Monday, October 19, 2009

Synopses for 2010 Poll #2

As it turns out, we've both received more suggestions, and, I sheepishly discovered some that I'd missed (sorry folks, let me know if I've missed more!!), warranting, a second poll for 2010. Yippee!! Be sure and vote for the books you like at the polls: and don't forget to scroll on down for the books in poll 1 :-). Happy reading!

1- The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno

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In the twilight of a mysterious childhood full of wonder, Billy Argo, boy detective, is brokenhearted to find that his younger sister and crime-solving partner, Caroline, has committed suicide. Ten years later, Billy, age thirty, returns from an extended stay at St. Vitus's Hospital for the Mentally Ill to discover the world full of unimaginable strangeness: office buildings vanish without reason, small animals turn up without their heads, and cruel villains ride city buses to complete their evil schemes.

Lost within this unwelcoming place, Billy finds the companionship of two lonely, extraordinary children, Effie and Gus Mumford — one a science fair genius, the other a charming, silent bully. With a nearly forgotten bravery, Billy treads from the unendurable boredom of a telemarketing job, stumbles into the awkward beauty of a desperate pickpocket named Penny Maple, and confronts the nearly impossible solution to the mystery of his sister's death. Along a path laden with hidden clues and codes that dare the reader to help Billy decipher the mysteries he encounters, the boy detective may learn the greatest secret of all: the necessity of the unknown.

2-Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout

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Publisher Comments:In a voice more powerful and compassionate than ever before, New York Times bestselling author Elizabeth Strout binds together thirteen rich, luminous narratives into a book with the heft of a novel, through the presence of one larger-than-life, unforgettable character: Olive Kitteridge.

At the edge of the continent, Crosby, Maine, may seem like nowhere, but seen through this brilliant writer's eyes, it's in essence the whole world, and the lives that are lived there are filled with all of the grand human drama — desire, despair, jealousy, hope, and love.

At times stern, at other times patient, at times perceptive, at other times in sad denial, Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher, deplores the changes in her little town and in the world at large, but she doesn't always recognize the changes in those around her: a lounge musician haunted by a past romance: a former student who has lost the will to live: Olive's own adult child, who feels tyrannized by her irrational sensitivities; and Henry, who finds his loyalty to his marriage both a blessing and a curse.

As the townspeople grapple with their problems, mild and dire, Olive is brought to a deeper understanding of herself and her life — sometimes painfully, but always with ruthless honesty. Olive Kitteridge offers profound insights into the human condition — its conflicts, its tragedies and joys, and the endurance it requires.

3- In the Pond by Ha Jin

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National Book Award-winner Ha Jin's arresting debut novel , In the Pond, is a darkly funny portrait of an amateur calligrapher who wields his delicate artist's brush as a weapon against the powerful party bureaucrats who rule his provincial Chinese town.

Shao Bin is a downtrodden worker at the Harvest Fertilizer Plant by day and an aspiring artist by night. Passed over on the list to receive a decent apartment for his young family, while those in favor with the party's leaders are selected ahead of him, Shao Bin chafes at his powerlessness. When he attempts to expose his corrupt superiors by circulating satirical cartoons, he provokes an escalating series of merciless counterattacks that send ripples beyond his small community. Artfully crafted and suffused with earthy wit, In the Pond is a moving tale about humble lives caught up in larger social forces.

4-Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi

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The space-faring Yherajk have come to Earth to meet us and to begin humanity’s first interstellar friendship. There’s just one problem: They’re hideously ugly and they smell like rotting fish.

So getting humanity’s trust is a challenge. The Yherajk need someone who can help them close the deal.

Enter Thomas Stein, who knows something about closing deals. He’s one of Hollywood’s hottest young agents. But although Stein may have just concluded the biggest deal of his career, it’s quite another thing to negotiate for an entire alien race. To earn his percentage this time, he’s going to need all the smarts, skills, and wits he can muster.

5-Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler

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Publisher Comments:
Multiple award winner Octavia E. Butler's astonishing novels have made her a powerful, acclaimed voice in women's fiction, African-American literature, and modern science fiction. Parable of the Sower is her stunning portrait of an all-too-believable near future, a twenty-first century of horror — and hope.


Lauren Olamina is an empath, crippled by the pain of others. Cloistered inside a neighborhood enclave in a U.S. where the distance between the haves and the have-nots has widened to a gaping chasm, she lives a protected life. But one night, violence explodes, and the walls of her neighborhood are smashed, annihilating Lauren's family and friends — all she loves and knows.

Now the empath must face the world outside. Leading a tiny band of desperate followers through a thousand miles of Hell, she is a prophet bearing nothing but the promises of new life and a new faith...Earthseed.

America, 2025....From the ruins will arise a new prophet, a new path, a new day...

6-The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie

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Publisher Comments:
A tall, yellow-haired, young European traveler calling himself "Mogor dell'Amore," the Mughal of Love, arrives at the court of the Emperor Akbar, lord of the great Mughal empire, with a tale to tell that begins to obsess the imperial capital, a tale about a mysterious woman, a great beauty believed to possess powers of enchantment and sorcery, and her impossible journey to the far-off city of Florence.

The Enchantress of Florence is the story of a woman attempting to command her own destiny in a man's world. It is the story of two cities, unknown to each other, at the height of their powers — the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which the brilliant Akbar the Great wrestles daily with questions of belief, desire, and the treachery of his sons, and the equally sensual city of Florence during the High Renaissance, where Niccolo Machiavelli takes a starring role as he learns, the hard way, about the true brutality of power.

Vivid, gripping, irreverent, bawdy, profoundly moving, and completely absorbing, The Enchantress of Florence is a dazzling book full of wonders by one of the world's most important living writers.

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