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June 2009 -- "Have you not considered the distinct possibility that the accused were simply guilty
of witchcraft?"


Connie Godwin thinks her academic advisor is teasing her: she has mastered the scholarship surrounding the Salem witch trials of 1692 and knows the question he poses is preposterous. She never suspects that answering it will alter everything she knows about the past, her family, and the professor himself. Interweaving two narratives, one set in 1991 and one set three centuries earlier, Katherine Howe's debut novel is a marvel of invention

and historical reconstruction. The author employs her training as an historian to vividly depict the realities of 17th-century Salem, dramatizing the plight of the unfortunate victims as they fall prey to the mania of their accusers. But it is the leap of imagination by which she connects Connie to that distant past that turns The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane into a bewitching reading
experience.


Sent by her mother to prepare her long-deceased grandmother's home for sale, Connie finds a decrepit dwelling filled with venerable oddities, including a collection of ancient bottles filled with peculiar liquids and powders. On her first night there, Connie chances on a crumbling bit of paper, bearing the words "Deliverance Dane," that has been carefully hidden inside a key tucked between the pages of a 300-year-old family Bible. Combing the local church registry for traces of this mysterious name, Connie strikes up an acquaintance with Sam, a steeplejack engaged in the church's preservation. Together they piece together Deliverance's tragic story and learn of her precious book of spells and recipes for healing potions. When a series of sinister events threaten Sam's life, Connie's search for the book is transformed from scholarly pursuit to a matter of life and death-and love. 
With breathless suspense and emotional sympathy, Katherine Howe guides readers between past and present as she reveals the discoveries of Connie Goodwin and the secrets of Deliverance Dane, condemned as a witch in the Salem hysteria. Told with conviction and thrillingly paced, this extraordinary first novel proves Howe's command of what may be the greatest sorcery of all: that of the consummate storyteller.

 


Message Edited by Jon_B on 08-24-2009 08:10 AM

If you're like me and you're mourning the end of the Harry Potter series, then you'll want to devour Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series. It's a five book series, with the fifth coming out one week from now. Instead of the wizarding world, Riordan takes us into Greek mythology. The series is set for the most part in modern-day New York, where sometime-problem child Percy Jackson learns that one of his parents is a Greek god. This means that Percy is a demi-god and spends his summers at Camp Half-Blood, a summer camp for others like him where they learn the skills necessary for any quest they might be sent on by the gods.

 

The best thing about this series is how much all that Greek mythology information I learned way back in middle school suddenly returned to the forefront of my mind. Even though it's present-day, Riordan uses Greek myths alongside contemporary issues. They mingle together quite well. For example, Riordan explains that Mt. Olympus always sits over the world power at present. When it was in Greece, that's because the Greeks were the center of civilization. Currently? Mt. Olympus resides above the Empire State Building in NYC.

 

This series is the basis for B&N's summer reading program this summer, and for that I am so excited. I can't wait to get even more kids (and my friends!) hooked on this series. Percy is a likeable, realistic boy who I think most of today's attention-deficit, video-game-loving, always-in-motion youth can identify with. His problems--minus the whole Greek demigod, fighting minotaurs and sea monsters thing--are their problems. His friends are like their friends. 

 

This series is a relatively quick read, but it's educational and adventurous. Recommended for, well, anyone really.

 

August 2009 - Tom Cole, the grandson of a legendary local hero, has inherited an uncanny knack for reading the Niagara River's whims and performing daring feats of rescue at the mighty falls. And like the tumultuous meeting of the cataract's waters with the rocks below, a chance encounter between Tom and 17-year-old Bess Heath has an explosive effect. When they first meet on a trolley platform, Bess immediately recognizes the chemistry between them, and the feeling is mutual.


But the hopes of young love are constrained by the 1915 conventions of Niagara Falls, Ontario. Tom's working-class pedigree doesn't suit Bess's family, despite their recent fall from grace. Sacked from his position at a hydroelectric power company, Bess's father has

taken to drink, forcing her mother to take in sewing for the society women who were once her peers. Bess pitches in as she pines for Tom, but at her young age, she's unable to fully realize how drastically her world is about to change.

