Category Archives: Fiction

Room

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Title: Room

Author:  Emma Donoghue

Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company, September 2010

Summary:  This is a raw, astonishing story of a boy and his mother who live as prisoners in a single, small room. It may be a reminder of headline grabbing kidnapping cases, but as narrated by the child, it is a testament to a mother’s love and resiliency. Sometimes very disturbing, the horror is darkly beautiful as Ma creates a life for her son. Jack’s innocence and curiosity builds as Ma’s desperation forces them both to confront a certain reality. Very inventive and poignant, Jack is so endearing, that his voice will stay with you for a long time.

Recommended by : Cindy B., Children’s Department

The Thieves of Manhattan

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TitleThe Thieves of Manhattan

Author:  Adam Langer

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau (2010)

Summary: Ian Minot is a struggling writer working at the Morningside Coffee diner. Ian works alongside Joseph, a struggling actor, and Faye, an aspiring artist. Of the three, Ian has been the least successful in his career. His Romanian girlfriend Anya, however, is very close to getting her collection of short stories published while Ian continues to get rejection letters. One of the most memorable of these comes from the literary agent Geoff Olden who simply wrote “good luck placing this and all future submissions elsewhere”.

When Faye draws Ian’s attention to a customer they have nicknamed The Confident Man, Ian is appalled to see that he is reading a copy of the recently published memoir “Blade by Blade”. In Ian’s opinion, the book is a “bogus piece of crap”. As it turns out, The Confident Man feels the same way about it. The Confident Man is Jed Roth, a former editor at a very respectable publishing house. Jed left his position at Merrill Books when his decision not to publish “Blade by Blade” was overruled by the owner of Merrill Books. Jed has devised a plan to bring down Merrill Books and agent Geoff Olden and recruits Ian to play a crucial role in his scheme. Ian agrees but soon finds himself in over his head and unsure who to trust.

This is a fun story, full of humor and intrigue, which takes a few shots at the publishing industry along the way. The last few pages contain a glossary of selected terms used throughout the book, all based on literary figures.

Who will like this book? Anyone looking for a fun read, especially those who like intrigue. Anyone familiar with the publishing industry.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

Death Echo

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TitleDeath Echo

Author:  Elizabeth Lowell

Publisher: HarperCollins, June 2010

Summary: Emma Cross, former CIA agent now working for St. Kilda Consulting, must rustle with Russian spies and a terrorist plot in Elizabeth Lowell’s latest book.  Emma needs to chase down “The Blackbird” a yacht that could have explosives attached to it… enough explosives to blow up a major city. The story moves from the Puget Sound to Vancouver Island.   Interestingly, a “twin” yacht went missing never making it to its port. Are the two connected somehow? Did they have the same owner?

Fortunately for Emma she doesn’t have to work alone. Enter Mackenzie Mac Durand, a former Special Ops guy, and the transit captain for “The Blackbird.” Sparks fly between the two and a romance blossoms amidst all of the turmoil.

They are in for a bumpy ride in this romantic suspense novel, fighting off Russian Spies, CIA agents, and a very hazardous sea -  and time is not on their side.

Recommended by: Nancy, Deputy Town Librarian

The Gendarme

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TitleThe Gendarme

Author:  Mark T. Mustian

Publisher: Penguin Group, September 2010

Summary: Emmett Conn is 92 years old. Recently widowed and suffering from a brain tumor, he is plagued with headaches and bad dreams. The dreams come to him like a movie being played out in his mind, scene by scene. They begin to feel more like memories than dreams, but a head injury suffered during WWI left Emmett with very little memory of the war or his life before it. In these dreams Emmett is a Turkish gendarme, a position that one would hold before becoming a soldier. He is known as Ahmet Khan, the name he had before entering the United States. His assignment as a gendarme is to lead a group of Armenian deportees from their homes in Turkey to a camp in Syria. He leads this caravan of sick and dying men, women, and children for several weeks. Most of these deportees, considered a security threat by the Turkish government, die along the way. Though he wishes that it were not true, Emmett soon accepts that these are memories of his past; a past in which he played a terrible role in an almost forgotten genocide. It is also a past of forbidden love and the search for redemption.

This story alternates between Emmett’s life as it was, slowly revealed to him in his dreams, and his life as it is now. A life filled with doctors’ visits, his daughters growing concern for his physical and mental health, and the awful memories that begin to reveal themselves. It is a story of the horrors of war and the dangers of prejudice. It is also a story of forgiveness-of yourself and those who cause you harm. This is a remarkable novel.

Who will like this book? Fans of historical fiction.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

Red Hook Road

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TitleRed Hook Road

Author:  Ayelet Waldman

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing, July 2010

Summary:  A young couple is killed on the way to their wedding reception in coastal Maine. Red Hook Road takes the reader on a journey with the surviving members of their families over four summers.  Iris and Daniel Copaken are the parents of the bride and they are native New Yorkers who summer in Maine; they are “from away”.  Jane Hewins, the groom’s mother, is their cleaning lady who was never happy with the union of the young couple. Emil Kimmelbrand, Iris’ father, is a famous violinist who discovers that Jane’s adopted Cambodian niece is a musical prodigy.  There are many layers to this novel but rather than being complicated and confusing Waldman manages to build each story gradually and thoroughly.  The relationships between husband and wife, mother and daughter, father and daughter, mother and son, brothers and sisters are all so believable that you can relate to their tensions, their frustrations, their joy and their pain.

Waldman is a skilled writer whose descriptions of Maine and its inhabitants are so real that she had this reader yearning to visit this fictional place.  Although a story of loss and grief it is also a story of possibilities and hope. This book is a quick read that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

Whi will like this book? Readers of Jodi Picoult, Chris Bohjalian, and Anna Quindlen.

