BOOK NOTES: More book news, Feb. 2, 2013

Published:

BOOK CLUBS

• Randolph Library Cookbook Club: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 5, Randolph Town Hall, located next door to the library at 1639 S.R. 44 in Randolph. This month’s featured chef is Ree Drummond, also known as the Pioneer Woman on her blog and television show. Participants are asked to bring a dish and a copy of the recipe to the meeting. Cookbooks or recipe printouts are available at the Randolph Library. Cookbook Club members will taste and discuss the recipes and vote on next month’s chef. In addition, members may bring old cookbooks they no longer want for a voluntary cookbook exchange. For information or to register: 330-325-7003.

• Pierce Streetsboro Library’s Book Discussion Club: 3 p.m. Feb. 11, meeting room of the library, 8990 Kirby Lane — “Blackbird House” by Alice Hoffman, a novel taking place in a Cape Cod farmhouse over the course of generations. Light refreshments served courtesy of the Friends of Pierce Streetsboro Library. For information or to register: 330-626-4458.

• Adult Book Discussion: 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 13, Reed Memorial Library, 167 E. Main St. — “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson, a novel about a retired widower who finds an unlikely ally in his neighbor, a Pakistani shopkeeper. The expectations of culture and tradition add complexity to their friendship as it develops into something more. Copies available at the circulation desk. For information: 330-296-2827, ext. 200.

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Author Kelley Grealis to visit Hudson

Debut author Kelley Grealis will be at the Learned Owl Book Shop (204 N. Main St., Hudson) at 1 p.m. Feb. 9 with her novel, “The Descendant.” Dubbed “a vampire tale of biblical proportions,” “The Descendant “reveals the biblical origin of vampires through the experiences of a modern day woman who discovers that she is a descendant of the first vampire.

Allison Carmichael wakes from a car accident with no memory of the past three years. She doesn’t recall her husband’s death or how she alienated her friends, and she definitely doesn’t remember her new boyfriend Vincent Drake – a charismatic man with a penchant for rare and unique possessions. The only things familiar to Allison are her seemingly common ailments – insomnia, lack of appetite, erratic body temperature – which have gone undiagnosed and are worsening.

Kelley Grealis was born and raised in Cleveland. She has a B.A. in accounting from Baldwin-Wallace College and an M.B.A. from Cleveland State University. She has loved all things vampire since she was a little girl, and it was that passion combined with thirteen years of Catholic schooling that inspired her to write “The Descendant.” She lives in a Cleveland suburb with her husband.

For more information, contact the Learned Owl Book Shop at 330-653-2252.

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Best-sellers

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

The Associated Press

HARDCOVER FICTION

1. “Private Berlin” by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan (Little, Brown)

2. “A Memory of Light” by Robert Jordan (Tor)

3. “Suspect” by Robert Crais (Crown)

4. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn (Crown)

5. “Ever After” by Kim Harrison (Harper Voyager)

6. “The Fifth Assassin” by Brad Meltzer (Grand Central Publishing)

7. “Tenth of December: Stories” by George Saunders (Random House)

8. “The Racketeer” by John Grisham (Doubleday)

9. “The Husband List” by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin’s)

10. “Threat Vector” by Tom Clancy (Putnam)

11. “Collateral Damage” by Stuart Woods (Putnam)

12. “Cross Roads” by Wm. Paul Young (Faith/Words)

13. “Kinsey and Me: Stories” by Sue Grafton (Putnam/Marian Wood)

14. “The Third Bullet” by Stephen Hunter (Simon & Schuster)

15. “The Forgotten” by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing)

HARDCOVER NONFICTION

1. “Shred: The Revolutionary Diet: 6 Weeks 4 Inches 2 Sizes” by Ian K. Smith (St. Martin’s Press)

2. “My Beloved World” by Sonia Sotomayor (Knopf)

3. “Francona: The Red Sox Years” by Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

4. “Killing Kennedy” by Bill O’Reilly (Henry Holt and Co.)

