappearance by her uncle, Henrik Vanger, who has obsessed over losing his niece for the past 40 years.

If you enjoy mysteries, especially Dan Brown's DaVinci Code, you'll enjoy this book. Be warned that it does contain violent scenes of rape and murder (the title in Swedish translated into Men Who Hate Women), but bad deeds do not go unpunished. Also, Lisbeth Salander is a character you'll never forget. She's the girl with the dragon tattoo...and if anyone messes with her, they soon regret it.

Feb 15, 2011
Liz
The Help
Kathryn Stockett

The surprise hit of 2009 and 2010, The Help has spent almost 2 years on the New York Times bestseller list and deservedly so.  An engrossing story of racial relationships, especially among the black help and the white female employers, as well as the expectations of these relationships on both sides.  A young white female decides that she doesn't share the same opinions of her long-time friends.  When a divisive issue comes up regarding treatment of the black maids, Skeeter Phelan decides to take a risk and write about the conditions in her hometown.  She gains the trust of two of her friends' maids and the stories they tell of their lives are both happy and terribly sad.  An engrossing look at the early civil rights movement in 1960s Mississippi.  Highly recommended.  Soon to be a motion picture.

Feb 15, 2011
Susan
One for the Money
Janet Evanovich

If you aren’t already familiar with the great Stephanie Plum, Bounty Hunter, here is your chance. Evanovich’s One for the Money is our introduction to Stephanie, an unemployed divorcee from Trenton, New Jersey, who takes a job as an “apprehension agent” to earn some fast cash. With great instincts and a bit of spunk, she not only brings in the bad guys helps an innocent man to clear his name. Of course, she does all this with a great sense of humor and a colorful cast of supporting characters. The great thing about a series like this is that if you like what you see in book 1, there’s much more where that came from! (Also, a film adaptation will be released later this year!)

Feb 14, 2011
Anonymous
The Poisonwood Bible
The Poisonwood Bible
Barbara Kingsolver

During the 1950's evangelical Baptist minister Nathan Price moves his wife and four daughters to the Congo to convert the natives to Christianity. We see this story through each of his family member’s different perspectives as Nathan tries anything and everything to find a way to get the natives to come to his church, while his rage at his lack of success continues to grow. After a horrible tragedy, we watch as the Price family unravels and Nathan’s family comes to terms with the loss of his grip on reality. Each woman goes on to lead a different life and find their own way to continue life in Africa. On one hand this book is an poignant story of one family and a comment on the colonial endeavors of the last century.

Feb 6, 2011
Kristy
Dear American Airlines
Jonathan Miles

Bennie Ford is on his way to a wedding, his daughter’s in fact. Tragically, he hasn’t seen his daughter since the day his ex-wife kicked him out for good, 28 years ago. Adding to the misery/mystery, Bennie’s flight to the wedding has been “delayed by weather,” according to American Airlines, a dubious claim which Bennie and the hundreds of other overbooked and delayed passengers see right through. So Bennie begins a letter to American Airlines, which is part rage against the airline, part sober-eyed (now) account of how he got into this mess, and part fable-like story (one of which he is translating for a Polish friend).  I listened to this on CD and I must say the funnest part is the reading performed by Mark Bramhall, whose great Southern accent and intonations brings a whole new level of understanding to the work. Be warned, there are some downer parts to the novel, but the narrator finally does catch his plane.

Jan 28, 2011
Andy
Zombies Vs. Unicorns
Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

In an effort to resolve a heated debate between bloggers Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black over which fictional creature rules supreme, the zombie or the unicorn, Larbalestier (Team Zombie) and Black (Team Unicorn) gathered some of the best Young Adult fiction writers out there in a collection of short stories about each. From fairy tales (Garth Nix’s “The Highest Justice”, Margo Lanagan’s “A Thousand Flowers”) to heartwarming stories of zombies in love (Alaya Dawn Johnson’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart”, Cassandra Clare’s “Cold Hands”) with some good-natured trash talking in between, this collection entertains from start to finish. A great read for teens and adults alike!

Jan 25, 2011
Anonymous
I'd Know You Anywhere
Laura Lippman

In the summer of 1985 Elizabeth Lerner was abducted by a serial killer and held for almost six weeks. More than twenty years later Elizabeth -now Eliza- has moved on. She has a comfortable life with a loving, supportive husband and children who are unaware of their mother’s past. She is happy and safe. One day she receives a cryptic letter with a picture of her and a reminder: “I’d know you anywhere.” In order to protect the life she has built she must face the man who took her and address what really happened that summer, and why he allowed her, unlike so many other girls, to live.

Jan 13, 2011
Anonymous

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