July 2012 Archives

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Professional wrestling is filled with pageantry, spectacle, and larger-than-life figures that beat the snot out of each other for the entertainment of the roaring crowd. Mick Foley's first autobiography, Have a Nice Day!: a Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks is an endearing, down-to-earth look at one of the very real people behind the 'fake' world of pro wrestling. Mick's charisma in the squared circle that he utilized to portray such characters as Mankind, Cactus Jack, and Dude Love translates well to the written page, with a surprisingly humble and earnest tone that gives the sense that he's treating the reader like a good friend, sharing his more private and personal stories. The prose isn't perfect, with Mick repeating himself on occasion and going into too much detail about some of his wrestling matches, but these flaws also add to the charm. They help the authenticity of the book, demonstrating that he has eschewed a ghost writer and written the book himself (he even tells the tale that he hand wrote the book on seven-hundred some pages of notebook paper).

What makes this autobiography stand out is the differences you see between Mick Foley the wrestler and Mick Foley the person. Mick shares stories of matches in Japan involving blood and barbed wire, matches in the WWF (now WWE) with infamous falls from steel cages and multiple folding chairs smashed against his head, along with a litany of injuries that show how 'fake' wrestling can be with multiple lost teeth and a gruesome tale of how he lost most of an ear during a match in Germany. This contrasts strikingly with the stories of Mick outside the ring, the tales of meeting his wife, the birth of his children (two at the time, now the proud father of four), to even the stories of what it took for him to become a wrestler in the first place. Sleeping in his car, scraping by on what little money he had to pursue his dream, his story exemplifies that hard work and dedication can take you wherever you want to go.

A fabulous (and NY Times best-selling) first book, Mick has gone on to pen several more books, including three more memoirs, three children's books, and a pair of novels. While he becomes a better writer with each book, it is this first book that has the greatest charm and serves as an inside look at the people behind an industry that wrestling fans and non-fans alike can truly enjoy.

Tim @ Central


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The Miracle Letters of T. Rimberg by Geoff Herbach

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The Miracle Letters of T. Rimberg is told in letters and journal entries from the 35-year old hero, who is divorced and jobless, and who one day receives a large inheritance from his long-lost father, who may actually not be dead. Rimberg's letters, all collected by a Green Bay priest who believes he may have been involved in a miracle, are unsent and addressed to his father, ex-wife, former girlfriends, children, Madonna, Bill Clinton, and Brett Favre, among others. Rimberg's trip with his assistant Cranberry to Belgium, and Paris, Poland, and finally back to Green Bay, help him understand his recurring nightmares and learn about his family's history. If you read and liked Everything is illuminated, you'll probably like this, too.

Bruce @ Central


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Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian by Eoin Colfer

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Let the crying commence. Artemis Fowl: The Last Guardian is the eighth and final book of Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl Series.

Book eight starts out with Artemis having just completed six months of therapy with Dr. J. Argon in order to cure his case of Atlantis Complex, a condition similar to Multiple Personality Disorder. However, things can't remain quiet for long, Opal Koboi from book number four, The Opal Deception, returns to bring her dreams to rule the world, and the underworld, to fruition. Phase one simultaneously gets her out of jail and destroys as many electronic communication systems as possible including televisions, laptops, cell phones and more. So far she's got an excellent start. Now Artemis, his body guard Butler, and his dear friend Captain Holly Short are up against the ultimate egomaniac under the most extreme and extraordinary circumstances. Who prevails will determine if the world falls into the dark ages under the maniacal rule of Opal Koboi or returns to order with the carefully calculated plans of Artemis Fowl, the greatest genius mastermind of all times.

Valerie @ MPL Central



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Let the 2012 Games Begin!

The eyes of the world will be on London for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.

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How to Watch the Olympics: The Essential Guide to the Rules, Statistics, Heroes, and Zeroes of Every Sport by David Goldblatt and Johnny Acton

This fun guide to the summer Olympic Games includes the rules, history and strategy for every sport during the Olympics. How are points scored in fencing? Is there a strategy to handball? Is synchronized swimming a sport? This well-illustrated and light-hearted guide to the games will turn even the most casual fan into a seasoned professional Olympics watcher!

