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Adult Book News

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We've celebrated Independence Day with picnics and fireworks, so we know that summer is in full swing. Time to kick back and do some summer reading. Grab/print your Bingo sheet or sign up online to create your account to start reading now for fun and prizes. PDL's Adult Summer Reading program runs till August 10, so there's plenty of time to earn prizes like Penn Theatre tickets and Plymouth gift certificates.

herIf you're looking for a good book, consider this list, "23 Books We've Loved So Far This Year," compiled by the Washington Post's Book World editors. Among the favorites: 
Her by Harriet Lane, a "brilliant" psychological thriller about two women, one with an agenda, who meet and become friends despite their differences. Lonely and isolated, Emily eagerly invites sophisticated Nina into her life. But what does Nina see in Emily? And what does she want? "As Nina insinuates herself deeper into Emma’s life, the reader’s anxiety is compounded by the likelihood that all this nastiness is payback for some wrong that Emma did to Nina a long time ago — but what?"  MIght be a title to try if you're still waiting for The Girl on the Train.


2015 Christy Awards

The Christy Awards, named after the novel, Christy, by Christian author Catherine Marshall,  have honored excellence in Christian fiction since 1999 when a group of Christian publishers established the awards to promote the genre. The Christy Award is designed to "nuture and encourage creativity and quality in the writing and publishing of fiction written from  a Christian worldview." Each year the 27 participating publishers submit novels published in the preceding year for consideration in multiple categories. An independent review committee, comprised of librarians, reviewers, and critics, reads and evaluates the nominees based on a ten-point list of criteria. The 2015 winners were announced on June 29.

thiefofglory2015 Winners:

Book of the Year: Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer

Contempory Novel: The Story Keeper by Lisa Wingate

Historical Novel: The Sentinels of Andersonville by Tracy Groot

Suspense Novel: The Color of Justice by Ace Collins

Historical Romance Novel: Thief of Glory by Sigmund Brouwer




2015 Locus Awards

Speaking of awards, the Locus Science Fiction Foundation announced the winners of the 2015 Locus Awards on June 27, during the Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle. The awards are presented in numerous categories to the winners of an annual readers' poll by Locus Magazine, a monthly science fiction and fantasy publication based in Oakland, CA. The awards were established in 1971 as a way to provide recommendations to Hugo Awards voters. Among the categories are novels (sci fi and fantasy), first novels, novellas, novelettes, short stories, anthologies, and collections.

Some of the Winners:

Science Fiction Novel : Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie

Fantasy Novel: The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

First Novel: The Memory Garden by Mary Rickert

Novelette: Tough Times All Over by Joe Abercrombie

Anthology: Rogues edited by George R.R. Martin, Gardner Dozois

Collection : Last Plane to Heaven Jay Lake

© 2015 by Locus Publications.

Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Doerr's bestselling novel (59 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List) has already allthelightwon the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for literature, along with glowing reviews and many other literary accolades. This weekend at the American Library Association's annual conference, All the Light We Cannot See was announced as the winner of the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Ficton. The Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction was established in 2012 to recognize the best fiction written for adult readers and published in the U.S. during the previous year. Winning authors, who receive a $5,000 cash award, are picked by library professionals. Set in occupied France during World War II, the novel is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide as both try to survive the devastation of of the war. The other finalists for the award were Nora Webster by Colm Toibin and On Such a Full Sea by Chang-rae Lee.


James Patterson's Zoo

zooOn June 30, CBS is will begin broadcasting a 13-episode series based on the James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge stand-alone novel, Zoo, about a wave of violent animal attacks on humans across the globe. The main character, Jackson Oz, a young biologist, watches the escalating events with an increasing sense of dread. When he witnesses a coordinated lion ambush in Africa, the enormity of the violence to come becomes terrifyingly clear. With the help of ecologist Chloe Tousignant, Oz races to warn world leaders before it's too late. The attacks are growing in ferocity, cunning, and planning, and soon there will be no place left for humans to hide. Patterson is apparently quite happy with the TV adaptation, stating in a press conference, "People always say the book is always better than the movie,"... "In this case, I think the series is going to be better than the book."


Hold Out for a Hero!

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Adult Summer Reading 2015

    Started your summer reading yet? The calendar says that summer arrived on June 21, so there's no reason to wait. Grab/print your Bingo sheet or sign up online to create your account to start reading for fun and prizes. The Adult Summer Reading program runs till August 10, so there's lots of time left to earn gift certificates and Penn Theatre tickets. Your friends and neighbors are doing it - why should they have all the fun?

James Salter (1925-2015)

allthatisCritically acclaimed author James Salter died on Friday, June 19 at SalterProfilethe age of 90. While well known and regarded in the literary world, Salter was not a commercially popular writer; his novels and short stories inspired a small, but devoted, audience of other writers and college students. Reviewers uniformly praised Salter's beautiful, exacting prose. Michael Dirda of the Washington Post once noted that “he can, when he wants, break your heart with a sentence.” Salter's most recent novel, All That Is, about a publishing executive in post-war Manhattan, was published to positive reviews in 2013 and spent a week on the New York Times Bestseller List. Salter received numerous awards throughout his career, most recently in 2013, when he was awarded one of the first Windham Campbell Prizes, a literary honor given by Yale worth $150,000.


Poldark on PBS

poldarkWinston Graham's grand, romantic saga of Cornwall, England in demelzathe late 18th and early 19th centuries comes back to television in a new version originally broadcast by the BBC in March and presented this weekend (June 21) on PBS. Based on Graham's twelve novels, each subtitled "A Novel of Cornwall," Poldark tells the story of Captain Ross Poldark, a British veteran of the American Revolutionary War who returns to his home to find his father has died and his family estate and mines are in ruins. Worse yet, the girl he loves is now engaged to his cousin. Set on the wild and windswept Cornish peninsula, the novels cover a span of over 30 years in the lives of Ross, his family, friends, lovers, and foes, as they  love, betray, feud, smuggle, excavate, duel, marry, and reproduce while their fortunes are won and lost. The first TV adaptation of the novels aired in 1975, starring Robin Ellis, and was an early major hit for the BBC and PBS. This new version stars Aidan Turner, perhaps best known as Kili, the only good-looking dwarf in Peter Jackson's Hobbit films.


July 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 July 2015:

Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal

KitchensblogWhen Lars Thorvald's wife, Cynthia, falls in love with wine--and a dashing sommelier--he's left to raise their baby, Eva, on his own. He's determined to pass on his love of food to his daughter--starting with puréed pork shoulder. As Eva grows, she finds her solace and salvation in the flavors of her native Minnesota. From Scandinavian lutefisk to hydroponic chocolate habaneros, each ingredient represents one part of Eva's journey as she becomes the star chef behind a legendary and secretive pop-up supper club. Each chapter, told from a different person's viewpoint, presents a different phase in Eva's life and a different facet of her personality: her childhood, her teenage years, her young adult career struggles, and her eventual success. "Foodies and those who love contemporary literature will devour this novel that is being compared to Elizabeth Strout's Olive Kitteridge. A standout." (Library Journal)


Harper Lee vs. E.L. James

gosetawatchman2A recent Publishers Weekly article noted that Harper Lee's Grey-110x150long-lost, newly-discovered book, Go Set a Watchman - the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, one of the most beloved American novels of the 20th century - seemed destined to be the best-selling book of the summer. Then, two weeks ago, E.L. James of Fifty Shades of Grey fame announced that she was releasing a new book, Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as Told by Christian. Both books will now vie for the title of "Summer's Biggest Book." Grey will be available first, on June 18, and Go Set a Watchman is due on July 14. Each is getting a huge first printing: Grey at 1.25 million copies and Watchman at 2 million copies. So which book will emerge from the cage victorious - the literary heavyweight or the hugely popular lightweight? Based on the holds placed on both books in the Library catalog, Watchman, with 66, is delivering the smackdown on Grey's 15. No worries, we've ordered multiple copies of each!


 PEN Prize for Debut Fiction

dogAuthor Jack Livings recently won the PEN/ Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction for his story collection, The Dog. Livings' stories, set in contemporary China, illustrate the vast societal changes wrought by China's rush to modernize its economy and culture even as its history and ideology maintain a strong hold on its people. "Livings is one recent program (Iowa Writers Workshop) graduate whose first collection of short fiction, with its tales of volatile protagonists struggling to survive in contemporary China, should attract widespread attention and praise from literary critics....For Western audiences, any unfamiliarity with the Chinese locales and culture is quickly eased by Livings' imaginative yet realistic scenarios and vividly drawn characters. A brilliant and promising debut." (BooklistPEN America, a literary and human rights organization founded in 1922 to advance literature and defend free expression, honors outstanding writing each year in many categories including fiction, non-fiction, drama, poetry and translation.

2014 Nebula Awards

On June 6, The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America announced annihilationthe winners of the 2014 Nebula Awards. Since 1965, the Nebula Awards have been given each year for the best novel, novella, novelette, and short story written in the science fiction and fantasy genres.
Jeff VanderMeer's Annihilation, the first in a trilogy, won the award for Best Novel.
Annihilation, set in the near-future, imagines  Area X, a region cut off from human occupation and reclaimed by nature. Several expeditions that journeyed there ended in catastrophe; now another group, made up of four women: an anthropologist, a surveyor, a psychologist, and a biologist, is set to go. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself. "...this short work packs a big punch, as the author has rare skills for building tension and making the reader feel the claustrophobic dread of his characters. Readers will be unsettled, intrigued, and eager for the next volume in this new trilogy." (Library Journal)


MInotablebooks    PDL Invites Book Lovers
to Meet Author
Lolita Hernandez

     THURSDAY, JUNE 25 at 7PM

hernandezMichigan Notable Author, Lolita Hernandez, is visiting our community as part of the Library of Michigan’s 2015 Michigan Notable Books author tour. Every year, the Michigan Notable Books program celebrates 20 outstanding fiction and nonfiction books written about Michigan or by a Michigan author and published the previous calendar year.

In her story collection, Making Callaloo in Detroit, Making-Callaloo 478710 7Ms. Herandez weaves her memories of food, music, and family into twelve stories about growing up in Detroit with Caribbean roots, among a hidden community that dances to calypso and makes callaloo in their kitchens. Ms. Hernandez is also the author of Autopsy of an Engine and Other Stories from the Cadillac Plant. After 33 years as a UAW worker at GM, she now teaches in the Creative Writing Department at the University of Michigan.

 (Medallion:  Copyright the Library of Michigan, 2015)



inner circleEveryone's Reading The Inner Circle

Brad Meltzer, author of the thriller The Inner Circle, first of the Culper Ring Series, will speak about his books, graphic novels and History Channel (H2) TV show at two events on June 22. Tickets are still available for these Meet the Author events - stop by the Help Desk on the Main Level. Mr Meltzer will speak at at 2pm at the Rochester Church of Christ  and at 7pm at The Jewish Community Center -  Handleman Hall, West  Bloomfield. 

Discover some of the best kept secrets of the United States Presidency!



Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

On June 13, BBC America will broadcast a seven-part mini-series based on Susanna jonathanstrangeClarke's epic tale of magic and magicians set in 1800's England during the wars with Napoleon. As the story begins, it's been centuries since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. However, scholars discover that one remains — the reclusive and skillful Mr Norrell.  His displays of magic soon thrill the nation. But soon the cautious and fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very antithesis of Norrell. As a dangerous battle ensues between the two great men, their obsessions and secret dabbling with the dark arts will cause more trouble than they can imagine. Eddie Marsan and Bertie Carvel star as the warring magicians. Clarke's book was a hit when published in 2004, despite its length, with many fervent supporters, like authors Neil Gaiman (Neverwhere) and Gregory Maguire (Wicked), who referred to it as "Hogwarts for Grown-ups."


How To Be Both wins the 2015 Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction

howtobeBothOn June 3, the judges' committee for the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction, formerly known as the Orange Prize, which celebrates excellence in women's writing from around the world, named British novelist Ali Smith the winner for her novel, How to Be Both. Smith is the author of several novels, including The Accidental which won the Whitbread Novel Award. How To Be Both, which garnered positive reviews, has an unusual narrative structure, telling parallel stories about a young woman in the 60's and the Renaissance painter whose work fascinates her. The press release on the Bailey's Women's Prize website describes the book as " Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance."

Another parallel: PDL's Books on Tap, which meets at the Liberty Street Brewing Company in Old Village, will be discussing this book on Thursday, June 18 at 7pm. Copies of the book are available at the checkout desk.


Grey: Fifty Shades of Grey as told by Christian

Grey-110x150Author E.L. James announced yesterday via social media that a new Fifty Shades of Grey novel will soon be released. Called Grey, it tells the Fifty Shades story from the perspective of Christian Grey, the billionaire hero with a taste for unconventional pleasures. The book will be published on June 18, so no one has to wait too long to satisfy their curiosity. In a statement posted on her site, James said, " anyone who has ever been in a relationship knows, there are two sides to every story." The Fifty Shades trilogy has sold millions of books and and inspired two movies, Fifty Shades of Grey , released on Valentine's Day 2015,  and a sequel, Fifty Shades Darker, which is due in 2017. (And yes, the Library will be ordering it as soon as possible.)


book-sunglasses-beach h528Like graduations and weddings, summer reading lists and recommendations pop up every year in June. Media outlets, whether print, online, blog or broadcast, create lists of best summer reads filled with non-fiction, fiction, beach reads and how-to books. The New York Times, (including Janet Maslin's list,) Publishers Weekly,  The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, The Huffington Post, Entertainment Weekly and more have all weighed in with selections for your summer reading pleasure. This should help you find a good book to take on vacation (or help you with your Every Hero has a Story Bingo.)

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Adult Summer Reading 2015 begins today!

Grab/print your Bingo sheet or sign up online to create your account to start reading for fun and prizes.
Our program runs from June 1 to August 10.

Summer starts now!


Margaret Atwood's Scribbler Moon

handmaidstaleMargaret Atwood, the well-known and justly celebrated Canadianatwood author of scores of award-winning books, including The Handmaid's Tale, Alias Grace, The Blind Assassin, and the Oryx and Crake trilogy (Oryx and CrakeThe Year of the Flood, MaddAddam) recently delivered a secret manuscript to a public library in Oslo, Sweden for publication in the year 2114. (Yes, 2114.) The manuscript is called Scribbler Moon but Atwood would reveal no other details. The arrangement is part of the first phase of a project called "Future Library." For the next 99 years, one author per year will contribute a written work to the project and the manuscripts will be sealed and held in secrecy by the library until publication in 100 years. Each book is to be printed on paper made from the trees planted in a forest near the library. Although Atwood, 76, won't be around to see the final product, this is certainly one way to guarantee her literary legacy!


intheunlikelyeventSince Memorial Day and summer are just around the corner, the finderskeepersfirst of the "Best Books of Summer" lists are starting to appear. Publishers Weekly and Entertainment Weekly have already released their picks, which include Harper Lee's long awaited sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, titled Go Set a Watchman, and Finders Keepers, Stephen King's follow-up to Mr. Mercedes.  Judy Blume's first novel for adults since 1998, In the Unlikely Event, is also getting buzz.


So, there'll be lots of choices for adult summer reading!

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May is National Bike Month

Sponsored by the League of American Bicyclists and celebrated in communities from coast to coast,
National Bike Month was established in 1956 as a chance to showcase the many benefits of bicycling — and encourage more folks to giving biking a try.

 In honor of the month, why not try a book with bikes?

Geared for the Grave by Duffy Brown
Mackinac Island is a peaceful summer resort town where everyone coasts through the gearedforthegravestreets on bicycles. Hoping to shift the chances of a promotion in her favor, Evie Bloomfield heads there to assist her boss's father, Rudy Randolph, who has broken his leg and needs help operating his bike shop, Rudy's Rides. After Evie's arrival, wealthy resident Bunny Harrington dies in what looks like a freak bike accident. Upon closer inspection, it appears Bunny's brakes were tampered with, and now the prime suspect in her murder is also Bunny's number one enemy: Rudy. To stay on her boss's good side, Evie needs to steer Rudy clear of jail. "Marijuana-laced fudge that inebriates local seniors; bike and horse incidents; and family arguments add a liberal dose of zaniness to a clever mystery. Evie and friends provide a unique look at the famous destination in this enjoyable escape." (Booklist)


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June 1 – August 10, 2015

 Discover your hero in a book this summer!
There are two ways to play!

Library Bingo

PDL’s Adult Summer Reading Program, featuring the popular Library Bingo game, is back again this summer. Starting in June, adults will have the chance to win prizes for reading and discovering the Library’s many resources. Complete five boxes in a row on the Bingo form to earn prizes, like Penn movie tickets and certificates to Plymouth stores and restaurants. Bingo forms will be available in the Library and online at
No registration is required – grab a bingo sheet and begin!


Online Adult Summer Reading Log

Bingo not your thing? Try the Online Adult Summer Reading Program. Sign up at to create your adult summer reading account, then read five (5) books of your choice and list the titles on your online log. You can also post a book review, if you like. When you’ve finished your five, stop by the Library to pick up your final prize. Prizes include certificates to Plymouth stores and restaurants and Penn movie tickets. You can start reading on June 1 and continue until August 10.

Hold out for a hero this summer!


The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer

inner circleIn May and June, PDL will participate in Everyone’s Reading, the one-book community reading program sponsored by Metro Detroit public libraries in Oakland and Wayne counties. Everyone’s Reading promotes public dialogue through the shared experience of reading and discussing the same book with friends, neighbors, and other members of our community.

This year's selection is the The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer, a thriller with intriguing historical details about a ring of spies working for George Washington during the Revolutionary War. In the present, Beecher White is an archivist working happily with the past until Clementine Kaye, his crush back in school, asks for his help tracking down her long-lost father. After they discover a priceless artifact they were never meant to see - a two-hundred-year-old dictionary that once belonged to Washington -  Beecher and Clementine find themselves suddenly entangled in a web of deception, conspiracy, and murder connected to a secret organization within the United States government.

PARTICIPATE by reading the book and joining the book discussion at the Library: brad meltzerContemporary Books meets on June 9 at 7:30pm. No registration is necessary. Copies of The Inner Circle will be available at the Library.

MEET the author, Brad Meltzer, on June 22 at 2pm at the Rochester Church of Christ  or later that day (June 22) at The Jewish Community Center -  Handleman Hall, West  Bloomfield at 7pm. Tickets are free, but limited - call the Library for ticket availability, 734.453.0750, ext 4.

Read with us and discover the best kept secret of the United States Presidency!


Bram Stoker Award2014 Bram Stoker Awards

The Horror Writers Association, an organization of writers and publishers of horror and dark fantasy,"dedicated to promoting dark literature and the interests of those who write it," recently announced the 2014 winners of the Bram Stoker Awards. Named for the author of Dracula, the awards are presented annually for superior writing in several categories of this genre. The awards were presented during the World Horror Convention in Atlanta, held May 7-10.

Superior Achievement in a First Novel:                                         mrwicker

Mr. Wicker by Maria Alexander                                                                                 
After a  suicide attempt, failed horror novelist Alicia Baum arrives at  the Library of Lost Childhood Memories where Mr. Wicker, the sinister librarian, holds the secret to a missing childhood memory that was the cause of her every misfortune. Unable to pass to the hereafter, she returns to life. She awakens in a psych ward, in the care of Dr. Farron, a gentle psychologist researching the concept of childhood bogeymen. Drawn to the mystery of Alicia's past, and then to each other, they team up to find the memory before it, and Wr. Wicker, annihilate Alicia for good. "Illness, loss, and heartache color this splendid, bittersweet ode to the ghosts of childhood." (Publishers Weekly)


June 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 June 2015:
Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave

eighthundredgrapesGrowing up on her family's Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother's lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands. But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever. Georgia does what she's always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who's been keeping secrets...Set in the lush backdrop of Sonoma's wine country, Eight Hundred Grapes is a heartbreaking, funny, and deeply evocative novel about love, marriage, family, wine, and the treacherous terrain in which they all intersect.


Ruth Rendell (1930-2015)

doonwithdeathAcclaimed mystery writer Ruth Rendell, aka Baroness Rendell of Babergh, died on May 03RENDELL-blog4272 in London after suffering a stroke in January. She was 85. Rendell's books, written under her own name and also as Barbara Vine, along with those of her friend P.D. James, are credited with moving British crime novels from puzzle-style detective tales toward more psychologically complex stories with intricate plots and social consciousness. Rendell wrote more than 60 books, many featuring her best-known protagonist, Chief Inspector Reginald Wexford, a "big, ugly," happily married policeman with intelligence and sensitivity, who has a talent for getting under the skin of the crinimal element.  Rendell was quoted as saying,"Women love him." So much so that a British TV series about Inspector Wexford ran for 55 episodes. Over her career, Rendell won three Edgar Awards from the Mystery Writers of America, which named her to its list of grandmasters, and also won four Gold Daggers and a Diamond Dagger from England’s Crime Writers’ Association. Her final novel, Dark Corners, will be published in October.


agathabanner home

The Agatha Awards, named for the genre’s legendary practitioner, Agatha Christie, are sponsored by Malice Domestic, a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating traditional mysteries. The group’s Web site defines these books as “mysteries which contain no explicit sex or excessive gore or violence. Materials generally classified as "hard-boiled" are not appropriate." To be eligible, a mystery novel must have been published by a living author during the calender year of 2014. Prizes were awarded on May 2, during the organization's annual convention.