5. “Going Clear” by Lawrence Wright (Knopf)

6. “I Declare: 31 Promises to Speak” by Joel Osteen (Faith/Words)

7. “No Easy Day” by Mark Owen (Dutton)

8. “The 4-Hour Chef: The Simple Path to Cooking Like a Pro, Learn Anything, and Living the Good Life” by Timothy Ferriss (New Harvest)

9. “The Plan” by Lyn-Genet Recitas (Grand Central Publishing)

10. “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power” by Jon Meacham (Random House)

11. “Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust” by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter)

12. “Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook” by Weight Watchers (Wiley)

13. “The Virgin Diet: Drop 7 Foods, Lose 7 Pounds, Just 7 Days” by J.J. Virgin (Harlequin)

14. “To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Moving Others’ by Daniel H. Pink (Riverhead)

15. “Jesus Today” by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson)

MASS MARKET PAPERBACKS

1. “Moonlight Masquerade” by Jude Deveraux (Pocket Books)

2. “Nineteen Minutes” by Jodi Picoult (Pocket Books)

3. “Odd Interlude” by Dean Koontz (Bantam)

4. “Return to Sender” by Fern Michaels (Zebra)

5. “Montana” by Debbie Macomber (Harlequin Mira)

6. “The Columbus Affair: A Novel” by Steve Berry (Ballantine)

7. “Safe Haven” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing)

8. “Catch Me: A Detective D.D. Warren Novel” by Lisa Gardner (Signet)

9. “Big Sky River” by Linda Lael Miller (Harlequin HQN)

10. “10th Anniversary” by James Patterson, Maxine Paetro (Vision)

11. “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Choke Point” by Peter Telep (Berkley)

12. “Full House” by Janet Evanovich (St. Martin’s Press)

13. “Left for Dead: A Novel” by J.A. Jance (Pocket Books)

14. “After Tex” by Sherryl Woods (Harlequin Mira)

15. “One Shot” by Lee Child (Dell)

TRADE PAPERBACKS

1. “Proof of Heaven” by Eben Alexander (Simon & Schuster)

2. “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James (Vintage)

3. “Private Number 1 Suspect” by James Patterson, Maxine Paetro (Grand Central Publishing)

4. “Fifty Shades Darker” by E.L. James (Vintage)

5. “Fifty Shades Freed” by E.L. James (Vintage)

6. “The Money Code: Improve Your Entire Financial Life Right Now” by Joe Duran (Greenleaf)

7. “Safe Haven” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing)

8. “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain (Ballantine)

9. “Home Front” by Kristin Hannah (St. Martin’s Griffin)

10. “Private London” by James Patterson (Grand Central Publishing)

11. “Death Comes to Pemberley” by P.D. James (Vintage)

12. “Reflected in You: A Crossfire Novel” by Sylvia Day (Berkley)

13. “The Harbinger: The Ancient Mystery That Holds the Secret of America’s Future” by Jonathan Cahn (Frontline)

14. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky (MTV Books)

15. “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel (Mariner Books)

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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WALL STREET JOURNAL BEST-SELLERS

The Associated Press

FICTION

1. “Private Berlin” by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan (Little, Brown)

2. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel” by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books)

3. “A Memory of Light” by Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson (TorBooks)

4. “Suspect” by Robert Crais (Crown)

5. “Captain Underpants and the Revolting Revenge of the Radioactive Robo-Boxers” by Dav Pilkey (Scholastic)

6. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn (Crown Publishing Group)

7. “Ever After” by Kim Harrison (Harper Voyager)

8. “The Fifth Assassin” by Brad Meltzer (Grand Central Publishing)

9. “Tenth of December” by George Saunders (Random House)

10. “The Racketeer” by John Grisham (Doubleday)

NONFICTION

1. “Shred: The Revolutionary Diet: 6 Weeks 4 Inches 2 Sizes” by Ian K. Smith (St. Martin’s Press)

2. “My Beloved World” by Sonia Sotomayor (Knopf)

3. “Francona: The Red Sox Years” by Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

4. “Jesus Calling: Enjoy Peace in His Presence” by Sarah Young (Thomas Nelson Publishers)

5. “Killing Kennedy” by Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard (Henry Holt & Co.)

6. “Killing Lincoln” by Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard (Henry Holt & Co.)