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The Complete Book of the Olympics by David Wallechinsky and Jaime Loucky

This incredible reference book includes every Olympic final score since 1896 and still manages to be readable. Packed with statistics and history,it also includes rules and scoring for every event at the 2012 Olympic Games. Besides being a treasure trove of statistics and results, this book offers fun anecdotes about events long since removed from the Olympics, like tug of war and croquet! This book is essential for fans of the Olympic Games.

Dan @ Central


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Discount Armageddon by Seanan McGuire

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Verity Price is a lot of things: cocktail waitress at Dave's Fish and Strips, former reality dance show contestant, and the eldest daughter of a family line of cryptozoologists. Striking a balance between her ballroom dancer desires and her duties in maintaining a healthy relationship with New York City's cryptid (creatures of myth, folklore, and urban legend) population is hard for Verity, but it proves even harder when single female cryptids are mysteriously disappearing. Add in rumors that a long thought extinct dragon might be sleeping under the Big Apple and the sudden appearance of a strikingly handsome man who also happens to be a member of a secret organization dedicated to the extinction of all cryptids, and Verity has her hands more than full.

Discount Armageddon is the type of urban fantasy in the vein of Joss Whedon's television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yet such a comparison isn't unfavorable; while they share spunky blonde protagonists who wisecrack while dealing with the supernatural, enough of the New York that McGuire creates feels like a fresh take on the genre. The tone is kept light for the most part, with Verity's narration cracking jokes and some of the more silly aspects of the world proving highly amusing (Verity lives with a tribe of talking mice that have an entire religion based around her, complete with festivals and feasts). Simultaneously, the book is also a true feminist take on urban fantasy, focusing on a strong and independent female who manages to kick butt and save the day without giving up her more feminine pursuits and interests. A fun and quick read, readers will find it hard to put the book down. The best part is that this book is the first in a series. Midnight Blue-Light Special is due to come out in March of 2013.

Tim @ Central


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The wrecking ball hovering over the once-funky Sydney Hih building puts historic preservation on the front burner. Alan Magayne-Roshak and Gordy Simons photographed many downtown buildings before the structures vanished from our skyline. Yance Marti from Historic Milwaukee, Inc. compiled their photos into Missing Milwaukee: The Lost Buildings of Milwaukee, which was published last year to promote the first annual Doors Open Milwaukee event. The buildings they documented run the gamut from the majestic Chicago & North Western Railway Station to the stately Angus Smith House to plain commercial structures, like the 734 W. Wisconsin Ave. building. Many of their photos evoke the lonely street scenes of Edward Hopper's paintings. Simon's photo of the Norman Apartments mirrors Hopper's Early Sunday Morning.

The Central Library has a display of Missing Milwaukee photos and will have a program on Saturday, July 28th, 2012 at 2 p.m. remembering some of the buildings that were once part of our streetscape. Please call 414.286.3011 to register.

Van Lingle Mungo @ Central


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Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

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If you want to hop decades and continents, Beautiful Ruins is the ticket. The story opens in 1962 as a gorgeous movie starlet, Dee Moray, lands on the Italian coast. Dee is pregnant with Richard Burton's baby and has to be re-appropriated from the film set of Cleopatra to avoid scandal and the scrutiny of the public eye. A besotted young man, Pasquale, runs the small hotel where she's hidden and he falls in love with her...looking her up in Hollywood years later.

Nick Hornby fans will eat this up and you'll want to check out Richard Burton movies and Cinque Terre guidebooks after being awed by Walters imagination and spot-on characters.