 

Set against the resounding backdrop of the falls, Cathy Marie Buchanan's carefully researched, capaciously imagined debut novel entwines the romantic trials of a young couple with the historical drama of the exploitation of the river's natural resources. The current of the river, like that of the human heart, is under threat: "Sometimes it seems like the river is being made into this measly thing," says Tom, bemoaning the shortsighted schemes of the power companies. "The river's been bound up with cables and concrete and steel, like a turkey at Christmastime."


Skillfully portraying individuals, families, a community, and an environment imperiled by progress and the devastations of the Great War, The Day the Falls Stood Still beautifully evokes the wild wonder of its setting, a wonder that always overcomes any attempt to tame it. But at the same time, Buchanan's tale never loses hold of the gripping emotions of Tom and Bess's intimate drama. The result is a transporting novel that captures both the majesty of nature and the mystery of love.

 


Sookie Stackhouse/ Dead Until Dark

Status: Bookseller Picks

When first told to try the Southern Vampire Series, I was skeptical at first since I had heard about a show on HBO (True Blood) based on them and it didn't really seem like "my thing." I was so wrong! Dead Until Dark is the first of 9 (for now) books by Charlaine Harris about the feisty heroine, Sookie Stackhouse. It took me less than one day to finish and I bought all of the rest the next day so I didn't have to wait for the next book should I finish while the bookstore was closed for the night. This book (and the rest that followed) were laugh-out-loud funny! Sookie is such a dynamic character and she fills the pages with uproarious wit and stubborn panache. Her exploits, while firmly in the realm of fantasy, are so well-written that I felt as though I was right there with her, tending tables at Merlotte's.

 

The premise behind the Southern Vampire Series is also part of the appeal of the novels. While reading vampire novels in the past, I have always wondered what it would be like if the vampires were no longer condemned to the hidden underworld. Charlaine Harris begins her first novel of the series by answering this very question. In the series, vampires have just "come out of the coffin" due to the invention of synthetic blood. Since they have synthetic blood, they do not need to be a danger to humans and announce themselves to the world. Sookie sees the announcement on television and her bar, Merlotte's begins to carry True Blood, just in case. Sookie meets her first vampire when he comes into the bar for a drink and is drawn into the vampires' no-longer-hidden world due to her own abilities as a psychic and her blossoming relationship with the small town's very own resident bloodsucker.

 

Dead Until Dark combines so many elements of fiction, I recommend it to everyone. If you are looking for humor, fantasy, romance, drama, or just something new to try, I very highly recommend trying out Dead Until Dark. In the style of truly entertaining reading, it is extremely addictive and very hard to put down so beware! Should you wind up hooked on them as myself and so many others, the next books are Living Dead in Dallas (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #2),  Club Dead (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #3),  Dead to the World (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #4),  Dead As a Doornail (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #5),  Definitely Dead (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #6),  All Together Dead (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #7) , From Dead to Worse (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #8), and  Dead and Gone (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #9) .

September 2009 - A Body in a Bistro, A Treasure in the Forest, and A Tale of Murder Beyond the Pale.

 

The village in Quebec where Louise Penny's Chief Inspector Gamache novels are set is home to a bistro, a bookstore, a bedand-breakfast, and a boulangerie. Tantalizing aromas seem to waft from every room, and friendship warms the homes of the eccentric collection of people that populates the town, a potpourri of escaping urbanites, artists, carpenters, and an outlandish poet with a pet duck.

 

And yet, as Penny's fifth novel unfolds, it isn't long before murder disturbs the tranquility of the community watched over by the graceful trees that give Three Pines its name. One Sunday morning, the body of a stranger is discovered on the floor of the town's commercial and spiritual center: the bistro run by Olivier Brulé and his partner, Gabri. The victim appears to be a stranger-but is he? The answer to that question, and to the more pressing mystery of his killer's identity, soon rests in the hands of Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec.