Best Contemporary Novel:truthbetold
Truth Be Told
by Hank Phillippi Ryan
The third book of the Jane Ryland/Jake Brogan series has reporter Jane Ryland following up on the story of a middle-class family evicted from their suburban home after the bank foreclosed. In digging up the facts, Jane soon learns the truth behind a big-bucks scheme and the surprising players who will stop at nothing, including murder, to keep their goal a secret. Meanwhile, Boston police detective (and Jane's boyfriend) Jake Brogan might have  a liar on his hands. A man has just confessed to the famous twenty-year-old Lilac Sunday killing, and while Jake's colleagues take him at his word, Jake is not so sure, despite his personal reasons for wanting to solve the cold case. Author Ryan won this prize last year for The Wrong Girl, the second book in the series.

queenofheartsBest Historical Novel:
Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen
Genteely impoverished Lady Georgiana Rannoch, 35th in line for the British throne, is the star of Bowen's Royal Spyness series set in 1930's London. The eighth book finds the amateur spy/sleuth idling away in Kent until her much-married (and divorced) actress mother invites her on a trip to America. Georgie and her hapless maid, Queenie, set sail across the Atlantic on the ocean liner Berengaria, where they make the acquaintance of Hollywood mogul Cy Goldman. Unfortunately, the fun stops when Goldman is murdered once they all reach California. "Bowen moves the classic country-house mystery to a glitzy California castle, portrays real and Hollywood-made celebrities, and adds romance in an engagingly madcap adventure." (Booklist)


Intergalactic Star Wars Day 2015


Today is the celebration of all things Star Wars and the Force is strong indeed. The next Star Wars film, Episode VII: The Force Awakens, premiers in December 2015, and 20 new Star Wars books, in various formats, will be released this year as part of the new official canon.  Lucasfilm has kindly provided a chart to help readers and viewers follow the stories' timelines and sort out the proper reading/watching sequence of the new material. Several of the new books (Lords of the Sith, TarkinA New Dawn and Heir to the Jedi) have been released already while others (Dark Disciple, Aftermath: Journey to the Force Awakens) will come later this year. Be warned: this timeline is not the last word - more new novels and comics are still in the works.



Credit: LucasBooks

Now (or soon) playing:

farfromthemaddingcrowdFar from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
Starring Carey Mulligan and Michael Sheen, this sixth film adaptation of Hardy's first major literary success opened on May 1. The title is taken from a poem, Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, which meditates on the memories and comfort to be found in  living in the rustic English countryside.  Hardy's plot concerns the independent and headstrong Bathsheba Everdene, a rather modern young woman for her Victorian times, who wants to live her life on her own terms, despite the societal expectations and customs which constrain her. Although not inclined to marry (she has a farm to run) she attracts three very different suitors: Gabriel Oak, a sheep farmer; Frank Troy, a reckless Sergeant; and William Boldwood, a prosperous and mature landowner.


chocchipChocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
This is the first book in the mystery series that features Hannah Swensen, a talented baker who runs The Cookie Jar, a bakeshop in tiny Lake Eden, Minnesota, where the gossip flows as hot and steady as the coffee. When she finds her good friend and delivery driver shot dead in the alley behind her shop, Hannah joins the town sheriff in pursuit of the killer. The movie version, Murder She Baked: A Chocolate Chip Murder Mystery, will air on the Hallmark Movies and Mystery Channel at 9pm tonight (May 2) starring Alison Sweeney (Days of Our Lives, Biggest Loser) as Hannah. Fluke has written 17 more  dessert-titled novels about Hannah's exploits, the latest, Double Fudge Brownie Murder, was released in February 2015. All of the books contain recipes.


The Mystery Writers of America presented the Edgar Allan Poe Awards honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2014 at their annual banquet on April 29.


mrmercedesBest Novel: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King
In a departure from his often occult, horror-based stories, King delivers a tale of a human source of evil, a serial killer. Early one morinig, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes. In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the "perk" and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy. "...King excels in his disturbing portrait of...  a genuine monster in ordinary human form who gives new meaning to the phrase "the banality of evil." (Publishers Weekly)

Thieves Fall Out by Gore Vidal

thievesIn the 1950's, at the beginning of his career, literary lion Gore Vidal did what many authors do to make a buck - turn out quickly-written pulp fiction novels under different names. In Vidal's case, three different names for different genres. As Cameron Kay, he wrote a crime thriller, Thieves Fall Out, set in Egypt during the 1952 revolution there. The book was published in 1953 and was soon forgotten, falling out of print. This month, however, Hard Case Crime, a publishing imprint, released a new edition - this time with Vidal's name on the cover. Vidal, who died in 2012, declined to re-release the book during his lifetime but, after his death, his estate gave its blessing. According to a review in the New York Times the book is an efficient, if conventional, thriller that reveals something about Vidal's trajectory as a writer: "Vidal is clearly using the pulp format to figure out what he’s good at (sardonic worldliness) and what he’s not (romance). And through it all, he keeps the words flowing."..."Even if he knew it wasn’t for the ages."


sandcastle girlsThe 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide will be commemorated on April 24, 2015. Experts estimate 1.5 million Armenian Christians died in the genocide, which began April 24, 1915, and continued for eight years. The Turkish campaign against the Armenians started with the arrest and execution of 250 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders in what is now Istanbul. Able-bodied men were massacred or died in labor camps. Women, children, the elderly and the infirm were sent on death marches through the Syrian desert.

In Metro Detroit, a number of Armenian community groups and churches have planned special events to honor the genocide's victims.  More than 17,000 people of Armenian descent make their home in Michigan and nearly 11,000 live in Metro Detroit.

In The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian, an author of several novels and of Armenian descent, recounts the story of one family caught in the horrors of that time. In an essay on his website, Bohjalian states, "I think The Sandcastle Girls may be the most important book I’ve written. It is certainly the most personal. It’s a big, broad, sweeping historical love story. The novel moves back and forth in time between the present and 1915; between the narrative of an Armenian-American novelist at mid-life and her grandparents’ nightmarish stories of survival in Aleppo, Van, and Gallipoli in 1915." "This is a powerful and moving story based on real events seldom discussed. It will leave you reeling." (Booklist)


All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

allthelightYesterday, the Pulitzer Prize committee announced the winners of this year's awards,"honoring Excellence in journalism and the arts since 1917." Anthony Doerr's best-selling historical novel, with 49 weeks on the New York Times Best-Seller list, was named the Pulitzer Prize winner for "distinguished fiction by an American author..." earning Doerr (more) literary prestige and $10,000. All the Light We Cannot See was also a finalist for the National Book Award and is on the shortlist for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

Set in occupied France during World War II, the novel is about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide as both try to survive the devastation of of the war. Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo. With them they carry what might be the museum's most valuable and dangerous jewel. In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance near St. Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure's converge. " ...this novel has the physical and emotional heft of a masterpiece." (Library Journal)


Now (or soon) playing:

longest rideThe Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks
This film adaptation of Sparks' 17th romance novel, published in 2013, opened on April 10. Former bull-riding champion Luke and college student Sophia are in love, but conflicting paths and ideals threaten to tear them apart: Luke hopes to make a comeback on the rodeo circuit, and Sophia is about to embark on her dream job in New York's art world. As the couple ponder their romantic future, they find inspiration in Ira, an elderly man whose decades-long romance with his beloved wife withstood the test of time. Directed by George Tillman Jr., the film stars Britt Robertson, Scott Eastwood and Alan Alda (M*A*S*H, West Wing ) as Ira.



child44Child 44  by Tom Rob Smith
Released on April 17, this Cold War mystery/thriller set in 1950's-era Russia, stars Tom Hardy (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), Gary Oldman (Sirius Black in the Harry Potter films), and Noomi Rapace (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo). State Security Force agent Leo Demidov, a war hero and true believer in the modern Soviet regime, has a relatively comfortable life tracking down enemies of the state until he discovers that a different kind of criminal, a  murderer of children, is on the loose, killing at will. But in a society that is officially paradise, it's a crime against the State to suggest that a murderer-much less a serial killer-is in their midst. Demoted and exiled from his home, with only his wife, Raisa, remaining at his side, he must find and stop a criminal that the State won't admit even exists.


casualvacancyThe Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
Rowling's first novel for an adult audience, written after her hugely successful Harry Potter series, recounts the story of a small town thrown into shock by the death of parish council member Barry Fairbrother. The battle for his empty seat on the Pagford council becomes the catalyst for the biggest war the town has yet seen and reveals the ugly truths behind the  community's pretty facade. The best-seller has been adapted as a three-part televison mini-series in a joint project by HBO and BBC, and will premiere on April 29 in the U.S.
Michael Gambon (Dumbledore in the Harry Potter films) will star along with veteran British actors Keeley Hawes (Upstairs, Downstairs) and Julia McKenzie (Agatha Christie's Miss Marple).


May 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 May 2015:
Uprooted by Naomi Novik

uprootedA stand-alone novel by the author of the Temeraire series, this fantasy is inspired by legends and fairy tales. Agnieszka's small, quiet village is protected from the Wood, an evil entity that destroys all it touches, by a cold and dangerous wizard called the Dragon. As paymemt for his protection, the village must send him a young girl for a period of ten years. When Agnieszka is chosen, she is uprooted from her beloved village and discovers, despite her fear and homesickness,  that she has a talent for magic and an appetite for adventure. "Novik's use of language is supremely skillful as she weaves a tale that is both elegantly grand and earthily humble, familiar as a Grimm fairy tale yet fresh, original, and totally irresistible. This will be a must-read for fantasy fans for years to come." (Publishers Weekly)

baileyslogoBaileys Women's Prize for Fiction

Launched in 1996 (and originally known as the Orange Prize) this literary prize is awarded annually and celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world. The winner receives a cheque for £30,000 (about $50,000) and a limited edition bronze sculpture known as a ‘Bessie’. The winner will be announced at an awards ceremony in London on June 3.

2015 Finalists:

Rachel Cusk – Outline

Laline Paull – The Bees

Kamila Shamsie – A God in Every Stone

Ali Smith – How to be Both

Anne Tyler – A Spool of Blue Thread

Sarah Waters – The Paying Guests


© 2014 BAILEYS Women's Prize for Fiction


Ivan Doig (1939-2015)

whistlingseasonIvan Doig, author of 16 books that celebrated the American West, doigand Montana in particular, passed away on April 9 of multiple myeloma at the age of 75. He majored in journalism and worked for many years in various editorial jobs before turning to memoirs and novels. This House of Sky: Landscapes of a Western Mind, a memoir published in 1979, was a finalist for the National Book Award but his thirteen novels, especially the 2006 best-seller The Whistling Season, earned him the most praise. In 2007 he was awarded the Wallace Stegner Award, named for the late historian and novelist, by the Center for the American West for his "sustained contribution to the cultural identity of the West through literature, art, history, lore, or an understanding of the West." He didn't consider himself a "regional" writer but did identify as a member of the "lariat proletariat, the working class point of view."



ALA NLW2015 bannerad

This week, PDL joins libraries in schools, campuses and communities nationwide in celebrating National Library Week, a time to highlight the value of libraries, librarians and library workers. First sponsored in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association (ALA) and libraries across the country each April. It is a time to celebrate the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians and to promote library use and support.

This year's theme is "Unlimited possibilities @ your library®."  PDL offers a myriad of materials and services, from books and DVDS to home delivery and computer classes; from book discussions and WII bowling to metal stamping and storytimes; from chess club and video games to music performances and personal investment presentations.  Let us help you explore the possibilities.

Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction - 2015 Finalists

The American Library Association recently announced the three books shortlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence for Fiction, the award for the best fiction written last year and published in the U.S. The winner will receive $5,000 when announced at the 2015 ALA Annual conference in San Francisco in June. All three books have been well-reviewed and either nominated for other literary prizes and/or named on several "best" lists.

allthelightAll the Light We Cannot See by Anthoy Doerr
Through the intertwined stories of a sightless French girl and a German soldier, Doerr masterfully and imaginatively re-creates the harsh conditions in WWII-torn France and the strictly controlled lives of the military occupiers.



norawebsterNora Webster by Colm Toibin
In Tóibín’s remarkably subtle, witty, and affirming story, the Ireland of four decades ago and the conundrums women faced are beautifully evoked through events in the three-year widowhood of fortysomething Nora Webster.



onsuchafullseaOn Such A Full Sea by Chang Rae Lee
As young Fan searches for her missing boyfriend in an America devastated by climate change and a pandemic, Lee brilliantly imagines extreme survival tactics, psychological trauma, and the resurrection of art and its solace.



preparationforthenextlifePreparation for the Next Life by Atticus Lish

The winner of the 2015 Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction  was announced April 7 by the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. The Foundation, a non-profit literary organization that honors the best work of fiction published by an American in a single calendar year, awards the largest peer-reviewed literary prize in the country.

Lish, this year's recipient of the $15,000 prize, is a debut novelist whose book describes the relationship of Zou Lei, a Chinese immigrant working in a tiny noodle restaurant in New York, and Skinner, a traumatized AWOL Iraqi war veteran and wanderer. Zou Lei, an orphan of the desert, has migrated to work in America and finds herself slaving in New York's kitchens. She falls in love with a young man whose heart has been broken in another desert. A new life may be possible if together they can survive homelessness, lockup, and the young man's nightmares, which may be more prophecy than madness. The novel was published in November and earned universal critical praise, named to many of the "best" lists of 2014. "Perhaps the finest and most unsentimental love story of the new decade."(New York Times)

The four other finalists, who each receive $5,000, are Jeffery Renard Allen for Song of the Shank, Jennifer Clement for Prayers for the Stolen, Emily St. John Mandel for Station Eleven, and Jenny Offill for Dept. of Speculation.

Game of Thrones

gameof thrones


Unless you've been exiled far beyond the Wall, you know that HBO's wildly popular adaptation of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire epic fantasy series returns to TV for a fifth season on Sunday, April 12. The speculation is that the TV producers and writers have outpaced and /or deviated from their source material because the publication of the sixth book, The Winds of Winter, has been delayed several times. Fans are imploring Martin to write faster since the most recent installment, A Dance with Dragons, was published back in 2011. Last week Martin teased his followers by posting another lengthy excerpt of the new book, The Winds of Winter, on his website, and hinted that the book may be finished later this year. However, his publisher isn't making any promises, stating there is no firm release date as yet. As the New York Times put it, " Winter is coming, slowly."


 A new season for the Detroit Tigershuntingadetroittiger

For, lo, the winter is past,
The rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth;
The time of the singing of birds is come,
And the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.

Every year until his retirement in 2002, legendary sports broadcaster Ernie Harwell (the Voice of the Tigers) would read this selection, the Voice of the Turtle, from the Song of Solomon, to begin the new season and celebrate spring and the rebirth of hope. So, let's go, Tigers - play ball!

hugoawardThe finalists for the 2015 Hugo Awards for the best science fiction or fantasy novel written in 2014 were announced on April 4 at Norwescon in Seattle, Washington. The 2015 Hugo Award winners will be announced Saturday, August 22, 2015, during the Hugo Awards Ceremony at the 2015 Worldcon.

 Best Novel Nominees:


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel    

stationelevenEmily St. John Mandel's critically acclaimed novel, Station roosterEleven, has won the literary world's equivalent of March Madness, The 11th Annual Morning News Tournament of Books. As the website explains," For the uninitiated, the ToB is an annual event here at The Morning News in which 16 of the previous year’s best and most-talked about works of fiction enter a March Madness-like battle royale. After a month of dueling, one novel will win the Rooster, a prize named after David Sedaris’s brother, and its author will be threatened with the presentation of a live he-hen." (Really.) Station Eleven emerged from the brackets victorious, in something of a blow-out. Mandel is quoted as being thrilled, "I’ve been a fan of the Tournament of Books for years, and I like it even more now that they’ve offered me a live rooster." Mandel is having a great year so far, her book was a finalist for the National Book Award, is on the PEN/Faulkner Award shortlist, and is on the current longlist for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Author George R.R. Martin (Game of Thrones) has opined that Station Eleven should win the Hugo prize for best science fiction novel. Not to mention that the book has been chosen by the Michigan Humanities Council as the 2015 Great Michigan Read!


April is National Humor Month

confederacyofcuncesJust in time for some spring humor, an article on the website of hitchhikersguide2Esquire Magazine, UK,  names the 20 funniest books ever written. The magazine solicited various literary and comedic heavyweights to nominate the books that made them laugh out loud. Some of the books are older classics and some are newer, with fiction and non-fiction included. Few would argue with the inclusion of Douglas Adam's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint, and John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces. Check out the list to see if you agree on the rest.


gosetawatchman2Go Set A Watchman by Harper Lee

HarperCollins, the publisher of the new Harper Lee novel to be released July 14, has revealed the cover art for the book. President Michael Morrison explains "There are so many wonderful parts of Go Set a Watchman that it was hard to pick just one iconic image to represent the book. This design is perfect- it draws on the style of the decade the book was written, but with a modern twist. Go Set a Watchman begins with Scout's train ride home, but more profoundly, it is about the journey Harper Lee's beloved characters have taken in the subsequent 20 years of their lives." Those familiar with the book jacket for To Kill A Mockingbird will notice that the new book's cover continues the tree motif.


spur-banner2-300x174The Spur Awards

Each year the Western Writers of America honor writers for distinguished writing about the American West with the Spur Awards. The WWA began in 1953, at the advent of the golden era of TV Western programming, and the Spur awards are given  for many  types of writing including novels, short fiction and nonfiction, biography, history, juvenile fiction and nonfiction, best TV or motion picture drama, best TV or motion picture documentary, and best first novel.


badcountryWinner for 2015 Best Western Contemporary Novel:
Bad Country
by C.B. McKenzie  
Retired from the rodeo circuit and scraping by on piecework as a bounty hunter, warrant server, and divorce snoop, Rodeo Grace Garnet lives with his old dog in a remote corner of Arizona known to locals as El Hoyo . He doesn't get many visitors in The Hole, but a body found near his home has drawn police attention to his front door. The victim is a member of a major Southwestern Indian tribe, whose death is part of a mysterious rompecabeza --a classic crime puzzler--that includes multiple murders, cold-blooded betrayals, and low-down scheming, with Rodeo caught in the middle.  "... this edgy noir offers a master class on how to create a vivid sense of mood and place. Rodeo is a hard-nosed, hard-drinking man who searches for the truth as he understands it." (Library Journal)


The Spur® is a registered trademark of Western Writers of America 


folioprizeFamily Life by Akhil Sharma

Akhil Sharma's second novel, Family Life, 13 years in the writing,familylife is the winner of the second annual Folio Prize for fiction, given by the Folio Society for "the best English-language fiction from around the world, published in the UK during a given year, regardless of form, genre or the author’s country of origin. It is the first major English-language book prize open to writers from all over the world." Sharma was presented with the winner trophy and a check for £40,000 (about $60,000) at a ceremony in London last night, March 23. Family Life is the autobiographical story of Ajay Mishra who, like the author, moves from Delhi to the United States as a child in the late 1970s. When Ajay's brother has a life-changing accident, it shatters his family's new life. The New York Times Book Review named the work one of the 10 best books of 2014. While Sharma is happy to have won the literary prize, he stated that writing the book was painful, "like chewing stones." 


Local Author Fair!

bookstackSaturday, March 28, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.

We invite you to meet authors from Plymouth and surrounding communities, engage them in conversation and enjoy and opportunity to review their work.

Drop-in!  Books written for children, teens and adults are available for review, purchase and signing.

Refreshments & Prizes (Gift Certificates) provided by Friends of the Library.


Now (or soon) playing:


pronegunmanThe Gunman The Prone Gunman by Jean-Patrick Manchette
Martin Terrier is a hired killer who wants out of the game, so he can settle down and marry his childhood sweetheart. But the Organization won't let him go. They want him to assassinate one more person and to coerce him, they confiscate his savings. Smelling a rat, Terrier manages to foil the plot and start a new life, albiet with a leftover bullet lodged in his brain. A classic of modern noir, this tightly plotted, corrosive novel is widely considered to be Manchette's masterpiece, and was named a New York Times "Notable Book" in 2002. The film, starring
Sean Penn
, Javier Bardem, Idris Elba and Ray Winstone, and directed by Pierre Morel (Taken) opened March 20.


dovekeeersThe Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
Set in 70 CE and detailing the siege of the mountain stronghold Masada where 900 Jews held out for months against the Romans, Hoffman's novel follows four extraordinary women whose lives converge in the dovecotes of the rebel desert stronghold.  Yael,  Revka, Shirah, and her daughter Aziza are forced to deal with the outside forces intent on eradicating them and with their own people's patriarchal system, which is quick to condemn unconventional behavior. According to the historian Josephus, only two women and five children survived the siege after the mass suicide of the Jewish rebels. "Hoffman vividly brings this tragedy to life..." (Library Journal). The adaptation airs on CBS as a special two-night event on March 31 and April 1, starring Cote De Pablo (NCIS) and produced by Roma Downey (The Bible, Touched by an Angel).

dragonflyinamberOutlander Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Cable channel Starz will begin the second half of season one of this time-travel/historical/romance series on April 4. This set of episodes is based on the second book in Gabaldon's multi-volume story, Dragonfly in Amber, the further adventures of Claire Randall, a modern woman who travels back in time to 1700's Scotland, where she meets and marries Highlander Jamie Fraser. This installment chronicles Claire and Jamie's efforts to prevent the Jacobite rising that Claire knows will end disastrously for the Scots. When we left Claire at the end of episode eight in September, she was in the dastardly clutches of Black Jack Randall... "A most entertaining mix of history and fantasy..." (Kirkus).



wolfhallWolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
On April 5, PBS Masterpiece will air the BBC-produced six-part mini-series based on Mantel's bestseller about Tudor King Henry the VIII and his court as seen through the eyes of Thomas Cromwell, Henry's political wizard, right-hand man and fixer. Cromwell is often depicted as an unscrupulous power-monger, but Mantel's version is a more nuanced one - a loving husband and family man who rises from blacksmith's son to the right hand of the king through a combination of cunning pragmatism and devoted loyalty. "As Cromwell frees his master from his marriage to Catherine of Aragon so that he may marry Anne Boleyn, then orchestrates her downfall, he emerges as clever, witty and urbane, multilingual, inexhaustibly energetic and a master of the dog-eat-dog political chess game that is Henry’s court." (New York Times).


