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Reader's Link - December 2012 Staff Picks Archive


Watch where he steps

Visit Sunny Chernobyl: and other adventures in the world's most polluted places

Title: Visit Sunny Chernobyl: and other adventures in the world's most polluted places
By: Andrew Blackwell

"Visit Sunny Chernobyl" sounds like an invitation you'd happily refuse. Amazingly, Blackwell manages to make this travelogue of the gruesome darkly entertaining. He neither trivializes horror nor wallows in it. He makes it bearable to consider these sites, and, in so doing, discourages despair. It's a fine fury that drives this book.

View similarly tagged posts: non-fiction
Posted by curious on Dec. 26, 2012 at 8 a.m.
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Bulls-eye

The Tiger's Wife

Title: The Tiger's Wife
By: Téa Obreht

It's an odd moment, when you realize that you might be in the presence of greatness. The shiver that goes down your spine is unmistakable. You don't know whether the writer or composer or choreographer has hit a once-in-a-lifetime bulls-eye, or whether this is just the first of many astonishments. But that first intimation must be marked.

For me, Téa Obreht hit that mark in the first sentence of Chapter 1 ("The Coast") of The Tiger’s Wife. (Start from the first page of the book for the full impact.)

I don't know where Obreht will go from here; all I know is that I will follow her.

She is very, very young. Read this book, and be poised.

View similarly tagged posts: fiction
Posted by curious on Dec. 19, 2012 at 10 a.m.
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Betcha Can't Cover This

Jumpin' & Jivin', Volume 1

Title: Jumpin' & Jivin', Volume 1
By: Acorn Media

DVD of short musical performances from the 1940s and early 1950s; think MTV two generations earlier. Santa Cruz County is proud of its musicians; I've heard great performances in the unlikeliest places. OK. Any of you outstanding musicians care to cover a single one of these? Match the musicians, dancers, the whole bit? We've got the Beatles covered no problem, but Louis Jordan and his band? I think not. Fats Waller, Cab Calloway, after all, they're just guys goofing around. Hah, hah. Forget about it. Let's make it easy: how about Will Bradley and his Six Texas Hot Dogs? Joke, right? You're not matching that first dance couple, maybe the second with the nerdy guy. But how will you get the horns to swing like that?

By the way, there is no Volume 2, nor any other volumes, as far as I can tell.

View similarly tagged posts: music,video
Posted by Tirantes on Dec. 11, 2012 at 9:56 a.m.
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All about Justice, All about Politics

Another Time, Another Life: the Story of a Crime

Title: Another Time, Another Life: the Story of a Crime
By: Leif G.W. Persson

I read and recently listened to "Another Time, Another Life" by Leif G. W. Persson, and I was struck by its refreshing political humor and reality. Through solving a cold murder case, the book reveals a strong sense of justice on the part of the Swedish secret police, especially its head, Lars Johansson. In the background check for the imminent appointment of Helena Stein to be secretary of the Defense Ministry, he has not only discovered the murderer, but more importantly the ugly truth about the murder victim and a Swedish Gang of Four’s involvement in the attack on the German Embassy by six German nationals twenty-five years ago. In the name of justice, Johansson succeeds in persuading the suspect Stein to give up her political career, so as to enjoy the Swedish twenty-five years’ statute of limitation, and to avoid political pressure exerted by the United States.

In a twist of political humor, Stein resigns as the undersecretary to pursue a private law practice and limited local politics. A week before midsummer, the chief inspector at the National Bureau of Investigation’s Homicide Squad enters the police hall of fame due to his heroic investigations. In addition to obtaining a confession from a mental patient/serial killer who has admitted to more than thirty-six killings, he produces the technical evidence missing from the original murder investigation: a pair of a hand towels, a suitcase bearing the victim’s initials, and a plastic shopping bag containing an unopened bottle of banana liquor discovered in a cabin on an abandoned sheep pasture the mental patient used to frequent from time to time with the institution’s permission. Armed with such evidence, he effectively silences the critical voice of the media: there has been a lack of evidence to collaborate the perpetrator’s own admissions. A perfect crime story is thus complete.

"Another Time, Another Life: the Story of a Crime" is the 2nd installment in the trilogy. It is preceded by "Between Summer's Longing and Winter's End: the Story of a Crime" and to be continued by "Falling Freely as If in a Dream: the Story of a Crime".

View similarly tagged posts: fiction,mystery
Posted by Hui-Lan on Dec. 6, 2012 at 1:50 p.m.
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An Everyday and Special Occasion Handbook

Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

Title: Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
By: Martha Stewart

This is a beautiful book full of baking inspiration. There are basic recipes for brownies, tarts, and pies, as well as special occasion treats such as Banana-Caramel Cake. The photographs of the desserts and the baking equipment are a treat themselves. Don't miss the Carrot-Ginger Layer Cake with Mini Marzipan Carrots. This book makes a great gift.

View similarly tagged posts: non-fiction
Posted by Abbey on Dec. 3, 2012 at 3:22 p.m.
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Book Kits

To help your book discussion group, we've gathered a collection of popular paperback titles and sorted them into kits which can be sent to you upon request.

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