7. “StrengthsFinder 2.0” by Tom Rath (Gallup Press)

8. “The Elf on the Shelf” by Carol V. Aebersold and Chanda A. Bell (CCA&B)

9. “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief” by Lawrence Wright (Knopf)

10. “I Declare” by Joel Osteen (Faith Words)

FICTION E-BOOKS

1. “Safe Haven” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing)

2. “Private Berlin” by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan (Little, Brown)

3. “Hopeless” by Colleen Hoover (Self-published via Amazon Digital Services)

4. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn (Crown Publishing Group)

5. “Wait For Me” by Elisabeth Naughton (Elisabeth Naughton)

6. “Ever After” by Kim Harrison (Harper Voyager)

7. “Suspect” by Robert Crais (Crown)

8. “Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcis, Margaret Stohl (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

9. “The Forgotten” by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing)

10. “Someone to Love” by Addison Moore (Addison Moore)

NONFICTION E-BOOKS

1. “Proof of Heaven” by Eben Alexander (Simon & Schuster)

2. “Guns” by Stephen King (Stephen King)

3. “Shred: The Revolutionary Diet: 6 Weeks 4 Inches 2 Sizes” by Ian K. Smith (St. Martin’s Press)

4. “Francona: The Red Sox Years” by Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

5. “While the World Watched” by Carolyn Maull McKinstry and Denise George (Tyndale House)

6. “Going Clear” by Lawrence Wright (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

7. “Cry Silent Tears” by Joe Peters (Harper Collins)

8. “Killing Kennedy” by Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard (Henry Holt and Co.)

9. “APE” by Guy Kawasaki and Shawn Welch (Guy Kawaski)

10. “My Beloved World” by Sonia Sotomayor (Knopf)

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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USA TODAY BEST-SELLERS

The Associated Press

1. “Safe Haven” by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central Publishing)

2. “Private Berlin” by James Patterson and Mark Sullivan (Little, Brown)

3. “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn (Crown)

4. “Proof of Heaven” by Eben Alexander (Simon & Schuster)

5. “Suspect” by Robert Crais (Crown)

6. “Ever After” by Kim Harrison (Harper Voyager)

7. “Hopeless” by Colleen Hoover (Self-published via Amazon Digital Services)

8. “Beautiful Creatures” by Kami Garcia, Margaret Stohl (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

9. “Shred: The Revolutionary Diet: 6 Weeks 4 Inches 2 Sizes” by Ian K. Smith (St. Martin’s Press)

10. “Fifty Shades of Grey” by E.L. James (Vintage)

11. “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel” by Jeff Kinney (Amulet Books)

12. “Fifty Shades Freed” by E.L. James (Vintage)

13. “Fifty Shades Darker” by E.L. James (Vintage)

14. “Francona: The Red Sox Years” by Terry Francona and Dan Shaughnessy (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

15. “The Forgotten” by David Baldacci (Grand Central Publishing)

16. “My Beloved World” by Sonia Sotomayor (Knopf)

17. “The Fifth Assassin” by Brad Meltzer (Grand Central Publishing)

18. “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

19. “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky (MTV)

20. “Killing Kennedy: The End of Camelot” by Bill O’Reilly, Martin Dugard (Henry Holt and Co.)

21. “The Racketeer” by John Grisham (Doubleday)

22. “A Memory of Light” by Robert Jordan, Brandon Sanderson (Tor)

23. “Moonlight Masquerade” by Jude Deveraux (Pocket Books)

24. “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)

25. “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green (Dutton Children’s)

For the extended, interactive and searchable version of this list, visit http://books.usatoday.com/list/index

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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Check out the ALA’s awards for excellence in children’s literature.

http://blogs.dixcdn.com/shine_a_light/2013/01/28/childrens-literature-awards/

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Check out the Costa Book Award winners.

http://blogs.dixcdn.com/shine_a_light/2013/02/01/mantel-wins-top-honors/

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New Salinger book and film coming within next year

By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — A new J.D. Salinger film and biography are being billed as an unprecedented look into the mysterious life of the author of “The Catcher In the Rye.”

