Category Archives: Popular

These Children Who Come At You With Knives

Title: These Children Who Come At You With Knives and Other Fairy Tales

Author: Jim Knipfel

Publisher: Simon & Schuster, June 2010

Summary: Fractured fairy tales have long been a popular genre in youth literature, and in this wicked, inspired collection, the grown-ups finally get their own twisted takes on ‘happily ever after.’ If you are expecting a modern-day Cinderella or Little Mermaid story, this is not the book for you.

Instead, you will meet a chicken who is too smart for her own good, a demented gnome bent on world domination, and a gossipy houseplant that would give Audrey II from Little Shop of Horrors a run for her (it’s?) money. And it’s not giving too much away by saying that none of the stories has the traditional fairy tale ending. This bold collection will make you laugh and squirm at the same time.

Who will like this book?: Fans of satire. Cynics. People who think to themselves, ‘if Cinderella’s slippers were really made of glass, wouldn’t she cut up her feet?’

If you like this, read this: Another great (albeit less brutal) take on fairy tales for grown-ups, the Fables graphic novel series by Bill Willingham.

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

The Last Time I Saw You

TitleThe Last Time I Saw You

Author:  Elizabeth Berg

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, April 2010

Summary: Do you remember those dreaded high school reunions? You know, trying to lose weight, getting your hair done, wondering if you should drag your spouse along.  Elizabeth Berg’s new book is about that and more.  She touches on several groups of people who will be attending their 40th high school reunion.  The in-crowd, the out-crowd and all of the silly high school crushes. Several of the characters, who might never have gotten together in high school, suddenly find themselves enjoying each others’ company.  If you’re moving into that boomer category, you will enjoy this trip back to those sweet, and sometimes not, ole days of high school.

Recommended by: Nancy, Deputy Town Librarian

One Amazing Thing

TitleOne Amazing Thing

Author:  Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Publisher: Unbridled Books, October 2009

Summary:  There are nine strangers in an Indian visa and passport office who are thrown together when an earthquake hits and leaves them trapped under the rubble. As time passes and there is no communication available to the outside world anxiety rises and tempers flare! After organizing what little provisions they have and securing themselves in the office as well as they can, tensions increase and a young graduate student sizes up the situation and suggests that they all tell a story about an “amazing” thing that has happened in their lifetimes. After initial reluctance and suspicion each character reveals their stories. These stories range from a young Chinese woman who has to flee India during the Sino-Indian War of 1962 leaving her Indian lover and family behind, to a seventy year old accountant orphaned at nine who only found comfort in doing math. Other stories include a young Muslim man struggling with America’s prejudice after 9/11, a rebellious teenager who discovers the gift and healing of music and a woman whose entire view of life changes after glimpsing a display of affection between an elderly couple.

These stories bring the characters to life and also give many different pictures of India. Divakaruni’s writing is beautiful and you can hardly wait for her to get to the next story. A novel about nine people trapped in the rubble of an earthquake would have been compelling enough but the author raises the bar by making these characters jump off the page with their “amazing” stories. This is a fast read that you will not be able to put down until you get to the last page!

Who will like this book? Fans of historical and contemporary fiction.

Recommended by: Claudia, Circulation

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

TitleSaving CeeCee Honeycutt

Author:  Beth Hoffman

Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books, January 2010

Summary: Twelve year old CeeCee Honeycut is struggling to find normalcy in her chaotic life. Her mother is suffering from a mental illness and her father stays away from home as much as possible. Ceecee is left alone to care for her mother, confiding in her only friend, Mrs. Odell. When a tragic event turns CeeCee’s world upside down, it’s her Great Aunt Tootie to the rescue. Tootie brings CeeCee down to her home in beautiful Savannah where  CeeCee learns about her mother’s childhood and what it feels like to be unconditionally loved. This is a delightful debut novel that brings to life the beauty of the south and the strength of a family’s love.

Who will like this book? Fans of women’s fiction and anyone who liked The Secret Life of Bees should try this.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

Where the God of Love Hangs Out

Title: Where The God of Love Hangs Out

Author: Amy Bloom

Publisher: Random House, January 2010

Summary: Amy Bloom’s new collection of short stories will make you laugh, cry, cringe and gasp and it is possible that you will feel all these emotions in just one story. In this book there are two sets of stories that are intertwined and then there are four stand alone stories. One set of stories revolve around William, Isabel, Clare and Charles who are old friends until two of them start an affair. The other set of stories are about a mother and her stepson and what foolishly happens after the death of her husband! Bloom writes about life and love in a real way which is sometimes messy, sometimes raw and sometimes joyous. The characters are so memorable and each story will leave you satisfied but also hungering for more! Bloom explores the themes of love, aging and death with such grace and gusto that she will blow you away. At the core of every story is family in all their glory – good, bad and ugly. I could not put this book down and then it stayed with me long after the last page.

Who will like this book? Fans of Amy Bloom’s Away.

Recommended by: Claudia, Circulation

How I Became a Famous Novelist

Title: How I Became a Famous Novelist

Author: Steve Hely

Publisher: Grove Press, July 2009

Summary: Pete Tarslaw writes for a living: He works for a slightly-shady company that rewrites entrance essays for grammar-challenged college and grad school applicants. When he learns that his college girlfriend (who betrayed him by being ambitious enough to apply to law school while he drifted through his slacker senior year) is getting married, he decides to take action. Pete sets out to become rich and famous enough to make Polly see the error of her ways – or at least really depressed at her wedding – by writing the best selling novel…ever. Pete discovers it’s not so hard to do: Just examine the best seller list and insert every last literary cliche into one story.

