Feb 1, 2012

Ubik - Philip K. Dick

Ubik - Dick, Philip K.

Summary: Glen Runciter's anti-psi security agency hires out its talents to block telepathic and paranormal crimes. But when its special team tackles a big job on the moon, something goes terribly wrong, and Runciter is seemingly killed. Now, his mourning employees are receiving bewildering messages from their boss on toilet walls, traffic tickets, product labels, and even U.S. coins.

'One of the most original practitioners writing any kind of fiction, Dick made most of the European avant-garde seem like navel-gazers in a cul-de-sac' - Sunday Times 'My literary hero' -- Fay Weldon 'For everyone lost in the endlessly multiplicating realities of the modern world, remember: Philip K. Dick got there first' -- Terry Gilliam

Check Availability

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children - Riggs, Ransom

Summary: After a family tragedy, Jacob feels compelled to explore an abandoned orphanage on an island off the coast of Wales, discovering disturbing facts about the children who were kept there.

Publishers Weekly Reviews
Riggs's atmospheric first novel concerns 16-year-old Jacob, a tightly wound but otherwise ordinary teenager who is "unusually susceptible to nightmares, night terrors, the Creeps, the Willies, and Seeing Things That Aren't Really There." When Jacob's grandfather, Abe, a WWII veteran, is savagely murdered, Jacob has a nervous breakdown, in part because he believes that his grandfather was killed by a monster that only they could see. On his psychiatrist's advice, Jacob and his father travel from their home in Florida to Cairnholm Island off the coast of Wales, which, during the war, housed Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. Abe, a Jewish refugee from the Nazis, lived there before enlisting, and the mysteries of his life and death lead Jacob back to that institution. Nearly 50 unsettling vintage photographs appear throughout, forming the framework of this dark but empowering tale, as Riggs creates supernatural back stories and identities for those pictured in them (a boy crawling with bees, a girl with untamed hair carrying a chicken). It's an enjoyable, eccentric read, distinguished by well-developed characters, a believable Welsh setting, and some very creepy monsters. Ages 12–up. (June)

Check Availability

Les miserables - Victor Hugo

Les miserables - Hugo, Victor

Summary: Story of Valjean, the ex-convict who rises against all odds from galley slave to mayor, and the fanatical police inspector who dedicates his life to recapturing Valjean.
A favorite of readers for nearly 150 years, and the basis for one of the most beloved stage musicals ever, this stirring tale of crime, punishment, justice, and redemption pulses with life and energy. Hugo sweeps readers from the French provinces to the back alleys of Paris, and from the battlefield of Waterloo to the bloody ramparts of Paris during the uprising of 1832.

First published in 1862, this sprawling novel is an extravagant historical epic that is teeming with harrowing adventures and unforgettable characters. In the protagonist, Jean Valjean, a quintessential prisoner of conscience who languished for years in prison for stealing bread to feed his starving family, Les Misérables depicts one of the grand themes in literature–that of the hunted man. Woven into the narrative are the prevalent social issues of Hugo’s day: injustice, authoritarian rule, social inequality, civic unrest.

Check Availability

Does the noise inside my head bother you? - Steven Tyler

Does the noise inside my head bother you?: a rock 'n' roll memoir - Tyler, Steven

Summary: The frontman of the classic rock band Aerosmith tells his story, including his rise to rock stardom in the 1970s, the band's drop in popularity, and their comeback in the late 1980s and 1990s.

“Sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll…gets a booster shot of head-spinning authenticity in Steven Tyler’s brash memoir Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?...a frank, full, and colorful accounting of the band’s tumultuous history.” (USA Today )

“Tyler’s memory for detail makes for good reading.” (Detroit News )

“One of the book’s charms is Tyler’s lack of guilt or regret for anything in his life…Music fans will enjoy Tyler’s remembrances of the New York scene, dating from clubs like The Scene and Max’s Kansas City.” (New York Daily News )

Check Availability

The swerve - Stephen Greenblatt

The swerve: how the world became modern - Greenblatt, Stephen

Summary: In this book the author transports readers to the dawn of the Renaissance and chronicles the life of an intrepid book lover who rescued the Roman philosophical text On the Nature of Things from certain oblivion. In this work he has crafted both a work of history and a story of discovery, in which one manuscript, plucked from a thousand years of neglect, changed the course of human thought and made possible the world as we know it. Nearly six hundred years ago, a short, genial, cannily alert man in his late thirties took a very old manuscript off a library shelf, saw with excitement what he had discovered, and ordered that it be copied. That book was the last surviving manuscript of an ancient Roman philosophical epic, On the Nature of Things, by Lucretius, a beautiful poem of the most dangerous ideas: that the universe functioned without the aid of gods, that religious fear was damaging to human life, and that matter was made up of very small particles in eternal motion, colliding and swerving in new directions. The copying and translation of this ancient book, the greatest discovery of the greatest book-hunter of his age, fueled the Renaissance, inspiring artists such as Botticelli and thinkers such as Giordano Bruno; shaped the thought of Galileo and Freud, Darwin and Einstein; and had a revolutionary influence on writers such as Montaigne and Shakespeare and even Thomas Jefferson.

