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

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September Recommendations for Adults


Blood Harvest by S. J. Bolton - The Fletchers' beautiful new house is everything they dreamed it would be. Built between two churches in Heptonclough, a small village on the moors that time forgot, it ought to be paradise for this young family of five, but they barely have a chance to settle in before they find that they’re anything but welcome. Someone seems to be trying to drive them away--at first with silly pranks but then with threats that become increasingly dangerous, especially to the oldest child, ten-year-old Tom Fletcher, who begins to believe that someone is always watching him. The adults in Tom’s life are trying to help, including his parents; the vicar next door, younger and more dashing than you’d expect a vicar to be; and a therapist, Evi Oliver, who believes him more than she wants to. But there are other clues that something isn’t quite right in Heptonclough, including the mysterious accidental deaths of three toddlers over the last ten years. It is not until Tom’s siblings, two-year-old Milly and five-year-old Joe Fletcher, go missing in turn that the little village’s evil secret turns the Fletchers’ dreams into a nightmare. With Sacrifice, Awakening, and now Blood Harvest, S. J. Bolton displays time and time again her remarkable talent as a beguiling storyteller, a master of thrills, and the mistress of her own brand of modern Gothic tale.

The Good Son by Michael Gruber - "The Good Son, by Michael Gruber, is one of those few and far between complex, intelligent, and insightful thrillers. The main character, Theo Bailey, is a Special Operations soldier who decides to take a more-or-less unauthorized leave from the Army to locate his mother, Jungian psychotherapist Sonia Bailey Laghari, who’s disappeared near Kashmir. Sonia, who’d become a practicing Muslim when she married a Pakistani, was in South Asia to convene a symposium on "Conflict Resolution on the Subcontinent: A Therapeutic Approach" with a group of fellow pacifists. Ironically—given the title of the symposium—she and her fellow participants, who include an American billionaire, a Jesuit priest, and a Quaker couple, are kidnapped by terrorists, who may or may not have nuclear weapons at their disposal. Unless Theo can figure out what’s going on and how to foil the terrorists’ plans, his mother is doomed. At worst, the terrorists will use the nuclear devices; at best, Sonia and the rest will die by beheading. Because you’re immediately sucked into the intricate and page-turning plot, this is a good novel for a long plane flight; but readers who are looking for a thriller with a strong philosophical subtext—the sort of novel that makes you think about families, loyalty, religion, and politics—will find just what they’re looking for in Gruber’s finest novel to date." —Nancy Pearl, Booklust

The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli - A unique and sweeping debut novel of an American female combat photographer in the Vietnam War, as she captures the wrenching chaos and finds herself torn between the love of two men. On a stifling day in 1975, the North Vietnamese army is poised to roll into Saigon. As the fall of the city begins, two lovers make their way through the streets to escape to a new life. Helen Adams, an American photojournalist, must take leave of a war she is addicted to and a devastated country she has come to love. Linh, the Vietnamese man who loves her, must grapple with his own conflicted loyalties of heart and homeland. As they race to leave, they play out a drama of devotion and betrayal that spins them back through twelve war-torn years, beginning in the splendor of Angkor Wat, with their mentor, larger-than-life war correspondent Sam Darrow, once Helen's infuriating love and fiercest competitor, and Linh's secret keeper, boss and truest friend.

The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise by Julia Stuart -Balthazar Jones has lived in the Tower of London with his loving wife, Hebe, and his 120-year-old pet tortoise for the past eight years. It’s no easy job living and working in the tourist attraction in present-day London. Among the eccentric characters who call the Tower’s maze of ancient buildings and spiral staircases home are the Tower’s Rack & Ruin barmaid, Ruby Dore, who just found out she’s pregnant; portly Valerie Jennings, who is falling for ticket inspector Arthur Catnip; the lifelong bachelor Reverend Septimus Drew, who secretly pens a series of erotic novels; and the philandering Ravenmaster, aiming to avenge the death of one of his insufferable ravens. When Balthazar is tasked with setting up an elaborate menagerie within the Tower walls to house the many exotic animals gifted to the Queen, life at the Tower gets all the more interesting. Penguins escape, giraffes are stolen, and the Komodo dragon sends innocent people running for their lives. Balthazar is in charge and things are not exactly running smoothly. Then Hebe decides to leave him and his beloved tortoise "runs" away.

