Topping the list this week is the breathlessly-awaited Robert Jordan Wheel of Time volume, number 11 in the series. Readers waited nearly two years for Knife of Dreams, but will still have to wait until next Tuesday.
Monday, October 10
A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve chronicles a reunion of seven prep-school classmates who regard each other’s lives with a mixture of envy and anxiety. “Uncertainties bred in the wake of 9/11 also play a role here, although they are summoned indirectly through a story that Agnes is writing about a ship collision in Halifax Harbor in 1917… The skillful, prolific Shreve, who seems to turn out one best-seller per year, seamlessly moves her story between the horrific events of Halifax Harbor and the nearly as horrific reunion, underscoring the fleeting nature of happiness and the painful trade-offs it often requires.” —Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
A juvenile by Paul McCartney, High in the Clouds is a lavishly-illustrated book designed for children of all ages. “Forced to leave his woodland home, destroyed by the expansion plans of the evil Gretsch, Wirral the squirrel vows to find the fabled land of Animalia, where all the animals are said to live in freedom and without fear. Aided and abetted by Froggo the hot-air-ballooning frog, Wilhamina the plucky red squirrel, and Ratsy the streetwise rodent, Wirral’s personal quest turns into a full-blown plan to save enslaved animals Everywhere—a plan that is fraught with danger.” (Publisher’s release notes)
Wizardology : The Book of the Secrets of Merlin was supposedly written by Merlin himself and originally discovered in 1588. This instructional guide features a map of the world’s wizards, samples of a “fairy flag,” a 48-page mini-book on divination, and hidden symbols throughout the book that reveal a secret code. Recommended for ages 9-12. “For any apprentice determined to learn the arcane arts of wizardry, could there be a better teacher than… Merlin himself? Originally discovered in 1588, this remarkable text by history’s most respected wizard is revealed to the world for the very first time. Lavishly illustrated by four delicate artists, its intricate design even conceals a series of hidden symbols that spell out a secret message when their code is deciphered—if the reader is clever enough to find them.” (Publisher’s release notes)
Gloria Estefan penned The Magically Mysterious Adventures of Noelle the Bulldog, and Michael Garland illustrated it. “For a young bulldog named Noelle, the joy of being adopted by her very own little girl is overshadowed by the worry that she won’t fit in to her wonderful new home. What can an odd-looking brown pup possibly have to offer in a world where shimmering fish, glittering fireflies, and beautiful Dalmatians play games that Noelle’s short legs can barely keep up with? …it captures all the worry of an outsider trying to fit in—and all the joy of discovering that everyone has a talent that matters, and that true beauty comes from inside.” (Publisher’s release notes)
Tuesday, October 11
Knife of Dreams by Robert Jordan is the long-awaited 11th and penultimate installment of Jordan’s epic fantasy Wheel of Time series. The previous book in the series, Crossroads of Twilight, came out in 2003, but “…don’t let that fool you; the 11th tome in this epic fantasy is the one Jordan fans have been eagerly waiting for… the latest explodes with motion, as multiple plot lines either conclude or advance, and the march to Tarmon Gai’don—the climactic last battle between the Dragon Reborn and the Dark One—begins in earnest. Faile’s captivity with the Shaido, Mat’s pursuit of Tuon and Elayne’s war for Caemlyn come to a close, while Egwene’s capture brings the Aes Sedai war to the heart of the Tower. Jordan has said that readers will be sweating by the end of the book, and he’s probably right. Sweating or not, they’ll also be dreading the long year or two before the 12th installment.” —Publishers Weekly
The audio CD was on sale this week, but readers have to wait until next Tuesday for the hardcover A New Earth: The Opportunity of Our Time by Eckhart Tolle. This is the first full-length book in nearly eight years by the bestselling author of The Power of Now, revealing how to move from egoism to higher consciousness. ” Building on the astonishing success of The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle presents readers with an honest look at the current state of humanity: He implores us to see and accept that this state, which is based on an erroneous identification with the egoic mind, is one of dangerous insanity… Tolle describes in detail how our current ego-based state of consciousness operates. Then gently, and in very practical terms, he leads us into this new consciousness. We will come to experience who we truly are—which is something infinitely greater than anything we currently think we are—and learn to live and breathe freely.” (Publisher’s release notes)
Martha’s back! The Martha Rules: 10 Essentials for Achieving Success as You Start, Grow, or Manage a Business by publishing mogul, TV star and budding satellite radio host Martha Stewart is her handbook for success in business. “Tapping into her years of experience in building a thriving business, Martha will help readers identify their own entrepreneurial voice and channel their skills and passions into a successful business venture. Her advice and insight is applicable to anyone who is about to start or expand a venture of any size, whether it is a business or philanthropic endeavor, but also to individuals who want to apply the entrepreneurial spirit to a job or corporation to increase innovation and maintain a competitive edge.” (Publisher’s release notes)
