Monday, April 27, 2009

Summer Reading Picks Brought to You By The Aaron's Books Crew!

As your locally owned Independent Bookstore, it is our privilege to present to you some of the best books of 2009 for your summer reading pleasure!

What's Your Literary Poison?

Truth Be Told
(and told well!)

A Pastry Chef's True Stories of Trials by Fire, After-Hours Exploits, and What Really Goes on in the KitchenBy Dalia Jurgensen(Putnam Adult, Hardcover, 9780399155611, 288pp.)

In the tradition of "Kitchen Confidential" comes a revealing and entertaining insider's tour through top restaurant kitchens, told from the unique perspective of a critically acclaimed pastry chef.

I loved the fascinating glimpse behind the curtain of great New York restaurants. Not as funny as "Kitchen Confidential" (what is?), but just as honest. - Todd

The Whole Five Feet
What the Great Books Taught Me About Life, Death, and Pretty Much Everything ElseBy Christopher Beha(Grove Press, Hardcover, 9780802118844, 256pp.)

Beha turns to the literary classics for answers after undergoing a series of personal and family crises. The author's chronicle is a powerful testament to what great books can teach about how to live life.
A great insight into the stories behind these classics, as well as great memior of a man undergoing personal struggles, while tackling this huge literary undertaking.- Sam

Fingerprints of God
The Search for the Science of SpiritualityBy Barbara Hagerty(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781594488771, 336pp.)

In "Fingerprints of God," award-winning journalist Barbara Bradley Hagerty delves into the discoveries science is making about how faith and spirituality affect us physically and emotionally as it attempts to understand whether the ineffable place beyond this world can be rationally - even scientifically - explained. Hagerty interviews some of the world's top scientists to describe what their groundbreaking research reveals about our human spiritual experience. This book tries to be both a study of the science of spirituality and an analysis of the author's own moving journey.

It's a tricky attempt, but it succeeds on both levels. - Todd

By Heather Barbieri(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061721557, 288pp.)
Fleeing for Ireland in the wake of a failed relationship, twenty-six-year-old fashion designer Kate Robinson finds herself in a coastal Gaelic village and bonds with the members of a lace-lingerie-making society, through whom she finds healing by listening to their stories of loss and suffering.

A book filled with women you want to hug and have teach you the fine craft of making lace... and not just any lace -- lace knickers! - Sam

The Wildwater Walking Club
By Claire Cook(Hyperion Books, Hardcover, 9781401340896, 256pp.)
As the Wildwater women walk and talk, and talk and walk, they tally their steps, share their secrets, and let life take them in some new and surprising directions. Throw in a road trip to Seattle for a lavender festival, a career coaching group filled with unemployed Boomers, a clothesline controversy that could only happen in the 'burbs, plenty of romantic twists and turns, and a quirky multigenerational cast of supporting characters, and the result is pure Claire Cook--fun, fast, and just what the beach bag ordered.

A group of gals that face personal struggles and learn to lean on, laugh with, and love their new friends. Great read for book clubs... and then take a stroll with your girlfriends. - Sam

Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen

By Susan Gregg Gilmore(Three Rivers Press (CA), Paperback, 9780307395023, 304pp.)
The town of Ringgold, Georgia, has a population of 1,923, one traffic light, one Dairy Queen, and one Catherine Grace Cline. Quickwitted and more than a little stubborn, Catherine Grace is dying to escape her small-town life. When her dream to go to Atlanta becomes a reality, she immediately makes the move, leaving behind the boy she loves. But all too soon, tragedy brings Catherine Grace back home. As a series of extraordinary events alter her perspective, Catherine Grace begins to wonder if her place in the world may actually be, against all odds, right where she began.

The Richest Season
By Maryann McFadden(Hyperion Books, Hardcover, 9781401322700, 326pp.)
Set on beautiful Pawley's Island, South Carolina, this novel is about second chances occurring at the most inopportune times in life. In three parallel journeys, three individuals walk away from lives they always thought they wanted, only to rediscover a part of themselves they'd all but forgotten.


The "Good Girls" of Summer
No teen vampires on this list!

For Ages 3-6
By Katherine Hannigan(HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780061626548, 94pp.)
Emmaline lives in a very tidy town, but Emmaline is not tidy. Emmaline likes to hop, hop, hop and holler, "Hoopalala " And, more than anything, Emmaline wants a bunny. Orson Oliphant is mayor of the town. He is very tidy. Orson Oliphant does not like hopping and hollering. And, more than anything, Orson Oliphant does not like animals. He has banished them all, including bunnies.
Fun and quirky, has some unexpected elements that add charm. - Todd

ForAges 8-12
By Shannon Hale
(Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, Paperback, 9781599900735, 314pp.)
All the teenage girls from a small mountain village must attend the academy to learn how to become a princess. Miri soon finds herself confronted with a harsh academy mistress, bitter competition among the girls, and her own conflicting desires to be chosen.

