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Happy Thanksgiving

"There is always something for which to be thankful." (Dickens)

thanksgivingvisitorThe Thanksgiving Visitor by Truman Capote
Capote's classic tale, based on his Southern childhood in the 30's, about 9 year-old Buddy who is growing up in a small Alabama town with his older cousin, Miss Sook. Buddy's holiday is threatened and his relationship with Miss Sook is put to the test when she insists on inviting the school bully, Odd Henderson, to Thanksgiving dinner. There, with family and friends gathered round the dinner table, Buddy gets his chance for revenge on the bully at last and instead learns a lesson in the importance of suspending judgment and extending forgiveness.


A Catered Thanksgiving by Isis Crawfordcateredthanksgivng
Sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons, the proprietors of A Little Taste of Heaven, their small catering company, prepare a Thanksgiving feast for Scrooge-like fireworks manufacturer Monty Field and his family at the Field mansion. When Monty comes into the kitchen to test the roasting turkey, Bernie and Libby watch in horror as Monty taps the pop-up button in the bird's breast and the turkey explodes, blowing off the top of his head. "Fans of culinary cozies will enjoy... Her murder method is original, and the recipes are good." (Library Journal)


strangersatthefeastStrangers at the Feast by Jennifer Vanderbes
On Thanksgiving Day 2007, as the country teeters on the brink of a recession, three generations of the Olson family gather. Eleanor and Gavin worry about their daughter, a single academic, and her newly adopted Indian child, and about their son, who has been caught in the imploding real-estate bubble. While the Olsons navigate the tensions and secrets that mark their relationships, seventeen-year-old Kijo Jackson and his best friend Spider set out from the nearby housing projects. A series of tragic events bring the two worlds ever closer, exposing the  thin line between suburban privilege and urban poverty, and culminating in a crime that will change everyone's life.


Thanksgiving by Janet Evanovichthanksgiving
When Megan Murphy discovered a floppy-eared rabbit gnawing on the hem of her skirt, she meant to give its careless owner a piece of her mind, but Dr. Patrick Hunter was too attractive to stay mad at for long. Hunter, the new pediatrician, has been given an infant to care for, and Megan falls for both of them. Their attraction grows in leaps and bounds, especially when everyone they meet thinks they're married. Soon the two are making Thanksgiving dinner for their families.


ghostatthetableThe Ghost at the Table by Suzanne Berne
Strikingly different since childhood and leading dissimilar lives, sisters Frances and Cynthia have managed to remain close - as long as they stay on opposite coasts. When Frances arranges to host Thanksgiving at her idyllic New England farmhouse, she envisions a happy family reunion, one that will include the sisters' long-estranged father. Cynthia, however, doesn't understand how Frances can ignore the past that includes suspicions about their mother's death twenty-five years earlier. As Thanksgiving Day arrives, with a houseful of guests looking forward to dinner, the sisters continue to struggle with different versions of a shared past as their conflict escalates.


National Book Award - Fiction - 2014


by Phil Klay                                                                                         redeployment

The National Book Foundation announced the winners of the National Book Awards at a ceremony in New York on November 19th. Phil Klay, an ex-Marine who served in Iraq, won the award for Fiction for his debut collection of short stories about soldiers in war and afterwards. In his acceptance speech, Klay advocated more dialogue between veterans and civilians about the impact of the Afghan and Iraq wars on our country."I can’t think of a more important conversation to be having,” he said. “War is too strange to be processed alone.” Redeployment garnered rave reviews when published earlier this year. "Klay's stories are sensational, with vivid characters, biting dialogue, and life within and beyond the Afghan and Iraq wars conveyed with an addictive combination of the mundane and the horrifying." ... "Redeployment is most remarkable, though, for the questions it asks about the aims and effects of war stories themselves, and Klay displays a thoughtful awareness of this literary tradition. ... "Those questions, and Klay's exciting new voice, may stay with the reader long after this book is back on the shelf." (Annie Tully, Booklist Starred Review)


leguinLegendary Science Fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award, the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, for her long and successful writing career. The National Book Foundation press release described her contribution: "For more than forty years, Le Guin has defied conventions of narrative, language, character, and genre, as well as transcended the boundaries between fantasy and realism, to forge new paths for literary fiction." Le Guin, author of the Earthsea series, The Left Hand of Darkness, and The Lathe of Heaven is among the nation’s most revered writers of science fiction and fantasy. According to reports, Le Guin's acceptance speech stopped the show and brought those assembled to their feet. She delivered a fiery sermon defending science fiction as a worthy genre too long ignored and championing writers in general against "a profiteer" (read Amazon). "We just saw a profiteer try to punish a publisher for disobedience, and writers threatened by corporate fatwa."... "I’ve had a long career and a good one, in good company, and here, at the end of it, I really don’t want to watch American literature get sold down the river. … The name of our beautiful reward is not profit. Its name is freedom."  (And the crowd went wild.)


