Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mike Suggests: Joe Hill

Heart-Shaped Box is the debut novel from Joe Hill (who may or may not want you to know he's Stephen King's son) and is one of the most chilling stories I've read in a long time. Jude is an aging heavy metal star who's living as a recluse in his upstate New York farmhouse, with all the trappings that come with his persona: a collection of the macabre, legions of fans, and a steady stream of girls half his age. Adding to his collection of dark materials, Jude purchases a dead man's suit--with the dead man's ghost promised to accompany--and quickly finds that he's invited the vengeful spirit into his house. Combining equal parts voodoo, psychological warfare, and hypnosis, Hill creates a horrific portrait of a ghost that won't quit until you're dead.

If it's graphic novels that you're into, be sure to check out Joe Hill's comic, Locke & Key. Part fantasy, part horror, and part mystery, Locke & Key has been drawing awards, nominations, and the attention of critics as if it were the only game in town. Set in a New England town with the foreboding name of Lovecraft, the Locke family finds itself in the Hill House after a tragedy befalls their family--but the beginnings of that tragedy were in the very house they're seeking refuge in.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Megan suggests: Present Value

Bonfire of the Vanities in Wellesley? Yes, it could happen here, and it probably already has. Local author Sabin Willett's 2003 novel Present Value is prescient in its satirical view of early 21st century overconsumption. Funny when I read it seven years ago, and even funnier and more topical now.


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Peggy Suggests Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibilty by Suzanne Langer

Immerse yourself in Harvard professor Ellen Langer's fascinating study, Counterclockwise: Mindful Health and the Power of Possibilty by Suzanne Langer, of elderly men who radically altered their health by living as though it was 1959. Langer examines the myriad of ways we unconsciously limit our health and emotional well-being. PM

Sue Recommends Altar of Eden by James Rollins

In Altar of Eden, James Rollins leaves behind his Sigma Force stories to send the reader into action and adventure from the bayous of Louisiana to private Caribbean islands. The story begins with a shipwreck where the Border Guards find a cargo of animals--not just any animals, but a saber tooth tiger cub , a parrot without feathers, and more. Missing, however, is the cub's mother. Where is she and where did these bizarre creatures come from? Now the thrills begin!

Rollins, a veterinarian by training, draws upon that knowledge to tell this story that delves into viruses, fractal science and genetic engineering. The story is a thrill a minute and the Cajun characters are captivating. Highly Recommended. SH

Friday, February 5, 2010

Mike suggests some graphic novels

We've really upped our attention to graphic novels this year, devoting money to build the collection and time (mine, mainly) to advertising it. Unfortunately I don't have as much time as I'd like to highlight all the great titles we've been picking up, but here's a selection of some of my favorites that have come through recently:

Irredeemable by Mark Waid and Peter Krause

How does the world's greatest superhero become the scourge of mankind, hell-bent on its destruction? We've probably all ready comics about what does on in a superhero's mind when face with doubt, made horrible mistakes, or are just plain burned-out with the daily grind of saving the world. Mark Waid takes this well beyond the limits of what most authors deemed safe territory, with this look at how an indestructible and unstoppable superhero goes bad by degrees.

Wasteland by Antony Johnston and Christopher Mitten

Civilization was nearly destroyed over a century ago by the Big Wet, leaving a desert in its wake. Broken apart by religion, racism, and a need to survive, humanity is barely in a position to be considered humane. Wasteland is an eipc science fiction series that's part Dune, part Mad Max, and all fantastic read.

Zombies Calling by Faith Erin Hicks

If you're a fan of zombie movies or(like me) just all things zombies, this short graphic novel will be right up your alley. The best way to describe it is mixing equal parts Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead, with the graphic style of Scott Pilgrim. Without giving too much away, it's a humorous story centered around three college students in Canada, one of whose obsession with the essential and immutable rules of zombie movies is going to keep them alive when a zombie outbreak suddenly occurs during finals week.

Essex County Trilogy by Jeff Lemire

Lemire's collected Essex County Trilogy is a complex interweaving of two families in an out-of-the-way Canadian farmland. The story builds slowly, drawing together individuals while they're busy estranging themselves from the people who can help them the most. A highlight of recent Canadian cartooning, Lemire's book will be a standout in the genre for years to come.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Does Time Flow?

The Fabric of the Cosmos : Space, Time, and the Texture of Reality
by Greene, Brian

In 1999, Greene, one of the world's leading physicists, published The Elegant Universe, a
popular presentation of string theory that became a major bestseller and, last fall, a highly rated PBS/Nova series. The strength of the book resided in Greene's unparalleled (among contemporary science writers) ability to translate higher mathematics (the language of physics) and its findings into everyday language and images, through adept use of metaphor and analogy, and crisp, witty prose. The same virtues adhere to this new book, which offers a lively view of human understanding of space and time, an understanding of which string theory is an as-yet unproven advance. To do this, Greene takes a roughly chronological approach, beginning with Newton, moving through Einstein and quantum physics, and on to string theory and its hypotheses (that there are 11 dimensions, ten of space and one of time; that there may be an abundance of parallel universes; that time travel may be possible, and so on) and imminent experiments that may test some of its tenets. None of this is easy reading, mostly because the concepts are tough to grasp and Greene never seems to compromise on accuracy. Eighty-five line drawings ease the task, however, as does Greene's felicitous narration; most importantly, though, Greene not only makes concepts clear but explains why they matter.
Publishers Weekly

This wonderful book will make you think and challenge your perceptions of time and space. Throughout Greene will describe the experiments which back up his facts but will also give the reader the option to skip ahead if the experiment detail is too much. Lots of Simpson and Star Wars examples help explain complicated physics. As to the question does time flow? The answer is on page 139.

Rob Says to Read Brian Haig's Books

Remember Alexander ("As of now, I am in control here in the White House.") Haig? Well, you never know from whence good writing will appear. No not from Al himself, but his son Brian has created a military lawyer series that's worth a try if you're into thrillers and don't mind a little genre-bending. The thriller part involves fast-paced plots with murder, treason and other high crimes, and a JAG (Judge Advocate General) lawyer thrown in to investigate. The genre-bending comes in with the sassy, smart-alec, insubordinate, rule-breaking, sarcastic and mistake-prone lead character Sean Drummond. Not your dad's Army officer. Drummond is a maverick in an institution not traditionally friendly to mavericks, and it's that tension that gives the plots some pizazz. That and Haig's judicious (so to speak) use of genuine military controversies: war crimes (in Secret Sanction), gay soldiers (Mortal Allies), war in Iraq (Man in the Middle).
The author himself is a graduate of West Point and former assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, so he know his stuff. There are six books in the series and though each can stand alone, you might as well start with Secret Sanction to get the fuller introduction to Sean Drummond.