Thursday, June 04, 2009

Library Loot (3 June 2009)


Heat and Dust - Ruth Prawer Jhabvala
The winner of the 1975 Booker Prize.
Set in India, Heat and Dust is the story of Olivia, a beautiful, spoiled, bored English colonial wife in the 1920s who is drawn inexorably into the spell of the Nawab, a minor Indian prince deeply involved in plots and intrigues. Olivia outrages the tiny, suffocating town where her husband is a civil servant by eloping with the captivating Nawab. It is also the story of Olivia's step-granddaughter who, fifty years later, is drawn to India by her fascination with the letters left behind by the now dead older woman, and by her obsession with solving the enigma of Olivia's scandal. A penetrating and compassionate love story, this brilliant novel immerses the reader in the heat, dust, and squalor of India, while providing a compelling mixture of the spiritual and the sensual.
Goose Girl - Shannon Hale
I would never have heard of this book if not for the many book blogs I read using Google Reader.
Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt's guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani's journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her. Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny. Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must find her own unusual talents before she can become queen of the people she has made her own.
Day of Empire: How Hyperpowers Rise to Global Dominance and Why They Fail - Amy Chua
I'm not doing too good in my bid to read more non-fiction. As you can see, most of my loot doesn't belong to that section. But I'm looking forward to this one, having read Amy Chua's World on Fire a couple of years ago.
In a little over two centuries, America has grown from a regional power to a superpower, and to what is today called a hyperpower. But can America retain its position as the world’s dominant power, or has it already begun to decline?
The Martian Chronicles - Ray Bradbury
Leaving behind a world on the brink of destruction, man came to the Red planet and found the Martians waiting, dreamlike. Seeking the promise of a new beginning, man brought with him his oldest fears and his deepest desires. Man conquered Mars — and in that instant, Mars conquered him. The strange new world with its ancient, dying race and vast, red-gold deserts cast a spell on him, settled into his dreams, and changed him forever. Here are the captivating chronicles of man and Mars — the modern classic by the peerless Ray Bradbury.
Arthur and George - Julian Barnes
Tym recommended this one earlier this year.

Searching for clues, no one would ever guess that the lives of Arthur and George might intersect. Growing up in shabby-genteel nineteenth-century Edinburgh, Arthur is saddled with a dad who is a disgrace and a mum he wishes to protect, and is propelled into a life of action. To his astonishment, his career as a self-made man of letters brings him riches and fame and, in the world at large, he becomes the perfect picture of the honourable English gentlemen.

George is irredeemably an outsider, and has no hope of becoming such a picture. Though he's dogged and logical, a vicar's son from rural Staffordshire, he is set apart, and he and his family are targeted in his boyhood by a poison-pen campaign. George finds safe harbour in the reliability of rules, and grows up to become a solicitor, putting his faith in the insulating value of British justice.

Then crisis upsets the uneasy equilibrium of both men's lives. Arthur is knocked for a loop by guilt and other dishonourable emotions. George is put to the sorest test, accused of a horrible crime. And from that point on their lives weave together in the most profound and surprising way, as each man becomes the other's salvation.

Fingersmith - Sarah Waters
I've never read anything by Sarah Waters, but have heard a lot of praise about her work, plus it's on The Guardian's 1000 booklist.
Sue Trinder is an orphan, left as an infant in the care of Mrs. Sucksby, a "baby farmer," who raised her with unusual tenderness, as if Sue were her own. Mrs. Sucksby's household, with its fussy babies calmed with doses of gin, also hosts a transient family of petty thieves — fingersmiths — for whom this house in the heart of a mean London slum is home.

One day, the most beloved thief of all arrives — Gentleman, an elegant con man, who carries with him an enticing proposition for Sue: If she wins a position as the maid to Maud Lilly, a na├»ve gentlewoman, and aids Gentleman in her seduction, then they will all share in Maud's vast inheritance. Once the inheritance is secured, Maud will be disposed of — passed off as mad, and made to live out the rest of her days in a lunatic asylum.

With dreams of paying back the kindness of her adopted family, Sue agrees to the plan. Once in, however, Sue begins to pity her helpless mark and care for Maud Lilly in unexpected ways... But no one and nothing is as it seems in this Dickensian novel of thrills and reversals.

Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics - Ina Garten
Back to Basics operates on a simple premise: use few ingredients, but use the best. Ina Garten encourages cooks to choose fresh herbs and seasonal produce to create simple, flavorful dishes. Plus, the photographs are as tantalizing as the recipes.
Maus II - Art Spiegelman
This second volume, subtitled And Here My Troubles Began, moves us from the barracks of Auschwitz to the bungalows of the Catskills. Genuinely tragic and comic by turns, it attains a complexity of theme and precision of thought new to comics and rare in any medium. Maus ties together two powerful stories: Vladek's harrowing tale of surviving against all odds, delineating the paradox of daily life in the death camps, and the author's account of his tortured relationship with his aging father. At every level this is the ultimate survivor's tale — and that too of the children who somehow survive even the survivors.
Hellboy: Darkness Calls - Mike Mignola
I've been wanting to read a Hellboy comic, but this was the only one available. Well, better than nothing.
Hellboy has finally returned from his adventures at sea, but no sooner has he settled on land than a conclave of witches drags him from his respite and into the heart of Russian folklore, where he becomes the quarry of the powerful and bloodthirsty witch Baba Yaga. Bent on revenge for the eye she had lost to Hellboy, Baba Yaga has enlisted the aid of a deathless warrior who will stop at nothing to destroy Hellboy. Creator Mike Mignola turns over drawing duties to Duncan Fegredo (Enigma, Ultimate Adventures) for a new chapter in the life of the World's Greatest Paranormal Investigator.
The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves - M.T. Anderson
This seems to be a day for Part Twos. This time, more Octavian Nothing.

Fearing a death sentence, Octavian and his tutor, Dr. Trefusis, escape through rising tides and pouring rain to find shelter in British-occupied Boston. Sundered from all he knows — the College of Lucidity, the rebel cause — Octavian hopes to find safe harbor. Instead, he is soon to learn of Lord Dunmore's proclamation offering freedom to slaves who join the counterrevolutionary forces.

In Volume II of his unparalleled masterwork, M. T. Anderson recounts Octavian's experiences as the Revolutionary War explodes around him, thrusting him into intense battles and tantalizing him with elusive visions of liberty. Ultimately, this astonishing narrative escalates to a startling, deeply satisfying climax, while reexamining our national origins in a singularly provocative light.

I'm definitely looking forward to these reads. What did you get from the library this week?

No comments: