December Book List – 2011

Once again I went to the independent booksellers and the librarians to make my selections. I also looked in the two book clubs, Literary Guild and Book of the Month Club to see if there were any great finds. This is not an exhaustive list of great new books. I only list the books that I plan to read.
11/22/63 by Stephen King – an English teacher and his friend who runs the local diner travel through a portal to 1958 to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination.
The Drop by Michael Connelly – a cold case intertwines with a current murder of a city councilman’s son
The Litigators by John Grisham – it’s John Grisham
The Prague Cemetery by Umberto Eco – I usually read anything by Umberto Eco but am not sure about this one. It sounds like heavy going and apparently contains some problematic lapses in political correctness. This is a maybe.
The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon – This is the newest of a series of books I have followed.
The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly – Lawyer Mickey Haller must defend a client (Lisa Trammel) accused of killing a banker who defaulted on her mortgage.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho – this book, established as a modern classic “will enchant and inspire readers for generations to come. (I might have to give Mr. Coelho another try.)
The Charming Quirks of Others by Alexander McCall Smith – A Louise Dahousie book – always charming
The Lake of Dreams by Kim Edwards – a woman’s family history gets revised by her discovery of some historical family objects – “every element emerges as a carefully placed piece of the puzzle”
The Bird Sisters by Rebecca Rasmussen – two sisters, Twiss and Milly, now elderly, live lost in memories and tending to injured birds
Zero Day by David Balducci – a chilling “what if” scenario
I Am Half-Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley – a Flavia de Luce mystery
The Time in Between by Maria Duenas – the story of a seamstress who becomes the most sought after couturiere during the Spanish Civil War and World War II
The Sisters by Nancy Jensen – two sisters in Kentucky in the 20’s – good intentions – bad decision –how this affects 3 generations of women
The Impossible Dead by Ian Rankin – mystery in a police force
Delicacy by David Foenkinos – love, grief, then love again in Paris (out Feb., 2012), “
We the Animals by Justin Torres – follows three brothers as they make their way through an ever-changing, and sometimes turbulent childhood that puts a new twist on the coming-of-age tale
Last Man in Tower by Aravind Adiga – an Indian man refuses to sell his high rise apartment to developers
Sunset Park by Paul Austin (back in Brooklyn) – NY native Miles Heller (female) flees to Brooklyn and shacks up with a group of artists squatting in the Sunset Park neighborhood

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More Christmas Book Possibilities

Again, in time for Christmas, The Daily Beast published 10 Books You Might Have Missed But Shouldn’t. There were a number of interesting suggestions on this list, so even though some are on my radar already I copied the entire list to save.
1.       A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil   MacGregor
2.       Habibi by Craig Thompson
3.       A Book of Secrets by Michael Holroyd
4.       Assassins of the Turquoise Palace by Roya Hakakian
5.       What It Is like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes
6.       Hemingway’s Boat: everything he loved in life and lost by Paul Hendrickson
7.       Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar
8.       Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest by Wade Davis
9.       Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller
10.     Keynes Hayek: The Clash that Defined Modern Economics by Nicholas Wapshott

