Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Commoner: A Novel by John Burnham Schwartz

“Schwartz’s renderings of the royal family are not only believable but absorbing…. well nuanced and tightly executed…. A moving portrait of women living the most interior of lives.”

"It is 1959 when Haruko, a young woman of good family, marries the Crown Prince of Japan, the heir to the Chrysanthemum Throne. She is the first non-aristocratic woman to enter the longest-running, almost hermetically sealed, and mysterious monarchy in the world. Met with cruelty and suspicion by the Empress and her minions, Haruko is controlled at every turn. The only interest the court has in her is her ability to produce an heir. After finally giving birth to a son, Haruko suffers a nervous breakdown and loses her voice. However, determined not to be crushed by the imperial bureaucrats, she perseveres. Thirty years later, now Empress herself, she plays a crucial role in persuading another young woman—a rising star in the foreign ministry—to accept the marriage proposal of her son, the Crown Prince. The consequences are tragic and dramatic. Told in the voice of Haruko, meticulously researched and superbly imagined, The Commoner is the mesmerizing, moving, and surprising story of a brutally rarified and controlled existence at once hidden and exposed, and of a complex relationship between two isolated women who, despite being visible to all, are truly understood only by each other. " (from the book jacket)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Natural Born Charmer by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

"Stunningly handsome football star Dean Robillard has been charming people all his life, so why is he having such a hard time winning over one small, determined, opinionated woman? Though she needs Dean's help, Blue Bailey, pragmatic survivor of an itinerant childhood with a peace activist mom, isn't about to become another notch in Dean's belt, even when she ends up on his Tennessee farm running interference between him and his estranged mother, protecting his privacy with a fake engagement, and growing closer to him every day. A natural-born storyteller who has a wicked way with words, Phillips has penned another sexy, funny, but deeply touching romance."

~ Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

When the Ground Turns In Its Sleep by Sylvia Sellers-Garcia

"As Sellers-García's rich debut opens in 1993, Nítido Amán is seeking his origins in Guatemala following his father's death by spending a year as a teacher in the remote village of Río Roto. His father had said that the Amáns came from a place very near there, but was never specific as to the family's home village. Upon arrival, Nítido is immediately mistaken for an arriving priest and is too tired at first to correct the man who meets his bus and settles him in the sacristry. When, the next morning, his innocent questions about the burned schoolhouse and the path to a certain village are met with evasion, stony silence and worse, Nítido begins to suspect that Río Roto hides a deep trauma. On the third morning, when he is suddenly called in to give a woman last rites, Nítido, for reasons even he doesn't fully understand, tacitly accepts the role of priest. In a moving tale of mourning and revelation, Sellers-García puts Nítido's secret and hidden origins on a slow-motion collision course with the secrets of the town. While the pace is slowed by Nítido's letters to his dead father, this spare and vivid debut brings together wrenching personal and political histories."

~Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Dragons of Babel by Michael

"In this triumphant return to the universe of The Iron Dragon's Daughter (1994), Hugo-winner Swanwick introduces Will le Fey, an orphan of uncertain parentage. After defeating an evil mechanical war dragon who has enslaved him and his village, Will finds himself displaced by war, first imprisoned in an internment camp and then transported to the many-miles-high city of Babel. On the way, he falls in with Esme, an immortal child with no memory, and Nat Whilk, a donkey-eared confidence man of superhuman abilities. Fusing high technology seamlessly with magic, Swanwick introduces us to a wide range of marvelous conceits, fascinating digressions and sparkling characters. His language bounces effortlessly back and forth between the high diction of elfland and thieves' argot to create a heady literary stew."

~Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Beginner's Greek: A Novel by James Collins

"The two young professionals of Collins's polished debut, Holly and Peter, meet on a flight bound from New York to L.A. They tacitly understand they are soul mates, and she invites him to dinner, but Peter soon discovers that he has lost the number Holly wrote on a page torn from Mann's The Magic Mountain. With Peter's financial career and New York society as a mundane backdrop, years pass and Holly ends up married to Jonathan, a successful author and womanizer—and, conveniently, Peter's best friend. Still aching for his one-time seatmate, Peter marries Charlotte, a dull Francophile, because it made sense. Charlotte, of course, is also in love with someone else—a former flame, Maximilien-Francois-Marie-Isidore. At Peter and Charlotte's wedding, Jonathan is struck by lightning, precipitating an endless series of events that changes the lives of family, friends and lovers alike—including Peter's boss and Charlotte's ex-stepmother."

~ Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Beaufort: A Novel by Ron Leshem

"In order to limit Hezbollah's attacks on Israeli settlements, Israel maintained a security force in southern Lebanon for close to 20 years. Leshem's searing, award-winning first novel chronicles the lives of the last group of Israeli soldiers to man the outpost at Beaufort, a crusader-castle ruin of questionable military significance. Written as the diary of Liraz "Erez" Liberti, the hotheaded twentysomething leader of a 13-man commando unit stationed in an outpost prior to the Israeli withdrawal in 2000, the novel brings to life the situation of very young men on a dangerous mission. This is a picture of war from a soldier's point of view. Its language is crude, the body count rises, and yet the tenderness of the bonds among the men is extraordinary. As they begin to have doubts about their mission and their government begins to seem cynical about the situation in southern Lebanon, the novel also becomes an indictment of war irrevocably altering the futures of idealistic young men. Leshem brings these issues to life."

~Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 14, 2008

The Book of Old Houses: A Novel by Sarah Graves

"In the midst of renovating her 1823 house, Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree (Trap Door) found an old book listing the previous owners of her home. Strangely, the list, which was dated and appeared to be written in blood, included Jake's name. She sent it to local book historian Horace Robotham to authenticate, but Robotham died, and the book disappeared. Now a friend of his is in town asking questions and looking for the volume. In her 11th "Home Repair Is Homicide" mystery, Graves fools the reader into relaxing and then shows who is in charge by ending her book in an unexpected way. With each title, she just keeps getting better."

~Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Gas City: A Novel by Loren D. Estleman

"Shamus-winner Estleman, best known for his hard-boiled Amos Walker series (American Detective, etc.), creates a new, morally complex world in this razor-sharp tale of crime and corruption in a fictional eastern U.S. city. Gas City, once known as Garden Grove, has enjoyed stability as a result of understandings among the politicians, the police and the local gangsters. An enclave known as the Circle serves as the community's vice outlet, while the rest of the metropolis is virtually crime free. Police chief Francis Russell, after his wife's death, begins to question the devil's bargain he'd struck years earlier with mob boss Anthony Zeno. When Russell resumes acting like a lawman, virtually everyone in town feels the repercussions. Estleman masterfully creates a wide and diverse cast of characters, and sympathetically portrays their struggles to survive on the mean streets. A superfluous serial killer subplot doesn't detract from the author's achievement, which will justly be compared with that of James Ellroy's Los Angeles noir mysteries and John Gregory Dunne's True Confessions. Admirers of unsparing crime fiction will hope that Estleman plans to visit Gas City again."

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.