|I grew up in Petoskey and started working at the store when it first opened. Some things are the same -- we still have coffee, donuts, and the best staff recommendations in town. Some things are different -- we have a second floor. . .and I can't put my hair in a ponytail anymore.
I love nonfiction, science fiction, graphic novels, novels, and pretty much everything else except the Gossip Girl series.
Sisters Marnie and Nell have a little secret they would like to keep buried; two actually. Marnie is the oldest and has been more of a parent to Nell than anyone else, Nell is a 12 year old violin prodigy with an outdated vocabulary due to watching too many old films. When their parents drug habit orphans them, Marnie makes up her mind that since she is nearly sixteen and will then be legally an adult, she and Nell will tell no one about what has happened. But getting them buried in the back yard proves to be only the beginning of their troubles. Lennie, their neighbor, soon realizes that the children's parents seem to have abounded them and steps in to help, but Lennie has troubles of his own. Filled with marvelously flawed characters that keep giving you hope even in the darkest moments "The Death of Bees" will grab you from the first page.
Recently retired, Harold Fry lives a life of simple routines. Very little makes one day stand out from the next, until the day the letter arrives. An old colleague, Queanie, has written to tell him that she is dying of cancer. Moved by her situation, he immediately dashes off
a perfectly inadequate response to her and heads out to the mail box. But once he reaches it, he decides it would be better to post it from the mail box a little farther down the road and proceeds to march on and thus begins Harold's six hundred mile pilgrimage from Kingsbridge to the hospice in Berwick-upon-Tweed to visit his friend Queanie on her death bed. Has he told his wife? No. Has he prepared for the journey in any way? No. All he knows is that if he keeps walking, Queanie will live, and to his surprise, he believes it with all his heart. Harold's journey is one of self discovery that reminds us that the best moments in life can happen when we are out of our comfort zone.
Have you ever lost your car keys? How about the whole car? You aren't alone! Author Joshua Foer has been there, and he's competed in the U.S. Memory Championship! In his new book, Moonwalking with Einstein, Foer explains that those who possess seemingly photographic memories are likely no different from you and me. In fact, people with great memories rarely have above average IQs. What they do possess, is knowledge of long used memorization techniques. In an age where books were incredibly rare, the only practical means of possessing them was to memorize them, which is why many ancient text are actually elaborate poems (Beowulf, The Odyssey, The Iliad). As Foer explores this underground world of memory champions and their techniques, we learn that these are techniques that can be employed by just about anyone to memorize simple things like a to-do list or even longer more complicated items like credit card numbers. Moonwalking with Einstein is not just a great piece of investigative journalism but a guide we can all use to vastly improve our memories... if we just put our mind to it.
Peter Heller has crafted a post-apocolyptic novel that is both beautiful and bleak. Hig is a pilot who has managed to survive what most of humanity could not and now spends his days flying his Cessna with his co-pilot Jasper, his dog. He flies patrols looking for supplies, scouting for potential enemies, and helping those that he can. Hig's base of operations is an abandoned airfield in rural Colorado. There, he and his only human companion, a trigger happy man named Bagley, manage to create some semblance of a normal life. But it's only a matter of time before Hig begins to wonder what or who might still be out there. Eventually, while flying patrol one afternoon, Hig hears a faint call over his radio. The transmission is brief, but it's enough to set Hig on a course to his destiny and perhaps to his death. Heller's new novel is one of my favorites all year and I highly recommend it.
If the world was going to end in 6 months what would you do? Would you travel the world, track down old friends, go on a bender? That's the question facing Detective Frank Palace and he's decided to go to work. The Last Policeman, is a fantastic detective mystery set at the end of the world; it's not "if" but "when,"as an asteroid powers its way toward earth. Drug use and suicides have sky rocketed, crops rot in the fields, and still Detective Palace is working the beat, laboring to prove that a presumed suicide is something more sinister. As the days pass, society is unraveling at an ever faster pace. Detective Palace faces an inevitable question: "Why spend your final days chasing a killer if the whole world is about to end?" The answer is locked deep in his past. I absolutely loved this first book of a planned trilogy. Think Cormac McCarthy meets Michel Connelly and you are on the right track.
