Monday, 29 August 2011

New Books on the Shelves - August update

I've been trying to behave lately and not buy more books than I read, but it's always a losing battle. I love wandering around book stores. I do manage sometimes just to buy my latest comics, but my comic book store is also one of my local used book stores and right around the corner are another used book store and The Laughing Oyster, the new book store. How could I be expected to resist. As well, this month we visited Coombs (Goats on the Roof) to try out their new Italian restaurant (great food, by the way) and I managed to drop into the little used book store in Qualicum Beach before we came back home.

Needless to say, I've managed to buy a few books this past month. Below are some of my latest purchases..

Detective John Cardinal
 One of may favourite mystery series at the moment is set in North Bay, Ontario, my home town. I've read the first Detective Cardinal books and found them very enjoyable. I obviously enjoy reading about the area, often recognizing locales and I enjoy the characters, the main one, of course, John Cardinal and his lovely, smart partner, Lise Delorme. This is the 4th in the series -
"For years, Cardinal's wife, Catherine, has battled severe depression. When she finally takes her life, people are saddened but they are not really surprised. Except for Cardinal, who is not only surprised but completely devastated. Despite the suicide note in Catherine's own handwriting and the coroner's finding that there is no evidence of foul play, Cardinal cannot bring himself to believe that Catherine has really killed herself.
When hateful notes taunting him about his wife's death begin to arrive in the mail, Cardinal begins to suspect that maybe someone he has put in jail over the years has murdered Catherine as an act of revenge. His fellow officers worry whether grief has unhinged the veteran detective and are reluctant to get involved.
So Cardinal goes it alone. And, as he investigates, he uncovers an alarming rash of suicides in Algonquin Bay - far more than would seem natural for such a small city. Is it possible that they are all murders?"

Chief Inspector Barnaby
 The missus and I have enjoyed watching the Midsomer Murder TV series for quite awhile and we await the latest version with anticipation. The series is based on books by Caroline Graham; only 7 have been written. I have had some difficulty finding the books, but have so far managed to find 3 of them. A Ghost in the Machine was the most recent one I discovered and, in fact, is the latest of Caroline Graham's novels set in Midsomer, this one written in 2004 -
"On inheriting his aunt's beautiful house in Forbes Abbot, Mallory Lawson and his wife Kate make the move from London out to the country, where life will be so much gentler and simpler. Or will it?
Forbes Abbot, for all its old-fashioned charm, is not quite the close-knit community it seems, and little differences and squabbles can become violent - even murderous. Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby has encountered many intriguing cases in his years on the force, but the case of the ghost in the machine is one to test even the most experienced of detectives."

Jonathan Strange
I had seen this book mentioned in some of my book clubs and when I saw it at ABC Books one day, I had to take a chance on it. I can't say I know anything about it, but the synopsis did look interesting -

"At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England - until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear."

Kurt Wallander
 I have watched the Wallander mystery series on PBS' Masterpiece Mystery and even though I sometimes find the character of Wallander very frustrating (so wishy washy at times), I also have enjoyed reading Scandinavian mysteries; Karin Altvegen and Jo Nesbo to name a few. So when I saw this Wallander mystery; Firewall, by Henning Mankell, I thought I should check it out and see how the books compare to the TV series -
"A body is found at an ATM, the apparent victim of a heart attack. Then two teenage girls are arrested for the brutal murder of a cab driver. The girls confess to the crime showing no remorse whatsoever. Two open-and-shut cases. At first these two incidents seem to have nothing in common, but as Wallander delves deeper into the mystery of why the girls murdered the cab driver he begins to unravel a plot much more involved than he initially suspected. The two cases become one and lead to a conspiracy that stretches to encompass a world larger than the borders of Sweden."

