Richard’s March Recommendation

Live and Let Die by Ian Fleming

live and let dieRichard says:  “Live and Let Die is the second novel in Ian Fleming’s iconic James Bond series.  At the risk of spoiling Casino Royale‘s ending, the most I’ll say is that it follows directly from the events in the preceding booka marked difference from the movies, which tend toward self-contained narratives.  Agent 007, MI5’s most dependable operative, is sent to New York City to unravel the mystery of ‘Mr. Big’ (AKA, ‘Buonaparte Ignace Gallia’), a shadowy criminal mastermind with connections to the Soviet Union.  In the process, Bond uncovers a disturbing connection between gold smugglersapparently a favorite theme of Fleming’sa voodoo cult, and the USSR’s sinister SMERSH operations.  Naturally, Bond is the only man for the job.

This probably sounds familiar, and rightly so.  James Bond has been fully absorbed into the collective pop culture consciousness; he has changed with the times to suit each generation’s expectations.  As a result, readers who have seen the motion pictures will recognize many of the series’ well-worn tropes, albeit filtered through the lens of the 1950s:  globetrotting adventures, a mysterious and beautiful woman whose primary role is to be Bond’s love interest, a ruthless megalomaniac bent on world domination, and enough racy double entendres to make even Geoffrey Chaucer blush.  In other words, Bond fans will find a lot to enjoy in this book.  It’s worth pointing out, though, that the novelswhile subtly humorousare nowhere near as outrageous as many of the movies.

Live and Let Die was later adapted into a notoriously campy film, notable mostly for featuring Roger Moore’s first turn as James Bond.  One of the series’ more lightweight entries, Live and Let Die lacks the cool sophistication of From Russia with Love or the grandiosity of The Spy Who Loved Me.  Still, the movie has a lot to recommend:  Jane Seymour’s radiant Solitaire (still one the most popular and recognizable ‘Bond girls’), Moore’s wry take on 007, a killer theme song by Paul McCartney and Wings, and a suitably tongue-in-cheek tone.  These items keep the film afloat, even if it lacks many elements of the best Bond flicks.  While it borders on the absurd, Live and Let Die never quite falls victim to the cringeworthy cheese that bogs down Moore’s later performances in a quagmire of ludicrous plots and gadgets.  The book is great and comes highly recommended; however, the film is probably a ‘fans only’ proposition.”

3 Similar Reads

Solo:  A James Bond Novel by William Boyd “James BondBritish special agent 007is summoned to headquarters to receive an unusual assignment.  Zanzarim, a troubled West African nation, is being ravaged by a bitter civil war, and M directs Bond to quash the rebels threatening the established regime.” – Summary from catalog

Rain on the Dead by Jack Higgins “In the past few years, the killing and capture of many Al-Qaeda leaders has left the terrorist organization woundedbut by no means dead.  And they intend to prove it.  On a dark summer night, two Chechen mercenaries emerge from the waters off Nantucket to kill a high-value target, the former president of the United States, Jake Cazalet.  Unfortunately for them, Cazalet has guests with him, including black ops specialist Sean Dillon and his colleague, Afghan war hero Captain Sara Gideon” Summary from publisher

Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen “Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan is drawn into the mystery of a child that had been abducted eight years earlier, and must use her skills with age progression as a way to reunite mother and son.  But Eve must face looming demons of her own.”   Summary from catalog

Genna’s December Recommendation

Missing Reels by Farran Smith Nehme

Genna says: “This book drew me in from the start. The main character Ceinwen, a 21 year old female living with two male roommates in NYC in the 1980s, is really spunky and offbeat. I love that Ceinwen and her friends work for antique clothing stores – she wears dresses and bangles and earrings from different decades and describes them in detail. I loved learning about fashion from different eras! Ceinwen is an old movie buff and meets a hunky British math professor. The pair begin a quest to find out if the older woman, Miriam, living in her apartment building is really a famous movie star or not. Read this book if you want to get sucked into New York City in the ’80s and learn about old Hollywood films!”

Kirkus Reviews says: “Rumors of a lost silent film send a quirky heroine and her bemused boyfriend on a delightful escapade….Simply grand; this tale begs to be filmed.”

Entertainment Weekly says: ” And when [Ceinwen]’s not dressing up like Jean Harlow to work as a shopgirl at Vintage Visions, or forcing her gay roommates/BFFs to watch Shanghai Express, she’s hunting for her own lost classic, The Mysteries of Udolpho, a silent film that may or may not star her downstairs neighbor Miriam.”

3 Similar Titles:

Not to Be Missed: 54 Favorites From A Lifetime of Film by Kenneth Turan  — Read Turan’s views on 54 classic film picks!

The Rosie Effect by Graeme Simsion (and the prequel The Rosie Project)  — Graeme Simsion first introduced these unforgettable characters in The Rosie Project, which NPR called “sparkling entertainment along the lines of Where’d You Go Bernadette and When Harry Met Sally.” The San Francisco Chronicle said, “sometimes you just need a smart love story that will make anyone, man or woman, laugh out loud.”

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Birth of Tinseltown by William J Mann–Tells the story of William Desmond Taylor, the popular president of the Motion Picture Directors Association, and the diverse cast that surrounded him before he was murdered in 1922.




