Monday, June 27, 2011

Evening with the Warwick's Booksellers, 2011 edition

On Tuesday, June 14th, we hosted our annual Evening with the Warwick's Booksellers - a blockbuster event featuring six of our booksellers talking about some of the recent books that they're passionate about. Here's the full run down of what was discussed - bookseller comments are in quotes & you can click on any of the titles to see the synopses on warwicks.com:

Julie Slavinsky, Director of Events & Community Relations:
The Bells by Richard Harvell - "A truly magnificent debut novel. Set in the 18th-century Swiss Alps, this hauntingly beautiful story of a young boy, brutally separated from his mother, raised and betrayed by the monks who swore to protect him, and his ultimate rise as a musico. As compelling as the story is, Harnell's descriptions have you feeling every sound. If you loved Suskind's Perfume, you won't want to miss this. A story that will stay with you long after the last note is sung."
Perfume by Patrick Suskind
An Atlas of Impossible Longing by Anuradha Roy
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh - on sale August 23, 2011.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern - on sale September 13, 2011

Jim Stewart, bookseller:
In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson - by the author of the bestselling Devil in the White City.
The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris by David McCullough - latest by the 2-time Pulitzer winner (Truman, John Adams)
New York by Edward Rutherfurd - "New York history is beautifully described, using generations of families to carry the reader from event to event. Rutherfurd details incredible experiences by a variety of characters and families. The book is entertaining and will please lovers of history and historical fiction."
The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht - also strongly recommended by Julie, John, and Seth. One of our favorite books this year, as a staff.
A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan - winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award. A finalist for the 2010 PEN/Faulkner Award. Named one of the Best Books of 2010 by the New York Times.

Seth Marko, Web Coordinator/Book Buyer:
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin - "The dialogue! Pitch-perfect, down-home, rural Mississippi, without being at all condescending or hokey. And I know this is one of those clich├ęd things we always say, but the characters (esp. Silas and Larry) are just so vividly rendered, they all seem just like people that you’re positive you’ve met somewhere in your life, but just can’t quite remember when or where. Larry has lived a hard life in his hometown, under the weight of the presumption that he kidnapped & murdered someone as a teenager. His one-time friend Silas has recently returned to town as a police constable, only to encounter another possible murder case at Larry’s doorstep. Ah, but all is not as it seems with these folks in little Chabot, Mississippi & the resulting story that unfolds is a fascinating character study wrapped up in one of the most compelling murder mysteries I’ve ever read. Just a fantastic novel."

Galore by Michael Crummey - "Galore is filled with weird little vignettes about the people of Paradise Deep, Newfoundland - all imbued with a magical spark and a folkloric vibrancy that sucks the reader into its undertow and deposits them for the duration amongst the bizarre folk populate the town. The family Devine and the family Sellers are the integral cogs in the machinations here, driving the story forward with their slights, feuds, disagreements, illicit love affairs, snubs, fistfights, and secret children. Inextricably linked together, they are Paradise Deep, in the end, whether they like it or not. The story arcs over the course of 100 years or so in this tiny town, tracing familial lineages as they intersect and merge to create a beautifully complicated family tree. Always hovering amongst the branches of that tree is the mysterious Judah, pale, mute, ageless, literally pulled from the belly of a whale, yet infinitely more complicated, magical, and brilliant than anyone gives him credit for. He's the star of the show, the white whale always alluded to but never caught, as his significance manages to slip through our fingers until the last glimpse of him vanishes behind a wave in the final act."

The Wake of Forgiveness by Bruce Machart - "Debut novelist Machart writes with a sparse, raw style reminiscent of early Cormac McCarthy, right down to the dusty, early-20th century Texas roads, the silent, brooding ranchers, and the tobacco smells of darkened saloons. As compelling as the saga of the emotionally-stunted, broken Skala family is, (and believe me, it is) the imagery is what really struck me: the gasoline-driven arson of a horse barn, the twisted necks of the Skala boys, the splashing mud of a high stakes horse race wager in the driving rain. Pretty great."

Citrus County by John Brandon - "A powerful, funny, bizarre little novel of adolescent longing, loss, and general, everyday misery that creaks along down the darkened halls of narrative with a resounding reality and clarity of prose unlike most current fiction I have seen. 30 pages in, 14-year-old punk, Toby commits a deplorable, unforgivable, indefensible act that becomes the central pillar of this weird little book. As hard as it is for us to understand what Toby has done, it’s even harder for him – the resulting story is funny, scary, dark, oddly heartwarming, & unlike anything else you see around you right now. Definite next-step reading for fans of other up-and-comers Wells Tower, Philipp Meyer (American Rust), & the like. Loved it."

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles - on sale July 26, 2011. "Set in the Gatsby-ish world of 1938 New York, this follows a pivotal year in the life of Katey Kontent as she buzzes through the upper echelons of NY society. Far more interesting than just that, Towles has a remarkable gift for character, dialogue, and sense of place. A truly transportative debut." Also recommended by Julie.

