Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Texas Library Association Lariat List 2013

From the Texas Library Association Lariat List website:

“The annual list of Lariat award winners calls attention to outstanding fiction published during the year that merit special attention from adult readers. The main criteria for selecting books for the Lariat List is that they are “a pleasure to read.”

Running the Rift                                             
Naomi Benaron / FIC BENARON

For Jean Patrick Nkuba, growing up and training for the Olympics are intertwined with Rwanda's political descent into genocide, forcing him to learn powerful lessons about ethnicity, love, and hope.

Country of the Bad Wolfes           
James Carlos Blake / FIC BLAKE  
Three generations of Wolfes drift from 1820's New England to Revolutionary Mexico to the Rio Grande valley. This swashbuckling saga is rife with unexpected romances and all manner of mayhem.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home            
Carol Rifka Brunt / FIC BRUNT   
June loses the person she loves most when her uncle Finn, a reclusive painter, dies in the early days of the AIDS epidemic. Complex, powerful and poignant, this novel paints a portrait of a family unraveled by secrets and loss.

A Land More Kind Than Home     
Wiley Cash / FIC CASH         

Deep in the Smoky Mountains up near Asheville, evil resides. A menacing preacher holds a town in his grip with infidelity, murder, guns and snake handling.

The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving          
Jonathan Evison / FIC EVISON   

Having hit rock-bottom, Benjamin trains to be a caregiver. His first client, Trevor, a fiercely stubborn and sexually frustrated young man, shows Ben how unprepared he really is to care for someone else. A road trip restores their sense of hope and gives their hearts an opportunity to heal.

The Gods of Gotham                   
Lyndsay Faye / FIC FAYE           

Be transported to the mean streets in New York City, circa 1845, where "coppers" patrol neighborhoods teeming with immigrants fleeing the Irish Potato Famine. Tim Wilde's search for a prolific killer will lead him to the edge of heartbreak and beyond.

Goodbye for Now                      
Laurie Frankel / FIC FRANKEL   

What if you could Skype with your lost loved ones? At the request of his girlfriend, Sam develops a computer program that allows people to interact with those who have passed away. This heartfelt novel delivers a charming and bittersweet romance.

In One Person                                                  
John Irving / FIC IRVING      
A coming of age story that captures unfulfilled love in all its aspects. Billy recalls his life growing up in First Sister, Vermont and the complications of life as a bisexual.

The Snow Child                          
Eowyn Ivey / FIC IVEY   

Inspired by a Russian fairy tale, this story weaves together reality and myth. A snow child is replaced by a young girl whose impact on Mabel and Jack is both magical and palpable.

The Prophet                               
Michael Koryta / FIC KORYTA      
Adam and Kent Austin, estranged since their sister's abduction and murder when they were teens, are now forced into a reunion when a new killing occurs in their small Midwestern town.

Defending Jacob                         
William Landay / FIC LANDAY  
Assistant District Attorney Andy Barber finds himself defending his 14-year-old son, Jacob, for the murder of a fellow student. As the trial intensifies, the family struggles with love, guilt and betrayal.

Edge of Dark Water                   
Joe R. Lansdale / MYS LANSDALE       

Set near Gladewater, Texas, during the Depression, Sue Ellen, Terry and Jinx set out on a harrowing journey to take the ashes of their friend May Lynn to her rightful home, Hollywood. Tom Sawyer meets East Texas gothic.

The Cutting Season                    
Attica Locke / FIC LOCKE    
The body of an immigrant woman is discovered in a sugar cane field near Belle Vie, an antebellum estate in Louisiana. Caren, the property manager, finds her own fate intertwined with the dark legacy of the plantation.

The Baker’s Daughter                
Sarah McCoy / FIC MCCOY       

Reba stumbles into Elsie's German bakery in El Paso at a low point in her life. As she delves into Elsie's youth in Nazi Germany, she discovers an evocative tale of families and relationships, courage and survival, guilt and regret.

The Song of Achilles                           
Madeline Miller / FIC MILLER    

In this fresh retelling of the Iliad, Patroclus is torn between fate and his love for Achilles. The gods and immortals take center stage in this epic story.

