David Grann’s newest book, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, is a collection of fascinating articles that center around the theme of obsessions. From a scientist searching for the elusive Giant Squid to a French con-man who pretends to be a teenager, Grann explores some of the ways that people become obsessed with ideas, mysteries and power, among other things. His research is thorough, subjects are interesting and his writing engages the reader. Like his previous book The Lost City of Z, I found this collection of stories interesting and well-written–another outstanding effort from author David Grann.
>If you’re waiting for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, you might want to try these other novels that can be found at MPL.
Faceless Killers: a mystery by Henning Mankell This Swedish crime novel follows Kurt Wallender, a small-town detective, who is trying to solve the gruesom murder of an elderly couple. Johannes Lovgren is found beaten to death and his wife has time to utter only one word, “foreign,” before she slips away. This sparks off anti-immigrant sentiment that turns deadly. Meanwhile, Wallender is trying to address a number of personal problems, from patching things up with his wife to reconnecting with his senile father.
Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg Smilla is a member of the Eskimo/Greenlander minority in Denmark and an authority on the properties and classification of ice. She is also the friend of a young boy named Isaiah Christiansen who is afraid of heights. When Isaiah falls from a snow-covered roof in Copenhagen, Smilla becomes obsessed with why he was on that rooftop. As she unravels the questions surrounding Isaiah’s fall, she uncovers information about his father’s mysterious death and a conspiracy leading back to WWII.
The Princess of Burundi by Kjell Eriksson The Princess of Burundi is a Swedish crime novel made spectacular by its elegant character descriptions. Former small-time crook and family man Little John Jonsson is found murdered with evidence of torture. Ola Haver and Ann Liddell of the Uppsala police force investigate the murder, looking into a high-stakes card game Jonsson played before his disappearance and into an embittered sociopath with whom Jonsson attended school.
If you’re looking for more books like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, there is a handout available in the library with more ideas.
Lady Sydney Hathwell is stranded in America when her father dies and she discovers that the fiance he intended for her is a horrible man. She contacts an uncle in Texas and he invites her to stay with him, but assumes she is a nephew rather than a neice and makes it clear that he prefers it that way. She dons mens clothes and heads for Texas, only to be greeted by the cranky (but, of course, handsome) Tim Creighton who can’t believe he’s forced to deal with this whimpy fop. This is a light and amusing inspirational romance.
Suzanne Beecher has been sending me emails nearly everyday for the last 4-5 years that I always look forward to and make time to read. She feels like a beloved friend or co-worker but I have never met her. I hear about her family, and travels but she also shares her trials and emotions that I can usually relate to in some way. DearReader.com is the way I have connected with Suzanne. I enjoy a few paragraphs of a new book each week in the particular genre I am most interested in and also anticipate a few paragraphs from Suzanne, the owner of this website.
Muffins and Mayhem: recipes for a happy (if disorderly) life is the first book written by this fun, and expressive online bookclub lady. I enjoyed every page of her musings and revealing stories. She has been a restaurant owner, started her own business magazine, ran a non-profit program to feed the homeless and now writes a daily column that over 350,000 readers subscribe to at DearReader.com. Suzanne includes some of her favorite recipes, including the chocolate chip cookies recipe that she has prepared to get her foot in the door at publishing companies all over the country.
I was recently making up a reading list for a teen when I came across Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman. If you haven’t ever explored the Young Adult section at the library, you’re missing out. It’s loaded with well-written books ranging from fun and frothy to so serious you need a box of tissues at hand when you read them.
Vince is seventeen and, as if that doesn’t make life difficult enough, the son of a powerful Mafia boss. He does everything he can to stay out of the “family business.” But that becomes increasingly difficult, like when he finds someone in the trunk of his car when out on a date. To complicate matters, he starts falling for the daughter of an FBI agent.
This story has hints of Romeo and Juliet, but without all of the angst. Vince’s plights are full of hilarity and the side characters are delightful. Vince’s mom tries to maintain a happy, healthy home while cleaning up bullet wounds and ignoring the constant wire tapping of their lives. The men that “work” with Vince’s dad are full of fascinating and unexpected traits. Vince himself is funny, but also realistic. He struggles to form his own identity while facing decisions about both the challenges and priveleges that come from being the son of a Mafia boss. This is a great story about a young man trying to do the right thing when he’s not quite sure what that may be.
Paul Doiron’s debut novel, The Poacher’s Son, is set in the lush woods of Northern Maine. Mike Bowditch is a Maine Game Warden whose estranged father is accused of murder, with a manhunt underway for the suspected killer. Bowditch puts his career and his life on the line to try to prove his father’s innocence as he confronts painful issues from his past relationship with his father. Doiron’s characters are vivid, believable and complex. The setting in Maine comes to life with wonderfully described details. The story is fast-paced, thrilling and filled with surprises–an entertaining mystery. This book is to be the first in a series about the character Mike Bowditch.
