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Adult Book News

edgarallanpoeThe Mystery Writers of America presented the Edgar Allan Poe Awards honoring the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction and television published or produced in 2013 at their annual banquet on May 1.


 And the Winners Are:

ordinary graceBest Novel:
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

New Bremen, Minnesota, 1961. The Twins were playing their debut season, ice-cold root beers were selling out at the soda counter of Halderson's Drugstore, and Hot Stuff comic books were a mainstay on every barbershop magazine rack. It was a time of innocence and hope. But for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum it was a grim summer in which death visited frequently and assumed many forms. Accident. Nature. Suicide. Murder. Frank begins the season preoccupied with the concerns of any teenage boy, but when tragedy unexpectedly strikes his family-his Methodist minister father; his passionate, artistic mother; Juilliard-bound older sister; and wise-beyond-his-years kid brother-he finds himself thrust into an adult world full of secrets, lies, adultery, and betrayal, suddenly called upon to demonstrate a maturity  beyond his years.



redsparrowBest First Novel:
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

In present-day Russia, ruled by blue-eyed, unblinking President Vladimir Putin, Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the post-Soviet intelligence jungle. Ordered against her will to become a "Sparrow," a trained seductress, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a young CIA officer who handles the Agency's most important Russian mole. As the action careens between Russia, Finland, Greece, Italy, and the United States, Dominika and Nate soon collide in a duel of wills, tradecraft, and-inevitably-forbidden passion that threatens not just their lives but those of others as well. As secret allegiances are made and broken, Dominika and Nate's game reaches a deadly crossroads.


May the Fourth Be With You!

starwarscrucibleTomorrow is the celebration of all things Star Wars and the Force is strong, indeed. The Star Wars franchise has generated thousands of related items, from movies, cartoons, video games, comics, books and memorabilia etc. There is enough Star Wars fiction to keep the most devoted geek traveling throughout the galaxy for a long, long time. Given the purchase of Lucasfilm by Disney and the announcement of a seventh Star Wars film to be released in 2015, with J.J. Abrams directing, and veterans Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker), Anthony Daniels (C-3PO), Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca) and Kenny Baker (R2-D2) returning, the Force will be with us, always.


Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014)

onehundredyearsColumbian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez passed away Thursday at his home in Mexico City; he was 87. Famed for the use of a literary style known as magical realism, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. His fiction, while universal, was set in Latin America and melded magic with the mundane, creating storms that lasted for years and flowers that drifted from the sky. His masterwork, One Hundred Years of Solitude, published in 1967, about the rise and fall of generations of the Buendia family, echoed the history and political issues raging in South and Latin America at the time. He explained that magical realism sprang from the history of Latin America with its vicious dictators and romantic revolutionaries, and long years of hunger, illness and violence. One Hundred Years of Solitude sold millions of copies and established Garcia Marquez as a literary giant. Every new book became hotly anticipated, praised by critics and snapped up by readers, and he was able to live a very loveinthetimeofcholeradifferent lifestyle than that of his impoverished childhood. His influence cannot be overstated; "García Márquez mythologized the history of an entire continent, while at the same time creating a Rabelaisian portrait of the human condition as a febrile dream in which love and suffering and redemption endlessly cycle back on themselves on a Möbius strip in time." (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times)

Meet the Author                                     


Steve Luxenberg, author of Annie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Final-GMIR-logo-smlFamily Secret, will be speaking at several venues in the Metro Detroit area during the month of May as part of the continuing Great Michigan Read, the state-wide community read program sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council. Celebrate the success of this cultural program and join the discussion!


5/21 11:30AM The Jewish Community Center, West Bloomfield (fee)
5/21 7:00PM  The Holocaust Memorial Center, Farmington Hills
5/22 10:00AM  Westland Public Library
5/22 7:00PM  Rust Belt Market, Ferndale

All events, unless otherwise noted, are free of charge. For more information, see the Michigan Humanities Council website.


The Goldfinch wins the Pulitzer Prize

goldfinchToday at 3pm, the Pulitzer Prize committee announced the winners of this year's prizes. Donna Tartt's well-reviewed novel, The Goldfinch made the grade in the fiction category. The Goldfinch has also been nominated for a National Book Critics Circle prize and an Andrew Carnegie Medal, and on Monday was in the top 40 on Amazon's best seller list even before the Pulitzer was announced. 

The novel tracks Theo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, who miraculously survives an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum that kills his mother and results in his unlikely possession of a Dutch masterwork called The Goldfinch. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to the picture, the one thing that reminds him of her. A coming-of-age tale and a mystery about a missing painting, the novel follows Theo on his journey to adulthood with unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense.


The Grapes of Wrath turns 75

gowOn April 14, a classic of American literature celebrates its 75th anniversary.  John Steinbeck's novel about the journey of a migrant Dust Bowl family seeking survival and justice on the road to California amid the hardships of Depression-era America was published in 1939. Steinbeck's purpose was to spotlight the plight of the "Okies" whose farms were lost to foreclosure due to drought and the disasterous effects of the Great Depression, and who found themselves homeless and on the road looking for jobs and futures. The Grapes of Wrath became a best-seller and went on to win the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. Author John Steinbeck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962.

A 75th Anniversay edition of the novel has been published and various celebrations are planned across the country. The National Steinbeck Center in Washington D.C. is commemorating Steinbeck's achievement on April 24 with a panel of authors and artists, and NPR is inviting everyone to read and discuss the book online on Monday, April 14.




Next 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 Lives change @ your library. How have we changed yours?


Author, Environmentalist, Priest, Spy

inparadiseNoted author Peter Matthiessen passed away on Saturday, April 5, at the age of 86 from acute myeloid leukemia. He was the author of 33 books, fiction and non-fiction, the best known include Far Tortuga and At Play in the Fields of the Lord. His latest novel, In Paradise, will be released Tuesday; Matthiesen was the subject of an article in Sunday's New York Times Magazine written shortly before his death. Winner of National Book Awards for both fiction and non-fiction, Matthiessen, a naturalist, explored the destruction of nature and its indigenous peoples by modern man and industrialization in many of his works, stating, "No species but man, so far as is known, unaided by circumstances or climactic change, has ever extinguished another." Described in his New York Times obituary as "a man of many parts," Matthiessen was born to wealth, attended Yale, served a stint in the Navy, traveled widely to very remote places, co-founded the Paris Review while in Paris, spied for the CIA, and utlimately became a Buddhist priest.


International PEN, the worldwide association of writers, was founded in 1921 to promote friendship and intellectual cooperation among writers everywhere; to emphasize the role of literature in the development of mutual understanding and world culture; to fight for freedom of expression; and to act as a powerful voice on behalf of writers harassed, imprisoned, and sometimes killed for their views.  PEN America Center, founded in 1922, is the U.S. branch of this worldwide organization and is the largest of the 144 PEN centers in 101 countries that together compose International PEN, with many regional chapters.  The PEN organization confers over $150,000 annually to writers in the fields of fiction, science writing, essays, sports writing, biography, children’s literature, translation, drama, or poetry.

                                 Winner of the 2014 PEN/Hemingway Award for First Novel:

weneednewnamesWe Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
The unflinching and powerful story of a young girl's journey out of Zimbabwe and to America. Darling is only ten years old when her home is destroyed and her school is closed by the paramilitary police. She joins her aunt in America in search of this country's famous abundance only to find that her options as an immigrant are perilously few. "As Bulawayo effortlessly captures the innate loneliness of those who trade the comfort of their own land for the opportunities of another, Darling emerges as the freshest voice yet to spring from the fertile imaginations of talented young writers... who explore the African diaspora in America." (Library Journal)  Bulawayo's novel was short-listed for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

Winner of the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Fiction Prize:

weareallcompletelyWe Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Meet the Cooke family: Mother and Dad, brother Lowell, sister Fern, and our narrator, Rosemary, who begins her story in the middle. She has her reasons. "I spent the first eighteen years of my life defined by this one fact: that I was raised with a chimpanzee," she tells us. "She was my twin, my funhouse mirror, my whirlwind other half, and I loved her as a sister."  Rosemary was not yet six when Fern was removed. Over the years, she's managed to block a lot of memories but, with some guile, she guides us through the family secrets via a series of flashbacks. "Fowler's (The Jane Austen Book Club) great accomplishment is not just that she takes the standard story of a family and makes it larger, but that the new space she's created demands exploration" (Publishers Weekly)


The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide

Guest Cat 158 237 c1 smart scaleSmall, indie publishing house, New Directions, has published classics and literary stars like Muriel Spark and Robert Bolano since its founding in 1936. But in February the publisher had its first book on one of the New York Times Bestseller lists with The Guest Cat, a slight novel translated from Japanese. The story, called a "small miracle" by NPR reviewer Juan Vidal, is about a busy, professional couple whose lives revolve around their work to the exclusion of almost everything else until they are adopted by a neighbor's cat. Chibi's antics captivate them and soon they are smitten. Following her outside, they begin to notice the world around them and rediscover life and each other. Author Hiraide admits the cat is "totally based" on his own cat, stating "Cats always present a profound riddle of life. They sway between wild nature and infant characteristics."


edgarallanpoeOn May 1, 2014, the Edgar Awards for Best Mystery fiction, named after (you guessed it) Edgar Allan Poe, will be presented to various winning authors for books written in 2013. Every spring, the Mystery Writers of America award prizes in several categories, such as Best Novel, Best First Novel, Best Short Story and so on. According to the MWA, "the Edgar is widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious award" honoring the best in the mystery/crime genre.



Nominees for Best Novel:

ordinary grace

Sandrine's Case by Thomas H. Cook
The Humans by Matt Haig
Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
How the Light Gets In by Louise Penny
Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin
Until She Comes Home by Lori Roy



Nominees for Best First Novel:


The Resurrectionist by Matthew Guinn
Ghostman by Roger Hobbs
Rage Against the Dying by Becky Masterman
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight



Spur Awards

The Western Writers of America recently announced the winners of the Spur Awards for distinguished writing about the American West. 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.

lightoftheworldBest Western Contemporary Novel:

Light of the World
by James Lee Burke




 Best Western Traditional Novel:  crossingpurgatory      

Crossing Purgatory by Gary Schanbacher




spiderwomansdaughterBest First Novel:

Spider Woman's Daughter by Anne Hillerman





Local Author Fair

bookstackSaturday, March 29, from 1:00 to 3:00 p.m.

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

Drop-in ! Books available for review, purchase and signing. Prizes provided by Friends of the Plymouth District Library.

Click here for Flyer. Click here for List of Authors, Titles, and book summaries.



April 2014 LibraryReads List

library reads logo websiteThe top ten books published this month that librarians across the country love.

This 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
: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel by Gabrielle Zevin
StoriedLifeofAJFikry3DA. 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, becoming the curmudgeon he seems meant to be.  But then Fikry finds an abandoned toddler in his bookstore along with a note from the child's mother who cannot take care of her but wants her to grow up to be a reader. Little Maya steals his heart. The decision to take care of the little girl produces a dramatic transformation in both Fikry and his bookstore, allowing both to experience growth and love. "Funny, tender, and moving, it reminds us all exactly why we read and why we love." (Library Journal)

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

americanahOn March 13, The National Book Critics Circle Awards for achidie2013 were announced in New York. The awards are given each year to books published in English in the United States, with the winners selected by a group of about 600 critics and editors from major publications.  Adichie's novel is the story of two young lovers in Nigeria who attempt to leave the troubled country for an education in America. Ifemelu, beautiful, and self-assured, successfully attends college here all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze, the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor, had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Critics have praised the book for its insightful and observant discussion of race and social dynamics.  A prior novel, Half of a Yellow Sun, won the 2007 Orange Prize (now known as the Women's Prize) for fiction and has been adapted into a film to be released in 2014.


Recent Literary Prizes

tenthofdecemberOn March 5, author George Saunders was awarded the $20,000 Story Prize for his critically acclaimed collection of short stories, Tenth of December. A week later, Saunders won the inaugral Folio Prize, which rewards the best English-language fiction published in Britain, also for Tenth of December. The Folio Prize is worth about $67,000. Saunders' book was widely praised and on every "best" list in 2013, including 10 consecutive weeks on the New York Times Best Sellers list for hardcover books. Saunders himself was included in Time Magazine's 2013 list of the 100 most influential people in the world. A good time to be George Saunders!

Before You Know Kindness by Chris Bohjalian

beforeyouknowkindnessIn April, the Plymouth District Library 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 others in the community. This year's selection is Before You Know Kindness, the story of a family thrown into chaos after one nightmarish day.

PARTICIPATE by reading the book and joining the book discussions at the Library: Contemporary Books on April 8 at 7:30pm, and Brown Bag Books on April 23 at noon.  Books are available at the Library.

bohjalianMEET the author, Chris Bohjalian, on April 30 at 2pm at the Birmingham Community House or later that day at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, Southfield at 7pm. Call the Library for ticket availability, 734.453.0750, ext 4.

karenpatterson200wLEARN about the animal welfare issues raised in the book by attending the presentation by Karen Patterson, Director of Humane Education for the Humane Society of Huron Valley, on April 24 at 7pm.  Sign-up requested, call 734.453.0750. ext. 4.