Simon & Schuster announced Tuesday that it had acquired “The Private War of J.D. Salinger,” an oral biography compiled by author David Shields and filmmaker-screenwriter Shane Salerno, whose screenplay credits include the Oliver Stone film “Savages.” Salinger’s own books have been published by Little, Brown and Co.

Salerno has been working for several years on his documentary, which PBS will air next January for the 200th of its “American Masters” series. According to Simon & Schuster, the book and film draw upon interviews “with over 150 sources who either worked directly with author J.D. Salinger, had a personal relationship with him, or were influenced by his work.”

Salinger’s longtime literary agent, Phyllis Westberg of Harold Ober Associates Inc., declined to comment Tuesday.

Simon & Schuster’s announcement does not say whether the ultimate Salinger question is answered: Did he leave behind any unpublished manuscripts? Simon & Schuster publisher Jonathan Karp said he could not provide detail beyond what is in the news release.

Virtually nothing new has been learned about the author since he died in New Hampshire in 2010 at age 91. No authorized biography has appeared.

“The myth that people have read about and believed for 60 years about J.D. Salinger is one of someone too pure to publish, too sensitive to be touched. We replace the myth of Salinger with an extraordinarily complex, deeply contradictory human being,” Salerno said in a statement. “Our book offers a complete revaluation and reinterpretation of the work and the life.”

“Both the film and book are an investigation into the cost of art and the cost of war,” Simon & Schuster senior editor Jofie Ferrari-Adler said in a statement. “This is a truly revelatory work, and one that transcends literary biography to investigate the larger story of the legacy of World War II. Through the prism of Salinger’s life and his experience at war, the authors are presenting a personal history of the 20th century.”

Salinger was reportedly deeply scarred by his service during World War II, when he interrogated prisoners of war.

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Amy Poehler working on ‘non-linear’ book

By HILLEL ITALIE, AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Tina Fey had a million seller with a book of essays called “Bossypants.” Amy Poehler? She has a deal for a book which appears to be a little bit of everything.

The star of “Parks and Recreation” and former “Saturday Night Live” performer has an agreement with It Books for an “illustrated, non-linear diary.” It Books, a pop culture imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, announced Monday that the book is currently untitled and scheduled for 2014. Financial terms were not disclosed.

“Her original twist on the conventional memoir will have universal appeal,” according to It Books. “An illustrated, non-linear diary full of humor and honesty and brimming with true stories, fictional anecdotes and life lessons, the book will be a unique and engaging experience from one of today’s most talented and beloved stars.”

It’s the first book for Poehler, who recently co-hosted the Golden Globes ceremony with Fey, her longtime friend and professional collaborator. Poehler will be edited by It Books’ Carrie Thornton, who said in a statement that after first talking to Poehler she was “blown away by her creativity and her passion.”

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Book Review: Dave Barry’s ‘Insane City’ is hysterical

Associated Press

“Insane City” (Putnam), by Dave Barry

Humorist Dave Barry has produced his first solo adult novel in over 10 years, and it’s hysterical. In a story reminiscent of “The Hangover” films, Seth is marrying a woman who is drop-dead gorgeous, and his buddies have the ultimate bachelor party planned.

The Groom Posse has wild ideas that involve strippers and alcohol while cavorting about the city of Miami. A misadventure inside a cab starts them on a different path that connects them with some Russians, a stripper demanding a gratuity and a giant bald man named Duane with a Burmese python named Blossom around his shoulders. The madness starts quickly and continues to escalate until the story’s surprising end.

A twist in the laugh-fest involves a look at the plight involving refugees from Haiti and Cuba and the real horror they experience trying to make it to the United States. The transition between the humor and Laurette, a Haitian with two children trying to make it to Miami, proves a bit jarring, but ultimately hopeful.

Barry obviously wrote “Insane City” as a means of delivering jokes, and sometimes the humor sacrifices the characters. But the novel is designed for laughs, and it’s quite funny. This is another winner from Barry, though the city of Miami might be upset, since it’s definitely not an endorsement for tourism.

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Gore hits corporate media, defends Current TV sale

By ERIK SCHELZIG, Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Al Gore, who takes aim in his new book at the corporate media for “suffocating the free flow of ideas,” on Tuesday defended the sale of his television channel to Al-Jazeera.

