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whitesThe Whites by Harry Brandt (Richard Price writing as Harry Brandt)
Well-known author Richard Price, using the pseudonym Harry Brandt, intended to write a plot-driven, slick page-turner about cops and the cases that haunt them. Instead, according to the critics, he wrote a thoughtful, complex, intricate book about a New York City detective with a checkered past and a criminal who got away. Back in the turbulent days of the mid-1990s, when a young Billy Graves worked in the South Bronx as part of an aggressive anti-crime unit known as the Wild Geese, he made headlines by accidentally shooting a ten-year-old boy while struggling with an angel-dusted addict on a crowded street. Branded as a loose cannon, Billy spent years enduring one dead-end posting after another. But then a call about a stabbing victim with ties to an unsolved murder and connections to the former members of the Wild Geese, brings the bad old days back into Billy's life with dangerous consequences. "What is evident is that this is going to be a strong contender for best crime novel of 2015." (Booklist)

 

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler                                                                      
The Whitshanks are one of those families that radiate togetherness: an indefinable, SpoolofBlueThread-201x300-201x300enviable 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. Tyler "continues to dazzle with this multigenerational saga, which glides back and forth in time with humor and heart and a pragmatic wisdom that comforts and instructs." (Library Journal)

 

holycowHoly Cow: a modern-day dairy tale by David Duchovny
Elsie Bovary is a cow, her long, lazy days are spent eating, napping, and chatting with her best friend, Mallory. One night, Elsie and Mallory sneak out of their pasture; but while Mallory is interested in flirting with the neighboring bulls, Elsie finds herself drawn to the farmhouse. Through the window, she sees the farmer's family gathered around a bright Box God, from which Elsie learns about something called an "industrial meat farm." Understanding her ultimate fate, she is determined to escape to a better, safer world. And so a motley crew is formed: Elsie, Jerry, a cranky, Torah-reading pig, and Tom the turkey. Toting stolen passports and slapdash human disguises, they head for the airport. The book is currently #16 on the NYT Best Seller list; the Inside the List column notes, "But beneath the goofy plot, which The Huffington Post described, not wholly favorably, as “a mash-up between ‘Animal Farm’ and ‘Chicken Run,’ ” (actor) Duchovny is thinking seriously about environmentalism and animal rights."

 

The Girls of Mischief Bay by Susan Mallery
Mallery's newest is the story of three friends on the brink of a new lives. Nicole Lord
wants to be a good girlsofmischiefbaywife, but there's a difference between being supportive and supporting her husband, who quit his job to write a screenplay she's never seen. Sacrificing a personal life for her career is how Shannon Rigg became a VP at her firm, but she wonders now whether she made the right choice. An exciting new relationship with a great guy convinces her that it might not be too late-until he drops a bombshell that has her questioning whether she really can have it all. And although Pam Eiland adores her husband, she feels restless now that the kids are grown. Finding sexy new ways to surprise him brings the heat and humor back to their marriage, but when unexpected change turns her life upside down, she'll have to redefine herself. Again. Through romance and heartbreak, laughter and tears, the girls of Mischief Bay will discover that life is richer with friends at your side.

 

 

New Ishiguro Novel

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

buriedgiantA new book by Kazuo Ishiguro is always a treat for his fans, and the literary world in general, but his latest novel, The Buried Giant, due out in March, is causing more of a stir than usual. As the New York Times noted in a recent article, Ishiguro's new book is written in a genre not usually associated with the author: fantasy. And not just near-future, slightly dystopian fantasy, but full-out mythic Arthurian fantasy, with dragons, pixies, and ogres. Comparisons are made to J.R.R. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin. ( Ishiguro will need more initials.) As NYT's Alexandra Alter writes, "Though it tackles many of Mr. Ishiguro’s hallmark themes — memory and how it fades and gets suppressed and distorted, and our inability to fully face the past — “The Buried Giant” signals a stark departure from his spare, emotionally understated novels like “The Remains of the Day,” and “Never Let Me Go,” an eerie and melancholy dystopian love story."  Other authors, like David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) are enthusiastic, hoping that Ishiguro's literary reputation will "de-stigmatize" fantasy and confer a little more respect on the genre.

 

It's Chinese New Year!

Happy New Year - Year of the Goat/Sheep/Ram

yearofthegoatThe Chinese year 4713, the Year of the Goat/ Sheep/Ram, begins on Thursday, February 19. In China, where the New Year's observance is the most important of the holidays, people may take weeks from work to prepare for it and celebrate. There are parties, family visits, dragon dances, red decorations everywhere, and, of course, fireworks. Each year is associated with one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. Those born in a year of the Goat are said to be shy, gentle, stable, sympathetic, creative, honest, and brimming with a strong sense of justice.

 Greet the New Year by reading about China, past and present.