TV Cult Heroine

veronicamarsFor those marshmallows (aka fans of Veronica Mars) who have already watched all the television episodes on DVD, and just saw the new, partially crowdfunded movie starring Kristen Bell this past weekend, there's now another way to follow the adventures of the sarcastic, teen/young adult sleuth they love. Rob Thomas, the creator of the TV show and director of the movie, has signed with RH/Vintage for two books based on the character. The first will be released March 25 and will feature the 28-year-old Mars after the events of the movie. In Veronica Mars: The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, she takes on Neptune's darkest cases with her trademark sass and smarts - with a little help from old friends Logan Echolls, Mac Mackenzie, Wallace Fennel, and even Dick Casablancas. It all goes to show that you can't keep a good woman down.


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.



An Irish Country Wedding by Patrick Taylor
fingaloreillyLove is in the air in the colorful Ulster village of Ballybucklebo, where Dr. Fingal Flahertie O'Reilly has finally proposed to the darling of his youth, Kitty O'Hallorhan. There's a wedding to be planned, but before O'Reilly can make it to the altar, he and his young colleague, Barry Laverty, M.B., must deal with the usual round of eccentric patients-and crises both large and small. Being a G.P. in a place like Ballybucklebo often means more than simply splinting broken bones and tending to aches and pains. It can also mean helping a struggling young couple acquire their first home, clearing the name of a cat accused of preying on a neighbor's prize pigeons, and encouraging a bright working-class girl who dreams of someday becoming a doctor herself. And, if you're Barry Laverty, still smarting from a painful breakup, there might even be a chance for a new romance with a lovely school teacher.


The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith

silkwormJ.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame has written another mystery using the name Robert Galbraith. Last spring, a mystery, The Cuckoo's Calling, purportedly by debut author Robert Galbraith, about a military veteran turned private eye, was published to little fanfare until it was discovered that the author was really J.K. Rowling, using a pseudonym. The book, which had received positive reviews and had middling sales, became a best-seller after Rowling was revealed as its writer. The Silkworm continues with the same protagonist, Cormoran Strike, a struggling private eye, and his young assistant, Robin Ellacott, as they track down a missing writer who, of course, turns up dead. It seems the writer has just completed a tell-all manuscript featuring the unsavory secrets of almost everyone he knew. The manuscript could ruin lives--meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him dead. The Silkworm will be released in June.


piPi/Pie/P.I. Day

Pi Day is celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world. Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159. The number pi is extremely useful when solving geometry problems involving circles.

Celebrate all things mathematical...

oddsagainsttomorrowOdds Against Tomorrow by Nathanial Rich
In the near future Mitchell Zukor, a gifted young mathematician, is hired by a mysterious new financial consulting firm, FutureWorld. Mitchell is employee number two. He is asked to calculate worst-case scenarios in the most intricate detail, and his schemes are sold to corporations to indemnify them against any future disasters. This is the cutting edge of corporate irresponsibility, and business is booming. Just as Mitchell's predictions reach a nightmarish crescendo, an actual worst-case scenario overtakes Manhattan and Mitchell realizes he is uniquely prepared to profit.


blackberrypiemurderBlackberry Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke
Life is never really quiet for Hannah Swenson. After all, her mother's wedding is a little over a month away and guess who's in charge of the planning? Yet just when Hannah believes her biggest challenge will be whether to use buttercream or fondant for the wedding cake, she accidentally hits a stranger with her truck while driving down a country road in a raging thunderstorm. But an autopsy soon reveals the mystery man, his shirt covered in stains from blackberry pie, would have died even if Hannah hadn't hit him. Now, to clear her name, Hannah will have to follow a trail of pie crumbs!


criticalmassCritical Mass by Sara Paretsky
Private Investigator V.I. Warshawski's closest friend in Chicago is the Viennese-born doctor Lotty Herschel, who lost most of her family in the Holocaust. Lotty escaped to London in 1939 on the Kindertransport with a childhood playmate, Kitty Saginor Binder. When Kitty's daughter finds her life is in danger, she calls Lotty, who, in turn, summons V.I. to help. The daughter's troubles turn out to be just the tip of an iceberg of lies, secrets, and silence, whose origins go back to the competition among America, Germany, Japan and England to develop the first atomic bomb. The secrets are old, but the people who continue to guard them today will not let go of them without a fight.


Resurrection/The Returned

Curious about the promos for a new ABC show starting on Sunday, March 9?returned
Resurrection is the story of the people in a small town in Missouri whose deceased loved ones start returning from the dead, unchanged since their deaths. Its is based on the novel, The Returned by Jason Mott, which centers on eight year-old Jacob Langston who tragically drowned at his own birthday party thirty-two years ago. That is, until he is found alive in China and returned to his incredulous parents. And he is not alone: all over the world people's loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, is it a miracle or a sign of the end? "Mott brings a singularly eloquent voice to this elegiac novel, which not only fearlessly tackles larger questions about mortality but also insightfully captures life's simpler moments, as when a father and son earnestly discuss the finer points of how to tell a good joke. A beautiful meditation on what it means to be human." (Booklist)


Mystery Writer

ghostmedicineCuban-born author, Aimee Thurlo, who wrote three separate mystery series with her husband, David, passed away this week from cancer. The couple, working together and individually, published more than 70 novels in a variety of genres. All three mystery series are set in the American Southwest and feature three very different sleuths: Ella Clah, a special investigator for the Navajo Police Department; a nun, Sister Agatha, who was an investigative reporter before joining a monastery in New Mexico; and New Mexico police officer and Navajo vampire Lee Nez who works with FBI agent Diane Lopez. The couple's last novel, Eagle's Last Stand, is due out later this year.

mardigrasbeadsCan't make it to New Orleans for Mardi Gras?

March 4 is Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras in French, the traditional time for feasting and partying in New Orleans prior to the beginning of the Lenten season.

Immerse yourself in the charm and spice of New Orleans with these titles:



French Quarter Fiction: The Newest Stories of America's Oldest Bohemia by Joshua Clark
Anchored in the picturesque New Orleans neighborhood, 37 short stories are collected here for the first time. These works branch across every genre from mystery and romance to surrealism and prose poetry, forming an eclectic mix of some of the most exciting modern fiction found anywhere.

thatoldblackmagicThat Old Black Magic by Mary Jane Clark
Aspiring actress and wedding-cake decorator Piper Donovan has barely arrived in New Orleans to perfect her pastry skills at the renowned French Quarter bakery Boulangerie Bertrand when a ghastly murder rocks the magical city. Intrigued by the case, Piper can't help but look for the "Hoodoo Killer" among the faces around her.

tigerragTiger Rag by Nicholas Christopher
In 1900 New Orleans the virtuoso cornet player Charles "Buddy" Bolden invents jazz, but after a life consumed by tragedy, the groundbreaking sound of his horn vanishes with him. Rumors persist, though, that Bolden recorded a phonograph cylinder, and over the course of a century it evolves into the elusive holy grail of jazz.



A Small Hotel by Robert Olen Butlersmallhotel
Kelly, glamorous at 49, checks into a room she knows intimately at the Olivier House, a discreet, classy hotel in New Orleans and a place of great significance in her long marriage to reticent attorney Michael. He is staying at a restored plantation with a woman half his age. Kelly was supposed to finalize their divorce that very day, but she has not. The story of Kelly and Michael's marriage is told in flashbacks, starting with their meeting during Mardi Gras so many years before.


March is Women's History Month


Women'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. This year's theme is "Celebrating Women of Character, Courage, and Commitment."

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


A few of "Herstories" :

revolutionaryRevolutionary by Alex Myers
In 1782, during the final clashes of the Revolutionary War, one of our young nation's most valiant soldiers was, secretly, a woman. When Deborah Samson disguised herself as a man and joined the Continental Army, she wasn't just fighting for America's independence-she was fighting for her own. After years as an indentured servant in a sleepy Massachusetts town, chafing under the oppressive norms of colonial America, Deborah couldn't contain her discontent any longer. When a sudden crisis forced her hand, she decided to finally make her escape. Embracing the peril and promise of the unknown, she cut her hair, bound her chest, and rechristened herself Robert Shurtliff. "A vividly detailed fictionalization of the true story of Massachusetts-born Deborah Sampson." (Boston Globe

mrslincolnsrivalMrs. Lincoln's Rival by Jennifer Chiaverini
Kate Chase Sprague was born in 1840 in Cincinnati, Ohio, the second daughter to the second wife of a devout but ambitious lawyer. Her father, Salmon P. Chase, rose to prominence in the antebellum years and was appointed secretary of the treasury in Abraham Lincoln's cabinet. Beautiful, intelligent, regal, and entrancing, young Kate Chase stepped into the role of establishing her thrice-widowed father in Washington society. Her efforts were successful enough that The Washington Star declared her 'the most brilliant woman of her day. None outshone her. 'None, that is, but Mary Todd Lincoln. Though Mrs. Lincoln and her young rival held much in common, they could never be friends, for the success of one could come only at the expense of the other. When Kate Chase married William Sprague, the wealthy young governor of Rhode Island, it was widely regarded as the pinnacle of Washington society weddings. President Lincoln was in attendance. The First Lady was not.


wivesoflosalamosThe Wives of Los Alamos by Tarashea Nesbit
Their average age was twenty-five. They came from Berkeley, Cambridge, Paris, London, Chicago--and arrived in New Mexico ready for adventure, or at least resigned to it. But hope quickly turned to hardship as they were forced to adapt to a rugged military town where everything was a secret, including what their husbands were doing at the lab. They lived in barely finished houses in a town wreathed with barbed wire, all for the benefit of a project that didn't exist as far as the public knew. Though they were strangers, they joined together. And while the bomb was being invented, babies were born, friendships were forged, children grew up, and Los Alamos gradually transformed from an abandoned school on a hill into a real community. "This well-researched and fast-paced novel gives a panoramic view of the lives of ordinary women whose husbands worked on the atomic bomb during World War II. Recommended both for its important subject matter and for the author's vivid storytelling." (Library Journal)

March 2014 LibraryReads List

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.



WeightofBlood3D#1 for March: The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
The town of Henbane sits deep in the Ozark Mountains. Folks there still whisper about Lucy Dane's mother, a bewitching stranger who appeared long enough to marry Carl Dane and then vanished when Lucy was just a child. Now on the brink of adulthood, Lucy experiences another loss when her friend Cheri disappears and is then found murdered, her body placed on display for all to see. When Cheri disappears, Lucy is haunted by the two lost girls--the mother she never knew and the friend she couldn't save--and sets out with the help of a local boy, Daniel, to uncover the mystery behind Cheri's death. What Lucy discovers is a secret that pervades the secluded Missouri hills. "This is an outstanding first novel, replete with suspense, crisp dialogue, and vivid Ozarks color and atmosphere."(Publishers Weekly)

Marriage Thrillers

youshouldhaveknowmAccording to an article in The Daily Beast/Book Beast, "marriage thrillers" have become a publishing phenomenon of late. These novels depict a dangerous and darker side of marriage with treacherous spouses, hidden secrets, betrayals, and even death. Books like Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl,  S. J. Watson's Before I Go to Sleep, and A. S. A Harrison's The Silent Wife are psychological page-turners that demonstrate that happily-ever-after isn't all its cracked up to be. And more are on the way. Lucie Whitehouse's Before We Met and Jean Hanff Korelitz's You Should Have Known will be released shortly. Is this trend a new one? Not really, traditional gothic stories like Rebecca (1936) and Jane Eyre (1847) often showcased relationships founded on secrets and lies. What may be different now is how these newer novels capture a more modern ambivalence about marriage itself and the resulting loss of independence that some partners experience. Cautionary tales indeed!



Celebrate Presidents' Day!

In 1971, as part of the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, Congress designated the third Monday of February as the day to honor two of our most illustrious presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, both of whom were  born in the month of February. Although much is known about both men and their presidencies, consider reading some fiction to enhance your appreciation for their accomplishments.



Valley Forge: George Washington and the Crucible of Victory by Newt Gingrich and William R. Forstchen
Chronicles the unique crucible of time and place where Washington and his Continental Army, against all odds, were forged into a fighting force that would win a revolution and found the United States of America.


I am Abraham: A Novel of Lincoln and the Civil War by Jerome iamabrahamCharyn
A novel written in Lincoln's voice, a combination of majestic prose and rural humor, about the Civil War, the Emancipation Proclamation and Lincoln's tempestuous relationship with Mary Todd.


Now (or soon) Playing:

Endless Love by Scott Spencer
endlessloveYoung David Axelrod is desperately in love with pretty and rich Jade Butterfield - in fact, they are consumed with each other. And when Jade's father banishes David from their home, he fantasizes the forgiveness his rescue of the family will bring, and he sets a "perfectly safe" fire in their house. What unfolds is a nightmare, a dark world in which David's love is a crime and a disease, a world of anonymous phone calls and crazy letters in the pursuit of the one thing that remains most real to him: his endless love for Jade and her family. The 1979 novel was first adapted for film in 1981 with Brooke Shields.