The Qatar government-owned news network earlier this month struck a deal to buy Current TV, the cable news network co-founded by the former vice president. The price tag was $500 million.

Gore told The Associated Press that he had no reservations about selling the channel to Al-Jazeera, which has won U.S. journalism prizes but has been criticized by some for an anti-American bias. The new owner plans to gradually transform Current into a network called Al-Jazeera America.

“They’re commercial-free, they’re hard-hitting,” he said in a phone interview. “They’re very respected and capable, and their climate coverage has been outstanding, in-depth, extensive, far more so than any network currently on the air in the U.S.”

The 64-year-old Gore said he considers Current TV, which was largely outflanked by MSNBC in its effort to be a liberal alternative to Fox News Channel, to have been a success.

“We won every major award in television journalism, and we were profitable each year,” said Gore, who has a home in Nashville. “But it’s difficult for an independent network to compete in an age of conglomerate.”

In a new 592-page book titled, “The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change,” Gore makes only a fleeting reference to Al-Jazeera, calling it “the feisty and relatively independent satellite television channel” that played a key role in bringing about the Arab Spring.

Gore in the book likens the influence of money in the political process to a “slow-motion corporate coup d’etat that threatens to destroy the integrity and functioning of American democracy.”

“Corporations are not people,” Gore said in the interview. “Might doesn’t make right. Money is not speech. And those who advocate the dominance of American politics by large corporations, special interests and anonymous donors are working against the original design by our founders.”

“Our democracy has been hacked,” he said.

Corporations have enlisted politicians and lobbyists to further their goals and have also “recruited a fifth column in the Fourth Estate,” he said in the book.

“The one-way, advertising-dominated conglomerate-controlled television medium has been suffocating the free flow of ideas necessary for genuine self-determination,” he writes.

The Internet provides a path for breaking the corporate stranglehold on the media, Gore said in the interview, as it “is less vulnerable to the dominance of special interests, because individual voices play a larger and more influential role.”

Gore, who won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to raise awareness about climate change, also calls for a carbon tax, though he acknowledged that passage does not appear to be imminent.

“Well, I wouldn’t go to Vegas and bet on it right now,” he said. “But neither would I say that it’s impossible ... The day has passed when we can use the earth’s atmosphere as an open sewer.”

“Yes it’s tough, because we’ve been relying on these fossil fuels for 150 years. But the cost of solar and wind is coming down rapidly and energy efficiency saves money while it reduces pollution,” he said. “And we need to move in that direction quickly.”

Gore, who represented Tennessee in the U.S. Senate and House before he was tapped by President Bill Clinton as his running mate, blames procedural rules in the Senate for blocking popular measures.

“I fully appreciate the virtues of the filibuster, but it’s gotten so out of control that I do think that it needs to be dialed back significantly,” he said. “It has been abused to the point where American democracy is paralyzed.

“Nothing can pass the Senate that is opposed by special interests,” he said. “And that’s not right.”

Gore points out in the introduction of his book that as a “recovering politician,” the chances of his returning to public office become slimmer the more time passes. Gore won more popular votes than George W. Bush in the 2000 presidential contest, but was defeated in the electoral college after the Supreme Court stopped a hotly debated recount in Florida.

So the book shouldn’t be seen as a “manifesto” for a future political campaign, he writes in the book.

But he’s not shy about making a series of policy recommendations.

“We should have more progressive taxation, we should have higher inheritance taxes. I’ve always believed that,” Gore said. “I advocated that during my political career and I continue to advocate it.”

“We need to restore our democracy, we need to reform markets so they operate the way they’re supposed to,” he said. “And the U.S. leadership of the world needs to be restored.”

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Review: ‘Revenge’ filled with haunting prose

By MONICA RHOR, Associated Press

“Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales” (Picador), by Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder

They are the scenes of ordinary life: a mother stopping by the neighborhood bakery to purchase two strawberry shortcakes for her son’s birthday, an aspiring writer toiling over a manuscript in a spare apartment, a young woman preparing dinner for her beau, a woman spying on her husband’s mistress.