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
Violet Minturn is the privileged daughter of the American madam of Shanghai's most exclusive courtesan house. But valleyofamazementwhen the Ching dynasty is overturned in 1912, Violet is separated from her mother in a cruel act of chicanery and forced to become a "virgin courtesan." Half-Chinese and half-American, Violet grapples with her place in the worlds of East and West--until she is able to merge her two halves, empowering her to become a shrewd courtesan who excels in the business of seduction and illusion. Spanning more than forty years and two continents, the novel transports readers from the collapse of China's last imperial dynasty to the beginning of the Republic and recaptures the lost world of old Shanghai through the inner workings of courtesan houses and the lives of the foreigners living in the International Settlement, both later erased by World War II. An evocative narrative of the profound connections between mothers and daughters, filled with insight and humor.

 

frogFrog by Mo Yan
Yan's first new novel since winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2012 chronicles the sweeping history of modern China through the lens of the nation's controversial one- child policy. Frog opens with a playwright nicknamed Tadpole who plans to write about his aunt. In her youth, Gugu-the beautiful daughter of a famous doctor and staunch Communist-is revered for her skill as a midwife. But when her lover defects, Gugu's own loyalty to the Party is questioned. She decides to prove her allegiance by strictly enforcing the one-child policy, keeping tabs on the number of children in the village, and performing abortions on women as many as eight months pregnant. In sharply personal prose, Mo Yan depicts a world of desperate families, illegal surrogates, forced abortions, and the guilt of those who must enforce the policy. At once illuminating and devastating, it shines a light into the heart of communist China.

 

The Ten Thousand Things by John Spurling
In the turbulent final years of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), Wang Meng is a low-level bureaucrat,
employed by the tenthousandthingsgovernment of Mongol conquerors established by the Kublai Khan. Though he wonders about his own complicity with this regime, he prefers not to dwell on his official duties, choosing instead to live the life of the mind. Wang is an extraordinarily gifted artist unable to stay in one place. In his wanderings, he encounters, among many memorable characters, other master painters of the period, including the austere eccentric Ni Zan, a fierce female warrior known as the White Tigress who will recruit him as a military strategist, and an ugly young Buddhist monk who rises from beggary to extraordinary heights. "This is mostly a quiet novel, but a rich one. As one general ascends to power and the Ming dynasty is born, Wang seeks to act honorably and rationally in times of prosperity and disaster, in states of loneliness and companionship, with parents, wife, and servants alike. Readers will feel lucky to watch his journey and share his thoughts." (Booklist)

 

greatzooofchinaThe Great Zoo of China by Matthew Reilly
It is a secret the Chinese government has been keeping for forty years. They have proven the existence of dragons - a landmark discovery no one could ever believe is real, and a scientific revelation that will amaze the world. Now the Chinese are ready to unveil their astonishing findings within the greatest zoo ever constructed. A small group of VIPs and journalists has been brought to the zoo deep within China to see these fabulous creatures for the first time. Among them is Dr. Cassandra Jane "CJ" Cameron, a writer for National Geographic and an expert on reptiles. The visitors are assured by their Chinese hosts that they will be struck with wonder at these beasts, that the dragons are perfectly safe, and that nothing can go wrong.
Of course it can't... "Sure, this sounds a lot like Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park (1990), but let's just say Reilly is tapping into a literary theme, and move on. Taken on its own merits, the book delivers the usual Reilly goods: plenty of action, a variety of interesting characters, and some villains we can't wait to see get what's coming to them." (Booklist)

 

2015-16 Great Michigan Read

Final-GMIR-logo-smlStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

The Michigan Humanities Council has announced the title of the fifth Great Michigan Read -  Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. The Great Michigan Read is the statewide community reading program sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council which "aims to connect us as Michiganians by deepening our understanding of our state, our society, and our humanity," through the reading and discussion of one book.

stationelevenJan Fedewa, MHC Interim Executive Director, commented, "Station Eleven is a departure from the non-fiction selections of the past several years," since it "tells the story of the Traveling Symphony, a troupe of Shakespearean actors and orchestral musicians traveling the shores of the Great Lakes in a post-apocalyptic Michigan." The novel was a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award and is one of this year's Michigan Notable Books.

The program will run from August 2015 through May 2016 with book discussions, special programming and author appearances.  PDL has participated in all of the Great Michigan Reads and will do so again this year - details will be announced at a later date.

 

New Faves

March 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 March 2015:
The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

LoveSong-queenieFrom the bestselling author of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry comes an exquisite love story about Queenie Hennessy, the remarkable friend who inspired Harold's cross-country journey. This poignant parallel story to Harold's saga brings Queenie Hennessy's voice into sharp focus. Setting pen to paper, one word after another, she promises to confess long-buried truths--about her modest childhood, her studies at Oxford, the heartbreak that brought her to Kingsbridge and to loving Harold, her friendship with his son, the solace she has found in a garden by the sea. And, finally, the devastating secret she has kept from Harold for all these years. A wise, tender, layered novel with tremendous emotional force, this novel underscores the resilience of the human spirit.

