Recommended New Books for the Summerby Larry Cox on Aug. 05, 2009, under Uncategorized
Criminal Karma by Steven M. Thomas (Ballantine, $25)
Steven Thomas’s debut novel, Criminal Paradise, was a profoundly compelling story. His new book may be even better. Robert Rivers returns as an “ethical thief.” Determined to pull off a big score, he sets out to steal a quarter-million-dollar diamond necklace owned by a Southern California socialite. Just as he slips into her hotel suite, he is attacked. The necklace vanishes and the cops are not amused. Diamonds, a spiritual guru, and a clumsy partner are all part of this smart, sexy crime thriller.
Second Sight: A Novel of Psychic Suspense by George D. Shuman (Simon & Schuster, $25)
In his fourth novel featuring blind psychic Sherry Moore, Shuman, a 25-year veteran of the Washington, D.C. police department, turns his attention to the darkest corners of the pharmaceutical industry. Sherry has the psychic ability to see the last eighteen seconds of a deceased person’s life. Suffering from optical headaches from her exposure to radiation, she checks into a hospital to undergo tests. When she comes near the body of Thomas Monahan, terrible images erupt in mind and she suddenly realizes that she has regained her sight. This multi-layered story by a maestro of pacing brims with heart-pounding suspense.
Fear the Worst by Linwood Barclay (Bantam, $24)
In this crisply written novel, Tim Blake, a car salesman with an ex-wife, is emotionally thumped when his daughter, Sydney, vanishes into thin air. As he retraces her steps, he discovers that the daughter he thought he knew was a virtual stranger and the suburban Connecticut town he always thought of as idyllic is anything but. The closer he comes to the truth, the closer he comes to every parent’s nightmare. Fast-paced and a seamless plot makes this perfect summer reading.
The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson (Knopf, $25.95)
In the electrifying sequel to “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Mikael Blomkvist, the crusading publisher of Millennium magazine, decides to expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden involving highly placed members of Swedish society, business and government. Just as he is about to publish his expose, two of his investigative reporters are murdered. Larsson, a Swedish writer and former editor-in-chief for Expo magazine, delivered the manuscript for this novel and two others — The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest — shortly before his death in 2004. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is #6 this week on The New York Times best seller’s list.
Rain Gods by James Lee Burke (Simon & Schuster, $25.99)
When Hackberry Holland, the sheriff of a town near the Mexican border in Texas, finds the bodies of nine Asian women, all machine-gunned to death and buried in shallow graves behind a church, he quickly realizes that once again he’ll have to plunge into venal subcultures of Texas if he hopes to solve the case. Though the murders were committed in his jurisdiction, the investigation is usurped by Isaac Clawson, a hard-assed customs enforcement agent with an agenda. Compelling characters, devilish plot twists, and gritty locales give this story literary traction. This book grabs the reader by the scruff of the neck and doesn’t let go until the very last page.
The Year That Follows by Scott Lasser (Knopf, $23.95)
Cat, a single mother living in Detroit, is shocked when she learns that her brother has been killed in the 9/11 attack. Her search for his orphaned son, family secrets, and an attempt to find family peace are all important parts of this stirring, life-affirming story. Lasser, an Aspen-based writer, has published two previous novels, Battle Creek and All I Could Get.
Moments With Baxter by Melissa Joseph (Sage Press, $24.95)
Baxter, a rescue dog that was part golden retriever and part chow, was scheduled to be euthanized when he was two due to heartworms and the fact that his owners could not afford the treatments. At the last minute, he was saved and eventually found his way into the San Diego home of Dennis and Melissa Joseph. Even though it took six weeks to make friends with Baxter, his uncanny intuition and almost human responsiveness quickly made him an important part of the family. He also became a therapy dog and was certified by Therapy Dogs International. Melissa Joseph shares thirty-six stories, all illustrating the magical healing connection that exists between Baxter and the humans he has helped who were physically suffering or facing insurmountable odds. This book makes the heart sing.
