Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Release Tuesday 6/30

There are some great new summer reads out today... take a look!

The Apostle, by Brad Thor

Every politician has a secret. And when the daughter of a politically-connected family is kidnapped abroad, America's new president will agree to anything--even a deadly and ill-advised rescue plan--in order to keep his secret hidden.

Master of suspense and #1 New York Times bestselling author Brad Thor returns with his most riveting international thriller yet.

Conquest of the Useless: Reflections on the Making of Fitzcarraldo, by Werner Herzog

One of the most revered filmmakers of our time, Werner Herzog wrote this diary during the making of Fitzcarraldo, the lavish 1982 film that tells the story of a would-be rubber baron who pulls a steamship over a hill in order to access a rich rubber territory. Later, Herzog spoke of his difficulties when making the film, including casting problems, reshoots, language barriers, epic clashes with the star, and the logistics of moving a 320-ton steamship over a hill without the use of special effects.

Hailed by critics around the globe, the film went on to win Herzog the 1982 Outstanding Director Prize at Cannes. Conquest of the Useless, Werner Herzog's diary on his fever dream in the Amazon jungle, is an extraordinary glimpse into the mind of a genius during the making of one of his greatest achievements.

Return to Sullivan's Island, by Dorothea Benton Frank

Newly graduated from college and an aspiring writer, Beth Hayes craves independence and has a world to conquer. But her notions of travel, graduate study, and writing the great American novel will have to be postponed when she is elected by her elders to house-sit the Island Gamble. Surrounded by the shimmering blue waters of the Atlantic, the white clapboards, silver tin roof, and confessional porch have seen and heard the stories of generations of Hamiltons. But will the ghosts of the Island Gamble be watching over Beth?

Buoyed by sentimental memories of growing up on this tiny sandbar that seems to be untouched by time, Beth vows to give herself over to the Lowcountry force and discover the wisdom it holds. She will rest, rejuvenate, and then reenter the outside world. Just as she vows she will never give into the delusional world of white picket fences, minivans, and eternal love, she meets Max Mitchell. And all her convictions and plans begin to unravel with lightning speed...

A Plague of Secrets, by John Lescroart

The first victim is Dylan Vogler, a charming ex-convict who manages the Bay Beans West coffee shop in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district. When his body is found, inspectors discover that his knapsack is filled with high-grade marijuana. It soon becomes clear that San Francisco’s A-list flocked to Bay Beans West not only for their caffeine fix.

But how much did Maya Townshend—the beautiful socialite niece of the city’s mayor, and the absentee owner of the shop—know about what was going on inside her business? And how intimate had she really been with Dylan, her old college friend?

As another of Maya’s acquaintances falls victim to murder, and as the names of the dead men’s celebrity, political, and even law- enforcement customers come to light, tabloid-fueled controversy takes the investigation into the realms of conspiracy and cover-up. Prosecutors close in on Maya, who has a deep secret of her own—a secret she needs to protect at all costs during her very public trial, where not only her future but the entire political landscape of San Francisco hangs in the balance, hostage to an explosive secret that Dismas Hardy is privilege-bound to protect.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Take 5: Charlie's Favorite Graphic Novels

Charlie is our resident graphic novel enthusiast, and since he's an incredibly talented artist himself, he knows what he's talking about. Check out his top 5:

1. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth, by Chris Ware

"Jimmy Corrigan really pushed the form and the medium to new levels. The graphic storytelling is incredible and the psychological depth is as great as any novel."

2. Palestine, by Joe Sacco

"This one is comic journalism about the first intifada. In it, Sacco shares his own experience at the time, living with Palestinians in the area and chronicling their stories. The artwork is incredibly fantastic--and it's all true."

3. Carnet de Voyage, by Craig Thompson

"Carnet de Voyage is a travelogue covering Thompson's book tour in France and Morocco for his graphic novel Blankets. I love it for his brush ink drawings and the story for how smitten he is with every girl he meets."

4. God's Man, by Lynd Ward

"One of the earliest examples of a graphic novel, God's Man is done entirely with wood cuts and without any words. The entire story is told with graphics alone, sort of in the style of German Expressionist woodcuts."

5. Maus I & II, by Art Spiegelman

"Also one of the pinnacles of the entire form, this is the biography of Spiegelman's father, who was a Holocaust survivor."

