Home Calendar Best Sellers & Award Winners Headline News & Weather
Search our Catalog:     

Search  |  Browse  |  Combination  |  Help  |  My Account  |  Dictionary

Featured Book Lists
Independent Booksellers List
Click to search this book in our catalog Mission to Paris
by Alan Furst

Publishers Weekly Alan Furst's writing reminds me of a swim in perfect water on a perfect day, fluid and exquisite. One wants the feeling to go on forever, the book to never end. Such is it with this historical spy novel. From September 1938 to January 1939, the reader vividly lives through Paris's last stormy breaths of freedom before Germany's attack in 1940. Our unlikely hero is Frederick Stahl, 40, a handsome American movie star, not an action figure but everyone's favorite silver screen doctor or uncle or romantic leading man. Warner Bros. loans Stahl out to make a picture in Paris. He likes Paris, and he likes keeping Jack Warner happy. But there's a little known fact in his past that the Nazis can make much of-born in Vienna, Stahl worked as a gopher for the Austrian legation in Barcelona at the end of WWI, and Austria had been an ally of Germany. So when officials in Germany's political warfare department discover Stahl will be in their sphere of influence, they alert their Paris section to put him on "the list" to be used. From movie studios to embassies, from parties with the untouchably wealthy to a sexy love affair with a sophisticated emigre living in a tenement, Stahl finds himself caught between those who believe France must rearm to fight Germany, and those who are desperate for a negotiated peace. When Stahl refuses to support "peace," the Nazi threats begin. To retaliate, he becomes a secret U.S. courier, bravely carrying hundreds of thousands of Swiss francs into Germany and Morocco to exchange for intelligence about the Nazis. Reading Furst is the next best thing to having been in Berlin: "Uniforms everywhere.... This country was already at war, though enemy forces had yet to appear, and Stahl could sense an almost palpable violence that hung above the city like a mist." Like Graham Greene, Furst creates believable characters caught up, with varying degrees of willingness, in the parade of political life. And because they care, the reader does, too. And like Lee Child, Furst captures personality with insightful brush strokes: Stahl's father had "a face like an angry prune." Long on an ability to translate good research into great reading, Furst has only two downsides: although threats escalate, little comes of them, and when Stahl takes risks, they tend to deflate. For example, Stahl insists he's honor-bound to pursue the Nazis who've stolen the film crew's cameras, but he ends up waiting in a rowboat with a gun while others do the dangerous work offstage. And when the woman he loves is held in Budapest for interrogation, Stahl's solution is to use his box-office status to get her a visa at the U.S. embassy, then phones the William Morris Agency in hopes his agent can come up with an exit strategy. Still, my complaints are minor compared to the breadth and realized ambition of this seductive novel. Furst is one of the finest spy novelists working today, and, from boudoir to the beach, Mission to Paris is perfect summer reading. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list *Starred Review* Through his dozen historical-espionage novels, most set just prior to or during WWII, Furst has taken us across Europe, but he is most at home in Paris, which is why legions of his fans, upon seeing the title of his latest book, will immediately feel their pulses quicken. It only gets better. Recalling The World at Night (1996), which starred Parisian filmmaker Jean Casson dodging Nazis in 1940, this equally entrancing tale returns to the world of moviemaking, this time in 1938. Hollywood movie star Fredric Stahl, on loan from Warner Brothers to appear in a French production, arrives in Paris just as Neville Chamberlain is negotiating peace in our time. A Slovenian who was raised in Vienna, Stahl is quickly contacted by old friends, now all Nazi supporters, who see him as a valuable asset in their political warfare against the French. But Stahl has other ideas and, like so many casual hedonists in Furst's books, finds himself drawn into the prewar cloak-and-dagger world but not on the side of his former friends. There is romance, too, of course, but, as always, it carries that familiar carpe diem double edge, as lovers' attention jumps from one another to an unexpected knock on a hotel door. Furst has been doing this and doing it superbly for a long time now, and fans will note sly nods not only to The World at Night (Casson makes a kind of cameo) but also to Kingdom of Shadows (2001) and The Foreign Correspondent (2006). Is Furst repeating himself? Not really, but who would care, even if he was? Rather, he is revisiting a familiar moment in time but viewing it from a slightly different angle, through the eyes of other sets of characters. Thank heavens for that. It looks like we'll always have Furst's Paris. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Long ago Furst made the jump from genre favorite to mainstream bestsellerdom; returning to his signature setting, Paris, he only stands to climb higher.--Ott, Bill Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal Fredric Stahl, a successful Hollywood actor with a Viennese bloodline, returns to Paris to make a movie for a big studio. The German Reich's publicity machine works to steer him into the anti-war French camp, and he hobnobs with champagne magnates and German elites to enjoy the high life of 1938 Paris. Like every Furst hero, though, Fredric has a conscience, so he begins his own anti-Hitler campaign in the quiet ways familiar to Furst's legions of fans. VERDICT Between them, Fredric and Paris make this a book no reader will put down until the final page. Furst evokes the city and the prewar anxiety with exquisite tension that is only a bit relieved by Fredric's encounters with several women, each a vivid and attractive character. Critics compare Furst to Graham Greene and John le Carre, but the time has come for this much-published author (this is his ninth World War II novel after Spies of the Balkans) to occupy his own pinnacle as a master of historical espionage. [See Prepub Alert, 12/12/11.]-Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