Poking fun at nearly every blockbuster author, the publishing industry, and the staggering entitlement of a certain segement of  post-collegiate Americans, the story of the rise and fall and rise of Pete and his book, The Tornado Ashes Club will have fiction fans laughing out loud. And while he is a scoundrel, you’ll find yourself rooting for Pete in his scandalous adventures. A terrific book for the post-holiday season.

Who will like this book?: Readers (and writers) who go crazy looking at best seller lists. People who ‘don’t get’ the popularity of trash fiction authors. Fans of literary satire. Recent liberal arts college grads.

If you like this, try this: Books by Christopher Buckley (Boomsday, Thank You For Smoking) and Christopher Moore (Lamb, The Stupidest Angel.)

Recommended by: Nicole, Teen Librarian

Evil at Heart

Title: Evil at Heart

Author:  Chelsea Cain

Publisher: Minotaur, September 2009

Summary:  This is the third book featuring detective Archie Sheridan and serial killer Gretchen Lowell. Gretchen, also known as the Beauty Killer, is on the loose. Archie is in a mental health facility attempting to recover from the physical and psychological wounds she has inflicted on him. The media has glamorized the vicious murderer and now Beauty Killer fan clubs are springing up left and right. When body parts start turning up at previous murder sites, Archie is called upon to help capture Gretchen once and for all. Is it really Gretchen leaving these gruesome calling cards? After all, she did promise Archie she wouldn’t kill again, right? If you can’t trust a serial killing psychopath to keep their word, who can you trust?

Evil at Heart is a thrilling cat and mouse chase, although you’re never really sure who the cat is and who is the mouse. From eyeballs to spleens, no part of the anatomy is safe from this scalpel wielding lunatic so you might want to read this on an empty stomach, unless you’re a seasoned veteran of grisly thrillers like me. Fast-paced with page turning suspense, this is a great book.

Who will like this book? Fans of  thrillers and suspense novels.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

The Weight of Silence

Title: The Weight of Silence

Author:  Heather Gudenkauf

Publisher: Mira, July 2009

Summary:  Martin Gregory wakes one morning to find his seven year-old daughter, Petra, is missing. Although it appears that Petra left the house on her own accord, her parents are starting to panic. When Deputy Sheriff Louis and Martin question Antonia, the mother of Petra’s best friend Calli, they discover that Calli is missing also. Antonia is convinced that the two girls have just ventured off into the woods that border their property and will be home soon. We know better.

Thirteen years ago, Antonia made the decision to marry Griff Clark instead of “Lou” Louis, the current Deputy Sheriff. That decision resulted in two children- 12 year old Ben and 7 year old Calli. It also resulted in a life of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse for Antonia and her children.

In the early chapters of the book, Calli has been dragged into the woods by her inebriated father in search of her “real” father, Deputy Louis. Of course that’s the liquor talking paired with Griff’s intense jealousy of Antonia and Lou’s past relationship. Calli has been mute since the age of four when she suffered from an as yet unknown trauma and now cannot call out for help. This is not hard to believe with a father like hers. So, we know what is happening to Calli, but what happened to Petra? Is Griff even more of a monster than we thought?

This story is told in the alternating voices of Calli, Martin, Antonia, Ben, and Lou. The story grabs you from the beginning and never lets go. I could NOT put this book down! Crimes against children are never pleasant to read about, but the details are handled very well. I cared so much for these characters, and especially those little girls that I had to find out what happened to them. If you want a story that stays on your mind and characters that make a place in your heart, you should read The Weight of Silence.

Who will like this book? Anyone who likes fast paced action and a great story.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

Valeria’s Last Stand

Title: Valeria’s Last Stand

Author:  Marc Fitten

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA, April 2009

Summary: This is a lighthearted love story featuring an unexpected romantic couple. Valeria is a 68 year old spinster living in the quaint Hungarian town of Zivatar. Valeria endured heartbreak as  a young woman and has since become the crotchety town hag. She finds a new chance at love with the town potter, but he is involved with the pub owner Ibolya. Each member of this strange love triangle fears that this may be their last chance at love. Valeria and Ibolya both want the potter and neither will let anyone or anything  get in their way.

This is a delightful story written very much like a folk tale. Many of the characters are unnamed and are referred to only by their occupation: the potter, the apprentice, the mayor, etc. This is an enjoyable tale that I highly recommend.

Who will like this book?  Anyone who wants a light read. Also, if you are Hungarian or, like me, are related to one, you will get certainly get a charge out of these characters.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

The Leisure Seeker

Title: The Leisure Seeker

Author:Michael Zadoorian

Publisher: William Morrow, January 2009

Summary: The Leisure Seeker isthe second book by Mr. Zadoorian. He wrote Second Hand,which was an ABA Booksense 76 selection, a Barnes & Noble Award Finalist, and the winner of the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award.

This book is a charming little read about an elderly couple who flee across country against the wishes of doctors and family members. It starts off a little roughly but soon the reader is engaged in the adventure of a couple married sixty years who are determined to visit Disneyland one last time. There are no real surprises along the way save for some nice words of sentimental wisdom. Nevertheless I did find myself rather moved. The end of the story has a twist but not altogether unexpected.

Recommended by: Karen, Deputy Town Librarian