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New Release Tuesday 6/23

Happy New Release Tuesday! It's a big one this week, with the hardcover release of the next Stephanie Plum and the paperback edition of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo!


Finger-Lickin' Fifteen, by Janet Evanovich

Stephanie Plum is working overtime tracking felons for the bonds office at night and snooping for security expert Carlos Manoso, a.k.a. Ranger, during the day. Can Stephanie hunt down two killers, a traitor, and five skips, keep her grandmother out of the sauce, and solve Ranger's problems and not jump his bones?

Find out in the latest installment of Evanovich's well loved Stephanie Plum series!

Sworn to Silence, by Linda Castillo

In the sleepy rural town of Painters Mill, Ohio, the Amish and English residents have lived side by side for two centuries. But sixteen years ago, a series of brutal murders shattered the peaceful farming community. In the aftermath of the violence, the town was left with a sense of fragility, a loss of innocence. Kate Burkholder, a young Amish girl, survived the terror of the Slaughterhouse Killer but came away from its brutality with the realization that she no longer belonged with the Amish. Now, a wealth of experience later, Kate has been asked to return to Painters Mill as Chief of Police. Her Amish roots and big city law enforcement background make her the perfect candidate. She's certain she's come to terms with her past--until the first body is discovered in a snowy field. Kate vows to stop the killer before he strikes again. But to do so, she must betray both her family and her Amish past--and expose a dark secret that could destroy her.

The Doomsday Key, by James Rollins

At Princeton University, a famed geneticist dies inside a biohazard lab. In Rome, a Vatican archaeologist is found dead in St. Peter's Basilica. In Africa, a U.S. senator's son is slain outside a Red Cross camp. The three murders on three continents bear a horrifying connection: all the victims are marked by a Druidic pagan cross burned into their flesh.

The bizarre murders thrust Commander Gray Pierce and Sigma Force into a race against time to solve a riddle going back centuries, to a ghastly crime against humanity hidden within a cryptic medieval codex. The first clue is discovered inside a mummified corpse buried in an English peat bog--a gruesome secret that threatens America and the world.

Extra Credit, by Andrew Clements

It isn't that Abby Carson can't do her schoolwork, it's just that she doesn't like doing it. And that means she's failing sixth grade. Unless she wants to repeat the sixth grade, she'll have to meet some specific conditions, including taking on an extra-credit project: find a pen pal in a foreign country.

Abby's first letter arrives at a small school in Afghanistan, and Sadeed Bayat is chosen to be her pen pal.... well, kind of. He is the best writer, but he is also a boy, and in his village it is not appropriate for a boy to correspond with a girl. So his younger sister dictates and signs the letter. Until Sadeed decides what his sister is telling Abby isn't what he'd like Abby to know.

As letters flow back and forth between Illinois and Afghanistan, Abby and Sadeed discover that their letters are crossing more than an ocean. They are crossing a huge cultural divide and a minefield of different lifestyles and traditions. Their growing friendship is also becoming a growing problem for both communities, and some people are not happy. Suddenly things are not so simple...


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, by Steig Larsson

Harriet Vanger, a scion of one of Sweden's wealthiest families disappeared over forty years ago. All these years later, her aged uncle continues to seek the truth. He hires Mikael Blomkvist, a crusading journalist recently trapped by a libel conviction, to investigate. He is aided by the pieced and tattooed punk prodigy Lisbeth Salander. Together they tap into a vein of unfathomable iniquity and astonishing corruption.

Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, by Gabrielle Zevin

"After high-school junior Naomi conks her head, she can't remember anything that happened since sixth grade. She is by turns mystified and startled by evidence of her present life, from the birth-control pills in her bedside table to her parents' astonishing, rancorous split. Eventually, the memories return, leaving Naomi questioning the basis of a new, intense romance, and wondering which of her two lives, present or former, represents her most authentic self. The amnesia device could have been more convincingly played, but Zevin writes revealingly about emotions and relationships. Especially vivid is the Hepburn-Tracy bond Naomi shares with yearbook co-chief Will, whom she wounds with her lurching self-reinvention even as she discovers deeper feelings: 'I had thought the way I felt about Will was just a room, but it had turned out to be a mansion.' Pulled by the heart-bruising love story, readers will pause to contemplate irresistible questions: If the past were a blank slate, what would you become? Does the search for one's truest identity necessarily mean rejecting all that has gone before?" ~ Jennifer Mattson, Booklist

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Several days ago on Twitter, publisher Scholastic asked fellow tweeters to share their favorite literary dads. Then, a few Scholastic bloggers posted the top 10 and invited readers to vote for their favorites!

