This is not the type of book I would typically choose. Turns out, I couldn’t put it down.
When I go on vacation, I often look for books that take place in the same locale. Since I was heading out on a vacation to Maine, this one fit the bill. Granted, it had also received several excellent reviews, so I wasn’t just going by the title or the picture on the cover, though I’ve selected books that way a time or too, as well. Popular authors such as Nelson DeMillie, Tess Gerritsen, John Lescroart and C.J. Box were all singing the praises of this debut novelist, whose day job just happens to be editing Down East: The Magazine of Maine. Plus, the book also landed on Booklist’s best crime novels of 2010 list.
The Poacher’s Son opens with Mike Bowditch, a game warden in Maine, receiving an alarming message on his answering machine from his estranged father, Jack, whom he hasn’t seen in two years. The next day, Mike discovers that his father is the prime suspect in the murders of a beloved cop and a lumber executive. Though Mike knows his alcoholic father makes his living poaching illegal game, he cannot bring himself to believe that the man is capable of murder.
What distinguishes this book from more plot-based suspense thrillers is the realistic no-one-is-perfect characterizations. Also, the author seems to have a natural knack for pulling the reader into the setting, be it the rocky coasts or the forested wilderness that makes up much of Maine.
No, I won’t tell you the ending. But I will recommend that you read this book and that you keep a lookout for the series of other Mike Bowditch mysteries to come.
The title of The Cookbook Collector by Allegra Goodman is indicative of the book’s style. The cookbooks in question aren’t introduced until well into the story, and is just one of several plotlines. The book has been compared to Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility but I get a Dicken’s vibe, myself. There is an abundance of characters; many of them quite eccentric. There is also a sense that, in this book and for these characters, morality is an actual consideration in how they conduct themselves and the choices they make.
Two sisters are contrasts in lifestyle and general philosophy. Jess, the younger sister, is a free spirit, environmentalist, and perennial student. Emily is the CEO of a computer startup company (this being the late ’90’s and San Francisco).
Romantic tension abounds between Jess and her boss, the owner of a used and rare book store; they argue about everything – books, authors and whether books should be collected and owned or shared (via the public library system!). The dialogue between these two is witty and erudite, but not pompous.
Book lovers, library users and patrons of book stores, will all find something in The Cookbook Collector to chew on.
Every night before bed, I try to catch the newest episode of The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. So I was surprised and excited when I saw that one of my favorite Daily Show correspondents, Samantha Bee, had just come out with a book of humorous essays about her life. In her new book I Know I Am, But What Are You?, Bee covers everything from her upbringing by her Wiccan mother to teaching her friends about the birds and the bees using her Barbie dolls to trying to come up with the perfect gift for her husband and failing miserably. I was reading this book on a road trip to Chicago and found myself laughing out loud and sharing passages with my sister and husband, who couldn’t help but laugh out loud themselves, particularly at the passage where she described her son wanting to put the family cat in his mouth in order “to be kept safe forever in a protective human boy suit.”
Though she stays out of the realm of political humor that she is famous for on The Daily Show, Bee has no problem finding hilarious situations in her own life to write about. One of my favorites is her story of how she met her husband, fellow Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones: they were both in a traveling stage production of the childrens cartoon Sailor Moon, complete with anime-style outfits and a lot of very displeased children in the audience. You don’t have to be a fan of The Daily Show to enjoy this book; you just have to be looking for a good laugh.
The Pioneer Woman Cooks is an unique combination of cookbook and sociological essay. Ree Drummond got sidetracked on her journey from L.A. to Chicago, when she stopped in Oklahoma and met the cowboy who was to become her husband.
The photographs of horses, dogs, cowboys and rainbow straddled fields are sometimes cute and funny, sometimes striking and romantic. They alone make you want to pack your bags and move to a ranch out West.
The recipes are clear and simple, and each step is accompanied by a photograph. They are not definitely not for someone looking for low-fat or low-cholesterol meals. However, if you go to her blog, http://thepioneerwoman.com, you’ll find a “Cowgirl Food” category with dishes like lettuce wraps and sundried tomato pasta salad. Drummond actually got her start as a blogger, and both the book and blog are breezy, personal and easy to digest. 🙂
submitted by Sarah W
Ben Decovic is a former homicide detective who busted himself down to patrolman after the senseless death of his wife.
Corrine Tedros is a former nobody who wants money, respect and the immediate death of her husband’s rich uncle who is withholding both.
Croy Wendell is hired to do a crime. He doesn’t find out his clock is stopped until it’s far too late.
Jack Carson witnesses a perfectly arranged murder gone horribly wrong, but can’t unlock the memory – he’s got late stage Alzheimer’s.
This isn’t Carl Hiaasen’s Florida.
This is noir, done right.
