Friday, January 28, 2011

Vonnegut, Toibin, and Newton

While Mortals Sleep by Kurt Vonnegut
Here are stories of men and machines, art and artifice, and how ideas of fortune, fame, and love take curious twists in ordinary lives. An ambitious builder of roads, commanding an army of bulldozers, graders, and asphalt spreaders, fritters away his free time with miniature trains--until the women in his life crash his fantasy land. Trapped in a stenography pool, a young dreamer receives a call from a robber on the run, who presents her with a strange proposition. A cruster newspaperman is forced onto a committee to judge Christmas displays--a job that leads him to a suspiciously ostentatious ex-con and then a miracle. A hog farmer's widow receives cryptic, unsolicited letters from a man in Schenectady about "the indefinable sweet aches of the spirit." But what will she find out when she goes to meet him in the flesh?

The Empty Family by Colm Toibin
These stories are set in present-day Ireland, 1970s Spain, and nineteenth-century England and are about people linked by love, loneliness, and desire. "Silence" is a brilliant historical set piece about Lady Gregory, widowed and abandoned by her lover, who tells the writer Henry James a confessional story at a dinner party. In "Two Women," an eminent Irish set designer, aloof and prickly, takes a job in her homeland, and is forced to confront devastating emotions she has long repressed. "The New Spain" is the story of an intransigent woman who returns home after a decade in exile and shatters the fragile peace her family has forged in the post-Franco world. And in the breathtaking long story, "The Street," Toibin imagins a startling relationship between two Pakistani workers in Barcelona--a taboo affair in a community ruled b obedience and silence.

Nights of Villjamur by Mark Charan Newton
Beneath a dying red suit sits the proud and ancient city of Villjamur, capital of a mighty empire that new sits powerless against an encroaching ice age. As throngs of refugees gather outside the city gates, a fierce debate rages within the walls about the fates of these desperate souls. Then tragedy strikes--and the Emperor's eldest daughter, Jamur Rika, is summoned to serve as queen. Joined by her younger sister, Jamur Eir, the queen comes to sympathize with the hardships of the common people, thanks in part to her dashing teacher Randur Estevu, a man who is not what he seems.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Death, Freedom, and Odysseus

Indulgence in Death by J.D. Robb
When a murder disrupts the Irish vacation she is taking with her husband, Roarke, Eve realizes that no place is safe -- not an Irish wood or the streets of the maniac city she calls home. But nothing prepares her for what she discovers upon her return to the cop shop in New York City... A driver for a top-of-the-line limousine service is found dead--shot through the neck with a crossbow. With a method established, but no motive to be found, Eve begins to fear that she has come across that most dangerous of criminals, a thrill killer, but one with a taste for the finer things in life--and death.

The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger
When Lady Duff Gordon, paragon of London society, departs for the hot, dry climate of Egypt to seek relief from her debilitating tuberculosis, her lady's maid, Sally, doesn't hesitate to leave the only world she has known in order to remain at her mistress's side. As Sally gets farther and farther from home, she experiences freedoms she has never known--forgoing corsets and wearing native dress, learning Arabic, and having her first taste of romance. But freedom is a luxury that a lady's maid can ill afford, and when Sally's newfound passion for life causes her to forget what she is entitled to, she is brutally reminded she is a mistress of nothing. Ultimately she must choose her master and a way back home -- or a way to an unknown future.

The Lost Books of Odyssey by Zachary Mason
This is reimagined tale of Homer's classic story of the hero Odysseus and his long journey home after the fall of Troy. With hypnotic prose, terrific imagination, and dazzling literary skill, Mason creates alternative episodes, fragments, and revisions of Homer's original that, taken together, open up this classic Greek myth to endless reverberating interpretations.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dean Koontz Readalikes

Did you really like Dean Koontz's books like What the Night Knows? Are you looking for other authors like him? Check out these suggested titles below! If you're a member of an OCLN library then just click on the link to place it on hold.

