Nov 1, 2011

The marriage plot - Jeffrey Eugenides

The marriage plot - Eugenides, Jeffrey

Summary: Madeleine Hanna breaks out of her straight-and-narrow mold when she falls in love with charismatic loner Leonard Bankhead, while at the same time an old friend of hers resurfaces, obsessed with the idea that Madeleine is his destiny.

Booklist Reviews
"*Starred Review* In Eugenides' first novel since the Pulitzer Prize–winning Middlesex (2002), English major and devotee of classic literature Madeleine Hanna is a senior at Reagan-era Brown University. Only when curiosity gets the best of her does she belly up to Semiotics 211, a bastion of postmodern liberalism, and meet handsome, brilliant, mysterious Leonard Bankhead. Completing a triangle is Madeleine's friend Mitchell, a clear-eyed religious-studies student who believes himself her true intended. Eugenides' drama unfolds over the next year or so. His characteristically deliberate, researched realization of place and personality serve him well, and he strikes perfectly tuned chords by referring to works ranging from Barthes' Lovers' Discourse to Bemelmans' Madeline books for children. The remarkably à propos title refers to the subject of Madeleine's honors thesis, which is the Western novel's doing and undoing, in that, upon the demise, circa 1900, of the marriage plot, the novel "didn't mean much anymore," according to Madeleine's professor and, perhaps, Eugenides. With this tightly, immaculately self-contained tale set upon pillars at once imposing and of dollhouse scale, namely, academia ("College wasn't like the real world," Madeleine notes) and the emotions of the youngest of twentysomethings, Eugenides realizes the novel whose dismantling his characters examine. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The publisher will be cashing in on the popularity of Middlesex, especially with public library users, by targeting much of their publicity campaign in that direction." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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The cat's table - Michael Ondaatje

The cat's table - Ondaatje, Michael

Summary: Boarding a 1950s ship and sequestered to an out-of-sight dining table with other marginalized children, an eleven-year-old boy shares rollicking adventures while traveling to various world regions, learning about jazz, women, and a shackled prisoner along the way.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* In 1953, an 11-year-old boy's life is permanently upended when he leaves Colombo, Ceylon, to begin a new life in London with his mother. His 21 unsupervised days aboard the ocean liner Oronsay prove momentous as significant events during the crossing profoundly impact the boy's future while immensely expanding his world. Although seemingly at the periphery of society, seated at the so-called cat's table, the boy's dining mates—an assortment of colorful characters—are, in fact, a lot more instrumental in the ensuing intrigue aboard the ship than originally appears. The boy, Michael, and two companions have the run of the ship. They get up early each morning for various adventures. They eavesdrop, get into trouble, and observe adult situations that they lack the facility to interpret. Michael finds himself assistant to Baron C. in the breaking and entering of the ship's cabins to make off with various valuables. A dog they smuggled aboard from the port city of Aden escapes, creating much havoc; an on-board prisoner plots a getaway; and budding sexuality begins to sprout. As the years pass, Michael, who grows up to be an acclaimed writer with an international reputation (not unlike Ondaatje, especially for The English Patient, 1992), frequently returns to the events of those three weeks and demonstrates how "over the years, confusing fragments, lost corners of stories, have a clearer meaning when seen in a new light, a different place." High-Demand Backstory: An extensive U.S. author tour will bring attention anew to the literary talents of this remarkable writer. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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The Buddha in the attic - Julie Otsuka

The Buddha in the attic - Otsuka, Julie

Summary: Presents the stories of six Japanese mail-order brides whose new lives in early twentieth-century San Francisco are marked by backbreaking migrant work, cultural struggles, children who reject their heritage, and the prospect of wartime internment.

Booklist Reviews
"*Starred Review* Otsuka's stunning debut, When the Emperor Was Divine (2002), a concentrated novel about the WWII internment of Japanese Americans, garnered the Asian American Literary Award, the ALA Alex Award, and a Guggenheim. Her second novel tells the stories of Japanese mail-order brides at the start of the twentieth century in a first-person-plural narrative voice, the choral "we." This creates an incantatory and haunting group portrait of diverse women who make the arduous ocean journey to California buoyant with hope only to marry strangers nothing like the handsome young men in the photographs that lured them so far from home. Prejudice and hardship soon transform the brides into fingers-worked-to-the-bone laborers, toiling endlessly as domestic workers, farmers, prostitutes, and merchants. Every aspect of female life is candidly broached in Otsuka's concise yet grandly dramatic saga as these determined, self-sacrificing outsiders navigate the white water of American society, only to watch their American-born children disdain all things Japanese. Drawing on extensive research and profoundly identifying with her characters, Otsuka crafts an intricately detailed folding screen depicting nearly five decades of change as the women painstakingly build meaningful lives, only to lose everything after Pearl Harbor. This lyrically distilled and caustically ironic story of exile, effort, and hate is entrancing, appalling, and heartbreakingly beautiful." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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The year we left home - Jean Thompson

