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

Monday, August 2, 2010

August Recommendations for Adults


The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender - On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose. The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them. It is heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad, and confirms Aimee Bender’s place as "a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language" (San Francisco Chronicle).

The End Game by Gerrie Ferris Finger -
Moriah Dru’s weekend off with her lover, Lieutenant Richard Lake, is interrupted when Atlanta juvenile court judge Portia Devon hires Dru to find two sisters who’ve gone missing after their foster parents’ house burns down. An ex-cop, Dru established Child Trace, Inc., after leaving the force. Judge Devon sees to it that Lake is assigned to head the police investigation, because Dru and Lake together have a habit of solving cases. After questioning the neighbors, the couple decide that the abduction of the girls looks like more than an ordinary kidnapping. Dru learns that in the past eight years two other foster children from the area have gone missing. The investigation turns up a snitch who tells Dru he’s heard that a secret sex organization, with members named after chess pieces, is bound for Costa Rica with two girls. The chase is on to stop the kidnappers before they escape the country.

The latest winner of the Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Competition, The End Game features a strong new heroine in a vivid Southern setting. Gerrie Ferris Finger puts a new spin on the classic mystery novel.

This Is Where We Live by Janelle Brown -Claudia and Jeremy, a young married couple, she’s an aspiring filmmaker, he’s an indie musician, are on the verge of making it. Her first film was a sensation at Sundance and is about to have its theatrical release, he’s assembled a new band and is a few songs shy of an album. They’ve recently purchased their first home—an adorable mid-century bungalow with a breathtaking view of the city of Los Angeles—with the magical assistance of an adjustable-rate mortgage. But a series of seismic events—the tanking of Claudia’s film, the return of Jeremy’s ex-girlfriend (a manipulative, self-destructive, fabulously successful artist), and the staggering adjustment of their monthly mortgage payments—deal a crushing blow to their dreams of the bohemian life and their professional aspirations and make them question their values and their shared vision of the future. As she did so insightfully in her first novel, All We Ever Wanted Was Everything, Janelle Brown once again proves herself a trenchant social commentator and a keen and compassionate chronicler of the emotional turmoil, moral conflicts, and knowing compromises of her characters.

The Stormchasers by Jenna Blum -
As a teenager, Karena Jorge had always been the one to look out for her twin brother Charles, who suffers from bipolar disorder. But as Charles begins to refuse medication and his manic tendencies worsen, Karena finds herself caught between her loyalty to her brother and her fear for his life. Always obsessed with the weather-enraptured by its magical unpredictability that seemed to mirror his own impulses- Charles starts chasing storms, and his behavior grows increasingly erratic . . . until a terrifying storm chase with Karena ends with deadly consequences, tearing the twins apart and changing both of their lives forever. Two decades later, Karena gets a call from a psychiatric ward in Wichita, Kansas, to come pick up her brother, whom she hasn't seen or spoken to for twenty years. She soon discovers that Charles has lied to the doctors, taken medication that could make him dangerously manic, and disappeared again. Having exhausted every resource to try and track him down, Karena realizes she has only one last chance of finding him: the storms. Wherever the tornadoes are, that's where he'll be. Karena joins a team of professional stormchasers and embarks on an odyssey to find her brother before he reveals the violent secret from their past and does more damage to himself . . . or to someone else.


Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S.C. Gwynne -The war with the Comanches lasted four decades, in effect holding up the development of the new American nation. Gwynne’s exhilarating account delivers a sweeping narrative that encompasses Spanish colonialism, the Civil War, the destruction of the buffalo herds, and the arrival of the railroads—a historical feast for anyone interested in how the United States came into being. Against this backdrop Gwynne presents the compelling drama of Cynthia Ann Parker, a lovely nine-year-old girl with cornflower-blue eyes who was kidnapped by Comanches from the far Texas frontier in 1836. She grew to love her captors and became infamous as the "White Squaw" who refused to return until her tragic capture by Texas Rangers in 1860. More famous still was her son Quanah, a warrior who was never defeated and whose guerrilla wars in the Texas Panhandle made him a legend.

