Friday, December 30, 2011

Your Favorite Books at the Hunterdon County Library --- 2011

Ever wonder how many other people read the book you are checking out? This year, the Hunterdon County Library had 130 titles that were published in 2011 and went out more than 100 times each this year (books that were published in January had an edge over titles published later in the year). The top circulating title, Tick Tock by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge went out 553 times. James Patterson and his co-authors top the list with five titles, holding the number one, two and three positions. Rounding out the top ten list are Jodi Picoult, Janet Evanovich, Mary Higgins Clark, Harlan Coben, Jonathan Kellerman and Maeve Binchy. Author number twelve is Robert B. Parker who died in January 2010 (Sixkill was the last Spenser novel he wrote). Two debut authors appear on the list, Eleanor Brown's The Weird Sisters number 41 and S.J.Watson’s Before I Go to Sleep came in at number 76. Perennial favorite children’s author Mary Pope Osborne appeared on the list at number 80 with A Crazy Day with Cobras. Did your favorite make the top 10? Thanks for another great year. See you in 2012 for more great books!

1. Tick Tick by James Patterson & Michael Ledwidge
2. Toys by James Patterson & Neil McMahon
3. 10th Anniversary by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
4. Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
5. Smokin’ Seventeen by Janet Evanovich
6. I’ll Walk Alone by Mary Higgins Clark
7. The Sixth Man by David Baldacci
8. Live Wire by Harlan Coben
9. Mystery by Jonathan Kellerman
10. Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy

New This Week

Love in a Nutshell by Janet Evanovich and Dorien Kelly (St. Martin’s Press)

Kate Appleton needs a job. Her husband has left her, she's been fired from her position as a magazine editor, and the only place she wants to go is to her parents' summer house, The Nutshell, in Keene's Harbor, Michigan. Kate's plan is to turn The Nutshell into a Bed and Breakfast. Problem is, she needs cash, and the only job she can land is less than savory. Matt Culhane wants Kate to spy on his brewery employees. Someone has been sabotaging his company, and Kate is just new enough in town that she can insert herself into Culhane's business and snoop around for him. If Kate finds the culprit, Matt will pay her a $20,000 bonus. Needless to say, Kate is highly motivated. But several problems present themselves. Kate despises beer. No one seems to trust her. And she is falling hard for her boss. Can these two smoke out a saboteur, save Kate's family home, and keep a killer from closing in...all while resisting their undeniable attraction to one another?

Private: #1 Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro (Little, Brown)

After his former lover is found murdered in his own bed, Jack Morgan, former Marine and founder of the world's most effective private investigation company, must clear his name while also solving murders at a posh hotel.

The World We Found Thrity Umrigar (Harper Collins)

Thrity Umrigar, acclaimed author of The Space Between Us and The Weight of Heaven , returns with a breathtaking new novel-a skillfully wrought, emotionally resonant story of four women and the indelible friendship they share. Fans of Jennifer Haigh's Faith , Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies , and Katrina Kittle's The Kindness of Strangers will be captivated by Umrigar's The World We Found -a moving story of bottled secrets, unfulfilled dreams, and the acceptance that can still lead to redemption, from a writer whom the New York Times calls "perceptive and often piercing."

Gun Games Faye Kellerman (William Morrow)

Lieutenant Detective Decker and his wife, Rina, investigate an apparent teen suicide witnessed by the son of a troubled former friend whom they have welcomed into their home.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Just Jennifer

A Good American by Alex George (Amy Einhorn, February 2012)

In 1904 Frederick and Jette leave Germany and her family who disapproves of Frederick and flee to America. They get off course of their original destination, New York and land instead in New Orleans, traveling up the Mississippi, finally landing in Beatrice, Missouri, a town heavily settled by Germans, but Frederick and Jette, not speaking a word of English, still feel out of place. Jette gives birth to a son, Joseph, shortly after their arrival in Missouri, and with the help of strangers who are now friends, Frederick and Jette begin their new life as a new family in a new country. Their story continues through Joseph’s generation, into their grandsons’ generation, the landscape of Beatrice changing through the years, the landscape of their family changing, but all through the changes, the family remains aware of what their father and grandfather always wanted to be: a good American.

Told from the point of view of Frederick and Jette’s second son, James, the earlier story of his grandparents is sketchier and told in less detail than that of his parents and his brothers, each successive generation’s story fills in more until he reaches the stories of nieces and nephews and their families, as the narrative once again begins to fade out of focus. Through the entire story, the theme of music continues to heal the family, at the same time sometimes causing heartbreak and pain, but always bringing them back together. The idea of “good” is also ever present, a good American, a good father, a good friend, a good member of a family, traditional and non-traditional. The narrative is lovely, the characters known mostly through the actions James chooses to share and his recollection of events; many times in his tale, James appears to be an outsider, which we learn in the end is not entirely unfounded. At first glance, A Good American seems to be a simple tale of an immigrant family and the magic America works on them, but realizes how intricately and carefully constructed the narrative is makes you realize the whole is rather marvelous.