Yet in Yoko Ogawa’s story collection, “Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales,” those ordinary exteriors are merely brittle shells that crack open to reveal darkness, death and despair. Woven through the 11 interconnected tales is a thread of the grotesque, the macabre, the mournful.

The mother’s errand turns out to be a paean to inconsolable loss. The writer emerges as an unhinged character that evokes both love and pity. The amorous young woman finds herself entwined in both a murder scene and a museum dedicated to torture.

Ogawa, a prolific author whose work has appeared in The New Yorker and Harper’s Magazine, laces her stories with gruesome murders, exotic animals and peculiar events. Her language is both spare and searingly precise, crystallizing the details of everyday existence and capturing the unexpected shock of the bizarre.

In “Sewing for the Heart,” for example, the narrator is a bag-maker who has been contracted to create a purse for a beating heart. The client is a cabaret singer who was born with the organ outside her chest. The narrator gasps in awe at the sight and utters an oddly erotic ode to the throbbing muscle: “What extraordinary, breathtaking beauty! Would it feel damp if I cupped it in my hands? Would the membrane rupture if I gave it a squeeze? ... I wanted to run my fingertips over each tiny bump and furrow, touch my lips to the veins, soft tissue on soft tissue, the pressure of her pulse against my skin.”

Many of Ogawa’s characters, including the bag-maker and the cabaret singer, reappear in other stories, as do details and events in ways that are sometimes incidental, sometimes integral to the plots. The effect is, as Ogawa describes the novel written by the unhinged author, an “icy current running under her words.”

In these stories, ordinariness is not a mask hiding the morbid and the macabre. In many cases, the ordinary life itself, with its insistent drip of isolation, sameness, sadness and loss, is what pushes the characters to the edge of madness and vengeance.

As Ogawa writes in “Welcome to the Museum of Torture,” which introduces readers to an exhibit space for devices such as corsets that crush internal organs and tweezers used to slowly pluck out a victim’s hair: “For torture to be effective, the pain has to be spread out; it has to come at regular intervals, with no end in sight.”

Ogawa’s haunting prose may not be to everyone’s taste, but readers willing to explore the murkier edges of the human psyche will not be disappointed.

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Review: ‘Little Elvises’ compelling, suspenseful

By BRUCE DeSILVA, Associated Press

“Little Elvises” (Soho Press), by Timothy Hallinan

Ever since Dashiell Hammett introduced us to Sam Spade in “The Maltese Falcon” 83 years ago, hundreds of writers have adopted his formula, flooding the bookshelves with wisecracking private eyes who work both sides of the law, disrespect authority, icily stare down gun barrels and conceal an immutable code of honor beneath a cynical outer shell.

This can get awfully tiresome, but every now and then a writer comes along with the imagination and skill to make the whole thing feel fresh and new again. That’s what veteran crime novelist Timothy Hallinan has accomplished with his latest series of novels featuring Junior Bender, full-time Los Angeles burglar and part-time private eye-style fixer for the city’s criminal element.

The first book in the series, “Crashed” (2012), was great fun. The new one, “Little Elvises,” is even better, with an intricate high-stakes plot, a compelling subplot and heart-pounding suspense.

As the story opens, Junior is in a fix, or rather, a bunch of them. The ex-wife he still yearns for has a new man in her life. His precocious daughter, who just turned 13, has acquired her first boyfriend, and Junior doesn’t approve. The daughter of Junior’s eccentric landlady has run off with a cad, and she needs Junior’s help to bring her home. And an L.A.P.D. detective is going to frame Junior for invading a judge’s house, pistol-whipping his honor’s wife and stealing their jade collection unless Junior finds a way to get the cop’s elderly uncle out of a murder rap.

The uncle, a record producer in Philadelphia back in the 1950s, got rich by recruiting a bunch of no-talent pretty boys, fixing their hair and teaching them to curl their lips to make them look like Elvis Presley, and foisting their abysmal howls on teenage record buyers. (Those with the misfortune of remembering the likes of Len Barry, Johnny Caswell and Johnny Madara know this really happened.) Hence, the book’s title.