April 2015 LibraryReads List

The top ten books published this month (April) 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 April 2015:
At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

atthewatersedgeThis new novel by Gruen (Water for Elephants) is a gripping and poignant love story about a privileged young woman's awakening as she experiences the devastation of World War II in a tiny village in the Scottish Highlands. Socialite Madeline Hyde, her husband Ellis, and his partner embark on a dubious quest to find the famous and elusive Loch Ness monster in order to impress Ellis' father, who has cut off their financial support. The local villagers, suffering under the privations of wartime conditions, are initially contemptuous of the privileged outsiders until Maddie develops a friendship with two young women that expands her understanding beyond her sheltered world. She begins to see that nothing is as it first appears: the values she holds dear prove unsustainable, and monsters lurk where they are least expected.



The next Metro Detroit Book and Author Society Luncheon will be held on Monday, May 18th at the Burton Manor in Livonia. Featured authors this spring are C.J. Box, Laura Lippman, Gerald Posner, Lily King, and Lev Raphael. Ticket sales begin on April 1 and are available online at or by phone at 586-685-5750 x 102.

The Metro-Detroit Book & Author Society was created for the sole purpose of presenting a luncheon featuring major national authors. The Society strives to present top national authors in a comfortable, casual setting, with an opportunity to buy signed books and meet the authors. Guest authors have included Steven King, James Patterson, Mary Higgins Clark, Scott Turow, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Michael Connelly and Debbie Macomber. Celebrity authors have included Cokie Roberts, Jane Seymour, Gladys Knight, Lee Iococca, Tim Russert and Dan Rather.

The Metro-Detroit Book & Author luncheons are considered one of the largest and best one-day author events in the country.


shamrock symbol jonadab  01Erin Go Bragh!

March 17th is the day to celebrate all things Irish and green - green shamrocks, green clothes, green beads and, of course, green beer!

Transport yourself to the Emerald Isle with a book or two.


Quirke novels by Benjamin Black
Immerse yourself in Irish noir with Benjamin Black's mystery christine fallsseries set in Dublin in the 1950's and featuring protagonist Quirke, described as a surly, solitary pathologist in the city morgue who enjoys a few "post post-mortem drinks" most nights after work. Orphaned at a young age, raised at a corrupt Irish boarding school, widowed and childless, Quirke's depression is compounded by longing for his dead wife's sister Sarah. But unfortunately, Quirke's charming adoptive brother Malachy Griffin just happens to be married to her. In the first installment of the series, Christine Falls, Quirke follows the corpse of a mysterious woman into the heart of a well-guarded conspiracy among the city's high Catholic society, some of whom are members of his own family. "Christine Falls is deeply atmospheric. Clydesdales drag drays through the streets of 1950s Dublin, and the pubs are fuggy with turf smoke."(Booklist) Black has continued Quirke's investigations through six additional books, the latest, Even the Dead, to be published later this year. A three-part TV series based on the novels was broadcast by the BBC in 2014, starring Gabriel Byrne as Quirke.

Benjamin Black is the pen name of acclaimed author John Banville, who was born in Wexford, Ireland, in 1945. His novels have won numerous awards, most recently the Man Booker Prize in 2005 for The Sea.


Sir Terry Pratchett (1948 - 2015)

scienceofdiscworldProlific fantasy author Sir Terry Pratchett passed away yesterday at his home in Wiltshire, England after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease. He was 66.

He wrote some 70 books over the span of his career, selling more than 85 million copies worldwide in 37 languages. He is currently the second most-read writer in the UK, and seventh most-read non-US author in the US. His major series, Discworld, grew to approximately 40 volumes about a multilayered society of humans, witches, trolls, and other creatures living on a disc-shaped planet which is balanced on the backs of four elephants, who themselves stand upon the shell of a giant turtle. Death is also a character in almost all of the  books, speaking in all capital letters and expressing a fascination with humans and a fondness for cats. Pratchett's last post on his Twitter account on Thursday was, appropriately enough, "The End.”

natlbookcriticscircleNational Book Critics Circle Awards

On March 12, 2015, in New York, the winners of the National Book Critics Circle Awards for books published in the U.S. during 2014 were announced. The National Book Critics Circle Awards, founded in 1974 at the Algonquin Hotel and considered among the most prestigious in American letters, are the sole prizes bestowed by a jury of working critics and book-review editors. Prizes are awarded in several categories, including fiction, biography, poetry and criticism.

lilaMarilynne Robinson received the award for fiction for her novel, Lila, the third in her Gilead trilogy about a minister, his wife,  and their friends in a small community in Iowa. Describing Robinson's writing, the Book Critics Circle stated that "No one writes so simply yet profoundly of our yearnings and struggles, our troubling doubts and grateful affirmations of the good when we encounter it at last." Robinson's 2004 novel Gilead, the first of the trilogy, also won the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.


The other Finalists for the Fiction Award:

Rabih Alameddine, An Unnecessary Woman

Marlon James, A Brief History of Seven Killings

Lily King, Euphoria

Chang-rae Lee, On Such a Full Sea



Bertrice Small (1937-2015)

betrayedBertice Small, author of dozens of romance novels, passed away on February 24 at the age of 77.  Small, educated as a young girl at an Anglican convent, credited one of her teachers, Sister Mercedes, as the mentor for her writing career. "“She imbued in me a great love of history,” Ms. Small said of Sister Mercedes in a 1980 interview with The New York Times, “and she didn’t think it was funny that when I was 13 years old I was writing an epic romance in rhyme.”  With titles like Betrayed, Forbidden Pleasures, Hellion, and A Dangerous Love, Small was considered "a a virtuoso in navigating the fine line between passionate romance and sophisticated smut...weaving with purple prose a sensual fictional tapestry peopled by strong-willed heroines, lustful princes and virginal maidens, their carnal encounters often managed between kidnappings and escapes." (NYTimes). Describing herself as "“a nice lady who lived in the country and wrote books,” Small was at work on her 57th novel at the time of her death.

*Romantic Times

"How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice."

In March 1965, thousands of supporters of African American civil and voting rights gathered for a series of marches from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. The violent response from police and the KKK, especially on "Bloody Sunday" when marchers were violently beaten and tear-gassed, shocked the nation and ultimately led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act later that year. On March 25, Dr. Martin Luther King led the marchers in the completion of the 54-mile journey and delivered the famous "How Long, Not Long" speech to thousands from the state capitol steps.

Books about this period in U.S. history:

freshwaterroadFreshwater Road by Denise Nicholas
Set in Pineyville, Mississippi during the three months of the "Freedom Summer" of 1964, the novel tells the story of a young black woman from the middle class in Detroit who comes south to help found a voter registration project. As the summer unfolds, she confronts not only the political realities of race and poverty in this tiny town, but also deep truths about her family and herself. It "may well be the finest novel about the civil-rights era."(Daily Beast)

fourspiritsFour Spirits
by Sena Jeter Naslund
Stella Silver is an idealistic, young white college student who first witnesses the events of the freedom movement from a safe distance but, along with her friend Cat Cartwright, is soon drawn into the mounting conflagration. A student at a black college, Christine Taylor is inspired to action as she courageously struggles to balance her daily life with the passions and dangers of the demonstrations. Naslund brings to life this tumultuous time, weaving together the lives of blacks and whites, civil rights advocates and racists, and the events of peaceful protest and violent repression, to create a tapestry of American social transformation.


ourmaninthedarkOur Man in the Dark by Rashad Harrison
Harrison's book is both a noir and an historical novel set during the months leading up to the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Feeling underappreciated and overlooked, John Estem, a bookkeeper for Dr. King's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, steals $10,000 from the organization. Originally planning to use the money to seed a new civil rights initiative in Chicago, he carelessly squanders the stolen funds. To the bookkeeper's further dismay, the FBI has been keeping close tabs on Dr. King and his fellow activists--including Estem--for years, and solicits Estem as an informant.



weareallwelcomehereWe are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg
It is the summer of 1964. In Tupelo, Mississippi tensions are mounting over civil-rights demonstrations occurring ever more frequently-and violently-across the state. But in Paige Dunn's life, there are more immediate concerns. Challenged by the polio she contracted during her pregnancy, Paige is nonetheless determined to live as normal a life as possible and to raise her daughter, Diana, in the way she sees fit - with the support of her tough-talking black caregiver, Peacie. But when Peacie's boyfriend, LaRue, ventures down the perilous path of helping register black voters during this Freedom Summer and trouble follows him, the women face hate and adversity that will test their bond.


Thunderstruck and Other Stories by Elizabeth McCracken

On March 4, 2015, in New York, Elizabeth McCracken was awarded the $20,000 annual
Story Prize forthunderstruck her second collection of short stories, Thunderstruck and Other Stories, published in 2014. McCracken is also the author of a memoir, two novels and her first collection of stories written in 1993. She is the 11th winner of the award, established in 2004 to honor the author of an outstanding collection of short fiction. Reviewers were enthusiastic about McCracken's latest work, calling the collection,"witty, world-wise" (Library Journal) and "nine marvelously quirky, ironic, but, most of all, poignant stories." (Booklist).

The other finalists, Lorrie Moore for Bark,  and Francesca Marciano for The Other Language, received $5,000 each.


Herland by Charlotte Perkins Gilman

herlandThe Daily Beast/Books columnist (and author) Nathaniel Rich is charlottewriting a monthly series on the last American century (1900-2000's) as seen through the eyes of the novelists of the period. Each month he features a single novel and examines it in the context of the year in which it was written. This month, presumably because it's Women's History Month, Rich reviews the novel Herland, published in 1915 and written by the feminist Charlotte Perkins Gilman. Herland is a feminist utopian novel about three male explorers who find an isolated civilization of women living without any men atop an uncharted mountain. The entire society is run by the women and operates efficiently and peacefully. There is no crime, war or jealousy. Children are born parthigenetically (without men) and devotion to childrearing is the culture's highest purpose. Rich notes that contemporary feminists may take exception to this limited view of women's aspirations but he places the novel within the zeitgeist of its time. Gilman, while inventing a certain kind of female paradise, knew that even utopias have their flaws: the book ends with the leaders sending one of their own out into the world to learn about "bi-sexual" culture.


Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015)

mindmeldActor, singer, poet, photographer, but above all, the personification of Mr. Spock, fictional Science Officer of the Starship Enterprise, the beloved half-Vulcan character of the Star Trek TV series, movie franchises and more. As his New York Times obituary notes, Nimoy had a long and varied career in the arts, "but it was as Mr. Spock that Mr. Nimoy became a folk hero, bringing to life one of the most indelible characters of the last half century: a cerebral, unflappable, pointy-eared Vulcan with a signature salute and blessing: “Live long and prosper” (from the Vulcan “Dif-tor heh smusma”)." Though the original TV series ended in 1969, the Star Trek legacy has proved perennial in popular culture, continuing in movies, spin-off TV series, action figures, comics, film re-boots, books, and Trekkie conventions. As Spock would say, "Fascinating."

