Monday, December 22, 2014

Now @ your library... new bestsellers!

Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand

Hilderbrand leaves the beach for this Christmas novel—though it's still set on her beloved Nantucket.

The whole island is looking forward to the annual Winter Street Inn Christmas party, except for the inn's owner, Kelley Quinn, who's just discovered the hired Santa kissing his wife, Mitzi. Mitzi and Santa inform Kelley of their 13-year affair and Mitzi's imminent departure from married life. Kelley, retreating to bed with smokes and booze, blasts Mitzi on Facebook and lists the inn for sale, its extravagant restoration having eaten through his once-sizable savings. Thankfully, he has grown children to help, though they have problems, too.
Increasingly, best-selling authors are producing Christmas novels, family dramas in which the Christmas Spirit prevails. They often seem like rushed marketing ploys, though occasionally they hold up to the author's own standards. Hilderbrand's falls somewhere in between; her skill at creating character is present, but the plot feels constrained and a little predictable. A quick read to get you in the holiday mood, but not as strong as Hilderbrand's best.

The Peripheral by William Gibson

Over the course of his career, William Gibson has correctly predicted a broad range of real-life technological advances—from the Web to virtual Japanese pop stars, like the one that just appeared on Letterman—and how human life would change to adapt to them. (Grade: A)

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

…[Flanagan] manages to convey with stomach-churning power the sheer awfulness of this chapter in World War II history…It is the story of Dorrigo, as one man among many P.O.W.'s in the Asian jungle, that is the beating heart of this book: an excruciating, terrifying, life-altering story that is an indelible fictional testament to the prisoners there. Taken by themselves, these chapters create a slim, compelling story: Odysseus's perseverance through a bloody war and his return home at last to Penelope (in this case, Ella) and his efforts, like his fellow soldiers', to see if he can put the horrors and suffering of war in the rearview mirror, and somehow construct a fulfilling Act II to a broken life.

The Handsome Man's DeLuxe Café (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series #15) by Alexander McCall Smith

The official case, as so often, involves no obvious crime. When an amnesiac Indian lady carrying no identification wanders into the home of Mr. Sengupta and his widowed sister, “Miss Rose” Chattopadhyay, they naturally take her in but tell Precious Ramotswe that they’d feel better if they knew who their uninvited tenant was and where she’d come from. … The Handsome Man’s DeLuxe Café, runs into sadly predictable problems. … Thanks to that sturdy deus ex machina, Orphan Farm matron Mma Potokwane, all’s well that ends well in perhaps the most tranquil and unruffled entry in this renowned series.

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