Booklist Reviews
Literary scholar Greenblatt focuses on Lucretius, ancient Roman author of the brilliant and beautiful didactic poem On the Nature of Things, which challenged the authority of religion, and papal counselor and book hunter Poggio Bracciolini, whose recovery of a copy of the subversive text a millennium and a half later added momentum to the Renaissance and shaped the world we call modern. Lucretius, Greenblatt reminds, was a radical figure very much ahead of his time. Many of his insights—for example, that everything is made of invisible particles of matter that are constantly in motion—have been borne out by modern science. Others, such as the idea that religions are defined by cruelty and superstition, remain hotly controversial to this day. Vatican humanist Bracciolini, about whom we know quite a bit more, if not quite enough, may in the end be the more interesting personality. He knew what he had found, but did he know what it meant? Do we? A fascinating, intelligent look at what may well be the most historically resonant book-hunt of all time. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Check Availability

Makers - Cory Doctorow

Makers - Doctorow, Cory

Summary: What happens to America when two geeks working from a garage invent easy 3D printing, a cure for obesity, and crowd-sourced theme parks? Lawsuits against Disney are only the beginning in this major novel of the booms, busts, and further booms in store for America in the age of open source and its hero/hacker culture.

Library Journal Reviews
After winning acclaim and awards for his YA novel Little Brother, Locus Award winner Doctorow (Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom) returns to adult sf. His latest involves a corporate executive who funds high-tech microprojects—they cost thousands of dollars instead of millions—a pair of inventors who can make anything out of anything, and a blogger who chronicles their careers. Doctorow isn't Pollyannesque about the effects of rapid technological change: change of such scope and force is often devastating—boom followed by bust, then boom again, then bust. The ending of this well-written, well-conceived novel is bittersweet. VERDICT In speculative fiction, too often the ideas outrun the writing, but not here. Doctorow's novel features a good, modest story, appealing characters, and extremely interesting ideas that will appeal to his fans and sf aficionados as well as readers interested in cogitating on the social consequences of cybertechnology's near-exponential growth. Enthusiastically recommended.—David Keymer, Modesto, CA

Check Availability

Madman Atomica! - Michael Allred

Madman Atomica! - Allred, Michael

Summary: This over-sized hardcover collection contains the complete Madman Atomic Comics series, The Atomics series, and the many now-out-of-print one-shots, plus a huge pile of extras, pin-ups, and rarities! Collects Madman Atomic Comics #1-18, The Atomics #1-16, Madman King-Sized Super Groovy Special, and the It Girl and Mr. Gum One-Shots.

Review from the Graphic Novel Reporter

Check Availability

Absolute identity crisis - Brad Meltzer

Absolute identity crisis - Meltzer, Brad

Summary: New York Times best-selling novelist Brad Meltzer (The Inner Circle, The Book of Fate) unleashed a murder mystery featuring some of the biggest pop icons in the world: Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the rest of the Justice League. The most talked-about and successful miniseries of 2004, IDENTITY CRISIS is a graphic novel written by Meltzer with art by Rags Morales and Michael Bair. The book delivers murder, betrayal, intrigue and an inventive look at the world of superheroes, fantastic powers and secret identities.

When the spouse of a JLA member is brutally murdered, the entire superhero community searches for the killer, fearing their own loved ones may be the next targets. Before the mystery is solved, a number of long-buried secrets will threaten to divide the heroes before they can bring the mysterious killer to justice. IDENTITY CRISIS is an all-too-human look into the lives of superheroes, and the terrible price they pay for doing good.