...More
Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog The Corrections
by Jonathan Franzen

Library Journal In this novel of breathtaking virtuosity, Franzen, whose debut, The Twenty-Seventh City, chronicled corruption and decline in St. Louis, MO, presents the dysfunctional Lambert family. Enid Lambert's husband, Al, a retired engineer, is going downhill fasthis Parkinson's disease is so bad that he has trouble sitting in a chair. The rest of the family isn't doing much better. The oldest son, Gary, a banker, is depressed and suicidal; Chip has just been fired from his teaching job; and Denise, a superstar chef at a trendy Philadelphia restaurant, is sexually involved with both her boss and his wife. The family is experiencing a series of lifestyle corrections analogous to sudden downturns in the stock market, and Enid tries to rebound by hosting an old-fashioned Christmas at their Midwestern home. From this soap opera premise, Franzen constructs a brilliant novel of ideas that compares the emerging postmodern America (East Coast) to the quickly disappearing traditional America (Midwest), with digressions on railroad history, pharmacology, post-glasnost politics, culinary trends, celebrity culture, and Wall Street. Wisely, Franzen pitches the book not as a polemic but as a farce, and the result is laugh-out-loud funny. Best of all, everything neatly dovetails, so that each digression seems immediately relevant to the main story. Recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/01.]Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal As her husband's health deteriorates, Enid faces the disappointments in her life including her three grown children. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list Ferociously detailed, gratifyingly mind-expanding, and daringly complex and unhurried, New Yorker writer Franzen's third and best-yet novel aligns the spectacular dysfunctions of one Midwest family with the explosive malfunctions of society-at-large. Alfred's simple values were in perfect accord with the iron orderliness of the railroad he so zealously served, but he is now discovering the miseries and entropy of Parkinson's disease. His wife, Enid, who has filled every cupboard and closet in their seemingly perfect house with riotous clutter in an unconscious response to her hunger for deeper experience, refuses to accept the severity of Alfred's affliction. Gary, the most uptight and bossiest of their unmoored adult offspring, is so undermined by his ruthlessly strategic wife that he barely avoids a nervous breakdown. Chip loses a plum academic job after being seduced and betrayed by a student, then nearly loses his life in Lithuania after perpetuating some profoundly cynical Internet fraud. And Denise detonates her career as a trendy chef by having an affair with her boss' wife. Heir in scope and spirit to the great nineteenth-century novelists, Franzen is also kin to Stanley Elkin with his caustic humor, satiric imagination, and free-flowing empathy as he mocks the absurdity and brutality of consumer culture. At once miniaturistic and panoramic, Franzen's prodigious comedic saga renders family life on an epic scale and captures the decadence of the dot-com era. Each cleverly choreographed fiasco stands as a correction to the delusions that precipitated it, and each step back from the brink of catastrophe becomes a move toward hope, integrity, and love. Donna Seaman

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly If some authors are masters of suspense, others postmodern verbal acrobats, and still others complex-character pointillists, few excel in all three arenas. In his long-awaited third novel, Franzen does. Unlike his previous works, The 27th City (1988) and Strong Motion (1992), which tackled St. Louis and Boston, respectively, this one skips from city to city (New York; St. Jude; Philadelphia; Vilnius, Lithuania) as it follows the delamination of the Lambert family Alfred, once a rigid disciplinarian, flounders against Parkinson's-induced dementia; Enid, his loyal and embittered wife, lusts for the perfect Midwestern Christmas; Denise, their daughter, launches the hippest restaurant in Philly; and Gary, their oldest son, grapples with depression, while Chip, his brother, attempts to shore his eroding self-confidence by joining forces with a self-mocking, Eastern-Bloc politician. As in his other novels, Franzen blends these personal dramas with expert technical cartwheels and savage commentary on larger social issues, such as the imbecility of laissez-faire parenting and the farcical nature of U.S.-Third World relations. The result is a book made of equal parts fury and humor, one that takes a dry-eyed look at our culture, at our pains and insecurities, while offering hope that, occasionally at least, we can reach some kind of understanding. This is, simply, a masterpiece. Agent, Susan Golomb. (Sept.) Forecast: Franzen has always been a writer's writer and his previous novels have earned critical admiration, but his sales haven't yet reached the level of, say, Don DeLillo at his hottest. Still, if the ancillary rights sales and the buzz at BEA are any indication, The Corrections should be his breakout book. Its varied subject matter will endear it to a genre-crossing section of fans (both David Foster Wallace and Michael Cunningham contributed rave blurbs) and FSG's publicity campaign will guarantee plenty of press. QPB main, BOMC alternate. Foreign rights sold in the U.K., Denmark, Holland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Spain. Nine-city author tour. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

