February 2013 Archives

Noteworthy New CD's

If you're a music fan but haven't been up to the second floor of the library in a while, you may want to stop by next time you're here. Our compact disc collection offers something for everyone. Below are a few titles that we find especially interesting but there is much much more where these came from.

Click for availability and more information A&M Records 50: the Anniversary Collection, by Various Artists
A three-disc, 60-song set that takes the listener through the hits that turned a tiny artist-driven imprint into one of the most important, era-defining names in popular music. This collection features something for everyone, from Burt Bacharach to Barry White to Soundgarden. 

Click for availability and more information Parklive: Live in Hyde Park 12th August, 2012, by Blur
This live double cd set commemorates Blur's reunion show that marked the closing of the London summer Olympics. By most accounts, this show was a huge success that has cemented Blur as a critical and culturally essential part of England's musical history. And to some, this was the best part of the Olympics. Here's a link to the album trailer if you want a quick taste.

Click for availability and more information Live at the Bowl '68, by The Doors
wo years after the Beatles rolled out the hits for the final time further up the West Coast at Candlestick Park -- and over a year into a Rolling Stones touring hiatus -- the Doors played a set at the Hollywood Bowl that is widely regarded to be their finest ever captured. it's clear from this recording that they were keen to impress the 18,000 people who filled the Bowl on July 5, 1968. It's a tight, musically impressive, well-paced set that falls at that sweet spot in the Doors' career, between the laid-back hesitancy of early club performances and the often overblown, strident, and bluesy improvisation of later gigs. It is also a bit of a technical marvel. This restoration makes dramatic improvement audio quality,and has made previously unreleased songs from the performance available for the first time. Technical glitches had prevented three songs from being included in previous versions, but thanks to the restoration process, the concert can now be seen in its entirety, complete with the previously missing performances of "Hello, I Love You," "Caravan" and "The WASP (Texas Radio And The Big Beat). 

Click for availability and more information Trouble Man, by Marvin Gaye
A funky blacksploitation soundtrack from 1972, conceived and composed by Marvin himself and served up with some occasional vocals that work beautifully with the album's cool instrumental grooves. It's Gaye's only soundtrack and film score and shouldn't be missed. 

Click for availability and more information Bop! Bang! Boom!, by Grant Geissman
Grant Geissman's lengthy career as a guitarist and composer started in the early '70s. His résumé includes the guitar solo on flugelhornist Chuck Mangione's 1978 hit single "Feels So Good," a discography of around 15 albums as leader and compositions for TV such as the theme for the CBS comedy Two And A Half Men. Bop! Bang! Boom! is the final installment of a trilogy. It features a strong core band plus guest appearances from Geismann's friends and colleagues including saxophonist Tom Scott, guitarists Larry Carlton and Albert Lee, and Brian Wilson collaborator Van Dyke Parks, on accordion and runs the stylistic gamut from Latin and bebop to blues. 

Click for availability and more information Palindrome Hunches, by Neil Halstead
This is the perfect dreary weather album. These songs are so quiet and beautiful that it makes me want to put on a big rumpled sweater and give everyone a hug.This record was was recorded live in a weekend at a music room in a UK primary school and it has that cozy feeling. With more than just a nod to the legendary Nick Drake, former Mojave 3 and Slowdive leader Halstead has made a record that is just the most recent in a long line of  brilliant traditional British folk music. 

Click for availability and more information The Gift, Deluxe edition, by The Jam
It's true that the band weren't quite up to the top of their game by the time this, their final record, came around but it's also true that even a less than perfect record by The Jam was still better than %90 of most other records. Originally released in March of 1982, it found the band moving further towards the R&B sound that they had been dabbling in since their early records. This 30th anniversary 2cd edition features the original album plus rounds up non-album tracks of the period, including the 12-inch version of Precious and the swansong Beat Surrender EP. It also includes some demo recordings of several songs from the album. And, if that isn't enough for you, there is also a "super deluxe" edition, which features 3 cd's, 1 DVD and a few other things. 

Click for availability and more information The Complete Studio Recordings, by Roxy Music
Whether you are new to Roxy Music or just want to re-visit their work, this 10 cd is a good place to visit. Includes each of the eight Roxy Music studio albums released in the ten year period of 1972-1982, on CD plus two discs of bonus tracks containing tracks previously unavailable on CD. Each album has been taken back to its original form. They are housed in a swanky black box that will probably look awesome in your apartment.

Click for availability and more information The Essential, by Mindy Smith
Best of collection from the critically acclaimed singer-songwriter Mindy Smith featuring songs from three of her Vanguard Records studio albums.