Every Patient Tells a Story: medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders, M.D. (Broadway Books, $25)
Dr. Sanders, a technical advisor to House, M.D., and an Internist on the faculty of Yale University School of Medicine, puts readers on the front line of medicine as she offers an unflinching look at the combination of uncertainty and intrigue that doctors experience when patients are ill or dying. This must-read book explains why one doctor is able to make a diagnosis when previous doctors couldn’t, where errors were made during the diagnostic process, and what we can learn from these missteps. Sanders, who has been described as a modern-day Sherlock Holmes, gives insightful advice on how to improve the chances of obtaining – and understanding – a diagnosis.
The Waxman Report: How Congress Really Works by Henry Waxman with Joshua Green (Twelve, $24.99)
During this summer of political malcontent, this book could not have come at a better time. Waxman, who has represented his California district in the U.S. House of Representatives for more than three decades, takes readers inside the life of a politician to show readers how landmark legislation is crafted. Like making sausages, it isn’t always a pretty sight. Waxman insists that despite prolonged periods of gridlock and partisan conflict, remarkable things can still get done by our elected officials. His new book is an excellent guide on how chance can happen and why it is important for all Americans to get involved in the process.
America’s Girl: The Incredible Story of How Swimmer Gertrude Ederle Changed the Nation by Tim Dahlberg with Mary Ederle Ward and Brenda Green (St. Martin’s Press, $25.95)
In 1926, Gertrude “Trudy” Ederle was the first woman to swim across the English Channel. Daughter of German immigrants, Trudy Ederly grew up in New York City. She learned to swim in a river near her family’s summer cottage in New Jersey and joined the Women’s Swimming Association where she began competing and setting records. Drawing on Ederle’s extensive archive of more than 1,500 newspaper and magazine clippings, an unfinished memoir, and other background material, this is the remarkable, captivating story of a woman who set almost impossible goals and accomplished most of them. She was named Top Athlete of 1926 by the readers of the Hearst newspaper chain, beating out both Babe Ruth and Gene Tunney.
Mean Little Deaf Queer: A Memoir by Terry Galloway (Beacon, $23.95)
When Terry Galloway was nine, she began to lose her hearing. This was followed by a weakening of her eyesight and a realization that she was gay. Instead of lamenting about fate in life, she came to the conclusion that being blind, deaf, and gay set her apart and made her special. Set mostly in rural Texas, this is the unflinching memoir of a woman who came to terms with herself after a life-long search for normalcy and acceptance. It is an honest, witty piece of writing that is certain to haunt the reader long after the book has been completed.
The Depression Cure: The 6-Step Program to Beat Depression without Drugs by Stephen S. Ilardi, PhD (Da Capo/Lifelong, $25)
Dr. Ilardi, as associate professor of clinical psychology at the University of Kansas and the author of more than forty professional articles on mental illness, is convinced that if we look to our evolutionary past, we can beat depression. He recommends a diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and enjoyable activities that keep us from dwelling on negative thoughts. He also suggests that we exercise properly so that we stimulate important brain chemicals such as serotonin, and that we get sufficient sunlight to keep our body’s clock in sync. We also need to interact with others to prevent isolation and that we get adequate sleep. In addition to practical advice, this book contains success stories of his patients, tips on measuring progress and suggestions for overcoming roadblocks.
Next Stop, Reloville: Life Inside America’s New Rootless Professional Class by Peter T. Kilborn (Times Books, $26)
Kilborn, a veteran New York Times reporter, offers an eye-opening investigation into the well-off but insecure, well traveled but insular group that is the vast middle class. According to his new book, the expanding American economy and surging foreign trade have made employee relocation a necessity for companies to compete in the market. In profiling twenty “Relo” couples, the author illustrates how this new trend is not just changing our communities but also our country as a whole. While some may thrive on frequent moves, others don’t. The feeling of rootlessness that is often triggered by relocating can exact a high toll, especially on many of the trailing spouses and children. As Kilborn points out, as constant transfer becomes the norm, more and more Americans – no matter their jobs – will call Relovilles “home.”