 

Arriving in Three Pines, a town of old friends and, sadly, new suspects, the commanding yet kind Gamache deploys his crew of detectives to gather evidence in the apparently clueless case. Each discovery-a corpse that won't stay still, a house whose restoration can't erase the aura of its haunted past, a log cabin located deep in the woods that holds an astonishing collection of priceless artifacts-ties another enigmatic knot in the intricate web of secrets and deceptions Gamache must unravel.

 

Tellingly blending the social pleasures of a cozy with the escalating terror of a psychological thriller, Penny traces Gamache's investigation as it expands to encompass cultural treasures that range from pieces of the fabled Amber Room to the china of Catherine the Great, from a first edition of Jane Eyre to the violin of the great Czech composer Bohuslav Martinù, from the modern art of the museums of Montreal to Haida totem poles on the mist-enshrouded Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia. With breathless anticipation, the reader follows Gamache as he pursues the shocking and brutal truth hidden in the heart of a seemingly loving community.

 

July 2008 -- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society begins in January 1946, when popular author Juliet Ashton, much like her fellow British citizens, is emerging from the dark days of World War II. As Juliet exchanges a series of letters with her publisher and her best friend, readers immediately warm to this author in search of a new subject in the aftermath of war. By the time Juliet receives an unexpected query from Dawsey Adams, we are caught in a delightful web of letters and vivid personalities and eager for Juliet to find the inspiration she seeks.

Dawsey, a farmer on the island of Guernsey in the English Channel, has come into possession of a book that once belonged to Juliet. Spurred by a mutual admiration for the writer, the two launch an epistolary conversation that reveals much about Dawsey's Guernsey and the islanders' recent lives under Nazi occupation. Juliet is especially interested to learn about the curious beginnings of "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society," and before long she is exchanging letters with its other members — not only Dawsey but Isola the vegetable seller, Eben the fisherman, and blacksmith Will Thisbee, creator of the famous potato peel pie.

As Juliet soon discovers, the most compelling island character is Elizabeth, the courageous founder of the society, who lives in the memories of all who knew her. Each person who writes to Juliet adds another chapter to the story of Elizabeth's remarkable wartime experiences. Touched by the stories the letters deliver, Juliet can't help but travel to Guernsey herself — a decision that will have surprising consequences for everyone involved.

Drawn together by their love of books and affection for each other, the unforgettable characters of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society collectively tell a moving tale of endurance and friendship. Through the chorus of voices they have created, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows have composed a rich tale that celebrates the power of hope and human connection in the shadows of war.


Message Edited by PaulH on 04-07-2009 02:01 PM
Message Edited by PaulH on 05-28-2009 08:31 AM
September 2006 -- Diane Setterfield's remarkable first novel begins like a reader’s dream: a bookseller’s daughter returns to the shop one night to discover a letter from England’s best-loved writer, a woman whose life is shrouded in rumor and legend. Reading the strange missive from the famous Vida Winter, Margaret Lea is puzzled by its invitation to discover the truth about the author’s mystifying past. Later that evening, unable to sleep, Margaret returns to the shop from her bedroom upstairs in search of something to read. Passing over her old favorites— Woman in White, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre  —she can’t resist the temptation of the rarest of her correspondent’s books, Thirteen Tales of Change and Desperation, the recalled first edition of a book that contained only twelve stories. Falling under Vida Winter’s spell for the first time, Margaret reads it straight through. Not long afterward she is standing in the opulent library of Miss Winter’s Yorkshire home, transported by the romance of books into a mysterious tale of her own.