Listening to the music of Mindy Smith, you get the sense that this is a woman who has been well prepared for adversity or at least has found a way to deal with it when it arises. As the thirteen songs on this collection reveal, ever since the release of her auspicious 2004 debut album, One Moment More, Smith has fearlessly put herself on the line in her writing, confronting her questions and troubles with songs that are impeccably crafted and indelibly intimate. From the liner notes by Alan Light 

Click for availability and more information Bish Bosch, by Scott Walker
This is not for the meek of heart. A troubling, disturbing but brilliant album that could only come from the mind of Scott Walker. It features drums and guitars and other passing references to rock music, but its deepest roots are in the dissonant, turn-of-the century compositions by Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Webern, and Berg, with a dash of Kurt Weill thrown in for good measure. Don't try this at home, kids.

New Short Story Collections

A recent article in the New York Times Books section proclaimed that 2013 so far has been an excellent year for short story collections. The article mentions a few high profile titles that have just been released or are about to be released. But, there are other new collections that may be a bit under the radar but still deserving of your time. Here's a list of a few of them:

Click for availability and more information Beautiful Indifference: stories, by Sarah Hall
This unique and disturbing collection includes stories in which the serenity of a Finnish lake turns sinister when a woman's lover does not come back from his swim, a bored London housewife discovers a secret erotic club, and a shy, bookish girl develops an unlikely friendship with the schoolyard bully. In reviewing the book, The Guardian, called these stories "dark, fierce and sensual." 

Click for availability and more information Fire and Forget: short stories, edited by Roy Scranton and Matt Gallagher
An unprecedented collection of hard-hitting, poignant short stories written by thirteen young veterans of the Iraq. The stories aren't pretty and they aren't for the faint of heart. They are gritty and haunting. Television reports, movies, newspapers, and blogs about the recent wars have offered snapshots of the fighting there. But this anthology brings us a chorus of powerful storytellers--some of the first bards from our recent wars, emerging voices and new talents--telling the kind of panoramic truth that only fiction can offer.

Click for availability and more information Love, In Theory: ten stories , by E.J. Levy
Ms. Levy looks at romance through the lens of scholarly theories to illuminate love in the information age. She takes readers through the surprisingly erotic terrain of the intellect, offering a smart and modern take on the age-old theme of love--whether between a man and woman, a man and a man, a woman and a woman, or a mother and a child--drawing readers into tales of passion, adultery, and heartbreak. Incorporating theories from physics to film to philosophy, from Rational Choice to Thorstein Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class, these stories movingly explore the heart and mind--shooting cupid's arrow toward a target that may never be reached. 

Click for availability and more information Married Love: and Other Stories, by Tessa Hadley
This new collection of short fiction from the acclaimed novelist delves into domestic dramas, generational sagas, tragic love affairs and life-altering realizations, from an 18-year-old girl who insists on marrying her music professor to the wife of a film producer who gets the chance to lead a much different life after her husband's death. Read the glowing NY Times book review here

Click for availability and more information The Middle Men: stories, by Jim Gavin
In Middle Men, Stegner Fellow and New Yorker contributor Jim Gavin delivers a panoramic vision of California, portraying a group of men, from young dreamers to old vets, as they make valiant forays into middle-class respectability. The men in Gavin's stories all find themselves stuck somewhere in the middle, caught half way between their dreams and the often crushing reality of their lives. A work of profound humanity that pairs moments of high comedy with searing truths about life's missed opportunities, Middle Men brings to life a series of unforgettable characters learning what it means to love and work and be in the world as a man, and it offers our first look at a gifted writer. 

Click for availability and more information No Animals We Could Name: stories, by Ted Sanders
The animals (human or otherwise) in these stories are oddly familiar, yet unlike anyone you've met before. A lion made of bedsheets, with chicken bones for teeth, is brought to life by a grieving mother. When Raphael the pet lizard mysteriously loses his tail, his owners find themselves ever more desperate to keep him alive, in one sense or another. A pensive tug-of-war between an amateur angler and a halibut unfolds through the eyes of both fisherman and fish. And in the collection's unifying novella, an unusual guest's arrival at a party sets idle gears turning in startling new ways. Mr. Sanders recently put together a music playlist to accompany this collection, read about it here

Click for availability and more information Pu-239 and other Russian Fantasies, by Ken Kalfus
First published in 1999 and written during a four-year residency in Moscow where his wife served as bureau chief to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Kalfus shows us the heart of Russian people against the tumultuous backdrop of Soviet history. These five short stories and one novella demonstrate Kalfus's sense of the absurd. Worth taking a look, 12 plus years after its first release. This was also made into an HBO movie in 2008.