They've come up with a pretty great list; a nice mix of classic and contemporary, they've highlighted the best dads in each of several categories. In the spirit of celebrating fathers everywhere, check it out and vote for your favorite! Happy Father's Day!!

Scholastic's Top 10 Dads in Literature

(Any guesses on who we voted for??)

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

July Book Club Pick!

We had some really great discussion at last night's book club; thanks to everyone who came out! We also chose our book for the month of July: Wallace Stegner's Crossing to Safety.

Called a “magnificently crafted story... brimming with wisdom” by Howard Frank Mosher in The Washington Post Book World, Crossing to Safety has, since its publication in 1987, established itself as one of the greatest and most cherished American novels of the twentieth century. Tracing the lives, loves, and aspirations of two couples who move between Vermont and Wisconsin, it is a work of quiet majesty, deep compassion, and powerful insight into the alchemy of friendship and marriage.

"Two couples meet during the Depression years in Madison, Wis., and become devoted friends despite vast differences in upbringing and social status. Hard work, hope and the will to succeed as a writer motivate the penurious narrator Larry Morgan and his wife Sally as he begins a term teaching at the university. Equally excited by their opportunities are Sid Lang, another junior man in the English department, and his wife Charity. They are fortune's children, favored with intelligence, breeding and money. Taken into the Langs' nourishing and generous embrace, the Morgans have many reasons for gratitude over the years, especially when Sally is afflicted with polio and the Langs provide financial as well as moral support. Yet the Morgans observe the stresses in their friends' marriage as headstrong, insufferably well-organized Charity tries to bully the passive Sid into a more aggressive mold. Charity is one of the most vivid characters in fiction; if she is arrogant, she is also kindhearted, enthusiastic, stalwart and brave, an ardent liver of life. Her incandescent personality is both the dominant force and the source of strain in the enduring friendship Stegner conveys with brilliant artistry." ~Publishers Weekly

We'll be meeting on Tuesday, July 21st at 7 p.m. to discuss the book, and as always, there will be great conversation and light refreshments. Can't wait to see you there!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

New Release Tuesday 6/16

It's Tuesday again, and you know what that means... new releases! This week's a big one, with new titles from Sarah Dessen and Carlos Ruiz Zafon, two favorites at Farley's. Check them out below, along with a few others!


Along for the Ride, Sarah Dessen

It's been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents' divorce--or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she's been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

Angel's Game, Carlos Ruiz Zafon

In an abandoned mansion at the heart of Barcelona, a young man, David Martin, makes his living by writing sensationalist novels under a pseudonym. The survivor of a troubled childhood, he has taken refuge in the world of books and spends his nights spinning baroque tales about the city's underworld. But perhaps his dark imaginings are not as strange as they seem, for in a locked room deep within the house lie photographs and letters hinting at the mysterious death of the previous owner.

Like a slow poison, the history of the place seeps into his bones as he struggles with an impossible love. Close to despair, David receives a letter from a reclusive French editor, Andreas Corelli, who makes him the offer of a lifetime. He is to write a book unlike anything that has ever existed--a book with the power to change hearts and minds. In return, he will receive a fortune, and perhaps more. But as David begins the work, he realizes that there is a connection between his haunting book and the shadows that surround his home.

Knockout, Catherine Coulter

Seven-year-old Autumn Backman has a gift: She can communicate telepathically with others. Not everyone, mind you, but with a select few with whom she shares a special kinship. When Autumn and her mother, Joanna, take her fatheras ashes to be buried in the family plot in Brickers Bowl, Georgia, the child witnesses a horrifying sight: her grandmother and two uncles, burying a pile of dead bodies in the middle of the night. They head to Titusville, Virginia, to seek the help of an old family friend, but A

utumn senses they need assistance on a grand scale. Using her telepathic powers, Autumn calls a man shead seen only on television: FBI agent Dillon Savich. But before Savich and his wife and partner, Agent Lacey Sherlock, can get on the scene, Autumn and Joanna flee, fearing the retribution of her uncle Blessed. A huge manhunt ensues, with Titusville Sheriff Ethan Merriweather racing to reach the girl before Blessed can get his hands on her. Blessedas got big things planned for Autumn and her gift, and heall stop at nothing to force her into his growing army of exploited children. Savich, Sherlock, and Merriweather face their most elusive foes to keep Autumn out of harmas wayabefore itas too late.

