Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Author Profile: Michael Chabon

Perhaps best known amongst comics fans as an Eisner Award Winner for his book The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon has been writing novels and short stories (and the occasional movie!) since 1988, when he wrote Mysteries of Pittsburgh. Since then, one of his books, Wonder Boys, has been turned into a movie starring Michael Douglas, and he’s consulted on scripts for Spiderman 2, X-Men, and The Fantastic Four. Listed here are some of our favorites:

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

Two cousins with a pulp sensibility form an unlikely friendship and decide to draw a comic book about The Escapist, who breaks taboos and deals deathly blows to Hitler in this award-winning novel.


Also available as E-Audiobook

The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

Described by Publisher's Weekly as "a murder-mystery speculative-history Jewish-identity noir chess thriller," this alternate-history novel is Chabon's newest release to date. His hero is a much hung-over detective, stuck in a Jewish settlement in Alaska, with the mystery of a corpse in a hotel to solve and lots of brandy to drink.


BCD Fic Chabon WCV RSV

Wonder Boys

Writer's block is the worst thing that can happen to a writer. The protagonist in this tale is also middle-aged, unhappy, and a mess. What's the worst that could happen in one weekend? The lead character, Grady Tripp, finds out.



VC Wonder WAM


Chabon's first (and only) novel for young adults, this work takes us into a modern-day, American other world, much like Narnia or Wonderland. A young boy, who's really bad at baseball, is called upon to save the faeries of Summerland from the destructive Coyote and his band of warriors. Can 11-year-old Ethan do it?

YA Fic Chabon CHE


BCD Fic Chabon TPL

Werewolves in Their Youth (short stories)

In his second short-story collection, Chabon visits the aftermath of rape, what happens when boys playing at superheroes goes a little too far, and a fictional author's pulp horror tales (an author he created in the aforementioned "Wonder Boys" writes the last story in the book!) Wholly original, as are all of Chabon's work, and a great place to start if you're not sure you'll like his style.

Fic Chabon SHL TPL

Thanks to IC for the author suggestion!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Testimony-al: This book is good!

Today's Book: Testimony by Anita Shreve

The Plot: This is a behind-the-headlines story dealing with a sex scandal at a prestigious high school in Vermont. The novel unfolds as various individual characters slowly share their own unique viewpoints of the events. We are relentlessly pulled into the story and quickly become conflicted as to what really happened and why.

Why You’ll Love it: The story builds slowly with an ever-growing dose of suspense. It gives readers a chance to see behind a tabloid-like headline. It’s a multifaceted tale that shows how one poor choice or decision can have life-changing consequences we might never have imagined.

Who Should Read it? : Almost anyone who likes character-driven novels will find Anita Shreve’s novel enticing and entertaining. Book clubs especially will enjoy this selection because of the challenging dilemmas and moral questions the characters face as the plot unfolds.
Readers who have enjoyed novels by Jodi Picoult, Chris Bohjalian, Elizabeth Berg, or Alice Hoffman will definitely enjoy discovering author Anita Shreve.

BKD Fic Shreve WCV ROG

Thanks to MH for this book review!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Readers are going to love this book!

Today's Book: The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry

The Plot: Towner Whitney returns home to Salem, Massachusetts, after several years in California. She is still recovering from surgery, but she must go back home because her Aunt Eva has just drowned there under mysterious circumstances. Towner ends up rekindling relationships with her mother, May, her Aunt Emma, and an old boyfriend. She also begins to relive the traumatic events of her youth that drove her to get as far away from home as she could. A new cop in Salem is assigned to her aunt's case and finds himself entangled with Towner and her secrets. And, by the way, all of the Whitneys have psychic abilities of various degrees. Towner's Aunt Eva was even in the process of writing a guide for learning to "read lace" which allows you to see someone's future. Towner is pretty good at it too - though she struggles against what the readings tell her.

Why You'll Love It: This is a well-written and compelling story. The author skillfully inserts clues about Towner and her past and about her aunt who has drowned. So don't overlook the details - they are all important! And the ending will really shake you up!

Who Should Read It: Mystery and fiction lovers will enjoy this book - also people who are intrigued by psychic phenomena. If you have ever visited Salem (like I did last year) you'll also enjoy reading about places and sites you may have seen while you were there.


Thanks to KF for this book review!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

"When you can live forever, what do you live for?"

Fans across the world will be rushing into movie theaters next weekend for the opening of the movie "Twilight," based on the wildly-successful Young Adult book of the same name. The original four books (Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn) are hard to get your hands on - the holds lists are almost 200 people strong! If you loved Twilight, how about some other supernatural books to keep you reading while you're waiting?

Blood and Chocolate, Annette Curtis Klause
Vivian is a hereditary loup-garou (that is, werewolf), in a pack that's been run out of at least one town before. She lives like any other teenage outcast - willingly keeping company only with her age-mates in the pack. Until she reads a poem by another student, and becomes convinced that this one boy will understand what it's like to be a wolf, beautiful and wild and free. Meanwhile, people in the community are showing up dead - did Vivian do it? If not, who did?
(This was made into a movie, too, but the movie is completely different from the book.)