Only five short chapters into Setterfield’s deft, enthralling narrative, her readers too have been transported: they’ve inhaled the dusty scent of Lea’s Antiquarian Bookshop, shared the sense of adventurous comfort Margaret absorbs from her late-night reading, and been seduced by the glamorous enigma of Vida Winter. Yet The Thirteenth Tale  has just begun. Commissioned by Miss Winter to compose her unvarnished biography, Margaret is soon swept up in the tragic history she must unravel—a story stranger and more haunting than any the celebrated author has ever penned, encompassing a grand house, a beautiful yet doomed family, passion, madness, ghosts, and a secret that holds readers spellbound until the very end. Richly atmospheric and deeply satisfying, Setterfield’s debut revives in all their glory the traditions of gothic and romantic suspense exemplified by the works of Wilkie Collins, the Brontës, and Daphne du Maurier. Old-fashioned in the best sense, it’s an urgently readable novel that’s nearly impossible to put down.

Message Edited by PaulH on 04-07-2009 02:03 PM
April 2009 -- On a cold, snowy evening, a young woman lingers in front of a house pondering a sign that reads, "Prayers for Sale." Inside, an elderly widow, Hennie Comfort, watches and wonders before stepping outside to greet her reluctant visitor. So begins this engrossing tale of a wise older woman with a lifetime of stories to tell, and a 17-year-old with prayers that need answers. Set in 1930s Colorado, it's a novel in which the drama, humor, and passions of one very full life are stitched, with love and understanding, into the fabric of another.

 

Eighty-six-year-old Hennie has lived in Middle Swan, a gold-mining town in the Rockies, since before Colorado was a state. Nit has recently arrived in town with her husband and her grief, reminding Hennie of her own youthful hopes and sorrows. Finding common ground in their Southern heritage and a love of quilting, an unlikely friendship blossoms as Hennie captivates Nit with vivid memories that reach back to the mid-1800s.

 

"There's something about stitching together," Hennie confides, "that draws a woman out."

 

As they sew, Hennie recounts her childhood in Tennessee and her tragic marriage to her sweetheart Billy, soon to be lost to the Civil War. She relives the death of their only child and her journey, by wagon train, across the country to start life anew with a man she'd never met. She recalls the unexpected blessing she discovered upon her arrival in Middle Swan and describes the lively cast of gamblers and moonshiners, quilters and "soiled doves" she has come to know. Summoning the feelings, dreams, and satisfactions of Hennie's years of experience as a woman, mother, and wife, these stirring yarns serve as a healing balm for the lonely, anxious Nit-and help her piece together a new beginning for her own family.

 

Just as Hennie's tales weave a many-hued cloak of mountain wisdom for the benefit of her young friend, so Sandra Dallas creates for us-through a deft blend of historical detail, authentic voices, quilting lore, and, last but not least, emotional truths-a vibrant quilt of heartbreaking incident and heartwarming compassion.

 

  • Our downloadable reader's guide (pdf)
  • Watch our exclusive interview with Sandra Dallas on B&N Tagged!
  • Discussion questions for your reading group


  • Message Edited by PaulH on 04-27-2009 04:10 PM
    Message Edited by PaulH on 06-08-2009 10:48 AM

    Quick-paced, Quasi-Fantasy, Can't-put-down Teen Read

    Status: Bookseller Picks

    Suzanne Collins combines the hot genre of teen fantasy with trendy reality TV. In a maybe-not-so-distant future, teenagers enter a lottery for the chance to participate in the Hunger Games, a competition broadcast on all channels where the winner takes fame and glory back to their home.

     

    What I liked most about the book was that even for people who aren't fans of fantasy writing, The Hunger Games works just fine. The setting may be the future and the United States may not be recognizable, but enough current elements exist in the world Collins created that anyone will enjoy it. Of course I could expound on the universal themes of love and family and independence, but those are just side effects of the novel.

     

    It's one of those books that I couldn't put down. In fact, it didn't even take a long time to get into it, like many books I've been reading lately. It started off quick-paced. It stayed quick-paced. Surprises lurked around every corner. The characters are real. I can compare them to my friends in real life. I want them to be my friends. I care about what happens to them and hope for the best. Those are some of the things I look for in a great young adult read. And The Hunger Games pretty much holds all of them.