I'm a little outside the target audience, but I loved everything about this book. Girls and boys should both enjoy this adventure. Very well done. - Todd

For Ages 11-14
(and us adults young at heart!)

The Teashop Girls
By Laura Schaefer; Sujean Rim
(Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9781416967934, 250pp.)
Lifelong friends Annie, Zoe, and Genna are growing up and beginning to grow apart. When Annie takes a job at her grandmother's tea shop, she's hopeful that her new job will bond the Teashop Girls back together. Includes recipes for brewing tea and treats.
By Lisa Greenwald
(Amulet Books, Hardcover, 9780810983526, 267pp.)
When the local homecoming queen shows up at Lucy Desberg's family's struggling drugstore with a beauty disaster that Lucy helps to fix, word gets out, and Lucy soon has a line of makeover customers. In this funny and sweet debut, Lucy is a girl who knows what she wants, whether it's great makeup, a killer business plan, or a better world.

Teashop Girls and My Life in Pink & Green each feature a young protagonist who must help save her family's small business. This idea instantly endeared them to me... but the writing and the honest portrayal of a typical adolescent is what stole my heart while reading these books... EVERY 12 year old girl needs these in her library. - Sam

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
By Jacqueline Kelly
(Henry Holt & Company, Hardcover, 9780805088410, 352pp.)
As 11-year-old Callie Tate explores the natural world around her in 1899 Texas, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.

Calpurnia is who I wanted to be at age 11... smart, honest, inquisitive, and barrier breaking. A great book to read aloud as a family. - Sam

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
By Alan Bradley; C. Alan Bradley
(Delacorte Press, Hardcover, 9780385342308, 384pp.)
In his wickedly brilliant first novel, Debut Dagger Award winner Alan Bradley introduces one of the most singular and engaging heroines in recent fiction: eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison. It is the summer of 1950--and a series of inexplicable events has struck Buckshaw, the decaying English mansion that Flavia's family calls home. For Flavia, who is both appalled and delighted, life begins in earnest when murder comes to Buckshaw. ""I wish I could say I was afraid, but I wasn't. Quite the contrary. This was by far the most interesting thing that had ever happened to me in my entire life."

You WILL fall under Flavia's spell instantly... picture a prepubescent Miss Marple, as written by Roald Dahl. - Sam

Road Dogs
By Elmore Leonard
(William Morrow & Company, Hardcover, 9780061733147, 272pp.)
Leonard launches three characters from previous novels on a collision course in this seemingly effortless performance. After prison buddy Cundo Rey (last seen in LaBrava) drops a bundle on a shark attorney, celebrity bank robber Jack Foley (from Out of Sight) gets his 30-year prison sentence reduced to 30 months. Jack's quickly back in the world, living large in one of Cundo's two multimillion-dollar houses in Venice, Calif., juggling a fast seduction with fortune-teller (from Riding the Rap) Dawn Navarro (who is now Cundo's lady) and the untoward attention of rogue FBI agent Lou Adams, who's waiting for Foley to rob another bank.

It's possible that Elmore Leonard can do no wrong; another really strong work from him. - Todd

Fatally Flaky
By Diane Mott Davidson
(William Morrow & Company, Hardcover, 9780061348136, 336pp.)
Colorado caterer Goldy Schulz encounters Bridezilla--and murder--in another delectable confection by the "New York Times"-bestselling author of the Goldy Culinary Mysteries.
Out Of This World!
Books for Boys & Girls With Fantastical Minds

Keyholders #1
This Side of Magic
By Debbie Dadey; Marcia Thornton Jones
(Starscape Books, Mass Market Paperback, 9780765359827, 144pp.)
The first in a series of light fantasy chapter books set in Morgantown, a town on the border between the real world and the magical world, by the authors of the Bailey School Kids series.

Aaron says this is a really cool new series for kids that like Magic Tree House and younger Harry Potter fans.

The Last Olympian
By Rick Riordan(Hyperion Books, Hardcover, 9781423101475, 400pp.)
In this momentous final book in the "New York Times"-bestselling Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy's 16th birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate.

The Soldiers of Halla - Pendragon book #10
By D. J. MacHale(Aladdin, Hardcover, 9781416914204, 608pp.)
In the final installment of MacHale's #1 "New York Times"-bestselling series, every question is answered and every truth is revealed as Bobby and the rest of the travelers must join forces in an epic war against Saint Dane for not only one last territory, but for all of Halla.
Don's miss the riveting endings to these best-selling series!

