HITS Highlights | Book Reviews | Video Recommendations    


Black Fridays
by Michael Sears

The heart of Black Fridays is Wall Street and the trading floor with its frantic activity, fast money, and the risk of losing it all. There are honest traders in the skyscrapers lining the bustling streets, but this is the story of a group that is skimming profit for their own gain. Jason spent two years in prison for juggling funds and has been called in to investigate suspicious activity with Arrowhead, a British hedge fund, before the SEC shuts them down. Out on parole, he tries to put his life back together and raise his autistic son. Brutally beaten by his ex-wife’s husband, blackmailed by the FBI, and under pressure to produce results in two weeks, Jason earns respect once again for himself and his son. I recommend this impressive debut novel for readers of financial intrigue, emotional thrillers, and stories about autistic children.

--Candy Ortman, MLS, Sales


Glamping with MaryJane
by MaryJane Butters

Quirky only begins to describe the latest book from MaryJane Butters. A self-proclaimed farm girl, MaryJane is not your typical idea of a country girl. Successful at many enterprises (linens, food, bed & breakfast, and more), she has created an entire product line for those who aspire to an everyday organic lifestyle. I am a huge fan of her packaged food items, and we always bring them along when we go camping or hiking. I was thrilled to see her new title, Glamping with MaryJane. Combining camping with glamour, the author has made it easy for any woman to achieve a successful experience while enjoying nature. With chapters covering everything from how to buy a vintage trailer to how to handle “Le Toilet” while on the road, to issues covering safety while traveling alone, this is the complete guide to being a Glamping Girl. The combination of photography and vintage illustrations creates fun visuals with lots of details to consider. In addition, they are wonderful for inspiring some Glamping style of one’s own, either on the road or in the backyard. While not for every patron, if your audience enjoys unique views on topics such as outdoor activities, this one will be a hit.

--Tracy Gallagher, MLIS, Collection Development

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures
by Emma Straub

Debut author Emma Straub brings the Golden Age of Hollywood to life in her novel Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures. Elsa grew up in the Cherry County Playhouse run by her family in Door County, Wisconsin. Her life took a dramatic turn when her flamboyant sister Hildy committed suicide. The luster of the playhouse faded, and she sought escape and adventure by marrying a fellow actor and moving to Los Angeles. Her husband Gordon signed on with Gardner Bothers Studio and through him Elsa met Irving Green, who launched her career. Irving later not only made Elsa his wife, but he made her a star. To her friends she remained Elsa Green, but to her fans she became Laura Lamont. Readers of women’s fiction will love this success story and will find Elsa’s devotion to her family and her husband Irving warm and endearing. Librarians may also try recommending it to biography readers as well. 

--Candy Ortman, MLS, Sales

Man Vs. Markets: Economics Explained (Plain and Simple)
by Dan Archer, illustrated by Paddy Hirsch

This book is for those of us who pretend to understand the concept of capital-“E” Economics, but truly know next to nothing beyond paying the bills and balancing the checkbook. Forget figuring out micro- and macro-; this is a conversational (and cartoon) explanation of it all, from margins to derivatives to the interbank lending market and shadow banking. Perhaps most importantly, it discusses consequences of bad economic behavior—yes, plain and simple.

--Dana Juriew, MILS, Collection Development

My Berlin Kitchen: A Love Story, With Recipes
by Luisa Weiss

Luisa Weiss is the author of the cooking blog The Wednesday Chef, which she started in 2005 as a way to work through the piles of recipe clippings she’d been saving over the years. In her debut memoir, My Berlin Kitchen, she uses her lifelong love of food and cooking to weave together the story of her childhood: born and raised in Berlin, she moved with her father to Boston, Massachusetts, as a child when her parents divorced. Never feeling truly at home in the U.S., she opted to move back to Berlin to finish school. She finds herself as an adult, working a dream job editing cookbooks, engaged, and living in New York City. All the while she cooks. And she finds in cooking, as she does in her life, that sometimes things don’t work out as planned. Reaching a crisis point, she decides that her true home, her heart and soul (and stomach) belong to Berlin. It is only once she is back in her native city that she finds true happiness. In Weiss’s mind, good food (and some particularly bad experiments with food) is an integral part of her memories. And with that she tells her story, marking important milestones and recalling the past with comforting prose and delish recipes.

--Linda Arrington Lusk, Reviewer

Reel Terror: The Scary, Bloody, Gory, Hundred-Year History of Classic Horror Films
by David Konow

What a treat for horror movie fans, especially in our favorite month of the year! Konow takes a look at the history of horror cinema from the early 1900s to today (most of the movies are from the United States but there are discussions of Canadian and European films). He looks at movies that were popular because they followed the rules of the genre and those that were popular precisely because they didn’t. Along the way, he gives us insider gossip about directors, actors, promoters, and others in the industry. As a librarian and a horror fan, I was particularly interested to learn about Bill Gaines (publisher of EC Comics) and his intellectual freedom struggle during the anti-comics campaigns of the 1940s and 50s; sadly, he lost. Included are seven pages of black-and-white photos and an impressive index and sources section. Your blood-thirsty readers will want both this title and Jason Zinoman’s Shock Value, which is a similar type of overview but focuses on the 1970s and the shift of horror cinema from incredible, fantastical, and mutated monsters to a more plausible dreaded darkness threatening from within (sometimes the call really is coming from inside the house!). Also of note: the director who brought to life Blatty’s novel The Exorcist has a memoir scheduled for publication February 2013: The Friedkin Connection. I highly recommend Konow’s Reel Terror for all public libraries and colleges with any type of film studies or performing arts focus.

-- Becky Walton, MLIS, Collection Development

The Vanishing Act: A Novel
by Mette Jakobsen

Young Minou Descartes lives on a secluded island with her philosopher father, her enigmatic mother, a priest, a magician, and a dog named No Name. When her mother disappears from the island, the worst is assumed by all but Minou. She lives in a constant state of contemplation, attempting to prove that her mother has merely run off to a new adventure, using logic and reason learned from her father. When the body of a dead boy is washed ashore, Minou and her father are drawn to him, each looking for metaphorical answers relating to their missing loved one, but also on the meaning of life. This novella is told like a parable: on the surface, it is a simple read, but as it sits with the reader, it unravels long after the last page is turned.

--Dana Juriew, MILS, Collection Development


Underwater Welder
By Jeff Lemire

Lemire (Essex County, Sweet Tooth) has created a masterful story of love, crisis, and redemption with Underwater Welder. Jack Joseph is an underwater welder off the coast of Nova Scotia. His wife is nine months pregnant with their first child. He has not recovered from the loss of his estranged father, himself a diver and treasure hunter, as a young child. Now that Jack’s impending fatherhood looms before him, he has intensified dreams and what appear to be delusions of meeting, and losing, his father again. At one point, he appears to be caught in a nightmare where he is completely alone in their small town, reliving the same day over and over again, but it is not clear what is reality and what is imagined. There is a whole dream-like, horrific sequence underwater where Jack has an epiphany about everything and almost drowns. He comes to having realized what is important–his wife and child–putting to bed his unresolved issues with his father and arrives home just in time to see his son born. The beautiful shades of gray and underwater landscapes are wonderfully portrayed, as are the paranoia, despair, and pain apparent in the main character. Although the subject matter is a bit much for most teens, there is something here for the more mature—nothing objectionable, but many libraries may wish to shelve this in the adult section. This graphic novel is highly recommended for ages 16 and up.

--Jenny McCluskey, MSIS, Collection Development