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Saturday, August 18, 2012

So Many Books, So Little Time

There are so many good books coming out in September. It is going to be hard to decide which to include in this blog. There are literary ones; suspense titles and even two nonfiction that I need to read. Let's get those nonfiction titles out of the way.

I have a confession to make. I have not cooked Thanksgiving dinner in......well YEARS! and I mean at least 12 years. That's what happens when someone else volunteers to hold the dinner and happens to like to cook. This year, I have family coming for Thanksgiving so will be cooking the traditional things for the first time in ages. Now, there was a time that I liked to cook. I've made pumpkin pies from pumpkins - the real pumpkins. But when you relinquish the cooking for so long, it is a little frightening when you have to go back to a full blown, complete, home cooked turkey dinner. That is why I was so excited to see Sam Sifton's title Thanksgiving: How To Cook It Well. Sifton is the national editor of the New York Times but he use to be its lead restaurant critic and manned its Thanksgiving Help Line. I'm cheating some here because this title doesn't come out until Oct 12 but I am so excited about his coming to my rescue, I had to include it.

I have always loved reading about the Civil War period and Abraham Lincoln. Walter Stahr's title Seward: Lincoln's Indispensable Man, which comes out on Sept 18, covers a figure who has not really been covered in popular history. Seward was the governor of New York and a U.S Senator before becoming Lincoln's Secretary of State and closest advisor. In addition, there are many stories about Seward's late night dinner parties. This title ought to add some clarity to Lincoln's 'Team of Rivals'.

Hank Phillipp Ryan is a multi talented author. Not only is she an award winning investigative reporter for the NBC station in Boston, she is an award winning mystery author. Her title, The Other Woman comes out on Sept 4. Here she center her story on Jane Ryland, a rising star in television news until she refused to reveal her sources and ended up disgraced and covering fluff for a local newspaper. In her spare time, she follows the mistress of a candidate running for the U.S. Senate. Meanwhile, Detective Jake Brogan is tracking a serial killer who leaves the bodies of dead young women under a bridge. Then they realize that their cases are connected, - someone is covering up a dirty scandal by cold hearted, ruthless means.

Kevin Powers offers The Yellow Birds on Sept 11. Much has been written about this controversial title. The author is a poet and a veteran of the Iraq war (he enlisted when he was 17). In this story, he follows two very young soldiers who struggle with the facts of war while trying to survive in Iraq. Some critics laud the book for it's beautiful language while others slam it for it's lack of true plot. What the soldiers have to do to survive and have to see while they are doing it, destroys them. The one returning one, relives his experiences while trying to drown them in a bottle. Very effecting. You either hate it or love it. There doesn't seem to be an in between.

While Keven Powers gave us his impression of war at 17, David Abrams, a 20 year veteran of the U.S. Army who served in Iraq, gives us his impression in Fobbit which come out on Sept 4. The term fobbit refers to US soldiers stationed at a Forward Operating Base who rarely leave the safety of the base. Abrams was a journalist for the Army and kept a journal for a year while attached to the 3rd Infantry Division. Fobbit is a darkly comic look at this time based on his journal. Abrams' antihero is Staff Sergeant Change Gooding who writes edited and polished press releases of what is happening. It is funny and you will laugh but inside, you will ache. Humor about a very serious subject.

Because I don't want to end on a downer, I will end with this story of old time Hollywood. Emma Straub gives us Laura Lamont's Life in Pictures on Sept 4. Laura is a Midwestern girl who becomes a Hollywood star in the Golden Age of movies. This story follows her from the beginning as she tries to balance career, family, and personal happiness, all while remaining true to herself.It is written with warmth and is more character driven than a story of glitz and glamour.
Enjoy thinking about these titles until I add some more, next week.

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