Jacki @ Central


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First 20 Minutes.jpgYou may have heard that in order to lose weight with exercise you'll need to do a lot more than you're able to fit in on an average day. Maybe you've given up since, if you're not going to slim down, why bother. Or, conversely, maybe you've devoted several hours a week to an excruciating regimen based on your motto of "no pain, no gain" and you're starting to get injured more often. It turns out that the science of exercise gives us a lot of choices about how to exercise smarter. For example, the author of The First 20 Minutes points out that, if you're crunched for time, you can accomplish a lot in a short amount of time with high intensity interval training. Or, if you really hate to exercise, you can rest easy knowing that more isn't always better. In fact the most health benefits are gained in the first twenty minutes of exercise. That isn't to say that an athlete's efforts are wasted when they devote more time to their sport. If someone wants to become stronger, they will need to work hard enough to have sore muscles. But if health is your primary concern, then it helps to know that even just standing up and walking a little each hour is enough to prevent negative changes that take place in your body when you sit for too long. Even people who go to the gym aren't immune if they sit at a desk the rest of the day. It turns out, when it comes to exercise, knowledge is power. If you're interested in how to exercise smarter, you'll love this book written in the same approachable style as Gretchen Reynolds' popular Phys Ed column in the New York Times.

Anna @ Central


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Fool by Christopher Moore

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If it is considered blasphemy to dabble about with the works of William Shakespeare, then there are few authors as versed in creative blasphemy as Christopher Moore. In his book Fool, Moore reconstructs the Bard's classic tragedy King Lear to center around the court jester Pocket, while simultaneously cribbing bits of various other Shakespeare plays and cramming them in for extra hilarity. Thus unfolds a story of murder and mayhem, war and witches, taking the Shakespearean plot and seasoning it with boundless bawdiness and brouhaha. Pocket proves not only a darkly comic protagonist, but a capable one as well. Armed with his wit, cunning, throwing knives, and puppet, by the conclusion of the book he manages to make fools out of royals and royals out of fools. The true highlights of the book are the flashbacks, the glimpses into Pocket's past both as an orphan and his days of being jester to Lear's daughters are not only excessively hilarious, but also filled with character pathos that helps temper the over-the-top nature of the book with the humanization of its characters.

Fool dances in tone, alternating between the raunchiest of humor to the darkest tragedy as Moore's comedy clashes with the drama of Shakespeare's plot. Yet these alternations do not muddle the tone but instead accentuate each, the humor being that much more funny for the despair that surrounds it, and vice versa. While not for the easily offended or scandalized, Fool proves that it is definitely possible to improve upon the classics.

Tim @ Central


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Paul Dickson has done all sports fans a favor by writing Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick. Veeck is one of "those" guys in American sports history-- enormously influential, but little-known outside of baseball circles. He deserves more attention than he receives.

Veeck, the owner of several major- and minor-league baseball teams from the 1940s to the '70s (including the American Association Milwaukee Brewers) almost singlehandedly created modern sports marketing. Anything you can think of when you go to a sporting event--the fan giveaways, the exploding-fireworks scoreboard, the goofy sideshows and contests--were either invented or popularized by Veeck. He also helped break the color line in baseball, hiring Larry Doby for his 1947 Cleveland Indians, the first African American in the American League.

Dickson does a great job bringing Veeck to life in these pages, integrating his subject's singular voice and candor with memories from family, friends, former players and employees and others who knew him.

I like this book a lot, but I don't care much for the title. To call Bill Veeck a "maverick" kind of cheapens the man's legacy. It's such a corny word, usually associated with television cowboys. Bill Veeck was a visionary, an innovator, a genius, but most of all he was an American who led a uniquely American life.

Also recommended: Bill Veeck's own books, Veeck as in Wreck and The Hustler's Handbook.

Brett @ Central


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Commando by Johnny Ramone

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GABBA GABBA HEY!

When I think of classic punk rock, I instantly think of the Ramones. Yeah, I know about the Stooges and Pistols and Jam and all those bands. I just always dug the Ramones. They were funny, starred in a film with P.J. Soles and they simply rocked. As a young teen in the late 70's- early 80's, I thought the Ramones were so cool with their 2 minute songs and attitude, as opposed to ten minute drum solos that bands like Rush and Blue Oyster Cult were doing at that time.

Commando: The Autobiography of Johnny Ramone is short and direct, just like a Ramones song. It features Johnny Ramone's take on how the band formed, who was cool to hang with at CBGB's and how to make money. Money is a prominent piece of the Ramones pie and Johnny was very interested in making as much as he could!