    The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

    Status: Bookseller Picks

    I've never read a book that moved me the way The Book Thief did.  Narrated by Death, it tells the story of Liesel Meminger, a young girl who spends her childhood living with a foster family in Germany during World War II.  Naturally, a book with that setting has its fair share of tragedy, and though this one does have one of the saddest endings I've ever seen, at the same time, it is also one of the most uplifting books I've ever read.  The characters are what makes this book so special; each one has traits that are likeable and detestable.  They are among the most human characters that I've ever seen, and I came to care about what happened to each and every one of them.  By the time I reached the climax of the book, I was so emotionally invested in the characters, that I couldn't keep from crying, and yet I still can't think of a book that I've read recently that I enjoyed more than this one.

     

    This is a wonderful book.  I can't recommend it highly enough.

    February 2009 -- As sidekicks, Maxwell Smart and Agent 99 have nothing on Chet and Bernie. This charming detective duo make their debut in Dog On It, the first volume in Spencer Quinn's new mystery series. The fast-paced and funny tale is narrated by the inimitable Chet, Bernie's best friend and canine partner, whose personality and preferences are never in doubt: "I liked to sleep at the foot of Bernie's bed, but my favorite napping spot was in the breakfast nook, under the table with my back against the wall, all cool and shady, plus there was often good snacking around Bernie's chair."

    Bernie's enterprise, the Little Detective Agency, limps along, waiting for the next job to arrive. While Chet freely admits that he doesn't always understand the humans around him, the mutt who failed to graduate from the police academy quickly establishes that he's got a nose made for sniffing out trouble — as well as the tasty morsel.

    When the story begins, Chet and Bernie are settled into the companionable routine they established when Bernie got divorced and lost custody of his son. Riding shotgun for stakeouts in Bernie's beat-up convertible (and snarfing up doughnuts and beef jerky) is the perfect life for Chet, though he knows Bernie's worried about cash flow.

    But their luck is about to change. During a nighttime stroll through the neighborhood — an older enclave in the southwestern desert that Bernie fears will soon be eclipsed by new development — the pair encounter a panicked neighbor, Cynthia Chambliss. Waving a wad of bills, she beseeches Bernie to find her daughter, Madison, a 15-year-old who has been missing for several hours.

    Bernie heeds the call of cash and the urgency of parental concern, but Madison soon returns home on her own, only to disappear again in short order — this time for several days. Cynthia frantically rehires Bernie, but her ex, Damon Keefer, refuses to cooperate, insisting that Bernie be taken off the investigation. Nevertheless, intrigued by the young girl's apparent connections to a group of Russian thugs, Bernie and Chet follow a trail of clues that leads them into more danger than they'd bargained for.

    As Chet and Bernie race across the desert toward Las Vegas in their sandblasted Porsche, Quinn's narrative unfolds with mounting suspense. At every stage of their journey, readers will warm to Chet's loyalty and courage — to say nothing of his delightfully doggy digressions — and be captivated by Spencer Quinn's deft blend of humor and thrills in this enormously entertaining tale, bound to be the first of many adventures. 
    Message Edited by Kevin on 04-06-2009 01:56 PM
    Message Edited by PaulH on 04-13-2009 10:56 AM
    Message Edited by PaulH on 04-13-2009 10:56 AM
    Message Edited by PaulH on 04-13-2009 10:57 AM
    Categories: mystery & crime, pets

     

    I recently read this series and I would definitely recommend it to any fan of the Twilight series. It has vampires in it, albeit they don't play a huge part, but they are present. The book is about 15 year old Clary Fray and she is trying to find her place in the world when her mother suddenly disappears. Who is this new guy she's met, Jace Wayland and his friends?

     

    This book has action, romance, vampires, werewolves, and the main species which is Shadowhunters. Great series, maybe a little bit more for the mid/older teens than the younger ones. :smileyhappy:

     

    PS: this book has 2 more, making it a trilogy. Easy reads, the level is not to difficult making it enjoyable.

