May 1, 2012

Chew - John Layman

Chew: the omnivore edition - John Layman

Summary: Tony Chu is a detective with a secret. A weird secret. Tony Chu is cibopathic, which means he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats. It also means he's a hell of a detective - as long as he doesn't mind nibbling on the corpse of a murder victim to figure out whodunit and why. He's been brought on by the Special Crimes Division of the FDA, the most powerful law enforcement agency on the planet, to investigate their strangest, sickest and most bizarre cases. This gorgeous, oversized edition loaded with extras follows Tony for the first ten issues of's pick for "Best Indie Series of 2009," and MTV Splash Page's "Best New Series of 2009." Collects the New York Times' best seller "Taster's Choice," as well as the follow-up story-arc "International Flavor."

Booklist Reviews 
This deluxe edition collects the first two five-issue story arcs of the ultraviolent (and ultracannibalistic) foodie buddy-cop comic. In a near future where millions of Americans died from a particularly nasty avian flu, poultry is outlawed and a Prohibition-style black market springs up to satisfy the needs of gastronomes and frustrated chefs. Enter FDA agent Tony Chu, one of three known "cibopaths," who has the most peculiar ability to get psychic impressions from whatever he eats. Lots of dismemberment and corpse-chomping (it's harder to see Tony bite into a dead dog for clues than any of the various people he's forced to nibble on) ensue as the beginnings of a conspiracy theory about the bird flu and an alien fruit that tastes just like chicken take shape. It's not nearly as nauseating as it might sound (though, to be fair, it is plenty gross), thanks to Layman's flippant sense of humor and Guillory's chunky, kinetically caricatured artwork, which whips up an irresistible smorgasbord out of the bloody, genre-hopping ingredients. Grand gut-check comics entertainment here. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

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Beauty queens - Libba Bray

Beauty queens - Bray, Libba

Summary: When a plane crash strands thirteen teen beauty contestants on a mysterious island, they struggle to survive, to get along with one another, to combat the island's other diabolical occupants, and to learn their dance numbers in case they are rescued in time for the competition.

BookPage Reviews

Girls gone radical

Libba Bray’s last novel, the award-winning Going Bovine, was heralded as a departure for the author, who had previously been best known for a trilogy of Victorian-era supernatural romances. Now, in Beauty Queens, Bray further pushes the boundaries in a work of social satire that skewers race, gender, standards of beauty and our hyper-saturated media culture. Oh, and did I mention that it’s also wicked funny?

When a plane carrying 50 contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant crash-lands on a (seemingly) deserted island, will it turn into Lord of the Flies? Or something else entirely? At first, the girls do split up into tribes—the Lost Girls and the Sparkle Ponies—but before long, they come to see their isolation as something of an opportunity. “There was something about the island that made the girls forget who they had been. . . . They were no longer performing. Waiting. Hoping. They were becoming. They were.” But what happens when these self-actualizing (and very, very fetching) young women encounter the hunky stars of reality TV’s “Captains Bodacious IV: Badder and More Bodaciouser”?

The surviving Miss Teen Dream contestants comprise a veritable United Nations of diversity—there’s the black girl, the Indian girl, the transgender contestant, the uptight virgin, the deaf one, the lesbian . . . but each girl’s remarkably distinctive voice and deeply personal backstory results in a narrative that’s equal parts compelling and crazy. Beauty Queens is pointed, riotous and unapologetically feminist, with each swerve toward preachiness cleverly counterbalanced with a hilarious barb or perfectly placed one-liner. “Do you think my new feminism make me look fat?” one character asks. Turns out, Bray shows us, feminism can look pretty darn hot after all.
Copyright 2011 BookPage Reviews.

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Love's executioner - Irvin Yalom

Love's executioner: and other tales of psychotherapy - Yalom, Irvin

Summary: The risks and rewards of psychotherapy are examined by one of its finest practitioners through ten case studies of individuals with unique problems that nevertheless reflect on the whole human condition - (Baker & Taylor)

Library Journal Reviews
Because Yalom (psychiatry, Stanford Univ.) is not only an accomplished psychiatrist but a gifted storyteller as well, his new book moves at the pace of a suspense thriller, with each chapter providing a fascinating look at the patient-therapist relationship. Yalom gives the reader the opportunity to view up close the intimate, and sometimes startling, relationship that develops between client and therapist. Refusing to paint an artificial picture of therapy as always successful--a truly unique aspect of this work--Yalom also describes relationships in which clients have walked out, never to return; the reader is left to ponder why the relationship ended as it did. At once funny and insightful; highly recommended.-- Kim Banks, Columbia Univ. Lib. Copyright 1989 Cahners Business Information.