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Book List – November, 2011

I find most of the books I think I will want to read on, the site of the independent booksellers. I can’t seem to stop making new book lists for myself even though I am still working on my July book list. Someday when I don’t have a life, I will catch up (maybe).
The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen – since the success of Steig Larsson a lot of Scandanavian writers are being translated to English. Jussie Adler-Olsen is Denmark’s premier crime writer. After nearly being killed and losing two colleagues Carl Morck is given a new office in the basement and assigned cold cases in “Department Q”. One of his cold cases “comes to life” and makes his life quite interesting.
When She Woke by Hillary Jordan – “In the future abortion has become a crime as a series of events threatens the United States. One woman wakes up to discover that her skin color has been changed to red as a punishment for having the procedure done. Now she must embark on a dangerous journey in order to find refuge from a hostile and threatening society,” according to the library catalog.
The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka presents the stories of six Japanese mail-order brides whose new lives in early 20th century San Francisco are marked by backbreaking migrant work, cultural struggles, children who reject their heritage, and the prospect of wartime internment.
The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright is the story of Gina Moynihan, living in a suburb of Dublin who recalls the trail of lust and happenstance that brought her to fall for the “love of her life”, Sean Vallely. On a snowy day Gina waits for Sean’s 12-year-old daughter.  “This is Enright’s tour de force, a novel of intelligence, passion and distinction.
The Sixth Man by David Baldacci – “After the lawyer of institutionalized serial killer Edgar Roy ends up dead, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell must figure out whether Roy is really a killer or if other evil is afoot.”
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin – Two boys of different classes and different races have a friendship until the richer boy is suspected of murdering someone he was dating. The suspicions break up the friendship. After more than 20 years they cross paths again. When another girl disappears these two must confront their past.
The tower, the zoo, and the tortoise by Julia Stuart – The queen decides to house her menagerie of gifted pets in the Tower of London which has fallen on hard times. Caring for these animals changes everything for the human residents of the Tower. “This secret romp will appeal to history buffs,” says Kirkus Review.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami [Jay Rubin, Philip Gabriel, translators] “Murakami is like a magician who explains what he’s doing as he performs the trick and still makes you believe he has supernatural powers…But while anyone can tell a story that resembles a dream, it’s the rare artist who can make us feel that we are dreaming it ourselves.” The NYT’s Book Review. The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo- the lives of two people gradually converge – surreal.
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is another book by Haruki Murakami.
The following are new books by writers I follow along with one nonfiction book about a person who interests me.
Explosive Eighteen by Janet Evanovich
V is for Vengeance by Sue Grafton
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The Litigators by John Grisham
The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje – “wonderful new novel”
The Dove Keepers by Alice Hoffman _ set in ancient Israel
Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny says the library card catalog is a “brilliantly evocative mystery with Chief Inspector Armand Gomache of the Montreal police.
Snowdrops by A.D. Miller – set in Moscow in the early 2000’s – this is a man’s confession to his fiancé – here we have one man, two willowy Russian girls, seduction and sin – “featuring characters whose hearts are as cold as the Russian winter. This one has mixed reviews.
The Stranger’s Child by Alan Hollinghurst – Library Review says “On the eve of WW I, Cecil, a wildly attractive and promising young poet, pays a visit to the home of his Cambridge boyfriend, the son of one of England’s oldest families. He memorializes the visit with a poem that becomes famous after his wartime death. The poem, created as an autograph book keepsake for his lover’s younger sister, Daphne, becomes the subject of speculation and debate for biographers and the generations that follow, as it contains hints about what might have happened during the visit and with whom. This generously paced, thoroughly satisfying novel will gladden the hearts of Anglophile readers.”
Snuff by Terry Pratchett – At long last, Lady Sybil has lured her husband, Sam Vimes, on a well-deserved holiday away from the crime and grime of Ankh-Morpork. But for the commander of the City Watch, a vacation in the country is anything but relaxing. Yet a policeman will find a crime anywhere if he decides to look hard enough. (Library Card Catalog)
Nanjing requiem by Ha Jin – During the 1937 attack on Nanjing, American missionary and women’s college dean Minnie Vautrin decides to remain at her school during a violent Japanese attack that renders the school a refugee center for ten thousand women and children.

