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Fiction Recommendations

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

I love this book because Franzen paints such a shockingly accurate portrait of American society today; the kind of accuracy that is often difficult to put into words. To say that he tells the story of the trajectory of a dysfunctional (a.k.a. average) family would only be skimming the surface of the depth and life he gives to his characters. Their flaws and shortcomings allow them to maintain that humanness that is both raw and beautiful.

Reviewed by: 
Brittany
Freedom: A Novel Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780312576462
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - September 27th, 2011

Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks

In Russell Banks’ brilliant and difficult new novel, Lost Memory of Skin, we are introduced to “the Kid,” a young man who is trying to create a life for himself after having been incarcerated his liaison with an underage girl. On probation now, he is shackled to a GPS and forbidden to live within 2,500 feet of anywhere children might gather. With nowhere else to go, he joins a makeshift encampment with other convicted sex offenders. Banks’ narrative eases us in slowly and deftly, and the characters become human and real. Banks shows again that he is one of the most gifted writers of our times.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
Lost Memory of Skin: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780061857638
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Ecco - September 27th, 2011

Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire

Gregory Maguire tore down the structures of childhood mythologies with Wicked. Now Maguire concludes his epic with Out of Oz, where ancient injustices are addressed, mysteries unveiled, and we come to the end of a war that has lasted generations. You’ll be drawn to Maguire’s characters, witnessing their triumphs and failures as they face what it means to be human, no matter what world you live in. A triumphant and poignant final goodbye to Oz.

Reviewed by: 
Jocelyn
Out of Oz: The Final Volume in the Wicked Years Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780060548940
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: William Morrow - November 1st, 2011

A Queen’s Journey by James D. Houston

When acclaimed local author James Houston passed away in 2009, he left behind this beginning of a novel about Hawaii’s captivating last queen, Liliuokalani—the island monarch who could just as easily read Shakespeare as “sit barefooted on a woven mat.” “The setting sun filling our eyes and our hearts with inspirational fire, the story can well end. Jim Houston has finished his tale, satisfying and whole.” —Maxine Hong Kingston, from the afterword

A Queen's Journey: An Unfinished Novel about Hawaii's Last Monarch Cover Image
By James D. Houston, Maxine Hong Kingston (Afterword by), Alan Cheuse (Foreword by)
$14.95
ISBN: 9781597141635
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Heyday Books - November 1st, 2011

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Alice Hoffman is known for her novels that are dosed with magic and surrealism. But in The Dovekeepers, she breaks away from the world of fantasy and retells the story of the Romans’ siege of Masada in 70 C.E., during which all but a handful of the 900 Jewish defenders were slaughtered. Using the voices of four separate women, who intersect in surprising ways, the story unfolds into one of determined strength, unity, and faith. With an almost biblical feel, Hoffman’s new novel has a cadence and depth that makes it feel timeless—so perhaps there is a bit of magic in her telling after all.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
The Dovekeepers: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781451617474
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Scribner - October 4th, 2011

The Barbarian Nurseries by Héctor Tobar

“The Barbarian Nurseries is a huge novel of this century, as sprawling and exciting as Los Angeles itself, one that tracks a Mexican immigrant maid not only as static decor in ‘real’ America’s economic rise and fall. Like yard workers and cooks, construction laborers and seamstresses, Tobar’s Araceli has flesh, brains, dreams, ambition, history, culture, voice: a rich, generous life. A story that was demanded; we can celebrate that it is now here.” —Dagoberto Gilb

The Barbarian Nurseries Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374108991
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - September 27th, 2011

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

The Zombie Apocalypse storyline seems to have a seemingly indestructible appeal; an observer of pop culture has to wonder if the durability of zombie entertainment is a sign that we may be growing used to reflecting our own culture; that we eerily shuffle through life much like our brain-dead zombie enemies. At least this point may be what Colson Whitehead tries to unearth in his subtle take on the genre. He’s more concerned with his character’s emotional lives, with how they cope in the hordes of modern life and modern apocalypse, than with offering cheap zombie-movie thrills we’ve all grown accustomed to. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by: 
Vernon
Zone One: A Novel Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780385528078
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Doubleday - October 18th, 2011

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami

Previously published in three volumes in Japan and playing off George Orwell’s 1984, this novel has now been translated and is being released as one volume and hailed as the author’s long-awaited magnum opus. Murakami is an extremely talented author; the New York Times called him “a magician who explains what he’s doing as he performs the trick and still makes you believe he has supernatural powers.…” With this mind-blowing tale of parallel time-lines, chance encounters, and tangled connections, readers get to experience more of Murakami’s magic.

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1Q84 Cover Image
By Haruki Murakami, Jay Rubin (Translated by), Philip Gabriel (Translated by)
$40.00
ISBN: 9780307593313
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Knopf - October 25th, 2011

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Harry Potter meets Aimee Bender, set in the early 20th century: That’s the best way I can think to describe this dazzling novel. I can also tell you that it’s about magic (real magic), a very strange circus, and star-crossed lovers, and that I honestly think you could buy this book for just about any reader and get them hooked. The buzz for this book has been building since spring, and for very good reason. Rejoice! It’s finally here.

Reviewed by: 
Kat
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The Night Circus Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780385534635
Availability: Available from Warehouse - Usually Delivers in 3-14 Days
Published: Doubleday - September 13th, 2011

Nightwoods by Charles Frazier

Charles Frazier (Cold Mountain and Thirteen Moons) has a written a novel that is a break from his usual style. Known for his literary epics that span decades, this new novel, set in North Carolina in the 1960s, is more taut and intimate, but still insightful and lyrical. We meet Luce, a solitary but strong young woman who has retreated to the mountains after life in her small town threatened to break her spirit. When she is handed the task of raising her sister’s orphaned (and near feral) children, Luce must crack open her solitary life, with startling and profound results. Part mystery, part love story, this novel is a page-turner that has surprising depth. The characters and setting of this book help make this a wonderful read.

Reviewed by: 
S.M.C.
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Nightwoods: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781400067091
Availability: Hard to Find - Contact Store for Availability
Published: Random House - September 27th, 2011

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