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The Gormenghast novels - Mervyn Laurence Peake

The Gormenghast novels - Peake, Mervyn Laurence

Summary: A doomed lord, an emergent hero, and a dazzling array of bizarre creatures inhabit the magical world of the Gormenghast novels which, along with Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, reign as one of the undisputed fantasy classics of all time. At the center of it all is the seventy-seventh Earl, Titus Groan, who stands to inherit the miles of rambling stone and mortar that form Gormenghast Castle and its kingdom, unless the conniving Steerpike, who is determined to rise above his menial position and control the House of Groan, has his way.

In these extraordinary novels, Peake has created a world where all is like a dream--lush, fantastical, and vivid. Accompanying the text are Peake's own drawings, illustrating the whole assembly of strange and marvelous creatures that inhabit Gormenghast.

"Mervyn Peake is a finer poet than Edgar Allan Poe, and he is therefore able to maintain his world of fantasy brilliantly through three novels. It is a very, very great work . . . a classic of our age."-- Robertson Davies

"[Peake's books] are actual additions to life; they give, like certain rare dreams, sensations we never had before, and enlarge our conception of the range of possible experience."-- C. S. Lewis

"This extravagant epic about a labyrinthine castle populated with conniving Dickensian grotesques is the true fantasy classic of our time."-- The Washington Post Book World

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A fearsome doubt - Charles Todd

A fearsome doubt: an Inspector Ian Rutledge mystery -  Todd, Charles

Summary: Seven years after sending Ben Shaw to the gallows for the brutal murders of elderly women, Inspector Ian Rutledge is approached by Shaw's widow, who claims that her husband had been innocent, and sets out to uncover the truth about a potential miscarriage of justice. By the author of Watchers of Time. - (Baker & Taylor)

Booklist Reviews
Scotland Yard Inspector Ian Rutledge may be the only sleuth in detective-fiction history to have a ghost as his sidekick. Hamish MacLeod, late of the Scottish brigade, whom Rutledge ordered executed for insubordination during the Great War, provides acerbic commentary on Rutledge's actions and thoughts, effectively underscoring Rutledge's psychological torment. Rutledge's habitual angst is stretched to the breaking point in the latest in this series, when the inspector has reason to fear that he sent the wrong man to the gallows seven years before, in 1912. The hanged man's widow presents Rutledge with new evidence that seems to place the blame on another serial killer. Fearing for his sanity, Rutledge must examine the new evidence and investigate the murder of two ex-soldiers in Kent. Both sets of serial killings become eerily intermeshed. Todd skillfully interweaves an acute psychological portrait with a compelling puzzle. Intelligent and intense history-mystery, at the level of Anne Perry and Bruce Alexander. ((Reviewed August 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews

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Pandemonium - Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium - Oliver, Lauren

Summary: After falling in love, Lena and Alex flee their oppressive society where love is outlawed and everyone must receive "the cure"--an operation that makes them immune to the delirium of love--but Lena alone manages to find her way to a community of resistance fighters, and although she is bereft without the boy she loves, her struggles seem to be leading her toward a new love.  

Kirkus Reviews
 It's been six months since readers first met 17-year-old Lena Haloway, desperately in love in a world that considers such feelings an infection to be permanently and irrevocably "cured." This much-anticipated sequel to Delirium (2011) picks up right where the first novel left off, with Lena and Alex's only partially successful attempt to escape to "the Wilds." Lena, alone, heartbroken and near death, must reach deep within herself to find the strength and the will to survive. "Step by step--and then, inch by inch," she is reborn. The story of Lena's new life as a rebel Invalid, determined to honor the memory of Alex by fighting for a world in which love is no longer considered a capital offense, is told through a series of flashbacks and present-day accounts that will leave readers breathless. The stakes only get higher when Lena realizes she has feelings for someone new. The novel's success can be attributed to its near pitch-perfect combination of action and suspense, coupled with the subtler but equally gripping evolution of Lena's character. From the grief-stricken shell of her former self to a nascent refugee and finally to a full-fledged resistance fighter, Lena's strength and the complexity of her internal struggles will keep readers up at night. (Dystopian romance. 14 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.  

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Los Angeles stories - Ry Cooder