 I have previously read on of V.S. Naipaul's stories, A House for Mr. Biswas and found it quite interesting; the setting, the style. I do have one other currently on my To-Be-Read shelf, The Mimic Men. I've also had my eye open for this story and when I saw it at 2nd Hand Books, and it was in such excellent condition, I picked it up. (I do love a good Penguin novel)
"The main characters of the book are Jane, a woman from London, and her romantic partner Roche, a white South African man, who have recently arrived on remote island in the Caribbean. Roche is engaged with helping the poor on the island, which puts him in contact with a dishonest revolutionary opportunist named Jimmy. As they socialize with the privileged, Roche finds Jane contradictory and politically naive about her own place in the power structure, while also being challenged about his own motives and purpose. Jimmy has sexual fantasies about Jane, and has a perverse relationship with the boys he keeps in his commune. Amid the tumult of a societal crisis, the climax of the book is violent and tragic."

Fantasy - The Night Watch
And now for a bit of fantasy from Russia.. I had seen this book, the first in a series, at various book stores the past few years and been tempted to try it out. When one of my used book stores had it on the shelf and the price was right, I couldn't resist anymore. It seemed worth a try -
"Walking the streets of Moscow, indistinguishable from the rest of its population, are the Others. Each owes allegiance to either the Dark or the Light, two powerful forces that long ago forged an uneasy truce in order to avert chaos and disaster. They watch each other closely, carefully maintaining the world's precarious balance between good and evil.
Anton, a young Other of the Light, is a Night Watch agent who patrols the streets and subways of the city, protecting ordinary people from the agents - including vampires -  of the Dark. On his rounds, Anton comes across a young woman, Svetlana, who is under a powerful curse that threatens to destroy the city, and a boy, Egor, an Other still unaware of his powers, whom Anton narrowly saves from the vampires of the Dark.
Anton and his partner, Olga, a powerful female Other who has been turned into an owl as punishment, work frantically with their Night Watch colleagues - each gifted with their own particular powers - to deflect Svetlana's curse and to protect Egor from the creatures that pursue him."

This is my most recent purchase Leviathan, by Scott Westerfeld, an American SciFi writer. It was sitting out at ABC Books on Saturday, hadn't even been logged in yet. The cover grabbed my attention and when I asked if I could buy it, I wasn't turned down. The story seemed very interesting -
"It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and the Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, and the most masterful beast in the British fleet.
Aleksandar Ferdinand, prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, is on the run. his own people have turned on him. His title is worthless. All he has is a battle-torn Stormwalker and a loyal crew of men.
Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised a a boy in the British Air Service. She's a brilliant airman. But her secret is in constant danger of being discovered.
With the Great War brewing, Alek's and Deryn's paths cross in the most unexpected way... taking them both aboard the leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure. One that will change both their lives forever."

Her Fearful Symmetry
 And finally..., this is the latest book from the author of The Time Traveller's Wife, one of my favourite books in a long time. I have awaited the next book by Audrey Niffenegger with anticipation and was thrilled when I saw this one in The Laughing Oyster -
"Julia and Valentina Poole are twenty-year-old sisters with an intense attachment to each other. One morning the mailman delivers a thick envelope to their house in the suburbs in Chicago. Their English aunt, Elspeth Noblin, has died of cancer and left them her London apartment. There are two conditions for this inheritance: that they live in the flat for a year before they sell it and that their parents not enter it. Julia and Valentina are twins. So were the girls' aunt Elspeth and their mother, Edie.
The girls move to Elspeth's flat, which borders the vast Highgate Cemetery, where Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, Stella Gibbons and other luminaries are buried. Julia and Valentina become involved with their living neighbours: martin, a composer of crossword puzzles who suffers from crippling OCD, and Robert, Elspeth's elusive lover, a scholar of the cemetery. They also discover that much is still alive in Highgate, including - perhaps -  their aunt."

I know that I have too many books in my TBR book shelves, but just from this cross-section, how could a person resist buying books. So many interesting, fascinating writers who produce great books that stimulate and enthrall you. I hope you might find some of these books interesting too.

Good reading!

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