    Categories: teens

    The Hunger Games & Catching Fire

    Status: Bookseller Picks

    Whenever someone asks me what the best book I've read this year is, I answer with The Hunger Games. In Katniss Everdeen's world, which is set in a not-so-different future, America has come to be run by a totalitarian government, and has simply been divided into thirteen districts. The people of Katniss's District 12 live mostly in poverty, thanks to the legend of District 13. The story goes that District 13 tried to rebel against the government, which then nuked the entire district. In order to keep the remaining twelve districts from trying anything similar, the government came up with the Hunger Games.

     

    Every year, all children from the ages of 12-18 must enter their name in the Reaping. One boy and one girl from each district are selected at random to participate as tributes in the Hunger Games, in which all twenty-four children must fight to the death in a diabolical stadium. The Games are all broadcast live, and they don't end until there is only one child left alive. The prize for winning? Food, wealth, and a sturdy home for the winner and their family for the rest of their life. Poor children can enter their names into the Reaping more than once for an extra rations of food, making their chances of being picked even greater -- but the risk is worth it, since the government controls the trade of food between districts so tightly. The Games are a symbol of the government's power to the people of the districts, but to those who live in the Capitol (a place of great wealth, vanity, and frivolity), the Games are pure entertainment. It's a twisted mess of survival and reality television where drama and danger can earn you helpful gifts from your sponsors based on how much the Capitol viewers like you.

     

    16-year-old Katniss, of course, ends up as a tribute in the Hunger Games. Katniss is a born fighter -- she alone has provided food for her family since her father died. She relies only on herself, and is very clever and stubborn. She has a real chance of winning the games and coming home like she promised her little sister she would. She steels herself to be ready to do what's necessary to get home, but when the Games begin, she finds that she has more trouble with the concept of killing the other tributes than she realized. This compassion, and the subsequent anger and frustration at the world she lives in, is part of what makes Katniss such a relatable narrator. She is forced to become a person she doesn't like (which includes killing and participating in a fake romance to garner sympathy from viewers) in order to survive.

     

    Once you pick up The Hunger Games, you won't be able to put it down. It's definitely a thrill ride, with Katniss facing inevitable death with every turn of the page, but it's also got plenty of heart, as Katniss struggles to remain herself through this horrible ordeal. The series is classified as Teen, but it has widespread appeal, and adults will love it, too.

     

    And once you've devoured The Hunger Games, you can pick up the second book in the trology, Catching Fire, which was just released. Catching Fire is just as terrifyingly good as the first book, but it delves even more into the history and politics of the Capitol and the Districts, and you'll discover the lengths the Capitol is willing to go to in order to crush any sign of a rebellion.

    The Name of the Wind

    Status: Bookseller Picks

     

    If you value your sleep and free time, do not read this book.

     

    If you start this book, you will not be able to put it down.

     

    You will find yourself totally immersed in the unique world Patrick Rothfuss has created. Kvothe is such an instantly likeable character you will immediately be emotionally attached to his plight. Getting to know this mysterious character and his origins, in his own words, on his terms, is entertaining to say the least. This is a great novel to get lost in. From first meeting Kvothe, to his parents and their traveling troupe of performers, to his burgeoning education with Abenthy. From  his life living on the rough streets with a knack for putting himself into the sights of danger, to his determination to get into the University and continue his knack for keeping himself in the sights of trouble and danger. From his first meeting with the girl of his dreams to burning down a town. Rothfuss has created a complete world that will envelope you, and leave you craving more.

     

    When Kvothe begins his tale , he says he needs three full days to tell it properly. The 672 pages here are only day one. Which leads us to the second problem, waiting for the next installments of the series.

    The Help

    Status: Bookseller Picks

    I had no idea when I picked this book up how much I would love it.  Set in Mississippi, during the turbulent 1960's a privileged, young,  white woman dreams of being a writer.  Skeeter applies to several publishing houses, but has no previous writing experience.  A woman that works at a publishing house sends her a letter and tells her to write whenever and whatever she can.  When Skeeter finds a job writing a "how-to" cleaning column for the local paper she realizes she needs help.  She finds the answers in the form of her best friends black maid.  What starts as a basic request for cleaning tips soon turns into an unbreakable bond.