Dune Road, Jane Green

The novel is set in the beach community of a

tony Connecticut town. Our heroine is a single mom who works for a famous--and famously reclusive--novelist. When she stumbles on a secret that the great man has kept hidden for years, she knows that there are plenty of women in town who would love to get their hands on it--including some who fancy the writer for themselves. Dune Road is the story of life in an exclusive beach town after the tourists have left for the summer and the eccentric (and moneyed) community sticks around.


Whiskey Rebels, David Liss

America, 1787. Ethan Saunders, once among General Washington's most valued spies, is living in disgrace after an accusation of treason cost him his reputation. But an opportunity for redemption comes calling when Saunders's old enemy, Alexander Hamilton, draws him into a struggle with bitter rival Thomas Jefferson over the creation of the Bank of the United States.

Meanwhile, on the western Pennsylvania frontier, Joan Maycott and her husband, a Revolutionary War veteran, hope for a better life and a chance for prosperity. But the Maycotts' success on an isolated frontier attracts the brutal attention of men who threaten to destroy them. As their causes intertwine, Joan and Saunders-both patriots in their own way-find themselves on opposing sides of a plot that could tear apart a fragile new nation.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Book Fair Favorites

Over the past two weeks, Farley's has been hosting our first in-store book fair with a handful of local schools in our area. What a blast! It's been awesome to see so many kids come through and get excited about books!!

In the spirit of their excitement, we thought we'd share some book fair favorites this week... the books that have been the most popular with the students visiting us. If you're looking for a great summer read, check out the following titles--all of which have been given the seal of approval from our local middle school crowd!

Stephenie Meyer's Twilight Saga has been hugely popular, but our biggest Twilight book fair bestseller has definitely been the Illustrated Movie Guide.

It features an inside look at the making of the movie, with tons of photos, interviews, behind-the-scenes features, and more! It's a must-have for anyone who's a fan of the books/movie, and might just be what you need to hold you over until New Moon comes out in theaters in November!

Another series that flew off the shelves during our book fair is Jeanne DuPrau's Books of Ember. The series, which begins with The City of Ember, takes readers to Ember, which was built as a last refuge for the human race. Two hundred years after its creation, the great lamps that light the city are beginning to flicker. When Lina finds part of an ancient message, she's sure it holds a secret that will save the city. She and her friend Doon must decipher the message before the lights go out on Ember forever...

The sixth-graders who visited us had just finished reading Lois Lowry's Newbery-winner The Giver, so everyone wanted Gathering Blue and The Messenger. If you haven't read The Giver, you're missing out, and if you have, you should definitely check out Lowry's two companion novels. You won't be disappointed!

Eighth grade had just read Ben Mikaelsen's Touching Spirit Bear, so we got lots of requests for the sequel, Ghost of Spirit Bear.

Cole Matthews used to be a violent kid, but a year in exile on a remote Alaskan island has a way of changing your perspective. After being mauled by a Spirit Bear, Cole started to heal. He even invited his victim, Peter Driscal, to join him on the island and they became friends.

But now their time in exile is over, and Cole and Peter are heading back to the one place they're not sure they can handle: high school. Gangs and violence haunt the hallways, and Peter's limp and speech impediment make him a natural target. In a school where hate and tension are getting close to the boiling point, the monster of rage hibernating inside Cole begins to stir.

We were so excited when the last installment of Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson series came out in May. Farley's staffer Lauren read it in just one sitting! Our book fair visitors were just as eager to pick up their own copies, of The Last Olympian and we're sure they won't be disappointed. In this last book in the series, Percy and the gang finally face the Titans in a battle for Western civilization. This one is definitely not to be missed!!

Chanda's Secrets, by Allan Stratton is on this year's summer reading list, so that one was in high demand too!