Rhonda Jenson, bookseller:
Yellow Leaves by Frederick Buechner
My Korean Deli by Ben Ryder Howe
Heart of the City by Ariel Sabar - "Inspired by his research during the writing of his book (My Father’s Paradise) about his parents’ love story with each other and New York City, Sabar decided to write about other couples. All of these couples had one thing in common; they had all met and fallen in love in New York City. Each chapter is dedicated to one couple, and each couple is different in background and time period. The reader also learns about the sociology and history of New York City as well. It is a love story primarily of that magical city."

John Hughes, Book Buyer/bookseller:
Doc by Mary Doria Russell - "Russell’s second foray into historical fiction delivers a more moving, more humorous, and more authentic tale of Dr. John Henry “Doc” Holliday than has ever been seen on the screen or the printed page. Set in Dodge City, before the legendary shootout at the OK Corral, Doc captivates with its fascinating characters — especially Doc’s brilliant and high-strong Hungarian companion, Kate, and his taciturn best friend, Wyatt Earp — and its perfectly rendered depiction of the Old West. The best book I’ve read set in the Old West since Lonesome Dove."

Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff - "Zuckoff tells the story of a WWII plane crash in a valley in the isolated mountains of New Guinea. Of the 24 G.I.s and WACs (Women’s Army Corp) aboard the plane, only three survive — a beautiful WAC and two G.I.s. Surrounded by warrior tribes that had never seen such people and trapped in an inaccessible valley, this fascinating book tells of cultural interactions and misunderstandings as well as the remarkable story of these soldiers’ rescue."

Moby Duck: The True Story of 28,800 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn - "The title says it all. Hahn’s story is at once an adventure tale, science narrative, and cautionary environmental tale. It is also, at times, laugh-out-loud funny."

The Tragedy of Arthur by Arthur Phillips - "It is our great and good fortune that Arthur Phillips’ father, on his deathbed, gave to his son an undiscovered play of William Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Arthur. Maybe not such good fortune: the play is preceded by a lengthy introduction in which Arthur Phillips tells his own twisty personal story in an effort to get us to accept that this play is not a play of Shakespeare’s. Phillip’s brilliant novel is ironic, inventive, and thought-provoking."

Heather Christman, Marketing & Co-op Coordinator:
Bent Road by Lori Roy - "This new novel brilliantly captures the small town aura of 1960's Kansas. Flitting between the 3rd person narratives of four characters - Celia, her two youngest children Daniel and Eve-ee, and her sister-in-law Ruth, the novel manages to be both literary in its encapsulation of small town life and prejudice and intriguing in its presentation of two mystery subplots, the unexplained death of Eve (Celia's sister-in-law) decades before, and the sudden disappearance of a young girl. It is easy to become sucked in to the world of these characters, to feel sorrow with them, dear for them, and to be angered by their actions. The ability of Roy to elicit this response from a reader as a first time novelist says a lot about her writing prowess. I would highly recommend this new novel to lovers of solid character-driven fiction."

The Last Letter From Your Lover by Jojo Moyes - "This story of ill-fated lovers, which switches back and forth throughout several years, and then again decades, is bittersweet and captivating in its telling. Using multiple narratives over a forty-year span, Moyes engages readers with the fragility of her characters, and then takes our breath away with their ultimate emotional courage. This is one of those weekend reads that tugs at the heartstrings and reminds us of why An Affair to Remember is still such a popular film."

These Things Hidden by Heather Gudenkauf - "Some stories build upon themselves slowly pulling the reader in, others suck you in from page one and don't let go until the final words. This is how These Things Hidden hit me. Told in alternating first person narratives, These Things Hidden delves into the story of Allison Glenn and how her actions 5 years ago set forth into motion a series of events that would alter the lives forever of three other women. Told through the voices of Allison; 22, former golden girl, and recently released from prison; Brynn, her troubled younger sister; Charm, a young woman struggling with the eminent death of her stepfather; and Claire, the adoptive mother of a young boy. Gudenkauf slowly reveals the events which led to Allison's imprisonment as a 16-year old girl. Brilliant in its measured unfurling of events and secrets, this is a scintillating tale of suspense and tragedy sure to intrigue and enthrall its readers."

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson - "The subject if memory, or the lack thereof, is the premise of this debut psychological suspense. Christine wakes up every morning shocked by her surroundings. Sometimes she is a small child, at others a 20-something university student, but never is she the middle-aged woman that appears in the mirror. Christine suffers from a form of amnesia - every every time she falls asleep, she loses her memories and must rely on the man claiming to be her husband to fill in the missing pieces of her life. Watson weaves an interesting tale - he deftly handles the horror of Christine's situation, sucking the reader into her fears, and the panic and utter terror of life without a past. An impressive debut, one sure to hook readers quickly and successfully."

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