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
"I believe there is another man inside every man, a stranger . . ." writes Wilfred Leland James in the early pages of the riveting confession that makes up "1922," the first in this pitch-black quartet of mesmerizing tales from Stephen King. For James, that stranger is awakened when his wife, Arlette, proposes selling off the family homestead and moving to Omaha, setting in motion a gruesome train of murder and madness. In "Big Driver," a cozy-mystery writer named Tess encounters the stranger along a back road in Massachusetts when she takes a shortcut home after a book-club engagement. Violated and left for dead, Tess plots a revenge that will bring her face-to-face with another stranger: the one inside herself. "Fair Extension," the shortest of these tales, is perhaps the nastiest and certainly the funniest. Making a deal with the devil not only saves Dave Streeter from a fatal cancer but provides rich recompense for a lifetime of resentment. In "A Good Marriage," Darcy Anderson looks for batteries in the garage when her husband of more than twenty years is away on one of his business trips. Her toe knocks up against a box under a worktable and she discovers the stranger inside her husband. It’s a horrifying discovery, rendered with bristling intensity, and it definitively ends a good marriage.

The Panic Zone by Rick Mofina
A car crashes in Wyoming: A young mother is thrown clear of the devastating car crash. Dazed, she sees a figure pull her infant son from the flames. Or does she? The police believe it's a case of trauma playing cruel tricks on the mind, until the night the grief-stricken woman hears a voice through the phone: "Your baby is alive."

A bomb explodes in a Rio de Janeiro café: The heinous act kills ten people, including two journalists with the World Press Alliance news agency. Jack Gannon's first international assignment is to find out whether his colleagues were innocent victims or targets who got too close to a huge story.

A Caribbean cruise ends in horror: Doctors are desperate to identify the mysterious cause of a cruise ship passenger's agonizing death. They turn to the world's top scientists, who fear that someone has resurrected their long-buried secret research. Research that is now being used as a deadly weapon.

With millions of lives at stake, experts work frantically against time. And as an anguished mother searches for her child and Jack Gannon pursues the truth, an unstoppable force hurls them all into the panic zone.

Edge by Jeffery Deaver
Shock waves of alarm ripple through the clandestine agency when Washington, D.C., police detective Ryan Kessler inexplicably becomes the target of Henry Loving, a seasoned, ruthless “lifter” hired to obtain information using whatever means necessary. While Loving is deft at torture, his expertise lies in getting an “edge” on his victim—leverage—usually by kidnapping or threatening family until the “primary” caves under pressure. The job of keeping the Kessler family alive falls to a man named Corte, a senior federal protection officer known as a “shepherd.” Uncompromising, relentlessly devoted to protecting those in his care and a passionate board game aficionado, he applies brilliant gaming strategy to his work. For Corte, the reappearance of Loving—the man who, six years earlier, had tortured and killed someone close to him—is also an opportunity to avenge his friend’s death. The assignment soon escalates into a fast-paced duel between Corte and Loving, a dangerous volley of wits and calculated risks.

Want more readalikes on different authors? Send your requests/suggestions/comments to me at

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dreams, Magic and Tales of Mystery

I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg
Meet Maggie Fortenberry, a still beautiful former Miss Alabama. To others, Maggie's life seems practically perfect -- she's lovely, charming, and a successful real estate agent at Red Mountain Realty. Still, Maggie can't help but wonder how to wound up in her present condition. She had been on her hopeful way to becoming Miss America and realizing her childhood dream of someday living in one of the elegant old homes on top of Red Mountain, with the adoring husband and 2.5 children, but then something unexpected happened and changed everything. Maggie has heartbreaking secrets in her past, but through a strange turn of events she soon discovers, quite by accident, that everybody, it seems -- dead or alive -- has at least one little secret.

Luka and the Fire of Life by Salman Rushdie
With the same dazzling imagination and love of language that has made Salman Rushdie one of the great storytellers of our time, Luka and the Fire of Life revisits the magic-infused, intricate world he first brought to life in the modern classic Haroun and the Sea of Stories. This breathtaking new novel centers on Luka, Haroun's younger brother, who must save his father from certain doom. Rashid Khalifa, the legendary storyteller of Kahani, has fallen into a deep sleep from which no one can wake him. To keep his father from slipping away entirely, Luka must travel to the Magic World and steal the ever-burning Fire of Life.

Give Me Your Heart: Tales of Mystery and Suspense by Joyce Carol Oates
The need for love -- obsessive, self-destructive, unpredictable -- takes us to forbidden places, as in the chilling world of Oates new collection of stories. In these powerful tales, children veer beyond their parents' control, wives and husbands wake up to find that they hardly knew each other, haunted pasts intrude upon uncertain futures, and those who bring us the most harm may be nearest at hand.