Along the way, Hallinan introduces us to a drugged-out, pain-impervious hit man, a nonagenarian puppet master who rules the L.A. underworld, a tabloid reporter who uses his job as a cover to blackmail the rich and the famous, and a host of other characters as dangerously outrageous as the murderous crew obsessed with obtaining the black bird in Hammett’s 1930 masterpiece.

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Review: ‘Hour of Peril’ is compelling true story

By JEFF AYERS, Associated Press

“The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War” (Minotaur Books), by Daniel Stashower

It’s February 1861 and Abraham Lincoln is making his way by train from Springfield, Ill., to his inauguration in Washington, D.C., on March 4.

Allan Pinkerton and his renowned team of detectives have uncovered a plot to assassinate Lincoln before he arrives for his inauguration. They try to convince Lincoln’s advisers of the threat, but they refuse to believe the danger is real.

“The Hour of Peril” by Daniel Stashower tells the true story of Pinkerton and his team, who created a bold plan to not only uncover the conspirators, but also insure Lincoln’s safety as he traveled through the northern United States on his way to Washington.

The narrative reads like the best political thriller. Pinkerton was a controversial public figure, and the historical record questions much of how he handled high-profile cases. He was willing to bend the law if it meant success.

The threat may or may not have existed, and the conspiracy is still historically disputed. But Lincoln’s decision to listen to Pinkerton and arrive in Baltimore in the middle of the night may have saved his life.

Who knows how history would have changed without Lincoln at the nation’s helm during the Civil War?

The story of a charismatic detective trying to convince Lincoln of an assassination plot and a man adapting to lead the country that was dividing proves to be a great addition for fans of great books of history.

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The Worm Turns: Rodman writes book for children

By BRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Even Dennis Rodman laughs at the idea.

“Kind of funny, huh?” he said.

It’s true, though. One of basketball’s most outrageous personalities has written a book for kids.

The Hall of Famer’s book, “Dennis The Wild Bull,” came out Wednesday and fans will immediately recognize Rodman’s influence. The large red bull on the cover has flowing red hair, two nose rings, a tattoo and red stubble under his chin.

“They’ll see me, literally see me. They’ll say, ‘Wow, this is just like him,’” Rodman said in a phone interview.

And he deals with the same issues.

Rodman, known as much for his wacky looks and lifestyle off the court as his considerable success on it, said the purpose of the book is simple.

“More than anything, I just want little kids today just to understand, ain’t no matter what you do in life, be different, rich or poor man, guess what, it’s OK to be who you are pretty much and you’ll be accepted,” Rodman said.

Rodman already wrote books about his personal life — the wild nights as a player, relationships with Madonna and Carmen Electra, and everything that allowed him to be famous long after he finished winning five championships with Detroit and Chicago.

The author whose previous works include titles such as “Bad as I Wanna Be” and “I Should Be Dead by Now” chose a different audience this time. He said even now he is still recognized by children who never saw him play, and those are the ones he wanted to reach.

“For a guy like me to be very eccentric, to even go to extremes to write a children’s book with all the wild things I do and make it believable was pretty much incredible,” Rodman said.

Co-written with Dustin Warburton, the book tells the story of Dennis, a bull who is captured away from his family and forced to live with other bulls in a rodeo. Though he looks nothing like them, they come to accept him and he becomes friends with them.

“Once I got to know the other bulls, I liked them,” Rodman said. “I enjoyed their company and stuff like that, and they accepted me for who I am no matter how I look.”

Dennis becomes so close with them that when he plots his escape to return to his family, he makes sure his new friends can come with him. Dennis originally was to escape alone until Rodman decided to change the ending.

“That’s not really Dennis. Dennis thought it was so cool that these other bulls accepted him and he stayed loyal to them. He wanted to see his family but he wanted these other bulls to come along,” said Darren Prince, Rodman’s marketing agent. “Anybody that knows the real Dennis Rodman knows how loyal he is to anybody that he’s close with and Dennis didn’t like that part, so they tweaked it at the end.”

Rodman, ordered to pay $500,000 in back child support to his ex-wife last month, acknowledges a couple of his children on the cover, where two little bulls are pictured in front of Dennis.

The book is available on Rodman’s website, www.dennisrodman.com, and Amazon for $16. His web site also has information regarding upcoming book signings in the New York area and Chicago.

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