The year we left home - Thompson, Jean

Summary: Chronicles the happiness pursuits of the Eriksons from their 1970s coming-of-age to the near-present day, in a story told from revolving viewpoints

Publishers Weekly Reviews
Bookended by two wars—Vietnam and Iraq—Thompson's third novel (after the collection Do Not Deny Me) sketches the travails of an Iowa family over three decades. Matriarch Audrey neatly sums up the episodic novel's grand theme: "she'd been born into one world, hopeful and normal, and now she lived in another, full of sadness and failure." The novel opens as oldest daughter Anita, the beauty of the family, celebrates her marriage. Over the years, however, Anita confronts dissatisfaction with herself and disillusionment with her pompous husband. Her younger brother, Ryan, a high school senior as the novel opens, longs to escape his rural roots, dating a hippie poet and majoring in political science before realizing that the farmers who came before him might hold more relevance than he'd imagined. Cousin Chip comes back from Vietnam troubled and aimless, his wanderings from Seattle to Reno, Nev., to Veracruz, Mexico, offering a parallel to the spiritual restlessness all the other characters feel. Told from the point of view of more than a half-dozen characters, the vignettes that make up the narrative are generally powerful in isolation, but as a whole fail to develop into anything more than a series of snapshots of a family touched by time and tragedy. (May)

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Wonderstruck - Brian Selznick

Wonderstruck - Selznick, Brian

Summary: Having lost his mother and his hearing in a short time, twelve-year-old Ben leaves his Minnesota home in 1977 to seek the father he never knew in New York City, and meets there Rose, who is also longing for something missing from her life. Ben's story is told in words; Rose's in pictures.

Booklist Reviews
"*Starred Review* Opening Selznick's new book is like opening a cabinet of wonders—the early museum display case "filled with a nearly infinite variety of amazing things" that is so central to this story. Following the Caldecott Medal–winning The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2007), Selznick offers another visual narrative, one that feels even better suited to his inventive style. The beautifully crafted structure includes two stories set 50 years apart. The first, set in 1977, is told in text and follows Ben, who is grieving the sudden loss of his mother when he stumbles upon clues that point to his father's identity. The second, told entirely in richly shaded pencil drawings, opens in 1927 as a young girl, Rose, gazes at a newspaper clipping. Rose is deaf, and Ben also loses his hearing, during a lightning strike. Both lonely children run away to New York City, and their parallel stories echo and reflect each other through nuanced details, which lead "like a treasure map" to a conjoined, deeply satisfying conclusion. Selznick plays with a plethora of interwoven themes, including deafness and silence, the ability to see and value the world, family, and the interconnectedness of life. Although the book is hefty, at more than 600 pages, the pace is nevertheless brisk, and the kid-appealing mystery propels the story. With appreciative nods to museums, libraries, and E. L. Konigsburg, Wonderstruck is a gift for the eye, mind, and heart." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Spiral-bound: top secret summer - Aaron Renier

Spiral-bound: top secret summer - Aaron Renier

Summary: With an ensemble cast straight from a box of Animal Crackers, this is a delightful tale of ambition, morality, and self-discovery drawn in a decidedly beautiful fashion reminiscent of Richard Scary and Lewis Trondheim, yet utterly unique. Renier's fully-realized and compellingly adventurous narrative is at once both achingly naive and profoundly worldly. A remarkable debut, this tightly crafted novella is the real deal, and will charm your socks off.

Booklist Reviews
In this graphic novel about the young animal characters who live in the Town, Turnip the elephant is using the summer to find his artistic voice through sculpture, his friend Stucky the dog is building a submarine, and Ana the rabbit is working on the town's underground newspaper. Their stories all wind around the town's deep, dark secret about the monster that lives in the pond. Kids who enjoyed novels such as Louise Fitzhugh's Harriet the Spy and Roald Dahl's Matilda will find a similar sense of adventure here. The characters seem like real children, wholesome without being too sweet, and Renier's art is light and fun, a sort of Babar meets underground comix. Readers older and younger than the target audience will enjoy this, too. ((Reviewed November 1, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

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Onwards towards our noble deaths - Shigeru Mizuki

Onwards towards our noble deaths - Mizuki, Shigeru

Summary: "[A] semi-autobiographical account of the desperate final weeks of a Japanese infantry unit at the end of World War Two. The soldiers are instructed that they must go into battle and die for the honor of their country, with certain execution facing them if they return alive" -- from publisher's web site.