 

"Love is good sense" (Ken Kesey)

                              'Tis Valentine's Day!
 doubleheartsGet your heart racing with a love story.

 

The Love Book by Nina Solomon                                     lovebook
It all starts when four unsuspecting women on a singles' bike trip through Normandy discover a mysterious red book about love. But did they discover it - or did the book bring them together?  The four women - Emily, Beatrice, Max, and Cathy - are each nudged, cajoled, inspired - perhaps "guided" -despite themselves, to discover love, fulfillment, and the true nature of what being a soul mate really means.

crazyloveyouCrazy Love You by Lisa Unger
Darkness has a way of creeping up when Ian is with Priss. Even when they were kids, he could feel it. Still, Priss was his best friend, his salvation from the bullies and his family's deadly secrets. Now that they've both escaped to New York City, Ian is a talented and successful graphic novelist, and Priss...Priss is still trouble. Especially now that he's met sweet, beautiful Megan, whose love makes him want to change for the better. But Priss doesn't like change. Change makes her angry. And when Priss is angry, terrible things begin to happen...

 

Must Love Dukes by Elizabeth Michaels                                                            mustlovedukes
Lillian Phillips could not imagine how her quiet, simple life had come to this. Blackmailed by the Mad Duke of Thornwood into accepting one wild dare after another... all because of a pocket watch. Desperate to recover her beloved father's pawned timepiece, Lily did something reckless and dangerous and delicious - something that led to a night she'd never forget. And  Devon Grey, Duke of Thornwood, while robbed of his watch, finds Lillian such a mesmerizing, intoxicating woman that exacting his revenge on her is a pleasure.

 

strangloveStrange Love: Stories by Lisa Lenzo
The nine stories center on Annie Zito, a smart-but-not-always-wise divorced mother, and Marly, her strong yet vulnerable daughter, as they seek and stumble upon an odd cast of boys and men. All the stories are linked and alternate between mother and daughter; and while each tale stands alone, together they make up a larger whole. The first story begins when Annie is thirty-one years old and Marly is eight and they live in a tiny apartment overlooking a marsh near Lake Michigan, and the last story ends a decade and a half later with both women on the cusp of new adventures.

 

Suddenly, Love by Aharon Apelfeld                                                               suddenlylove
Ernst is a gruff seventy-year-old Red Army veteran from Ukraine who landed, almost by accident, in Israel after World War II. A retired investment adviser, he lives alone and spends his time laboring over his unpublished novels. Irena, in her mid-thirties, is the unmarried daughter of Holocaust survivors who has been taking care of Ernst since his surgery two years earlier. As the months pass, Ernst comes to depend on the gentle young woman who runs his house, listens to him read from his work, and occasionally offers a spirited commentary on it. As she becomes an increasingly important part of his life he  discovers, to his amazement, that Irena is in love with him. And, even more astonishing, he realizes that he is in love with her, too.

 

Latest Oprah Book

oprahbookRuby by Cynthia Bond

Oprah Winfrey has announced the newest selection for her Oprah 2.0 Book Club:
a debut rubynovel by Cynthia Bond which was published in April 2014. Ruby is the story of a beautiful young girl who flees from the suffering she endured in her small African American town in Texas and heads for the bright lights of 1950's New York. Years later, when a telegram from her cousin forces her to return home, thirty-year-old Ruby finds herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood as she wanders the streets of the town filthy and barefoot, a social outcast.  Ephram Jennings, a childhood friend still in love with Ruby, decides to reach out to her, angering the rest of the community. Flashbacks fill in the details of Ruby's life and the choices that made her the woman she's become. "Ruby's story is truly that of a people and a place, outlined lyrically and honestly, even when the most brutal events unfold. ... this book exhibits a dark and redemptive beauty. Bond's prose is evocative of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, paying homage to the greats of Southern gothic literature." (Library Journal)

 

Books to Movies/TV - February

Now (or soon) playing:

humblingThe Humbling by Philip Roth
In limited release, the film stars Al Pacino as an aging actor who was once the leading stage presence of his generation but who has since lost his confidence and his audience. His wife has gone, he suffers from dementia, and his agent can't persuade him to make a comeback. In an attempt to renew his passion he embarks upon an affair with the young lesbian daughter of a friend who has always had a crush on him, much to the consternation of all those around him. Roth's rueful novella "observes much (about age, success and the sexual credit lovers hold one with another) in little space, and the svelte narrative amounts to an unsparing confrontation of self." (Publishers Weekly)