Recommended by: Claudia, Technical Services Department

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand

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TitleMajor Pettigrew’s Last Stand

Author:  Helen Simonson

Publisher: Random House, March 2010

Summary: I fell in love with widower Major Ernest Pettigrew about six pages in! The story takes place in a quaint English village, where the Major’s brother’s sudden death and the propriety of a family heirloom spark an unexpected friendship with a local shopkeeper, Mrs. Jasmina  Ali.  His quiet world changes as he deals with his growing affection for Mrs. Ali (after all they share a love of literature), his yuppie, shallow son, and the various unattached ladies in the village vying for him.  It is a charming and endearing love story. The Major’s wry, witty humor combined with his chivalrous old fashioned courtesy, yet sarcastic jabs about modern situations had me laughing out loud. There is a gentle humor and a quiet lovely rhythm with a romantic twist that will appeal to both sexes. I kept picturing Sir John Gielgud delivering the Major’s lines! Such a wonderful debut novel!

Recommended by: Cindy B., Children’s Department

Swift as Desire

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Title: Swift as Desire

Author:  Laura Esquivel

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, August 2002

Summary: Swift as Desire focuses on Lluvia, a middle aged mother desperately trying to replay her entire life in order to understand her parents’ mutual anger for one another. Júbilo, her father, was born with an unmatched ability to communicate and understand through feeling rather than words, but is now confined to a bed and unable to speak due to Parkinson’s. Lluvia’s mother Lucha was a privileged beauty who gave up everything in order to marry Júbilo, but has now become cold and calculating. The story finds Lluvia desperate to understand her parents’ past and reconcile them before her father’s imminent death.

The story skips around in time, leaving the reader on edge throughout the entire book. The characters develop smoothly, and leave a deep impression. Nothing is as it seems with the family, which makes an unforgettable read. If readers are looking for another Like Water for Chocolate, they won’t find it here. Instead, they will find a brutally honest look into the closed doors of a marital relationship and a couple falling apart.

Who will like this book? Readers who are looking for a relatively short but still very engaging story. Those who are prepared to love and hate each and every character, sometimes at the same time, but still hope for a happy ending

If you liked this, try this: Like Water for Chocolate also by Esquivel

Recommended by: LB, Circulation Assistant

Ice Cold

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TitleIce Cold

Author:  Tess Gerritsen

Publisher: Random House, June 2010

Summary: Ice Cold is Tess Gerritsen’s newest novel featuring medical examiner Dr. Maura Isles and her friend, FBI agent Jane Rizzoli. While on a ski trip, Maura and her friends become stranded in Wyoming. There they discover a deserted town called Kingdom Come. It turns out that Kingdom Come was home to a cult but the people have disappeared. When Maura also goes missing, Jane is determined to find out what has happened to her friend and the residents of Kingdom Come. Suspenseful throughout, “Ice Cold” keeps you guessing until the end.

Recommended by: Virginia, Circulation Department

The Poacher’s Son

Title: The Poacher’s Son

Author:  Paul Doiron

Publisher: St. Martin’s Minotaur, May 2010

Summary:  Mike Bowditch is a game warden for the state of Maine. Perhaps he chose this career to make amends for his father’s criminal acts. His father, Jack, is a Vietnam vet who has been divorced from Mike’s mother for several years. Since the divorce, Jack has tried to live as far from people as possible, living off the land and poaching game.

When two men are gunned down in an ambush, all evidence leads to Jack. One of the dead men is a Sheriff’s deputy and the other is a representative from Wendigo Timberlands, a company that has recently purchased close to half a million acres of forestland. Included in the purchase was land that had been used for privately owned camps and sporting lodges, one of the camps belonging to Jack  As a child,  Mike suffered from abuse and neglect at the hands of his father, but he cannot believe his father is capable of murder and sets out to prove his innocence.

The wilderness setting and the added family drama make “The Poacher’s Son” a compelling story. As an animal lover, however, I could have done without the descriptions of Jack’s hunting and trapping practices. In fact, I had to skim over the graphic details. Other than that, I really enjoyed this story and hope to hear more about Mike Bowditch in the future.

Who will like this book? Mystery fans and hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts.

Recommended by: Sue, Circulation Coordinator

The Nobodies Album

Title: The Nobodies Album

Author:  Carolyn Parkhurst

Publisher: Knopf, June 2010

 Summary: Writer Octavia Frost and her son Milo had a game they used to play together when he was a young boy.  He’d ask “have you ever heard the Beatles version of I’ve Been Working on the Railroad?” And she’d say, no, I didn’t know they’d ever recorded that.  He’d respond “they didn’t, it’s on The Nobodies Album.”  So “The Nobodies Album” is an album made up of songs that don’t exist.  It also happens to be the working title of Octavia’s yet-to-be published book, which is made up entirely of the last chapters of all her previous novels, completely rewritten with the purpose of taking her characters in the exact opposite direction she’d originally taken them – a book made up of endings that don’t exist.

It seems that Octavia is a woman who’s trying to bring many things into existence, and trying to change lots of original endings. Octavia’s relationship with her son and her career as a writer are at the top of the list, and the two are woven together brilliantly in this novel.  It is when Octavia’s on her way to deliver the manuscript of “The Nobodies Album” to her publisher that she sees her son’s name displayed in the news crawl in Times Square – Milo, a successful musician, has been accused of murdering his girlfriend.  This is the beginning of her journey back to Milo – they haven’t spoken in four years.  And it’s also the beginning of the reader’s journey through Octavia’s fiction.  The novel is interspersed with the last chapters of her previous books, both the original and the revised endings.  The family drama, the short story and the classic mystery all come together in Parkhurst’s incredibly creative, inventive and unforgettable book.

Recommended by: Mary, Branch Reference