Toni Morrison / FIC MORRISON

A vivid portrait of racism in the Deep South before integration as seen through the eyes of Frank, haunted by his experiences in the Korean War, and his beloved sister Ycidra. Morrison's lyrical prose captures the struggles of love, truth, justice and peace.

The Rook                       
Daniel O’Malley / SF OMALLEY

Myfanwy wakes in a park, with no memory, surrounded by bodies wearing latex gloves. She must follow the clues her former self left behind to rebuild her life and uncover treachery within the supernatural secret service.

The Yellow Birds               
Kevin Powers / FIC POWERS

Private Bartle and Private Murphy are both fighting in Al Tafar, Iraq, and do all they can to protect each other. Lean and explosive, this is a somber portrait of a young man who comes home as broken as his comrades who return under a flag.

The Cove                                  
Ron Rash / FIC RASH   
The cove is a secret place, hidden in the mountains of North Carolina and home to Laurel and her brother, Hank, a wounded veteran returned from WW I. Isolated by superstition, Laurel's discovery of a wounded man brings love and music to her life. He harbors a secret that could destroy them all.

In the Shadow of the Banyan       
Vaddey Ratner / FIC RATNER     

Thrown out of their home in Phnom Penh by the Khmer Rouge who have taken power in Cambodia, seven-year-old Raami and her family endure years of loss, starvation and brutality. This autobiographical novel is beautiful, lush and rich.

Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale              
Lynda Rutledge Stephenson / FIC RUTLEDGE

Faith Bass Darling has been hiding in her mansion of treasured antiques for the last 20 years. On the last day of the Millennium, convinced she is going to die, Faith decides everything must go.

John Scalzi / SF SCALZI  

It never fails. A redshirt crew member dies on every away mission on the spaceship Intrepid. WHY do they keep agreeing to go?

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore        
Robin Sloan / FIC SLOAN       
After a layoff sidelines his advertising career, Clay takes a job at a mysterious bookstore in San Francisco and soon realizes the business is a facade for a secret society.

The Shoemaker’s Wife                    
Adriana Trigiani / FIC TRIGIANI

From a hamlet in the Italian Alps to Greenwich Village, backstage at the Metropolitan Opera and in the trenches of WWI, Enza and Ciro illustrate the American immigrant experience in this sweeping love story.

The Age of Miracles                    
Karen Thompson Walker / FIC WALKER       

It began slowly, the days grew longer and soon it is sunlight 60 hours a day. The slow march of change creates chaos even as the population struggles to maintain normalcy. Julia's tween angst plays out against the end of the world. 

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Dresden Files Series by Jim Butcher SF BUTCHER

Harry Dresden is the only wizard listed in the yellow pages of the Chicago phone book, and he is prepared to help you with all things magical (except "love potions, endless purses, or other entertainment," which is in the ad). Harry is a magic-working private investigator (not doing as well as he would like), who also works with Chicago PD's "Special Investigations" unit, which means all of the cases that fall into the "unusual" category. The director, Karrin Murphy, knows that Harry has a lot of knowledge, when it comes to the "unusual," and Harry doesn't mind the consulting fee that he receives from the Chicago PD. Harry also has a past. A past that means he needs to keep his nose clean when it comes to magic. Whenever he gets involved with something, whether it be a case or helping a friend out, Harry does whatever he can to get the job done, even if that means some incredibly clever improvising, such as using a magically locked train locker to take down a gruff (as in the three brothers) or riding a zombie dinosaur to take down a necromancer. The Dresden Files is an Urban Fantasy series, and the series is a very enjoyable read.

