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Adult Book News

Not too surprising...

National Book Award for Fiction



underground railroadOn November 16, at the annual banquet in New York, the National Book Foundation bestowed the 67th National Book Awards on the writers of outstanding fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people's fiction. It wasn't too much of a surprise that Colson Whitehead's well-regarded novel, The Underground Railroad, won the fiction award. The book has been on all the critics "best' lists, shortlisted for several literary prizes and chosen by Oprah for her book club. Whitehead's story of a runaway slave employs an imaginative conceit: that the Underground Railroad is not only a metaphor for the human networks that helped slaves to freedom, but an actual underground transportation system, with engines, rails, conductors, tracks and tunnels. "One of the remarkable things about this novel is how Mr. Whitehead found an elastic voice that accommodates both brute realism and fablelike allegory, the plain-spoken and the poetic — a voice that enables him to convey the historical horrors of slavery with raw, shocking power. He conveys its emotional fallout: the fear, the humiliation, the loss of dignity and control. ... At the same time, he memorializes the yearning for freedom that spurs one generation after another to persevere in the search for justice — despite threats and intimidation, despite reversals and efforts to turn back the clock. He has told a story essential to our understanding of the American past and the American present." (New York Times)



More "Best" Books



Amazon's Top Twenty

This week, the editors at Amazon posted their picks for the "Best Books of 2016" in various categories like literature, mystery, cookbooks, children's, etc., along with a Top Twenty list that combines adult fiction and nonfiction books of note. Their number one? The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead which has been/will be on all the lists, is an Oprah book club selection, and a strong contender for the National Book Award (to be announced tonight). Among the other novels that Amazon honors are Jodi Picoult's Small Great Things, Mischling by Affinity Konar, Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson, Before the Fall by Noah Hawley, The Nix by Nathan Hill, The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis, Swing Time By Zadie Smith, Moonglow by Michael Chabon, The Trespasser by Tana French, Dark Matter by Blake Crouch, and A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles.



Vampires Never Die

Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis by Anne Rice

princelestatrealmsThe vampire Lestat, novelist Anne Rice's most famous creation (Interview with the Vampire, Prince Lestat) is back this month with a new adventure about the lost, legendary city of Atlantis. Rice, who last wrote about Lestat in 2014, after more than a 10 year gap in her Vampire Chronicles, has wanted to write a book about the Atlantis myth for years, "I've been dying to get my vision of Atlantis into the public realm for years. And believe me, there is a full-blown vison of Atlantis in this novel. I've been obsessed with it for years. Years."

In the novel, the vampire Lestat de Lioncourt battles (and ultimately reconciles with) a strange otherworldly spirit that has somehow taken possession of his undead body and soul. It is through this spirit that the tale of Atlantatya, a great sea power of ancient times, a mysterious heaven on earth situated on a boundless continent, is revealed. As Lestat learns of the mighty, far-reaching powers and perfections of this lost kingdom, he comes to understand its secrets, and why he and all the vampires must now reckon with the terrifying force of this ageless, all-powerful Atalantaya spirit. "...Rice exhibits tremendous skill in making the impossible seem not only possible but logical. She sets up a nail-biting dilemma involving the continued existence of vampires, and the second half of the book roars satisfyingly past." (Booklist).
The novel will be released on November 29.



"Language is a virus from outer space." William S. Burroughs

Short Story to Movie

storiesofyourlife3Arrival/ Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiangstoriesofyourlife2

The film, Arrival, starring Amy Adams and Jeremy Renner, and based on the 2002 short story, The Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang, opened to strong reviews on November 11. The plot involves the arrival of twelve extraterrestrial spaceships that suddenly land on Earth and the subsequent efforts of linguists to communicate with the aliens before hostilities break out. Linguistics professor Louise Banks leads an elite team of investigators into one of the ships to initiate contact and learn the aliens' complex language in order to determine their intentions. They discover that the aliens' language structure alters the human concept of time, allowing the speaker to be in all times at once, so that memories or flashbacks may relate to future events instead of past occurrences. There is a real linguistics theory, the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis, about the influence of language on cognition, that Chiang used as a basis for his imaginitive leap. "Chiang's 2002 collection of stories mixes vivid characters, real science, and believable settings with wild speculation, to great effect. Each story takes a conceit from social or natural science, or even theology, and follows it to its logical effects on humanity. ... this title will also be a hit with those who enjoy both magical realism and convincing science in their sf." (Library Journal)



