Book Lovers

Peter and Max: A Fables Novel
Bill Willingham

In Peter and Max, author Bill Willingham adds to the rich world he has created in his Fables comic series with a dark tale of jealousy, goodness, witches and flutes.  While the novel's titular brothers are Peter Piper and the Pied Piper of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, Willingham weaves a rich tale that builds on a background of popular stories and stands on its own as a fine fantasy novel.  Best of all is that it requires no previous knowledge of the Fables comics for full enjoyment.

Nov 17, 2010
Max Barry

This novel is hysterical, especially for anyone who has worked in a corporate setting. Stephen Jones is a new employee hired at the Zephyr Holdings company and he soon discovers that his entire department’s purpose is to sell training modules to other departments within the company. He learns that no one has ever met the CEO and that employees have learned to survive by not questioning all of the seemingly arbitrary restructurings that seem to occur weekly. So Stephen makes it his mission to find out what is really going on at Zephyr Holdings and what he discovers just gets more bizarre as time goes on ultimately resulting in his promotion and being forced to deal with some very serious ethical quandaries. This novel is a quick read full of suspense and biting satire.

Nov 10, 2010
The Windup Girl
Paolo Bacigalupi

In the future, energy is the highest commodity (calories in particular); the world can no longer rely on oil and fossil fuels. The Windup Girl connects the stories of four people living in Bangkok, Thailand: Anderson Lake, an American calorie man masquerading as a factory owner; Emiko, a windup girl genetically engineered in Japan; Capt. Jaidee, an officer in the Environment Ministry; and Tan Hock Seng, a Chinese refugee working for Anderson Lake. The country is suffering as irreconcilable differences between the Environment Ministry and the Trade Ministry are coming to a head.  Changes are coming for Thailand---see how all of these characters play a part.

Nov 4, 2010
Hamlet's BlackBerry
William Powers

It seems like we’re always connected to an extreme degree in this day and age thanks to smart phones, email, texts, and social networks.  With the current trend of books taking sides on whether or not this is a good thing, William Powers’s new book, Hamlet’s BlackBerry, shows that it is possible and beneficial to find a healthy balance in our lives between connection and disconnection.  Using historical and philosophical examples, we see how people have coped with new technological advancements and still managed to stay grounded.  With easily doable suggestions for breaking free of our addictions, Powers shows that we don’t have to be incessantly tied to our gadgets to have a fulfilling life.

Nov 3, 2010
The Passage
Justin Cronin

Sometime in the not-so-distant future a secret government program aims to create super-soldiers capable of giving the U.S. the upper hand in any and every military situation: super strong, super fast, and capable of incredible destruction.  But in the hour it takes the original "virals" to escape, humanity is forever changed.  The Passage follows a young girl named Amy through the collapse of modern society into a survival-centered, post-viral world.  Though Cronin's virals are - for all intents and purposes - vampires, this story is a great read for fans of zombie stories such as Max Brooks' World War Z or Robert Kirkman's the Walking Dead.

Nov 2, 2010
American Desert
Percival Everett

Ted Street has a problem: he’s dead but he’s not really dead. Ted died in an automobile accident 2 days before, but during his funeral service he sat bolt upright and was fully aware and communicative. The news catches like wildfire and Ted’s home and family are surrounded by media nuts trying to get an exclusive with him and his family. When he is later kidnapped, Ted is caught between religious zealots (some who think he is the devil, some who think he is the Messiah) and a secret government doctor who wants to discover his secret and make an undefeatable army out of his DNA. See whether Ted makes it out, dead, er … alive, er…, well see if he just makes it out to see his family again. This book has plenty of laughs for those who like their humor on the darker side.

Oct 30, 2010
Big Stone Gap
Adriana Trigiani

It's hard being the resident spinster in a tiny town, and Ave Maria Mulligan is well aware of the stigma as she goes about her day-to-day routine in Big Stone Gap, Virginia.  Life has become a little less mundane, however, with an onslaught of potential romances, unearthed family secrets, and some good old, small-town shenanigans.

Similar to a southern version of The Gilmore Girls, the characters are colorful but not too far-fetched, and Ave Maria's personal insights throughout the book are both funny and interesting. Thankfully the town's (and Ave Maria's) story doesn't stop with Big Stone Gap, as it is the first in a series of four. If you like it, be sure to check out the second book, Big Cherry Holler as well.

Oct 25, 2010
Ugly Ways
Tina McElroy Ansa

The three Lovejoy sisters (Betty, Emily, Annie Ruth) gather together in their hometown of Mulberry, Georgia after hearing of Mudear’s death.  Mudear, “That’s what I called my mother and that’s what I want my children to call me. It’s short for Mother dear.”  Throughout the years, Betty, the oldest, provided a safe shelter for her younger sisters when Mudear’s cruel words, meant to keep them from their ugly ways, took over and Poppa did nothing to stop them. Though often feeling rejected by Mudear, the Lovejoy sisters developd a strong bond that helped them through the rough times especially after Mudear’s change – when she refused to leave her room until after dark and then only to tend to her flower garden while wearing just her nightgown.  The inclusion of Mudear’s running commentary as she lay in her casket adds a bit of humor and helps the book move along at a brisk pace.  Ansa deftly captures the sisters’ emotions in realistic dialogue, expressing the pain, sadness and uncertainty bundled up with the unconditional love they all felt for their Mudear. Anyone interested in reading about the realities surrounding family life may want to pick up this recommended read.

Oct 22, 2010
The Year of the Flood
Margaret Atwood

I've always enjoyed Margaret Atwood's dystopian tales of the future (also see The Handmaid's Tale and Oryx and Crake) and this book is no different.  The world is divided into sterile secure compounds where people live who work for corporations and into the pleebands--crime-infested wastelands where everyone else lives.  Climate change is wreaking havoc on the earth and gene-spliced life forms like the lion/lamb are populating the landscape.  A great catastrophe hits the world and only a few survivors remain.  We see the story through the viewpoints of Ren and Toby both former members of the cult-like environmental group God's Gardeners, who have prepared and warned people of the coming devastation called "the waterless flood."

Oct 20, 2010
Dexter is Delicious
Jeffry Lindsay

In the fifth installment of Lindsay's popular series, Dexter Morgan finally has it all.  He has perfected his domestic cover.  He is married-with a newborn daughter, no less-and finally ready to give up his dark habits and become the man he has always pretended to be.

After two less-than-stellar Dexter novels, Lindsay seems to have returned to the balance of mystery, dark humor and even-worse-than-Dexter bad guys that made his first two novels a success.  For followers of the series not ready to see Daddy Dexter turn in his knives just yet, have no fear.  In this latest installment Lindsay ups the ante by giving Dexter an honest-to-goodness emotional link to others but reminds readers that you can take the homicidal urges out of the man, but you can't take the homicidal maniacs out of Miami.

Oct 19, 2010

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