The books in the series are:

Storm Front
Fool Moon
Grave Peril
Summer Knight
Death Masks
Blood Rites
Dead Beat
Proven Guilty
White Night
Small Favor
Turn Coat
Side Job
Ghost Story
Cold Days

Harry is a great character (one of my favorites, actually). His sarcasm and witty remarks will have you chuckling along, and the way that he is able to figure out how to get through situations not completely relying on his magic make him an even stronger wizard in my eyes (although the other wizards in this world would argue with me). One of the most interesting things that Jim Butcher has done with his character is make a price for the magic. In a lot of Urban Fantasy, magic is used, but the magic workers also can work with things in the modern world. This is not the way it is for Harry. As a wizard (magic user), he emits a "magical" aura. Any technology that enters into that magical aura, including refrigerators and newer model (after the rotary) phones will short-circuit or blow up. So he drives an "ancient" Blue Beetle (Volkswagon) and even has an "icebox" (the kind that actually uses ice to keep the food cold). Of course, the upside is the ability to work magic, and wizards usually live to be three to four hundred years old. One thing that might get onto your nerves, especially if you listen to the books (especially back-to-back): The Dresden Files is a series, but Jim Butcher writes each one of them so that a person not familar with the series could pick one up and be fine (not really that lost). The drawback to this is that the same summaries are used over and over (almost verbatum) as to who the characters are, how Harry's magic is, what his situation is, where he lives, and so on... If you read and/or listen to the books back-to-back, this may drive you up the wall. This was really my only complaint, though.  

One thing to note, though, before completely immersing yourself in the series. Jim Butcher writes A LOT of Dresden Files short stories in compilations. Some of these are gathered in Side Jobs, but they are also in My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding SF MY, Mean Streets SF MEAN, Strange Brew SF STRANGE, Hex Appeal SF HEX, Naked City SF NAKED, Many Bloody Returns SF MANY, Songs of Love & Death SF SONGS, Dark and Stormy Knights SF DARK, and Blood Lite SSC BLOOD. Another note: I listened to many of these, and they are read by James Marsters (who played Spike on Buffy the Vampire Slayer). They are definitely worth a listen.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Award-winning mysteries: The 2013 Edgar Awards

detectiveImage by olarte.ollie available through a Creative Commons license

The Edgar Awards are bestowed by the Mystery Writers of America, so you know the winners have some serious street cred. The Edgars honor the year's best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television. This year's batch includes the titles below. I've included their call numbers here at the library and whether they are also in our ebook library:

Best Novel
Live By Night
By Dennis Lehane

Best First Novel
The Expats
By Chris Pavone

Best Fact (Nonfction) Crime
Midnight in Peking: How the murder of a young Englishwoman haunted the last days of Old China
By Paul French
364.1523092 FRENCH

Best Juvenile
The Quick Fix (sequel to The Big Splash)
By Jack D. Ferraiolo

Best Young Adult
Code Name Verity
By Elizabeth Wein

Best Paperback Original
The Last Policeman
By Ben H. Winters

Mary Higgins Clark Award
The Other Woman
By Hank Phillippi Ryan

Best Television Episode Teleplay
"A Scandal in Belgravia" from the BBC TV Show "Sherlock," Episode 1 Season 2
Teleplay by Steven Moffat

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Prisoner of Tehran: a memoir by Marina Nemat

Marina, aged 41 when this book was published, spent 2 years and 2 months in Evin Prison in Tehran, a place notorious for the torture and incarceration of those considered to be enemies of the state of Iran.  When she was 16 years old, Marina came under suspicion for leaving a calculus class in protest, after the Revolutionary Guard person teaching the class refused to teach calculus and instead recited a litany of great deeds done by Ayatollah Khomeini, the religious leader.   Although Marina had not expected such an outcome, almost the entire class followed her out, starting a school-wide strike against the Guard, who were in charge of the school after the Iranian Revolution.   After two days of students at the school refusing to attend class, they were forced to end their strike under pain of being turned over to the Guards, known for their harsh tactics.  Marina found it hard to grasp that she was really in danger when a teacher and family friend told Marina later that she was now targeted and should flee Iran with her family.  She knew her family had no money for such a trip, and she felt like she had to take her chances.

As her friends start disappearing, however, the whole narrative becomes more and more ominous.  There is a street protest against the government, and armed Guards shoot the protesters from rooftops.  In the face of this threat, few citizens are outspoken, and Marina’s mother warns her to just lay low and stop putting herself in harm’s way.  You can see the culture shutting down bit by bit under the regime, with people trying to live their normal lives while changing their practices to avoid recrimination and punishment.  