March is Women's History Month

NWHP-Logo-smallWomen's History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981 when Congress requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as "Women's History Week." In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women's History Project, Congress designated the month of March as "Women's History Month" in perpetuity. A special Presidential Proclamation is issued every year which honors the extraordinary achievements of American women. Every year the National Women’s History Project selects a unifying theme to be shared with all who want to promote women’s history. This year's theme: Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives. 2015 is also the 35th anniversary of the Women’s History Movement and the National Women’s History Project.

(Historical content and image courtesy of the National Women's History Project and the Library of Congress.)

A few of the woven stories:

What is Visible by Kimberly Elkins
A vivid novel based on the astounding true-life story of Laura Bridgman, the first deaf and whatisvisibleblind person who learned language. At age two, Laura Bridgman lost four of her five senses to scarlet fever. At age seven, she was taken to Perkins Institute in Boston to determine if a child so terribly afflicted could be taught.  At age twenty, she was considered the nineteenth century's second most famous woman, having mastered language and charmed the world with her brilliance. With Laura-by turns mischievous, temperamental, and witty-as the book's primary narrator, the fascinating kaleidoscope of characters includes the founder of Perkins Institute, Samuel Gridley Howe, with whom she was in love; his wife, the glamorous Julia Ward Howe, a renowned writer, abolitionist, and suffragist; teacher Annie Sullivan; and even the young Helen Keller.


Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
vanessaandhersisterA captivating novel that offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of Vanessa Bell, her sister Virginia Woolf, and the controversial and popular circle of intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury Group. London, 1905: The city is alight with change, and the Stephen siblings are at the forefront. Vanessa, Virginia, Thoby, and Adrian are leaving behind their childhood home and taking a house in the leafy heart of avant-garde Bloomsbury. There they bring together a glittering circle of bright, outrageous artistic friends who will grow into legend. And at the center of this charmed circle are the devoted, gifted sisters: Vanessa, the painter, and Virginia, the writer. Together, this sparkling coterie of artists and intellectuals throw away convention and embrace the wild freedom of being young, single bohemians in London. But the landscape shifts when Vanessa unexpectedly falls in love and her sister feels dangerously abandoned. Eerily possessive, charismatic, manipulative, and brilliant, Virginia has always lived in the shelter of Vanessa's constant attention and encouragement.  As tragedy and betrayal threaten to destroy the family, Vanessa must decide if it is finally time to protect her own happiness above all else.


The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
Chosen as an Oprah Book Club 2.0 selection, this novel is suggested by the true story of the inventionofwingsGrimke sisters, outspoken abolitionists and feminists of the early nineteenth century. Kidd’s account centers on the lives of the two sisters and the complicated relationship between the older sister, Sarah, and a young slave she receives as a gift on her 11th birthday. Told from both girls’ perspectives, the narration alternates as their unlikely friendship develops and changes as they grow from childhood to middle age. Both strive for freedom – Sarah from the constraints of patriarchy and bigotry and Hetty from the inhuman ordeals of slavery. Sarah longs to become a lawyer, a profession forbidden to her, and instead crusades with her sister for women’s rights and the abolition of slavery. Hetty remains behind and becomes embroiled in a conspiracy of insurrection, hoping for the wings that will set her free.


The Traitor's Wife: the Woman behind Benedict Arnold and the Plan to Betray America by Allison Pataki
traitorswifeA riveting historical novel about Peggy Shippen Arnold, the cunning wife of Benedict Arnold and mastermind behind America's most infamous act of treason. Everyone knows Benedict Arnold, the Revolutionary War general who betrayed America and fled to the British as history's most notorious turncoat. Many know Arnold's co-conspirator, Major John André. But few know of the integral third character in the plot: a charming young woman who not only contributed to the betrayal but orchestrated it. Socialite Peggy Shippen is half Benedict Arnold's age when she seduces the war hero during his stint as military commander of Philadelphia. Blinded by his young bride's beauty and wit, Arnold does not realize that she harbors a secret: loyalty to the British. Peggy watches as her husband, crippled from battle wounds and in debt from years of service to the colonies, grows ever more disillusioned with his hero, Washington, and the American cause. Together with her disaffected husband, Peggy hatches the plot to deliver West Point to the British and, in exchange, win fame and fortune.



Trending now...

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.



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.


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)


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.


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.


                              '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.


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)


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.


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.


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


Colleen McCullough (1937-2015)

thornbirdsThe frequently outspoken Australian author, Colleen McCullough, bittersweetdied last week at her home on Norfolk Island in the South Pacific. Although she wrote more than 20 books in several genres, she was most famous for her best-selling multi-generational novel, The Thorn Birds, set on a vast sheep ranch in Australia, which became an international hit and a successful televsion mini-series in the 70's. (She wasn't fond of the TV adaptation, it was "instant vomit.") McCullough was born in Wellington, New South Wales in 1937, where she endured an unhappy childhood, and trained in neurophysiology, ultimately accepting a job as a neuro-physiological research assistant at the Yale School of Medicine. She began writing as a source for extra income.  The Thorn Birds, her second novel, which sold more than 30 million copies worldwide, took care of that. McCullough continued to write, publishing mysteries, historical fiction, essays, and a sequel to Pride and Prejudice, but none sold as well as The Thorn Birds. Her last book, Bittersweet, about the lives and loves of four sisters in Depression-era Australia, was released in 2014.


February is African American History Month

Initially started in 1926 as Negro History Week, the commemoration of the struggles and achievements of African Americans in America was expanded to a month-long celebration in 1976. President Gerald R. Ford urged Americans to “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Every president since has proclaimed February as African American History Month in order to honor the importance of contributions made by African American citizens to our society.

Explore the African American experience in these books:

best of simpleThe Best of Simple by Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes, the Harlem Renaissance poet, novelist and activist, composed these stories about Jessie B. Semple as weekly columns which were later pubished in three  collections, Simple Speaks His Mind, Simple Takes a Wife, and Simple Stakes a Claim. This anthology contains the author's favorites which depict Semple as an African American "everyman" whose experiences reflect the reality of life in post-war Harlem in the '40's and '50's. In a 1950 New York Times review of Simple Speaks His Mind, Charles Poore states, "Outwardly the book is a collection of entertaining Harlem conversations. Inwardly it is better than a dozen vast and weighty and piously pompous studies in race relations. You learn here at first hand what it really means to be a man of color in the land of the free and the home of the brave -- the tragic undertones of laughter."


godhelpthechild God Help the Child by Toni Morrison
Due to be published in April, this new novel from Nobel Laureate and Pulitzer winner Morrison explores childhood traumas complicated by race and their long-lasting impact on adult lives. A dark-skinned daughter whose light-skinned mother cannot love her, a white child who finds the comfort denied her by her own mother in the affection of a black woman, and a mother who finally understands that "what you do to children matters. And they might never forget," are expertly woven together by Morrison's signature literary craftmanship. "This haunting novel displays a profound understanding of American culture and an unwavering sense of justice and forgiveness." (Publishers Weekly)


citizenscreekCitizens Creek by Lalita Tademy
Tademy, the author of Cane River, has written another evocative historical novel about a once-enslaved man who buys his freedom after serving as a translator during the American Indian Wars. Cow Tom, born into slavery in Alabama in 1810 and sold to a Creek Indian chief before his tenth birthday, possessed an extraordinary gift: the ability to master languages. As the new country developed westward, and Indians, settlers, and blacks came into constant contact, Cow Tom became a key translator for his Creek master and was hired out to US military generals. When finally free, he struggles to build  a life for himself and his family on a cattle ranch despite the constant threats posed by white expansion in the west. "Tademy's work movingly sheds light on a complex and undertold chapter of American history. (Library Journal)


supremesatThe Supremes at Earl's All-You-Can-Eat by Edward Kelsey Moore
This is a story of friendship among three women weathering the ups and downs of life in a small Midwestern town. When Odette, Clarice, and Barbara Jean meet as teenagers in the mid-sixties, the civil rights movement is moving along and so are their everyday lives. Their regular gathering place is Earl's All-You-Can-Eat diner, the first black-owned business in downtown Plainview, Indiana. Dubbed the Supremes by their friends, the inseparable trio is watched over by big-hearted Earl during their complicated high school days, and then every Sunday after church as they marry, and have children and grandchildren. Sitting at the same table for almost forty years, these best friends grow up, gossip, and face the world together. "The author uses warmhearted humor and salty language to bring to life a tight-knit African-American community that's complete with competing churches, wacky relations, a fortune-telling fraud, and the ghost of a drunken Eleanor Roosevelt." (Library Journal)



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)


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



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



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)


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!


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


Downton Abbey Season 5 - January 4, 2015

This PBS Masterpiece Theatre miniseries has captivated American audiences with its tales of the aristocratic Crawleys and their servants living on a vast English estate in the post Edwardian era since its television debut in 2011. Season 5 promises "new loves, new secrets, new Downton Abbey."  As Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham has said, "You'll find there's never a dull moment in this house."

To set the mood, try these manor house read-alikes:

cavendonhallCavendon Hall by Barbara Taylor Bradford
Cavendon Hall is home to two families, the aristocratic Inghams and the Swanns who serve them. Charles Ingham, the sixth Earl of Mowbray, lives there with his wife Felicity and their six children. Walter Swann, the premier male of the Swann family, is valet to the earl. His wife Alice, a clever seamstress who is in charge of the countess's wardrobe, also makes clothes for the four daughters. For centuries, these two families have lived side-by-side, beneath the backdrop of the imposing Yorkshire manor. With World War I looming, both families will find themselves tested in ways they never thought possible.


tyringhamparkTyringham Park by Rosemary McLoughlin
The country estate of Tyringham Park is the epitome of wealth and privilege. Home to the Blackshaws, it finds itself the backdrop to tragedy. It is a beautiful day in 1917, and Tyringham Park is in an uproar after Victoria Blackshaw, an innocent toddler, disappears without a trace. The feverish search for Victoria soon uncovers jealousies and deceits that both the upstairs and downstairs inhabitants of the grand estate have fought for years to keep hidden. As time passes, Victoria's disappearance casts a long shadow over all of their lives.



houseattynefordThe House at Tyneford by Natasha Solomons
Although not set in the Edwardian era, this upstairs/downstairs love story has similar appeal for Downton Abbey fans. It's the spring of 1938 and no longer safe to be a Jew in Vienna. Nineteen-year-old Elise Landau is forced to leave her glittering life of parties and champagne to become a parlor maid in England. She arrives at Tyneford, the great house on the bay, where servants polish silver and serve drinks on the lawn. But war is coming, and the world is changing. When the master of Tyneford's young son, Kit, returns home, he and Elise strike up an unlikely friendship that will transform Tyneford and Elise forever.