Los Angeles stories - Cooder, Ry

Summary: "Los Angeles Stories is a collection of loosely linked, noir-ish tales that evoke a bygone era in one of America's most iconic cities. In post-World War II Los Angeles, as power was concentrating and fortunes were being made, a do-it-yourself culture of cool cats, outsiders, and oddballs populated the old downtown neighborhoods of Bunker Hill and Chavez Ravine. Ordinary working folks rubbed elbows with petty criminals, grifters, and all sorts of women at foggy end-of-the-line outposts in Venice Beach andSanta Monica.Rich with the essence and character of the times, suffused with the patois of the city's underclass, these are stories about the common people of Los Angeles, "a sunny place for shady people," and the strange things that happen to them. Musicians, gun shop owners, streetwalkers, tailors, door-to-door salesmen, drifters, housewives, dentists, pornographers, new arrivals, and hard-bitten denizens all intersect in cleverly plotted stories that center around some kind of shadowy activity. This quirky love letter to a lost way of life will appeal to fans of hard-boiled fiction and anyone interested in the city itself. Ry Cooder is a world-famous guitarist, singer, and composer known for his slide guitar work, interest in roots music, and more recently for his collaborations with traditional musicians from many countries, including The Buena Vista Social Club. He has composed soundtracks for more than twenty films, including Paris, Texas. Two recent albums were accompanied by stories Cooder wrote to accompany the music. This is his first published collection of stories"-- Provided by publisher.

PW Annex Reviews 
Celebrated musician Cooder's engaging, but forgettable, collection captures L.A.'s gritty music scene during and after WW II, featuring stories of working-class Angelenos who become embroiled in homicides, car thefts, and other activities related to the "bright boys" (gangsters) moving to the city from Vegas. In "All in a Day's Work," the highlight of the collection, a 38-year-old man trying to register people and businesses for the Los Angeles City Directory becomes implicated in two murders. As a whole, the book resembles a fictional City Directory: a compendium of nuanced caricatures, affectionate portraits of historic neighborhoods, such as Chavez Ravine and Bunker Hill, with guest appearances by famous musicians like John Lee Hooker. "Kill me, por favor" portrays the archetypal young actress arriving in town to pursue fame and glory only to become violently disillusioned. Cooder's knowledge of music permeates the book, and his talent is evident in his clean, precise prose, such as the description of his hometown, which "sparkled and hummed like a giant beehive." However, the stories lack the energy and intrigue of classic L.A. noir fiction, and are both repetitive and forgettable. Cooder's writing style may pair better with a single, sustained narrative instead of vignettes. (Oct.)

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Bone fire - Mark Spragg

Bone fire - Spragg, Mark

Summary: The inhabitants of Ishawooa, Wyoming have enough to contend with on a daily basis, from runaway children to Lou Gehrig's disease, even before a teenager is found dead in a meth lab and motorcycle rallies and rodeos fill the tiny local jail.

Booklist Reviews 
*Starred Review* Using several of the characters from his two award-winning novels, The Fruit of Stone (2002) and An Unfinished Life (2004), Spragg returns to high-country Wyoming and the struggles of a group of self-reliant individuals to come to terms with their vulnerability and need for connection. Einar, the cranky but tenderhearted horse rancher from An Unfinished Life, has suffered a stroke and is being cared for by Griff, who hopes to move to Chicago to study sculpture. Meanwhile, McEban, another hard-bitten rancher, who lost the love of his life in The Fruit of Stone, faces more loss, when the wandering father of McEban's 10-year-old ward decides he wants back into his son's life. And Crane, the local sheriff, now married unhappily to Griff's alcoholic mother, faces what could be the onset of the same disease that killed his grandfather. A summary of so much angst sounds almost soap operatic, but Spragg's novel is anything but that. It's about the way ordinary people endure life's crushing defeats with stoic forbearance, but also how they deal with the isolation their pinched stoicism brings. "I wish I would've said something like that out loud," McEban says at one point, speaking for all the characters whose silence is both eloquent and tragic. With its many subplots, this novel lacks some of the narrative power of Spragg's earlier work, but it has moments of lyrical beauty, emotional depth, and crisp clarity that make it essential reading for anyone interested in the literature of the West. Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

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Historic conversations on life with John F. Kennedy - Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

Historic conversations on life with John F. Kennedy: interviews with Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., 1964 - Onassis, Jacqueline Kennedy

Summary: Presents the annotated transcription and original audio for the 1964 interviews with Jacqueline Kennedy on her experiences and impressions as the wife of John F. Kennedy, offering an intimate and detailed account of the man and his times. Shortly after President John F. Kennedy's assassination, with a nation deep in mourning and the world looking on in stunned disbelief, Jacqueline Kennedy found the strength to set aside her own personal grief for the sake of posterity and begin the task of documenting and preserving her husband's legacy. In January of 1964, she and Robert F. Kennedy approved a planned oral-history project that would capture their first-hand accounts of the late President as well as the recollections of those closest to him throughout his extraordinary political career. For the rest of her life, the famously private Jacqueline Kennedy steadfastly refused to discuss her memories of those years, but beginning that March, she fulfilled her obligation to future generations of Americans by sitting down with historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., and recording an astonishingly detailed and unvarnished account of her experiences and impressions as the wife and confidante of John F. Kennedy. The tapes of those sessions were then sealed and later deposited in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum upon its completion, in accordance with Mrs. Kennedy's wishes.

