March 2nd, 2007
Nick Hornby - About A Boy - 268He'd rather be an idiot again. He'd had his whole life set up so that nobody's problem was his problem, and now everybody's problem was his problem, and he had no solutions for any of them.

2007 Michael L. Printz Award Winner

March 1st, 2007
Michael L. Printz Award

The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. It is named for a Topeka, Kansas school librarian who was a long-time active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association. The award is sponsored by Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association.

American Born Chinese by Gene YangAmerican Born Chinese by Gene Yang
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M. T. AndersonThe Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M. T. Anderson
An Abundance of Katherines by John GreenAn Abundance of Katherines by John Green
Surrender by Sonya HartnettSurrender by Sonya Hartnett
The Book Thief by Markus ZusakThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Black Ice - Michael Connelly

February 27th, 2007

The Black Ice by Michael ConnellyNarcotics officer Cal Moore's orders were to look into the city's latest drug killing. Instead, he ends up in a motel room with his head in several pieces and a suicide note stuffed in his back pocket.

Years ago, Harry Bosch learned the first rule of the good cop: don't look for the facts, but the glue that holds them together. Now, Harry's making some very dangerous connections, starting with one dead cop and leading to a bloody string of murders that wind from Hollywood Boulevard's drug bazaar to the dusty back alleys south of the border and into the center of a complex and lethal game -- one in which Harry is the next and likeliest victim.

After his richly acclaimed debut, Michael Connelly brings Bosch back in an achievement even more stunning and suspenseful than its predecessor -- a time-bomb of a novel supercharged with tension and non-stop action that doesn't let up until the final, explosive ending.

I like reading Michael Connelly because typically he writes his characters as free-speaking without being too over-the-top. There is a certain irony with that feeling and this book, but I still enjoyed it. Harry Bosch is Connelly's serial character and he is a misfit detective in Hollywood because...well, because cops who get along with other cops are no fun to read about.

I found myself thinking that, in The Black Ice, Harry Bosch was a little too "rogue warrior action hero." Some of the things he did and situations into which he was written were maybe a little extravagant. I wondered if after the book was released if anyone considered optioning the character for the Harry Bosch Action Figure.

Normally when you read detective fiction you should expect to read about cops who have seemingly endless supplies of both cash and contacts which move their cases along with the greatest of ease. I have come to accept that. It doesn't bother me anymore, and I definitely know that it is not how things really work (most of the time); it just makes good books. This was a little different from that, but while it stood out in my mind, it did not bother me.

Rather than read the Harry Bosch books as they come out and skipping the earlier books because I found the series late, I have decided to read the series in order. The Black Ice is the second installment. It had the unfortunate duty of following a very highly praised novel in The Black Echo. The Black Echo lacked the commando vibe I tried to describe about The Black Ice, so I had not expected it. Sophomore slump? I don't think so. I think I liked The Black Ice a little more than The Black Echo. So who knows, maybe there will be more of that feeling, or maybe not. I am not done with this series, not by a long shot.

I love a good mystery/suspense novel. Sometimes the lengths to which the detectives go are a little unrealistic, but that is part of why it is on the fiction shelf. The Black Ice was a little unrealistic at times, but it was still a fast-paced story that I enjoyed greatly.

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The Sleeping Doll

February 22nd, 2007

The Sleeping Doll by Jeffery DeaverJeffery Deaver is back with a dark and multilayered psychological thriller about a vicious killer's escape from a California super-prison and the mysterious and deadly quest he embarks on once he's free.

Making her first appearance in The Cold Moon (2006), special agent Kathryn Dance—a brilliant interrogator and body language expert—stars in The Sleeping Doll, where she and her partners at the California Bureau of Investigation hunt down escaped killer Daniel Pell, a self-styled Charles Manson.

Deaver's most frightening villain to date, Pell is a master of control, who mesmerizes, seduces, and exploits people for his own murderous ends. To track down Pell before he destroys more lives, Kathryn Dance must enlist the help of people from the killer's past: the three women who lived under his sadistic sway in the cult he once headed, as well as the young girl known as The Sleeping Doll, the only survivor of her family's slaughter at Pell's hand.

Filled with masterful plot twists: Jeffery Deaver creates plots with so many twists and turns they could "hide behind a spiral staircase" (People), and The Sleeping Doll has Deaver's trademark twists in spades. It is guaranteed to keep readers guessing right up to the breathless end.

The Sleeping Doll will be released on June 5, 2007, in the USA and Canada, and on July 26, 2007, in the UK and Ireland.

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Book of the Month - March, 2007

February 20th, 2007

Boy's Life by Robert McCammon

Boy's Life by Robert McCammonZephyr, Alabama, is an idyllic hometown for eleven-year-old Cory Mackenson -- a place where monsters swim the river deep and friends are forever. Then, one cold spring morning, Cory and his father witness a car plunge into a lake -- and a desperate rescue attempt brings his father face-to-face with a terrible vision of death that will haunt him forever.

As Cory struggles to understand his father's pain, his eyes are slowly opened to the forces of good and evil that are manifested in Zephyr. From an ancient, mystical woman who can hear the dead and bewitch the living, to a violent clan of moonshiners, Cory must confront the secrets that hide in the shadows of his hometown -- for his father's sanity and his own life hang in the balance....

