Wednesday, August 31, 2011

August Books

A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay (Sarah’s Key) fails to live up to her previous successful novel. Parisian architect Antoine Rey and his sister, Mélanie, celebrate her 40th birthday where they vacationed until their mother died there in 1974. Upon returning, Mélanie is gripped by a shocking repressed memory of her mother’s affair and loses control of the car. A skeptical Antoine investigates as an upsetting chain of events unfurls in his own family. “This perceptive portrait of a middle-aged man's delayed coming-of-age story rates as a seductive, suspenseful, and trés formidable keeper.”

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb by Melanie Benjamin provides the life story of the two-foot eight-inches tall Mercy Lavinia “Vinnie” Bump over a century after her story-book life. Although encouraged to live a life hidden away from the public, she becomes a ‘showboat freak,’ then reaches out to impresario P. T. Barnum, marries the tiny superstar General Tom Thumb in the wedding of the century, and became the world’s most unexpected celebrity. An engaging novel of public triumphs and personal tragedies, this “is the irresistible epic of a heroine who conquered the country with a heart as big as her dreams.”

* The Snowman by Norwegian author Jo Nesbø has been translated into 40 languages and compared to Stieg Larsson fans and Tom Harris. A child wakes up to find his mother has disappeared and, a snowman has appeared out of nowhere, the calling card of a terrifying serial killer. “Brilliantly crafted, this credible and dark page-turner fully fleshes out the characters. “ Is the Snowman a suspicious doctor, a notorious playboy, or someone on the police force? Despite a few improbabilities, the plot is intense and the book is hard to put down.

Sunset Park by Paul Auster is a decent novel by a much respected writer. New York native Miles Heller now cleans out foreclosed south Florida homes, falls in love with an underage girl and flees to Brooklyn where he moves in with a group of artists squatting in the borough's Sunset Park neighborhood. The narrative broadens to take in the lives of Miles's roommates and estranged parents. “The fractured narrative takes in an impressive swath of life and (recent) history.

**Father of the Rain by Whiting Award–winner Lily King is narrated by the insightful daughter of an alcoholic father, follows their evolving relationship over four decades. Daley watches her charismatic WASPy father flounder through divorce, disgrace and increasing alcoholism. With a caring, socially responsible mother and self-imposed distance from him, she eventually returns to her father's side after he is no longer capable of living alone. Dealing with deep and complex emotions, “King's latest is original and deftly drawn, the work of a master psychological portraitist.”

*The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan is “one of the most original, audacious, and terrifying novels in years.” Jake is over 200, but nonstop sex and exercise with a high protein diet have kept him physically healthy, but so distraught and lonely he is actually contemplating suicide—even if it means ending a thousand years old legend. “…A powerful, definitive new version of the werewolf legend—mesmerizing and incredibly sexy.”

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