Winter's Tale by Mark Helprin
winterstaleOne evening, in a mythical Belle Epoque New York, Peter Lake, orphan, master mechanic, and master second-story man, attempts to rob a fortresslike mansion in the Upper  West Side.  Although he believes the house to be empty, it is not.  Beverly  Penn, terminally ill daughter of the owner, is home. Thus begins a  love affair between the middle-aged Irish burgler and the fatally-ill  heiress. It is a love so powerful that Peter, a simple and uneducated man, will be driven to stop time and bring back the dead. Helprin's book was pubished in 1983 and this movie is its first film adaptation.


In Secret (Based on: Thérèse Raquin) by Émile Zola
insecretIn a dingy apartment on the Passage du Pont-Neuf in Paris, Therese Raquin is trapped in a loveless marriage to her sickly cousin, Camille. The numbing tedium of her life is suddenly shattered when she embarks on a turbulent affair with her husband’s earthy friend Laurent, but their passion for each other soon compels the lovers to commit a crime that will haunt them forever. Therese caused a scandal when it appeared in 1867 and has been filmed numerous times in many languages.


                              It's Almost Valentine's Day! 
 doubleheartsGet your heart racing with a love story -   


First Love by James Patterson                                       firstlove
Axi Moore is a "good girl": She studies hard, stays out of the spotlight, and doesn't tell anyone that all she really wants is to run away from it all. The only person she can tell is her best friend, Robinson—who she also happens to be madly in love with. When Axi spontaneously invites Robinson to come with her on an impulsive cross-country road trip, she breaks the rules for the first time in her life.


someoneelseslovestorySomeone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson
For single mom Shandi Pierce, life is a juggling act. She's finishing college; raising her delightful three-year-old genius son, Nathan, aka Natty Bumppo; and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced Christian mother and Jewish father. She's got enough to deal with before she gets caught in the middle of a stickup in a gas station mini-mart and falls in love with a great wall of a man named William Ashe, who steps between the armed robber and her son to shield the child from danger. Shandi doesn't know that her blond god has his own baggage.


Loving Lord Ash by Sally Mackenzie
Kit, the Marquis of Ashton, is in a sticky wicket. He married young and for love--how lovinglordashnaïve. Now he is saddled with a wife he's reluctant to trust. And however much evidence he gathers against faithless Jess, he can't seem to prove her guilt to the final judge--his foolish heart. Jessica knows she's bobbled her marriage, however innocently. A fairytale wedding makes no difference if she hasn't got the marquis charmed to show for it. Well, she's had enough of accidental encounters with naked gentlemen and near misses explaining things to her husband. It's time to buck up and go win her man back.



somethingtorememberyoubySomething to Remember You By : a perilous romance by Gene Wilder
Romantic, dramatic fiction set during World War II. In a foxhole in Bastogne, Belgium, the innocent yet charmingly clever protagonist, Corporal Tom Cole, is injured, sending him to London to convalesce and fall in love for the first time. But who is the lovely Danish girl he meets at a cafe? Anna says she's a monitor at the War Office, scanning radio waves for incoming German planes. But is she? When Cole goes to the War Office one day to surprise his new lover, she's nowhere to be found. So begins Cole's quest to find and save the woman he loves.
The Widow's Guide to Sex & Dating : a novel by Carole Radziwillwidowsguidetosex
Claire Byrne is a quirky and glamorous 34-year-old Manhattanite and the widow of a famous, slightly older man. Her husband, Charlie, was a renowned sexologist and writer, until he was struck dead one day on the sidewalk by a falling sculpture. After his death, Claire must reinvent herself. Over the course of a year, she sees a shrink (or two), visits an oracle, hires a "botanomanist," enjoys an erotic interlude (or ten), eats too little, drinks too much, dates a hockey player, a billionaire, and even an actor. As she grieves for Charlie and searches for herself, she comes to realize that she has an opportunity to find something bigger than she had before--possibly, love.   


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:


weddingThe Wedding by Dorothy West
An unforgettable history of the rise of the black middle class, set on the island of Martha's Vineyard in the 1950s. The proud, insular community known as the Oval is made up of the best and brightest of New York's and Boston's black bourgeoisie. Dr. Clark Coles and his wife Corinne, pillars of this community, are mortified that their youngest daughter Shelby is set on marrying Meade Wyler, a white jazz musician from New York. Equally alarmed is Lute McNeil, a successful black furniture maker from Boston who is new to Oak Bluffs and desperate for social acceptance. Lute has fallen in love with Shelby Coles, or at least the way of life she represents. As the day of the wedding approaches, the tension builds, climaxing in a single tragic act that will forever change the lives of three families.

invisiblemanInvisible Man by Ralph Ellison
An award winning literary classic that was the subject of a school ban in September 2013, Ellison's novel adresses many of the issues faced by African Americans in the 20th century. The nameless narrator describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and then retreating to his basement after violence breaks out in order to write about his experience, his identity and his place in American society.


deeperloveinsideA Deeper Love Inside by Sister Souljah
An unforgettable coming-of-age story in the words of Porsche Santiaga, a young girl separated from her parents by the authorities. Sharp-tongued, quick-witted Porsche is cut from the same cloth as her father, Ricky Santiaga: she is a natural-born hustler. Passionate and loyal to the extreme, she refuses to accept her new life in group homes, foster care, and juvenile detention as she pushes to get back everything that ever belonged to her wealthy, loving family.The stunning sequel to The Coldest Winter Ever.



goodlordbirdThe Good Lord Bird by James McBride
Winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction, the novel tells the story of Henry Shackleford, a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857 -  the region a battlefield between anti and pro slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an arguement between Brown and Henry's master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town with Brown, who believes Henry is a girl. Over the next months, Henry conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. He finds himeself with Brown at the historic raid on Harper's Ferry, one of the catalysts for the Civil War.


 * Frederick Douglass


Chinese New Year - Year of the Horseyearofthehorse

The Chinese year 4712, the Year of the Horse, begins on Jan. 31, 2014. New Year's festivities traditionally start on the first day of  the month and continue until the fifteenth, when the moon is brightest. 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 fireworks, parties and family visits, dragon dances, and red decorations everywhere. Each year is associated with one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac. It's said that people born in horse years are cheerful, skillful with money, perceptive, witty, talented and  good with their hands.

Join in the fun by reading about China, past and present.


fivestarbillionaireFive Star Billionaire by Tash Aw
A novel that offers rare insight into the booming world of Shanghai, a city of elusive identities and ever-changing skylines, of grand ambitions and outsize dreams. It is a portrait of four new arrivals to the city: a venerable business woman, a pop star, a factory girl turned socialite, and an inheritor of his family's lands -  all of whose fates are tied to an elusive billionaire. All bring their dreams and hopes to Shanghai , the shining symbol of the New China. "Aw reveals that the American Dream isn't so uniquely American..." (Amazon)



Pearl of China by Anchee Minpearlofchina
At the end of the nineteenth century in China, nine-year-old Willow, the only child of a destitute family in the small southern town of Chin-kiang, meets Pearl, the eldest daughter of a zealous American missionary. Pearl is independent and fiercely intelligent, and will grow up to be Pearl S Buck, the Pulitzer- and Nobel Prize-winning writer. From the start the two are thick as thieves, but when the Boxer Rebellion rocks the nation, Pearl's family is forced to leave China. As the twentieth century unfolds in all its turmoil, through right-wing military coups and Mao's Red Revolution, through bad marriages and broken dreams, the two girls cling to their lifelong friendship across the sea. 


enigmaofchinaEnigma of China by Qiu Xiaolong
Chief Inspector Chen Cao of the Shanghai Police wanted to be a poet in college but was state-assigned upon graduation to the police bureau. When the party orders him to sign off on the death of the son of a major party member as a suicide, his instinct is that the deceased may have been murdered. The man (head of the Shanghai Housing Development Committee) was outed by “netizens” who investigated his corrupt practices through the Internet, starting with a photo of one very expensive pack of cigarettes. Now Chen will have to decide what to do - investigate the death as a possible homicide and risk angering unseen powerful people, or seek the justice that his conscience requires.


Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyamawomenofthesilk
Set in rural China in 1926, the novel tells the story of a young Chinese girl, Pei, who is sent by her impoverished family from their struggling fish farm to begin work in a silk factory. Initially terrified, Pei soon settles into the communal routine, and finds the 12-hour factory day made bearable by the kindness of supervisors and fellow workers. Along with her best friend, Lin, she decides at 16 to go through the hairdressing ceremony, in which girls pledge to dedicate their lives to silk work instead of marrying. Leading the first strike the village has ever seen, the young women use the strength of their ambition and friendship to achieve the freedom they could never have hoped for on their own.



Outstanding Genre Fiction               

outcastsSince 2007, the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA, a division of the American Library Association) has announced The Reading List in order to highlight outstanding genre fiction. 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 2014 winners are:

ADRENALINE: Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

FANTASY: Vicious by V.E.Schwab

HISTORICAL FICTION: The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent

HORROR: Last Days by Adam Nevill

MYSTERY: Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell

ROMANCE: Any Duchess Will Do by Tessa Dare

SCIENCE FICTION: Love Minus Eighty by Will MacIntosh

WOMEN'S FICTION:  Me Before You by Jojo Moyes


underthewideandstarryUnder the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan

Recently the Today Show Book Club announced its third reading selection, Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan, whose first book, Loving Frank, about Frank Lloyd Wright and his star-crossed relationship with Mamah Cheney, became a popular book club choice after its publication in 2007. Horan's new book features another famous man and the woman who loved him. It tells the tale of Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and Kidnapped, and his wife and muse, Fanny Van de Grift, who left her husband in 1875 to travel the world with Stevenson. Her opinions were said to have had a profound impact on his writings - she was known to be his toughest critic. Horan drew heavily from the couple's letters and Stevenson’s writings to paint a realistic portrait of their relationship, based on both fact and fiction. "What I did with this book and also with the previous book is take the journey with these couples,” she said.


"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."

voyageoutBorn into a privileged English household on Januray 25, 1882, writer Virginia Woolf was raised by literary and free-thinking parents. She began writing as a young girl and published her first novel, The Voyage Out, in 1915. Her nonlinear, free form prose style established her as a modernist and innovator. After she married writer Leonard Woolf in 1912,  the couple became part of an avant-garde  literary and artistic circle known as the Bloomsbury Group, which became influential in the arts of the early 20th century. Woolf's best known books are the novels, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse and Orlando. Her famous book length essay, A Room of One's Own, included the much-quoted observation about the freedom needed to write successfully. Woolf suffered from bouts of depression throughout her life and committed suicide in 1941 at the age of 59 by walking into a river near her country home. Her body was not found for several weeks.



 Michael Cunningham's 1998 book, The Hours, imagined the lives of several women influenced by reading Mrs. Dalloway and depicted aspects of Woolf's life. It was adapted as a movie in 2002 starring Nicole Kidman as Woolf. Kidman won the Academy Award for Best Actress for that role.

February 2014 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.



RedRising3D#1 for February:
Red Rising
by Pierce Brown
Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow--and Reds like him--are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class. Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity's overlords struggle for power. He will be forced to compete for his life and the very future of civilization against the best and most brutal of Society's ruling class. There, he will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies . . . even if it means he has to become one of them to do so. "The next read for those who loved The Hunger Games."


Reading Civil Rights

freshwaterroadFifty years ago, on August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed the huge crowd assembled at the March on Washington with his "I Have a Dream" speech.  In recognition of the enormous power of words in the civil rights movement, Columbia professor Samuel G. Freedman compiled a list of the classic books on civil rights. Many of the books listed are histories and narrative non-fiction. Also included is Freshwater Road, a novel by Denise Nicholas, "which may well be the finest novel about the civil-rights era." Set in Pineyville, Mississippi during the three months of the "Freedom Summer" of 1964, it 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.


anniesghostsMeet the Author of Annie's Ghosts

Steve Luxenberg, the author of the Michigan Humanities Council's Great Michigan Read selection, Annie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret, will be speaking at Schoolcraft College's VisTaTech Center, Rm 550 on Thursday, January 30th at 1:15 pm. Following an audience and author conversation, a book signing opportunity will be available.

Annie’s Ghosts is the personal account of Luxenberg’s quest to learn about the aunt he never knew. Her name was Annie and she was hospitalized at the Eloise asylum in Westland for most of her life, forgotten in time and memory. Part memoir, part detective story, and part history, it is a tale of family secrets, personal journeys, genealogy, mental illness, poverty, immigration, and ultimately, understanding and forgiveness.


The Great Michigan Read is presented by the Michigan Humanities Council, with support from Meijer and the National Endowment for the Humanities.



onsuchafullseaTrending Now...