 

slapThe Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
Australian author Tsiolkas' book has been adapted as an eight episode NBC mini-series starting on February 12 and starring Uma Thurman, Zachary Quinto, and Peter Sarsgaard. This is Tsiolkas' first book to be published in the U.S. In blunt language, it tells the tale of a suburban barbecue gone wrong when a man slaps the unruly child of one of the host's friends. This incident pits families and friends against each other as the child's parents sue. Told from the various viewpoints of the people present, the novel explores a slew of issues, including suburban life, parenting, infidelity, homophobia, and multiculturalism. "Tsiolkas' in-your-face style is sure to alienate some readers...but his novel...fairly radiates with vitality as it depicts the messy complications of family life." (Booklist)

concreteblondeBoschThe Concrete Blonde and City of Bones by Michael Connelly
This Amazon Studios production, presented on Amazon Prime, debuts on February 13 with Titus Welliver as Harry Bosch, the LAPD police detective protagonist of Connolly's 19-book series. Bosch, an idiosyncratic loner, is on trial for the fatal shooting of a suspected serial killer when a note directs the police to a similar crime and corpse, a blonde buried in concrete  who was murdered after Bosch killed the suspect. Did Bosch, as the suspect's family has claimed, kill the wrong man? Connelly named his hard-nosed anti-hero after Hieronymus Bosch, the 15th-century Dutch artist whose grotesque depictions of sinners suffering in hell reminded him of the tawdry underside of L.A.'s physical beauty.

 

fiftyshadesgreyFifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
The wait is almost over! Due to be released over Valentine's weekend, the film, starring Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, has already garnered huge advance ticket sales, outpacing several major hits. It's based on the extremely popular erotic novel by E.L. James about a young and naive girl who is introduced to carnal pleasure by a handsome, enigmatic billionaire. The books, Fifty Shades of Grey, Fifty Shades Darker, and Fifty Shades Freed were/are a publishing phenomenon, selling over 100 million copies and vaulting first-time novelist James into literary history. In 2012, Time magazine named her one of "The World's 100 Most Influential People." It's not just moviegoers who are hotly anticipating the film - according to an article in the New York Times, manufacturers and sellers of certain accessories are creating tie-in products, hoping to cash in on the movie's success.

someoneknowsmynameThe Book of Negroes - Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill
Based on the award-winning novel (variously titled The Book of Negroes, Aminata, and Someone Knows My Name) by Lawrence Hill, The Book of Negroes tells the story of slave Aminata Diallo after her capture as part of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade around the time of the American Revolution. The TV mini-series has already been aired on Canadian television and will debut in the U.S. on BET on February 16. The title is derived from the historical document which records names and descriptions of 3,000 African-American slaves who escaped to the British lines during the American Revolution and were evacuated by the British to Nova Scotia as freedmen. After her arrival in Nova Scotia, Aminata successfully petitions British abolitionists to organize passage to Africa for 1,200 former slaves – a final voyage that will reunite her with her homeland. The series stars Aunjanue Ellis, Cuba Gooding Jr., Louis Gossett Jr., and Jane Alexander.

 

"To Kill a Mockingbird" sequel

A new novel by Harper Lee

Harper Lee, famous author of the beloved classic, To Kill a Mockingbird, who hasn't tokillamockingbirdpublished anything else in over 50 years, will release a new novel in July 2015. Its a sequel of sorts, although it was written before To Kill a Mockingbird, about the adult Scout returning to her small town in Alabama to visit her father, Atticus. Titled Go Set A Watchman, the story takes place about 20 years after the Depression-era events of To Kill a Mockingbird, amid the racial tensions of the 50's. The Pulitzer Prize-winning To Kill a Mockingbird is considered an American masterpiece and has sold and continues to sell millions of copies. Lee withdrew from public life decades ago, rarely granting interviews. Her publisher will print two million copies of the new book, anticipating a huge pent-up demand.

 

The Reading List 2015

rusareadinglistOutstanding Genre Fiction

Since 2007, the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA, a division of the American Library Association) has assembled The Reading List in order to highlight outstanding genre fiction. The list was announced this weekend during the American Library Association’s Midwinter Meeting. A committee of twelve librarians selects one book to represent the best in each of 8 different categories. They also include read-alike suggestions and display the short lists of titles considered for each category. The categories include adrenaline (including suspense, thriller and adventure), fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction and women’s fiction.

The 2015 selections are:

goblinemperorAdrenaline - Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes

Fantasy - The Goblin Emperor by Katerine Addison

Historical Fiction - Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth

Horror - The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman

Mystery - Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver (also nominated for an Edgar Award)

Romance - A Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev

Science Fiction - The Martian by Andy Weir

Women’s Fiction - My Real Children by Jo Walton

 

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