New Books of May 2012

A Dog’s Journey
W. Bruce Cameron
Buddy is a good dog. After searching for his purpose through several eventful lives, Buddy is sure that he has found and fulfilled it. Yet as he watches curious baby Clarity get into dangerous mischief, he is certain that this little girl is very much in need of a dog of her own. When Buddy is reborn, he realizes that he has a new destiny. He’s overjoyed when he is adopted by Clarity, now a vibrant but troubled teenager. When they are suddenly separated, Buddy despairs – who will take care of his girl?

The Lower River
Paul Theroux
Ellis Hock loved teaching in Malawi for the Peace Corps, but that experience was cut short when he had to return to take over the family business. Thirty-five years later, the store and his marriage have failed, and he returns to Malawi for a nostalgia-induced vacation. He’s warned on arrival that people are hungry and only want money, but he heads into the bush with a bagful of it. Malabo, the remote riverbank village where he’s remembered as the mzungu (white man) who helped build the school and clinic, gives him a warm welcome, but Hock’s disillusion sets in fast. The school is a ruin; the visiting doctor is a quack; AIDS is rampant; requests for money are constant. The villagers keep him under surveillance at the direction of the headman Manyenga, who is all smiles and lies. He makes three escape attempts. All his escapes are foiled by the formidable Manyenga. This novel will have you on the edge of your seat wondering whether he will escape, and what will happen to the villagers.

Magic Words
Gerald Kolpan
Young Jewish immigrant Julius comes of age surrounded by the wild world of 1867 Nebraska. While traveling in the American West, he is captured by the Ponca Indian tribe. Living as a slave, Julius meets the noble chief Standing Bear and his young daughter, Prairie Flower, with whom he falls in love. Becoming the tribe’s interpreter-its speaker-his life seems safe and settled. But Julius has reckoned without the arrival of his older cousin, Alexander-who, as the Great Herrmann, is the most famous young magician in America. Filled with adventure, humor, and colorful characters, Magic Words is a riveting adventure about the nature of prejudice, the horror of genocide, and a courageous young man who straddles two worlds to fight for love and freedom.

A Gift for My Sister
Ann Pearlman
Sky and Tara share the same mother but different fathers. Sky is cautious, dutiful, marrying the perfect man, practicing her dream career as a lawyer, and raising their daughter, Rachel. Music is all Tara cares about until Aaron, a black rapper with a juvenile record, comes along. Tara gets pregnant in high school and runs away with Aaron and his rap crew. About the time Tara and Aaron’s music takes off and they are on their way to stardom, Sky’s life crashes. Tara attempts to step in and help only to be met with anger and jealousy. The two sisters, along with an interesting collection of other characters, spend the time on the road, and between gigs, trying to understand what it’s like to be the other sister and just what love and family mean.

Home
Toni Morrison
Frank Money is an angry, self-loathing veteran of the Korean War who, after traumatic experiences on the front lines, finds himself back in racist America with more than just physical scars. His home may seem alien to him, but he is shocked out of his crippling apathy by the need to rescue his medically abused younger sister and take her back to the small Georgia town they come from and that he’s hated all his life. As Frank revisits his memories from childhood and the war that have left him questioning his sense of self, he discovers a profound courage he had thought he could never possess again.

Objects of My Affection
Jill Smolinski
Lucy Bloom is broke, freshly dumped by her boyfriend, and forced to sell her house to send her nineteen-year-old son to drug rehab. So when she’s offered a high-paying gig helping clear the clutter from the home of reclusive and eccentric painter Marva Meier Rios, Lucy grabs it. Fueled by a burning desire to get her life back on track, Lucy rolls up her sleeves to take on the mess that fills every room of Marva’s huge home. Lucy soon learns that the real challenge may be taking on Marva, who seems to love the objects in her home too much to let go of any of them. Lucy discovers that Marva isn’t just hoarding, she is also hiding a big secret. The two form an unlikely bond, as each learns from the other that there are those things in life we keep, those we need to let go but it’s not always easy to know the difference.

Advertisements

New Books of April 2012

The House of Velvet and Glass
Katherine Howe
Still reeling from the deaths of her mother and sister on the Titanic, Sibyl Allston is living a life of quiet desperation. Trapped in a world over which she has no control, Sibyl flees for solace to the parlor of a table-turning medium. But when her brother is suddenly kicked out of Harvard under mysterious circumstances and falls under the sway of a strange young woman, Sibyl turns for help to psychology professor Benton Derby. As Benton and Sibyl work together to solve a harrowing mystery, their long-simmering spark flares to life, and they realize that there may be something even more magical between them than a medium’s scrying glass.

The Coldest Night
Robert Olmstead
Henry Childs is just seventeen when he falls into a love affair so intense it nearly consumes him. But when young Mercy’s disapproving father threatens Henry’s life, Henry runs as far as he can—to the other side of the world. The time is 1950, and the Korean War hangs in the balance. Henry enlists in the marines and arrives in Korea on the eve of the brutal seventeen-day battle of the Chosin Reservoir—the turning point of the war—completely unprepared for the forbidding Korean landscape and the unimaginable circumstances of a war well beyond the scope of anything his ancestors ever faced. But the challenges he meets upon his return home, scarred and haunted, are greater by far.