After Marina is arrested she is sentenced to be executed but is saved at the last moment by a prison interrogator who is impressed by her testimony and eventually falls in love with her.  He forces her to convert to Islam, as she is Catholic, and compels her to marry him by threatening harm to her family and former boyfriend.  The complexities of her status and her life through this ordeal are dizzying.  She spends some nights with her husband in a special room, when he is free, and even stays with him outside the prison, although she is still a prisoner.  Her husband becomes at odds with those running the prison who are practicing violence, and he asks Marina to help some other female prisoners before they are tortured to death. 
What you see in this book are the shades of terror and of anguish which are engendered by brutality.  Marina has a new life in Canada now with a new husband and family.  However, when the Iranian-born Canadian journalist Zahra Kazemi was tortured and killed in Evin in 2003, Marina realized that it was time to tell her story. 

I found her story difficult and yet her writing opens up her heart, in terms of what and who she loved, and what this experience did to her.  Ironically, in an interview she had with National Public Radio, the questioner suggests that she must have had “Stockholm syndrome” – where a victim feels solidarity with their persecutor.  Although she agrees, she calls that syndrome, in the end, just a label.  And that is true.  Just as all these testimonies can be reduced to statistics, to events, to a story happening far away – what counts is whether we see it through her eyes, and hear it with the beating of her heart.  

Click here for the catalog listing.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Mom Fiction

Since Mother's Day is this Sunday May 12, it is a good time to do some reading about moms. The following books were taken from a bibliography called Mom Fiction, which can be found on the Mothers display, and the bibliography is posted online, as well. 

Grab sometimes titles for yourself or a mother you know!

MYS ALLAN              
Barbara Allan

A Trash N’ Treasure Mystery Series

After a tough divorce, Brandy Borne is moving back home (to both her hometown and to her larger-than-life mother's house) and trying to put the pieces of her life back together. Brandy's mother, Vivian, has some issues (some of which are mental), and so Brandy has her hands full, especially when the antiques that she and her mother work with lead to more and more mysterious deaths.  

Antiques Maul              
Antiques Flea Market   
Antiques Bizarre        
Antiques Knock-Off
Antiques Disposal
Antiques Chop

FIC BENSON             
Raymond Benson

The Black Stiletto Series

Martin Talbot runs across several volumes of his mother's diaries and discovers something amazing.  His now Alzheimer's stricken mother was once The Black Stiletto, a vigilante who fought crime in New York in the 1950s. These events may also lead to adventure, when an individual that Judy put away in the 1950s is out of prison and seeking revenge. The second and third books continue her adventures. 

The Black Stiletto: The First Diary—-1958
The Black Stiletto: The Second Diary—1959
The Black Stiletto: The Third Diary—-1960

FIC COBO                  
Leila Cobo

The Second Time We Met

Twenty-year-old Asher Stone was on his way to a professional soccer career, when an accident shattered that dream. He begins to wonder about the girl in Columbia, Rita Ortiz, who gave him up for adoption. Finding Rita is not so easy, though, and Asher's parent's are starting to worry about this meeting. Soon, Rita hears about Asher, but will she give up the life that she has worked hard to turn around for this second meeting?

FIC DUPREE             
Kia DuPree


Nicola Hampton has worked so hard to provide for her three children, but when she loses her job, this becomes more and more difficult. Nicola's sons are turning to drug-dealing, but Nicola wants so much more for them, especially her daughter, Tinka. Unfortunately, this means that Nicola pushes Tinka a little harder than Tinka likes, and soon, Tinka may turn completely from her mother to someone really bad for her. Will her mother be able to save them all?

SF FREER                  
Dave Freer


In 1976, the British Empire is still spread all over the globe, and coal is the main source of energy. Clara Calland and her scientist mother are on the run from the Empire (and its airships). They hide in "drowned London" in the canals under the main city. When the Imperial soldiers dare even the canals to find them, the two women must escape aboard the Cuttlefish, a coal-fired submarine. Will the women be able to get away, especially with the lost scientific secret that threatens Imperial power?