    You will not want this book to end and once it  does you will want to tell everybody you know to read it.  

    The first of many Ffordes

    Status: Bookseller Picks

    Introducing Thursday Next, Jasper Fforde's no-nonsense, smart, funny, and loving heroine of his first series.  We meet Thursday in an alternate mid-1980s Great Britain - one still fighting in the Crimea with Russia - and she is hot on the trail of forgers, Shakespeare impersonators, and book thieves.  Everyone is mad for literature including Acheron Hades, the most wanted man in Britain, and it is Thursday's job to catch him once Jane Eyre is kidnapped from her book leaving the remaining pages of the beloved novel blank.  Fforde's first novel is laugh-out-loud funny, including obscure literary in-jokes that even the most well-read bibliophile might miss, with a drop or two of sci-fi tech, and also quite terrifying when Thursday fights for her life atop the blazing Thornfield Hall.  Fforde uses Thursday's world to comment on certain aspects of our own society including government interference by large corporations (signified by the hulking Goliath Corporation), over-commercialization, and the decline in literacy.  Fforde's books suck you in, which is great because you'll want to follow Thursday through the rest of her books: Lost in a Good BookThe Well of Lost PlotsSomething RottenThursday Next, and one more Thursday novel due sometime in 2010 (or so Jasper says); Thursday learns about the Bookworld and Jurisfiction, apprentices with Miss Havisham, fights grammasites in the Well, tracks the Minotaur, takes the indecisive Dane of Denmark under her wing, and saves Pride and Prejudice from the degredation of reality TV (now I've really got you wondering...I guess you'll have to read all the books now :smileyvery-happy: ) - it's all very accessibly, absurd, and fun to read.  Once you've finished Thursday's published books, and need a tide-over until the next one, you can start on Fforde's Nursery Crime series (Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear), following DCI Jack Spratt and his partner, Mary Mary, as they solve hard-boiled nursery rhyme crime in Reading, and his new series, Paint by Numbers, will debut in December 2008.  

    September 2008 -- An engrossing debut thriller, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo  has been an international sensation, a bestseller in its native Sweden and throughout Europe. It features an unforgettable heroine: a brilliant 24-year-old punk-goth computer hacker and private investigator named Lisbeth Salander. Together with Mikael Blomkvist, a financial journalist on a most unusual assignment, she tracks a serial killer through a dangerous maze of business, political, and family secrets.

    The intricate tale begins when Blomkvist is convicted of libeling top Swedish industrialist Hans-Erik Wennerström. Unable to prove his innocence, Blomkvist prepares to leave his position at Millennium, the magazine he co-founded, now financially threatened by the verdict. But a summons from Wennerström's rival, the aging tycoon Henrik Vanger, presents an option he couldn't have imagined: In exchange for Blomkvist's writing the Vanger family history, Vanger promises to back Millennium financially and deliver incriminating evidence of Wennerström's crooked dealings.

    But that's not all. The closets of the Vanger clan are littered with skeletons, and his new patron wants Blomkvist to set one at rest: the disappearance, 40 years ago, of Vanger's 16-year-old grandniece, Harriet. Intrigued by the cold case that was never solved despite multiple investigations, Blomkvist begins to dig for new evidence on an island north of Stockholm.

    He is soon joined by Salander, a freelance investigator originally hired by Vanger to vet Blomkvist's reputation. Multiple piercings and tattoos are belied by the young computer genius's photographic memory. A victim of assault and harrowing abuse, Salander is driven by a relentless will and an astonishing capability for merciless retribution.

    Larsson's narrative unfolds with mounting suspense, detailing the duo's intellectual ingenuity and increasing courage as they expose hidden cultures of right-wing fanaticism and misogyny and reveal the moral bankruptcy of big capital. As they race across Europe and on to Australia to trap their prey before another woman is tortured and killed, the reader is held in breathless anticipation until the novel's unforeseen conclusion.