Johnny Ramone comes across as a very arrogant jerk at times, but he admits being so himself, so I gotta give the guy a pass. The book features tons of photos, many never before published. At the end, we get an album by album commentary from Johnny (He thinks Rocket to Russia was the best Ramones album and the worst being either Brain Drain or Mondo Bizarro). There are also a number of top ten lists like Favorite Horror Films (Bride of Frankenstein--which is also my fave!) and Best Ballplayers of the Eighties (Robin Yount makes #7).

Johnny Ramone died of prostate cancer in 2004 after the Ramones were inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Johnny was one of my favorite guitarists growing up and this book brought back some great memories of watching Johnny rock out live. I'm lucky I got to see him play live as many times as I did.

Hey Ho, Let's Go read this book!

Dan @ Central



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Dust Lands: Blood Red Road by Moira Young

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In this future dystopia, eighteen year old Lugh has been kidnapped from his drought ridden ramshackle of a home in Silverlake by Lewis Ex Eye Vee who likes to call himself the Sun King of France even though he lives in North America. Lugh's twin sister Saba vows to save him even if she has to travel across the Sandsea Desert and beyond into unknown lands among savages, thieves and murderers. Saba knows her quest will test her in every way. However, she thinks nothing could be worse than living without her brother. Then she too is kidnapped, taken to the ironically named city of Hopetown, and brutally forced to cage fight in a coliseum for the entertainment of the twisted residents of Hopetown. Now Saba desperately needs to find a way to escape the Cage in order to save not only her life but the lives of those she loves.

Check the catalog to locate a copy of Dust Lands: Blood Red Road for your reading pleasure.

If you like a good dystopia book like I do there's good news; the story continues with Dust Lands: Rebel Heart, out October 30, 2012.

Valerie @ MPL Central



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Tigers in Red Weather by Liza Klaussmann

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Tigers in Red Weather is a debut novel set on Martha's Vineyard after WWII. Two cousins, Nick and Helena, are finding marriage and motherhood more complicated than they expected. Helena is going to Hollywood and Nick is heading out to Florida for a reunion with her own husband who is just returning from the war. Time passes until it's nearly 1960 and Nick and Helena are back at Tiger House with their children, Daisy and Ed. The children discover the victim of a terrible murder and their lives are changed forever.

The author, Liza Klaussmann is Herman Melville's great-great-great-great-grandaughter. She has worked as a journalist for the New York Times for over a decade. Her first novel is unforgettable and will keep you guessing until the end.

Jacki @ Central


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Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride

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Cold Granite by Stuart MacBride is not for the queasy or faint of heart. The first of MacBride's DS "Lazarus" MacRae mysteries (of which there are now seven), this introduction gives us gruesome and gritty crime peppered with dark humor. While the mystery is driven by a series of grisly child murders, the real star of the book is the colorful and fully-realized cast of characters. DS MacRae himself is a compellingly flawed detective, still physically limited by the brutal stabbing he suffered just one year ago, not to mention the tension of working alongside his ex-girlfriend the coroner. His supporting cast, from the strong and sensible WPC Jackie Watson, to greasy sensationalist journalist Colin Miller, to DI Insch with his insatiable sweet tooth and an amateur acting career, manage to be both entertaining and relatable.

When the story turns to danger and violence, with thrilling sequences of physical fights and dangerous foot chases, your attachment to these characters heightens the tension, making for serious page-turning prose. While the gruesome nature of the book makes for poor meal time reading, the dry and dark humor throws the more disturbing passages into relief. While the book is quite enjoyable, it does fall apart a little in the final act, but this doesn't mar the overall reading experience.

Tim @ Central


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Sailor by Tom Epperson

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If you're a fan of the Jack Reacher series by Lee Child, then you're sure to enjoy Sailor by Tom Epperson. The sailor referenced in the title may or may not refer to an actual sailor, but it sure does refer to a Jack Reacheresque former Special Forces type who wreaks havoc upon a criminal organization named "The System." After destorying a few mafia hit men, he also saves a girl and her son who are on the lam from a rogue US Marshall. Did I forget the stolen diamonds and the one eyed killer dog?

This book isn't reinventing the thriller wheel, but it is fun, if not predictable. For good shoot-em-up entertainment, you can't go wrong with the Sailor!