Classics Revisited

Beowulf on the Beach
What to Love and What to Skip in Literature's 50 Greatest Hits
By Jack Murnighan(Three Rivers Press (CA), Paperback, 9780307409577, 384pp.)
From Homer and Proust to "Beloved" and the Bible, "Beowulf on the Beach" is a user-friendly guide through the imposing world of literature.
C'mon, you know you used those Cliff's Notes in high school to "get through" some of those books we HAD to read.... Now here's your chance to catch up on what you missed.... And sound like you know what you're talking about when in literary discussions! - Sam

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
The Classic Regency Romance-Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem
By Seth Grahame-Smith; Jane Austen(Quirk Books, Paperback, 9781594743344, 320pp.)
Zombies are the new vampire, throw them in with the most beloved romance in literature and you're in for a rip roarin' (literally) good time!- Sam

Category Defying

The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet
By Reif Larsen(Penguin Press, Hardcover, 9781594202179, 352pp.)

A brilliant, boundary-leaping debut novel tracing twelve-year-old genius map maker T.S. Spivet as he attempts to understand the ways of the world. When Spivet receives an unexpected phone call from the Smithsonian announcing he has won the prestigious Baird Award, life as normal - if you consider mapping family dinner table conversation normal - is interrupted and a wild cross-country adventure begins, taking T.S. from his family ranch just north of Divide, Montana, to the museum's hallowed halls.

You've never met a boy like Spivet, and you've never read a work like this. Rich visuals are among the many treasures in this book. - Todd

Last Night in Montreal
By Emily St John Mandel
(Unbridled Books, Hardcover, 9781932961683)
Lila Albert has been leaving people behind for her entire life. She spends her childhood and adolescence traveling constantly and changing identities. In adulthood, she moves restlessly from city to city, abandoning lovers along the way, possibly still followed by a private detective who has pursued her for years. Then her latest lover follows her from New York to Montreal, determined to learn her secrets and make sure she's safe. Last Night in Montreal is a story of love, amnesia, compulsive travel, the depths and the limits of family bonds, and the nature of obsession.

Thoroughly engrossing from page one.- Sam
By Lev Grossman
(Viking Books, Hardcover, 9780670020553, 416pp.)
A thrilling and original coming-of- age novel about a young man practicing magic in the real world. Quentin Coldwater is brilliant but miserable. A senior in high school, heas still secretly preoccupied with a series of fantasy novels he read as a child, set in a magical land called Fillory. Imagine his surprise when he finds himself unexpectedly admitted to a very secret, very exclusive college of magic in upstate New York, where he receives a thorough and rigorous education in the craft of modern sorcery.

This book is not for kids; rather, it's the reward for all of us adults who continue to hold tight to the hope that we'll someday find our own wardrobe entrance to Narnia. - Todd

Books for our youngest readers
(and their parents)
Blueberry Girl
By Neil Gaiman; Charles Vess(HarperCollins, Hardcover, 9780060838089, 32pp.)

This is a prayer for a blueberry girl . . . A much-loved baby grows into a young woman: brave, adventurous, and lucky. Exploring, traveling, bathed in sunshine, surrounded by the wonders of the world. What every new parent or parent-to-be dreams of for her child, what every girl dreams of for herself.

I am a complete Neil Gaiman fanatic (I have loved everything I've read across many genres), and even I was surprised at how sweet and touching this poem is -- and the illustrations are simply stunning. Everyone I've shown it to has bought at least one copy for someone they love. - Todd

Duck! Rabbit!
By Amy Krouse Rosenthal; Tom Lichtenheld
(Chronicle Books, Hardcover, 9780811868655, 40pp.)
From the award-winning author of "Little Hoot" comes a clever take on the age-old optical illusion: Is is a duck or a rabbit? There's also a subtle lesson for kids who don't know when to let go of an argument.
I like that it's half duck/ half rabbit; it's pretty weird. -Aaron

The Curious Garden
By Peter Brown(Little, Brown Young Readers, Hardcover, 9780316015479, 40pp.)
Brown presents an enchanting tale with environmental themes and breathtaking illustrations that become more vibrant as the garden blooms. Red-headed Liam can also be spotted on every page, adding a seek-and-find element to this picture book.

Great pictures on every page, and a bueatiful message of hope that even the most dilapidated and abandoned man-made landscapes can be redeemed. - Todd

I like that the garden just grows and grows; it's amazing! - Aaron

Anybook where greenery can take over city dullness is a winner!- Sam

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