The known universe is on the verge of annihilation and the Hegemony of Man believe their salvation lies somewhere on Hyperion with the evil and mysterious creature(s) called the Shrike. The planet Hyperion itself is a mystery where time is a river flowing forwards and backwards. On the eve of Armageddon seven pilgrims have been sent to the planet in hopes of averting disaster. Strangers to each other, they decide to share with one another what it is that ties each of them to the planet. The story unfolds, in much in the same vein as The Canterbury Tales, when the threads that bind the characters together become clear as their destinies reach a dramatic climax. This novel won Dan Simmons the Hugo Award in 1990 and for good reason. One tip, buy the sequel before you get to the end.
Do not dismiss this as some laser blasting, time traveling with little green men of a book (I read and like those as well by the way) Set in a hot and steamy modern Thailand, Bacigalupi has envisioned a world where drought and pest have withered all but the most artificial of crops and corporations fiercely protect their property rights of newly engineered seed. With many character at different levels in the food chain “The Windup Girl” lets you see life in this world from all angels. In a world where the only true currency is food it seems that it is our humanity is the first victim of starvation.
The River of Doubt is the most fun I've had with a non-fiction book since Shadow Divers. After a failed attempt at a 3rd term in office (he joined a third party to run again) Teddy Roosevelt decided to explore an unknown tributary of the Amazon looking for adventure and to reinvigorate himself. What followed was a treacherous journey through some of the least hospitable terrain in the world. Millard has managed to write an account that captures both the peril and excitement of the expedition while still remaining historically accurate. This would be an exciting story if the explorer in question was not an ex-president but is made all the more interesting by this fact and leaves you with the realization that there just aren't people like this guy running for public office anymore.
Anne Garrels takes you on a fascinating journey into the world of today's war correspondent. In the fall of '02 and spring of '03 she was documenting what the build up to war was doing to the Iraqi people. Go behind the scences to see what today's reporters go through to bring us the stories from the front line. You'll read about the bribing every reporter does simply to get in and out of the country, how every new conflict reunited old colleagues as well as rivalries, and the different tricks of the trade reporters use to get the stories in on time (like reporting naked to prevent government thugs from interrupting her broadcast.
James Lee Burke is one of my favorite mystery writers and his latest may well be his greatest. The Tin Roof Blowdown begins in those chilling moments before Katrina tore a hole through the heart of The Big Easy. When the town's least desirable take advantage of the ensuing chaos, Detective Dave Robicheax is left to pick up the pieces. Burke never holds back when writing about the racism and ugliness that was brought to the surface by that terrible storm and in the end, that it is what makes this mystery so powerful. Highly recommended!
In my opinion, this is best post 9/11 novel you can read. As bursting with brilliance as it is dripping with satire. I love this book.
World War Z is brain munching fun brought to you by the expert in all things zombie, Max Brooks. This is a very straight faced account of a zombie pandemic and the subsequent world wide war to exterminate the zombies. Told as a series of dispatches from the survivors we learn of the origins of the pandemic and watch as a series of tales begin to form a larger picture. It is often the case that horror stories, and zombie tales in particular, are used to poke fun at society and Brooks certainly does in World War Z, it doesn’t take much to guess which U.S. administration Brooks used as a model for the one in his book. This is a terrifically fun read on so many levels that it could only be brought to us by the son of Mel himself.
If you read one zombie novel this year(and shouldn't we all?) make it "Hater". Have you ever seen the movie "28 Days Later?" This is what I image those 28 days were like. Danny is no stranger to violent outbursts, he is a parking fine processor after all, but things are really getting out of hand. Day by day, seemingly reasonable people are cracking and going on homicidal rampages. Is it a sign of the times, the result of our violent culture, or is something more complicated at work here? The perfect pick for this ghoulish time of year. I'm already nagging the publisher for the sequel... it's coming in the spring!
In the early 1990s a group of deep sea divers heard of a good fishing spot and decided to dive on it. What they reeled in was bigger than any of them had imagined. They discovered a German U-boat our government had no record of sinking and the German government had no record of losing. So how did it wind up on the Jersey coast? Three men died trying to answer that question. Kurson has written a non-fiction book with the excitement and intrigue of any novel. If you enjoyed Into Thin Air or The Perfect Storm then you'll love Shadow Divers.