S. C. Gwynne’s account of these events is meticulously researched, intellectually provocative, and, above all, thrillingly told. Empire of the Summer Moon announces him as a major new writer of American history.

"Man for man, the Comanches were the fiercest and most resourceful warriors in North America, and they held onto their domain with an almost otherworldly tenacity. In this sweeping work, S.C. Gwynne recreates the Comanche's lost world with gusto and style—and without sentimentality. After reading Empire of the Summer Moon, you'll never think about Texas, or the Great Plains, in quite the same way again." Hampton Sides, author of Blood and Thunder and Hellhound On His Trail.

Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs by Ellen Galinsky -There are hundreds of books that give parents advice on everything from weaning to toilet training, from discipline to nutrition. But in spite of this overwhelming amount of information, there is very little research-based advice for parents on how to raise their children to be well rounded and achieve their full potential, helping them learn to take on life's challenges, communicate well with others, and remain committed to learning. These are the "essential life skills" that Ellen Galinsky has spent her career pursuing, through her own studies and through decades of talking with more than a hundred of the most outstanding researchers in child development and neuroscience. The good news is that there are simple everyday things that all parents can do to build these skills in their children for today and for the future. They don't cost money, and it's never too late to begin.

Mind in the Making is a truly groundbreaking book, one that teaches parents how to give children the most important tools they will need. Already acclaimed by such thought leaders as T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., David A. Hamburg, M.D., Adele Faber, and Judy Woodruff, Mind in the Making is destined to become a classic in the literature of parenting.

Saving Gracie: How One Dog Escaped the Shadowy World of American Puppy Mills by Carol Bradley - In the United States alone, an estimated 10,000 cramped kennels produce as many as 4 million dogs a year—innocent, often diseased, and emotionally damaged animals who are then sold to unsuspecting families as "purebred" puppies. Worse, some—like Gracie—are kept behind and turned into breeding stock, doomed to a life of confinement with nothing to look forward to but monotony and loneliness. But not every puppy mill dog has a sad ending, as you'll learn in this heartwarming book. Saving Gracie uses the poignant transformation of a scruffy Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, who was rescued from her sentence as a breeding dog, to tell the story of America's hidden puppy mills. Award-winning journalist Carol Bradley chronicles Gracie's makeover from a bedraggled animal worn out from bearing puppies into a loving, healthy member of her new family and follows her owner, Linda, as she becomes passionately determined to save Gracie's life and spread the word about the millions of other puppy mill dogs who need our help. Saving Gracie will open your eyes, warm your heart, and call you to action.

The Power of Half: One Family’s Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back by Kevin and Hannah Salwen -It all started when 14-year old Hannah Salwen, idealistic but troubled by a growing sense of injustice in the world, had a eureka moment when a homeless man in her neighborhood was juxtaposed against a glistening Mercedes coupe. "You know, Dad," she said, pointing, "If that man had a less nice car, that man there could have a meal." This glaring disparity led the Salwen family of four, caught up like so many other Americans in this age of consumption and waste, to follow Hannah's urge to do something, to finally just do something. And so they embarked on an incredible journey together from which there would be no turning back. They decided to sell their Atlanta mansion, downsize to a house half its size, and give half of their profits to a worthy charity. At first it was an outlandish scheme. "What, are you crazy? No way!" Then it was a challenge. "We are TOTALLY doing this." Each week they met over dinner to discuss their plan. It would transport them across the globe and well out of their comfort zone. Along the way they would inspire so many others wrestling with the same questions: Do I give enough? How much is enough? How can I make an impact in the world? In the end the Salwens' journey would bring them closer as a family, as they discovered, together, that half could be so much more. Warm, funny, deeply moving and wholly uplifting, The Power of Half is the story of how one family slammed the door on the status quo and threw away the key.


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