Friday, October 22, 2010

New in the Catalog

Here are a couple of 2010 titles I'm putting on my reading list...maybe you will too!

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart

"Bleak times have fallen upon the Tower of London's residents. Grief, infidelity, loneliness, and other sorrows have begun to shadow the lives of those who guard and run the tower—everyone from the barmaid to the Beefeaters have felt the touch of misfortune. Until, suddenly, their splintering lives are drawn back together by a most unexpected decree; the queen wishes to house her menagerie of gifted pets within the tower's confines. Before long, the animals take merely complicated lives and send them into mayhem. Strained marriages crumble, long-simmering feuds spark back to life, and precious personal possessions turn up in the strangest places. Life works in mysterious ways, however, and the animals may just be the breath of fresh air that the tower's inhabitants need to repair their broken hearts." ~Library Journal Reviews

Daniel by Henning Mankell

"Set in the 1870s, this earnest and heartbreaking story opens with the unsolved murder of a mentally retarded Swedish girl, but this isn't a mystery in the mode of Mankell's international bestselling Kurt Wallander novels (Firewall, etc.). Hans Bengler, a Swedish entomologist, travels across southern Africa in search of undiscovered insects. In the desert, he finds an orphaned native boy, whom he adopts on impulse and calls Daniel. Bengler brings Daniel back to Sweden to exhibit him for money. A link eventually emerges between the girl's murder and Daniel's story, which dramatically illuminates the evils of colonialism (Bengler notes that he "had to make the important decisions for these black people") and the cultural chasm between Europeans and Africans. " ~Publishers Weekly Reviews

The Farthest Home is in an Empire of Fire: A Tejano Elegy by John Phillip Santos

"Encouraged by an uncle who traced family ancestors to the Texas-Mexico border country in the 1800s, the narrator makes his first trip to Spain in 1980, and returns in 1987 while making a documentary. During an intervening research trip to South Texas, he finds family names in a 1767 document; subsequently, on a 1992 trip to Seville, he discovers the village his ancestors left in the 1580s, the precious link to his family's "Iberian past." Santos' novel is brimming with historical details, which he poetically enriches with myth, dream sequences, and conversations with helpful ghosts. While painstakingly pulling together the varied threads of his fictionalized family drama, Santos connects the story to the larger tale of global migration and racial intermingling." ~Booklist Reviews

Fathom by Cherie Priest

"During a summer vacation to her aunt's coastal Florida home, innocent teen Nia sees her cousin Bernice commit a brutal murder and then get dragged into the ocean by a monstrous water witch. Nia becomes inadvertently entangled in a conflict between primordial creatures that endangers the very existence of humankind. Entombed in stone for countless years, Nia eventually emerges from her cocoon transformed, only to realize that an old god is close to awakening and destroying the world. Priest's haunting lyricism and graceful narrative are complemented by the solemn, cynical thematic undercurrents with a tangible gravity and depth." ~Publishers Weekly Reviews

Your Presence is Requested at Suvanto by Maile Chapman

"A novelist in search of an appropriate setting for a bleak novel in the 19th-century tradition, where tuberculosis kills thousands and women are routinely deprived their societal voice, would be hard-pressed to find a more fitting venue than the Finnish convalescence ward where Chapman has set her anxious debut. Ex-dancer Julia is a reluctant tenant of the Suvanto Sairaala, attended to by an American nurse named Sunny Taylor with whom she shares an uneasy connection. The two women weather a succession of historical set pieces involving the consequences of imperfectly understood obstetrics, Finland's changing relationship with Russia, and madness. " ~Publishers Weekly Reviews

The Lady and the Poet by Maeve Haran

"Mistress Ann More doesn't like her uncle's secretary, John Donne, from the moment she meets him. He is dark and brooding, writes scandalous poetry about noble women, and is rumored to have Catholic sympathies. But Ann is a troublemaker, too. She refuses a spot at the aging Elizabeth I's court and angers her father with her fiery spirit, most unbecoming in a young lady. The more she is thrown together with Master Donne, the more she comes to understand his mind. But because of John's lack of a living and his reputation, Ann will never be permitted to marry him. Not only are the historical details well presented but the love story that unfolds is exciting and beautiful. Filled with excerpts of Donne's poetry, this love story is not to be missed." ~Library Journal Reviews

The More I Owe You by Michael Sledge

"In his first novel, memoirist Sledge imagines the life of poet Elizabeth Bishop and her lover, socialite and architect Lota de Macedo Soares, while they lived together in Brazil during the 1950s and '60s. Both women struggle with their demons as, from a remote mountain compound in Samambaia (where Lota has designed and built a glass house), Elizabeth wins the Pulitzer Prize and Lota rises to power in the turbulent political sphere of Rio de Janeiro. The book imagines much of the couple's tumultuous, tragically short relationship, based partially on Elizabeth's surviving letters, journals, and drafts (though her correspondence with Lota was burned by Lota's ex-lover)." ~Publishers Weekly Reviews

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