In this sensitive, swiftly-paced story readers will find echoes of To Kill a Mockingbird as Chanda must confront undercurrents of shame and stigma. Not afraid to explore the horrific realities of AIDS, Chanda's Secrets also captures the enduring strength of loyalty, friendship and family ties. Above all, it is a story about the corrosive nature of secrets and the healing power of truth.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Take 5: Ellie's All-Time Favorite Authors

Farley's is excited to welcome our newest staff member: Ellie! Ellie is a self-proclaimed lover of fiction, drama, and memoirs, and we've asked her to share her top 5 all time favorite writers--a HUGE challenge, we know!

So, without any further ado...

1. Toni Morrison

2. Ivan Turgenev

3. David Sedaris

4. William Shakespeare

5. August Wilson

Thanks Ellie!

Who would make your all time top 5?? Share your favorite authors with us in the comments, and, as always, let us know if there are any take 5 topics you'd like to see in the future!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Local Author Spotlight: Keith Gilman

Local author Keith Gilman is going to be a powerful new voice in crime fiction. In fact, his debut novel, Father's Day, has already been awarded Best First Novel by the Private Eye Writers of America! Gilman himself is has been a Philadelphia area police officer for more than a decade, and his experiences on the job show themselves in this gritty, provocative mystery.

Louis Kline, PI, is asked to track down the missing teenage daughter of an old friend. In doing so he uncovers disturbing truths about the alleged suicide of his friend, a fellow officer with the Philadelphia Police Department--with whom Louis shared accusations that ended both their careers, and a love for the same woman. As Louis further investigates, he comes to understand the tortured life of the girl he's trying to find, and a few hard truths about himself.

Keith Gilman knows how cops think and he pulls back the curtain on a disturbing vision of a decaying urban world, haunted by shadows of deceit and death. Father's Day, a novel of great psychological depth and stark visual imagery, is a terrifying exploration of what lies at the heart of our deepest fears.

Learn more about Keith Gilman at his Web site, http://www.keithgilman.com/, or by visiting him on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/people/Keith-Gilman/1149081851.

Then, stop by and meet him later this month as he visits Farley's to sign copies of Father's Day!

Farley's Bookshop
44 S. Main Street
New Hope, PA

Saturday, June 27th
from 1-4 p.m.

And, if you buy your copy of Father's Day during the signing, you'll save 10% off the cover price! Hope to see you there!!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New Release Tuesday 6/9

Tuesday means new releases here at the book shop! Check out some of our favorites this week...


Fordlandia, by Greg Grandin

In 1927, Henry Ford, the richest man in the world, bought a tract of land twice the size of Delaware in the Brazilian Amazon. His intention was to grow rubber, but the project rapidly evolved into a more ambitious bid to export America itself, along with its golf courses, ice-cream shops, bandstands, indoor plumbing, and Model Ts rolling down broad streets.

Fordlandia, as the settlement was called, quickly became the site of an epic clash. On one side was the car magnate, lean, austere, the man who reduced industrial production to its simplest motions; on the other, the Amazon, lush, extravagant, the most complex ecological system on the planet. Ford's early success in imposing time clocks and square dances on the jungle soon collapsed, as indigenous workers, rejecting his midwestern Puritanism, turned the place into a ribald tropical boomtown. Fordlandia's eventual demise as a rubber plantation foreshadowed the practices that today are laying waste to the rain forest.

More than a parable of one man's arrogant attempt to force his will on the natural world, Fordlandia depicts a desperate quest to salvage the bygone America that the Ford factory system did much to dispatch. As Greg Grandin shows in this gripping and mordantly observed history, Ford's great delusion was not that the Amazon could be tamed but that the forces of capitalism, once released, might yet be contained.

The Actor and the Housewife, by Shannon Hale

Mormon housewife Becky Jack is seven months pregnant with her fourth child when she meets celebrity hearththrob Felix Callahan. Twelve hours, one elevator ride, and one alcohol-free dinner later, something has happened. It isn't sexual. It isn't even quite love. But a month later Felix shows up in Salt Lake City to visit and before they know what's hit them, Felix and Becky are best friends. Really. Becky's husband is pretty cool about it. Her children roll their eyes. Her neighbors gossip endlessly. But Felix and Becky have something special, something unusual, something completely impossible to sustain. Or is it? A magical story, The Actor and the Housewife explores what could happen when your not-so-secret celebrity crush walks right into real life and changes everything.

