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Featured Book Lists
by Nathaniel Philbrick
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780670025442 Like most popular historians, Philbrick (Mayflower) writes about discrete events, not large developments. And he's good at it, even if the larger context is rarely considered and critical analysis gives way to story and celebration. Here, his focus is on events that began with the humiliations of the British at Lexington and Concord and ended with the siege of Boston, the American victory at Bunker Hill in 1775, and the departure in 1776 of British forces from New England's largest city. Philbrick correctly presents the battle at Bunker Hill as a critical moment in the opening stages of the War for Independence, and displays an empathy for the out-maneuvered British caught in the traps that the Patriots laid for them. He wisely makes as one of his central figures the Patriots' charismatic leader, Joseph Warren, who was killed at Bunker Hill, and who has since been largely forgotten, despite having been the man responsible for "orchestrating the on-the-ground reality of a revolution." Philbrick tells his tale in traditional fashion-briskly, colorfully, and with immediacy. The book would have benefited from a point of view more firmly grounded in a contemporary evaluation of the battle, but even as it is-no one has told this tale better. Agent: Stuart Krichevsky, Stuart Krichevsky Literary Agency, Inc. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
by Christina Schwarz
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780385499712 Why did Ruth's mother, Mathilda, drown on that fateful night in 1919 and Ruth survive? That is the central question that this novel sets out to answer. Mathilda's sister, Amanda, who has been nursing soldiers in Milwaukee (it is right after World War I), has returned to the family farm in rural Wisconsin. Mathilda and Ruth are there to help her return to a normal life. Yet a year later, Mathilda's husband returns from the war to find his wife drowned and his sister-in-law raising his daughter. So continues the tale through 1941, as we watch Ruth grow up and try to remember what happened that winter night. Along the way, Ruth befriends Imogene, who has a closer connection to the family than Ruth can imagine. The story is recounted partly through flashback and moves from first-person to third-person narrative. What results is a gripping tale of sisterly rivalry, family loyalty, and secret histories. Already optioned for a film by Miramax, to be directed by Wes Craven, this first novel is an engrossing read. Recommended for all public libraries.DRobin Nesbitt, Columbus Metropolitan Lib., OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Book list From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission. 9780385499712 With all the realism of a Victorian morality play, this much-hyped first novel plays the tropes of dark family ties and darker family secrets, tied to a particular place. In Milwaukee, Amanda has been nursing soldiers home from World War I, but she returns, neurasthenic and tight-lipped, to the family farm on a lake. Her sister Matilda's husband, Carl, is off at war, and Mandy fits into Mattie's life with a fierce attachment to her and to her baby daughter, Ruth. But as the story moves back and forth in time, we learn that Mattie drowned in the lake one icy night; that Ruth remembers but Mandy denies her memories; and that Mandy has been mother to Ruth, filling her longing to have someone of her own. Carl's memories of his wife grow weak and suspicious; as Ruth gets older, other secrets Mandy holds grow in sinister importance. The tale is narrated in many voices and from multiple points of view, with every plotline and small detail coming round again. Unfortunately, the writing is stiff, and the armature of the plot is all too visible. Wes Craven may have a fierce old time turning this into a movie--rights have been optioned--but it isn't nearly of the intensity of, for example, Beth Gutcheon's More Than You Know [BKL F 15 00]. Buy as demand requires. --GraceAnne A. DeCandido
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780385499712 "Ruth remembered drowning." The first sentence of this brilliantly understated psychological thriller leaps off the page and captures the reader's imagination. In Schwarz's debut novel, brutal Wisconsin weather and WWI drama color a tale of family rivalry, madness, secrets and obsessive love. By March 1919, Nurse Amanda Starkey has come undone. She convinces herself that her daily exposure to the wounded soldiers in the Milwaukee hospital where she works is the cause of her hallucinations, fainting spells and accidents. Amanda journeys home to the family farm in Nagawaukee, where her sister, Mathilda (Mattie), lives with her three-year-old daughter Ruth, awaiting the return of her war-injured husband, Carl Neumann. Mattie's ebullient welcome convinces Amanda she can mend there. But then Mattie drowns in the lake that surrounds the sisters' island house and, in a rush of confusion and anguish, Amanda assumes care of Ruth. After Carl comes home, Amanda and he manage to work together on the farm and parent Ruth, but their arrangement is strained: Amanda has a breakdown and recuperates at a sanatorium. As time passes, Ruth grows into an odd, guarded child who clings to perplexing memories of the night her mother drowned. Why does Amanda have that little circle of scars on her hand? What is Amanda's connection to Ruth's friend Imogene and why does she fear Imogene's marriage to Clement Owen's son? Schwarz deftly uses first-person narration to heighten the drama. Her prose is spare but bewitching, and she juggles the speakers and time periods with the surety of a seasoned novelist. Rather than attempting a trumped-up suspenseful finale, Schwarz ends her novel gently, underscoring the delicate power of her tale. Agent, Jennifer R. Walsh at the Writers Shop. Literary Guild, Doubleday Book Club, Teen People and Mango Book Club main selections; film rights optioned by Miramax, Wes Craven to direct; foreign rights sold in Germany, France, the U.K., Japan, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Denmark. (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780385499712 YA-A wonderfully constructed gothic suspense novel set on a stark Wisconsin farm in 1919. The story goes backward and forward in time and is told by Amanda, her niece Ruth, and an omniscient narrator. The ties that bind the two women are as fragile as they are fierce and have their origin in the relationship of two sisters, Amanda and her sister Mattie, Ruth's mother. The narrative begins with Amanda as she recounts her childhood and the responsibility she came to feel for her younger sister and the parents who favored her younger sibling. Amanda finally wrests herself away from home to become a nurse, but her independence is short-lived. Overwhelmed and sickened by the care of the wounded, and heartsick over the love of a married man, she suffers a nervous breakdown and seeks solace by returning to the farm to help Mattie care for her tiny daughter as they await the return of Mattie's husband from World War I. But tragedy follows with Mattie's mysterious drowning during a winter blizzard and guilty lies soon engulf Amanda and threaten to change the lives of several others in the small rural community. A compelling complex tale of psychological mystery and maddeningly destructive provincial attitudes.