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Coffee Table Books, 2011

Some of these books I found on the web sites of other people, some I found on Amazon. I will list all the coffee table books I found. Although some of these subjects do not interest me, I sure there are others who will be interested. I will put a * next to the ones that interest me. recommends:
Photographs – 1961-1967, Dennis Hopper
Cabinet of Natural Curiosities, Albertus Seba
Jungles, Frans Lanting
Marilyn, Andre de-Dienes
*Architecture Now! – Houses 2
100 All Time Favorite Movies, Taschen
Logo Design, Vol. 3
These coffee table books are listed on Amazon and were published in 2011:
The Art of Epic Mickey, Austin Grossman and Warren Spector
*The Travel Book, Celeste Brash
Tavern League: Portraits of Wisconsin Bars by Carl Corey
reMind Vol 1, Jason Brubaker, Jeremy Barlow and Katy Kosek
Betty Paige: Queen of Hearts, Jim Silke
Napa Valley: the Land, the Wine, the People, Charles O’Rear and Daphne Larkin
*Life on Earth, The World’s Must See Destinations: An Expanded of Edition of LIFE’s Classic Book , Editors of LIFE
Jersey Girls: the Fierce and the Fabulous, Marie Moss and Barri Leiner Grant
*Car: The Definitive Visual History of the Automobile, DK Publishing
A Game to Love: In Celebration of Tennis, Mike Powell
Frommer’s Ottawa, James Hale
*Vintage Jewelry Design: Classics to Collect and Wear (Vintage Fashion Series), Caroline Cox and Gerda Flockinger
*Ansel Adams: Landscapes of the American West, Ansel Adams
*The Tuskegee Airmen: An Illustrated History: 1939-1949, Joseph Carvfer
*LIFE The Royal Wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton
Onward: How Starbucks Fought for its Life Without Losing its Soul, Howard Schultz and Joanne Gordon
Style like u, Elisa Goodkind and Lily Mandelbaum
*Dolce & Gabbana Uomini, Mariano Vivanco
Derek Jeter: From the Pages of the NYT’s, NYT’s and Tyler Kepner
In the Time of Bobbie Cox: The Atlanta Braves, their Manager, My Couch, Two Decades and Me, Lang Whitaker
Remembering Fenway Park: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Boston Red Sox, Harvey Frommer and Johnny Peskey
Cyclepedia: A Tour of Iconic Bicycle Designs, Michael Embacher
*Chicago’s Lake Shore: Urban America’s Most Beautiful Roadway, Neal Samors, Bernard Judge and Jennifer Ebeling
*Roberto Cavalli, Robert Cavalli
Deconstructing Obama: The Life, Love, and Letters of America’s First Postmodern President, Jack Cashill
*Everyday Icon: Michelle Obama and the Power of Style, Kate Betts
Ronald Reagan: Rendevous with Destiny, Newt Gingrich, Callista Gingrich and David N. Bossie
Black Faces of War: A Legacy of Honor from the American Revolution to Today, Robert V. Morris and Julius W Becton Jr.
*Jekyll Island: the Nearest Faraway Place (Vol. 1
The Soto Project, Ofri Craani, Orit Gat and James Trainor
*Ripples by Peter Endicott
*Will and Kate: A Royal Love Story, James Clench and Arthur Heard
*Louis Vuitton: 100 Legendary Trunks, Pierre Leonforte, Eric Pujalet-Plan, Patrick-Louis Vuitton
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Book List – October, 2011