Friday, December 23, 2011

New This Week

Down the Darkest Road by Tami Hoag (Dutton)

1980s California FBI agent Vince Leone taps into the powers of science-based forensic techniques to unveil dark secrets and stop a killer who is terrorizing the citizens of Oak Knoll.

Death Benefit by Robin Cook (Putnam)

Launching a private investigation when their mentor dies under suspicious circumstances, medical students Natalie Savondnik and Ronald Goodall uncover a sinister operation through which private life insurance policies are being manipulated to allow investors to benefit from the deaths of others.

Demi-Monde: Winter by Rod Rees (William Morrow)

The Demi-Monde, a computer-simulated military training world, begins bleeding into the real world when the U.S. president's daughter becomes trapped inside and enlists the assistance of a reluctant teenager to escape.

The Innocent by Taylor Stephens (Crown)

Eight years ago, a man walked five-year-old Hannah out the front doors of her school and spirited her over the Mexican border, taking her into the world of a cult known as The Chosen. For eight years, followers of The Prophet have hidden the child, moving her from country to country, shielding the man who stole her. Now, those who've searched the longest know where to find her. They are childhood survivors of The Chosen, thirty-somethings born and raised inside the cult who've managed to make a life for themselves on the outside. They understand the mindset, the culture within that world, and turn to Vanessa Michael Munroe for help, knowing that the only possibility of stealing Hannah back and getting her safely out of Argentina is to trust someone who doesn't trust them, and get Munroe on the inside. Tautly written, brilliantly paced, and with the same evocation of the exotic combined with chilling violence that made Stephen’s first novel The Informationist such a success.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

New This Week

D.C. Dead by Stuart Woods (Putnam)

Stone Barrington, his former NYPD partner Dino Bachetti and CIA agent Holly Barker investigate a possible serial killer with ties to the White House.

Covert Warriors by W.E.B. Griffin (Putnam)

When a hostile Third World country begins to receive military training and nuclear technology from foreign nations, Charley Castillo and his team investigate only to be abandoned by the U.S. government and placed on hit lists throughout the world.

Devil’s Elixer by Raymond Khoury (Dutton)

When rival forces on both sides of the law discover the existence of a lost herb that induces profound experiences capable of shattering the foundations of Western civilization, a violent competition to locate the herb is overseen by FBI agent Sean Reilly and his girlfriend, Tess Chaykin, who race to prevent a cataclysmic disaster.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New This Week

Locked On by Tom Clancy (Putnam)

Jack Ryan, his son, Jack Jr., John Clark Ding Chavez and the rest of the Campus team are facing their greatest challenge ever. Jack Ryan, Sr. has made a momentous choice. He's running for President of the United States again and thus giving up a peaceful retirement to help his country in its darkest hour. But he doesn't anticipate the treachery of his opponent, who uses trumped up charges to attack one of Ryan's closest comrades, John Clark. Now, Clark is in a race against time and must travel the world, staying one step ahead of his adversaries, including a shadowy organization tasked to bring him in, all while trying to find who is behind this. Meanwhile, Jack Ryan, Jr., Ding Chavez, Dominick Caruso and other members of the Campus-the top secret off-the-books intelligence agency founded by Jack Ryan during his first term in the White House-deal with a question of their own: Why is a Pakistani military officer meeting with Dagestani terrorists? The answer will ultimately lead to a desperate struggle, with nothing short of the fate of the world at stake.

Leopard by Jo Nesbo (Random House)

Two young women are found murdered in Oslo, both drowned in their own blood. Media coverage quickly reaches fever pitch: Could this be the work of a serial killer? The crime scenes offer no coherent clues, the police investigation is stalled, and the one man who might be able to help doesn't want to be found. Traumatized by his last case, Inspector Harry Hole has lost himself in the squalor of Hong Kong's opium dens. Yet when he is compelled, at last, to return to Norway-his father is dying-Harry's buried instincts begin to take over. After a female MP is discovered brutally murdered, nothing can keep him from the investigation. There is little to go on: a piece of rope, a scrap of wool, a bit of gravel, an unexpected connection between the victims. And Harry will soon come to understand that he is dealing with a psychopath for whom "insanity is a vital retreat," someone who will put him to the test-in both his professional and personal lives-as never before. Ruthlessly intelligent and suspenseful.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mental Floss Challenge

Thanks so much to everyone who took the challenge and sent in their answers.  The randomly selected winner is BKF.  Below find the answers to the questions and see how well you did:

Character Names:

Pansy................................ Katie Scarlett O'Hara
Count Wampyr................... Count Dracula
Sherringford........................ Sherlock Holmes
Ormond Slacker.................. Dr. Watson
Connie Gustafson................ Holly Golightly