Booklist Reviews
This first English translation of legendary Japanese cartoonist Mizuki's 1973 antiwar screed is a lightly fictionalized account ("90 percent fact," he claims in an afterword) of his time in the Imperial Army during WWII. Though some 30 soldiers are introduced in the opening character guide, no more than a few ever really differentiate themselves, a fitting reminder of the low premium that war puts on individual life. What comes through clearly is the litany of indignities the soldiers endure on a daily basis from slap-happy officers, perilously unforgiving conditions, and sudden outbursts of death on the receiving end of the enemy's bombs and bullets. Most gut-twisting is the grunt's-eye view of the lunacy of gyokusai ("noble" suicide attacks), which several men somehow survive only to face theirarmy's brutal intolerance for their loss of honor. Mizuki's realistic settings, rife with fiery explosions and jungle squalor, are sharply contrasted by the cartoony figures. A war story without an ounce of glory but with pathos in bulk. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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The BUST DIY guide to life - Laurie Henzel

The BUST DIY guide to life: making your way through every day - Laurie Henzel

Summary: Collects do-it-yourself and craft projects from Bust magazine covering such topics as food and entertaining, travel, and career and finance.
Whether it’s sewing clothes, making cheese, or growing a garden, the modern appeal of “do-it-yourself” projects has a broader reach than ever. And who better to teach us how to DIY our lives than the über-crafty editors of BUST, the quirky, raw, and real magazine “for women who have something to get off their chests”? In The BUST DIY Guide to Life, magazine founders Debbie Stoller (of Stitch ’n Bitch fame) and Laurie Henzel have culled more than 250 of the best DIY and craft projects from its 15-year history. Organized by category—beauty and health, fashion, food and entertaining, career, finance, travel, and sex—and written in BUST’s trademark brazen and witty style, this quintessential DIY encyclopedia from the quintessential DIY magazine is eclectic, empowering, hilarious, and downright practical, truly capturing the spirit of women today.

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Jaws - Peter Benchley

Jaws - Benchley, Peter

Summary: A man-eating shark causes havoc off the Long Island coast.

Booklist Reviews
This novel about a rogue shark that terrorizes a beach community hasn’t aged a day since its publication more than 35 years ago. Benchley’s writing is lean and efficient—this is his first novel, and also by far his best—and the story is a solid mixture of small-town politics, mystery, and outright terror. The author positions his protagonist, police chief Martin Brody, as virtually the lone voice of reason in a town filled with people who want to downplay the shark’s presence (so as not to scare away tourists with their bulging wallets); and when the body count starts to rise, it’s Brody who has to find a way to kill the beast, even if it means putting his own life on the line. The familiar characters—Brody, oceanographer Matt Hooper, shark-hunter Quint—are not as likable as they are in Steven Spielberg’s classic film adaptation, but in the context of the novel, they are well drawn and compelling. Those who are familiar with the movie, but not the book, are in for some surprises, and those who read the book way back when should definitely give it another look. --David Pitt

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Shatner rules - William Shatner

Shatner rules: your guide to understanding the Shatnerverse and the world at large - Shatner, William

Summary: The actor best known as Captain Kirk on "Star Trek" shares self-deprecating memories from his on- and off-screen experiences while discussing such topics as his larger-than-life celebrity persona, his career longevity, and his views on modern technology. 

Kirkus Reviews
The galaxy's most famous starship captain offers a mostly tongue-in-cheek guide to his rules for living, complete with anecdotes and life lessons. Eighty years old and still going strong with multiple TV shows, films, books and appearances (all of which he promotes tirelessly within these pages), Shatner's lust for life shines through in this lightweight, amusing effort. The book apes the familiar self-help format, with the rules ("Say Yes," "Stay Hydrated," etc.) used as starting points for funny and poignant anecdotes from his "unique, strange, and wonderful" life, and instructions to the reader on "how to live a Shatneresque existence… [and] experience the essence of Shatner in its purest form." In addition to the rules, there are frequent asides in the form of "Notes" and "Fun Factners," basically one-liners playing off the narrative. Shatner is a true raconteur, and in between the jokes there are surprisingly profound ruminations on life and death, from someone whose career in the spotlight stretches from the early days of TV to the age of Twitter. Much of the ground covered here will be familiar to readers of his autobiography, Up Till Now (2008), including Shatner's feelings about his former Trek cast-mates' public criticisms and the tragic 1999 drowning death of his wife Nerine. However, his legions of fans probably won't mind, or be put off by his outsized personality, though they may think twice about shouting "beam me up, Scotty!" when they encounter him. Whatever the situation--be it an awkward dinner with Charlton Heston or a fight to the death with a wild boar--Shatner applies his rules as only he can. This book may not boldly go where no man has gone before, but Shatner fans will relish the opportunity to learn from the master. Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Salem's Lot - Stephen King