Kirkus Reviews
The late Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis speaks candidly about life in Camelot. Just before publication of this collection of interviews with journalist/historian Arthur Schlesinger, conducted in 1964, a few leaked bits of conversation revealed that Jacqueline was content to leave the politics to her husband. This led to Kennedy's being lambasted as a lightweight at best, a betrayer of feminism at worst. The interviews, gathered in transcribed form with elegant introductions by first daughter Caroline Kennedy and historian Michael Beschloss, indicate that she was anything but a lightweight, even if, as Beschloss wryly notes, "well-bred young women of Jacqueline's generation were not encouraged to sound like intellectuals." Jackie preceded the generation of feminists that would soon arise (and then became a role model, speaking frankly in Ms. and other movement publications). But the real defense comes through her words here, gathered only a few months after JFK's assassination. They reveal a nimble if worried mind. Personally, JFK wasn't the easiest man to live with, due in part to the sour stomach born of nerves and "those awful years campaigning…living on a milkshake and a hot dog," as well as the terrible general health that he bore stoically in public but that caused him private agony. Jackie is shrewd in her assessments about people: Stewart Udall rose to head the Interior Department, she notes, because he delivered Arizona to JFK in the 1960 election--but then emerged as a real leader. She also provides on-the-spot commentary about unfolding world events, such as the ever-more-urgent specter of Vietnam and a divided Germany (the only ambassadors JFK "really disliked" were those from Germany and Pakistan). All politics is local--and personal. These interviews are invaluable in providing a fly-on-the-wall view of life in the Kennedy White House--and there has never been so intimate a view from a First Lady's perspective. Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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No cheating, no dying - Elizabeth Weil

No cheating, no dying: I had a good marriage.  Then I tried to make it bettter - Weil, Elizabeth

Summary: Examining marriage and its universal issues, the author draws on her own family misadventures as well as the advice of counselors in a range of disciplines to offer an affirmation of married life and its joys and difficulties. - (Baker & Taylor)

Kirkus Reviews
A frank examination of one woman's marriage and how she tried to improve it. What makes a good marriage? After 10 years with her husband, Dan, New York Times Magazine contributing writer Weil decided to find out. She could no longer view their relationship "like the waves on the ocean--a fact of life, determined by the sandbars below, shaped by destiny and the universe, not by me." The author wanted to create her own future and discover if her "good" relationship could be improved. Using self-help books, visits to therapists and marriage-education classes, Weil embarked on a yearlong journey with Dan to explore all the facets of their relationship, opening the doors on their present and past lives. In a narrative that is part memoir and part counseling book, the author candidly discusses their intimacy, religions, anger, money and views on monogamy and death. Humorous stories of Dan's obsessions with cooking, flamenco guitar playing, surfing and other athletic pursuits contrast with the personal pain they both felt and expressed at the loss of their unborn son. In the end, Weil writes that her marriage is "good enough"--a marriage "characterized by its capacity to allow spouses to keep growing, its ability to give the partners involved the strength and bravery required to face the world." A woman's project to improve her marriage reveals she already has something good right in front of her. Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Sacre bleu - Christopher Moore

Sacre bleu: a comedy d'arte - Christopher Moore

Summary: Baker-turned-painter Lucien Lessard and bon vivant Henri Toulouse-Lautrec vow to discover the truth behind the untimely death of their friend Vincent van Gogh, which leads them on a surreal odyssey and brothel-crawl deep into the art world of late 19th century Paris.

Publishers Weekly Reviews
Art history is playfully—and perilously—rewritten in this ambitious novel by bestseller Moore (Bite Me). Working backward from the death of Vincent Van Gogh in 1890, we meet frustrated painter and favored son of a Paris bakery family, Lucien Lessard, whose best pal happens to be Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, that fabled frequenter of brothels. All his life, Lucien has heard words of wisdom and tutelage not only from Toulouse-Lautrec, but also Renoir, Pissarro, and Theo Van Gogh. But after Toulouse-Lautrec receives a strange letter from Van Gogh, dated just before his death, the two begin to investigate "the Colorman," an odd figure who sold the titular brilliant ultramarine paint to all of these fabled painters during their most prolific, mad, and forgotten periods of work (the Colorman's arrivals also coincided with the painters' most intense love affairs). During their investigation, Lucien and Toulouse-Lautrec will discover that the mystery and Lucien's muse, Juliette, are intimately connected. Spanning nearly 30 years—with a brief interlude in Roman times—the story is steeped in Western art: Renaissance Italy; medieval cathedrals; the fields and studios of pre, post, and high impressionism. Though the question at the story's heart is less interesting than the fictional anecdotes about the great masters, fans of Moore's mix of wit and slapstick will be pleased. Photos. Agent: Nicholas Ellison, the Nicholas Ellison Agency. (Apr. 3)

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