Fiction about Cuba

cubaThe island nation of Cuba is in the news lately due to the possiblity of improved relations with the U.S. The good folks at the New York Times have selected a few titles, both fiction and non-fiction, to help you get acquainted with our neighbors to the south.
Of course, there are more...


kingofcubaKing of Cuba by Cristina Garcia
García's new novel transports readers to Cuba, to Miami, and into the heads of two larger-than-life men: a fictionalized Fidel Castro and an octogenarian Cuban exile obsessed with seeking revenge against the dictator. "Interspersed with short narratives by Cubans from various walks of life, Garcia's writing is laced with candor and wit as she portrays the lives of two men united by the past." (Publishers Weekly)



beautifulmariaBeautiful Maria of My Soul by Oscar Hijuelos
A companion piece to the classic The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, Hijuelos returns
to that story but tells it from the perspective of the heroine, Maria, the Cuban beauty who captured Nestor Castillo's heart. Now in her sixties and living in Miami, she thinks back to her days--and nights--in Havana. "Hijuelos's Havana is as much a full-fleshed character as Maria as it endures the rise of Castro and the mass exodus of Cubans to Miami in the 1960s." (Publishers Weekly)



havanafeverHavana Fever by Leonardo Padura
Havana, 2003 - 14 years since Mario Conde retired from the police force. Now an antique book trader, Conde discovers an extraordinary book collection in the house of a rich Cuban who fled after the fall of Batista, and, buried within a newspaper article about Violeta del Rio, a beautiful bolero singer who disappeared in the 1950s. Conde's intuition sets him off on an investigation that leads him into a darker Cuba, full of dollars and debauchery.




cubalibreCuba Libre by Elmore Leonard
On the eve of the Spanish-American War, just three days after the sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor, Ben Tyler arrives with a string of horses to sell--cover for a boatload of guns he's running to Cuban insurgents, risking a firing squad if he's caught. A spellbinding journey into the Cuban revolution of a hundred years ago, with a  mix of high adventure, history brought to life, and a honey of a love story--all with the precise dialogue and unforgettable characters that mark Elmore Leonard as an American master.



telexfromcubaTelex from Cuba by Rachel Kushner
Set in the corporate American ex-pat community in Cuba in the years prior to the Castro revolution, this novel tells the story of two children who grow up in that idyllic and manufactured world of privilege, wholly unaware of the political unrest brewing throughout the country. When the Castros launch the revolution and torch the sugar plantations, the Americans begin to discover the underlying brutality that kept the colony functioning. "Kushner has written a gripping tale of what it was like to live through a momentous time. It is a powerful, haunting look at the human side of revolution." (Booklist)



Looking for your next book club selection?

BookClubKitNew titles have been added to the Book Club Kit Collection. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book, plus discussion questions, author interviews, and other literary commentary to enhance your book discussions. The kits can be checked out for 8 weeks and you can reserve a kit through the Library catalog to fit into your group's meeting schedule. A complete list of available Kits can be found on the Library webpage under Services/Book Clubs.


New Kits:

rosieprojectThe Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially challenged professor of genetics, who's decided it's time he found a wife. And so, in the orderly, logical manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey. Enter Rosie Jarman who is not at all what he's looking for, but as he studies the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie, Don discovers  that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don't find love, it finds you. "Funny, touching, and hard to put down, The Rosie Project is certain to entertain even as readers delve into deep themes." (Booklist)



storiedlifeThe Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island. And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, but large in weight. It's that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. "Funny, tender, and moving, it reminds us all exactly why we read and why we love. (Library Journal)
Chosen as the #1 Favorite of Favorites for 2014 by the voters at LibraryReads.


happy-hanukkahFestival of Lights - December 16-24

Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean Revolt against the occupying Seleucid (Syrian-Greek) Empire of the 2nd century BCE. Hanukkah is observed for eight nights and days, starting on the 25th day of Kislev according to the Hebrew calendar, which may occur at any time from late November to late December in the Gregorian calendar. The festival is observed by the lighting of the candles on a unique candelabrum, the nine-branched menorah, one additional light on each night of the holiday, progressing to eight on the final night.

Read more about Jewish history:

dovekeeersThe Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman
Set in 70 CE, detailing the siege of the mountain stronghold Masada, where 900 Jews held out for months against the Romans, Hoffman's novel follows four extraordinary women whose lives converge in the dovecotes of the rebel desert stronghold. According to the historian Josephus, only two women and five children survived the siege after the mass suicide of the Jewish rebels. "Hoffman vividly brings this tragedy to life..." (Library Journal)


Joseph and His Brothers: the Stories of Jacob, Young Joseph, josephJoseph in Egypt, Joseph the Provider by Thomas Mann
In a monumental retelling of the biblical story of Joseph, Mann recreates the world of patriarchs and pharaohs, the ancient civilizations of Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Palestine, and the universal force of human love in all its beauty, desperation, absurdity, and pain. Mann considered this his magnum opus.

sourceThe Source by James Michener
Employing his trademark style of grand storytelling, Michener follows the ancestors of four contemporary individuals to showcase the entire range of Jewish history, from the lives of the early Hebrews, through the Diaspora, Crusades, and the Spanish Inquisition and up to the founding of present-day Israel. “Fascinating . . . a wonderful rampage through history.” (The New York Times)





January 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 January 2015:
AsChimneySweepers-184x300As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust: A Flavia De Luce Novel by Alan Bradley
Banished is how twelve-year-old sleuth Flavia de Luce describes her predicament, when her father and Aunt Felicity ship her off to Miss Bodycote's Female Academy, the boarding school that her mother, Harriet, once attended across the sea in Canada. The sun has not yet risen on Flavia's first day in captivity when a gift lands at her feet. That gift is a charred and mummified body, which tumbles out of a bedroom chimney. Now, while attending classes, making friends (and enemies), and assessing the school's stern headmistress and faculty (one of whom is an acquitted murderess), Flavia is on the hunt for the victim's identity and time of death, as well as suspects, motives, and means. "Readers who enjoy character-driven, "country house" mysteries will appreciate Flavia's keen mind, droll wit, and comic preteen rush into a new situation in which everyone warns her to beware, many seem to have known her mother, and someone is undoubtedly a killer." (Library Journal)

To get you in the holiday mood...

winterstreetWinter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
Set on Nantucket Island (where else?) Hilderbrand's first Christmas novel details a family holiday filled with surprises. Kelley Quinn is the owner of the Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four grown children, all of them with issues, who will gather at the Inn for Yuletide. Before the festivities are over, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, a small house fire, many shots of whiskey, and endless rounds of Christmas caroling, in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays. "The holidays wouldn't be complete without a little family dysfunction and Hilderbrand writes it well." (Library Journal)


Snowfall: A Days of Redemption Christmas Novella by Shelly Shephard Gray
snowfallAmish widower Martin Rhodes owns a Christmas tree farm, which makes December his busiest month. He also has six wonderfaul, energetic kids whose babysitter has just quit. Enter Ruth Stutzman, newly laid off from her job at a retirement home. Before long, the children are drawn to her warmth and gentleness, and so is Martin. The harder he tries to ignore her, the deeper he begins to care for this attractive young woman who has brought joy back into his children's lives, and his own. "While the nanny and widower falling in love story line is certainly not new, New York Times best-selling author Gray writes a sweet Amish holiday romance with wonderfully endearing characters that transcends cliche." (Library Journal)


nightingalebeforechristmasThe Nightingale Before Christmas by Donna Andrews
This year Meg Langslow's mother has roped Meg into helping with the big holiday designer show house, where each room is decorated by a different interior designer and tour tickets are sold to raise funds for charity. Dealing with the flamboyant egos and personalities involved is challenging enough but when the rooms are sabotaged and one unpopular designer turns up dead, Meg is forced to find the killer and put the house is order. Andrews delivers another winner in the acclaimed avian-themed series that mystery readers have come to love. Guaranteed to put the "ho ho hos" into the holidays.


The Christmas Cat by Melody Carlsonchristmascat
When his beloved grandmother passes away a few weeks before Christmas, Garrison Brown goes to her house to sort out her belongings, including six cats who need new homes. His grandmother's instructions are quite specific and rather challenging: find the perfect new homes and owners for her cats without disclosing that each comes with a sizable monetary gift. In the course of pursuing his fiduciary duties and contending with his allergy to cats, Garrison reconnects with his community, discovers new friends and maybe even love. Humorous and heartwarming, Carlson's newest is the perfect gift for pet lovers.


janexmasJane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron
Christmas Eve, 1814: Jane Austen has been invited to spend the holiday with family and friends at The Vyne, the gorgeous ancestral home of the wealthy and politically prominent Chute family. As the year fades and friends begin to gather beneath the mistletoe for the twelve days of Christmas festivities, Jane and her circle are in a celebratory mood. However, holiday cheer is fleeting. One of the Yuletide revelers dies in a tragic accident, which Jane immediately views with suspicion. If the accident was in fact murder, the killer is one of Jane's fellow snow-bound guests. "This is an excellent period mystery for all historical fiction fans, but Jane Austen devotees will especially appreciate immersing themselves in the many biographical details about Austen that accompany the fictional murder mystery." (Library Journal)

Cowboy Boots for Christmas: (Cowboy not included) by Carolyn Browncowboyboots
After two tours in Afghanistan, retired Army sniper Finn O'Donnell believes his new ranch outside the sleepy little town of Burnt Boot, Texas, is the perfect place for an undisturbed holiday season. But before he can settle in, an old friend shows up looking for protection and a place where nobody knows her name. Callie Brewster must relocate to protect her young nephew, Martin, and the only person she trusts is her old Army friend, Finn. Burnt Boot seems like the perfect place to be anonymous, but it turns out a small town with big drama is no place to hide. "Filled with laughter, wit, and characters you'll adore, this heartwarming romp is rich with relatives, friends, feuds, and Christmas cheer and beautifully launches Brown's joyful new community series." (Library Journal)




Its that time of year when the "Best" lists of purple-fireworks2014 appear. It seems that every media source, whether newspaper, magazine, TV show, blogger, celebrity, or pundit,  prints, publishes or posts a "Best Books of 2014" list.  There's the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2014, Amazon Editors Top 100, Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction, Library Journal's Top TenPublishers Weekly Best of 2014, the Washington Post's Top Ten, Time Magazine's Top Ten Fiction Books, and the LibraryReads Favorite of Favorites - to name a few.
Did any of your favorites make the list(s)?

Kent Haruf (1943-2014)

plainsongKent Haruf, author and creator of the fictional east Colorado town kentharufof Holt, died last Sunday at the age of 71. Haruf chronicled the lives of his small-town characters with sympathy and emotional depth in quiet, measured prose; his most famous work, Plainsong, was a finalist for the 1999 National Book Award. The New York Times called it,  "a novel so foursquare, so delicate and lovely, that it has the power to exalt." He was 56 when Plainsong, his third book, became a best-seller and had been writing for about 30 years. His next two novels, Eventide and Benediction, were also set in Holt. Writing in a review of Benediction in the Guardian, Ursula Le Guin called Haruf a "stunningly original writer... (his) courage and achievement in exploring ordinary forms of love – the enduring frustration, the long cost of loyalty, the comfort of daily affection – are unsurpassed by anything I know in contemporary fiction”.  His latest book, Our Souls at Night, which Haruf finished last summer, will be published in May 2015.


