Forti on All Fours

Forti on All Fours

“A bear turns by swinging the weight of his head over to the side and letting his whole body be pulled into the new direction.” [...]


Will He Kill Her, Or Will He Love Her?

Darling Jim

Former Warner Bros. movie executive Christian Moerk set his first novel published in the States, Darling Jim, in a small fishing port in County Cork, Ireland. When sexy, leather-clad Jim Quick rides in on a fiery red vintage motorcycle, he initiates a chain of thefts and grisly murders never to be forgotten in the sleepy little town. His first victim: 24-year-old teacher Fiona Walsh, who falls head-over-heels for his implied danger, impish smile and x-ray eyes. If Moerk’s novel sounds like yet another gothic thriller, it is–with a twist. Like Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s Shadow of the Wind, Darling Jim surpasses genre and, with enough press and word-of-mouth, could rank among these predecessors on bestseller lists. In fact, Fiona and her twin sister, Róisín and Aoife, are close cousins, separated by a few intervening countries, to Larsson heroine Lisbeth Salander. As strong women, they define Girl Power for the 21st century.


So That’s Where They Come From!

Flanimals Pop-Up

It’s easy to overlook many of the finer details when you initially set eyes upon Flanimals Pop-Up (Candlewick, 2010). The colorful and impossible creatures, virtually all of them hideous and literally popping off of the page, naturally demand more attention than the mere words contained within. So it would be understandable if someone were to begin flipping through its pages and lifting its various flaps until the irreverent humor and reader insults gave them pause.


The Greatest Show on Earth

The Golden Child by Penelope Fitzgerald

Set in an institution meant to recall the British Museum and its 1972 Egyptian exhibit, English novelist Penelope Fitzgerald’s The Golden Child opens with an unforgettable scene: faceless crowds of men, women and school children on a queue circling the museum and park. Encouraged by newspaper headlines across the country, they wait to see the “golden treasure” of the Garamantes, an ancient race of Saharan desert dwellers. Media hype surrounding the recently opened Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at New York City’s Discovery Center Times Square echoes the Egypt-mania coloring much of the 1970s. Viewing approximately 3,500-year-old Egyptian funerary art and artifacts displayed in a global tourist mecca is a bit unsettling but, in 21st-century America, anything might happen, including King Tut’s appearance at Disney World.


A Season of Smoke and Scarlatina

The Secret Life Of Emily Dickinson

With The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, Jerome Charyn travels far beyond accepted scholarship, however mythologized. His Dickinson is dearer, closer and more real than any painted in the standard biographies. She emerges from her own box of phantoms, animated by hunger, rage and disappointment. Her greatest passion is for people; her poems, the strongest card in her suit. Charyn’s Dickinson yearns for attention from a few worthy contenders. In his novel, she is a lonely lightning rod held captive in the desert.


Before One Can Forget, One Must Learn

The Thingamabob

What is this thing? Can you eat it? No. Does it fly? Nope. Can it be used to dig? Not very well. It’s the classic process of elimination kids (and even people in general) tend to go through when they stumble upon an unknown object they’ve never seen before. They’ll test its properties, one by one, until they reach a satisfactory conclusion. It’s this process which is at the heart of Il Sung Na’s The Thingamabob (Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010).


Unlocking the Mystery of a Simple Man’s Genius

The Gaudí Key by Esteban Martín and Andreu Carranza

When Catalan modernist architect Antonio Gaudí died in 1926, not only did he leave his Sagrada Família, a cathedral of vast scope, design and symbolism, unfinished; a labyrinthine trail of imagery, allusions and historical references remains for admirers of his peculiar rendering of neo-gothic style to decipher. For readers eager for an exhilarating (and exhausting) ride through Gaudí’s Barcelona, a good place to start is Esteban Martín and Andreu Carranza’s hair-raising thriller, The Gaudí Key. The authors have made fiction a cauldron in which they stir a heady mix of fact, fantasy, history and mystery. The Gaudí Key succeeds as a bow to a gifted son of cauldron-makers whose vessels of stone contain mystical worlds yet to be revealed. By suspending disbelief, readers will be enthralled as they are caught in Martín and Carranza’s intricate web.


Pets Are the Darndest Things

The Best Pet Ever

We’ve all done it. We’ve all used our imaginations to conjure up a special companion in our youth, whether it was an imaginary friend or an imaginary pet (and really, what is a pet to a child but a friend?). The little girl in Victoria Roberts’ The Best Pet Ever (Tiger Tales, 2009) is no exception. On what appears to be a normal trip to or from some form of store, she and her mother end up passing by a pet shop…

A Dog for Every Season

A Dog for Every Season

No other animal in human history is considered a more iconic, more devoted or a more loving friend to mankind than the humble canine. Oh sure cats were considered as gods (and act like they still believe it), but they won’t intentionally cheer you up when you’ve had a bad day or play fetch. No, for that completely unconditional love and trust you’ll need a dog.


Angel of Death, Just a Man After All

Phantom by Susan Kay

Twenty years after publication, English novelist Susan Kay’s response to Gaston Leroux’s Le Fantôme de l’Opéra ranks among the most powerful portraits of one of the most psychologically complex characters in literature. Beyond her insightful panoramic view of Erik’s inner and outer landscapes, Kay’s brilliance can be traced to hundreds of minute details rendering Erik a sympathetic figure, without shying from his volcanic rage and unquenchable thirst for revenge. With his goliath-like physical strength, intellect rivaling Einstein and Hawking, musical genius and unnerving skills as magician and thief, Erik comes off as a flesh-and-blood human being needing, as we all do, acceptance and love.

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