Click for availability and more information Spectacle: stories, by Susan Steinberg
Spectacle bears witness to alarming and strange incidents: carnival rides and plane crashes, affairs spied through keyholes and amateur porn, vandalism and petty theft. These wounded women stand at the edge of disaster and risk it all to speak their sharpest secrets. In lean, acrobatic prose, Susan Steinberg subverts assumptions about narrative and challenges conventional gender roles. She delivers insight with a fierce lyric intensity in sentences shorn of excessive sentiment or unnecessary ornament. By fusing style and story, Steinberg amplifies the connections between themes and characters so that each devastating revelation echoes throughout the collection. The SF Gate blog calls it "a marvel." 

Click for availability and more information This Cake Is For The Party, by Sarah Selecky
In these ten stories, linked frequently by the sharing of food, Ms. Selecky reaffirms the life of everyday situations with startling significance. This Cake Is for the Party reminds us that the best parts of our lives are often the least flashy. These absorbing stories are about love and longing, that touch us in a myriad of subtle and affecting ways.

New Mystery Novels

Here's a dozen new Mystery novels to keep you warm and up later than you probably should be.

Click for availability and more information The Bughouse Affair: a Carpenter and Quincannon mystery , by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini
This first of a new series of lighthearted historical mysteries is set in 1890s San Francisco where former Pinkerton operative Sabina Carpenter and her detective partner, ex-Secret Service agent John Quincannon, undertake what initially appear to be two unrelated investigations. Sabina's case involves the hunt for a ruthless lady "dip" who uses fiendish means to relieve her victims of their valuables at Chutes Amusement Park and other crowded places. Quincannon, meanwhile, is after a slippery housebreaker who targets the homes of wealthy residents, following a trail that leads him from the infamous Barbary Coast to an oyster pirate's lair to a Tenderloin parlor house known as the Fiddle Dee Dee. The two cases eventually connect in surprising fashion, but not before two murders and assorted other felonies complicate matters even further. And not before the two sleuths are hindered, assisted, and exasperated by the bughouse Sherlock Holmes.

Click for availability and more information Death in Breslau: an Inspector Eberhard Mock investigation, by Marek Krajewski; translated by Danusia Stok
Occupied Breslau, 1933: Two young women are found murdered on a train, scorpions writhing on their bodies, an indecipherable note in an apparently oriental language nearby. Police Inspector Eberhard Mock's weekly assignation with two ladies of the night to play chess is interrupted as he is called to investigate. But uncovering the truth is no straightforward matter to Breslau. The city is in the grip of the Gestapo, and has become a place where spies are everywhere, corrupt ministers torture confessions from Jewish merchants, and Freemasons guard their secrets with blackmail and violence. And as Mock and his young assistant plunge into the city's squalid underbelly, the case takes on a dark twist of the occult with the discovery that the killings may be rooted in an even more ancient history. 

Click for availability and more information A Grain of Truth: a Teodor Szacki mystery, by Zygmunt Miloszewski; translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones
It is spring 2009, and prosecutor Szacki is no longer working in Warsaw--he has said goodbye to his family and to his career in the capital and moved to Sandomierz, a picturesque town full of churches and museums. Hoping to start a "brave new life," Szacki instead finds himself investigating a strange murder case in surroundings both alien and unfriendly. The victim is found brutally murdered, her body drained of blood. The killing bears the hallmarks of legendary Jewish ritual slaughter, prompting a wave of anti-Semitic paranoia in the town, where everyone knows everyone. The murdered woman's husband is bereft, but when Szacki discovers that she had a lover, the husband becomes the prime suspect. Before there's time to arrest him, he is found murdered in similar circumstances. In his investigation Szacki must wrestle with the painful tangle of Polish-Jewish relations and something that happened more than sixty years earlier. 

Click for availability and more information The Hollow Man: a Detective Nick Belsey mystery , by Oliver Harris
Detective Nick Belsey is broke. Now it looks like he's out of a job - something happened last night, something with the boss' wife...At dawn, on what should be the last day of Belsey's career, Hampstead CID is ghostly quiet. Belsey checks the overnight files. There's a missing-person report. But this one's different. It's on the Bishops Avenue, London's richest street. Belsey sees a scam, an escape route. But someone else has got there first. Furiously paced and thrillingly plotted. 

Click for availability and more information Island of Bones: a Mrs. Westerman and Mr. Crowther mystery, by Imogen Robertson
A continuation of the series that includes Instruments of Darkness and Anatomy of Murder finds reclusive anatomist Gabriel Crowther investigating an ancient tomb where an extra body and clues about Crowther's haunting past are discovered. Fans of both historical fiction à la Anne Perry and the intricate forensics of Tess Gerritsen will be delighted by Robertson's latest.

