Friday, March 27, 2009

Recommend Titles not to be Missed

There have been some wonderful books of late. Here are some recommendations from our staff at the Poisoned Pen.

Amidon, Stephen. Security ($25 Signed)
(From Karen) A small, elite, New England town is the setting for this story. Edward Inman lives comfortably, running a successful security company. But a late night alarm throws him into a mystery that will uncover new perspectives on the inhabitants of the town, its reputation, and Edward's own issues. Amidon's writing is great reading, with quirky phrases that easily blend into the story. The writing, combined with interesting characters, is a book worth reading.

Bauermeister, Erica. The School of Essential Ingredients. ($27 Signed)
I loved this book. It was so rich in food and books! (Lea)
Reminiscent of Chocolat and Like Water for Chocolate, a gorgeously written novel about life, love, and the magic of food.

The School of Essential Ingredients follows the lives of eight students who gather in Lillian's Restaurant every Monday night for cooking class. It soon becomes clear, however, that each one seeks a recipe for something beyond the kitchen. Students include Claire, a young mother struggling with the demands of her family; Antonia, an Italian kitchen designer learning to adapt to life in America; and Tom, a widower mourning the loss of his wife to breast cancer. Chef Lillian, a woman whose connection with food is both soulful and exacting, helps them to create dishes whose flavor and techniques expand beyond the restaurant and into the secret corners of her students' lives. One by one the students are transformed by the aromas, flavors, and textures of Lillian's food, including a white-on-white cake that prompts wistful reflections on the sweet fragility of love and a peppery heirloom tomato sauce that seems to spark one romance but end another. Brought together by the power of food and companionship, the lives of the characters mingle and intertwine, united by the revealing nature of what can be created in the kitchen.

Collin, Suzanne. Hunger Games ($18 firsts are sold out)
(From Lorri) This is one of the best stories I have ever read!
Don't miss the story of Katnissm, a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, in a post apocalyptic North America. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When her sister is chosen by lottery, Katniss steps up to go in her place. Be warned you WILL cry...

Grann, David. The Lost City of Z ($30 Signed)
A great adventure! (Will)
Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett was the last of a breed of great British explorers who ventured into 'blank spots' on the map with little more than a machete, a compass and unwavering sense of purpose. In 1925, one of the few remaining blank spots in the world was in the Amazon. Fawcett believed the impenetrable jungle held a secret to a large, complex civilization like El Dorado, which he christened the 'City of Z'. When he and his son set out to find it, hoping to make one of the most important archeological discoveries in history, they warned that none should follow them in the event that they did not return. They vanished without a trace. For the next eighty years, hordes of explorers -- shocked that a man many deemed invincible could disappear in a land he knew better than anyone, and drawn by the centuries-old myth of El Dorado -- searched for the expedition and the city. Many died from starvation, disease, attacks by wild animals, and poisonous arrows. Others simply vanished. In The Lost City of Z, David Grann ventures into the hazardous wild world of the Amazon to retrace the footsteps of the great Colonel Fawcett and his followers, in a bracing attempt to solve one of the greatest mysteries. It is an irresistibly readable adventure story, a subtle examination of the strange and often violent encounters between Europeans and Amazonian tribes and a tale of lethal obsession.

Gruley, Bryan. Starvation Lake ($ PBO Signed)
(One of Patrick's picks)
Every reader is eager for that first seductive whisper of a new voice. When it comes with a look inside a new place-like northern Michigan's Starvation Lake where the local buzz is faster than the Internet and is archived longer in the memories and hearts of its citizens-and with layered, wounded characters like Gus Carpenter, fallen hockey hero and besieged reporter, count yourself lucky. It comes with the bonus of a twist that turns Starvation Lake--the town and the book--inside out.

Hendricks, Judith Ryan. The Laws of Harmony ($15 PBO Signed)
Judy is a store favorite and her 4th novel takes us to Albuquerque, to Armonia, a commune up near Taos, and to, ironically, the small town of Harmony on Washington's San Miguel Island where Sunny lands to start some kind of new life. Her baggage is very heavy and she little trusts what skills she learned from flower children parents....

Humphreys, C.C. Vlad the Last Confession. ($31 Signed)
"trust nothing that you've heard"
This new tale is told by those who knew him best. The only woman he ever loved and whom he has to sacrifice. His closest comrade and traitor. And his priest, betraying the secrets of the confessional to reveal the mind of the man history would forever remember as Tepes - 'The Impaler'.

Hunt, Stephen. The Rise of the Iron Moon ($40 Signed)
(From Pat King)
But there's more to Purity Drake than meets the eye. And as Jackals girds itself for war against an army of near-indestructible beasts serving an ancient evil with a terrible secret, it soon becomes clear that the Kingdom's only hope is a strange little orphan girl and the last, desperate plan of an escaped slave from a land far, far away...

Quinn, Spencer. Dog on It (Atria $26 Signed).
(Lea) Don't miss this wonderful first novel!
Meet Chet, a mouthy mutt teamed up with Bernie, a PI. We all need a chuckle. Here's the Indie Next Pick: "The debut of a new, hilarious, hard-hitting crime-fighting duo: Bernie (a human private investigator) and Chet (an almost completely trained police dog). It's Chet who narrates the story, full of interesting clues and the charm of a storytelling style that can't be beat."
Check it out at

Nunn, Malla. A Beautiful Place to Die ($27 Signed)
(Great book! - Barbara)
Award-winning screenwriter Malla Nunn delivers a stunning and darkly romantic crime novel set in 1950s apartheid South Africa, featuring Detective Emmanuel Cooper -- a man caught up in a time and place where racial tensions and the raw hunger for power make life very dangerous indeed.

Jerry Stahl, Jerry. Pain Killers ($25 Signed)
(From Patrick)
All of Stahl's prodigious gifts come together with Pain Killers, the hipster bard's latest novel, a tour de force of noir depravity. Former cop and addict, Manny Rupert, against his better judgment, takes an undercover job as a recovery therapist inside San Quentin prison. His assignment: to figure out the truth about the 97-year-old German convict who claims to be the notorious Nazi Angel of Death, Dr. Josef Mengele. Inside the walls, he encounters a white Rastafarian convict who may or may not be an FBI agent, Jewish members of the Aryan brotherhood, and a whole cast of similar degenerates. And what's the deal with this hidden cache of WWI-era Red Cross narcotics? To say that Rupert's mettle (and sobriety) will

Stockett, Kathryn. The Help ($25 Signed)
(From Diane)
Kathryn Stockett has crafted a beautiful story filled with love, heartache, sacrifice and triumph of the human spirit over adversity. The Help tells the story of Aibileen, Minny, Constantine, Hilly, Elizabeth and Skeeter; black maids and their white employers. The time is 1962 in Jackson, Mississippi where the racial divide is more polarizing than the Berlin Wall. The maids work for 95 cents an hour, ironing, polishing, cleaning, scrubbing, cooking, and serving. They are expected to raise the white family's children, but not fit to use their toilets. The women, grateful for the work, have learned to suppress their anger with monotone responses designed to neutralize any further interest. Three of the characters embark on an unprecedented journey because they are chafing at the restraints imposed on them by the rigid social hierarchy of the deep south.

Pick up this remarkable story and prepare to be transported back to a time in which color dictated the existence of life for all. The Help will weave its magic, with characters so fully fleshed out they jump off the page and into your heart. Possibly the best book I will read in 2009 - it resonated with me long after I regretfully turned the last page.

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