Dan @ Central


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Amped by Daniel H. Wilson


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Author Daniel H. Wilson writes another fabulous novel about the role technology plays in the near future. Amped examines how people react when confronted with awe inspiring technology they do not fully understand. Owen Gray, the narrator, has a device similar to the cochlear implant (see the link and illustration below) surgically inserted into his head to control his seizures. Other people around the world start getting these devices too for various other reasons - attention deficit disorder, Down syndrome, Parkinson's disease, fetal alcohol syndrome, and other conditions related to the brain. What began as a miraculous medical solution soon becomes an elective surgery used by regular people and the government to enhance intelligence and physical strength. Suddenly a debate explodes about who is a real human and who is not. Then government gets involved and the Supreme Court of the United States declares that everyone who has received a device like Owen's is no longer considered a legal citizen and will not be protected by any existing laws. What happens next is a very plausible and frightening account of what fear and misunderstanding can do to a society when confronted by someone or something they perceive to be dangerous and unequal to themselves.

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For the curious, follow this link for more information about cochlear implants.

Valerie @ MPL Central



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What Have You Done to Our Ears is the debut collection of poetry by first generation American poet Arlene Kim. Mixing fairy tales and Korean folk tales, Kim creates a surreal world where family and tradition collide with temptation and danger. This is a place where stolen sisters return "missing some part" and mothers and fathers disappear into the "dark milk" woods leaving orphaned children. "Season of the Frog", a personal favorite, is based on a Korean folk tale of a disobedient frog rebelling against his mother's wishes. Echoes of the conflict facing children of immigrant families, struggling to maintain cultural traditions in the face of assimilation, rise through in lines such as:

There is more world
and it is too sweet
to deny. Though I tried
to listen. I could not
follow your song

Be sure to read the notes portion of the collection as it explains many of the Korean folk tales and symbolism that may otherwise pass unnoticed. If you are interested in more poetry with inventive takes of fairy tales, check out The Poets' Grimm: 20th Century Poems from Grimm Fairy Tales.

Kristina @ MPL Central

77 Reasons Why Your Book Was Rejected by Mike Nappa

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In 77 Reason Why Your Book was Rejected (and how to make sure it won't happen again!), literary agent, Mike Nappa provides brief and succinct entries on common mistakes authors make when trying to sell works to a publisher. 77 Reasons Why Your Book was Rejected will be of interest to writers seeking advice on publishing and readers interested in the marketing aspect of publishing. Nappa also includes as section on how to use social media marketing in order to increase the viability of a book.

Laura @ Central


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A Clash of Kings by George R R Martin

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Like many people, I became addicted to HBO's television series Game of Thrones, named after the first book of George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series. After I finished the first season I started reading the books. Normally, I advocate reading the book before watching its film adaptation; however, I found that having seen the TV show was extremely helpful in allowing me to keep track of who was who throughout the 700 or so pages of plotting, political intrigue and outright murder that make up the first book.

A Clash of Kings is even more brutal and bleak than its predecessor. George R. R. Martin does not shy away from the ugliness of war, and he isn't afraid to kill off main characters or innocent bystanders. His characters also grow and develop throughout the course of the book. Old friends become enemies, while a former enemy proves to be an unlikely champion and savior to a girl in need. Dragons have returned to the world, and magic along with them. In the Seven Kingdoms, five different men declare themselves to be kings and begin to fight against one another on several different fronts. Meanwhile, Mance Rayder (the King Beyond the Wall) is gathering the Free Folk (more commonly known as the Wildlings), and preparing an attack on the Night's Watchmen, who are sworn to protect Westeros from the dangers lurking in the far north.

The standout character in both the novel and the TV show is Tyrion Lanister. Peter Dinklage won an Emmy for his work in that role, and watching him it is easy to see why. Even though Tyrion is a member of one of the most powerful families in the Seven Kingdoms, he is scorned and mistrusted because he is a dwarf. He compensates for his lack of height by fine-tuning his wits, which he needs when he is (temporarily) named to the role of Hand of the King, the most powerful man in the Seven Kingdoms aside from his nephew, King Joffrey. Tyrion must work to protect the capitol, while fighting to control Joffrey's violent outbursts and the machinations of Queen Cersei (who is Joffrey's mother and Tyrion's older sister).