-Jackie Gropman, Kings Park Library, Fairfax, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
by Andy Cohen
Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780805095838 Cohen is an executive for Bravo Network and host of Watch What Happens: Live, a position that made him the first openly gay late-night talk show host. In his first book, he tells amusing stories of his childhood and his passion for television, his interview of Susan Lucci in college and their subsequent meetings, three disastrous run-ins with Oprah, dancing for the B-52s, and keeping Diana Ross and Joan Collins happy when he worked for CBS. Cohen also writes about how he became a talk show host and dishes many juicy tidbits about the Real Housewives casts. VERDICT Cohen's lighthearted, funny memoir is highly recommended for his fans and others who appreciate humorous celebrity biographies and memoirs. Consider also for readers who enjoyed Ellen DeGeneres's Seriously...I'm Kidding and Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). [See Prepub Alert, 12/12/11.]-Sally Bryant, Pepperdine Univ. Lib., Malibu, CA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780805095838 TV producer Cohen, an Emmy winner for Top Chef, is the host of Watch What Happens: Live. As Bravo's executive vice president of original programming and development, he oversees production of The Real Housewives franchise, The Millionaire Matchmaker, and other series. In this lively memoir, he begins by telling us more than we need to know about his pop culture-obsessed childhood in St. Louis. In high school, where he was voted most talkative, he was popular, but "no one knew I was gay." A full chapter is devoted to the "terror" of coming out to his parents and Boston College roommate. A 1989 sophomore high school class project prompted him to interview his idol, Susan Lucci, a plus when he applied for a CBS internship. Beginning at CBS This Morning, he was on his way. When he arrived at Bravo, he found the ideal venue for mingling with top talents. Riding the wave of reality programming as it began to dominate TV, he now asks, "Had I helped kill soaps?" There's enough about his lifelong obsession with Susan Lucci that can distract. Others will be amused by Cohen's ramblings about how his wicked wit and "lighthearted cultural commentary" brought him media attacks and embarrassing headlines. Still, many will appreciate his straightforward honesty in delivering an insider's POV about reality TV with intimate and outrageous glimpses of housewives and celebrities, offscreen and on. (May 8) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
by Brian Selznick
Publishers Weekly (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved 9780545003636 Selznick's unique, visually arresting illustrated novel is transformed into an equally unique audiobook-plus-DVD presentation here. The story of 12-year-old Hugo Cabret-orphan, clockmaker's apprentice, petty thief and aspiring magician-and how a curious machine connects him with his departed father and pioneering French filmmaker Georges Melies is full-bodied material for Woodman. The narrator dives in, reading with both a bright energy and an air of mystery-befitting the adventurous plot. Listeners will likely cotton to Woodman's affable tone and be fascinated by all the unusual elements here, including the sound-effects sequences (footsteps, train station noises) that stand in for Selznick's black-and-white illustrations, which appear like mini-silent movies in the book. Selznick himself takes over as host on the making-of style DVD, in which he divulges his love of film and his inspiration for the book, discusses (and demonstrates) his drawing technique and even performs a magic trick. The "chapters" of his interview are interspersed with excerpts from the audiobook, as he explains how the recording was a translation of both his words and pictures to sound. This inventive audio-visual hybrid will be a welcome addition to both home and classroom libraries. Ages 9-12. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. 9780545003636 Gr 3-6-Brian Selznick's atmospheric story (Scholastic, 2007) is set in Paris in 1931. Hugo Cabret is an orphan; his father, a clockmaker, has recently died in a fire and the boy lives with his alcoholic Uncle Claude, working as his apprentice clock keeper in a bustling train station. When Hugo's uncle fails to return after a three-day absence, the boy decides it's his chance to escape the man's harsh treatment. But Hugo has nowhere to go and, after wandering the city, returns to his uncle's rooms determined to fix a mechanical figure-an automaton-that his father was restoring when he died. Hugo is convinced it will "save his life"-the figure holds a pen, and the boy believes that if he can get it working again, it will deliver a message from his father. This is just the bare outline of this multilayered story, inspired by and with references to early (French) cinema and filmmaker George Melies, magic and magicians, and mechanical objects. Jeff Woodman's reading of the descriptive passages effectively sets the story's suspenseful tone. The book's many pages of pictorial narrative translate in the audio version into sound sequences that successfully employ the techniques of old radio plays (train whistles, footsteps reverberating through station passages, etc.). The accompanying DVD, hosted by Selznick and packed with information and images from the book, will enrich the listening experience.-Daryl Grabarek, School Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.