Thursday, July 29, 2010

Top 5 titles foraged from the processing trolleys (29 July 2010)

List by Danielle

My first regret is the day I ate a urinal cake. What can I say? It looked like a delicious biscuit.
~ 'The world according to Warren', as told to Craig Silvey, pictures by Sonia Martinez

Oh such lovely things this week... treats and treasures soon to hit the shelves: a pompous dog, a trip to Ghostopolis, the darker side of the periodic table - plus how to embalm your loved ones in honey!

The disappearing spoon : and other true tales of madness, love, and the history of the world from the periodic table of the elements / Sam Kean.
The periodic table of the elements is a crowning scientific achievement, but it's also a treasure trove of passion, adventure, obsession, and betrayal. These tales follow carbon, neon, silicon, gold, and all the elements in the table as they play out their parts in human history. The usual suspects are here, like Marie Curie (and her radioactive journey to the discovery of polonium and radium) and William Shockley (who is credited, not exactly justly, with the discovery of the silicon transistor)--but the more obscure characters provide some of the best stories, like Paul Emile François Lecoq de Boisbaudran, whose discovery of gallium, a metal with a low melting point, gives this book its title: a spoon made of gallium will melt in a cup of tea.

A chatty and totally readable book that unearths all sorts of nuggets from the patchwork quilt of the table of elements. Mix metaphors much? No, it's good stuff, and it touchs on each fact just lightly enough to leave you seeking more.

How to mellify a corpse : and other human stories of ancient science & superstition / Vicki León.
From the Greco-Roman love affair with super-ships to their fascination with the heavens, which led to the world's first computer, the author explores early science and its persistent rival, superstition.

To mellify: to embalm in honey, fyi. Even chattier and more readable than 5) above, this is wide-ranging wander through the beliefs and practices of the ancient Greeks and Romans, in a nice short-of-stature but pleasingly plump paperback that demands to be flipped open and wondered at.

The cold kiss / John Rector.
Nate and Sara are on the run from their past, with just a few dollars and the promise of a new life together. So when they're approached by a man offering five hundred dollars for a ride to Omaha, they can't help but see it as a sign of blessings to come. But in a few hours, that man is dead in their backseat - and he's got a bag of money - more than either of them knows what to do with. Before they know it, Nate and Sara are fighting for their lives and are forced to come face-to -face with every bad decision they've made along the way.

This reminds me a lot of the plot of one of my favourite movies, Shallow Grave, and reviews also compare it to A simple plan and No country for old men. It gets some great reviews, too, suggesting a tense and atmospheric read, set in the claustrophobic confines of a roadside motel, during a blizzard.

Ghostopolis / Doug TenNapel.
Accidentally transported to the spirit world by a washed-out ghost wrangler, Garth Hale discovers that he wields unique powers aggressively coveted by the spirits around him and teams up with his grandfather's ghost to find a way back home.

A teen graphic novel that looks like great, gloomy fun, with a sketchy, sparse art style that suits the settings and characters well. All purples and sludgy greens, the storytelling promises to have enough humour to lift it well out of the realms of angsty supernatural moodiness. The opening scene, with a young boy terrorising his mother from the back seat of the car with gross-out stories, is both funny and instantly recognisable.

The world according to Warren / as told, under sufferance, to Craig Silvey (Fancy Pants Hack) and adequately rendered in technicolour by Sonia Martinez.
Seen through the eyes of Warren, the guide dog with an inflated ego. Warren has always known that he was destined for great things, he was born with a good heart and was going to help people. Warren reflects his views of the world as a working dog with big responsibilities. The story is illustrated with very complex and sophisticated illustrations.

A big thank you to Caroline, our cataloguer, for producing this one from the box it was hiding in, when I was rummaging for the Top 5 list. It is really REALLY good. Buy-your-own-copy good, if you like that sort of thing. What sort of thing? Sophisticated picture books with great art, packed with details to catch on the third and fourth read-through, plus a well-written tale that both entertains and plays deftly on your heart-strings (see Shaun Tan's work, for example). I like this one a LOT. Can you tell?

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