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Books at the Movies

Now (or soon) playing:

secretintheireyesThe Secret in Their Eyes by Eduardo A. Sacheri
Benjamín Chaparro is a retired detective still obsessed by the brutal, decades-old rape and murder of a young married woman in her own bedroom. While attempting to write a book about the case, he revisits the details of the investigation. As he reaches into the past, Chaparro also recalls the beginning of his long, unrequited love for Irene, then just an intern, now a respected judge. Interweaving past and present, this mystery explores the murky boundaries between justice and revenge, and asks the question: how far would you go to right an unfathomable wrong? Sacheri's novel was previously adapted into the 2009 Argentine film The Secret in Their Eyes, which won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. The American version stars Nicole Kidman, Julia Roberts, and Chiwetel Ejiofor.


danishgirlThe Danish Girl by David Ebershoff
Inspired by the real-life circumstances of Danish painter Einar Wegener, the first man to become a woman via surgery, and his California-born wife, Greta, and set against the glitz and decadence of 1920s Copenhagen, Dresden, and Paris, this novel  explores the struggles of both spouses to understand and cope with Einar's transformation into the woman they call Lili. Ebershoff eloquently portrays the intimacy that defines a marriage, and the love between a man who discovers that he is, in fact, a woman, and the woman who would sacrifice anything for him. For the controversy and condemnation that follow them as Einar evolves into Lili also forces Greta to re-create herself as a brave and resilient individual able to face the consequences of their unconventional love. The movie stars Eddie Redmayne and opens in limited release on November 27.


Over the river and through the wood...

A little mystery with that turkey?

thanksgivingangelsThanksgiving Angels by Alice Duncan
It's 1926, and former Bostonian high-society girl, Mercy Allcut, who relocated to Los Angeles specifically to escape her overbearing mother and father, is dismayed that she has to spend Thanksgiving week with them at the new winter home they purchased in Pasadena. Her parents consistently disapprove of everything about her, especially her job working for Private Investigator Ernie Templeton. Her holiday becomes even more miserable when a woman is flung to her death from the second-story staircase railing and Mercy and her boss are called upon to solve the crime. Suspects abound and include everyone from the murdered woman's male secretary to a high-strung star of the silver screen, and even Mercy's brother-in-law. "The latest sprightly addition to Duncan's Mercy Allcutt series (Fallen Angels, 2011; Angels of Mercy, 2012) is a delightful concoction composed of equal measures of charmingly quirky characters, fascinating 1920s period details, and just the right dash of dry wit." (Booklist)



If you like lists...Redux

Washington Post's 10 Best Books of 2015

The Washington Post's Book World reviewers have weighed in with their top ten books of 2015, titles they found "exceptionally rewarding," and another 100 of various genres "you shouldn't miss." The top ten list contains both fiction and non-fiction with several books that have produced critical and media buzz.

Novels in the Top Ten:

purityThe Book of Aron by Jim Shepard (finalist for the 2016 Andrew welcometobraggCarnegie Award; finalist for the 2015 Kirkus Prize)

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (shortlisted for the National Book Award; 2015 Kirkus Prize finalist)

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Winner of the 2015 Kirkus Prize; finalist for the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Award; shortlisted for the 2015 National Book Award; shortlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Award))

Purity by Jonathan Franzen (Amazon Best Books of 2015, Top Twenty; Kirkus Best Books 2015)

Welcome to Braggsville By T. Geronimo Johnson (longlisted for the 2015 National Book Award)


National Book Award - Fiction -2015





Fortune Smiles: Stories by Adam Johnson

fortunesmilesOn Wednesday evening, November 18, the National Book Foundation announced the winners of the 2015 National Book Awards. The unexpected winner of the fiction award was Adam Johnson for Fortune Smiles, a collections of short stories. Although another short story collection won the prize last year (Redeployment by Phil Klay) the prize is most often given for a novel. Johnson is no stranger to awards, having won a Pulitzer in 2013 for The Orphan Master’s Son. Fortune Smiles is a set of six stories that delve deep into love and loss, natural disasters, the influence of technology, and how the political shapes the personal. Critics have been effusive in their praise, declaring that Johnson is one of America's best living authors. Lauren Groff, also a finalist  for the ficiton prize for her book, Fates and Furies, reviewed Fortune Smiles for The New York Times and found much to admire, "Adam Johnson’s stories certainly deserve this kind of slow and loving attention. As a writer, he is always perceptive and brave; his lines always sing and strut and sizzle and hush and wash and blaze over the reader. “Fortune Smiles” is a collection worthy of being read slowly and, like very good and very bitter chocolate, savored."


