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February Faves

February 2015 LibraryReads List

The top ten books published this month that librarians across the country love.

library reads logo websiteThis monthly list is created by librarians and library staff to help connect readers to new books and authors. An online community of librarians vote each month on their favorite new books and the results are tallied. "The list is a straightforward calculation: whichever ten books get the most nominations go onto the monthly list. The book with the most nominations becomes the #1 Pick. It’s as simple as that." The list is not meant to be a "best" list - just a list of collective favorites - books librarians loved and want to share.


#1 for February 2015:
A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler


The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, enviable kind of specialness. But they are also like all families, in that the stories they tell themselves reveal only part of the picture. Abby and Red and their four grown children have accumulated not only tender moments, laughter, and celebrations, but also jealousies, disappointments, and carefully guarded secrets. From Red's father and mother, newly arrived in Baltimore in the 1920s, to Abby and Red's grandchildren carrying the family legacy boisterously into the twenty-first century, here are four generations of Whitshanks, their lives unfolding in and around the sprawling, lovingly worn Baltimore house that has always been their anchor.
"... (a) charming, funny, and shrewd novel of the paradoxes of self, family, and home." (Booklist)


Mystery Awards Shortlist

edgarallanpoeThe 2015 Edgar Nominees   

On Wednesday, January 21, the Mystery Writers of America announced the finalists for the 2015 Edgar Allan Poe Awards, the premier award for the mystery/crime genre. The winners will be announced at a gala ceremony in New York on April 29.



mrmercedesNominees for Best Novel:

This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash
Wolf by Mo Hayder
Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
The Final Silence by Stuart Neville
Saints of the Shadow Bible by Ian Rankin
Coptown by Karin Slaughter



murderatthebrightNominees for Best First Novel:

Dry Bones in the Valley by Tom Bouman
Invisible City by Julia Dahl
The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens
Bad Country by C.B. McKenzie
Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh
Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver



Literary Finalists

natlbookcriticscircleNational Book Critics Circle Awards

Tuesday, the committee of judges for the National Book Critics Circle Awards announced the finalists for the best books of 2014 in several categories: fiction, non-fiction, biography, autobiography, criticism and poetry. The prizes are among the most prestigious American literary awards for books published in English in the U.S., and are judged by a panel of book critics and book review editors. The awards will be presented on March 12, 2015 in New York.


Finalists for Fiction:                    briefhistory

Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman                          
Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings
Lily King, Euphoria
Chang-rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea
Marilynne Robinson, Lila



Remember! Celebrate! Act!

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day

drivingmrkingBernice King writes that the 2015 national theme for the commemeration of the 30th Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday urges us to remember, celebrate, and act to promote non-violence as a way of life in honor of her father. Reading could be one way to do this. There are many novels about the civil rights era in which Dr. King played such an important role. One recently published is Driving the King by Ravi Howard. Although the King of the title is singer Nat King Cole, not Dr. King, this novel, set in post World War II America, explores the racial tensions felt throughout the country as the early civil rights movement gained momentum.  When war hero Nat Weary heads to Los Angeles to work for his old friend, Nat King Cole, it is the promise of a new life removed from the violence and degradation of Jim Crow Alabama. While California is more progressive than the Deep South, Weary discovers there, too, that wealth, popularity, and talent cannot protect a black man from discrimination and hate. Drawn back to Montgomery by some unfinished business, Nat King Cole and Weary discover a city in the midst of change. A woman named Rosa Parks has inspired blacks to boycott the city's buses--a daring fight for dignity and rights that will eventually grip the entire nation. "Howard weaves historical events through this fictional retelling, using them as key plot points and context for Weary’s internal turmoil. The Montgomery bus boycott is central, and Howard also introduces readers to a young Martin Luther King Jr." (BookPage)


If you like Masterpiece (and who doesn't?)

More PBS Masterpiece

runciePBS has added 20 more hours of programming as part of its Masterpiece series for 2015 - a 50% increase in British costume drama. In addition to the mega-hit Downton Abbey, several new shows are planned. “PBS and ‘Masterpiece’ are at the forefront of a global resurgence of quality drama,” said Beth Hoppe, chief programming executive and general manager, General Audience Programming, PBS. “‘Masterpiece’ has been the place for quality costume drama and intriguing mysteries for more than 40 years, so we are glad to bring viewers more of what they love to our schedule.”

The enlarged Masterpiece programming starts on January 18 with bringupthebodiesGrantchester, a six-part series based on the twistedswordmysteries of James Runcie, about a handsome young clergyman/sleuth in 1950's rural England. In April, the six-part TV adaptation of Hilary Mantel's prize-winning bestsellers, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies, about the rise of commoner Thomas Cromwell in Tudor England, will air. Damian Lewis (Homeland) will star as Henry VIII.  Other Masterpiece programming includes a new version of a successful 70's series, Poldark, based on the historical novels by Winston Graham set in late 18th century Cornwall. It's enough to make an Anglophile swoon!