Mary Curran Hackett

Proof of Heaven

Colm may be young, but he knows enough to know that he is sick and is not getting better. His mother, Cathleen, believes that faith will heal Colm. Colm is not sure of this, but he does know that he is prepared to die. The one thing that he wants, though, is to meet the father that abandoned his mother before he was born. 

FIC HAUSER            
Melanie Lynne Hauser

Confessions of Super Mom

Strange things have been happening with Birdie Lee, divorced mother of two, since the "Horrible Swiffer Accident." She suddenly has super powers (to know when her children are up to something dangerous and clean really, really well), and she may even have found an arch-nemesis with an "evil plan."

FIC JONES               
Lloyd Jones

Hand Me Down World

A woman washes up on the shore of Sicily. All she has with her is the maid uniform she is wearing and a knife, but she intends to get back her son, whose father stole him away when he was just days old. The story is told from the point of view of the strangers that encounter this woman on her journey.  

FIC KENNER              
Julie Kenner

Kate Connor—Demon Hunter Series

Once upon a time Kate Connor was a demon hunter. That is all in her past  now. Now Kate is a stay-at-home mother of two. Unfortunately, Kate is pulled back into the demon-hunting world, when she is attacked by a demon mere minutes before an important dinner party. Kate does not want her family to know what she used to be, but will she be able to hide it, take care of the demon problem, and make sure that her toddler makes his playdates?

Carpe Demon              
California Demon        
Deja Demon
Demons are Forever
Demon Ex Machina

FIC LUPTON             
Rosamund Lupton


Grace tries her best to save her daughter, Jenny, from the burning school building. The next thing they both know, their bodies are being worked on in the hospital, and they are in an incoporeal state. It turns out that the fire was set on purpose, and the person who started it is still interested in Jenny. Grace may be the only "being" who can find this person and stop them in time.

FIC MALLERY           
Susan Mallery   

Already Home  

Jenna Steven's world is rocked when her marriage ends, and she decides to move back to her hometown of Georgetown, Texas and start her own kitchen supply store. Unfortunately for Jenna, she is not quite sure where to start, but meeting Violet is a big help (Violet has a lot of retail experience). Just when things are looking up for Jenna and Violet, Jenna is surprised by her birth parents, who have decided to unite their family after so many years. 

FIC RAY                    
Jeanne Ray

Calling Invisible Women

Clover knows that her age, she does turn heads the way that she once did, but on the morning that she wakes up invisible, she is shocked when her husband and son don't even notice. Checking with her friend, Clover finds that she is not going insane, but she has truly gone invisible. She had just never noticed that she had been that way with her family. After finding other women that share the same affliction, Clover and these women work to be noticed and appreciated. 

David Rosenfelt

Heart of a Killer

Jamie Wagner is an underachieving lawyer whose world is rocked by a case. Sheryl Harrison had been convicted of her husband's murder, whom she claimed had been abusive. Then Sheryl's fourteen-year-old daughter becomes sick and needs a heart transplant. Sheryl would do anything to help her daughter, even commit suicide, but she ends up getting put on suicide watch in prison. Now she needs Jamie to help her prove her innocence and get free. Then she can met her goal of saving her daughter. 

FIC SANTO            
Courtney Miller Santo

The Roots of the Olive Tree

There are five generations of women living on an olive grove in Northern California. A geneticist wants to study why these women have lived so long, especially Anna, who is 112 years old. The women do not want the geneticist finding out all of their secrets, though. 

FIC SIN                    
Kyong-suk Sin 

Please Look After Mom

In South Korea, a family is frantically searching for their mother, who went missing within the crowds of Seoul Station subway. In coming up with the information needed to find her, her children start to see just how much they didn't really know the woman who is their mother.

FIC ZEPEDA              
Gwendolyn Zepeda

Better With You Here

Natasha Davila thinks that she has finally gotten things mostly back to normal with her children after her divorce. Then her ex decides to remarry and start a new family, and he wants full custody of the children. Natasha finds friends in her neighbors, and these women are facing similar problems in their own lives. When her ex starts threatening her with news about her new friends, Natasha will need all the support she can get.