More Books to Movies

Now (or soon) playing:

maninthehighcastleThe Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick
The first season of the Amazon Studios dystopian alternate history series, based on science fiction legend Dick's book, begins on Noveber 20. The story is set in 1962 in the United States after the Axis powers (Germany and Japan) won World War II. The country has been partitioned into three parts: The Japanese puppet state which comprises the former United States west of the Rocky Mountains; a Nazi puppet state that comprises the eastern half of the former United States; and a neutral zone that acts as a buffer between the two areas. The novel explores American life under totalitarian rule and the stresses and intrigues between the victorious Axis governments. The Man in the High Castle won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1963.


carol Carol/The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith
A chance encounter between two lonely women leads to a passionate romance in this  classic by Highsmith, renowned author of the psychological thrillers, Strangers on a Train and The Talented Mr. Ripley. Therese, a struggling young sales clerk, and Carol, a homemaker in the midst of a bitter divorce, abandon their oppressive daily routines for the freedom of the open road, where their love can blossom. But their newly discovered bliss is shattered when Carol is forced to choose between her child and her lover. Originally published in 1952 under a pseudonym, The Price of Salt was heralded as "the novel of a love society forbids." The film stars Cate Blanchett as Carol and Rooney Mara as Therese and has become a critical favorite and serious Oscar contender.


plumpuddingMurder She Baked: A Plum Pudding Mystery/Plum Pudding Murder by Joanne Fluke
This holiday season, baker Hannah Swensen is making plum pudding and trying to solve the murder of a man in his own office. It turns out the list of suspects who would have wanted to see the guy dead is a long one, from a bitter ex-wife to exasperated investors. But Hannah is on the case, in time to nab a murderous Scrooge who doesn't want her to see the New Year. This entry in Fluke's cozy mystery series contains recipes for a complete Christmas dinner. The TV adaptation will air on the Hallmark Movies and Mysteries Channel on November 22.



frankenstein2Victor Frankenstein/Frankenstein or, The modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley's Gothic horror story of a monster assembled by a scientist from parts of dead bodies who develops a mind of his own as he learns to loathe himself and hate his creator, is given a new twist in this latest movie adaptation, set to open on November 25. Told from Igor's perspective, the story relates the troubled young assistant's dark origins, his redemptive friendship with the young medical student Viktor Von Frankenstein, and the experiments that get them into trouble with the authorities as they attempt to create life from death. The film stars James McAvoy as Dr. Frankenstein and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) as Igor.



Prizes, Prizes...

2015 Goldsmiths Prize: Beatlebone by Kevin Barry

beatleboneBritain's Goldsmiths Prize was established in 2013 "to celebrate the qualities of creative daring... and to reward fiction that breaks the mold or opens up new possibilities for the novel form. The annual prize of £10,000 (about $15,000) is thus awarded to a book that is deemed genuinely novel and which embodies the spirit of invention that characterizes the genre at its best."

Irish writer Kevin Barry won the prize for his second novel, Beatlebone, which invents a trip taken by Beatle John Lennon to vist a small island off the west coast of Ireland. It is 1978, and John Lennon has escaped New York City to try to find the island  he bought nine years prior. Leaving behind domesticity, his approaching forties, his inability to create, and his memories of his parents, he sets off to find calm in the comfortable silence of isolation. But when he puts himself in the hands of a shape-shifting driver full of Irish charm and dark whimsy, what ensues can only be termed a magical mystery tour. "With echoes of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and The White Album, Barry has created an unusual novel, remarkable in structure as well as tone, that channels the contradictory nature of Lennon himself." (Booklist)

"Intricately weaving and blurring fiction and life, Beatlebone embodies beautifully this prize’s spirit of creative risk. We’re proud to crown it our winner.’" (Josh Cohen, Chair of Judges).

Barry won the International Dublin Literary Award for his novel City of Bohane in 2013.

