Barbara’s Picks, November 2012, Pt. 3: Moning, T√≥ib√≠n, Cahalan, Grass

Moning, Karen Marie. Iced. Delacorte. Nov. 2012. 352p. ISBN 9780385344401. $27; eISBN 9780440339809. URBAN PARANORMAL
Listen up: here’s a new urban paranormal trilogy from Moning, author of the five blisteringly successful Fever titles, each bigger than the last (Shadowfever debuted in the top spot on the New York Times best sellers list). Fortunately, this new trilogy returns to the world of the Fever titles, picking up where Shadowfever left off. At its heart is charismatic teen sidhe seer Dani O’Malley, charged with capturing a slippery, murderous new Fae even as dark forces threaten to take over Dublin. Lots of promotion for this, from a new app to a big launch party thrown by the author herself in New Orleans on October 29‚ 30.

Tóibín, Colm. The Testament of Mary. Scribner. Nov. 212. 96p. ISBN 9781451688382. $23. LITERARY FICTION
Tóibín’s Mary is nothing like you’d expect, especially if your religious views run to the traditional. She doesn’t think Jesus was the Son of God, that his death had any significance, and that the motley men surrounding him (her keepers now) are holy disciples. She also blames herself for abandoning her son on the Cross to save her own life. Tóibín is one of the few authors I can imagine shaking Mary loose of two millennia of prayer, chant, and painting so that we can see her afresh as a lonely, disconsolate woman with no idea what her son’s death wrought.

Cahalan, Susannah. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness. Free Pr: S. & S. Nov. 2012. 288p. ISBN 9781451621372. $25. MEMOIR/MEDICAL
At age 24, New York Post reporter Cahalan was successfully launching a career and a first serious relationship when she entered a month of intensive violent and psychotic episodes that she does not remember even now. After $1 million worth of tests, the doctors were preparing to place her in a psychiatric ward when Dr. Souhel Najjar joined her team and diagnosed a newly discovered autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the brain. Cahalan’s doctors now think that this disease may explain instances of presumed demonic possession throughout history. Meanwhile, herself again, Cahalan nervily reports this extraordinary experience. A big BEA buzz book.

Grass, Günter. From Germany to Germany: Diary 1990. Houghton Harcourt. Nov. 212. 272p. ISBN 9780547364605. $24. MEMOIR
After offering his recollection in Peeling the Onion and doing some creative work with memory and ideas in The Box, Grass offers yet another way of looking at the past‚ particularly his past, significant because it parallels some crucial moments of the 20th century. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Grass decided both to travel through the newly reunited Germany and bear witness to yet another world-historical event, as compatriots (new and old) coped with startling new facts of life, and to keep a diary of his experiences. Here’s the diary, which also threads in more personal reflections; it opens with Grass planting a sapling and going mushroom hunting, setting a tone of uncertain hopefulness as he approaches political events.

Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.