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee
In a future, long-declining America, society is strictly stratified by class. Long-abandoned urban neighborhoods have been repurposed as highwalled, self-contained labor colonies. In this world lives Fan, a female fish-tank diver, who leaves her home in the B-Mor settlement (once known as Baltimore), when the man she loves mysteriously disappears. Fan's journey to find him takes her out of the safety of B-Mor, through the anarchic Open Counties, where crime is rampant with scant governmental oversight, and to a faraway charter village, in a quest that will soon become legend to those she left behind. "... (an) electrifying postapocalyptic novel..." (Booklist)

radianceoftomorrowRadiance of Tomorrow by Ishmael Beah
Beah, author of the highly-regarded memoir, A Long Way Gone, about the civil war in Sierra Leone and the child soldiers involved, has written his first novel. Set in the post war Sierra Leone, it is the story of Benjamin and Bockarie, two longtime friends who return to their hometown, Imperi, after the civil war. The village is in ruins, the ground covered in bones. As more villagers begin to come back, Benjamin and Bockarie try to forge a new community by taking up their former posts as teachers, but they're beset by obstacles: a scarcity of food; a rash of murders, thievery, rape, and retaliation; and the depredations of a foreign mining company intent on sullying the town's water supply and blocking its paths with electric wires."... a formidable and memorable novel-a story of resilience and survival, and, ultimately, rebirth." (Publishers Weekly)


andrewsbrainAndrew's Brain by E.L. Doctorow
Speaking from an unknown place and to an unknown interlocutor, Andrew is thinking, Andrew is talking, Andrew is telling the story of his life, his loves, and the tragedies that have led him to this place and point in time. And as he confesses, peeling back the layers of his strange story, we are led to question what we know about truth and memory, brain and mind, personality and fate, about one another and ourselves. Written with psychological depth and great lyrical precision, this suspenseful and groundbreaking novel delivers a voice for our times--funny, probing, skeptical, mischievous, profound. "... an exquisitely disturbing, morally complex, tragic, yet darkly funny novel of the collective American unconscious and human nature in all its perplexing contrariness." (Booklist)


windisnotariverThe Wind is Not a River by Brian Payton
An epic love story in which a husband and wife-separated by the only battle of World War II to take place on American soil-fight to reunite in Alaska's starkly beautiful Aleutian Islands.
John Easely, a journalist, heads north from Seattle to investigate the Japanese invasion of Alaska's Aleutian Islands, a story censored by the U.S. government. While he is accompanying a crew on a bombing run, his plane is shot down over the island of Attu. He survives only to find himself exposed to a harsh and unforgiving wilderness, known as "the Birthplace of Winds." There, John must battle the elements and starvation while evading discovery by the Japanese. Meanwhile, John's wife, Helen, living in Seattle, resolves to search for her missing husband by joining a USO troupe set to entertain American soldiers in the Aleutians. "...a suspenseful, beautifully researched title." (Library Journal)


Danielle Steel Awarded French Legion of Honor

honorthyselfOn January 1st, author and "Queen of Romance" Danielle Steel
was the latest American to francereceive one of France's highest awards, the Legion of Honor, in recognition of her service to France. Steel was made a "Chevalier"  (Knight) of the order, which was founded by Napoleon in 1802. She joins several other Americans, like Julia Child, Philip Roth and Bob Dylan, who have been honored in the past. Steel is a part-time resident of Paris who once remarked that she loves French literature, especially the works of Colette. Her books have sold over 600 million copies worldwide and are published in 43 languages.


MInotablebooksThe Library of Michigan recently announced the list of the 2014 riverswimmerMichigan Notable Books - 20 books  highlighting Michigan people, places and events. The books must have been published during 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. Fiction on this year's list includes The River Swimmer by Jim Harrison and In the House Upon the Dirt Between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell. The list also includes children's books, memoirs, poetry, photography, and a biography of Tiger Mark Fidrych, also known as "The Bird."


January 2014 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.



dead in their vaulted arches#1 for January:
The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches: A Flavia De Luce Novel
by Alan Bradley
On a spring morning in 1951, eleven-year-old chemist and aspiring detective Flavia de Luce gathers with her family at the railway station, awaiting the return of her long-lost mother, Harriet. Yet upon the train's arrival in the English village of Bishop's Lacey, Flavia is approached by a tall stranger who whispers a cryptic message into her ear. Moments later, he is dead, mysteriously pushed under the train by someone in the crowd. Back home at Buckshaw, the de Luces' crumbling estate, Flavia puts her sleuthing skills to the test. Surrounded by family, friends, and a famous pathologist from the Home Office--and making spectacular use of Harriet's beloved Gipsy Moth plane, "Blithe Spirit"--Flavia will do anything, even take to the skies, to land a killer.


Romance Author

calderpromiseJanet Dailey, author of 155 books, including the Calder santainmontanaseries, has passed away in Branson, MO. She was 69. Long a fixture on best-seller lists, her romance novels are somewhat unique in that they often feature working women, rather than well-to-do socialites, and are located in American settings with American sensibilities, rather than European capitals. While critics of the genre may shrug, Dailey sold an estimated career total of 100 to 300 million books which were translated into 19 languages. She was a hard working writer, producing 3 to 7 books a year. She once remarked,"My romance readers are like me. They are work-oriented women who are under a great deal of stress.”


To get you in the holiday mood...

Duck the Halls by Donna Andrews                                                                duckthehalls
Skunks in the choir loft, ducks in the nave, it's clear that some serious holiday pranksters are on the loose. Meg Langslow is determined to find them but before she can, a fire breaks out at the church, and one of the elders is dead. Who would have murdered such a harmless - if slightly cranky - old man? Who has the time during the busy holiday season to herd all of these animals into the town's churches? And will Meg ever be able to finish all of her shopping, wrapping, cooking, caroling, and decorating in time for Christmas Eve?


dogsofchristmasThe Dogs of Christmas by W. Bruce Cameron
Can a surprise litter of Christmas puppies really change one man's life? While nursing a broken heart, Josh Michaels is outraged when a neighbor abandons his very pregnant dog, Lucy, at Josh's Colorado home. Josh can't resist Lucy's soulful brown eyes, and though he's never had a dog before, he's determined to do the best he can for Lucy-and her soon-to-arrive, bound-to-be-adorable puppies. Soon in over his head, Josh calls the local animal shelter for help, and meets Kerri, a beautiful woman with a quick wit and a fierce love for animals. A charming and heartwarming holiday tale that explores the power of love, trust, and a basket full of puppies.


A Cosmic Christmas 2 You edited by Hank Davis                                               cosmicchristmas2
Twelve cosmic days of Christmas tales ranging from vampires to robots, from the hills of Appalachia to a high orbit space station, all celebrating the holiday in off-beat ways. This anthology of science fiction stories by authors Joe Lansdale, Connie Willis, Sarah A. Hoyt, Larry Correia, and more, serves up some holiday warmth for a cold wintry evening. Particularly strong entries include Haldeman's "Angel of Light," about a father trying to sell a scandalous ancient book of SF to buy Christmas presents, and Willis's "Christmas Card," in which aliens compete to think up the best not-gifts.


starrynightStarry Night: A Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber
Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: she can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author who lives in the remote Alaskan wilderness. It's the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.


silentnightSilent Night: A Spenser Holiday Novel by Robert B. Parker with Helen Brann
It's December in Boston, and Spenser is busy planning the menu for Christmas dinner when he's confronted in his office by a young boy named Slide. Homeless and alone, Slide has found refuge with an organization named Street Business. Slide's mentor, Jackie Alvarez, is being threatened, and Street Business is in danger of losing its tenuous foothold in the community, turning Slide and many others like him back on the street. But it's not a simple case of intimidation - Spenser, aided by Hawk, finds a trail that leads to a dangerous drug kingpin. Unfinished at the time of his death, the novel was completed by Parker's longtime agent, Helen Brann.


ladyjennysLady Jenny's Christmas Portrait by Grace Burrowes
For Christmas, soft-spoken Lady Jenny Windham craves the freedom to pursue her artistic ambitions, though it will mean scandalizing her ducal parents and abandoning all hope of a family of her own. She confides her plans to successful artist Elijah Harrison when he's commissioned to paint a portrait of her small nephews. Elijah finds in his unlikely assistant not only an inspiring muse and unappreciated talent, but also a lovely and passionate woman. If he supports Jenny's career, his own professional interests will suffer, but more significantly, he will lose Jenny forever. Both Jenny and Elijah must choose between true love and a lifelong dream.


White Christmas by Diana Palmer
whitechristmasEveryone in Nicole White's office described their boss's mysterious older brother as a real woman hater. So when Nicki has to tag along with her ailing employer to his brother's Montana home, she is prepared for the worst. To her surprise, what she found was a man more roughly masculine than any she'd ever met. But Winthrop Christopher's distrust of women runs straight to the bone. Nicki knows she should steer clear of him, but she can't hide the feelings he stirs in her. Can she ever teach him to love again?




Now (or soon) Playing...

Hobbit1The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Everyone on Earth (and Middle Earth) knows that director Peter Jackson has adapted the story of Bilbo Baggins and his adventures with dwarves and dragons into a movie trilogy, the second of which has just opened. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues with Bilbo's journey to the Lonely Mountain and introduces the fiery dragon Smaug, voiced by actor Benedict Cumberbatch. Michael O'Sullivan of the Washington Post declares," ... for those of us who love Tolkien, the new movie is a treat."



myworldThe Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber
A short story by the incomparable James Thurber, writer, cartoonist and humorist, inspires this new film due to open later this month. Walter Mitty, a mild mannered milquetoast, lives large in his fantasies, daydreaming of improbable adventures in which he performs feats of derring-do and heroism. The story was first published in The New Yorker in 1939 and is considered a classic. It was made into movie starring Danny Kaye in 1947 and the 2013 remake is directed by and stars Ben Stiller. If you've never read Thurber, treat yourself to some of the best and funniest short story writing in American literature.


labordayLabor Day by Joyce Maynard
The lives of thirteen-year-old Henry and his lonely single mother Adele change forever one Labor Day weekend when they are approached by a bleeding man in need of assistance. Over the next few days, as they shelter him in their home, Frank teaches them to open themselves up to new experiences, and even love, while the rest of the community searches for an escaped murderer. “At once beautiful and disturbing, this remarkable novel…is a moving read.” (Bookpage)  Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin star in the film adaptation directed by Jason Reitman that opens in limited release on December 27.


The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

inventionofwingsToday, Oprah Winfrey announced her latest selection for Oprah's Book Club 2.0. The book, The Invention of Wings, will be published in January and is written by author Sue Monk Kidd, who had huge success with her prior best-seller, The Secret Life of Bees, which became a movie in 2008. Her second novel, The Mermaid Chair, also sold well.

Kidd's new book, a 19th-century story about a slave girl and a slave owner's daughter, was inspired by the life of the historical Sarah Grimke, the American abolitionist and suffragist. In a statement released today, Oprah said," These strong female characters represent the women that have shaped our history and through Sue's imaginative storytelling, give us a new perspective on slavery, injustice and the search for freedom."

This is the third choice for the 2.0 version of the book club. The other selections were The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis and Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed.

Apartheid Fiction

crythebelovedcountryCry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton
The story of the Zulu pastor Stephen Kumalo and his son set in the troubled and changing South Africa of the 1940s. With his sister turned prostitute, his brother turned labor protestor and his son, Absalom, arrested for the murder of a white man, Kumalo must grapple with
how to bring his family back from the brink of destruction as the racial tension spreads throughout Johannesburg.

by J. M. Coetzeedisgrace
Set in post-apartheid South Africa, the story of David Lurie, a twice divorced, 52-year-old professor who is forced to resign and retreats to his daughter Lucy’s farm in the country. There he struggles to rekindle his relationship with Lucy and to understand the changing relations of blacks and whites in the new South Africa.


White Dog Fell from the Sky by Eleanor Lincoln Morse
In apartheid South Africa in 1977, medical student Isaac Muthethe is forced to flee his country after witnessing a friend murdered by white members of the South African Defense Force. After finding work as a gardener in Botswana, he disappears.



The Housemaid's Daughter by Barbara Mutchhousemaidsdaughter
Irish-born Catherine is unhappy in her marriage, isolated and estranged in a small town in the harsh Karoo desert of South Africa, and her only real companions are her diary and her housemaid, and later the housemaid's daughter, Ada.


drywhiteseasonA Dry White Season by Andre Brink
Ben Du Toit is a white schoolteacher in suburban Johannesburg during the time of state-sanctioned apartheid. A simple, apolitical man, he believes in the essential fairness of the South African government and its policies until the sudden arrest and subsequent "suicide" of a black janitor from Du Toit's school.


notimelikethe presentNo Time Like the Present by Nadine Gordimer
Steve and Jabulile, once clandestine lovers under a racist laws forbidding sexual relations between black and white, are living in a newly free South Africa. Both were combatants in the struggle against apartheid, and now, he, a university lecturer, and she, a lawyer, are parents of children born in freedom.


absolutionAbsolution by Patrick Flanery
Clare Wald, a controversial South African writer of great fame, is haunted by the memories of a sister she fears she betrayed to her death and the anti-apartheid activist daughter she fears she abandoned.