Everyone lies. Realtors lie to sell property faster. Holding out to sell your home for an extra $10,000 only means $150 for the realtor, so waiting for a better price isn’t always the priority they tell you it is. Our law enforcement lie to create or hide “crises” when it serves them to do so. In the run up to the Atlanta Olympics, law enforcement grossly under reported violent crime to increase their chances of winning the Olympic bid. They continue to do so; the Atlanta police department “lost” more than 22,000 reports in 2002 alone! But guess what? There is one thing that doesn’t lie: it’s the numbers Steven D. Levitt, an economist with the University of Chicago, uses the numbers to give greater definition to what many of us see as a very grey world. He is not the kind of economist who is interested in the trade deficit or inflation rates. No, he wants to know if drug dealers make so much why do many still live at home or if naming your child “Loser” will ruin his/her life. Levitt asks these questions and many more in his new book, Freakonomics and lets the numbers do the answering. This is the kind of book that will drive your friends and family crazy because you won’t be able to shut up about it.
Despite where your politics lay, it is increasingly difficult to defend the current military action in Iraq and Thomas Ricks does an excellent job explaining why in Fiasco. Ricks is a seasoned military reporter for The Washington Post and his assessment of the current conflict should not be dismissed as unpatriotic or even unproductive. To date, this is one of the finest critiques of the war and answers many questions like "How did we not plan for an insurgency?" "How did Abu Ghraib happen?" and "Who were the major planners of the war and how culpable are they for its failings?" The answers may not be enjoyable, but they are thorough and backed up by numerous military sources, many of which are on the record. The disaster of this war will be something that Americans will need to cope with for generations and it is not an option to ignore the damage that has been done. It is our obligation to understand what has happened so that we may prevent it from occurring agian and Fiasco is an excellent step towards that understanding.
When I was growing up faith was something that was a sacred and private matter. Your faith was something you no more discussed with strangers than your love life. Times have changed; people wear their faith on their sleeve, and on their ties, and on their car’s bumper. Every politician must explain their own personal relationship with the all-mighty. God Is Not Great is one of the latest books which discusses the relevance of faith in the modern world. With humor and wit Christopher Hitchens walks through many of the arguments against faith. Out of the most recent publications about atheism this is my favorite. If you, like me have come to question the morality of a church that spends more time protecting pedophile priests than it does the poor; a faith that turns killers into martyrs; a religion that declares divine ownership of land, then it may be time for you to give this good book a read.
For those of you familiar with Douglas Adam's series on "life, the universe, and everything," you'll understand how exciting it is to see the whole collection bound together! For those of you who have never read Adams before, you are in for a treat. This is a cult classic filled with the type of humor unique to Douglas Adams. He is able to poke fun at human behavior like no other author I've read.
Calling A Death in Vienna a satisfying read does not do it justice. Silva's novels are solidly written backed by thorough research. His newest novel completes the trilogy started with The English Assassin. Central character Gabriel Allon's pursuit of a Nazi War criminal takes him around the world while those wishing to silence him are never far behind. The pace and action are only matched by the wonderful characters Silva has created here, the hit man chasing Gabriel down (the watchmaker) being one of my favorite. I must warn you though, if you are like me and haven't read the two earlier novels in the series, you won't be at all lost with this book, but you will be heading straight back to the shelf to read both The English Assassin and The Confessor for another dose of excitement.
Over the years I've heard many different CIA spook stories; "The CIA created aids", "the CIA brought Crack to the ghetto", "the CIA used LSD on prison inmates". Well as it turns out at least one of these claims is fact (I won't say which). The CIA has a jaw dropping history, at one point they actually studied the flight patterns of bats to see if they could be used to bomb Tokyo. Mr. Weiner has gathered it all together after a great deal of research and it makes for fantastic reading.
