Wednesday, October 2, 2013

August/September Books

*The Killer Angels by Pulitzer prize winner, Michael  Shaara, has been described as the “best novel ever written about the Civil War.” Incisive portraits of Lee, Longstreet, Meade, and other Civil War leaders are interwoven with rich historical detail to provide a fictional recreation of the pivotal   battle at Gettysburg--four of the most bloody and courageous days in our nation's history. General Robert E. Lee believes this daring and massive move with seventy thousand men can mortally wound the Union Army, but James Longstreet, his most brilliant and  loyal  General,  stubbornly argues against the plan as two armies prepare for and  fight the most important battle of the Civil War.

Light of the World  is James Lee Burke’s 20th Dave Robicheaux novel  and finds the Louisiana sheriff's detective on vacation in Montana with family and friends. There they are hounded and haunted by a psychopathic serial killer, Asa Surrette.  Dave, his best friend and their daughters confront Asa, a billionaire oil man and crooked lawmen,  are in constant danger and always talk and  hang tough. This book could easily have been subtitled "Daddies, Don't Bring Your Daughters to Montana," as people don't just get killed: they're tortured, disfigured, and eviscerated. The much-honored Burke (two Edgars, a Guggenheim Fellowship) is still a master storyteller, but has done better—much better.

**The Boy Who Could See Demons byCarolyn Jess Cooke is reminiscent of “The Sixth Sense” with psychotherapist  Dr. Anya Molokova who  has personal reasons for specializing in childhood schizophrenia. Her patient is 10-year-old Alex Connolly who sees demons. Alex has been seeing "Ruen" since he was 5. The demon tells Alex things that the boy couldn’t possibly know on his own. Ruen insists he’s Alex’s friend but we soon learn that he wants Alex to kill someone. Anya’s growing attachment to Alex worries her colleagues at  a child and adolescent treatment center in Belfast. None of them realizes how much she is troubled by the anniversary of her daughter’s suicide and her mother’s long battle with mental illness.

**The Universe vs. Alex Woods  by Gavis Extence is the tale of the son of a fortune teller, who was struck by a meteorite when he was ten years old.  Alex befriends a grumpy old widower and proves his friendship by getting stopped at the border by customs with a large bag of marijuana and an urn full of ashes. It is beautifully written,  wise and funny—a blend of Mark Hadden (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night) and Kurt Vonnegut (deity  of a church/reading group started by Alex).
The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman is a modern fantasy about fear, love, magic, and sacrifice in the story of a family at the mercy of dark forces, whose only defense is the three mysterious women who live on a farm at the end of the lane.  “A stirring, terrifying, and elegiac fable as delicate as a butterfly's wing and as menacing as a knife in the dark.”

 *This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral--Plus Plenty of Valet Parking in America's Gilded Capital  by Mark Leiovich, New York Times political feature correspondent,  examines the power wars and exploitative practices of Washington, D.C.  With scathing insight and humor, Leibovich reveals how  political and journalism careers are made and broken while news events,scandals, and even funerals are used as networking opportunities.

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