MI5 intelligence officer Liz Carlisle stars in Dead Line, the fourth Stella Rimington spy novel.This time, an agent passes along a tip about a threat to a Middle East peace summit being held at a golf resort in Scotland, in which European, American and Middle Eastern heads of state will be in attendance. Liz tries to anticipate and prevent the unknown event without disrupting the conference.
Rimington was the head of the UK counter-intelligence and security agency in the mid-90’s. Her insider knowledge of surveillance units and the relationships between the Israeli Mossad, the CIA and the home British security agencies is surely authentic. There are interesting insights as to the etiquette of other friendly nations spying on each other. For example, Israeli diplomats who are also spies are supposed to be “registered” as such.
The MI5 in these books is a more genteel and much less frenetic organization than that of the BBC series, which was all about technology, violence and derring do. Liz and her courtly boss Charles Wetherby have the occasional turf battle with MI6 but it’s all very civil. It makes for a pleasant change from the hyper and profane American thriller. As a matter of fact, the British make a few snide remarks about their arrogant, but highly polished Secret Service brethren.
The latest book by Emily Giffin, Heart of the Matter, delves into the dynamics of what can happen with a chance encounter and how seemingly small things can completely change lives.
Stay at home mom Tessa Russo’s days are spent with her two young children while her husband, Nick, a world renowned pediatric plastic surgeon, works long hours which keeps him away from his family much of the time. While celebrating their anniversary at a five-star restaurant, Nick receives a call that will completely alter their future as a couple. A five year old boy, Charlie Anderson, has been burned on his hands and face at a birthday party and Nick has been called to the hospital to treat him.
In the days and weeks to follow, Nick develops a strong bond with Charlie’s single mother, Valerie, and with the boy. With the days, nights and weekends in which they spend together watching over him through surgeries and rehabilitation, their relationship slowly turns romantic. Nick’s wife Tessa eventually learns of the affair after his admission that he has just ended his relationship with Valerie. Tessa’s decision about her future is not easy or simple, and Giffin’s characters have true depth and thoughfulness in the decisions which they make.
Each chapter of Heart of the Matter alternates between Tessa’s and Valerie’s voices and this technique makes each of the two women multi-layered, complex and real. Giffin has a talent for creating empathetic female characters which the reader truly cares about. Heart of the Matter is Giffin’s fifth book and each of her previous novels conquer similar themes – women at a juxtaposition in their lives as well as the complex choices which go with them.
submitted by Sarah W
What would it be like to feel no pain? Not just the absence of paper cuts and bumped knees, but the absence of guilt or shame? Would it be a blessing or a curse?
Sean Ferrell explores the possibilities in his book, appropriately titled, Numb. His main character, an amnesiac, is found wandering around by a traveling circus. When asked who he is, he replies, “I’m…numb.” The name sticks, especially after he unknowingly nails his hand to a wood structure and can’t pull free.
His condition is taken for talent and without conscious effort or desire, Numb becomes the star act in the circus and then in New York, where he – or rather his numbness – acquires an agent, a fan following, a lot of people who want to make him their personal cash cow…and a girlfriend who would be his salvation – if he can just find the courage to feel…
The New York Times says Numb is a statement about media bombardment, fame in the Internet Age, and a culture in which instant gratification takes far too long.
Maybe. But I also say it’s a fascinating read.
As soon as I discovered that the first chapter of Sloane Crosley’s I Was Told There’d Be Cake was about her collection of plastic ponies, all gifted to her by past boyfriends, I knew I was in for a random and hilarious read. The book is a collection of humorous essays about Crosley’s life, including everything including her quest to find out the true meaning behind her name, starring as Mary in the camp Christmas play despite the fact that she’s Jewish, and her brief stint as a vegan.
Crosley’s essays are witty and relatable. I know that as a child of the ’90s, I appreciated her chapter-long ode to the computer game Oregon Trail. Because really, didn’t we all watch our oxen die as we tried to ford the river? Though some of the essays didn’t seem to go anywhere and forced me to do a bit of skimming, for the most part the book is very entertaining. One of my favorites was the story of her first real grown-up job in publishing and the suddenly evil boss she had to deal with. Her solution? Decorate a giant sugar cookie in the image of the boss’ face and give it to her. If you’re looking for a good laugh, Sloane Crosley’s book is for you.
Smilla’s Sense of Snow (based on a novel by Peter Hoeg) is another story that has a strong sense of northern atmosphere. The plot actually hangs on the study of ice crystals, and ends in a climactic chase on ice fields in Greenland. The cultural nuances among the Danish, Inuits and Greenlanders are a fascinating part of the story.
Smilla is a prickly character but cares deeply for a little boy in her apartment building in Copenhagen who falls to his death from the roof. She believes he has been murdered, due to the fact that he is afraid of heights and never would have played on the roof. Fans of conspiracy will love the complicated and multi-layered plot that reaches back into the distant past of Greenland.