hbellanca@northshire.com's blog

Out Stealing Horses

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Out Stealing Horses: A Novel Cover Image
By Per Petterson, Anne Born (Translated by)
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ISBN: 9780312427085
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Picador - April 29th, 2008

Like chocolate ganache, delicious, concentrated, dark (like a Norwegian forest, not film noir) and so rich it doesn't take much. This thoughtful novel set at the tail end of WWII in Norway is a quiet, yet startling gem. Portrays a young teenage boy whose father has taken him to summer at a cabin in the woods on the Swedish border. In addition to the nostalgic look at traditional Norway as it was till say, the nineties, he takes you inside the heads of the characters, letting you hear them breath. Mysteries unfold in the dark forest, as the boy returning to the cabin as an old man recollects and begins to comprehend some of the mystifying events of that summer. ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca

The Street of a Thousand Blossoms

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The Street of a Thousand Blossoms: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312384777
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - August 5th, 2008

The story of a boy whose dream of becoming a sumo wrestler is interrupted by WWII. Besides being a delicate and personal story about engaging characters, it is rich with the fascinating details of Japanese traditional culture around Sumo wrestling, Noh theater and day to day life-and to see WWII from the various points of view of the Japanese. Frankly, I would never have wagered that I'd find myself so utterly compelled by a story with sumo wrestling as the central thread. ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca

Then We Came to the End

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Then We Came to the End: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316016391
Availability: Backordered
Published: Back Bay Books - February 26th, 2008

If you enjoyed the movie Office Space (which you should see if you haven't!) you'll enjoy this story set in a Chicago ad agency as it is being forced to downsize itself out of existence. You can be a fly-on-the-wall to the gossipy intrigue among the staff of rather cynical "creatives" as they plot to avoid layoffs. The pressure is on for them then, to come up with the winning idea for a pro bono ad campaign about breast cancer that is funny and will cheer up the victims. The author manages to present multi-dimensional characters, that could be just caricatures, and infuses sad situations with a wry humor. Maybe not great lit, but perceptive writing about the challenges of being a human being in a modern corporate environment. Highly recommended! ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca

Taj Mahal

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Taj Mahal: Passion and Genius at the Heart of the Moghul Empire Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780802716736
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Walker Books - February 12th, 2008

Fascinating history behind the building of the Taj Mahal. Authors have fleshed out the family tree (necessary genealogy included), with all the attendant conflicts, troubles & triumphs, that culminated with Shah Jahan building the awe-inspiring structure as a memorial to his beloved and powerful wife. Provides a clear picture of daily life in a far away place and time as well as insight into current affairs in the Middle East. ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca

Self Storage

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Self Storage: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345492616
Availability: Special Order
Published: Ballantine Books - February 12th, 2008

Compelling premise: shortly after 9/11 a California woman makes odd discoveries in her vocation of buying storage unit contents at auction. Who knew? - in this business, one buys boxes and contents unseen, providing opportunities for great surprises, disappointments and mysteries. The author touches on deadly serious topics with an amusing style. An interesting and engaging story! ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca

A Voyage Long and Strange

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A Voyage Long and Strange: On the Trail of Vikings, Conquistadors, Lost Colonists, and Other Adventurers in Early America Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312428327
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - April 27th, 2009

Unlearn your basic elementary school history! The mythology about who was first to discover and settle North America is just that, it turns out-subjective, fictional and self-serving. In his own investigation of these myths following the historical trails of forgotten explorers, Horowitz discovers many errors in American's general understanding of the "discovery" of this country. He doesn't dismiss the value of such fictions, but his unfolding of the facts is fascinating and instructional! ~ Reviewed by Heather Bellanca


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