...More
Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos

Book list Looks like a bummer of a summer for 11-year-old Jack (with a same-name protagonist, it's tempting to assume that at least some of this novel comes from the author's life). After discharging his father's WWII-souvenir Japanese rifle and cutting down his mom's fledgling cornfield, he gets grounded for the rest of his life or the rest of the summer of 1962, whichever comes first. Jack gets brief reprieves to help an old neighbor write obituaries for the falling-like-flies original residents of Norvelt, a dwindling coal-mining town. Jack makes a tremendously entertaining tour guide and foil for the town's eccentric citizens, and his warmhearted but lightly antagonistic relationship with his folks makes for some memorable one-upmanship. Gantos, as always, deliver bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws, though the story gets stuck in neutral for much of the midsection. When things pick up again near the end of the summer, surprise twists and even a quick-dissolve murder mystery arrive to pay off patient readers. Those with a nose for history will be especially pleased.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos's work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character... Jackie Gantos. Like the author, Jackie lives for a time in Norvelt, a real Pennsylvania town created during the Great Depression and based on the socialist idea of community farming. Presumably (hopefully?) the truth mostly ends there, because Jackie's summer of 1962 begins badly: plagued by frequent and explosive nosebleeds, Jackie is assigned to take dictation for the arthritic obituary writer, Miss Volker, and kept alarmingly busy by elderly residents dying in rapid succession. Then the Hells Angels roll in. Gore is a Gantos hallmark but the squeamish are forewarned that Jackie spends much of the book with blood pouring down his face and has a run-in with home cauterization. Gradually, Jackie learns to face death and his fears straight on while absorbing Miss Volker's theories about the importance of knowing history. "The reason you remind yourself of the stupid stuff you've done in the past is so you don't do it again." Memorable in every way. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-In 1962, Jack accidentally discharges his father's war relic, a Japanese rifle, and is grounded for the summer. When a neighbor's arthritic hands get the best of her, his mother lifts the restriction and volunteers the 12-year-old to be the woman's scribe, writing obituaries for the local newspaper. Business is brisk for Miss Volker, who doubles as town coroner, and Norvelt's elderly females seem to be dropping like flies. Prone to nosebleeds at the least bit of excitement (until Miss Volker cauterizes his nose with old veterinarian equipment), Jack is a hapless and endearing narrator. It is a madcap romp, with the boy at the wheel of Miss Volker's car as they try to figure out if a Hell's Angel motorcyclist has put a curse on the town, or who might have laced Mertie-Jo's Girl Scout cookies with rat poison. The gutsy Miss Volker and her relentless but rebuffed suitor, Mr. Spizz, are comedic characters central to the zany, episodic plot, which contains unsubtle descriptions of mortuary science. Each quirky obituary is infused with a bit of Norvelt's history, providing insightful postwar facts focusing on Eleanor Roosevelt's role in founding the town on principles of sustainable farming and land ownership for the poor. Jack's absorption with history of any kind makes for refreshing asides about John F. Kennedy's rescue of PT-109 during World War II, King Richard II, Francisco Pizarro's conquest of Peru, and more. A fast-paced and witty read.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

...More
World Fantasy Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Tooth and Claw
by Jo Walton

Book list Walton says this book is the result of wondering what a world would be like if the axioms of the sentimental Victorian novel were inescapable laws of biology. It is also something truly different in the line of the novel. After a father dies, his children must deal with the circumstances of his death. One son, a parson, agonizes over his sire's deathbed confession. Another starts a court case to gain the inheritance. One daughter must choose between her family of origin and her husband. Another falls in love, but her course does not run smoothly thereafter. So what's different about all that? Well, everyone in the story is a dragon, and in their society, children eat their deceased parents, and the stronger eat the weaker, for only by eating the flesh of its kind can a dragon achieve full strength and power. So therein lies the difference, and the distinction of a little masterpiece of originality. --Frieda Murray Copyright 2003 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Dragons ritually eat dragons in order to gain strength and power in Walton's enthralling new fantasy (after 2002's The Prize in the Game), set amid a hierarchical society that includes a noble ruling class, an established church, servants and retainers. On the death of the dragon Bon Agornin, his parson son Penn, one of five siblings (two male and three female), declares, "We must now partake of his remains, that we might grow strong with his strength, remembering him always." But Bon's greedy son-in-law, Illustrious Daverak, consumes more than his fair share of the departed dragon, setting off a chain of unexpected and, at times, calamitous events for each sibling. Avan, the younger son, decides to litigate for compensation. One unmarried daughter, on moving in with the married sister and Daverak, discovers a house filled with injustice, while the other unmarried daughter goes off with Penn and falls in love. Full of political intrigue and romance, this provocative read sets the stage for further adventures in a world that, as the author admits in her prefatory note, "owes a lot to Anthony Trollope's Framley Parsonage." (Nov. 19) FYI: In 2002, Walton received a John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal The deathbed confession of Bon Agornin places his heirs in a quandary as the five siblings maneuver for position and power within the family. What makes Walton's tale of dynastic intrigue unique is that the individuals are all dragons, with their own customs and traditions-such as the practice of consuming the bodies of their dead and killing their weaker children. Walton (The King's Piece) combines delicacy and savagery in a finely told tale suitable for most fantasy collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

...More