Monday, October 30, 2006

The Ghost at the Table : a Novel by Suzanne Berne

"This taut psychological drama by Orange Prize–winner Berne (A Crime in the Neighborhood) unfolds as San Francisco freelance writer Cynthia Fiske acquiesces to her maternal older sister, Frances, and attends the Thanksgiving family reunion Frances is hosting at her perfectly restored Colonial home in Concord, Mass. Cynthia believes her father, now 82, murdered their invalid mother with an overdose of pills when Cynthia was 13, and she has no wish to ever see him again. Within months after their mother died, their father packed Frances and Cynthia off to boarding school and married the much younger Ilse, a graduate student who worked as part-time tutor to Frances. But now he's suffered a stroke. Ilse is divorcing him, and the family is placing him in a home. Tension is high by the time the assorted guests, including Frances's complicated teenage daughters, her mysterious husband and the speech-impaired patriarch, are called to Frances's table, and it doesn't take much to fan the first flares of anger into the inevitable conflagration." ~ from Publisher Weekly Review

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Book clubs abound in our town, and thanks to one of our patrons, Elizabeth, we now have this useful book in our collection and reading groups have a great new resource to use.

The Book Club Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to the Reading Group Experience by Diana Loevy is filled with suggestions for group reads as well as how to "sell" them to your fellow members. There are lists of books from beloved lit to guilty pleasures to decade by decade lists of titles and much more, and critiques of discussion questions are also included. In addition, because Loevy sees book clubs as groups that provide opportunity to socialize and make new friends, she includes suggestions from food to location to theme gatherings, to enrich the group's time together.

This is a fun and entertaining book (I bought my own copy), as well as a very useful one. Even if you don't belong to a book club, you'll enjoy the suggestions. Thinking of joining a group? Let us know, the library would like to schedule some upcoming discussions. Just email me: and put "Brookfield Book Discussion" in the subject, and we'll keep you informed.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Hudson Booksellers, the company that runs bookstores and newsstands in airports all over North America, has announced their best books of 2006.

Hudson Booksellers' Book of the year is the newly published Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier.

Best Fiction Books

The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox
The March by E.L. Doctorow
The Lay of the Land by Richard Ford
Thirteen Moons by Charles Frazier
Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
The People’s Act of Love by James Meek
A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore
Against the Day by Thomas Pynchon
Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart

Best Nonfiction Books
The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley
The Devil’s Teeth by Susan Casey
Never Have Your Dog Stuffed by Alan Alda
Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
The Places in Between by Rory Stewart
Blind Side by Michael Lewis
Collapse by Jared Diamond
The Life & Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson
Thunderstruck by Erik Larsen
Leaving Microsoft to Change the World by John Wood

Thursday, October 19, 2006

If you like Alexander McCall Smith's Precious Ramotswe in the Ladies Detective series, several readers have said that you'll like these two books about Materena Mahi and her family and friends on the island of Tahiti.

Breadfruit by Celestine Vaite

Women who want romance, men who won't commit, interfering in-laws, making ends meet - some things never change, even in a tropical paradise.

Materena lives with Pito and their three kids in Faa'a PK5.5, behind the petrol station, and life is good. Until one day Pito comes home drunk and asks Materena to marry him. Materena wants a ring on her finger and a framed wedding certificate on the wall. But the father of her three children, Pito, thinks that when you give a woman a ring and a wedding certificate she's going to start acting like she's the boss. "Eh," he insists, "it's the rope around the neck." Then again, if there's no ring, a woman can tell her man to pack his bags and go home to his mama whenever she likes. So what does Materena really want? Becoming a madame, eh? Materena wouldn't mind that…But as she starts rounding up the relatives to organise everything she realises there's more to getting married than meets the eye. And that includes reminding the groom that he proposed in the first place. Warmly funny and full of unashamedly sexy strong women, Breadfruit is a delicious taste of life in the tropics.