Veterans Day 2016


Friday, November 11 is Veterans Day, designated by the Federal government as a holiday to honor the people who served in the U.S. Military Forces "for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good." 

billylynnThis year, you can honor our vets at the movie theater: Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction published in 2012, has been adapted for film and opens on Veterans Day. Directed by Ang Lee (Life of Pi, Brokeback Mountain), the story follows 19-year-old Billy and the members of his squad who survived a firefight in Iraq and became overnight heroes. Brought home for a "Victory Tour," they are poised to make a public relations appearance at the Dallas Cowboys stadium with all the hoopla that big-time football can offer. "There’s hardly a false note, or even a slightly off-pitch one, in Fountain’s sympathetic, damning and structurally ambitious novel. (The whole story, with the exception of a flashback or two, takes place during the course of a single afternoon.) Billy and the other Bravos are, for the most part, uneducated, but they possess a rare intelligence that allows them to see things as they really are, which is not exactly the way the pro-war meme generators want Americans to see them. By the novel’s end, we’re forced to reassess what it means to “support the troops.” Does it simply mean letting them know they’re in our prayers as we send them back into battle and go about our business? Does it mean turning them into gaudy celebrities? Or could there perhaps be a more honorable and appropriately humble way to commemorate their service? " (Washington Post)



Take a break from current events...

National Cappuccino Day

November 8 is National Cappuccino Day and isn't that a refreshing break from the other national events unfolding today? Cappuccino is an Italian coffee beverage, made with espresso and steamed milk, which became popular in the U.S. in the 1990's during the boom in the American coffee industry and the rise of the corner coffee shop. After you've voted, reward yourself for doing your civic duty - kick back with a soothing cup of cappuccino. Or relax with a book.

happypeopleHappy People Read and Drink Coffee by Agnes Martin-Lugand
Diane seems to have the perfect life. She is a wife, a mother, and the owner of Happy People Read and Drink Coffee, a cozy literary cafe in Paris. But when she suddenly loses her beloved husband and daughter in a tragic car accident, the world as she knows it instantly vanishes. Trapped and haunted by her memories, Diane retreats from friends and family, unable and unwilling to move forward. But one year later, Diane shocks her loved ones and makes the surprising decision to move to a small town on the Irish coast, finally determined to heal and rebuild her life alone--until she meets Edward, the attractive yet taciturn Irish photographer who lives next door. At first abrasive and unwelcoming, Edward initially resents Diane's intrusion into his life of solitude . . . until he can no longer keep her at arm's length, and they fall into a surprising and tumultuous romance. But will it last when Diane leaves Ireland, and Edward, for the home she once ran away from in Paris?


Fictional Fantasia

2016 World Fantasy Awards

The 2016 World Fantasy Convention was held in Columbus, Ohio on October 27-30, where the World Fantasy Awards were announced. The World Fantasy Convention is an annual gathering of professionals, collectors, and others interested in the field of Light and Dark Fantasy art and literature. To be eligible for the awards, materials must have been published in 2015 by a living author. 

Best Novel:

chimesThe Chimes by Anna Smaill
Also longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize, this impressive novel displays a wealth of imagination along with eloquent and lyrical language as it relates the tale of a dystopian London at the end of a brutal civil war. The ruling class now controls the populace  through the use of music-induced memory loss. Monk-like masters are selected for special schooling and shut away for decades, learning to write beautiful compositions for the chimes, played citywide morning and night, to mute memory and keep the citizens trapped in ignorance. A young orphan named Simon arrives in London with nothing but the vague sense of a half-forgotten promise, to locate someone. What he finds is a new family--a gang of scavengers that patrols the underbelly of the city looking for valuable metal to sell. Drawn in by an enigmatic and charismatic leader, a blind young man named Lucien with a gift for song, Simon forgets entirely what originally brought him to the place he has now made his home. But Simon has a unique gift--the gift of retaining memories--that will lead him to discover a great injustice and take him far beyond the meager life as a member of Lucien's gang. Before long he will be engaged in an epic struggle for justice, love, and freedom. "One of a kind, both in its dystopian landscape and use of gorgeous language throughout (including clever musical terms), this debut takes time to digest but is worth the effort." (Library Journal)



