Books

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Ray Bradbury: An appreciation from a Sci-Fi Geek

Ray Bradbury passed away on Tuesday June 5th, 2012 and a light has gone out in the Universe.  To say that I was a fan of Bradbury's doesn't seem enough.  He inspired me.  I was introduced to Bradbury in my teens.  I was looking for something to read and while rifling through my mother's bookshelf, I came across a worn paperback.  On the cover, was a naked man sitting on a scaffold with his back to the audience.  He was completely covered from the neck down in tattoos (pardon me, illustrations).  The was

The Glass Demon by Helen Grant

Lin Fox and the rest of her family are uprooted from their life in England and dropped into the dark depths of a German forest by her father's obsessive quest for fame as a medieval scholar.  Oliver Fox is searching for the fabled Allerheiligen Glass, astonishingly beautiful stained glass windows, said to be haunted by the demon Bonschariant.  What starts as a conventional mystery with an elderly farmer found dead in his apple orchard rapidly turns into a dark gothic fairy tale of murder and madness. A dark and twisty tale worthy of the Brothers Grimm.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

We first meet the orphan Pip as a young boy living with his harridan of an older sister and her saintly blacksmith husband, Joe. After Pip is drawn into the bizarre household of the wealthy and spiteful spinster Miss Havisham and her adopted daughter, Estella, his life and future prospects begin to shift. When "great expectations" of future wealth come upon him from an anonymous source, he leaves behind his humble roots and goes to London to become a gentleman.

The Limpopo Academy of Private Detection by Alexander McCall Smith

Another keenly insightful yet forgiving character study disguised as a mystery, by Alexander McCall Smith. This series of novels featuring private detective Mma Ramotswe of Botswana are thoroughly charming, in the best sense of the word. Each book manages to incorporate at least one or two pithy life lessons that you can apply to your own ordinary American life.

Then Again by Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton's memoir is far from being a Hollywood tell-all. While she does talk about certain films and boyfriends (Annie Hall and Woody Allen, Reds and Warren Beatty, The Godfather trilogy and Al Pacino), the heart of the story is her mother and Alzheimer's, her decision to adopt at age 50 and her lifelong struggle with self-confidence. Portions of her mother's 85 journals are juxtaposed with Diane's own story, and the book includes photos of Diane and family, as well as scanned images from her mother's journals.

The Innocent by David Baldacci

Can a cold-blooded killer be a sympathetic character?  If he’s the hero in a David Baldacci novel, the answer is yes.  This is so episodic that it could be called “a chapter book for grownups.”  The dust jacket calls Will Robie a “hit man,” but “government operative” is more accurate.  Robie’s moral dilemmas are just as compelling as his adventures, and I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen next.  A fast and rewarding read. 

Happy Birthday, John Cheever

John Cheever was born in Quincy 100 years ago this month (on May 27, 1912). Sometimes called the "Chekhov of the suburbs", Cheever was lauded for his fiction, especially his short stories. He won many prestigious awards during his career, including a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. Discover for yourself why Cheever's work mattered.

Archive 17 by Sam Eastland

Our story starts with Russia on the verge of bankruptcy and Stalin looking for a way out of ruin.  In his desperation, Stalin sends Inspector Pekkala in search of Tsar Nicholas’ legendary missing gold.  Pekkala returns to Eastland’s pages for the third time in this adventure taking place in a fledgling Soviet Union.  Eastland is able to portray the friction and intrigue between the various factions playing for power in a young Russia.  Pekkala is a great character and Eastland an excellent storyteller.

Boston Historian Thomas O'Connor Dies

South Shore resident and prominent historian of Boston, Thomas O'Connor died at home on Sunday.  O'Connor, a retired Boston College history professor, had written numerous books about the history of Boston and the people who live there.  Originally from South Boston, several of his books focused on the history of Boston Catholics, the Irish community and Southie.

The Curious Case of the Clockwork Man by Mark Hodder.

Continuing and expanding on the adventure, steampunkery and general Victorian madness of The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack Hodder’s protagonists Sir Francis Burton and his assistant poet Algernon Swinburne deal with catastrophic threats to "life as we know it". A seemingly routine robbery leads to a dubious claim on an aristocrat’s estate and quickly morphs into wraith-induced rioting in the streets of London.

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© 2011 Thomas Crane Public Library

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