Here are some more reviews to whet your appetite for future reading pleasure. Publishing is in its glory time this season with presses working overtime and booksellers unpacking the treasures every hour. On display and in their sections: the latest in mysteries, contemporary fiction, young adult, picture books, art books, books on music, spirituality, poetry, and biography! And don't forget cookbooks -- we have one of the finest collections of cookbooks around, from local to regional to world cooking; vegetarian, molecular, and gluten-free; art-driven, chef-driven, and ingredient-driven. Fall and winter add a special something to cooking at home, entertaining, and celebrating and we have all the ideas, methods, and flavors you'd ever need or want. We look forward to seeing you in the store and helping you find just the right books.
John & all Dieselfolk
One of the many reasons to read murder fiction is to answer to our natural fascination with other cultures, landscapes, places, and times. In Burial Rites we get to experience the minds of fictional 19th century Icelandic people circling around a murder, and possible murderess. The landscape is an integral part of the storytelling -- atmospheric, stark, and beautiful. Kent has done her research and brings the manners, clothes, and quotidian details to life in this other place and time. Prompted by her own experiences in Iceland and based on a true story which is famous there, Kent weaves the harsh climate with the well-researched historical particulars into a well-paced, tense, emotional, and deeply human mystery that satisfies with plot, character, style, and evocation. -- John Evans
This is a great book on modern adventures and extreme environments. It contains photographs and essays covering polar, jungle, desert, and subterranean conquests. Most of the stories involve solo traverses, such as a solo crossing of the Gobi (kind of insane) and one man's quest to take a pedal boat around the world. Limbs and camels are lost in these extreme adventures but I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in adventure, the outdoors, sunken treasure, or blimps. -- Cameron Carlson
Once We Were Brothers is both a historical mystery and an enduring love story. The novel relates the story of a young Jewish man, Ben Solomon, who just prior to the Second World War is living in Poland with his family. They are asked to take in a German boy his age, who then becomes a "member of the family," with Ben and Otto becoming "as close as brothers." In time, Ben finds himself falling for the love of his life, a young Jewish girl named Hannah, whose father is the local doctor. But soon it's evident that the changes in Germany will eventually affect the lives of the Jews currently living in Poland. It's a frightening time for Ben and Hannah and their families, but Otto promises to do all he can to help them.
In 2005, 80-year-old Ben swears he sees a man who he earnestly believes is his long-lost "brother," Otto, who had become a high-ranking Nazi officer during the war. But is it really Otto? How could it be when this man is also frantically searching for this same former Nazi? And what happened to Hannah? Why does Ben continue to carry on quiet conversations with her, as if she were right next to him, when no one else can see her?
Once We Were Brothers is a fast-paced thriller, all the way through to its page-turning, tear-jerking ending. (Have Kleenex ready!) A complex and beautifully told story. -- Linda Grana
Allie Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half is the latest webcomic to get its own book, but it is really something special. Brosh uses her simplistic, MS Paint-style art to tell personal but shockingly relatable stories about everything from dogs to depression. Not only are the sketchy, googly-eyed drawings surprisingly emotive, but Brosh's storytelling manages to be simultaneously wickedly, over-the-top hilarious and fantastically, feel-it-in-your-gut true. I have never come across a better description of depression than Brosh's fish analogy (come on, pick up the book with me and turn to page 132), and the internet classic "This Is Why I'll Never Be an Adult" (page 219) is...well, the story of my life, basically -- and if not yours, then probably that of someone you know. So buy two copies -- one to keep and one to share, because after laughing hysterically through my book, I loaned it to a friend, who read it and loaned it to another friend, and...well, let's just say I already know I'm not getting it back. -- Anna Kaufman
Books that smash a lot of genres together really make me happy on a fundamental level. It feels extremely rewarding as a reader to pick apart all the little pieces that make a whole, and this book fits that criteria to a T. The novel's main characters are actual historical figures -- Sir Richard Francis Burton, the explorer, and Algernon Charles Swinburne, the poet -- and their backdrop is a Victorian-era London that has taken a drastic turn from the history that we know. As such, many of the other characters in the book were real people (including a cabal of villains that's a dream team of epic proportions), and the events that go on were real events that happened, though everything here is definitely skewed from center. A great read for anyone who enjoys weird-alternate-history-fantasy-science fiction. -- Joey Puente
Exotic, kitschy, artistic, trendy, and educational are all words that can describe the art of taxidermy. Its popularity as a collectible has fluctuated for hundreds of years and it is currently a hot commodity. These preserved beasts proudly adorn the halls and walls everywhere from art galleries and museums to English manors and hipster apartments. This book covers the story of taxidermy, starting with the Egyptian mummification of cats to contemporary feather fashion on the catwalk. It is a beautifully bound book, modest in size, but not in content. Color photos fill the pages from cover to cover. A welcome addition to any quirky bookcase. -- Cheryl Ryan
The young heroine in this picture book is bored. She has asked her whole family if they will play with her, but they're all too busy, so she stomps up to her room for a good sulk. In her room she spots a bright red crayon on the floor. The crayon is her ticket to adventure, as she uses it to draw a door, a boat, a balloon, a key, and finally a wheel. Picture book fans will recognize the concept from Harold and the Purple Crayon, but Journey has a more complex story, with a happier ending. Journey is a wordless picture book. That means that the illustrations need to tell the story. It's no surprise then that the artwork is incredibly rich. Most of the pages are a riot of detail, from the distant waving guards in a city of towers to the cogs and gears inside a sky-borne paddle steamer. When a central plot point occurs, the background is suddenly white and we focus on our heroine. Meanwhile, that red crayon shines like a beacon on every page. Journey is an exceptionally beautiful treasure of a book, a great gift for anyone aged 3-5. -- Clare Doornbos