Click for availability and more information Outrage: a Reykjavik murder mystery , by Arnaldur Indridason; translated from the Icelandic by Anna Yates*
Haunted by personal demons, Detective Erlunder decides to take a short leave of absence, putting a female detective, Elínborg, in charge while he is gone. When a troubling case lands on Elínborg's desk, she's quickly thrust into a violent and volatile situation with extremely high stakes. Soon, her investigation uncovers a twisted tale of double lives that may be connected to the unsolved disappearance of a young girl. The clock is ticking to solve the case before a serial rapist strikes again. Perfect for the many devoted fans of this series as well as for the reader who's never visited Iceland through Indridason's books, Outrage will lead you down a trail of hidden violence, psychological brutality, and wrongs that may never fully be righted. 

Click for availability and more information The Rage, by Gene Kerrigan
Vincent Naylor, just released from jail, resumes doing what he does best, planning for an armored car robbery. Bob Tidey, an honest policeman, discouraged by his colleagues making deals with criminals and about to commit perjury, is investigating the murder of a crooked banker. A call from an old acquaintance will change his course of investigation. Maura Coady, a retired nun living on regrets and bad memories, sees something that she can't ignore and decides to tell someone. She makes a phone call that sets in motion a violent fate. 

Click for availability and more information Ratlines, by Stuart Neville
Ireland 1963. As the Irish people prepare to welcome President John F. Kennedy to the land of his ancestors, a German national is murdered in a seaside guesthouse. Lieutenant Albert Ryan, Directorate of Intelligence, is ordered to investigate. The German is the third foreigner to die within a few days, and Minister for Justice Charles Haughey wants the killing to end lest a shameful secret be exposed: the dead men were all Nazis granted asylum by the Irish government in the years following World War II. A note from the killers is found on the dead German's corpse, addressed to Colonel Otto Skorzeny, Hitler's favorite commando, once called the most dangerous man in Europe. The note simply says: "We are coming for you." As Albert Ryan digs deeper into the case he discovers a network of former Nazis and collaborators, all presided over by Skorzeny from his country estate outside Dublin. When Ryan closes in on the killers, his loyalty is torn between country and conscience. Why must he protect the very people he fought against twenty years before? Ryan learns that Skorzeny might be a dangerous ally, but he is a deadly enemy. 

Click for availability and more information Safe House, by Chris Ewan
When Rob Hale wakes up in a hospital after a motorcycle crash, his first thought is for the gorgeous blonde, Lena, who was on the back of his bike. The doctors and police, however, insist that he was alone at the scene. The shock of the accident must have made him imagine Lena, especially since his description of her resembles his late sister, Laura. Convinced that Lena is as real as he is, Rob teams up with Rebecca Lewis, a London-based PI who has a mysterious connection to Laura--and learns that even a close-knit community like the Isle of Man can hide dangerous secrets that will not stay safe forever. 

Click for availability and more information Salvation of a saint: a Detective Galileo mystery , by Keigo Higashino; translated by Alexander O. Smith ; with Elye Alexander
In 2011, The Devotion of Suspect X was a hit with critics and readers alike. The first major English language publication from the most popular bestselling writer in Japan, it was acclaimed as "stunning," "brilliant," and "ingenious." Now physics professor Manabu Yukawa--Detective Galileo--returns in a new case of impossible murder, where instincts clash with facts and theory with reality. Yoshitaka, who was about to leave his marriage and his wife, is poisoned by arsenic-laced coffee and dies. His wife, Ayane, is the logical suspect--except that she was hundreds of miles away when he was murdered. The lead detective, Tokyo Police Detective Kusanagi, is immediately smitten with her and refuses to believe that she could have had anything to do with the crime. His assistant, Kaoru Utsumi, however, is convinced Ayane is guilty. While Utsumi's instincts tell her one thing, the facts of the case are another matter. So she does what her boss has done for years when stymied--she calls upon Professor Manabu Yukawa. But even the brilliant mind of Dr. Yukawa has trouble with this one, and he must somehow find a way to solve an impossible murder and capture a very real, very deadly murderer. Salvation of a Saint is Keigo Higashino at his mind-bending best, pitting emotion against fact in a beautifully plotted crime novel filled with twists and reverses that will astonish and surprise even the most attentive and jaded of readers. 

Click for availability and more information Talking to the dead: a Fiona Griffiths mystery, by Harry Bingham
A U.S. debut by an award-winning British novelist introduces rookie cop Fiona Griffiths, who on the cusp of breaking her first big case uncovers a dire conspiracy that takes her into a dark underworld that threatens her with her own personal demons. 

Click for availability and more information What the Cat Saw: a Nela Farley mystery, by Carolyn Hart
A woman able to understand the thoughts of cats becomes an unwitting investigator when her sister's co-worker is murdered and the only witness was her beloved feline, in this new novel from the author of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Letter from Home.

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