Books to Movies/TV - January

Now (or soon) playing:

worldmadestraightThe World Made Straight by Ron Rash
Travis Shelton is seventeen the summer he wanders onto a neighbor's property in the Appalachian woods, discovers a crop of marijuana large enough to make him some serious money, and steps into the jaws of a bear trap. After his rescue, Travis moves out of his parents' home to live with Leonard Shuler, a one-time schoolteacher. Leonard lives with his dogs and his sometime girlfriend in a run-down trailer outside town, deals a few drugs, and studies journals from the Civil War. Travis becomes his student, of sorts, and their fates become increasingly entwined with the community's Civil War past and its corrupt present. Jeremy Irvine stars as Travis, and Noah Wyle plays his mentor Leonard.


Still Alice by Lisa Genova
The film adaptation of Genova's 2007 book is getting lots of attention due to the Best still aliceActress Oscar nomination just announced for Julianne Moore who stars as Alice, the successful, married Harvard professor who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease. First it was random forgetfulness, then disorientation, until her life is totally disrupted and her career is over. Fiercely independent, Alice struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment, even as her sense of self is being stripped away. In turns heartbreaking, inspiring, and terrifying, Still Alice captures in remarkable detail what it's like to literally lose your mind. Genova, who has a PhD in neuroscience, was compelled to write her book after her grandmother was diagnosed with the disease.


lindamurderBackstrom -Linda-as in the Linda Murder by Leif G.W. Persson
Backstrom, the Fox crime drama which premieres on January 22 and stars Rainn Wilson as detective Evert Backstrom, is based on a Swedish crime series penned by Leif G. W. Persson, a professor of criminology in Stockholm. The series, which starts with Linda, as in the Linda Murder, centers on Backstrom, an egotistical, vain, and  prejudiced police officer with no sense of duty or responsibilty, who thinks everyone around him is an imbecile, and is only capable of warm feelings towards his pet goldfish and the nearest bottle of liquor. While described as "short, fat and primitive," Backstrom is an undeniably brilliant comic creation. It's not often one laughs while reading a police procedural.


Chronicler of the 60's and 70's

Robert Stone (1937-2015)

dogsoldiersNovelist Robert Stone, whose literary novels "capture(d) the robertstoneapocalyptic madness of America in the 1960s and ’70's," passed away last week. Stone's novels, which frequently featured characters cut adrift by the social changes and unrest occurring in the U.S. during the Vietnam war era, provided commentary on the state of the nation as political divisions and the emerging counterculture provoked violent clashes in the streets. According to his New York Times obituary, "He participated fully in the drug-fueled 1960s, when he spent time with the novelist Ken Kesey and his friends, known as the Merry Pranksters, ... and he briefly spent time as a Vietnam War correspondent." Stone won the National Book Award in 1975 for his novel Dog Soldiers, a tale set in Vietnam and California about a disasterous drug deal with fatal results, which many read as an allegory about the U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia. Stone wrote eight novels, two collections of stories and a memoir, Prime Green: Remembering the Sixties; his last novel, Death of a Black-Haired Girl was published in 2013.


2015 Michigan Notable Books

MInotablebooksOn Sunday, in the Detroit Free Press, The Library of Michigan
revealed the list of the 2015 Michigan Notable stationelevenBooks -
20 books that highlight the diversity of Michigan's people, places, issues, and events. The books must have been published during the last year, and be about Michigan or the Great Lakes region, or authored by a Michigan writer. The books are chosen by a committee of librarians, reviewers, booksellers and authors working with the Library of Michigan's Center for the Book. This year's list has something for everyone - fishing, sailing, history, suspense, memoir, poetry, science fiction, sports, and a book made up entirely of one-syllable words. The fiction selections include Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, a book that has gained national buzz by being named as a National Book Award Finalist, and Bird Box by Josh Malerman, which was a LibraryReads pick for May 2014.

The Next Gone Girl?

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

girlonthetrainExpectations are building for the release on January 13 of this new thriller by Paula Hawkins, with various media sources declaring that the book could be this year's Gone Girl. New York Times reviewer Janet Maslin says that the book, like Gone Girl, has great fun with three unreliable narrators, especially one woman, the frequently drunk Rachel, whose entire life is a lie. Rachel is obsessed with her ex-husband and his new wife, whom she stalks while in an alcoholic fog. She is also obsessed with a young married couple she notices from her passing train each day. When the wife disappears, Rachel decides to go to the police with her "observations" of the couple's relationship.  Of course, no one takes her seriously. Booklist calls it "a wicked thriller, cleverly done...melding the voyeurism of Rear Window with the unreliable narration of Gone Girl."  Film rights have already been optioned, so if the advance hype proves true, you may see this at the movies too.


Happy New Year!

January 2 is National Science Fiction Day

irobotWhy January 2nd?  It's the birthday of Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), the preeminent and prolific science fiction author and master of "hard science fiction." Best known for his Foundation and Robot (I, Robot) series, Asimov published over 500 books over his long career and won every science fiction award possible; the Science Fiction Writers of America named him its 8th SFWA Grand Master in 1986. Asimov's work influenced generations of science fiction writers and was instrumental in elevating the genre from the fringe of pulp magazines to the literary mainstream. His fame extends throughout the universe: an asteroid, 5020 Asimov, and a crater on Mars are named in his honor.


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