Consent to Kill by Vince Flynn, the 7th to feature Mitch Rapp, follows the CIA-oprative’s battles with a Saudi billionaire, an ex-Stasti spy, and a craven national director of intelligence. “To kill a man is a relatively easy thing–especially the average unsuspecting man. To kill a man like Mitch Rapp, however, was an entirely different matter. It would take a great deal of planning and a very talented assassin, or more likely assassins who were either brave enough or crazy enough to accept the job. The latter was more than likely the type who would take on the challenge, for any sane man by definition would have the sense to walk away… Even with the element of surprise on their side, though, they would need to catch Rapp with his guard down so they could get in close enough to finish him off once and for all. The preliminary report on his vigilance did not look good.” —excerpt from Consent to Kill
Paula Deen’s Kitchen Classics by Paula H. Deen is a double-header, with recipes from The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook and The Lady & Sons, Too! This book presents recipes from Deen’s famous eatery The Lady and Sons Restaurant, with a new foreword with material from Paula’s 2004 wedding. “A great many recipes unabashedly list prepared foods among the ingredients. As an appetizer, Garlic Cheese Spread includes an eight-ounce package of cream cheese and an eight-ounce jar of Cheez-Whiz. Shrimp or Lobster Bisque contains, in addition to seafood, a can each of condensed tomato soup and condensed mushroom soup. The restaurant’s most popular dessert is Gooey Butter Cakes, which starts with a box of Duncan Hines yellow cake mix. Still, some of the recipes attain a high level of regional authenticity… Readers concerned about high fat content should skip this book. But those looking for some distinctively American comfort food—and in a mood for some decidedly anti-nouvelle regression—might want to take a peek.” —Publishers Weekly
The Planets by Dava Sobel, a collection of essays on the planets as she sees them, is more personal than her previous bestsellers. “Intentionally evoking wonder over data, she tries out varying compositional forms for each orb, so that this work forms a set of essays, a literary counterpart to Gustav Holst’s 1916 symphonic suite The Planets. The comparison waxes explicit when Sobel ruminates upon Saturn, the incomparable ringed beauty of the solar system and also Holst’s favorite. Allusive of age and serenity, Saturn has inspired connotations in mythology and astrology, and these are turned over elegantly in Sobel’s emotive prose, which recalls the awe it and its wandering companions inspired in ancient times but which city lights and, perhaps, space-age knowledge have washed out. Yet with subtle balance, Sobel adds background about the planets’ discoveries without tipping her essays in the encyclopedic direction as she discusses Mercury, Venus, Mars, and Jupiter.” —Gilbert Taylor, Booklist
My FBI: Bringing Down the Mafia, Investigating Bill Clinton, and Waging War on Terror by Louis J. Freeh, rebuts the claims of Richard Clarke’s Against All Enemies with the story of the former FBI director’s struggle to strengthen and reform the Bureau from 1993-2001. This is Freeh’s entire story, from his Catholic upbringing in New Jersey to law school, the FBI training academy, his career as a US District attorney and as a federal judge, and finally his eight years as the nation’s top cop. “Bill Clinton called Freeh a ‘law enforcement legend’ when he nominated him as FBI Director. The good feelings would not last. Going toe-to-toe with his boss during the scandal-plagued ’90s, Freeh fought hard to defend his agency from political interference and to protect America from the growing threat of international terrorism. When Clinton later called that appointment the worst one he had made as president, Freeh considered it ‘a badge of honor.’” (Publisher’s release notes)
From Mark Bittman, the New York Times food writer known as “The Minimalist,” The Best Recipes In The World: More Than 1,000 International Dishes To Cook At Home delivers exotic recipes for the home cook, and “brings together in a single volume recipes from astoundingly different traditions, wildly varying cultures, and totally separate inspirations. Nevertheless, the book coheres and avoids becoming a jumble by being focused through a unique intelligence… On facing pages one finds Korean braised short ribs with ginger, garlic, rice wine, and chiles fronting Spanish oxtails with white wine, bacon, carrots, celery, and thyme. Both recipes contain beef, both follow a basic braising technique, yet one can hardly mistake their very opposite effects at the table… Useful for all library cookbook collections.” —Mark Knoblauch, Booklist
For your gift list or music library shelf, The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics comes with commentary by compiler David Dodd. “Like many fans before him, Dodd spent hours passionately trying to find the deeper meanings in the Dead’s songs. In 1994 the Internet may have been in its infancy, but Dodd knew the Web was the perfect to tool to help him annotate the entire Dead catalog. So began the building of his incredibly popular Web site. The fruits of his labors lie within the pages of this encyclopedic book… It is worth mentioning, this book should not be viewed as a cheat sheet, but a tool giving lots of background and cross-references. The interpretations are still up to you. Be forewarned, this book can be extremely habit forming.” —Rob Bracco, Amazon.com review
Note: Although Amazon says The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics can be shipped today, it is actually not released until October 11th.
I’ve never caught the Jordan fever, so my list is fairly short this week. I’ll take the Freeh, and choose one of the two cookbooks (probably the Southern Cooking double-bill). My one must-have, though, is the Sobel Planets.