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Kern County Library Staff Suggests...: April Recommendations for Adults

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Recommendations for Adults


Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese - Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother's death in childbirth and their father's disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics—their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him—nearly destroying him—Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.

A Darker Domain by Val McDermid - Past and present intertwine in this rare stand-alone novel of taut psychological drama—a brilliant exploration of loyalty and greed from the bestselling mistress of suspense. Fife, Scotland, 1985. Heiress Catriona Maclennan Grant and her baby son are kidnapped. The ransom payoff goes horribly wrong and Grant is killed. Her son disappears without a trace—until 2008, when a tourist in Tuscany stumbles upon dramatic new evidence that reopens the investigation. Fife 1984, at the height of the politically charged national miners' strike, Mick Prentice abandons his family to join the strikebreakers down south. Labeled a blackleg scab, he's as good as dead as far as his friends and relatives care. Twenty-three years later, a young woman walks into a police station to report Mick Prentice missing. Detective Karen Pirie, head of the Cold Case Review Team, wants to know why it's taken so long for anyone to notice. Pirie, already immersed in the Prentice investigation, works to unravel these seemingly unrelated mysteries that will lead her into a dark domain of violence and betrayal—darker than any she has yet encountered.

The Good Parents by Joan London - Award-winning Australian author London (Gilgamesh) delivers a tender and compelling tale of mother love and the harrowing moment when a daughter spreads her wings and vanishes from her parents' orbit. Maya de Jong is an eighteen-year-old country girl who moves to Melbourne and begins an affair with her new boss. When Maya's parents, Toni and Jacob, arrive for a visit, Maya is gone—no one knows where. Maya, for reasons of her own, leaves haunting clues in late-night calls to her brother at home, carefully avoiding detection by the two people who love her most. Ultimately, to find her daughter Toni will have to revisit a part of her past that she thought she had shut off forever—the closest she ever came to being a lost girl herself. Utterly contemporary and a story as old as humanity, a stunning portrait of familial love and how far we can drift apart in the moments between the words we speak.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett - Seemingly as different from one another as can be, three women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all in danger. In pitch-perfect voices, Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. Set in Jackson, Mississippi at the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, The Help is a deeply moving novel filled with keenly observed characters, wicked humor, and hope. A universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don't.

The Knees of Gullah Island by Dwight Fryer - Gillam Hale rises to fame and notoriety for the quality of his home brew. Though born to free parents, a black man in the mid-19th century South would be unwise to distinguish himself above his white neighbors. When jealous competitors kidnap him and his family and sell them to plantations throughout the South, Gillam is forced to confront the legacy of his rash decisions. The prequel to The Legend of Quito Road, is a timeless story of love, loss, hope, and rebirth exploring the complex racial dynamics that shaped the South through one family's extraordinary journey to freedom. The theme of this book is "bent knees straighten crooked deeds."


The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann - In April of 1925, the last of the great Victorian adventurers, Percy Fawcett, left England for the deadly jungles of Brazil. Fawcett, a seasoned explorer, assembled a three-man team for the expedition to find El Dorado in the Amazon. Soon daily dispatches trickled to a stop and the explorers' disappearance remained a mystery until 2004. David Grann, a native New Yorker with no previous interest in or experience with jungle exploration, became captivated by the tale and launched his own Amazonian search for Fawcett. What he found there, some 80 years after Fawcett's disappearance, is a startling conclusion to this absorbing narrative. An excerpt from this fascinating book and the Talk of the Nation Feb. 26, 2009 interview with the author is available at National Public Radio.

A. Lincoln: A Biography by Ronald C. White - Using Lincoln's private notes and newly discovered letters and photographs, White sheds light on his family sorrows and struggles, and on his political and moral evolution. Meticulously researched, White creates an emotionally vivid portrait of the country lawyer who became our most beloved president. A transcendent, sweeping, passionately written biography that greatly expands our knowledge and understanding of its subject, A. Lincoln will engage a whole new generation of Americans. The Book Tour podcast, Feb. 24, 2009, of the author interview by host Lynn Neary is available at National Public Radio.

Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum - A multivoiced biography of this dazzling, surreal, and imperiled city through the lives of nine characters whose lives have been bracketed by two epic storms: Hurricane Betsy, which transformed the city in the 1960's, and Katrina, which nearly destroyed it. Above the canal and below, the lives of high school band directors, Mardi Gras Kings, jazz-playing coroners and transsexual barkeeps are windows into every strata of a city haunted by the possibility of disaster. All their stories converge in the storm, where some characters rise to acts of heroism and others sink to the bottom. But it is New Orleans herself—perpetually whistling past the graveyard—that is the story's real heroine. An extraordinary feat of reporting that allows Baum to bring this kaleidoscopic portrait to life with brilliant color and crystalline detail, Nine Lives shows us what was lost in the storm and what remains to be saved.

No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels by Jay Dobyns - Leaving no skull of his harrowing journey unturned, Dobyns befriends bad-ass bikers, meth-fueled "old ladies," gun fetishists, psycho-killer ex-cons, and even some of the "Filthy Few"–the elite of the Hells Angels who've committed extreme violence on behalf of their club. Eventually, at parties staged behind heavily armed security, he meets legendary club members such as Chuck Zito, Johnny Angel, and the godfather of all bikers, Ralph "Sonny" Barger. Reminiscent of Donnie Brasco's uncovering of the true Mafia, this is an eye-opening portrait of the world of bikers, the most in-depth since Hunter Thompson's seminal work, one that fully describes the seductive lure criminal camaraderie has for men who would otherwise be powerless outsiders. Here is all the nihilism, hate, and intimidation, but also the freedom–and, yes, brotherhood–of the only truly American form of organized crime.

Eco Barons: The Dreamers, Schemers, and Millionaires Who Are Saving Our Planet by Edward Humes - From Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Humes comes the story of the remarkable visionaries who have quietly dedicated their lives and their fortunes to saving the planet from ecological destruction. A groundbreaking account that is both revealing and inspiring, Eco Barons tells of the former fashion magnate and founder of Esprit who has saved more rainforests than any other person and of the college professor who patented the "car that can save the world," the plug-in hybrid. There are the impoverished owl wranglers who founded the nation's most effective environmental group and forced a reluctant President George W. Bush to admit that humans cause global warming. And there is the former pool cleaner to Hollywood stars who became the guiding force behind a worldwide effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. At a time when there is no shortage of dire news about the environment, Eco Barons offers a story of hope, redemption, and promise—proof that one person with determination and vision can make a difference.


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