Literary Honors

2015 World Fantasy Awards: Best Novel

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

boneclocksThe 2015 World Fantasy Convention was held in Saratoga Springs, NY on Nov 5-8 where the World Fantasy Awards were announced. The World Fantasy Convention is an annual gathering of professionals, collectors, and others interested in the field of Light and Dark Fantasy art and literature.To be eligible for the awards, material must have been published in 2014 by a living author. Mitchell, perhaps best known for his earlier novel, Cloud Atlas, writes books that often blend several genres while spinning interconnected tales that come together with strong plotting and masterful prose. "With its wayward thoughts, chance meetings, and attention to detail, Mitchell's  novel is a thing of beauty." (Publishers Weekly)


2015 Anthony Awards: Best Novel

After I'm Gone by Laura Lippman

afterimgoneThe Anthony Awards for mystery fiction written in 2014 were announced on October 10 at the annual World Mystery Convention (Bouchercon) held in Raleigh, North Carolina. Bouchercon is an annual crime fiction event, bringing together authors, fans, publishers, reviewers, booksellers, and editors. 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. Lippman, the author of many well-regarded mystery novels, creates an intriguing story that explores how one man's disappearance echoes through the lives of the five women he left behind--his wife, his daughters, and his mistress. In 1976, Bambi's comfortable world implodes when her husband Felix, facing prison, vanishes. Though Bambi has no idea where her husband--or his money--might be, she suspects someone does: his devoted mistress, Julie. When Julie disappears ten years to the day after Felix went on the lam, everyone assumes she's left to join her lover, until her remains are discovered in a secluded park. Felix left five women behind. Now there are four...



If you like lists...

Library Journal's Best Books 2015: Top Ten

Not to be outdone, LJ has released their lists of Best Books of the year, divided into a "Top Ten" and then "More of the Best," and then lists in various genres. As editor Henrietta Verman writes,"We agonized, we discussed, we pondered, and most of all we read, read, read. The results are below: lists of what the LJ Reviews team can honestly say are the best titles published in 2015. They include a Top Ten list of the most outstanding titles of the year, both fiction and nonfiction; followed by “More of the Best,”—the titles that we just couldn’t let go of although they didn’t make it to the top ten; and the best of a variety of genres, from poetry to arts and crafts."

Novels in the Top Ten:

didyoueverDid You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg (long-listed for the bestboyNational Book Award)

Best Boy by Eli Gottlieb (LibraryReads pick for August 2015)

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (shortlisted for the National Book Award; 2015 Kirkus Prize Finalist))

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen (a finalist for the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence)



What a List!

Publishers Weekly - Best Books of 2015

fatbobPW's editors recently released their list of "Best" books of 2015, conveniently divided into genres such as fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, poetry, non-fiction etc. On the mystery/thriller slate is a book with one of the best titles (and cover art) of the year, Is Fat Bob Dead Yet? by Stephen Dobyns, an intricate crime novel set in New London, Connecticut. A newcomer to the city, Connor Raposo has just witnessed a gruesome motorcycle accident on Bank Street. At least he thinks it was an accident. But then he sees a familiar man--who else would wear an Elvis pompadour in this day and age?--lurking around the crime scene. Where does Connor know him from? And why does everyone he knows keep showing up dead? Author Dobyns' dark humor animates this comic suspense novel about a small-time con operation, a pair of combative detectives, a homeless man named Fidget, and a federally protected witness.  "The latest offering from veteran novelist and poet Dobyns (The Burn Palace) delights with quirky characters, absurd situations, language play, and keen insights. Recommended for those who enjoy dark humor and complicated plots in their mysteries." (Library Journal)


Veterans Day 2015




wayofthewarriorWednesday, November 11 is Veterans Day, designated by the Federal government as a holiday to honor the people who served in the U.S. Military Forces "for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good." To better understand and honor these sacrifices and struggles of our service members, consider a book in a genre not always associated with war stories and battle reporting: Way of the Warrior: a romance anthology to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project. This set of short stories is written by several prominent romance authors, including Suzanne Brockman, Julie Ann Walker, and Catherine Mann, all writers who have penned books in the romance sub-genre known as "military/romantic suspense." All of the stories center on our modern-day heroes - the men and women who keep our country safe - and explore a view of their lives (and loves). "A heartfelt tribute to our military personnel and the sacrifices they and their families make. This anthology is a hands-down winner and would be welcome in all popular romance collections. All proceeds will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project." (Library Journal)

The Wounded Warrior Project was founded in 2002 and provides a wide range of programs and services to veterans and service members who have survived physical or mental injury during their brave service to our nation.  The Project's Mission: "To foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history."



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