If Cartman from “South Park” wrote a social manifesto I image that it would be very similar to Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs and I mean this in the best possible way. So many of Klosterman’s observations ring true that, between laughs, I find myself nodding yes again and again. It is a special mind that can see parallels between the Trix Rabbit and Sisyphus or how the show “Saved by the Bell” says so much about my generation. At times the most irreverent insights can also be the most can be the most profound and this is what makes the book so much fun.
Now this is not humor for everyone. A good litmus test is to try out the title "The Spirit of Christmas" or the transcript for the unused commentary for The Lord of the Rings. If these ideas don't grab you, this might not be your cup of tea. But, if you are like me, this unique collection of eccentric humor will be a treasure you'll feel lucky to have found.
I’ll be honest; it was the cover that first caught my attention. It’s simple and gorgeous but upon closer inspection I found a quote on the back praising the author’s earlier work “Chaos”. The quote was from one of my hero’s, Douglas Adams. I knew if Douglas Adams liked this man’s writing I had to know more. In “The Information” James Gleick describes the evolution of information and information technology. Gleick explores primitive societies that communicate complex messages over long distance using only drums. He investigates the origins of the dictionary and its first champions. He explores the arrival of computing machines and their pioneer Alan Turing who, as a school boy, visualized all of the parts and components of the machines that would be foundation of what we know as the modern computer. Gleick’s journey takes us all the way to modern day where without computer assistance we would be drowning in an informational flood, or is it the computers that are the source of this flood? At first glance the topics and length of this book feels daunting but the reader is quickly swept away by entertaining prose and fantastic characters leaving you with a new appreciation for tools you use every day, from alphabetizing to search engines.
I expect that nearly all of us are familiar with the tale Little Bighorn, it’s the stuff of childhood tails of cowboys and Indians. Many of us know the familiar names; George Armstrong Custer & Sitting Bull. However in “The Last Stand” we’re introduced to the men behind the names. We learn of the fiercely independent Sitting Bull who made a name for himself at the age of 14 when he led fellow Lakota warriors into battle against the Crow. We learn of a General Custer who was equally obsessed with taming the west as he was with his own self-promotion. Custer seemed just as concerned about a speaking tour, planned for the weeks after the battle of Little Bighorn, as he was with the Battle itself. More than anything else we learn, as Philbrick said himself, “that nothing ended at the Little Bighorn”. This is Philbrick at his best!
Time Travel, parallel worlds, zombies, this book really does have it all! Tommy Learner is a new member of The Explorers a group that seeks out and explores time portals. When the legendary villain, The Dead Gentleman, threatens to take over our world Tommy and his friend Jezebel Lemmon are our last hope. Fast paced and lots of fun.
As a 10 year old boy, it was hard to get me to focus on anything for long... let alone a book. There were forests to explore and lakes that must be jumped into, but one series that got my undivided attention was the Tripod Trilogy from John Christopher. The first book in the series, White Mountains, begins in a small English village. The rich descriptions give you the feeling that the book is set in the late 1700's, but gradually, little clues indicate that this is not a tale from our past but from a time yet to come. We learn that all of the children in this society have a cap placed on their heads at a certain age by mysterious towering tripods during a ceremony that is considered a passage into adulthood. We also learn that sometimes these "caps" fail and it turn the child into a "vagrant." When a few young boys decide they'd rather live as they are and not be "capped" they are forced to flee their tranquil town and begin a journey that will only end when the mystery of the Tripods is fully revealed. This is a wonderful and adventurous trilogy of books that is perfect for boys 7-11.
Noah's brother was an elite Special Forces expert...until he lost his mind and was locked away. You see, Noah's brother was driven mad by fighting a Nano war. A war that is now coming for Noah. This is a war that is being fought by microscopic soldiers on battlefield inside human bodies. "Twitchers" are video game obsessed kids who are fighting on the front lines of this war, operating the nanobots that can invade our minds, control our thoughts, and much, much worse. Armstrong Fancy Gifts Corporation is run by Siamese twin brothers who are trying to take control of the world by infecting one leader after another with their nanotech bots. Noah and his fellow BZRKers are determined to stop them but they'll have to beat the "Bugman" first. A great story filled with vivid scenes makes this YA novel stand out above the rest. Believe me, after reading this you'll never look at the human eye in quite the same way.