The Song Remains the Same
Allison Winn Scotch
One of only two survivors of a plane crash, Nell Slattery wakes in the hospital with no memory of the horrific experience-or who she is, or was. Now she must piece together both body and mind, with the help of family and friends, who have their own agendas. She filters through photos, art, music, and stories, hoping something will jog her memory, and soon, in tiny bits and pieces, Nell starts remembering. . . . It isn’t long before she learns to question the stories presented by her mother, her sister and business partner, and her husband. In the end, she will discover that forgiving betrayals small and large will be the only true path to healing herself-and to finding happiness.

The Cove
Ron Rash
At the height of World War I, deep in the rugged Appalachians of North Carolina lies the cove, a dark, forbidding place where spirits and fetches wander. Or so the townsfolk of Mars Hill believe–just as they believe that Laurel Shelton, the lonely young woman who lives within its shadows, is a witch. Alone except for her brother, Hank, newly returned from the trenches of France, she aches for her life to begin. Then it happens–a stranger appears, carrying nothing but a beautiful silver flute and a note explaining that his name is Walter, he is mute, and is bound for New York. As the days pass, Walter slips easily into life in the cove and into Laurel’s heart, bringing her the only real happiness she has ever known. But Walter harbors a secret that could destroy everything–and danger is closer than they know.

The Beginner’s Goodbye
Ann Tyler
Crippled in his right arm and leg, Aaron spent his childhood fending off a sister who wants to manage him. So when he meets Dorothy, a plain, outspoken, self-dependent young woman, she is like a breath of fresh air. Unhesitatingly he marries her, and they have a relatively happy, unremarkable marriage. But when a tree crashes into their house and Dorothy is killed, Aaron feels as though he has been erased forever. Gradually he discovers, as he works in the family’s vanity-publishing business, turning out titles that presume to guide beginners through the trials of life, that maybe for this beginner there is a way of saying goodbye.

True Sisters
Sandra Dallas
In a novel based on true events, set in 1856, Mormon converts, encouraged by Brigham Young himself, and outfitted with two-wheeled handcarts, set out on foot from Iowa City to Salt Lake City, the Promised Land. The Martin Handcart Company, a ragtag group of weary families headed for Zion, is the last to leave on this 1,300-mile journey. Three companies that left earlier in the year have completed their trek successfully, but for the Martin Company the trip proves disastrous. This is the story of four women from the British Isles traveling in this group. Four women whose lives will become inextricably linked as they endure unimaginable hardships, each one testing the boundaries of her faith and learning the true meaning of survival and friendship along the way.

POW/MIA Recognition Day September 16th

Bridge on the River Kwai (1957) Rated PG

When British P.O.W.s build a vital railway bridge in enemy-occupied Burma, Allied commandos are assigned to destroy it.

Great Escape (1963) Rated NR

A high-security German prisoner-of-war camp in 1942 holds only known troublemakers and risk-takers, all of whom are determined to pull off the war’s most daring escape.

In Enemy Hands (2004) Rated R

The U.S.S. Swordfish U-boat is taken prisoner in a battle with a German sub. Meningitis strikes half the German crew. Avoiding the contagion and POW protocol, crew members and prisoners must work together to survive.

Prisoners of the Sun (1991) Rated R

In the aftermath of World War II, a mass grave of brutally executed Australian POWs is discovered. A tough military lawyer and his team are dispatched to prosecute the Japanese guards. To win his fight for justice, the lawyer must deal with an American officer protecting his national interests and a Japanese commander who has sworn his troops to a blood oath of silence.

Stalag 17 (1953) Rated NR

A group of American G.I.s in a POW camp suspect a spy is among them.

Three Wishes (1995) Rated PG

A mother and her two young sons try to survive the best they can since her husband, the boys’ father, is presumed to have died in the Korean War. One day they meet an injured stranger and his dog who change their lives.

Memorial Day Films

Here’s some films to help pay tribute to the sacrifices that our men and women of the armed forces do for us:

Pork Chop Hill (1959) Rated NR

Korean War film of a true tale of the desperate soldiers who finally take the top of Pork Chop Hill, only to find themselves surrounded by enemy forces.

Glory (1989) Rated R

Two idealistic young Bostonians lead the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, America’s first Black regiment in the Civil War.

Saving Private Ryan (1998) Rated R

Captain John Miller must take his men behind enemy lines to find Private Ryan, whose three brothers have been killed in combat. Faced with impossible odds, the man’s question their orders. Why are eight men risking their lives to save just one? Surrounded by the brutal realities of war, each man searches for his own answer and the strength to triumph over uncertain future with honor, decency and courage.

Apocalypse Now (1979) Rated R

A United States Army officer/trained assassin is sent into the depths of a southeast Asian jungle to seek out a renegade colonel and terminate his command during the Vietnam War.

Black Hawk Down (2001) Rated R

With exacting detail, the film re-creates the American siege of the Somalian city of Mogadishu in October 1993, when a 45-minute mission turned into a 16-hour ordeal of bloody urban warfare. Helicopter-borne U.S. Rangers were assigned to capture key lieutenants of Somali warlord Muhammad Farrah Aidid, but when two Black Hawk choppers were felled by rocket-propelled grenades, the U.S. soldiers were forced to fend for themselves in the battle-torn streets of Mogadishu, attacked from all sides by armed Aidid supporters.