Relentless, by Dean Koontz

New York Times-bestselling master of suspense Koontz delivers a mesmerizing new thriller that explores the razor-thin line between the best and worst of human nature--and the anarchy simmering just beneath society's surface.

“[A] smoothly spun nail-biter.... Koontz still grabs readers as few other thriller scribes can.” ~ Booklist


The Opposite of Love, by Julie Buxbaum

When twenty-nine-year-old Manhattan attorney Emily Haxby ends her happy relationship just as her boyfriend is about to propose, she can't explain to even her closest friends why she did it. But somewhere beneath her independent exterior, Emily knows her breakup with Andrew has less to do with him and more to do with herself.

As the holidays loom and Emily contemplates whether she made a huge mistake, the rest of her world begins to unravel. She's assigned to a multimillion-dollar lawsuit where she must defend the very values she detests by a boss who can't keep his hands to himself; her Grandpa Jack, the person she cares most about in the world, is losing it, while her emotionally distant father has left her to cope alone; and underneath it all, memories of her deceased mother remind her that love doesn't last forever.

How this brave young woman finally faces the fears that have long haunted her is the great achievement of this marvelous first novel, written with authority, grace, and wisdom.

The Spies of Warsaw, by Alan Furst

War is coming to Europe. French and German intelligence operatives are locked in a life-and-death struggle on the espionage battlefield. At the French embassy, in Warsaw, the new military attache, Colonel Jean-Francois Mercier, a decorated hero of the 1914 war, is drawn into a world of abduction, betrayal, and intrigue in the diplomatic salons and back alleys of the city. At the same time, the handsome aristocrat finds himself in a passionate love affair with a Parisian woman of Polish heritage, a lawyer for the League of Nations. Risking his life, Colonel Mercier must work in the shadows, amid an extraordinary cast of venal characters, some known to Mercier as spies, some never to be revealed.

Beijing Coma, by Ma Jian

Dai Wei, a medical student and protestor in Tiananmen Square in June, 1989, was caught by a soldier's bullet and fell into a deep coma. But as the millennium draws near, he begins to emerge from unconsciousness, and to sense the massive changes in his country. At once a powerful allegory of a rising China, and a seminal story of the Tiananmen Square protests, Beijing Coma is Ma Jian's masterpiece.

"A complex, confrontational, demanding--and ultimately rewarding--work." ~Kirkus Reviews

Irreligion, by John Allen Paulos

Are there any logical reasons to believe in God? The mathematician and bestselling author John Allen Paulos thinks not. In Irreligion he presents the case for his own worldview, organizing his book into twelve chapters that refute the twelve arguments most often put forward for believing in God's existence. Interspersed among these counterarguments are remarks on a variety of irreligious themes, ranging from the nature of miracles and creationist probability to cognitive illusions and prudential wagers. Despite the strong influence of his day job, Paulos says, there isn't a single mathematical formula in the book.

Petite Anglaise, by Catherine Sanderson

Stuck in a relationship quickly losing its heat, overwhelmed by the burdens of motherhood, and restless in a dead-end job, Catherine reads an article about starting an online diary, and on a slow day at work--voila--Petite Anglaise is born. But what begins as a lighthearted diversion, a place to muse on the fish-out-of-water challenges of expat life, soon gives way to a raw forum where Catherine shares intimate details about her relationship, her discontents, and her most impulsive desires. When one of her readers--a charming Englishman--tries to get close to the girl behind the blog, Catherine's real and virtual personas collide, forcing her to choose between life as she knows it and the possibility of more.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What We're Reading: Lauren meets The Girls from Ames

One day a few weeks ago, a customer came in and asked about The Girls from Ames. Written by Jeffrey Zaslow (who co-wrote The Last Lecture with Randy Pausch), The Girls from Ames chronicles the lifelong friendship of eleven women from Ames, Iowa. The customer was an older woman, from Ames herself, and she was curious to read about a generation of women from her hometown.

I have to admit, I hadn't heard anything about the book before she asked about it, but the cover caught my attention as I pulled it from the shelf for her; I think it was the photo of the Ames girls in the corner. My mother is one of four sisters, and something about that photo reminded me of so many others I'd seen of my mom and her sisters in their teens, lined up in a row and posing for the camera. The girls reminded me of them, youthful and bright with an exciting future ahead, and I found myself wondering where life had taken this row of smiling girls, and whether their friendships had endured. After selling the woman our last copy, I immediately ordered one for myself.

