Thursday, December 13, 2007

Favourite Reads of 2007 - The Librarian's Picks Part 4

Another fun list from another librarian and avid reader, this time from Oakville Public Library.

Diane Crew - Oakville Public Library

Some books I've loved in 2007:

A Question of Attraction by David Nicholls (Title: Starter for Ten in Britain where it was first published)
A hilarious and heartbreakingly “true” coming of age novel which will make you so very glad you will never have to go through being an eighteen year old university student again! It is laugh-out-loud funny, even as you wince in recognition, watching young Brian Jackson as he embarks on the study of literature at university, and on establishing himself as a man of erudition, wit and discerning taste. His attempts begin with competing for a place on the University Challenge quiz team, where he tries to rise above class disadvantages and his bad skin condition to win the fair Alice. Of course, it’s all a disaster, but Nicholls has a spot-on ear for dialogue and he draws his characters with real affection, which holds our sympathy even while we have to laugh at the absurdity of it all.

Just In Case by Meg Rosoff
Following her amazing How I Live Now, here is another not-to-be-missed young adult crossover novel from an author whose books just keep getting better all the time. David Case is persuaded by a near-disastrous experience babysitting his little brother that Fate is out to get him. So he changes his name to Justin and then proceeds to change everything else he can, including the way he dresses and lives, to try to hide from Fate and to escape his destiny. This is a truly remarkable book that with economy and a light touch looks at the big issues - chance and destiny, death and the meaning of life itself.

Sovereign by C. J. Sansom
This is the third (and latest) offering in C.J. Sansom’s series of Tudor mysteries featuring hunchback lawyer, Matthew Shardlake. If you enjoy a mystery underpinned by fascinating, well-researched history then you’ll love this series. The novel’s setting is the Royal Progress which Henry VIII undertook in 1541 to try to rebuild his popularity in the North of England. The king and his entourage reach the City of York at the same time as Shardlake who, with his assistant Jack Barak, is on a mission to pick up a prisoner charged with treason. They are plunged into the heart of uncovering a conspiracy intent on proving the illegitimacy of Henry’s claim to the throne, and the pace never lets up. Sansom is so good at bringing to life the discomfort, dirt and smells as well as the cruelty and the sheer danger of life in Henry’s paranoid England. The mystery is cleverly plotted, the history is authentic and the writing is wonderful – this is the best yet in a first-rate series.

The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber
Seventeenth century ciphered letters are found in a rare book which point to the existence of a hitherto unknown Shakespeare play. Skulduggery abounds as international criminal gangs compete with our heroes in the race to lay hands on this treasure. But is it genuine or yet another forgery? This is an intelligent and literate thriller that engages our interest and our sympathies for the main characters whilst it draws us right into the heart of the gripping and enthralling story. Dan Brown only wishes he could write something this good!

Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl
Despite some flaws – it’s a tad too long, and the writing can become a bit flowery at times – this wow of a first novel is an exhilarating experience, offering us an extended literary joke and a murder mystery, all wrapped up in a coming of age story, and all very clever! Blue Van Meer and her father, a university professor, settle in Stockton NC just long enough for her to complete her final year of high school. There she is picked up by an in-group of students who call themselves the Bluebloods, and her whole life changes. The book is constructed like an English course syllabus, and peppered with clever footnotes and a breathtakingly esoteric range of allusion and reference, as we unpeel the layers to get to the truth concealed beneath. It’s quite unlike anything else I’ve read in a long while, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Diane Crew is the Adult Collection Development Assistant at Oakville Public Library.

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