Monday, February 11, 2013

Who could ever get enough of these new bestsellers??

The Sins of the Mother by Danielle Steel

From the Publisher –

Family dynamics are complicated, old disappointments die hard, and as forgiveness and surprising revelations enter into it, new bonds are formed, and the future takes on a brighter hue. And one by one, with life’s irony, Olivia’s children find themselves committing the same “sins” for which they blamed their mother for so many years. It is a summer of compassion, important lessons, and truth.

The Sins of the Mother captures the many sides of family love: complex, challenging, funny, passionate, and hopefully enduring. Along the way, we are enthralled by an unforgettable heroine, a mother strong enough to take more than her fair share of the blame, wise enough to respect her children for who they really are, and forgiving enough to love them unconditionally.

Sleep No More (Eve Duncan Series) by Iris Johansen

Kirkus Reviews –

Two protagonists from Johansen's earlier thrillers go rogue (Close Your Eyes, 2012, etc.). Sigmund Freud would have had a field day studying Eve Duncan, a perennial leading lady in Johansen's literary world. The long-suffering forensic sculptor not only comes from a dysfunctional family, she talks to the ghost of her dead daughter and has nightmares about people she doesn't know. But you can be sure that she'll be meeting the subjects of her dreams soon in the prolific author's latest offering, which centers around a murder attempt and the disappearance of Beth Avery from a California mental facility. Beth, it seems, is Sandra Duncan's oldest daughter, which makes her Eve's half sister, a complication that's par for the course in Johansen's complicated world. Beth's dad is the son of the politically prominent Avery family, and Sandra was forced to give up her parental rights at Beth's birth. Beth was hidden in boarding schools until she suffered a mysterious head injury and was institutionalized, and Sandra's tried to keep tabs on her through a private investigator. After she learns of Beth's disappearance, Sandra turns to Eve and Atlanta PD detective Joe Quinn for help. They drop everything and head to Santa Barbara, where Eve convinces Dr. Kendra Michaels, a music therapist who possesses heightened senses, to assist them. The two women gain entry into the hospital and enlist the help of Kendra's friend, a computer hacker so brilliant that the Pentagon used him in some unknown capacity to foil the Chinese. Gaining access to private files, Eve, Joe and a helpful intern who's been planted in the hospital by his uncle, the PI, discover all sorts of sinister details about Beth's treatment, the employees at the hospital, the Avery family's dark past and Drogan, the man who's been hired to kill Beth. And as Eve gets to know her naïve sister and does her best to protect her, she becomes Drogan's primary target. Johansen throws in enough crooked characters to house an entire prison in a plot that starts out with promise but ends up being a snoozer.

Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan

Kirkus Reviews –

A subtly and sweetly subversive novel which seems more characteristic of its author as it becomes increasingly multilayered and labyrinthine in its masterful manipulation of the relationship(s) between fiction and truth. Both the title and the tone make this initially seem to be an uncharacteristically light and playful novel from McEwan (Atonement, 2002, etc.). Its narrator is a woman recounting her early 20s, some four decades after the fact, when she was recruited by Britain's MI5 intelligence service to surreptitiously fund a young novelist who has shown some promise. After the two fall in love, inevitably, she must negotiate her divided loyalties, between the agency she serves and the author who has no idea that his work is being funded as an anti-Communist tool in the "soft Cold War." Beautiful (as she recognizes such a character in a novel must be) and Cambridge-educated, Serena Frome seems perfect for the assignment of soliciting writer Tom Haley because, as one of her superiors puts it, "you love literature, you love your country." The "Sweet Tooth" operation makes no attempt to control what its authors write and doesn't reveal to them exactly who is funding them, but provides financial support for writers who have shown some resistance to fashionable radicalism. Though Serena's reading tends toward "naive realism," favoring novels where she would be "looking for a version of myself, a heroine I could slip inside as one might a pair of favourite old shoes," the relationship between Tom's fiction and his character, as well as the parallels between the creative inventions his job demands and those of hers, illuminate the complexities of life and art for Serena and the reader as well. "In this work the line between what people imagine and what's actually the case can get very blurred. In fact that line is a big grey space, big enough to get lost in." The "work" being discussed is undercover intelligence, but it could just as easily be literature. Britain's foremost living novelist has written a book--often as drily funny as it is thoughtful--that somehow both subverts and fulfills every expectation its protagonist has for fiction.

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham

Kirkus Reviews –

A Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer lauds the political genius of Thomas Jefferson. As a citizen, Jefferson became a central leader in America's rebellion against the world's greatest empire. As a diplomat, he mentored a similar revolution in France. As president, he doubled the size of the United States without firing a shot and established a political dynasty that stretched over four decades. These achievements and many more, Time contributing editor Meacham (American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, 2008, etc.) smoothly argues, would have been impossible if the endlessly complicated Jefferson were merely the dreamy, impractical philosopher king his detractors imagined. His portrait of our most enigmatic president intentionally highlights career episodes that illustrate Jefferson's penchant for balancing competing interests and for compromises that, nevertheless, advanced his own political goals. Born to the Virginia aristocracy, Jefferson effectively disguised his drive for control, charming foes and enlisting allies to conduct battles on his behalf. As he accumulated power, he exercised it ruthlessly, often deviating from the ideals of limited government he had previously--and eternally--articulated. Stronger than any commitment to abstract principle, the impulse for pragmatic political maneuvering, Meacham insists, always predominated. With an insatiable hunger for information, a talent for improvisation and a desire for greatness, Jefferson coolly calculated political realities--see his midlife abandonment of any effort to abolish slavery--and, more frequently than not, emerged from struggles with opponents routed and his own authority enhanced. Through his thinking and writing, we've long appreciated Jefferson's lifelong devotion to "the survival and success of democratic republicanism in America," but Meacham's treatment reminds us of the flesh-and-blood politician, the man of action who masterfully bent the real world in the direction of his ideals. An outstanding biography that reveals an overlooked steeliness at Jefferson's core that accounts for so much of his political success.

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