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February 19th, 2007
Nick Hornby - About A Boy - 2You'd think that if you'd peed with someone you ought to keep in touch with them somehow.

The Overlook

February 16th, 2007

The Overlook by Michael ConnellyIn his first case since he left the LAPD's Open Unsolved Unit for the prestigious Homicide Special squad, Harry Bosch is called out to investigate a murder that may have chilling consequences for national security.

A doctor with access to a dangerous radioactive substance is found murdered on the overlook above the Mulholland Dam. Retracing his steps, Harry learns that a large quantity of radioactive cesium was stolen shortly before the doctor's death. With the cesium in unknown hands, Harry fears the murder could be part of a terrorist plot to poison a major American city.

Soon, Bosch is in a race against time, not only against the culprits, but also against the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI (in the form of Harry's one-time lover Rachel Walling), who are convinced that this case is too important for the likes of the LAPD. It is Bosch's job to prove them all wrong.

From MichaelConnelly.com:
The Overlook was originally printed in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. This published hardcover will include new material that was not published before. It will be released in the USA and Canada on May 29, 2007, in Australia and New Zealand on June 8, 2007, and in the UK and Ireland on June 13, 2007.

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My French Whore

February 14th, 2007
"Gene Wilder has written a remarkable period piece. It’s an elegantly woven story of intrigue, danger, sex and comedy –but for me the big surprise is that it’s a truly moving and eloquent love story."
-Mel Brooks

My French Whore by Gene WilderThe beloved actor and screenwriter’s first novel, set during World War I, delicately and elegantly explores a most unusual romance. It’s almost the end of the war and Paul Peachy, a young railway employee and amateur actor in Milwaukee, realizes his marriage is one-sided. He enlists, and ships off to France. Peachy instantly realizes how out of his depth he is—and never more so than when he is captured. Risking everything, Peachy—who as a child of immigrants speaks German—makes the reckless decision to impersonate one of the enemy’s most famous spies.

As the urbane and accomplished spy Harry Stroller, Peachy has access to a world he could never have known existed—a world of sumptuous living, world-weary men, and available women. But when one of those women—Annie, a young, beautiful and wary courtesan—turns out to be more than she seems, Peachy’s life is transformed forever.

The book will be released on March 6, 2007.

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Hannibal Rising - Thomas Harris

February 14th, 2007

Hannibal Rising by Thomas HarrisHannibal emerges from the nightmare on the Eastern Front, a boy in the snow, mute, with a chain around his neck.

He seems utterly alone, but he has brought his demons with him.

Hannibal's uncle, a noted painter, finds him in a Soviet orphanage and brings him to France, where Hannibal will live with his uncle and his uncle's beautiful and exotic wife, Lady Murasaki.

Lady Murasaki helps Hannibal to heal. With her help he flourishes, becoming the youngest person ever admitted to medical school in France.

But Hannibal's demons visit him and torment him. When he is old enough, he visits them in turn.

He discovers he has gifts beyond the academic, and in that epiphany, Hannibal Lecter becomes death's prodigy.

Thomas Harris has done a great job through the series of writing an otherwise very likeable and respectable man. I know I was not alone in my excitement when it was announced that Hannibal Lecter was coming to us again in print.

It was a very ambitious task for the author to try to bring him back in a prequel, but the end of Hannibal did not exactly leave much room to tack anything on the end. Without being able to append new material to the end, Harris chose to start from the beginning and show us Hannibal Lecter's childhood and what led to...well the events that occurred in Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal.

I appreciate the attempt and I enjoy the star of the show, but I think the project just wasn't feasible. I liked how Harris stayed consistent with writing Hannibal in a very likeable fashion; he grew up as a very cultured boy, responsible and devoted to his family and he worked harder than most at schooling. The other books could be described as "suspense" novels and Hannibal Rising attempts to follow suit.

It is very difficult to write suspense in a story where the main theme is revenge. Ok I am generalizing too much. It is very difficult to find suspense in a story about revenge where the suspense is tied to whether the main character will make it out alive...when have three books already written as concrete evidence that he escapes relatively (physically) unscathed.

The book is short and easy to breeze through; the font is large and the page margins are wide. I think the book was actually too easy to read in some regards. I never felt the hook set while I read. I kept waiting to be engaged by Hannibal Rising like I was in earlier installments of the series. If you have read it, you may think I am crazy, but I just thought there was an absence of depth in character development and the progression of some scenes. I also don't like that in some aspects Hannibal Lecter was turned into a mild action hero.

Thomas Harris is a great writer and I wish he would not keep his fan base waiting so long between books. But I believe we have now established that, if he would continue to write (and I wish he would) it may be best to retire Hannibal Lecter.

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January 30th, 2007
Tom Robbins - Still Life With Woodpecker - 50Now, tequila may be the favored beverage of outlaws, but that doesn't mean it gives them preferential treatment. In fact, tequila probably had betrayed as many outlaws as has the central nervous system and dissatisfied wives. Tequila, scorpion honey, harsh dew of the doglands, essence of Aztec, crema de cacti; tequila, oily and thermal like the sun in solution; tequila, liquid geometry of passion; Tequila, the buzzard god who copulates in midair with the ascending souls of dying virgins; tequila, firebug in the house of good taste; O tequila, savage water of sorcery, what confusion and mischief your sly, rebellious drops do generate!