Last Man in Europe.............. 1984
The Strike............................ Atlas Shrugged
Atticus................................. To Kill A Mockingbird
First Impressions.................. Pride and Prejudice
Timalchilo in West Egg, etc... The Great Gatsby

Caruncle, wattle, snood......... Parts of a turkey

Thanks everyone for playing.  Watch this blog for more giveaways this winter!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Just Jennifer

Heft by Liz Moore (Norton, January 2012)

Liz Moore’s second novel is uncomfortable at times as its characters face their loneliness and what each has allowed it to do to his or her life. Reclusive Arthur Opp, a former English professor is morbidly obese and has not left his Brooklyn home in over ten years, has not visited with neighbors and has estranged himself from his family and colleagues. He has kept up a correspondence with his former student, Charlene Turner for much of the last twenty years, but when her latest letter comes in the form of a photo of a teenage boy and the possibility of a visit from Charlene, Arthur decides he cannot allow Charlene to see what has happened to his life and takes the first step of rejoining society by calling a cleaning service. The maid who arrives is a young woman, Yolanda, reminiscent, though Arthur may not realize it at first, of Charlene. What Arthur does realize is that maybe Yolanda may need him as much as he needs her and the two form a tentative friendship drawing from each other what each needs. The plot alternates between Arthur’s story and that of young Kel, Charlene’s son, whose world, not that great to begin with, is about to implode upon itself and come crashing down. Still a boy at eighteen, but trying to be a man, Kel must navigate situations both of his making and of not, as he tries to find a place for himself in this world, and indeed, who he really is.

Told with compassion and believable voices, Heft could easily become a novel of clich├ęs, but somehow it manages not to. For the most part, the narrative told by two characters mostly works, though Arthur’s voice is stronger in the beginning, Kel’s toward the end. We feel more empathy toward Kel and sympathy toward Arthur as each deconstructs his own world and reconstructs it, creating a new family were one previously did not exist.

Just Jennifer

Demi-Monde: Winter by Rod Rees (William Morrow, January 2012)

With a nod to Alexander Dumas (from whence the title comes), Rod Rees begins his season quartet of novels set in a cyber-game designed to train military personnel in a simulated environment of urban warfare.  This world is inhabited by some of the most evil people in the history of the world and is in a constant state of civil war.  Something has gone terribly wrong inside the model, however and the cyber-dupes (all based on real people) have come to life, as it were, and taken over the game.  They have also taken seventeen soldiers hostage and it is believed that Norma, the First Daughter, has also disappeared into the game and perhaps been kidnapped.  The military recruits young jazz singer, student Ella Thomas, a person who fits the one remaining cyber-dupe profile perfectly, to enter the Demi-Monde and rescue Norma.   Ella is reluctant, to say the least, but agrees to the government’s request and enters the game.  Once inside the game, Ella finds conditions and situations even worse than were explained to her and she realizes that not only is a civil war going on, but the leaders of the Demi-Monde plan to take over the real world. 

The world Rod Rees has created is utterly fascinating, and his use of historical characters and situations help bring a certain amount of realism to the setting.  There is a feeling of subtle social commentary every now and again. Ella learns quickly how to take care of herself in this unstable cyber-world and realizes that the extra information with which she has been imbued may give her away.  No one in the world is who they say they are or are purported to be and because some of the main characters, Ella included, are not delved into a great deal, it is hard to pick out who is true.  Even readers who say “I don’t like science fiction or fantasy” will find themselves caught up in the action of this book and even a little curious about the next chapter Spring, which is being released in the UK next month.

Friday, December 2, 2011

New This Week

Red Mist by Patricia Cornwell (Putnam)

Determined to find out what happened to her former deputy chief, Jack Fielding, murdered six months earlier, Kay Scarpetta travels to the Georgia Prison for Women, where an inmate has information not only on Fielding, but also on a string of grisly killings. The murder of an Atlanta family years ago, a young woman on death row, and the inexplicable deaths of homeless people as far away as California seem unrelated. But Scarpetta discovers connections that compel her to conclude that what she thought ended with Fielding's death and an attempt on her own life is only the beginning of something far more destructive: a terrifying terrain of conspiracy and potential terrorism on an international scale. And she is the only one who can stop it.

The Forgotten Affairs of Youth by Alexander McCall Smith (Pantheon)

Isabel Dalhousie reluctantly agrees to help a visiting Australian philosopher find her biological father, but the case is complicated by her housekeeper's questionable financial advisor and ongoing doubts about her engagement to Jamie.

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James (Knopf)

In a rare meeting of literary genius: P. D. James, long among the most admired mystery writers of our time, draws the characters of Jane Austen's beloved novel Pride and Prejudice into a tale of murder and emotional mayhem. Pemberley is thrown into chaos after Elizabeth Bennett's disgraced sister Lydia arrives and announces that her husband Wickham has been murdered.