Salem's Lot - King, Stephen

Summary: A nightmare of evil grips a small Maine town when a mysterious stranger appears - (Baker & Taylor)

"Stephen King's second book, 'Salem's Lot (1975)--about the slow takeover of an insular hamlet called Jerusalem's Lot by a vampire patterned after Bram Stoker's Dracula--has two elements that he also uses to good effect in later novels: a small American town, usually in Maine, where people are disconnected from each other, quietly nursing their potential for evil; and a mixed bag of rational, goodhearted people, including a writer, who band together to fight that evil."--Review from

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The house in France: a memoir - Gully Wells

The house in France: a memoir - Wells, Gully

Summary: "Set in Provence, London, and New York: a daughter's wonderfully evocative and witty memoir of her mother and stepfather--Dee Wells, the glamorous and rebellious American journalist, and A. J. Ayer, the celebrated and worldly Oxford philosopher--and the life they lived at the center of absolutely everything. Gully Wells takes us into the heart of London's liberated intellectual inner circle of the 1960s. Here are Alan Bennett, Isaiah Berlin, Iris Murdoch, Bertrand Russell, Jonathan Miller, Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens, Robert Kennedy, and later in New York Mayor Lindsay and Mike Tyson . . . her mother as a television commentator earning a reputation for her outspoken style and progressive views . . . her stepfather, an icon in the world of twentieth-century philosophy, proving himself as prodigious a womanizer as he was a thinker. And throughout, there is La Migoua, the house in France, on a hill between Toulon and Marseilles, where her parents and their friends came together and where Gully herself learned some of the long-lasting lessons of a life well-lived. A dazzling portrait of a woman who 'caught the spirit of the sixties' and one of the most important intellectual figures of the twentieth century, drawn from the vivid memory of the child who adored them both."-- Provided by publisher.

Booklist Reviews
*Starred Review* Wells had the perfect childhood for her vocation as travel writer and features editor of Condé Nast Traveler and the good sense to enjoy it, even though her mother was as vexing as she was scintillating. Wells is a breathtakingly frank, nimbly hilarious, and sensuously precise memoirist and portraitist, capturing the chimerical energy of her famously sexy and outrageous Canadian American expat mother. Dee was a controversial journalist, critic, television personality, and novelist as well as a glamorous yet raucous partygoer and hostess. After divorcing her young daughter's diplomat father, Dee moved to 1960s London and corralled the renowned Oxford philosopher and notorious womanizer A. J. Ayer into marriage. "Clever and funny" celebrities, the couple lived carousel lives (assiduously observed by young Gully) in London and their funky old house in Provence, until their love affairs pulled them apart. Wells remembers intoxicating conversations and outrageous behavior in scenes worthy of Oscar Wilde, featuring the likes of Bertrand Russell, Iris Murdoch, and John and Robert Kennedy. She tells her own fascinating story, too, including her long-ago on-and-off romance with Martin Amis. Desire and ambition, creativity and fame, betrayal and love, all take on new dimensions in Wells' sparkling and spiky look back at protean and brilliant iconoclasts. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Whatcha mean, what's a zine?: the art of making zines and minicomics - Mark Todd

Whatcha mean, what's a zine?: the art of making zines and minicomics - Todd, Mark

Summary: Explores the diversity and creativity that can be captured in zines, handmade mini-comics or magazines about anything and everything, with helpful tips and practical suggestions for writing, producing, editing, and printing one. Original. - (Baker & Taylor)

Voice of Youth Advocates Reviews
Even in these days of blogs and podcasting, print zines still thrive. Long-time zinesters Todd and Watson bring together text and artwork from more than twenty other zine and mini-comic creators for an inside look at this underground genre. With more than one hundred zine-ish looking pages, this book is packed with useful information for aspiring zinesters. Teens already familiar with the format will have no trouble following the quirky typed and handwritten layout. Those used to slick, stylish type may have some trouble navigating, although the two-color printing of the finished book should make it easier to read than the uncorrected proof. Several sections, particularly the information on silk screening, are more advanced than most teens, especially those just starting out, would need, but because each page or two is a self-contained article, skipping around is not a problem The information on formatting and printing alone is a goldmine and a great resource for teachers and librarians doing art and writing projects with youth. The book is a one-stop source for someone putting together a zine or comic program and worth the purchase for public libraries looking for innovative and interesting ways to encourage teens to create.-Vikki Terrile Glossary. Illus. 3Q 3P M J S Copyright 2006 Voya Reviews.