I am still publishing my book lists even though I have not caught up on my reading. Fall is a very busy time for getting the house and the yard ready for winter and enjoying every last minute of any great weather before winter arrives. And, people just keep writing and publishing good books. They don’t consult my schedule to see if I have time to read them.  As long as they keep writing and I am able to keep reading I will continue to see what’s out there that I just can’t stand to miss. So here we go:
The Secret Kept by Tatiana De Rosnay who is also the author of Sarah’s Key writes about a brother and sister. Antoine Rey and Melanie have lived with a family tragedy for many years. After a visit to the family’s summer home. Melanie, thinking she has uncovered a stunning family secret related to this tragedy, gets into an accident that puts her brother in the hospital. This novel is set in Paris, always a recommendation. More drama follows her discovery in this book which reviewers call “a page turner”.
One Day by David Nicholls was made into a movie starring Anne Hathaway and                             . Two very different people, separated by social class, meet at their college graduation and remain friends for decades before they realize they love each other.
By Nightfall by Michael Cunningham who established himself as a wonderful writer with The Hours. Here we have a book that explores the pleasures of a “small life” versus a “life written large”. “Extraordinary, says the reviewer Barbara Hoffert in Library Journal. Kirkus Review does not agree and call this novel “a lightweight soap opera.” To read or not to read that is the question? Hard to pass up Michael Cunningham.
The Affair by Lee Child is the newest Jack Reacher novel and delivers plenty of suspense.
The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach “is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment to oneself and others.” Henry Skrimshander plays baseball at Westish College. His baseball performance is tied to the lives of four of his friends and himself. Sounds unique and has great reviews.
Reamde by Neal Stephenson is “a new thriller in which a tech entrepreneur gets caught in the very real crossfire of him own online war game.”
Feast Day of Fools by James Lee Burke is the fifth book in a series and the direct sequel to Rain Gods. It is a mystery that has a Native American connection with Sheriff Hack Holland and his deputy, Pam Tibbs who investigate the serial killer Jack Collins. They are assisted by an enigmatic person named Anton Ling.
Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks This edgy book features a very young internet sex offender known as the Kid who lives with his GPS locator under a bridge because he can’t live near children. He becomes a subject of a university prof who wants to study homeless sex offenders, but things get complicated. This is a modern story exploring a modern dilemma we would probably not be able to explore. Russell Banks does it for us. It doesn’t sound cheerful, but it does sound enlightening.
Nightwoods by Charles Frazier who is the author of Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons is called “a dazzling new novel of suspense and love set in a small town in North Carolina during the early 1960’s.” Luce, a loner, must reconsider her solitary life when she inherits her murdered sister’s twins. “Resonates with the timelessness of a great work of art” says the library catalog.
Train Dreams by Denis Johnson is “a new novella suffused with the history and landscapes of the American West”. It “captures the disappearance of a distinctly American way of life”. If you like Bret Harte or Cormac McCarthy apparently you will like this.
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh is not as flowery as it sounds as it involves a young women who has had little help preparing for her adult life, except what someone has taught her about the Victorian meaning of flowers. She learns to use this gift to change the lives of others and in the meantime invents her own future.
A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron contains the adventures of Bailey and is described as “heartwarming, insightful and laugh-out-loud funny.
Headhunters by Jo Nesbo is not part of her Harry Hole series. This is a “stand-alone thriller” and is “a true thriller from start to finish” says reviewer David Clendinning.
You Deserve Nothing by Alexander Kolya Maksik takes place in a Paris that is “sensual, dazzling and dangerously seduction”. In this dramatic tale Will Silver is a charismatic college teacher but is also in love with a student, Marie deClry and is almost brought down by jealousy from many quarters.
There are more. I may have to do a second list. Later.

Book List – April 2011

My April book list is, as usual, taken from the lists of the independent booksellers and the librarians. It includes a short selection of thrillers for those who enjoy a surge of adrenalin in their summer reading.

Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott, about love and family
The Solitude of Prime Numbers by Paolo Giordano, about loneliness and love
The Pale King by David Foster Wallace (posthumously), “deeply compelling”, “fascinating”
Emily Alone, sequel to Wish You Were Here by Stewart O’Nan, “poignant”
The Silver Boat by Luanne Rice, three sisters reunite to dissolve their parent’s estate and end up with questions which take them to Ireland and their roots
Miss Julia Rocks the Cradle by Ann B. Ross, I never met a Miss Julia book I didn’t like
The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen, reviewer Kelly Blewett says, “a novel that lets you kick up your feet, pour a glass of peach-flavored iced tea and relax”
The Fear by Peter Godwin – Peter exposed the fears of life in Zimbabwe – all products of the Mugabe regime. He goes back to visit hoping to “dance on Robert Mugabe’s grave” but that is not what transpires. If you would like to better understand what is happening in Zimbabwe this book makes it accessible through the eyes of a white man exiled by politics from his childhood home.

Summer Thrillers:

The Man from Beijing by Henning Mankell, “electrifying global thriller”
The Fifth Witness by Michael Connelly
The Troubled Man by Henning Mankell
Live Wire by Harlan Coben