Vaclav & Lena, the children of Russian emigrés, find comfort in their common origins, camaraderie in their attempts to navigate the English language, and purpose in their ambition to create a magic act in Brighton Beach. Then Lena disappears—and it’s not an act. The path to solving the mystery of Lena’s whereabouts will make you laugh and cry as Vaclav grows older and eventually uncovers the hidden truths behind the scenes of his friendship with Lena. Haley Tanner perfectly captures the wonder and possibilities of an imaginative childhood, one complicated by the incomprehensible, protective, and sometimes cruel behavior of adults.
Stieg Larsson’s addictive Millennium Trilogy just got better! The long-awaited and thrilling conclusion, The Girl Who Kicked The Hornet’s Nest (Knopf, $27.95), picks up where the cliffhanging Girl Who Played with Fire left us. Incapacitated, under arrest, and strapped to a hospital bed with no ability to defend herself, computer-hacker Lisbeth Salander must rely on the more orthodox methods of journalist Mikhail Blomkvist and her lawyer Annika Giannini as she battles for retribution against the sex-trafficker and crime boss Zalachenko, his thug Niederman, the corrupt psychiatrist Teleborian, and the secret society buried within the bureaucracy of the Swedish State Security Agency. I couldn’t put it down and barely slept for three nights straight!
Economics is often perceived as a coldly rational and theoretical analysis of numbers. However, before he wrote the The Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith explored The Theory of Moral Sentiments. He understood that, whether buying a house, choosing between romantic attractions, or participating in the current economic crisis, we, as individuals and as a nation, are making subtly imperceptible comparisons and choices that create a curious logic behind our human behavior. By exploring our emotions and the marketing gimmicks that exploit them, Dan Ariely’s insightful and fascinating Predictably Irrational (Harper Perennial, $15.99) provides case studies and illustrations which clearly place economics in the realm of social science.