A Clash of Kings provides a jaw-dropping follow-up to A Game of Thrones, and leaves the reader eager for the next book.

Jen @ Washington Park


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The goat, or, Who is Sylvia? by Edward Albee

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The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? is Edward Albee's wittiest, funniest, and most controversial play. It's essentially about love and what kind of love is allowed in this society. The story centers on Martin, a man who has the perfect life. He's an award-winning architect with a loving wife and son. This idyllic life comes crashing down around him when he confides to his friend that he is in love with Sylvia, who happens to be a goat. This confession prompts a confrontation that will eventually change the lives of everyone in his family and leave the reader scratching their head. This play is not for the faint of heart but it is probably the most thought-provoking piece you will ever read.

Maria @ Central


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Happy 4th of July!

Are you on vacation? If you can't actually get away, these family vacation novels will let you live vicariously through others. I know, it's not the same, but it's better than nothing...

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The Red House by Mark Haddon

Richard, a wealthy doctor, invites his estranged sister Angela and her family to join his for a week at a vacation home in the English countryside. Richard has just re-married and inherited a willful stepdaughter in the process; Angela has a feckless husband and three children who sometimes seem alien to her. The stage is set for seven days of resentment and guilt, a staple of family gatherings the world over.

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Wish You Were Here by Stewart O'Nan

A year after the death of her husband, Emily Maxwell summons her family to their vacation house on Lake Chautauqua in western New York state, bringing together three generations for one last reunion before selling the home.

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Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan

As three generations of Kelleher women descend on their vacation property, each brings her own hopes and fears. Maggie is thirty-two and pregnant, waiting for the perfect moment to tell her imperfect boyfriend the news; Ann Marie, a Kelleher by marriage, is channeling her domestic frustration into a dollhouse obsession and an ill-advised crush; Kathleen, the black sheep, never wanted to set foot in the cottage again; and Alice, the matriarch at the center of it all, would trade every floorboard for a chance to undo the events of one night, long ago.

Jacki @ Central


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Skulduggery Pleasant - Scepter Of The Ancients by Derek Landy

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12 year old Stephanie Edgley sees detective Skulduggery Pleasant at her uncle's funeral and then meets him at the reading of the will. From then on she can't stop wondering about Skulduggery's bizzare appearance and overall weirdness. She doesn't have to wait long to get to know him better when late one night he saves her from a murderous burglar. Skulduggery Pleasant opens up a whole new world for Stephanie - one full of magic, danger and horror. Oddly enough she couldn't be happier about it. Now if she could just get rid of the resulting nightmares.

The audio version of this book is absolutely fantastic. Even if you prefer reading a book over listening to one, I highly recommend that you listen to Rupert Degas read a couple chapters. The voice Degas uses for Skulduggery is wonderful and his timing is impeccable. I also have to mention that the music at the beginning and ending of each chapter is clever and made me smile each time I heard it.


Valerie @ MPL Central



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The Backpacker by John Harris

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I found The Backpacker, a travelogue, to fall somewhere between the humor of Twain's The Innocents Abroad and a low budget made for cable action movie. It's not quite believable but still a load of fun.

John and his girlfriend Sanita decide to take a vacation together to India. It was going to be a romantic getaway. It wasn't. Sanita gets violently ill and heads home to London. John is saved from a robbery in a train station rest room by a long-haired traveler named Rick. Rick invites John to Thailand and the rest is like a Bing Crosby/Bob Hope "Road" movie starring Cheech and Chong or Harold and Kumar. They smoke lots of pot. They chase native girls. They infuriate the local mafia and are forced to flee to Malaysia. Next stop is Singapore, where they steal a boat and smoke more pot. They stop on islands and party. A friend gets killed. They pick fruit in Australia and burn stuff down. They go to Hong Kong. It ends.

The story is engaging and fun as heck, but I just don't know if I believe this "true" story. Maybe it lost its credibility when they "fooled" the border guards while crossing into Malaysia or maybe it was when they torched a building on a farm in Australia and walked down the road to the next town without being stopped. Regardless, a good journey is all about the ride, not the destination. This book was a riot.

Dan @ Central


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This page is an archive of entries from July 2012 listed from newest to oldest.

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