Carol Award Gold - no base transparent backgroundBest Christian Fiction

The American Christian Fiction Writers present the Carol Awards annually to the best in Christian fiction traditionally published in the previous calendar year. The group's purpose is "to promote Christian Fiction through developing the skills of its authors, educating them in the market, and serving as an advocate in the traditional publishing industry." ACFW has over 2600 members worldwide, consisting of authors, editors, agents, publicists and aspiring writers and was organized in 2000.

This heartechoesyear's winners span many genres andwherethelilacs include Heart Echoes by Sally John in the Contemporary category and Where the Lilacs Still Bloom by Jane Kirkpatrick in the Historical category. The awards are named for Bethany House fiction editor, Carol Johnson who saw the possibility for Christian based stories when she read a manuscript written by Janette Oke in the early '80's.


Trending Now...

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
goldfinchTheo Decker, a thirteen-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an explosion at the Metropolitan Museum that kills his mother and results in his unlikely possession of a Dutch masterwork called The Goldfinch. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don't know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his unbearable longing for his mother, he clings to the picture, the one thing that reminds him of her. A coming-of-age tale, an examination of loss and friendship, and a mystery about a missing painting, the novel follows Theo on his journey to adulthood with unforgettably vivid characters, mesmerizing language, and breathtaking suspense.


The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan
valleyofamazementViolet Minturn is the privileged daughter of the American madam of Shanghai's most exclusive courtesan house. But when the Ching dynasty is overturned, 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 erased by World War II. An evocative narrative of the profound connections between mothers and daughters, filled with insight and humor.


Brown Dog by Jim Harrison
browndogThis collection of Harrison's previously published novellas featuring "one of literature's great characters," Brown Dog,  a bawdy, reckless, down-on-his-luck Michigan Indian who roams the Upper Peninsula avoiding hard work while looking for love, beer, and good fishing, also includes a new story. Brown Dog, or B.D. as he is known, becomes a husband at the age of 50, although in a way that only B.D. could, by marrying his lesbian best friend, Gretchen,
who is interested in becoming a parent. Can the raffish, comically honest, and totally un-materialistic Brown Dog really end up domesticated in a cabin in the woods? Probably not, says Harrison, "It might interrupt his fishing."

 The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani
suprememacaroniFor over a hundred years, the Angelini Shoe Company in Greenwich Village has relied on the leather produced by Vechiarelli & Son in Tuscany. This ancient business partnership provides the twist of fate for Valentine Roncalli, the schoolteacher turned shoemaker, to fall in love with Gianluca Vechiarelli, a tanner with a complex past, and a secret. But after the wedding celebrations are over, Valentine wakes up to the hard reality of juggling the demands of a new business and the needs of her new family. Romantic and poignant, told with humor and warmth, and bursting with a cast of endearing characters, this is a sumptuous feast of delights: an unforgettable narrative about family, work, romance, and the unexpected turns of life and fate.



bestbooks 2013Tis the season for every newspaper, media outlet, blogger, and pundit to print, publish or post a"Best Books of 2013" list.  There's the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2013, Amazon Editors Top 100, Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction, Library Journal's Top Ten, O Magazine's Best Books of 2013, Publishers Weekly Best of 2013 ,and the Washington Post's Top Ten - to name a few! As one would expect with such subjective judgments, there is little consensus on which books make the grade. Several well-regarded books show up on many lists, but not always, which is why its so fun to make and compare lists. As librarians always say: To every reader, his or her book.

December 2013 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.


nogoodduke#1 for December: No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean
He is the Killer Duke, accused of murdering Mara Lowe on the eve of her wedding. With no memory of that fateful night, Temple has reigned over the darkest of London’s corners for twelve years, wealthy and powerful, but beyond redemption. Until one night, Mara resurfaces, offering the one thing he’s dreamed of . . . absolution. Mara planned never to return to the world from which she’d run, but when her brother falls deep into debt at Temple’s exclusive casino, she has no choice but to offer Temple a trade that ends in her returning to society and proving to the world what only she knows...that he is no killer. It’s a fine trade, until Temple realizes that the lady—and her past—are more than they seem.




Fiction Winner: The Good Lord Bird

On Wednesday, the National Book Foundation revealed the winners of this country's goodlordbirdmajor literary awards for this year. Writer James McBride won the fiction prize for his third novel, The Good Lord Bird, about a young slave called Little Onion who joins the abolitionist John Brown in his anti-slavery mission. McBride was considered a long shot for the prize since several well-known and well-regarded authors were also nominated. McBride was clearly surprised when his name was announced at the gala dinner, saying that he had not prepared an acceptance speech. While McBride may not be as well known as Jhumpa Lahiri or Thomas Pynchon, he has had literary success with his 1996 book, The Color of Water, and The Good Lord Bird is currently listed on Publishers Weekly's Best Books of 2013.


Nobel Prize Winner

goldennotebookDoris Lessing, the feisty, unconventional writer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2007, passed away last Sunday, November 17. She was 94. She was an outspoken, often
contrary, woman determined to live and write on her own terms. Although she wrote numerous novels, essays, short stories and poems, she is best known for her breakthrough novel, The Golden Notebook, a loosely autobiographical story of women's inner lives that was considered blunt and daring when published in 1962. The book was embraced by the feminist movement and made Lessing a feminist icon, which she considered "stupid." Always the iconoclast, she had little interest in the regard of others as she sought to live a free life, unencumbered by her marriages (two), children (three), or lovers (many). When informed that she had won the Nobel Prize her response was a characteristic, "I couldn't care less."


According to a recent New York Times article, long novels are having a rebirth. Several lengthy novels have been released to favorable reviews over the past few weeks and more are in the publishing pipeline. Donna Tartt’s novel The Goldfinch has 771 pages. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton, winner of the 2013 Man Booker Prize, has 834 pages. A manuscript, City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg, which was the subject of a publisher bidding war, checks in at 900 pages. Knopf purchased the rights to publish the debut novel for $2 million dollars (let's see, that's about $2000 per page) and its release date has not yet been set. Film rights have already been sold. Sonny Mehta, the chairman and editor in chief of Knopf, said on Sunday, “It’s a large, spacious and extremely ambitious novel. It has a richness to it..."  Guess so.

The First Phone Call from Heaven

The new novel from best-selling author and Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom will be released on Tuesday. The First Phone Call from Heaven tells the story of a small firstphonecalltown on Lake Michigan that comes to the world's attention when its residents start receiving phone calls from deceased loved ones. Calls from the afterlife - miracle or hoax? The inevitable media firestorm ensues and  one resident, coping with his own issues of guilt and remorse, vows to find out. "Albom’s latest modern-day fable is less philosophical but more emotionally charged than The Time Keeper. Wrapping this treatise on communication, human relationships, and the nature of heaven inside a nifty mystery, he once again manages to convert his musings on morality and spirituality into a populist page-turner." (Booklist)

Albom will be appearing and signing books at several retail outlets throughout the metro area in the next few weeks - click here to check his calender. To read an excerpt, click here.

2013 World Fantasy Award Winner

aliftheunseenThe 2013 World Fantasy Convention was held in Brighton, England last weekend where the World Fantasy Awards were announced. G. Willow Wilson's book, Alif the Unseen won in the fantasy novel category for her "fiction debut blending political intrigue, cyberfantasy, and The Arabian Nights." (Library Journal)

Alif, a young Arab-Indian computer hacker living in an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, shields dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups from government surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble. Inevitably he runs afoul of the state security
chief  and must flee to the desert while protecting the the fabled Alf Yeom, the book that  compiles the entire knowledge of the jinn (genies to us) and may be the key to remaking the world. "As timely and thoughtful as it is edgy and exciting, this dervish of a novel wraps modern tendrils around ancient roots, spanning the gulf between ones and zeros, haves and have-nots, and seen and unseen worlds." (Booklist)

New Authors for Familiar Characters

SoloBookCoverWhen a popular author passes away, fans mourn the loss - especially when the author has written a series of books devoted to one or two beloved characters and the potential for more stories has ended. All may not be lost, however. More and more living authors are continuing popular franchises, usually with the blessing of the original author's estate. New books about James Bond continue to appear despite the death of Ian Fleming in 1964. The newest offering, Solo by William Boyd, is the 35th Bond novel not written by Fleming.


 Other characters carrying on:



Jeeves and the Wedding Bells by Sebastian Faulks (channeling P.G. Wodehouse)






Silent Night: a Spenser Holiday Novel by Robert B Parker (with Helen Brann)







Robert B. Parker's Ironhorse by Robert Knott (Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch)







Robert B. Parker's Damned If You Do: A Jesse Stone Novel by Michael Brandman







Robert Ludlum's The Bourne Retribution by Eric Van Lustbader






And, of course, Jane Austen -


The Bad Miss Bennet: a Pride and Prejudice Novel by Jean Burnett






Native American Authors

Since 1990, November has been designated as the month to honor "the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S." Contemporary Native American writers continue to enrich our national culture by sharing their traditions and beliefs through diverse novels that explore the modern Native American experience. Louise Erdrich's novel, The Round House, won the National Book Award last year for her powerful potrayal of a young boy's life on a North Dakota reservation.

Other Native American authors to consider:


      yellowraft      peopleofthewhale        gardeninthedunes     throughblackspruce


S. by J.J. Abrams (and Doug Dorst)

s.81oi0iu8gjl- sl1500 Director/writer/producer J.J. Abrams of Lost and the rebooted Star Trek movies has produced a book with writer/collaborator Doug Dorst.  As one would expect, the book is no ordinary book. Once removed from its slipcase, it appears to be a different book altogether, crammed with notes in the margins and lots of odds and ends tucked inside. The New York Times describes it thus:

"Inside a black slipcover stamped with the title, there’s an old library edition of a novel titled “Ship of Theseus,” published in 1949 by a certain V. M. Straka. The author and novel are the fictional creations of Mr. Abrams and Mr. Dorst, but the book’s edge-worn spine, labeled with a faded Dewey decimal sticker, is scuffed, and its corners dented. In used-book selling parlance, the condition of “Ship of Theseus” might be rated “good,” were it not for the tens of thousands of words tattooed in the margins of its yellowed pages by at least two different hands, both in pencil-lead gray and a riot of inks: black, blue, red, orange, purple and green.  Tucked among the pages, readers will find handwritten letters and notes, a college newspaper clipping, a purple mimeographed telegram, photocopied book pages, postcards, an old photograph, a map scrawled on a coffee shop napkin, and even a throwback decoder ring. "   

The plot can be loosely described as the story of two young people reading the same book and corresponding via the margin notes they add to it as they pass the book back and forth. The blurb on the slipcase refers to the many layers within the novel: the young readers, the book they're reading, the story they're creating with their notes, the mysterious writer, and "a deadly struggle" with unknown forces. What else would you expect from the creator of Lost?


November 2013 LibraryReads List

library reads logo websiteThe top ten books published this month that librarians across the country love.

This 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.


bellmanblack#1 for November: Bellman and Black: A Novel by Diane Setterfield
One moment in time can haunt you forever. Caught up in a moment of boyhood competition, William Bellman recklessly aims his slingshot at a rook resting on a branch, killing the bird instantly. It is a small but cruel act, and is soon forgotten. By the time he is grown, with a wife and children of his own, William seems to have put the whole incident behind him. It was as if he never killed the thing at all. But rooks don't forget . . . Years later, when a stranger mysteriously enters William s life, his fortunes begin to turn and the terrible and unforeseen consequences of his past indiscretion take root. In a desperate bid to save the only precious thing he has left, he enters into a rather strange bargain, with an even stranger partner. Together, they found a decidedly macabre business. And Bellman & Black is born. Sounds like a good book for Halloween! -Setterfield's last book was The Thirteenth Tale.

Now (or soon) Playing:

Carrie by Stephen King
carrieA reimagining of the classic horror tale about Carrie White, a shy girl outcast by her peers and sheltered by her deeply religious mother, who unleashes telekinetic terror on her small town after being pushed too far at her senior prom. "That story is also strengthened by the passage of time. The original “Carrie” could be read as a universal allegory of adolescence. Who hasn’t felt like a freak in high school, or fantasized about lashing out — or more often, inward — after being hurt or rejected?... But more recent events...just this week, that a young Florida girl killed herself after being taunted by bullies who allegedly boasted about it online, have added resonance to the source material." (Washington Post)



As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
asilay dyingDirected by and starring actor James Franco, and based on the 1930 classic by Faulkner, it is the story of the death of Addie Bundren and her family's quest to honor her wish to be buried in the nearby town of Jefferson. "The book is a series of fragmented monologues spoken by Addie, her friends and kin and people her burial party encounters on its journey."
"But in rushing in where wise men might fear to tread, Mr. Franco has accomplished something serious and worthwhile." " As a whole, "As I Lay Dying" conveys some of Faulkner’s themes, and the details of the Bundren family story, with clarity and concision. All the children pay a terrible price as they obey their father and honor their mother, and their composite story is a catalog of material and moral losses."( New York Times)


Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
greatexpectationsAnother remake of the Dickens' classic about a humble orphan who suddenly becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor, it features Helena Bonham Carter as the iconic spinster, Miss Havisham, a lady most unlucky in love. The tale has produced a number of spin-offs including Mr. Pip (book and movie) and a new book, Havisham, which provides a backstory for Miss Havisham's life as it explores her privileged upbringing as the daughter of a brewer, her jilting at the altar, and her devolution into the bitter, love-scorned shrew that all Dickens readers recognize.