Now (or soon) playing...

mrmiracleMr. Miracle by Debbie Macomber
Macomber's latest inspirational Christmas story becomes a Hallmark Channel Original Movie on December 6. Harry Mills is a guardian angel on a mission: help twenty-four-year-old Addie Folsom get her life back on track--and, if the right moment strikes, help her find love. Posing as a teacher at a local college in Tacoma, Washington, Harry is up to the task, but not even he can predict the surprises that lay in store, especially when it comes to Adddie's next-door neighbor and childhood nemesis, Erich. "Macomber spins another sweet, warmhearted holiday tale that will be as comforting to her fans as hot chocolate on Christmas morning."(Kirkus Reviews)

redtentThe Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Adapted for a Lifetime miniseries to air on December 7 & 8, Diamant's popular 1997 novel, set in the Old Testament, recounts the life of Dinah, a daughter of Jacob and Leah.  Although Dinah is a minor character from the book of Genesis, Diamant creates a childhood for her among the women of her tribe, including the four wives of Jacob,  who spend their time in the red tent sharing their knowledge and traditions. Later, as Dinah matures, she enters into a forbidden love which results in a tragic loss and a devastating betrayal by her brothers. A "vivid evocation of the world of Old Testament women...the red tent of her title...becomes a resonant symbol of womanly strength, love and wisdom." (Publishers Weekly)


inherentviceInherent Vice by Thomas Pynchon
Part noir, part psychedelic romp, this mystery is set in Los Angeles at the tail end of the sixties, where private investigator and pothead  Larry "Doc" Portello is the sole proprietor and employee of LSD Investigations (Location, Surveillance, Detection). He is approached by an old flame, Shasta, to look into a "problem" her new boyfriend Mickey is having with his wife and her boyfriend. Soon there's a dead body, a run-in with friendly nemesis Lt. Det. Bigfoot Bjornsen, and Mickey disappears. So, for that matter, does Shasta. And it gets even more complicated as Doc smokes his way through one very weird investigation. "With whip-smart, psychedelic-bright language, Pynchon manages to convey the Sixties-except the Sixties were never really like this. This is Pynchon's world, and it's brilliant." (Library Journal) The movie stars an ensemble cast (Joaquin Phoenix, Owen Wilson, Reese Witherspoon, Josh Brolin) and opens December 12.


thehobbitThe Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
"Will you follow me one last time ?" The last chapter of Peter Jackson's trilogy based on Tolkien's beloved book finds the dwarf Thorin Oakenshield and his crew, including the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, in a battle for the fate of Middle Earth. Pitted against Sauron, orcs and the dragon Smaug, the races of Men, Elves and Dwarves must decide whether to unite or die. And of course, there's that curious ring that Bilbo found in Gollum's cave...
Starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Richard Armitage, Orlando Bloom, and the voice of Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug, the movie opens on December 17.


Mystery Author P.D. James (1920 - 2014)

coverherfaceP.D. James, legendary author of 18 crime novels, many pdjamesfeaturing Scotland Yard detective/poet Adam Dalgliesh, passed away Thursday, November 27th at her home in Oxford, England. Considered one of the preeminent mystery/crime writers of recent times, she is among the most celebrated, and is credited with "transcending the genre" to write books with complex plots involving multi-faceted characters with psychological depth. She was a defender of the detective mystery, which she thought of as a morality drama, "I came to believe,” she said, “that it is perfectly possible to remain within the constraints and conventions of the genre and be a serious writer, saying something true about men and women and their relationships and the society in which they live.” Several of her Dalgliesh novels were adapted for the PBS television "Mystery!" series, the dystopian Children of Men was made into a film in 2006, and her last book, Death Comes to Pemberley, her homage to Jane Austen, was adapted as a TV mini-series that aired in the U.S. in October. James was inducted into the International Crime Writing Hall of Fame in 2008.


LibraryReads banner1 Favorites

LibraryReads Favorite of Favorites 2014

LibraryReads is celebrating its first year in existence by issuing a new list this month consisting of the top ten favorite titles selected from all 120 books on the September 2013 through September 2014 lists. The Favorite of Favorites list takes the place of the traditional December list and is the result of online voting by over one thousand librarians.

StoriedLifeofAJFikry3DThe Number #1 favorite of favorites is The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.
“A middle-aged bookseller mourning his lost wife, a feisty publisher’s rep, and a charmingly precocious abandoned child come together on a small island off the New England coast in this utterly delightful novel of love and second chances.” (Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY)

The full list, in order of most votes received, is:

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

The Rosie Project, by Graeme Simsion    

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr 

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell,

The Goldfinch, by Donna Tartt 

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

Landline, by Rainbow Rowell 

Longbourn, by Jo Baker 


"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.



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.)


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.



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.


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)

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)



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)


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


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.



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.




boo    Looking for a frightfully good book?

BookPage's Book Case Blog contributor Lily lists the Creepiest Fiction of the Year -  guaranteed to get you in the mood for Halloween.  After sampling one of these, you may want to sleep with the lights on! Check out the blog for more titles.

roomsRooms by Lauren Oilver
Estranged patriarch Richard Walker has died, leaving behind a country house full of rooms packed with the detritus of a lifetime. His alienated family have arrived for their inheritance. But the Walkers are not alone. Alice and Sandra, two long-dead and restless ghosts, linger within the house's claustrophobic walls, bound eternally to its physical structure. Jostling for space and memory, they observe the family. Though their voices cannot be heard, Alice and Sandra speak through the house itself--in the hiss of the radiator, a creak in the stairs, the dimming of a lightbulb. Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, Rooms is an enticing and imaginative ghost story and a searing family drama that is as haunting as it is resonant.


The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon
West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. winterpeopleThe most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's fate, she discovers that she's not the only person desperately looking for someone that they've lost.


birdboxBird Box by Josh Malerman
Something is out there . . . something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from. Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, surviving by living in perpetual darkness with blacked-out windows, blindfolding themselves when they venture outside, Malorie dreams of fleeing to a place where her family might be safe. But the journey ahead will be terrifying. And something is following them. 


The Quick by Lauren Owen
Victorian London 1892: James Norbury, a shy would-be poet newly down from Oxford, finds quicklodging with a charming young aristocrat. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society and finds love. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Alarmed, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling country estate determined to find him. In the sinister, labyrinthine London that greets her, she uncovers a hidden, supernatural city populated by unforgettable characters. But the answer to her brother's disappearance ultimately lies within the doors of the exclusive, secretive Aegolius Club, whose predatory members include the most ambitious, and most bloodthirsty, men in England. (You guessed it, vampires.)


Lily King wins first-ever Kirkus Fiction Prize

euphoriaKirkus, the publisher of an influential reviewing journal, has entered the literary prize arena this year by establishing a new $50,000 prize for fiction. All books published from Nov. 1, 2013 to Oct. 31, 2014 that received a starred review in Kirkus — more than 1,000 titles — were eligible for consideration. At a reception yesterday in Austin, Texas, author Lily King was declared the winner for her book, Euphoria, a historical novel based on an incident in the life of anthropologist Margaret Mead. Euphoria was released in June to positive reivews. Kirkus fiction editor Laurie Muchnik stated that the panel of judges  "... wanted to find a book that they could recommend to everybody they knew, one they all loved and that they wanted to press on people.” King's book may also become a movie, the film rights have been acquired and Michael Apted is set to direct.


Now (or soon) playing:

bestofmeThe Best of Me by Nicholas Sparks
Though they were from opposite sides of the tracks, their love for one another seemed to defy the realities of life in the small town of Oriental, North Carolina. But as the summer of their senior year came to a close, unforeseen events would tear the young couple apart, setting them on radically divergent paths. Now, twenty-five years later, Amanda and Dawson are summoned back to Oriental for the funeral of Tuck Hostetler, the mentor who once gave shelter to their high school romance. Neither has lived the life they imagined. The movie, directed by Michael Hoffman, stars James Marsden and Michelle Monaghan as the grown-up lovers and opened on October 17.


deathcomestopemberleyDeath Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
A PBS/Masterpiece mini-series adaptation of P.D. James' homage to Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice, the story begins six years after the marriage of Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet as they are preparing to host a ball at their Pemberley estate. The unannounced arrival of Elizabeth's wayward sister Lydia, however, brings an abrupt halt to the proceedings when she stumbles out of her coach screaming that her husband Wickham has been murdered. The woods are searched and a body is found (this is P.D. James, after all) but it is not Mr. Wickham. The first episodes airs on October 26 and combines the splendor and emotion of a period drama with the intrigue of a murder mystery.


beforigotosleepBefore I Go to Sleep by S. J Watson
As the result of a mysterious accident, Christine's memory wipes itself clean every night when she goes to sleep. She wakes up each  morning not knowing any of the details of her life: where she lives, what she does, or that she's married to Ben. With the encouragement of her doctor, she begins to keep a journal to help jog her memory. One morning, she opens it and sees that she's written three unexpected and terrifying words: "Don't trust Ben." Suddenly everything her husband has told her falls under suspicion. Library Journal called it "an intriguingly fresh look at the amnesia-focused psychological thriller." The film stars Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth and opens, appropriately, on October 31.


olivekitteridgeOlive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
An HBO mini-series based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel that tells the stories of life in a small town in Maine over 25 years from the perspective of Olive Kitteridge, a local teacher. Olive, whose caustic wit and prickly demeanor hide a warm but troubled heart, witnesses the predicaments of her neighbors and experiences the joys and sorrows that life brings with a unsentimental stoicism that you may not like but you must admire. The mini-series stars Frances McDormand as Olive and Richard Jenkins as her long-suffering husband Henry, with Bill Murray as a local widower. The four part series airs on November 2 and 3, with two episodes each night.


November LibraryReads List 2014

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.



us#1 for November: Us: A Novel by David Nicholls
Douglas Petersen may be mild-mannered, but his sense of humor, against all odds, seduced beautiful Connie into a second date - and eventually into marriage. Now, almost three decades after their relationship first blossomed in London, they live more or less happily in the suburbs with their moody seventeen year-old son, Albie. Then Connie tells him she thinks she wants a divorce. The timing couldn't be worse. Hoping to encourage her son's artistic interests, Connie has planned a month-long tour of European capitals, a chance to experience the world's greatest works of art as a family, and she can't bring herself to cancel. And maybe going ahead with the original plan is for the best anyway? Douglas is privately convinced that this landmark trip will rekindle the romance in the marriage, and might even help him to bond with Albie. Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, David Nicholls brings the wit and intelligence that graced his enormously popular  bestseller, One Day, (also a movie) to a compellingly human, deftly funny new novel about what holds marriages and families together.

2014 fic finalists


2014 National Book Award Finalists

The National Book Foundation has released the shortlist of five finalists for this year's National Book Award for Fiction (winnowed from the longlist of ten). The winner will be announced on November 19.


Rabih Alameddine,  An Unnecessary Woman

Anthony Doerr,  All the Light We Cannot See

Phil KlayRedeployment

Emily St. John Mandel, Station Eleven

Marianne Robinson,  Lila