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Sea of poppies - Amitav Ghosh

Sea of poppies - Ghosh, Amitav

Summary: Preparing to fight China's nineteenth-century Opium Wars, a motley assortment of sailors and passengers, including a bankrupt rajah, a widowed tribeswoman, and a free-spirited French orphan, comes to experience family-like ties that eventually span continents, races, and generations.

Booklist Reviews
"A passion for history propels Ghosh's sweeping novels, in which love leaps the fences of race, caste, nationality, and class. After his complex tale of humankind's relationship with nature in The Hungry Tide (2005), Ghosh returns to the narrative grandeur of The Glass Palace (2001) in this lengthy yet fast-flowing historical novel about England's ruthlessly run opium industry in occupied India. It begins in a "sea of poppies" in Bengal, and culminates on board the Ibis, an old slave ship carrying a motley group of outcasts. There's brave Deeti, a young fugitive widow; dashing Zachary, the son of a former slave and her American master; adventurous Paulette, a French orphan; and Neel, a fallen raja. In vivid settings ranging from the hellish precincts of an enormous opium factory, to absurdly lavish upper-class households, to the Ibis' grim hold, Ghosh unfurls tales of betrayal and tyranny, revelation and transformation, while reveling in the mischievous inventiveness of a bawdy polyglot lingo favored by sailors on Eastern seas. With intimations of Dickens and Melville, Ghosh's vital saga encompasses suspense and satire, perverse cruelty and profound kindness, and the countless ways humans conceal desire and fear behind arrogance and brutality. More frolicsome language, penetrating insights, and high adventure will follow now that the Ibis trilogy is under way." Copyright 2008 Booklist Reviews.

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Voices from the Korean war - Richard Peters

Voices from the Korean war: personal stories of American, Korean, and Chinese soldiers - Peters, Richard

Summary: Unique in gathering war stories from veterans from all sides of the Korean War -- American, South Korean, North Korean, and Chinese -- this volume creates a vivid and multidimensional portrait of the three-year-long conflict told by those who experienced the ground war firsthand. Richard Peters and Xiaobing Li include a significant introduction that provides a concise history of the Korean conflict, as well as a geographical and a political backdrop for the soldiers' personal stories.
- (University of Kentucky)

Booklist Reviews
Edited by two Korean War veterans, this oral history volume rather breaks a trail in the historiography of that conflict, offering, after an excellent, balanced narrative introduction, accounts of various phases of the war by survivors from both sides. Here are the first clashes, the retreat--or, from the North Korean viewpoint, advance--south, and Chinese infiltration into North Korea, which led to U.S. disaster and the Chosin Reservoir campaign, during which the weather was bad for the Americans, worse for the underclad and undersupplied Chinese. The stalemate beginning in 1951 is covered by several voices, including those of a Korean housewife and a classic green second lieutenant, a South Korean. Thereafter come the Koje-Do prison riots, reported by both a guard and an organizer. If the book will change no one's politics, it definitely adds to everyone's store of knowledge, particularly about the Koreans, on whose territory the blood was shed. ((Reviewed January 1 & 15, 2004)) Copyright 2004 Booklist Reviews.

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Maphead - Ken Jennings

Maphead: charting the wide weird world of geography wonks - Jennings, Ken

Summary: Traces the history of map making while offering insight into the role of cartography in human civilization and sharing anecdotes about the cultural arenas frequented by map enthusiasts. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
Considering Jennings' calling card—he's the Jeopardy! multimillionaire—readers might expect a light, trivia-filled book. Well, that's half right. It's breezily written, but it's not trivial. In fact, it demonstrates that Jennings, a software engineer before his game-show triumph, could have a long career as a writer. There is some trivia in it (e.g., there's no evidence pirates ever used treasure maps), but mainly it's a serious and passionate look at the importance of geography and, by extension, the ability to use and understand maps—for students, historians, political leaders, pop-culture innovators, and, indeed, everyone. Jennings peppers the book with humorous comments and personal asides (he admits up front that he's "a bit of a geography wonk"), but his mission is to rescue geography from irrelevance, to make us realize that geographic illiteracy is not merely "comic shorthand for stupidity" but a real and pervasive problem. A fascinating book that blends humor, memoir, and serious analysis. Comparisons to Bill Bryson's magnificent A Really Short History of Nearly Everything (2009) are entirely apt. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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