A magical, wholly original novel whose irresistible characters will stay with you long after you turn the stunning last page.


Sonia Sotomayor: The True American Dream by Antonia Felix - National bestselling biographer Antonia Felix delves behind the headlines to tell the compelling story of how the daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants living in the South Bronx became one of the greatest legal minds in the country. With insight and thoughtful analysis, Felix explores the tenacity that makes Sotomayor a sharp, fearless judge; the sense of compassion that drives her to seek justice for the underprivileged; and her strong community ties, which never let her forget where she came from. Drawing on candid interviews with figures from Sotomayor's personal and professional life-as well as speeches, interviews with Sotomayor, and published papers, Felix paints a revealing portrait of the woman who would come to meet President Obama's rigorous criteria for a Supreme Court justice and whose appointment would make history.

So You Want to Be a Garden Designer: How to Get Started, Grow, and Thrive in the Landscape Design Business by Love Howard - Every day talented and passionate gardeners think to themselves, "There must be a way to turn this into a career." This books helps them turn that dream into reality by providing the practical, step-by-step information every budding designer needs to develop and nurture a thriving garden design business. A successful, self-made garden designer herself, Howard conveys not only the basic skills required for the profession, but also the crucial details that can mean the difference between success and failure. With extensive photographs, practical drawings, and clearheaded advice, So You Want to Be a Garden Designer is the comprehensive manual that all garden designers will wish they’d had from the start.

Dark Harbor: The War for the New York Waterfront by Nathan Ward - What if the world of the old New York waterfront was as violent and mob-controlled as it appears in Hollywood movies? Well, it really was, and the story of its downfall, told here in high style by Nathan Ward, is the original New York mob story.New York Sun reporter Malcolm "Mike" Johnson was sent to cover the murder of a West Side boss stevedore and discovered a "waterfront jungle, set against a background of New York’s magnificent skyscrapers" and providing "rich pickings for criminal gangs." Racketeers ran their territories while doubling as union officers, from the West Side’s "Cockeye" Dunn, who’d kill for any amount of dock space, to Jersey City’s Charlie Yanowsky, who controlled rackets and hiring until he was ice-picked to death. Johnson’s hard-hitting investigative series won a Pulitzer Prize, inspired a screenplay by Arthur Miller, and prompted Elia Kazan’s Oscar-winning film On the Waterfront. Yet J. Edgar Hoover denied the existence of organized crime, even as the government’s dramatic Kefauver hearings into waterfront misdeeds became the must see television of 1950-51. Nathan Ward tells this archetypal crime story as if for the first time, taking the reader back to a city, and an era, at once more corrupt and more innocent than our own.

The Girls of Murder City: Fame, Lust, and the Beautiful Killers who Inspired Chicago by Douglas Perry - This jaunty retrospective of two Jazz Age trials introduces us to the real-life originals of the killer ladies of the musical Chicago—and to the society that adored them. Journalist Perry revisits the 1924 cases of Belva Gaertner, a swanky divorcée, and Beulah Annan, a beautiful married woman, both accused of shooting their lovers to death. They were the most photogenic on Cook County jail's Murderess' Row of defendants in a spate of woman-on-man killings that inflamed the press and captivated a public grown bored with gangland murders. (Perry's third heroine is skeptical female reporter Maurine Watkins, who bemoaned the inability of all-male Chicago juries to convict killers with pretty faces.) The author gives an entertaining, wised-up rundown of the cases and the surrounding media hoopla, which the defendants and their lawyers cannily manipulated. (Annan hired a fashion consultant for court appearances and falsely declared herself pregnant to win sympathy.) Beneath the sensationalism, Perry finds anxieties about changing sex roles as feisty flappers and aggressive career women barged into public consciousness; his savvy, flamboyant social history illuminates a dawning age of celebrity culture. —review from Publisher’s Weekly, August 9, 2010.


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