Whenever a work is translated into a new medium, some things are gained and others are lost. This is definitely the case for The Discworld Graphic Novels: The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic, graphic novel adaptions of the first two books in the Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. I really enjoyed this graphic novel because I felt the illustrations added quite a bit to the story. Pratchett’s humor was conveyed quite well through this new medium and I enjoyed the stories just as much as when I read the novels.
The Colour of Magic tells the story of Twoflower, the first tourist to visit Ankh-Morpork, and his guide Rincewind, a failed wizard given the task of watching over Twoflower. The stories follow their travels around the Discworld (a world that rides on the back of the giant turtle Great A’Tuin) as they travel to see all the sights Twoflower has read about in his guidebook (everything from pub fights to dragons).
In The Light Fantastic, only Rincewind has the knowledge to save the world (the spell in his head that scares off all the other ones he tried to learn). The problem is, the last time Rincewind was seen, he was falling off the edge of the Disc.
Not only does the library own The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic in their full length novel forms, it also owns The Color of Magic movie adaptation with Sean Astin (Samwise Gamgees in The Lord of the Rings) playing Twoflower.
The Lost City of Z by David Grann recounts the story of British explorer Percy Fawcett and his travels to the Amazon in the 1920′s, trying to locate a city he called “Z”–a place Fawcett believed to be a lost city made of gold. Through thorough research in Fawcett’s diaries, Grann tells the story of the horrors of exploration in the Amazon jungles–swarms of insects, deadly diseases, hostile native Indians and deadly snakes. The world was captivated by Fawcett’s dispatches from the jungle, until the communications abruptly ceased and no word was ever heard from his party again. His disappearance is a mystery–one that has endured over the century and has prompted many to search for Fawcett and die in the attempt. As he delved deeper into the story, Grann also became consumed with Fawcett’s disappearance. In 2004, he left his urban life in New York City and set out for the jungles of the Amazon, seeking to learn the fate of Fawcett and his men. During his own explorations, Grann uncovers fascinating information about Fawcett and the city of “Z”. This is a thrilling adventure story about exploration, discovery, history and archaeology–a riviting story that captures the imagination.
An Eagle Named Freedom; My True Story of a Remarkable Friendship, begins when a malnourished eaglet with two broken wings was brought to the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center in Washington State. It was hoped, if she could survive, that she would be a part of the raptor education program. Jeff, a volunteer, became her devoted caretaker and formed a special bond with her. Though Freedom would never fly, she had Jeff as her wings.
In 2000, Guidry was diagnosed with cancer. During the grueling months of chemotherapy, it was the time spent with Freedom that gave him comfort and the will to fight. it is told in the tradition of Pepperberg’s Alex & Me; about a special bond between human and animal. A couple of videos of Freedom and Jeff are available on Youtube.
I’m still not sure why I picked up this book, but I’m very glad I did. I tend to avoid books having to do with bull riding and I often find that Native American literature tends to be way too deep for my scrawny little brain, but somehow Dream Wheels made it into my house and actually moved to the top of my book pile.
Rodeo cowboy Joe Willie Wolfchild suffers a devastating accident three second into the ride that would have made him a champion. His family takes him to the ranch to heal his body and the anger of having lost everything that was meaningful for him. Meanwhile, Aiden and Claire are struggling along in the city. Claire has tried her best mothering Aiden, but with a string of bad boyfriends and no confidence to try to make it on her own, things haven’t turned out like she had hoped. Aiden ends up in prison where a sympathetic cop presents the idea of Claire and Aiden spending some time on his friends’ ranch to try to pull their lives together. The two families come together with wariness, pain, anger, regret, and just enough hope to get by. Joe Willie and Aiden challenge each other and learn from each other, pulling each other out of the dark places they have gone.
Dream Wheels had me caught within a few pages. Wagamese has the ability to not just describe the events, but also share how they feel. When Joe Willie rode the bull for the last time, I could almost taste the dirt and hear how the sounds of the crowd faded away until he was focused on the feel of the bull on his tailbone and the rope around his glove. The author doesn’t leave out any of the grit and ugliness of the anger these two young men face, enabling him to venture into the heart of relationships and spirituality without crossing the line into schmaltzy sentimentalism. Dream Wheels is a truly beautiful story.
Soulless by Gail Carriger is described on the cover as “A novel of vampires, werewolves, and parasols,” which sums it up quite well. Alexia Tabotti is a soulless spinster who faces a frustrating world filled with paranormal annoyances and two insipid half-sisters, armed with only her quick wit and her parasol. When she is attacked by a vampire at a ball, (how gauche!) she accidentally kills him and upsets the delicate balance that keeps 19th century London civilized. Fortunately, Scottish Alpha werewolf and government official Lord Maccon is on hand to help her solve the mystery and save the day. This fast-moving and incredibly funny story will have you cheering them on and wondering how long Miss Tabotti will maintain her spinster status.