August 31, 2005
Bestselling author Suze Orman has written a number of books designed to help people with their financial struggles, but now she’s helping out the most clueless of them all - young adults who don’t quite know what they’re doing yet. In The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous, and Broke, Orman offers inspiration and methods for twenty-to-thirty year-olds to dig themselves out of an early grave of credit card and student loan debts with a variety of investing and money management techniques that can help alleviate your financial problems - even if you’re not sure how you got there in the first place. Orman explains FICO scores, IRA rollovers, the stock market, and more in this beginner’s guide to financing that provides answers without insulting your intelligence.
Riverhead (Penguin-Putnam)’s website
August 30, 2005
One of the most prolific novels of 2004, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell tells the tale of two feuding magicians, the stodgy, old Norrell and the young, arrogant Strange, and how they each attempt in their own way to revive English magic. Now available in paperback.
The story is set in 19th century England with all the aplomb of Jane Austin and Oscar Wilde. Besides being a novel of fantasy, JS&MN is also a bizarre comedy of manners, revolving around British nobility and well-to-do gentleman, some captivated by the charm of magic, others repulsed by the personallities of the magicians. The action begins during the Napoleonic wars, long after magic has faded from the British Isles. Norrell, through intensive study and practice has discovered the secretes of performing practical magic, and offers his services to the government in their fight against Napoleon Bonaparte. He is joined by a young upstart Jonathan Strange, who becomes his first pupil. Soon, however, the two part ways due to irreconcilable differences, and the two magicians attempt to undo the others work, all while aiding England against the French, struggling to maintain their integrity in London Society, and tackling the greatest threat of all: the darkest aspects of The Raven KingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s magic.
Soon to become a major motion picture.
August 29, 2005
Musician Wesley Stace’s debut novel Misfortune is a gender-bending tale of a boy raised as a girl in 19th century England by an heir, Lord Geoffroy Loveall, who finds him abandoned in a trash heap. Loveall brings the baby Rose to his giant estate and declares him his daughter and heiress, but when Rose starts wondering about things like why she has the urge to pee standing up, their cover is blown. Stace manages to weave a giant cast of characters through plot twists as well as Victorian ballads to create a lengthy yet captivating story, and the engaging narration is enough to get you hooked.
Published by Little, Brown
August 28, 2005
Christopher Sorrentino’s Trance blends history and fiction to recreate the story of the Symbionese Liberation Army’s 1974 kidnapping of heiress Patty Hearst, loosely following events to create the same strange effect the news had on the country when it first broke on TV. Sorrentino employs a variety of perspectives, including SLA leader Cinque Mtube and Hearst’s father (although with different names), to critique how the radical movement failed in acheiving their goals. The author doesn’t offer an explanation of how Hearst turned from heiress to radical so quickly, but there are a number of compelling passages (such as Hearst watching the SLA in a firefight on TV), and does a great job attempting to create the media hooplah spawned by the event.
Blogger Mediated goes to a Sorrentino reading of Trance and asks questions.
August 27, 2005
In his debut novel The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini tells the story of a writer who returns to his ravaged homeland of Afghanistan to rescue the son of his childhood friend. The protagonist, Amir, is the son of a wealthy Kabul merchant who spent his childhood close with his friend Hassan, the son of his father’s servant. But Amir betrays Hassan’s trust when Hassan is brutally beaten, which haunts him long until the mid ’90s as he establishes himself as a novelist in California. He finds out that Hassan and his wife have been murdered by the Taliban, and his son has become enslaved, and Amir must make a sacrifice to save his old friend’s child’s life. Not only is The Kite Runner an excellent character piece, but it’s presented against a backdrop of the turmoil of Afghanistan’s recent history, adding another layer to the story.
Read a blog review
August 26, 2005
Like most superheroes, Mitchell Hundred was just a regular guy working as a civil engineer - but when he encounters a glowing light under the Brooklyn Bridge, he develops the ability to talk to machines, and everything changes. Soon enough, Hundred is elected mayor of New York City in a landslide victory, but he’s got his work cut out for him: there’s a public relations nightmare brewing due to an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, New York has been crippled by a blizzard, and to top that off, a serial killer is going around knocking off all the plow drivers. Author Brian Vaughn cleverly adapts real news stories to a world where superheroes exist, but are forbidden by the NSA to discuss their powers, and also does a bangup job creating a charismatic cast of characters. This is the first volume of the Eisner Award-winning series.
Published by DC Comics
August 25, 2005
With the help of a dragon named Saphira, Eragon has saved his state from destruction by the evil King Galbatorix, ruler of the Empire. Now, Eragon must go to the elvish land of Ellesmara, to train in magic and swordship, where he embarks on a tumultuous journey of new people and grand adventures. But nothing’s the way it looks, and Eragon doesn’t know whom he can trust as his cousin fights a new battle that puts him in grave danger. The U.S. News & World Report calls Christopher Paolini’s Eldest “The new ‘It’ book of children’s lit” and is worth a read by any young adult fantasy buff.
Naive goody-two-shoes Charlotte Simmons arrives for her freshman year at the prestigious Dupont University expecting to interact with the cream of the crop of America’s youth, but the beautiful prodigy is in for a surprise. Tom Wolfe’s I Am Charlotte Simmons explores the dark side of college life through sports, frats, keggers, and co-eds, telling a story of how America’s universities do more to corrupt students rather than educate them. Wolfe’s strengths lie in his “dazzling prose theatrics” which brilliantly reproduce the words of a student athlete during a basketball game or even dialogue between two drunken students in the middle of sex. Charlotte enters Dupont as a brilliant, sheltered girl from North Carolina, but what will she leave as?
Publisher’s website (Picador)
August 24, 2005
Nobel Prize winner Steven D. Levitt takes a detour from his usual field of economics to make a hypothesis in his new book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything: that life’s mysteries aren’t as mysterious as they seem, and the answers can be found by asking the right questions and making connections. A controversial example is Levitt’s contention that the recent drop in violent crime is simply because there are less violent criminals - to put it bluntly, because many would-be criminals were aborted. Levitt argues that the Roe v. Wade decision pre-empted the existence of people who would be born into a world of hardship. Together with co-writer Stephen J. Dubner, Levitt explores this and other mysteries like structures of street gangs and patterns of baby names, all under the assumption that phenomenda can be understood if you look at it from the right perspective.
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In The History of Love: A Novel, Polish refugee Leo Gursky has become invisible to the world. He trudges though life in New York missing the woman he’s always loved, the son who doesn’t know he’s his father, and his novel “The History of Love,” which was stolen, plagiarized, and published in Chile by a different man. Meanwhile, teenaged Alma Singer, trying to comfort her widowed mother, is asked by a stranger to translate “The History of Love” from Spanish. As the plot expands with various twists and turns, more questions arise, and the characters weave paths to create a beautiful and complex story.
Published by W.W. North & Company