"The Chemist" by Stephenie Meyer

"If ‘Twilight’ and the Bourne books had a baby. . ."

chemistThe Boston Globe's staffer Meredith Goldstein begins her review of the new Stephenie Meyer book, The Chemist, with the headline quoted above. Meyer, author of the very popular "Twilight" vampire series, has just released her second novel meant for adults, following her science fiction tale, The Host, published in 2008. This is Meyer's first mystery/thriller and she's dedicated it to Jason Bourne and the other heroes of Robert Ludlum's espionage thrillers. Her version of a Bourne-type story follows a young scientist named Chris Taylor who used to work for the U.S. government. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn't even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning. When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it's her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. Along the way, she kidnaps an innocent and perfect man, Daniel, who provides the obligatory love interest. Goldstein concludes that even though the book is formulaic, "...there’s something about Meyer’s books that satisfy a need. will likely tear through this, just as they did with the “Twilight” novels and with “The Host” ...It’s not the Great American Novel, but it is Meyer. After more than 500 pages, I finished “The Chemist” and flipped through some of the scenes a second time, wondering who will play Daniel in the movie."


In the money...

2016 Kirkus Prize for Fiction: The Sport of Kings by C.E Morgan

Last night, The Sport of Kings, C.E. Morgan's sprawling saga about race and slavery kirkus prize 2016 2 jpg 250x300 q85set amid decades of Kentucky horse racing, ran away with the Kirkus Prize for Fiction, one of the most lucrative of the literary awards ($50,000). This is the third year for these prizes which were established to honor "the 81 years of discerning, thoughtful criticism Kirkus Reviews has contributed to both the publishing industry and readers at large." All books published from Nov. 1, 2015 to Oct. 31, 2016 that received a starred review in Kirkus - more than 1,000 titles - were eligible for consideration. The six finalists were announced on September 20.

sportofkingsAt the center of The Sport of Kings is Hellsmouth, an indomitable thoroughbred with the blood of Triple Crown winners in her veins, who runs for the glory of the Forge family, one of Kentucky's oldest and most powerful dynasties. Henry Forge has partnered with his daughter, Henrietta, in an endeavor of raw obsession: to breed the next superhorse, the next Secretariat. But when Allmon Shaughnessy, an ambitious young black man, comes to work on their farm, and Henrietta falls in love with him, the violence of the Forges' history and Kentucky's legacy of slavery is brought starkly into view. "Vaultingly ambitious, thrillingly well-written, charged with moral fervor and rueful compassion. How will this dazzling writer astonish us next time?" (Kirkus Reviews)



Christmas is coming, ready or not...

The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans

mistletoepromiseThe Hallmark Channel is already in the holiday mood: the "Countdown to Christmas" began last weekend. Hallmark will be broadcasting "Holiday Movies! All Day! All Night” through Christmas and beyond. Airing on November 5 at 8pm is The Mistletoe Promise, based on the book by popular Christmas author, Richard Paul Evans. Evans' 2014 novel follows bitter divorcee Elsie Dutton who dreads another lonely Christmas season until a stranger approaches her in the mall food court. Though she recognizes him from her building, Elise has never formally met him. Tired of spending the holidays alone, the man offers her a proposition. For the next eight weeks-until the evening of December 24-he suggests that they pretend to be a couple. The pact they call the Mistletoe Promise will help them navigate their holiday obligations. But as they spend more time with each other and experience the magic of Christmas, the phony couple discovers there may be more to their contract than business. There are two other novels by Evans in the Mistletoe series, The Mistletoe Inn and The Mistletoe Secret.  Merry, Merry!