National Book Awards Finalists - Fiction

The National Book Foundation announced its shortlist for the National Book Awards this morning. The five finalists were winnowed from the longlist of ten announced earlier this fall and the winner will be revealed at a gala reception on November 20 in New York.  The National Book Foundation's mission is to celebrate the best of American literature, to expand its audience, and to enhance the cultural value of good writing in America.

(The Huffington Post is putting its money on Tenth of December to win.)


Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers

Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland

James McBride, The Good Lord Bird

Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge

George Saunders, Tenth of December

Eleanor Catton Wins Man Booker Prize

luminariesEleanor Catton, 28, has won the Man Booker Prize for her novel, The Luminaries. Catton is the youngest writer ever to be awarded the prize. The Man Booker is Britain's most prestigious literary prize, which, until next year, is limited to writers who hail from the U.K or the 54 nations of the British Commonwealth. Next year, to the consternation of some, the prize will be open to any author, from any country, as long as the book is published in English and in the U.K.

Catton's novel is her second, set in New Zealand during the 1866 gold rush. It is the longest book to win the prize, coming in at 832 pages, and is a mutli-layered story of a group of 12 men who meet to consider several mysterious and apparently interconnected occurrences that took place on a single night. Young Walter Moody, fresh from England to seek his fortune, is drawn into their intertwined tales. The Luminaries has just been released in the U.S. this week.

Guest Speakers:                                                 

Jo Johnson and Georgia Becker of the Friends of EloiseFinal-GMIR-logo-sml

anniesghostsIn conjunction with the Library's participation in the Great Michigan Read, Jo Johnson and Georgia Becker of The Friends of Eloise and The Westland Historical Commission will speak at the Library about the history of Eloise Hospital in Westland and their memories of working at the vast hospital, poor house and asylum complex that operated from 1839 to 1979. This year's Great Michigan Read, Annie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg details the author's search for information about the aunt he never knew. Her name was Annie and she was committed to Eloise as a young woman and remained there for the rest of her life, forgotten by her family and lost to memory. The presentation is sponsored by the Friends of the Library; the Great Michigan Read is presented by the Michigan Humanities Council with support from Meijer and the National Endowment of the Humanities.

Pulitzer Winning Author

mambokingsplayOscar Hijuelos, the Cuban-American author who won the  Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1989 for his novel, The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, has passed away at the age of 62. He was the first Latino to win a Pulitzer and his success shone a spotlight on other Latino writers and the experience of Latino immigrants in American society. "...he wrote about the non-native experience in the United States from a sympathetic, occasionally amused perspective and with a keen eye for detail in his period settings....And rather than employing a syncopated musicality or fantastical flights of magic realism, Mr. Hijuelos wrote fluid prose, sonorous but more earthy than poetic, with a forthright American cadence." (New York Times) Mambo Kings was adapted for the screen in 1992 and starred Antonio Banderas and Armand Assante as the Cuban musicians and brothers whose brief brush with fame involved a cameo appearance on the TV show I Love Lucy. Hijuelos' most recent work was his 2011 memoir, Thoughts Without Cigarettes.

world-zombie-dayWorld Zombie Day 2013

World Zombie Day, the celebration of all things zombie, is fallofthegovscheduled for October 12 this year. World Zombie Day is an international annual event that grew from Pittsburgh’s first Zombie Walk at Monroeville Mall in 2006 – the site where George Romero filmed Dawn of the Dead - to help all fans of zombie culture come together in an international effort to relieve hunger and homelessness. As many as 50 cities worldwide participate in the festivities, including Detroit which sponsors a Zombie Walk Against Hunger downtown. On related notes, the TV series, The Walking Dead, starts its fourth season this weekend on AMC (Sunday) and Robert Kirkman, the author of the original graphic novels and the producer of the TV series, just released his latest sci fi novel, The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor.

Alice Munro Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

dear life coverYesterday, the Nobel Prize Committee announced this year's alicemunrowinner for literature, author Alice Munro, the master of the contemporary short story. Munro had recently decided to retire from writing at the age of 82, stating, "I’m probably not going to write anymore. And, so, it’s nice to go out with a bang.” And that was before the decision of the Nobel Committee! Munro's body of work comprises 14 story collections spanning five decades with her most recent book, Dear Life, published in 2012. Often called the "Canadian Chekhov," Munro is the first Canadian to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature and the 13th woman to have been awarded the prize in its history.

Trending now...

bridgetjonesmadBridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding
Bridget is now a fiftysomething widow raising two young children while aspiring to be a screenwriter. Four years after the loss of her beloved Darcy, Bridget's friends have pushed her back into the social stream. She has managed to land a 29-year-old boyfriend but is still ditzy enough to have life collapsing around her regularly as she juggles her increasingly odd mother, the insanity of film agents and script rewrites, and the demands of the supermom school event coordinator. Fans have been howling via social media since the revelation of Darcy's demise: “Helen Fielding, what the heck do you think you’re doing?” one mourner wrote (in all caps) on Twitter. "You just can’t kill off Mark Darcy. Do you want me to be depressed for rest of my life?” Chosen as the next book for discussion by the Today Show Book Club.



circleThe Circle by Dave Eggers
When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world's most powerful internet company, she feels she's been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users' personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. Mae can't believe her luck - to work for the most influential company in the world but what begins as the captivating story of one woman's ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge. Julie Hinds in the Detroit Free Press calls this a "mash-up of Swiftian satire, Orwellian anxiety and how Tom Wolfe at his best would have skewered Silicon Valley."


someoneSomeone by Alice McDermott
McDermott's latest is the keenly observed life of Marie Commeford, an ordinary woman whose compromised eyesight makes her both figuratively and literally unable to see the world for what it is. First introduced on the steps of her Brooklyn townhouse as a bespectacled seven-year-old waiting for her father, the book reveals Marie through the milestones of her life, shadowed by her elder brother, Gabe, who mysteriously leaves the priesthood for which everyone thought he was destined. The story of Marie's life unfolds in a nonlinear fashion, detailing the loss of Marie's father, her first experience with intimacy, her first job (in a funeral parlor of all places), her marriage, and the birth of a child. "Someone is a wonderfully modest title for such a fine-tuned, beautiful book filled with so much universal experience, such haunting imagery, such urgent matters of life and death." (New York Times)


sycamoreroadSycamore Row by John Grisham
Grisham returns to a familiar locale and hero: Clanton, Mississippi and lawyer Jake Brigance, in a sequel to his first novel, A Time to Kill. Jake once again finds himself embroiled in a fiercely controversial trial-a trial that will expose old racial tensions and force Ford County to confront its tortured history. Seth Hubbard is a wealthy man dying of lung cancer. He trusts no one. Before he hangs himself from a sycamore tree, Hubbard leaves a new, handwritten, will. It is an act that drags his adult children, his black maid, and Jake into a conflict as riveting and dramatic as the murder trial that made him one of Ford County's most notorious citizens, just three years earlier. Grisham's fans are already lining up for this one - the release date is later this month.



doctorsleepDoctor Sleep by Stephen King
King, too, returns to an older story with a sequel to The Shining. The events of the Overlook Hotel had resounding effects upon Danny Torrance, and decades later he's a drunk like his father, wondering what his battle with the ghosties was even for. Dan still feels the pull of the shining, though, and it lands him in a small New England town where he finds friends, an AA group, and a job at a hospice, where his ability to ease patients into death earns him the moniker Doctor Sleep. Ten years sober, he telepathically meets 12-year-old Abra, whose spectacular gift has drawn the attention of the True Knot, an evil RV caravan of ­shining-eating quasi-vampires. Dan is forced to help Abra confront the Knot, and face his own lingering demons. "This is vintage King, a classic good-vs.-evil tale that will keep readers turning the pages late into the night. His many fans won't be disappointed." (Library Journal)



Great Michigan Read 2013-14

anniesghostsAnnies's Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret

Join the Contemporary Books Discussion Group on Tuesday, October 8 at 7:30 p.m. as we discuss Annie’s Ghosts and the family secrets we discover therein. No registration is necessary to participate and Readers Guides are available.

By native Detroiter Steve Luxenberg, Annie’s Ghosts is the personal account of Luxenberg’s quest to learn about the aunt he never knew, her existence hidden and denied by his mother and other relatives. Her name was Annie and she was hospitalized at the Eloise asylum in Westland for most of her life, forgotten in time and memory. Part memoir, part detective story, and part history, it is a tale of family secrets, personal journeys, genealogy, mental illness, poverty, immigration, and ultimately, understanding and forgiveness.

Tom Clancy (1947-2013)


Best selling author, Tom Clancy, passed away today at the age of 66 from an undisclosed illness. Known for action-packed military and espionage thrillers, Clancy was praised for his mastery of the technical details of submarine warfare, espionage, missile systems and covert plots between superpowers. His breakout hit, The Hunt for Red October in 1985 was the first of 28 books, many of which were adapted for films. His frequent protagonist, agent Jack Ryan was portrayed by Alec Baldwin (The Hunt for Red October), Harrison Ford (Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger), and Ben Affleck, (The Sum of All Fears). His latest book, Command Authority, is scheduled for release in December.

NRGM LogoOctober is National Reading Group Month

National Reading Group Month is an initiative of the Women's National Book Association (WNBA). Founded in 1917, WNBA promotes literacy, a love of reading, and women's roles in the community of the book. The mission of National Reading Group Month is to celebrate book discussion groups and increase public awareness of the joy and value of shared reading.

The Library sponsors several Book Discussion groups for all ages and provides a collection of Book Club Kits for private book groups to use. Its easy to join a group or start your own. Contact us - we can help!


2013 MacArthur Foundation Grants

swamplandiaThe MacArthur Foundation recently announced the 24 recipients of its fellowships, popularly known as genius grants: "They are artists, social innovators, scientists and humanists who are working to improve the human condition and to preserve and sustain our natural and cultural heritage," Cecilia Conrad, vice president of the fellows program, said in a statement. Among those on the list is novelist Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia and Vampires in the Lemon Grove. Each winner will receive a no-strings-attached stipend of $625,000 to allow them to follow their creative visions. For Russell, the timing was fortuitous: she needed an emergency root canal and didn't have dental insurance. Or a permanent home - she had been moving from city to city taking a series of writing jobs at colleges and universities to support herself. “I was really craving a stable home,” she said.

Final-GMIR-logo-smlAnnie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret
by Steve Luxenberg

Plymouth patrons will once again join hundreds of anniesghostscommunities across the state participating in the Great Michigan Read, the statewide one-book reading initiative sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council, by reading Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret by native Detroiter, Steve Luxenberg. Annie’s Ghosts is the personal account of Luxenberg’s quest to learn about the aunt he never knew, her existence hidden and denied by his mother and other relatives. Her name was Annie and she was hospitalized at the Eloise asylum in Westland for most of her life, forgotten in time and memory. Part memoir, part detective story, and part history, it is a tale of family secrets, personal journeys, genealogy, mental illness, poverty, immigration, and ultimately, understanding and forgiveness.

The Great Michigan Read is presented by the Michigan Humanities Council, with support from Meijer and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Events are planned all year throughout the state, including a 16-city author tour which will include several stops in Metro Detroit.

Activities at PDL will include the Contemporary Books Discussion Group on Tuesday, October 8 at 7:30 p.m. We will be discussing Annie’s Ghosts and the secrets we discover therein. No registration is necessary to participate. Copies of the book will be available for check-out at the Library. Readers Guides will also be available.

For those interested in unearthing their own family secrets, Genealogist and Librarian Kathy Petlewski will offer two sessions about researching your family tree. Sign-up for the October 17 and 24 presentations is requested.

On Tuesday, October 22 at 7 p.m. Jo Johnson and Georgia Becker of the Friends of Eloise, and   the Westland Historical Commission, will speak at the Library about the history of Eloise, the vast hospital, poor house and asylum complex which operated in Westland from 1839 to 1979, and figured so prominently in Annie’s story. Sign-up is requested at 734.453.0750, ext. 4, or online at

 Join us as we learn more about an important part of our past when we read Annie’s Ghosts.

Another Anthony Award - Louise Penny

beautifulmysteryThe Anthony Awards are literary awards for mystery writers presented each year at the Bouchercon World Mystery Convention. The awards are named for Anthony Boucher (1911–1968), one of the founders of the Mystery Writers of America, and have been presented since 1986. This year's winners were announced Saturday night and for the fourth time in a row, Louise Penny has won the Best Novel Award for her latest book in the popular Inspector Gamache series, The Beautiful Mystery. The series features Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, head of the homicide department of the Sûreté du Québec and is set in the province of Quebec where Penny lives.




