Neill is a divorced, mid-30s guy living in San Francisco and stumbling though life. He works for a start-up company that is attempting to create the first truly intelligent computer. The computer is modeled on his father, who committed suicide in 1996 and left more than 20 years of journals. Using these journals as a starting point, Neill and his partners begin to develop a computer that has a back story and can, hopefully, look forward.
"A Working Theory of Love" captures the struggles of someone who has no idea what he should be doing with his life, much less in the world at large. Neill labors to understand his parents, his upbringing, and the loss of his father. Several women enter and exit his life, including his ex-wife, but fail to stir him beyond his simple existence. This is an intriguing book that will leave you wondering the "what ifs" of Neill's life as he does the same. This is Scott Hutchins first novel, but hopefully not his last.
--Keir H., Cliff Cave Branch
Given the success of Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" and Jennifer Chiaverini's new novel "Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker," some may be eager to learn more about Elizabeth Keckley (1819-1907), the actual woman who purchased her freedom from slavery, worked as a seamstress in Washington D.C., and became a friend to Mary Todd Lincoln.
Elizabeth Keckley published her memoir "Behind the Scenes: Or, Thirty Years a Slave, and Four Years in the White House" in 1868. The book was considered quite scandalous at the time. Keckley was called a "traitorous eavesdropper," and many of her former friends, including Mrs. Lincoln, shunned her.
"101 Recipes You Can't Live Without" offers a wonderful opportunity to begin the year making conscious and healthy food choices. What is great in this cookbook is how it identifies nutrients that will have the most health-promoting potential.
The easy-to-use index allows the reader to search recipes by ingredient. Don't worry that the recipes call for freaky, odd-ball ingredients--they don't. Ingredients may be found at your average grocery store. No shi shi shopping required.
"101 Recipes You Can't Live Without" by Lori Powell presents recipes for great food that's not complicated. Excuse me as I dash off to make a lovely, carotenoid-rich Tuscan Kale Salad with Almonds and Parmesan. Yum!
--Kim, F, Headquarters
My book discussion group just finished a delightful book by Sarah Addison Allen entitled "The Girl Who Chased the Moon: a Novel." If you're looking for a gentle read, I would recommend it. The book is probably best described as an adult fairy tale.
The book opens with 17-year-old Emily Benedict arriving in Mullaby, North Carolina after the death of her mother. Emily hopes to find answers to questions that have haunted her for life...why did her mother leave her hometown...why has she never wanted to return...why was she so secretive about her past. What Emily finds is a gentle giant in her grandfather, mysterious lights that skip through the town, wallpaper that changes to match her mood and more secrets.
Emily is befriended by Julia Winterson. Julia has her own secrets...emotional scars from a lost love to match her physical ones. Her cakes seem to be therapy and they seem magical.
From Sumerian times to Rome to the present day, "Drink: A Cultural History of Alcohol" by Ian Gately discusses the development of alcohol and its cultural treatments by civilizations through the centuries. The book tells the story of the explosion of new types of alcohol, in addition to beer and wine, beginning in the 1700s, and how some popular liquors were either discovered by accident or by techniques used to preserve other beverages during shipping. Also of note is the discussion of Prohibition, which, among other things, led to the development of the mixed drink, used to mask the unappealing flavor of illegal homemade alcohol during that period. For another interesting topic, the book discusses the impact of new technologies on the business, particularly the invention of cans and refrigeration, which led to the decline of the neighborhood tavern, when customers could buy and store their own alcohol at home. For those that are looking for the full history of alcohol from the beginning, this is it.
It seems that everyone is talking about George Saunders and his latest story collection "Tenth of December." A writer for the New York Times Magazine labels it "the best book you'll read this year." That's a bold claim in January when a whole year of books lies ahead. How can you pick the best book of any given year? I might have a most-loved book, or one that taught me the most, a most imaginative, or the most promising new author. So who knows about the "best book?" But I can predict that many of the characters in these outstanding stories will stay with me through the year and beyond.
You may not know who Jenny Lawson is, but you should. She rules the geeky underworld of the Internet with style and aplomb. She writes blogs, tweets up a storm, and gets famous people to pose for pictures holding random objects. No kidding, she gets to do that for a living! Her pseudonym, "The Bloggess" tells it like it is in her own unique, sarcastic, stream-of-consciousness delivery. Jenny's writing style is always honest and authentic served with a small side of snark. Her #1 New York Times bestseller "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" is one of those magical memoirs that is actually funny enough to make you laugh. Out loud. Often. Honestly, people were looking at me strangely as I found myself cackling in public places while I read this book.
As I was reading James Grippando's new book,"Blood Money," I couldn't help but think of the tagline for "Law and Order:" Ripped from today's headlines. It blends elements from the Casey Anthony trial, outrage over an unacceptable O.J. Simpson verdict, and a ruthless media mogul interested only in ratings.