Frangipani by Celestine Vaite

In Tahiti, some mothers say that daughters are a curse, others say they are a blessing.Aue, teenagers!

Materena is just about ready to throw her daughter Leilani into the street. 'It doesn't matter what I do,' she confides to Mama Teta. 'It's always the wrong thing. I'm going taravana!' And if that wasn't enough, now there's a boy on the horizon. Materena, champion professional cleaner of the Mahi family and the best listener in all of Tahiti, is usually the one solving the problems. Célestine Hitiura Vaite's irresistible follow-up to the much-loved Breadfruit is a book filled with wisdom, laughter and two of the stubbornest women you will ever meet. It's such a vibrant, colourful slice of Tahitian life you can almost smell the frangipani.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Magic Study by Maria V. Snyder

"Family betrayal, a power-mad serial killer and a potential diplomatic crisis threaten the independent-minded heroine of Snyder's fine sequel to Poison Study (2005). With the overthrow of the royal family of Ixia, 20-year-old Yelena Zaltana, who was kidnapped as a child by the evil magician Mogkan, is now free to return home to Sitia. Her reunion with the family she hasn't seen in 14 years palls when her brother spreads rumors she's actually a spy from Ixia. At the Magician's Citadel, where Yelena enrolls to hone her prodigious magical talents, her powers raise concern that she might be a rare, powerful Soulfinder. Then a string of ugly murders reveals the presence of a rogue magician in the area. As Yelena joins the hunt for the killer, complications grow with the arrival of a diplomatic mission from Ixia—including her lover, Valek, a notorious spy and assassin, sure to be executed if anyone sees through his disguise. Snyder's lively, charming mix of romance and fantasy is sure to gain her new fans."

~from Publisher's Weekly Review

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What perfect timing for this new book by Sena Jeter Naslund with a new movie due out about Marie Antoinette--Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette.

Here's what Publisher's Weekly has to say about this novel:

"The opening sentence of Naslund's fictional memoir of Marie Antoinette ("Like everyone, I am born naked") sets a hypnotically intimate tone that never wavers as the much-maligned Austrian princess recounts her life from baptism in the Rhine and rebirth as French citizen to appointment with the guillotine. In Naslund's (Ahab's Wife) sympathetic portrayal, 14-year-old "Toinette" arrives in France a pretty-mannered naïf determined to please the king, the court and, most importantly, her husband, the Dauphin. The novel provides a wealth of detail as Toinette savors the food, architecture, music and gardens of Versailles; indulges in hair and clothing rituals; gets acquainted with her indifferent partner and her scheming new relations; and experiences motherhood and loss. Her story unfolds like classical tragedy—the outcome known, the account riveting—as famous incidents are reinterpreted (the affair of the necklace, the flight to Varennes), culminating in a heartbreaking description of the bloody head of the Princess de Lamballe held aloft on a pike for the deposed queen to see. With vivid detail and exquisite narrative technique, Naslund exemplifies the best of historical fiction, finding the woman beneath the pose, a queen facing history as it rises up against her."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Quill Awards have been announced! Did you vote?

Book of the Year:
Don't Make a Black Woman Take Off Her Earrings by Tyler Perry

Debut Author of the Year:
Julie and Julia: 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen by Julie Powell

Audio Book:
Marley and Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog
by John Grogan

Check out the full list here:

The winner of the 2006 Man Booker Prize is Kiran Desai, at age thirty-five the youngest woman to win, and also the first woman to win since Margaret Atwood took home the prize in 2006.

The Indian-born writer's mother has been shortlisted three times although she's never won, and this year daughter Kiran Desai's Inheritance of Loss, described by reviewers as "the best, sweetest, most delightful novel" is the prize winner.

Hermione Lee, chairman of the judges, commented, “We are delighted to announce that the winner of the Man Booker Prize for 2006 is Kiran Desai’s The Inheritance of Loss, a magnificent novel of humane breadth and wisdom, comic tenderness and powerful political acuteness. The winner was chosen, after a long, passionate and generous debate, from a shortlist of five other strong and original voices.”