It's cold outside!

Feeling the chill? Curl up inside with some "hot" books.

ragingheatRaging Heat by Richard Castle
When an illegal immigrant falls from the sky, NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat's investigation into his death quickly captures the imagination of her boyfriend, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Jameson Rook. When he decides to work the case, Nikki is at first happy to have him ride along. She's glad for the entertainment, the chance to bounce ideas, and just to be close to him again and feel the old spark rekindle. But when Rook's inquiry concludes that Heat has arrested the wrong man for the murder, everything changes. (Richard Castle is a fictional character portrayed by Nathan Fillion in the ABC crime series Castle - but you knew that.)


feeltheheatFeel the Heat by Kate Meader
Photographer Lili DeLuca spends all her time working at her family's Italian restaurant, instead of following her dream of getting an MFA. When famous British chef Jack Kilroy unexpectedly challenges her father to a cook-off, Lili decides she's tired of playing it safe and vows to seduce the tempting Brit. Once a video of her and Jack kissing goes viral, Lili fears she's cooked up a recipe for disaster, but Jack knows they could be amazing together. Can Jack convince Lili to realize her own ambitions-and turn up the heat in his kitchen?



worldoficeandfireThe World of Ice & Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones by Geroge R.R. Martin
The definitive companion piece to George R. R. Martin's dazzlingly conceived universe, this lavishly illustrated volume is a comprehensive history of the Seven Kingdoms, providing vividly constructed accounts of the epic battles, bitter rivalries, and daring rebellions that lead to the events of A Song of Ice and Fire and HBO's Game of Thrones. Collected here is all the accumulated knowledge, scholarly speculation, and inherited folk tales of maesters and septons, maegi and singers, including full-color artwork and maps, full family trees for Houses Stark, Lannister, and Targaryen, in-depth explorations of the history and culture of Westeros, and some 100% all-new material, more than half of which Martin wrote specifically for this book. (After all, winter is coming!)


heatwaveHeat Wave by Nancy Thayer
Making the startling discovery that her family finances are in dire straits is only the latest shock endured by Carley Winsted after her husband's sudden death from a heart attack. Resisting her in-laws' well-meaning overtures to take in Carley and her two daughters, the young widow instead devises a plan to keep her family in their beloved home, a grand historic house on the island of Nantucket. The solution is right at Carley's front door: transforming her expensive, expansive house into a bed-and-breakfast. Not everyone, however, thinks this plan prudent or quite respectable--especially not Carley's mother-in-law. And then, during a late-summer heat wave, the lives of Carley and her friends and family change in entirely unexpected ways.



Anthony Awards 2014

bcon logo flatBouchercon Mystery Awards

The Anthony Awards for mystery fiction written in 2013 were announced on November 15 at the annual World Mystery Convention (Bouchercon) held in Long Beach, CA. The convention and the awards are named after Anthony Boucher, writer, editor, and critic of science fiction and mystery who helped found the Mystery Writers of America in 1946.

ordinary graceWilliam Kent Krueger won the Anthony for the Best Novel for his book, Ordinary Grace.
Krueger also won the Edgar Award for mystery fiction earlier this year, also for Ordinary Grace, the story of 13 year-old Frank Drum who is thrust into a grown-up world filled with tragedy as five instances of death strike his family and community. Library Journal called the novel, "...a touching read, with just enough intrigue..."

Also honored this year with the Lifetime Achievement Award was skincollectormystery writer Jeffrey Deaver, the creator of the Lincoln Rhyme mysteries and the author of 29 novels, two short story collections and one legal text. In 2010 he was selected by Ian Fleming Publications to write the James Bond sequel novel Carte Blanche which was published in 2011.


Peace in our time?