The Girls from Ames introduces us to Karen, Cathy, Marilyn, Kelly, Sheila, Sally, Jenny, Jane, Karla, Angela, and Diana, and tells us the story of their friendship, often in their own words. Two of the girls, born days apart, "met" in infancy; the last to join the group did so in ninth grade when her family relocated to Ames. In addition to the intricacies of how the girls came together, we learn the stories of their families and backgrounds (and the one behind their group moniker the "Shit Sisters"); we follow them through summer jobs and dates in high school, through husbands and children and careers that have left them scattered across the country, through laughter and tears and the death of one of their own.

In addition to the stories that comprise a lifetime of memories for these women, the book is also a rumination on the nature and importance of female friendships. The girls' friendship often speaks for itself, though at many times throughout their story they pause to reflect on the positive influences of their friendship in each of their lives. Zaslow then highlights these experiences with insights into the larger role of friendships between women, citing various studies that have explored connections between female friendships and life expectancy, divorce, and more. He also brings to their story the "outside" perspective of a male writing about women, a fact that does not go unacknowledged.

I couldn't help but fall in love with this book, and to see in the girls from Ames reflections of my own friendships with other women throughout my life. It sounds cheesy, but it made me feel like part of a larger network of women, a sisterhood of sorts--and then it made me want to call my friends from high school and college who I haven't spoken to in a while.

Recommended for: Any woman who's ever had a female friend; any man who's ever wanted to know what the heck is up with women and their friends; anybody who enjoys a good memoir or is looking for a heartfelt read.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Release Tuesday 6/2

Happy June, everyone! Check out this week's new releases...


39 Clues: Beyond the Grave, by Jude Watson

Betrayed by their cousins, abandoned by their uncle, and with only the slimmest hint to guide them, fourteen-year-old Amy Cahill and her younger brother, Dan, rush off to Egypt on the hunt for 39 Clues that lead to a source of an unimaginable power. But when they arrive, Amy and Dan get something completely unexpected a message from their dead grandmother, Grace. Did Grace set out to help the two orphans... or are Amy and Dan heading for the most devastating betrayal of them all?

The Strain, by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

The visionary creator of the Academy Award-winning Pan's Labyrinth and a Hammett Award-winning author bring their imaginations to this bold, epic novel about a horrifying battle between man and vampire that threatens all humanity. It is the first installment in a thrilling trilogy and an extraordinary international publishing event.

Medusa, by Clive Cussler

"Kurt Austin must stop a deadly virus from decimating the world in the latest NUMA Files novel. Research using a newly discovered jellyfish shows promising results, but before the tests even start, scientists studying these Blue Medusas start dying. As the pandemic threatens to spread through China, the NUMA team realizes that a Chinese triad is behind the outbreak. Now in their eighth adventure, Austin and partner Zavala are becoming almost as entertaining as Dirk Pitt and his gang." ~ Jeff Ayers, Booklist

My Father's Tears and Other Stories, by John Updike

John Updike’s first collection of new short fiction since the year 2000, My Father’s Tears finds the author in a valedictory mood as he mingles narratives of his native Pennsylvania with stories of New England suburbia and of foreign travel.

In My Father's Tears, American experience from the Depression to the aftermath of 9/11 finds reflection in these glittering pieces of observation, remembrance, and imagination.


Liberal Fascism, by Jonah Goldberg

Liberal Fascism offers a startling new perspective on the theories and practices that define fascist politics. Replacing conveniently manufactured myths with surprising and enlightening research, Jonah Goldberg reminds us that the original fascists were really on the left, and that liberals from Woodrow Wilson to FDR to Hillary Clinton have advocated policies and principles remarkably similar to those of Hitler's National Socialism and Mussolini's Fascism.

Martha Stewart's Cupcakes

Swirled and sprinkled, dipped and glazed, or otherwise fancifully decorated, cupcakes are the treats that make everyone smile. They are the star attraction for special days, such as birthdays, showers, and holidays, as well as perfect everyday goodies. In "Martha Stewart's Cupcakes," the editors of "Martha Stewart Living" share 175 ideas for simple to spectacular creations-with cakes, frostings, fillings, toppings, and embellishments that can be mixed and matched to produce just the right cupcake for any occasion.