    Message Edited by PaulH on 04-07-2009 02:34 PM
    August 2007 -- In her first novel, Sarah Addison Allen has written a tender, bewitching book told with captivating invention, peopled with characters to care about, and filled with the irresistible magic of dreams come true.

    The women of the Waverley family—whether they like it or not—are heirs to an unusual legacy, one that grows in a fenced plot behind their Queen Anne home on Pendland Street in Bascom, North Carolina. There, an apple tree bearing fruit of magical properties looms over a garden filled with herbs and edible flowers that possess the power to affect in curious ways anyone who eats them.

    For nearly a decade, 34-year-old Claire Waverley, at peace with her family inheritance, has lived in the house alone, embracing the spirit of the grandmother who raised her, ruing her mother's unfortunate destiny and seemingly unconcerned about the fate of her rebellious sister, Sydney, who freed herself long ago from their small town's constraints. Using her grandmother's mystical culinary traditions, Claire has built a successful catering business—and a carefully controlled, utterly predictable life—upon the family's peculiar gift for making life-altering delicacies: lilac jelly to engender humility, for instance, or rose geranium wine to call up fond memories. Garden Spells  reveals what happens when Sydney returns to Bascom with her young daughter, turning Claire's routine existence upside down. With Sydney's homecoming, the magic that the quiet caterer has measured into recipes to shape the thoughts and moods of others begins to influence Claire's own emotions in terrifying and delightful ways.

    As the sisters reconnect and learn to support one another, each finds romance where she least expects it, while Sydney's child, Bay, discovers both the safe home she has longed for and her own surprising gifts. With the help of their elderly cousin Evanelle, endowed with her own uncanny skills, the Waverley women redeem the past, embrace the present, and take a joyful leap into the future.

    Message Edited by PaulH on 04-07-2009 02:45 PM

     

    The Red Pyramid (Kane Chronicles Series #1)  To all of the kids and adults who have followed the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and were dismayed when the series ended -The new series from Rick Riordan, the Kane Chronicles is even better !  Rick Riordan still performs that magic that he does so well - creating a fun storyline that takes off on the first page and characters that are believable.  He makes us laugh, cry and sit at the edge of our seat .  As in the last series kids will learn a great deal about mythology - this time it is Ancient Egyptian Gods trying to take over and it is up to Carter and Sadie Kane to stop them before chaos rules.  Things and familiar places are not what they seem and you will love the new gods, goddesses and protectors who come alive in this book.  One of the things I love about his books is the way he empowers kids who feel different or have trouble in everyday life.  Both brother and sister feel disjointed and powerless because of their parents and their  Egyptian alter ego gives them self confidence and special gifts.  While the average 13 year old may not feel like he or she has a lot of control in their life these books will speak to them to search for their own gifts.   I will have no problem recommending these books to any kids from 10 and up. Reading this series together as a family is a  great way to add adventure to a quiet summer. 

    The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series #1)

      

     

    Categories: ages 9-12

    The Magician's Elephant

    Status: Bookseller Picks

    Kate DiCamillo has done it again!

     

    Peter, a young orphaned boy was taken in some years ago by an embittered soldier, who was his father's comrade. He has spent the last few years learning how to be a good soldier like his father, and although he wants to respect his dead father, his heart lies elsewhere. One day, a fortuneteller's tent pops up out of nowhere, and a force compels Peter to visit her and ask a question. Once he meets her, he doesn't even need to ask his question, but is told, "You must follow the elephant. She will lead you there." After all these years, he is faced with the hope that his little sister is still alive and that he will actually find her if he can just figure out this elephant of a riddle.

     

    This captivating story unfolds with a dreamlike quality. The chain of events set up by the arrival of the fortuneteller constantly provokes us to ask ourselves "What if?" The beauty of this story lies in that single thought, and questioning the impossible. "What if?"...when the impossible proves not to be, one cannot help but be filled with hope.

     

    This is a timeless fable that could definitely earn a Newbery, but more importantly inspire kids and adults in abundance. This book feels like Amelie-meets-children's-literature, and I can't wait to start recommending it.

    Categories: ages 9-12

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