Kitty and the Midnight Hour, Carrie Vaughn
Kitty Norville is just your average radio DJ, who hosts a late-night call-in show called The Midnight Hour. Oh, and not all of her callers are average. Or human. Of course, neither is Kitty. She's a werewolf, and in this first book in the ongoing series, the head of the vampire crime family (an undead mafia!) wants her show canceled, and Kitty dead.
Fic Vaughn SCS

Vamped, David Sosnowski

One question that always gets asked in vampire novels is, if they're the more powerful predators, why haven't they killed all the humans and taken over yet? Sosnowski answers this question in Vamped, where vampires are the dominant species, and hilarity abounds.

Fic Sosnowski WCV RSV MTC

Sweep: Book of Shadows, Cate Tiernan

First in a series that now has 13 novels and a super edition, Sweep is a great set of novels about Morgan, a high school junior who finds out that she's a witch. Tiernan fills the novels with great prose, and accurate information about Wicca. Once you finish these, there's also the quadrilogy "Balefire" available.
YA Tiernan CHE

Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle, Jim Butcher
We've recommended the Dresden Files before on this blog, but if you've never picked up "Storm Front," or if you just prefer something a little easier on the eyes, try this new graphic novel, written by Butcher, and illustrated by Ardian Syaf, who is relatively new in the comics world. This is a stand alone story of Harry Dresden, and is as funny as the rest of the series. The art is well-done, and it's a great placeholder book while fans eagerly await "Turn Coat," due out in April of 2009.
YA Graphic Butcher FRA

And of course, who can forget the classics:

Dracula, Bram Stoker
At the heart of all vampire novels is a vampire who wants to love a human. Here, the very first written story.
Fic Stoker WCV MTC RSV

The Wolf Man: The Legacy Collection [DVD]
'When a man is attacked by a werewolf, he finds to his horror that he now becomes one himself under a full moon.'
DVD 791.43 Wolf WCV
DVD Arts Wolf TPL

The Witches, Roald Dahl
A boy who's been warned about witches ends up at the yearly convention as a target. He finds that witches, REAL WITCHES, dress normally, live normally, and act normally, so it's terribly hard to catch them. Will he catch the witches, or will they catch him - and turn him into a mouse?

Do you have a favorite supernatural book?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

November is Native American Heritage Month!

Find out more about Native American heritage by reading some of these books, or checking out the websites listed below.

Storyteller by Leslie Marmon Silko
Silko is another well-known author, who delves into the past with both fiction and nonfiction (See her work Ceremony for a winding tale of modern-day tribe members.) This is more of an autobiographical offering, with stories, personal history, poems, and photographs of her life.
Fic (Storage) MTC

Yellow Woman and a Beauty of the Spirit: Essays on Native American Life Today by Leslie Marmon Silko
Written in 1997, but still relevant (and used in college curricula today), is this book containing nonfiction pieces on "America's Debt to the Indian Nations" and "Interior and Exterior Landscapes: The Pueblo Migration Stories."
970.00497 S CHE

American Indian Trickster Tales by Richard Erdoes
Coyote is the best known trickster of the Native American stories, but he's not the only one. Included here are also Iktomi, a shapeshifting Lakota spider-man, and Veeho, the Cheyenne daredevil, in one hundred illustrated stories.
398.2089 E EPL
398.2 A SHL TPL

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Alexie is regarded as one of the best writers about modern Native Americans, mixing history and traditions of the tribes (usually the Coeur D'Alene tribe, of which he is one) with current topics, characters, and events.
YA Fic Alexie WCV

The Business of Fancydancing: Poems and Stories by Sherman Alexie
Alexie's first book, which follows his usual format of short stories with humorous titles, as well as poems.
811 Alexie WAM
811.54 A WMB

The Blessing Way, by Tony Hillerman
Known and rewarded as a top mystery author and Special Friend of the Navajo Tribe, Hillerman made his name in fiction for his Navajo Tribal Police/ Joe Leaphorn mysteries. Unfortunately, he also passed on recently, so there will be no more after the most recent, 2006's "The Shape Shifter. Start with this first book in the series, or with "The Joe Leaphorn Mysteries" collection, which features the first three novels.
Fic Hillerman CHE

The Coyote Road: Trickster Tales by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling
Coyote is one of the most famous (and beloved) of the Native American spirits - always in trouble for making deals and promises he doesn't exactly keep. Edited by Datlow and Windling, well-known for being a part of "The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror," this is a collection sure to show many different sides of the Trickster.
YA Fic Coyote SHL


Native American Heritage Month (homepage): put together by the Library of Congress, this is a great jumping-off point for anyone interested in the subject.

Oyate: A Native organization devoted to making sure Native Americans are portrayed honestly in books and other media.

Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
: Three sites that make up the National Museum include artwork, history, archives, and more.