Lisa’s January Recommendation (#2)

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
goldfinch“The Goldfinch, to me seems like many books within one. There are many different experiences that we share with the main character, almost as if they are self-contained from the others. I could not put it down, and it is a VERY long book.
One of the sequences involves an antique dealer and the day-to-day experiences of someone who deals with furniture in a way few people do. As he repairs and restores the furniture, there is a sense of connection beyond that one would normally have with an inanimate objects. The descriptive nature of Tartt’s style allows for the characters to resonate.There are so many different aspects to the different characters, it is bound to relate to many in one way or another!  I have read a few reviews that have mentioned this as a very Dickensian tale. ” – Lisa

  • 2013 Nominated National Book Critics Circle Awards (winner will be announced March 13, 2014)

3 Similar Reads

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

The World to Come by Dara Horn

Rebecca’s February Recommendation

Accelerated by Bronwen Hruska

accelerated“This novel focuses on Sean Benning, single father to 8-year-old Toby.  Toby attends the prestigious Bradley school in Manhattan, where everyone who is anyone has matriculated from.  The school is extremely competitive, breeding it’s students to be super-thinkers and part of the world elite.  Sean, however, is not like the other parents at this fast-paced and competitive school.  His in-laws are footing the bill, and he highlights as a tabloid journalist as he struggles to make his name in the art world.  When Toby’s teachers and his estranged wife start to pressure Sean to put his son on medication for ADD in order to keep up with his classmates, Sean at first refuses and then finally relents.  Toby’s initial reaction to the medication goes as expected–but then tragedy strikes.  Sean’s anger compels him (with the help of a sympathetic teacher–also the love interest in the novel) to delve deeper into the issue of medication at Bradley, and he soon stumbles upon a hornet’s nest of lies and conspiracy that he is determined to expose to the rest of the world.  This is a great book to read if you are in between novels and want something fun, fast-paced, and intelligent.  Sean is a sympathetic and admirable hero, the romance is sexy and fun without overwhelming the rest of the story, and most importantly it truly does make a statement about the over-medication of this country’s youth.”

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta

How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets by Garth Stein

The Heart Broke In by James Meek

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson

Better Than Normal by Dale Archer

The Trouble With Boys by Peg Tyre

Hadley’s January Recommendation

Breed by Chase Novak

breed“While most would agree this book is ‘not appropriate’ for me to be reading right now (I’m 7 months pregnant), my love of the macabre wouldn’t let me wait.  Breed centers on the lives of wealthy New York couple the Twisdens, who test the limits of infertility treatments in their obsession for a child.  After submitting to dangerous, questionable procedures, the Twisdens successfully conceive children…but at a horrible, gruesome price.  Breed is original fast-paced, scary and stomach-turning, and at times also funny and sad.  Stephen King even says it’s “the best horror novel (he’s read) since Peter Straub’s Ghost Story.”

Read about this book or request it from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans

The Devil in Silver by Victor Lavalle

Let Me In by John Ajvide Lindqvist


Ashley’s October Recommendation

Liar and Spy by Rebecca Stead

“This is a children’s title that may have adult appeal.  Here is a book description: ‘Seventh-grader Georges adjusts to moving from a house to an apartment, his father’s efforts to start a new business, his mother’s extra shifts as a nurse, being picked on at school, and Safer, a boy who wants his help spying on another resident of their building.’ The book is a really interesting look at friendship and what it’s like to be pushed to your limits by a friend. The story also shows an adolescent coming to terms with change and difficult circumstances in an emotionally thoughtful way.”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1) Slob by Ellen Potter (Access to library catalog here!)

2) From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg (Access to library catalog here!)

3) Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh (Access to library catalog here!)

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1) How Do You Tuck in a Superhero? by Rachel Balducci (Access to library catalog here!)

2) King of the Mild Frontier: An Ill-Advised Autobiography by Chris Crutcher (Access to library catalog here!)

3) Yes, Your Parents Are Crazy! by Michael Bradley (Access to library catalog here!)

Rebecca’s May Recommendation

Sunset Park by Paul Auster

“This novel takes place during the 2008 economic crash, and begins with the movements of protagonist Miles Heller, who is living in Miami and works as someone who “trashes out” homes of those who could no longer afford to keep them.  Miles is 28 and is living in a self-imposed exile, a third year college dropout who cannot reconcile himself to a traumatic event that took place in his teens.  It is only until he meets Pilar, a young girl who he falls in love, that he travels back to his hometown in New York and lives as a squatter in an abandoned house in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.  This fast-paced, character-driven novel is beautifully and emotionally written and is told from the perspective of several people, including the other squatters of the building and from Miles’ parents.  I finished this book in less than two days–it is a wonderfully crafted work of literary fiction that grabs you at the first page and doesn’t let go.”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1) The Good Terrorist by Doris Lessing (Access to library catalog here)

2) Amsterdam by Ian McEwan (Access to library catalog here)

3) The Sea by John Banville (Access to library catalog here)

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1) Nothing to be Frightened Of by Julian Barnes (Access to library catalog here)

2) War in the Neighborhood by Seth Tobocman

3) Just Kids by Patti Smith (Access to library catalog here)