Publishers Weekly
This seven-issue miniseries by bestselling author Meltzer (The Zero Game) was both wildly popular and reviled, and the collection shows that both views have merit. It does knock the rust off scores of DC characters while opening avenues to explore post-9/11 morality. On the other hand, it trashes the roles of characters whom readers have come to consider old friends and tampers outrageously with years' worth of continuity. The story begins shockingly when the wife of the minor super hero Elongated Man is brutally murdered. Things get increasingly serious as other members of the Justice League of America find that their loved ones are targets. The super villains are a lot nastier than they used to be; the heroes, meanwhile, are forced to admit that they could have been responsible for some of what's gone wrong when they started tampering with the minds of villains who deserved it or even fellow heroes who merely disapproved of the idea. This makes familiar heroes more morally ambiguous;more human;and the old, easy trust is lost, with long-term consequences still to be revealed in future DC story lines. In the meantime, Meltzer's script and Bair's inking of Morales's penciled art serves the realistic aspect of the characters very well, making this book a genuine comics landmark. (Sept.)

Check Availability

Riddley Walker - Russell Hoban

Riddley Walker - Hoban, Russell

Summary: After the death of his father, twelve-year-old Riddley Walker is given his father’s role of “connexion man”. As “connexion man,” he is responsible for giving prophetic interpretations for traveling puppet shows. These shows not only serve as a religious ceremony, but also as a government propaganda tool. After some unexpected turn of events Riddley is soon “running with the wild dogs who have inexplicably befriended him, heading down darkened roads into an explosive mixture of danger, intrigue, and forbidden knowledge”.

"A hero with Huck Finn's heart and charm, lighting by El Greco and jokes by Punch and Judy.... Riddley Walker is haunting and fiercely imagined and—this matters most—intensely ponderable." —Benjamin DeMott, The New York Times Book Review

"This is what literature is meant to be." —Anthony Burgess

"Russell Hoban has brought off an extraordinary feat of imagination and style.... The conviction and consistency are total. Funny, terrible, haunting and unsettling, this book is a masterpiece." —Anthony Thwaite, Observer

"Extraordinary... Suffused with melancholy and wonder, beautifully written, Riddley Walker is a novel that people will be reading for a long, long time." —Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World

"Stunning, delicious, designed to prevent the modern reader from becoming stupid." —John Leonard, The New York Times

"Highly enjoyable... An intriguing plot... Ferociously inventive." —Walter Clemons, Newsweek

"Astounding... Hoban's soaring flight of imagination is that golden rarity, a dazzlingly realized work of genius." —Jane Clapperton, Cosmopolitan

"An imaginative intensity that is rare in contemporary fiction.' —Paul Gray, Time

Riddley Walker is a brilliant, unique, completely realized work of fiction. One reads it again and again, discovering new wonders every time through. Set in a remote future in a post-nuclear holocaust England (Inland), Hoban has imagined a humanity regressed to an iron-age, semi-literate state—and invented a language to represent it. Riddley is at once the Huck Finn and the Stephen Dedalus of his culture—rebel, change agent, and artist. Read again or for the first time this masterpiece of 20th-century literature with new material by the author.

Check Availability

Lunatics - Dave Barry

Lunatics - Barry, Dave

Summary: An uproarious tale told in alternating voices follows the stories of a pet shop owner and a curmudgeon who find themselves on the run from police, terrorists, and a pizza chain mascot.

Kirkus Reviews
A novel for those who love one-liners, outrageous characters and loopy plots. Jeffrey Peckerman has a beef—plenty of them, in fact, but his initial one involves what he views as an unfair offsides call at his 11-year-old daughter's soccer game. The ref who makes the questionable call is Philip Horkman, owner of a pet store incongruously called The Wine Shop (because his in-laws, the Wines, funded his business venture). And thus begins one of the strangest buddy novels of this or any century. The hapless characters begin a hate-hate relationship that literally takes them around the globe, starting with an escaped lemur, an insulin pump and the misapprehension that Peckerman and Horkman are members of al-Qaeda trying to blow up the George Washington Bridge. To escape, they make their way onto a cruise ship about to leave New York harbor, only to discover that it's clothing optional. Horkman starts to fall in love with a nun (after all, she's not wearing her habit) and plunges overboard to save her when she's swept away in a storm. From here events get even goofier, as the two opponents land in Cuba (and co-lead a revolution), then go to Mozambique (and are captured by pirates), thence to Yemen (where they are rescued by the Mossad), afterwards to Beijing (and lead a protest in Tiananmen Square), and finally to California, where they meet Donald Trump at the Republican National Convention and where Horkman, despite being a Democrat, is nominated for president. (Later, Peckerman becomes the Democratic nominee, but his obscenity-laced speeches are the despair of his handlers.) Throughout their romp around the world they're constantly at each other's throats, either literally or metaphorically, Horkman's prissiness playing off of Peckerman's crude cynicism. An antidote, if one is needed, to gritty urban realism. Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Check Availability