Kiran Desai is also the author of Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard.

Warning: You probably don't want to read this one if you're alone....

Chasing the Dead by Joe Schreiber

"Abandon hope, all readers who enter Schreiber's taut, scary debut: you're not going anywhere until you devour every one of its tension-filled pages. Sue Young, a 34-year-old single mom living in Boston, gets a phone call from a man who informs her he's kidnapped her infant daughter, Veda, and chastises her for an ancient crime she committed with her childhood friend and mysteriously missing ex-husband, Philip Chamberlain. The creepy, psycho kidnapper soon subjects Sue to an agenda that includes grave robbing, child killing, shotgun murders, zombies and various other assorted undead. Sue, an ex-ambulance driver, is tough, smart and determined to rescue her daughter. With its rural New England setting, this horror-fest pays respectful, clever homage to Stephen King's backyard. The author adds his own fresh supernatural twists to what starts out as a conventional suspense thriller. Readers will anxiously await his next outing."

~ Starred review from Publisher's Weekly

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Thirteenth Tale: A Novel by Diane Setterfield

"A ruined mansion in the English countryside, secret illegitimate children, a madwoman hidden in the attic, ghostly twin sisters—yep, it's a gothic novel, and it doesn't pretend to be anything fancier. But this one grabs the reader with its damp, icy fingers and doesn't let go until the last shocking secret has been revealed. Margaret Lea, an antiquarian bookseller and sometime biographer of obscure writers, receives a letter from Vida Winter, the world's most famous living author. Vida has always invented pasts for herself in interviews, but now, on her deathbed, she at last has decided to tell the truth and has chosen Margaret to write her story. Now living at Vida's (spooky) country estate, Margaret finds herself spellbound by the tale of Vida's childhood some 70 years earlier...but is it really the truth? And will Vida live to finish the story? Setterfield's first novel is equally suited to a rainy afternoon on the couch or a summer day on the beach. "

~ from Library Journal Review

Monday, October 02, 2006

Piece of Work by Laura Zigmna

A new novel by the author who wrote Animal Husbandry, Dating Big Bird and Her.

"In her fourth novel, Zigman tells the story of thirtysomething Julia Einstein, who has put her career as a publicist on hold to be a stay-at-home mom. Julia loves spending her days with her young son, even though she'd be the first to admit she's not exactly a domestic goddess. Everything changes when her husband, Peter, gets fired from his high-powered job and quickly proves to be much better at the household chores. Soon, Julia has no choice but to rejoin the work force. She takes a job working for a firm that represents has beens, and her first assignment is to relaunch a difficult, elderly, once-upon-a-time movie star, Mary Ford. Mary's comeback vehicle is a perfume that, everyone agrees, literally stinks. Nonetheless, Julia ends up orchestrating the star's comeback—and her own. This is a humorous and well-written look at what happens when the girl with the great single life gets the hot guy and becomes a mom. "

~ from Library Journal Review
Are you a Jurassic Park fan?
The Flock , a new debut novel by James Robert Smith

"Stealth, cunning and killer instinct have ensured the survival of the flock of this gonzo eco-thriller's title, a population of prehistoric, predatory, highly intelligent giant proto-birds who've roamed for thousands of years in the trackless savanna of what's now a government military reservation in central Florida. Smith's entertaining debut kicks into high gear when the birds get caught between conflicting environmental and business interests. Vance Holcomb, a billionaire rogue environmentalist, is trying to protect the lurking creatures, while the Berg Brothers, a Disney-style entertainment conglomerate, crave the land as residential real estate. When a right-wing militia is hired to destroy the flock, a naïve young Fish and Wildlife officer and his girlfriend find themselves caught in the resulting melee....If the book's conclusion feels a bit cynically anticlimactic, it still shows that humans are the deadliest predators of all."

~ from Publisher's Weekly Review