Amazon v. Hachette

bluelabrynthBookseller Amazon and book publisher Hachette Book Group announced an end to their 05bits-amazon-articleInline-v2hostilities last week, after sparring over book pricing and other contract issues since January.  Authors, agents, publishers and readers watched as the negotiations turned ugly and many media types weighed in with opinions, letters, legal threats and boycotts. Authors James Patterson and Douglas Preston  were vehement critics of Amazon's tactics, like delays in shipping for Hachette books; Preston recruited 900 other writers to sign an open letter of protest which was published in the New York Times. Stephen Colbert openly encouraged his "Nation" to buy books from independent bookstores and to affix a sticker to their purchases declaring their support.  So the skirmish is over for now -  both side have pronounced themselves satisfied with their new terms, but Preston is quoted as saying,"If anyone thinks this is over, they are deluding themselves. Amazon covets market share the way Napoleon coveted territory.” (NYTimes)

Another List!

Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2014

mammothbookPW's editors have recently released their list of "Best" books of 2014, conveniently divided by genres such as mystery, romance, poetry, non-fiction etc. Under the category Science Fiction/Horror are seven titles, including an anthology of science fiction by women writers, The Mammoth Book of SF Stories by Women. Edited by Alex Dally MacFarlane, the book contains,"some of the most exciting science fiction written by women in the past few decades." The 33 stories are written in various styles and sci fi sub-genres, representing hard sci fi, steampunk, horror and folktale/fantasy, by classic authors like Lois McMaster Bujold and Ursula K. LeGuin and newer writers like Carrie Vaughn and Catherynne M. Valente. Each story "dazzle(s) with the virtuosity of their contributors' talents...this book's contents offer something for every fan of well-written SF." (Publishers Weekly)


Veterans Day 2014


Redeployment by Phil Klay

redeploymentTo understand and honor the sacrifices and struggles of our service members on this Veterans Day, consider Redeployment by Phil Klay. Klay's book of stories about the troops who served in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars not only illuminates the harrowing experiences of the soldiers while over there, but also reveals what happens to the soldiers who return. His stories expose the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier's daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier's homecoming. Klay's book was published to rave reviews in March and is currently a finalist for this year's National Book Award, which will be announced on November 19. Klay, a veteran of the Iraq war who served in the U.S. Marine Corps, has been heralded as an "exciting new voice" whose "first collection could become for the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts what Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried is for the Vietnam War." (Library Journal)


Best Books of 2014

Library Journal's Top Ten

someluck2As the year winds down, the best books lists crank up. Media sources that publish book reviews have started releasing their lists of the year's "best." Library Journal's editors have just announced their top ten, with editor Henrietta Verma's comment, " We agonized over this list—it took four rounds of voting!—and it was worth it; there isn’t a shelf-sitter in the bunch."

Six novels made the list:

untamedstateAn Untamed State by Roxane Gay

A Brief History of Seven Killings by James Marlon

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Us by David Nicholls

Some Luck by Jane Smiley

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin


Literary Immortality Auction

Bidding on a novel character

stackofbooksAt a literary event in London on November 20, a number of
well-regarded authors will auction off the itrights to name characters in their future novels, all for charity. The writers are supporting a British organization, Freedom from Torture, which works with torture survivors "to help them begin to rebuild their lives." Seventeen authors, Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, Ken Follett, Hanif Kureishi, Will Self, Alan Hollinghurst, Zadie Smith, Ian McEwan, Pat Barker, Martina Cole, Tracy Chevalier, Sebastian Faulks, Adam Foulds, Robert Harris, Kathy Lette, Adam Mars-Jones and Joanna Trollope, will offer naming rights and the chance to have one's name, or that of a loved one, immortalized in a book for the price of the winning bid.  Other authors, like Stephen King and George R.R. Martin, have sold naming rights for charity in the past. In both King's It and Martin's Game of Thrones, the donor-christened characters met bad ends, but the names live on.

Celebrate Native American Heritage Month



reservationbluesSince 1990, each President has designated November as the month to honor
"the significant contributions the first peopleofthewhaleAmericans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S." According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the effort to gain recognition of the value of Native American culture started in the 1900's with various states and organizations declaring certain days as American Indian Days. This month not only honors the diverse traditions, cultures, and histories of Native Americans, but also serves to educate the general public about the challenges Native peoples faced in the past and continue to face in the present. Contemporary Native American writers continue to enrich our national discourse by sharing their traditions and beliefs through diverse novels that explore the modern Native American experience. Well known authors like Louise Erdrich roundhouseand Sherman Alexie have produced powerful stories of modern reservation throughblacksprucelife and the clash of traditional customs and modern social and legal systems. Other Native American authors to consider include Linda Hogan, James Welch, Joseph Boyden, Leslie Marmon Silko, and  N. Scott Momaday.




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