Ancient Gonzo Wisdom: Interviews with Hunter S. Thompson edited by Anita Thompson with an introduction by Christopher Hitchens (Da Capo, $18)
This collection contains interviews with Thompson from 1974 to 2005 from a variety of sources including Playboy, Rolling Stone, and The Paris Review. Arranged in chronological order, the interviews provide remarkable insight into the thinking of this extraordinary man.
Closest Companion: The Unknown Story of the Intimate Friendship between Franklin Roosevelt and Margaret Suckley edited and annotated by Geoffrey C. Ward (Simon & Schuster, $16.95)
Margaret Lynch “Daisy” Sruckley, the president’s sixth cousin once removed, died in 1991. Family members found a battered suitcase underneath her bed and it contained a detailed diary and letters documenting the unexpected relationship that existed between FDR and Daisy, a lifelong spinster. Thirty-eight letters written by Roosevelt make it clear that she was his “closest companion.” The friendship, which began in 1922, continued until the president’s death in 1945. This is a fascinating book that humanizes one of our greatest presidents.
The Shipwreck that Saved Jamestown: The Sea Venture Castaways and the Fate of America by Lorri Glover and Daniel Blake Smith (Holt Paperbacks, $16)
England’s first American colony was Jamestown, Virginia. In 1609, the Sea Venture set sail from England as part of a convoy to bring food and supplies to the faltering colony. A hurricane destroyed the ship shortly before it reached its destination, stranding the 150 passengers in Bermuda. After several mutinies, what remained of the Virginia Company constructed small boats from the wreckage of the larger craft and, against all odds, eventually arrived in Virginia. This is the fascinating true saga of that historical shipwreck and one of the greatest survival stories in American history. Crisply written and meticulously researched, this is perfect summer reading.
This Will Kill You: A Guide to the Ways in Which We Go by HP Newquist and Rich Maloof (St. Martin’s Press, $14.95)
This dandy little book reveals the intriguing facts behind the many ways in which humans bite the dust. From encounters with deadly bugs, hungry predators, natural disasters, and freak occurrences, Newquist and Maloof provide a peek under the robe of the Grim Reaper in a narrative that is thoroughly researched and highly entertaining.
Everything is Cinema: The Working Life of Jean-Luc Godard by Richard Brody (Holt Paperbacks, $20)
Jean-Luc Godard forever changed the nature of cinema with his marriage of filmmaking and current events. This biography, available in paperback for the first time, is thoroughly researched and illuminating. Brody, an editor and writer at The New Yorker, confirms Godard’s greatness while also presenting the human side of this extraordinary craftsman.
Books for Children
Just the Right Size: Why Big Animals Are Big and Little Animals Are Little by Nicola Davies with illustrations by Neal Layton (Candlewick, $14.99)
In the colorful, fascinating book, young readers learn such things as why geckos can walk up walls, why humans can’t fly, and reasons why being small can sometimes be difficult. Put another way, whether we’re big or small, our size defines a lot more about us than we could have imagined. (Ages 5-9)
Once Around the Block/Una Vuelta a la Manzana written and illustrated by Jose Lozano (Cinco Puntos Press, $16.95)
In this bilingual story, the alphabet is an important part of the neighborhood. For example, Amelia argues with Anita, Benito loves bean burritos and bumblebees, and Hortencia and Herminia hover around like hummingbirds. This splashy little gem is the work of one of the rising stars in the thriving Latino art scene in Los Angeles. (Ages 5-9)
Opuestos: Mexican Folk Art Opposites in English and Spanish by Cynthia Weill with wood sculptures from Oaxaca by Quirino and Martin Santiago (Cinco Puntos Press, $14.95)
In this sequel to ABeCedarios, the first title in the First Concepts in Mexican Folk Art series, figures made from the wood of the flowering jacaranda tree are used as bilingual teaching tools. (Ages 5-7)