The Award for Best First Novel went to Chris Pavone for his international thriller, The Expats . Pavone also won the Edgar Award (given by the Mystery Writers of America and named after Edgar Allan Poe) in May 2013.



wisforwastedSue Grafton received the 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award for the series which introduced California private investigator Kinsey Millhone in the 1982 novel A is for Alibi. Twenty-two more of the "alphabet mysteries" followed with the latest, W is for Wasted, recently published and currently on best seller lists.


Banned Books Week - September 22 - 28, 2013

invisiblemanThe Randolph County Board of Education in North Carolina voted this week to ban Ralph Ellison's novel, Invisible Man, from all of its school libraries. The 5-2 vote followed a complaint from a parent, despite decisions of review committees at both the school and district levels recommending the book not be removed. Ellison's 1952 book, which won the National Book Award, is considered a literary masterpiece with its depiction of the experiences of African American men in 20th century America and the grim realities of racial discrimination.

Coincidentally, this week is Banned Books Week, the annual celebration of our right to free and open access to information and the freedom to read what we choose. Banned Book Week serves to remind us of the harms of censorship by focusing on those instances where access to books has been curtailed. Over the years many books have been challenged or banned - some even quite close to home.

National Book Awards for Fiction, 2013

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The National Book Foundation announced the first longlists for its book awards this week as part of a gradual build-up to the actual award ceremony in November. In an attempt to raise the profile and buzz of the awards, the Foundation started with longlists for each category, one each day, which will be followed by shortlists, and then the announcement of the actual winners. And in another break from tradition, non-writers such as librarians, book sellers and critics were added to the judging panels. The shortlists will be announced Oct. 16, and the winners on Nov. 20.

Fiction Longlist:

Tom Drury, Pacific
Elizabeth Graver, The End of the Point
Rachel Kushner, The Flamethrowers
Jhumpa Lahiri, The Lowland (also nominated for the Man Booker Prize)
Anthony Marra, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
James McBride, The Good Lord Bird
Alice McDermott, Someone
Thomas Pynchon, Bleeding Edge
George Saunders, Tenth of December
Joan Silber, Fools

October 201library reads logo website3 LibraryReads List

The top ten books published this month that librarians across the country love.

This new 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" - just a list of collective favorites - books librarians loved and want to share.

#1 for October : The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion


Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction

havanrequiemThe third annual Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction will be awarded to writer Paul Goldstein for his book, Havana Requiem, on September 19 during the National Book Festival in Washington D.C.  The Harper Lee Prize, named after the beloved author of To Kill a Mockingbird, "celebrates the role of lawyers in society and the ideals represented by Atticus Finch." The prize is sponsored by the University of Alabama and the ABA (American Bar Association) Journal. Goldstein, the author of three novels and professor of law at Standford Law School, joins authors John Grisham (The Confession) and Michael Connelly (Fifth Witness), the first and second recipients of this honor. To be considered for the award, a book must be fiction published in the prior year "that best illuminates the role of lawyers or the legal system in society." Although there doesn't appear to be a cash prize, the winner does receive a copy of the 50th Anniversary Edition of To Kill a Mockingbird signed by Harper Lee.

Trending Now...

Lowland-Cover-InsertThe Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
A novel set in India and America about brothers born just fifteen months apart. Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable, one often mistaken for the other in the Calcutta neighborhood where they grow up. But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead. It is the 1960s, and Udayan--charismatic and impulsive--finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty; he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother's political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America. But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family's home, he goes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind--including those seared in the heart of his brother's wife. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.


rosieprojectThe Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
This hilarious, feel-good novel is narrated by an oddly charming and socially challenged genetics professor on an unusual quest: to find out if he is capable of true love. Don Tillman, professor of genetics, has never been on a second date and his lifelong difficulty with social rituals has convinced him that he is simply not wired for romance. So when an acquaintance informs him that he would make a "wonderful" husband, his first reaction is shock. Yet he must concede to the statistical probability that there is someone for everyone, and he embarks upon The Wife Project. Don sets out to find the perfect partner. She will be punctual and logical--most definitely not a barmaid, a smoker, a drinker, or a late-arriver. Yet Rosie Jarman is all these things. She is also beguiling, fiery, intelligent--and on a quest of her own.


wearewaterWe Are Water by Wally Lamb
In middle age, Annie Oh--wife, mother, and outsider artist--has shaken her family to its core. After twenty-seven years of marriage and three children, Annie has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy, cultured, confident Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her professional success. Annie and Viveca plan to wed in the Oh family's hometown of Three Rivers, Connecticut, where gay marriage has recently been legalized. But the impending wedding provokes some very mixed reactions and opens a Pandora's box of toxic secrets--dark and painful truths that have festered below the surface of the Ohs' lives. While Annie's
husband Orion is devastated by the loss of his wife, his children's responses range from delight to denial. An intricate and layered portrait of marriage, family, and the need for understanding and connection, told in the alternating voices of the Ohs--nonconformist Annie; her ex-husband, Orion; Ariane, the do-gooder daughter, her twin, Andrew, the rebellious only son; and free-spirited Marissa.

Yesterday the Man Booker Prize committee announced the shortlist for this year's prize, testamentofmarywhich will be awarded on October 15.  The contenders are:

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo 
The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
The Harvest by Jim Crace
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín

The Man Booker is Britain's most prestigious literary honor given to a writer from the UK and its Commonwealth. The winner earns literary renown and a cash prize of about $80,000.

The Man Booker website describes the range of books on the list:
"The six books on the list could not be more diverse. There are examples from novelists from New Zealand, England, Canada, Ireland and Zimbabwe – each with its own highly distinctive taste. They range in size from the 832 pages of Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries to the 104-page The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín. The times represented stretch from the biblical Middle East (Tóibín) to contemporary Zimbabwe (NoViolet Bulawayo) by way of 19th-century New Zealand (Catton), 1960s India (Jumpha Lahiri), 18th-century rural England (Crace) and modern Tokyo (Ruth Ozeki). The oldest author on the list, Jim Crace, is 67, the youngest (indeed the youngest ever shortlistee), Eleanor Catton, is 28. Colm Tóibín has written more than 15 books, The Luminaries is only Catton's second."




The mysteries of writer J.D Salinger's life are explored in a new biography by David Shields and Shane Salerno and the recently released documentary film that accompanies it. Salinger was famously reclusive, giving few interviews and preferring to live quietly in New Hampshire away from the trappings of celebrity until his death in 2010. He shot to fame after World War II, mostly due to his short stories and his breakout novel,
The Catcher in the Rye, published in 1951. With its themes of teen angst and alienation, The Catcher in the Rye is still popular today, selling more than 65 million copies worldwide, and has been named to the Modern Library's list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. The bio suggests that Salinger left manuscripts for more novels to be published according to a specific timetable - something Salinger fans are eagerly awaiting. 
(To learn more about Salinger's life and work, check out Stephen Colbert's book discussion
episode of Sept.10.)


Frederick Pohl (1919-2013)

spacemerchantsFrederick Pohl, renowned writer of science fiction, passed away on September 2 at the age of 93. His literary career dates back to his teenage years; his first published work, a poem, appeared in a magazine in 1937 when Pohl was 18. He produced a huge volume of works over his 75 year career: books, articles, essays, blog posts and short stories, and served as a literary agent for other writers, including Isaac Asimov. He won all of the major science fiction awards, including a National Book Award in 1979 for Jem: The Making of a Utopia. Although considered a dedicated futurist, he was skeptical about the use of science to improve society. His anti-utopian novel, The Space Merchants, written in 1952, depicts a dystopian world run by advertising executives who compete to hook consumers on addictive products like Crunchies and Starr Cigarettes. The Science Fiction Writers of America named Pohl a Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master in 1993 and he was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1998. Over the past few years, Pohl gravitated to the Internet; his blog, The Way the Future Blogs, won the 2010 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer. Among his other achievements, he and his friends organized the first
sci-fi "convention" in a bar in 1936.

Award Winners

redshirtsThe annual Hugo Awards for excellence in the science fiction genre were announced on September 1 at the 71st World Science Fiction Convention, LoneStarCon 3. Best novel kudos went to John Scalzi for Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, described in the NYTimes as "a comedic novel about a group of ensigns aboard a spaceship who discover they are actually part of a television show similar to “Star Trek.” Scalzi is a well known sci fi author whose first book, Old Man's War, about 75-year-old citizens of Earth who are recruited to join the defense of human colonies in space, paid homage to Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein and was nominated for a Hugo Award in 2006.




Closer to home, the Michigan Library Association recently announced that writer Laura Kasischke is the winner of the 2013 Michigan Author Award. Kasischke grew up in Grand Rapids and currently lives in Chelsea. She is a professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan and has written eight novels and eight books of poetry. Two of her novels have been adapted for feature films. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry in 2012.



The Bone Season by Samantha ShannonThe-Bone-Season-cover

Yesterday, the Today Show announced a new monthly book club similar to the well known and very successful Oprah TV book club. The first selection is a debut novel, The Bone Season, a dystopian story set in a totalitarian state of the future about a young clairvoyant, Paige Mahoney, who is sentenced to prison and forced to use her powers for the ruling army. It is planned to be the first of a seven book series and has received glowing reviews. "The internal mythology is complex and intriguing, the emotional struggle is captivating, and the pace rarely falters as Paige unravels the mysteries and dangers of her new home. This extremely strong beginning will have readers eager to see whether Shannon can maintain her stride for a lengthy series." (Publishers Weekly)
Both the publisher and the producers of Today are hoping that the venture proves popular and profitable.

Elmore Leonard (1925-2013)

getshortyCelebrated local author Elmore "Dutch" Leonard passed away this morning in metro Detroit. Known for a long list of crime novels and westerns, Leonard was acclaimed for his pure writing style and realistic, colorful dialogue. Several of his books (Get Shorty, Raylan, 3:10 to Yuma) have been adapted for films and TV shows. He was presented with the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters by the National Book Foundation in November of last year in recognition of his outstanding achievements in fiction writing. Leonard has long been considered a local treasure, giving generously of his time through book signings and speaking engagements. He appeared at PDL in May at the Friends of the Plymouth District Library Annual Meeting, and was an engaging, amusing, and gracious speaker. We will miss him.

Best-Selling Authors


Forbes Magazine recently released its list of top-earning authors for the period of June 2012 through June 2013. Instead of an established writer like James Patterson (number 2, $91 million) the top spot goes to E. L. James of Fifty Shades of Grey fame, with over 70 million copies sold and an estimated $95 million in earnings. Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games) is in third place, with Bill O'Reilly fourth and Danielle Steel fifth. Surprisingly Nora Roberts came in eighth with $23 million. The lesson drawn by the publishing industry from all this? Surprise and originality lead to sales - the biggest blockbusters are the ones you don't see coming.

Barbara Mertz a.k.a. Elizabeth Peters (1927-2013)

lastcamelPopular mystery writer and Egyptologist, Barbara Mertz,
who lordofthesilentwrote as Elizabeth Peters, passed away August 8 due to complications of a pulmonary embolism. She authored several mystery series, the best-known features Amelia Peabody, a Victorian-era Egyptologist, and her family of archaeologists/adventurers who travel to the monuments and other ancient sites in Egypt solving crimes and creating mayhem. Peters' Amelia is an independant woman not content to sit by and let men rule her world, even her beloved husband, Emerson. As she puts it, "It is impossible for any rational mind to follow the peculiar mental convolutions that pass for logic among the male sex . . ." A force to be reckoned with and a character who will be missed.

Austenland Shannon Hale novel

 Since this year is the 200th anniversary of the release of Pride and Prejudice, all things Jane Austen have been celebrated and honored. Events have been ongoing all year, including balls and fetes, conferences and symposiums. The Bank of England has announced that Austen's image will appear on the 10 pound bank note, making her only the third woman to be represented on British currency. Books based on Austen's novels became a cottage industry awhile ago, and more are forthcoming: Finding Colin Firth by Mia March came out last month and Longbourn by Jo Baker will be published in October. Austenland, the movie based on the novel by Shannon Hale and starring Keri Russell, will open in theaters on August 16. The clever people at the New York Times have even invented a board game, The Janeiac Game, to help every Lizzy find her Darcy!

Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish: A Novel

lovedishonorEssayist David Rakoff's new novel offers the reader a little something different - it's written in verse, rhyming couplets to be exact -  and tells the story of America in the 20th century through a series of characters whose lives intersect and overlap. The novel begins in the early 1900's with Margaret, a young woman working in a Chicago slaughterhouse who endures an evil stepfather: "“Frank said that one time, in Wichita, Kansas, / He’d killed a man who had addressed him as Francis.” Rakoff introduces, among others, Clifford, a young boy growing up during the Great Depression; Helen, a lonely secretary in 1950's New York; and Susan, a member of the 1980's art world who is at the center of a love triangle. Paul Rudnick, reviewing the book for the New York Times concluded,  "As the century draws to a close, characters practice all the verbs in the book’s title. Ultimately, some wonderfully surprising connections between the most disparate people are revealed. The book ends with an especially lovely revelation that’s both ruefully comic and crushingly sad. For such a short work, “Love” feels full-scale and satisfying; what might have been a platter of tempting but trivial literary hors d’oeuvres becomes a feast." Rakoff passed away in 2012.

The Cousins' War by Philippa Gregory

cousinswarThe STARZ cable network has adapted Philippa Gregory's novels redqueenabout the English War of the Roses into a ten episode mini-series scheduled to start on August 10. STARZ is calling the show "The White Queen," and it is based on the first three books of Gregory's series: The White Queen, The Red Queen, and The Lady of the Rivers. Other books in the series are The Kingmaker's Daughter and the newly released The White Princess. The War of the Roses refers to the series of dynastic wars for the throne of England that occurred between 1455 and 1485, and were fought primarily by the rival Houses of York (white rose) and Lancaster (red rose).  The history of the War of the Roses is said to be one inspiration for George R.R. Martin's popular Game of Thrones saga.


And Neither is Summer Reading...


The Adult Summer Reading Program is still going strong. Readers have until August 10 to turn in their bingo sheets or log their titles online. Prizes include gift certificates to Plymouth stores and restaurants and tickets to the Penn Theatre. Join us in some groundbreaking reading and then have some fun in Plymouth.

Man Booker Longlist Announced

weneednewnamesYesterday, July 23, the judges of the Man Booker Prize announced the 13 titles in contention to win the award this year. Given annually to the best English-language novel published in the Commonwealth of Nations, it is considered one of literature's most prestigious prizes. Seven of the thirteen titles are by women and seven countries are represented on the list. According to the Man Booker website, the judges reviewed 151 books to get to the longlist. Now the task is to produce a shortlist by September and the ultimate winner will be announced in October. Several established authors (Jim Crace, Jhumpa Lahiri, Colum McCann, Colm Toibin) are included on this year's list along with debut authors (NoViolet Bulawayo, Eve Harris, Donal Ryan).

Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove

16lighthouse          204        311pelicanOn July 20, The Hallmark Channel will debut a new series based on Debbie Macomber's popular Cedar Cove novels,starring Andie McDowell as family court judge, Olivia Lockhart. The stories are set in a small town in Washington state and detail the lives and relationships of the local denizens. Hallmark's description reads "Andie MacDowell plays Judge Olivia Lockhart, whose Cedar Cove Municipal Court is the professional milieu and social microcosm of issues the judge will face in her own day-to-day life with family and friends." Macomber, a bestselling author, is known for her heartwarming, gentle romances and has earned both a RITA and a lifetime achievement award from the Romance Writers of America.

The Cuckoo's Calling by Robert Galbraith

the-cuckoos-callingThis weekend it was revealed in the Sunday Times of London that a mystery novel, The Cuckoo's Calling, purportedly by "debut" author, Robert Galbraith, was really written by J.K. Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter. The book was released in the U.S. in April to positive reviews. The story features Cormoran Strike, a disabled veteran from the war in Afghanistan, who works as a private detective on the biggest case of his career, the death of a supermodel. Publishers Weekly concluded that the book "combines a complex and compelling sleuth and an equally well-formed and unlikely assistant with a baffling crime." Obviously, demand for the book has now skyrocketed; Amazon is temporarily out of stock.

Writer Alice Munro Calls it Quits

dear life coverCelebrated short story author, Alice Munro, recently announced her retirement from writing at the age of 82, stating,"I’m probably not going to write anymore. And, so, it’s nice to go out with a bang.” She had just accepted another of the many literary awards she has received over her career, including the 2009 Man Booker International Prize for her lifetime body of work. Of course, she also mentioned retirement in 2006, but went on to produce another volume of short stories in 2012, Dear Life, which was well received by readers and critics. "That Alice Munro, now 81, is one of the great short story writers not just of our time but of any time ought to go without saying by now." (New York Times).  Her stories are often set in her native Ontario and usually involve "the world of small, isolated communities where ambition is frowned on, especially in women; where longings are kept secret; and everyone knows, or thinks he knows, everyone else’s business." (New York Times). Munro intends to be more social, to see more people and accept more invitations, "I can have people around a lot more, because I’m not always chasing them away so I can work ..."

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

oceanatthenedPerusal of the hardcover fiction best seller list in Sunday's New York Times Book Review reveals a new title in the number one position. Neil Gaiman's latest, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, has dislodged Dan Brown's thriller, Inferno, which had been at the top of the list for six weeks. The Times also notes that this has been a very successful year for Gaiman: five of his books have been on different best seller lists in 2013. The industrious author produced a picture book, a graphic novel, ebook fiction, and edited a story anthology in addition to his hardcover adult novel. The Ocean at the End of the Lane tells a tale of childhood memories and magic, narrated by an unnamed adult who returns to the home of his youth and the farm down the lane where he met 11-year-old Lettie, her mother and her ancient grandmother, who claims she was around when the moon was first made. Since this is a book by Neil Gaiman, dark and amazing adventures ensue involving witches and other supernatural beings. " ...a character study trapped in a fairy tale, a coming-of-age story wrapped in the trappings of myth. It’s Gaiman at his bittersweet, hypnotic best, and it’s a can’t-miss book for this summer." (Bookpage)


Under the Dome

CBS has a major summertime hit with its adaptation of Stephen King's novel Under the underthedomeDome. The premiere of the 13-part mini-series opened big with over 13 million viewers on June 24, and attracted many viewers in the 18-49 year-old range most desired by advertisers. King's 2009 book tells the story of a small New England town that is suddenly threatened with extinction when an enormous, transparent and indestructible dome descends over the town and seals it off from the rest of civilization.The locals must find ways to survive even as they try to understand their fate. King's allegory is fairly obvious ,as he noted in an interview, "We’re all under the dome. Because so far as we know, this little tiny blue world is all we’ve got.”




Canada by Richard Ford

canadaOn June 30 the American Library Association announced this year's recipients of the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in fiction and non-fiction. The awards, established in 2012, recognize the best in fiction and non-fiction for adult readers published in the U.S. during the previous year. The Medals are funded thorugh a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York and co-sponsored by ALA's Booklist magazine and the Reference and User Services division of ALA. This year's fiction winner, Richard Ford, accepted his medal and the $5,000 prize at the ALA's annual conference in Chicago. Ford's novel, Canada, is the tale of 15 year-old Dell Parsons, whose parents rob a bank. Their arrest and imprisonment forces Dell and his sister to confront  harsh realities and changes their lives forever.


Novelist Vince Flynn 1966-2013

last manBestselling author Vince Flynn passed away on June 19 from prostate cancer. He was 47. Flynn wrote 14 political thrillers, most featuring Mitch Rapp, a vigilante assassin who sometimes worked for the CIA to combat enemy espionage and terrorism. Flynn's first book, Term Limits, was self published and did so well that he got a contract with Simon & Schuster for more. Since then his books have consistently been best sellers with many fans in the federal intelligence community, including former President George W. Bush. Flynn remarked in an interview, "In my series the heroes are the men and women of the Secret Service, the C.I.A., Special Forces, the whole national security apparatus. And the villains are, shockingly enough, Islamic radical fundamentalists," ... "The secondary villains that I have are politicians and bureaucrats. It’s very easy to build a story around that because it’s reality.”  His most recent book, The Last Man, was published last year; his last, The Survivor, was scheduled for release later this fall.



World War Z: an Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

WorldWarZ 200-s6-c30Need a zombie fix now that  The Walking Dead is on hiatus? Brad Pitt is in a movie for you! Based on Max (son of Mel) Brooks' 2006 novel, World War Z opens this Friday in the U.S., although it has already had its London premiere where Pitt was mobbed by adoring fans. Pitt plays a former UN investigator who travels the world attempting to combat a zombie pandemic. The zombies in this film don't act like the shambling undead we're used to - they move quickly en masse, swarming across the globe to spread a worldwide plague. The novel, an "oral history," is structured as a series of interviews conducted by a U.N. employee with as many as 40 narrators.These first person accounts range from the doctor who dealt with one of the first cases to the politicians and military personnel who struggle to defeat the zombies, and include testimony from ordinary individuals who lived through the time of terror. Critics were postive: USA Today's review concluded that the book "possesses more creativity and zip than entire crates of other new fiction titles....Creepy but satsifying."




Like graduations and weddings, summer reading lists and recommendations proliferate every year in June. Every media outlet, whether print, online, blog or broadcast, creates a list of best summer reads filled with non-fiction, fiction, beach reads and how-to books. Oprah, The New York Times, The Daily Beast, Publishers Weekly, NPR, The Los Angeles Times, USA Today 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!


Novelist Iain Banks 1954-2013

hydrogensonataScottish author Iain Banks passed away June 9 in Scotland from advanced gall bladder cancer. Banks wrote novels in several genres: literary fiction as Iain Banks and science fiction as Iain M. Banks. He published 28 books in about 30 years, including a ten-book sci fi series about the Culture universe, an interstellar anarchic, utopian society, and several crime/thriller novels noted for their violence, plot twists and political subtext. Banks' one nonfiction book, his chronicle of a tour of distilleries, celebrated his love for single-malt Scotch whiskey. In an interview about a month before his death, Banks stated that he enjoyed writing his sci fi novels more than his other fiction, and the Culture novels best of all, calling that series "a hoot." The most recent book set in the Culture world is The Hydrogen Sonata, about the search for the oldest person in the Culture, a man more than 9,000 years old, who holds the truth for the development of civilization.




PDL'S  Adult Summer Reading Program has already begun. Join us for a summer of groundbreaking reads! There are two ways to play: Library Bingo or our Online
Log. Pick up a bingo sheet at the Library or sign up on the Library webpage to start earning your prize. Prizes include Plymouth Chamber of Commerce gift certificates and Penn Theatre tickets.  Enjoy!



Women's Prize for Fiction 2013

maywebeforgivenThe winner of this year's Women's Prize for Fiction, formerly known the Orange Prize, was announced in London on June 5. American author A. M Homes won for her novel May We Be Forgiven, beating our stiff competition from other well known nominees like Hilary Mantel (Bring Up the Bodies), Zadie Smith (NW), Barbara Kingsolver (Flight Behavior), Kate Atkinson (Life After Life), and  Maria Semple (Where'd You Go, Bernadette). 2013 marks the eighteenth year of the Women’s Prize for Fiction, which celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women’s writing from throughout the world.

Homes' contemporary novel about a man picking up the pieces after a family tragedy
was favorably reviewed by NPR's Michael Schaub. "May We Be Forgiven is both a narrative masterwork and an impassioned cry of conscience against the selfishness and anomie of the digital generation. It's not just one of the best novels of the past few years, it's also the most deeply, painfully American."


baileys-logo3-793x344In related news, it was also announced this week that the prize has gained a new corporate sponsor, replacing the prior arrangement with the Orange telecommunications company. From next year, the prize will be known as the Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction, as part of a new three-year partnership with the cream liqueur brand. Kate Mosse, founder of the prize, declared "they (Bailey's) were such a great fit as they are all about celebrating women".... continuing  "Everyone thinks of Baileys as a treat, as something which is about celebrating women and giving a great time."

                             This partnership could enliven many a book club meeting.

priestlysinsFr. Andrew Greeley, described in his New York Times obituary as "priest, author, scholar, scold" passed away May 30 at the age of 85.  As a writer his works ranged from sociological studies and theological scholarship to popular and somewhat explicit novels, especially for a priest thoroughly committed to his vocation. But as the NYT obituary continues, the word "maverick" seemed tailor-made for Greeley. "One could identify a left and a right in American Catholicism, and then there was Father Greeley, occupying a zone all his own." Probably best known to the public were the novels about Irish American families and their sons in the priesthood who confront both career and personal temptations along the way. At least ten of his novels made the bestseller lists. "“Sometimes I suspect that my obituary in The New York Times,” Father Greeley once wrote, “will read, ‘Andrew Greeley, Priest; Wrote Steamy Novels.'"


Adult Border


Starting June 1, adults will have the chance to win prizes for reading and using the Library. You can
play Library Bingo or, if Bingo isn't your thing, you can register online and log 5 books to earn your prize. Prizes
include Plymouth Chamber of Commerce gift certificates and Penn Theatre tickets. Check the Library's website
on June 1 for details.

Postcard Front


DON'T PANIC!hitchhikersguide2

Each year, on May 25, fans of  Douglas Adams, the deceased author of The Htichhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, honor his legacy by carrying a towel all day. Why?  Because, as all devotees of Adams' books know, "A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have." In addition to reading any or all of Adam's very funny sci-fi humor, click here for tips on how to celebrate this great day. (The answer to everything is always "42.")




2012 Nebula Awards                         nebulaawardlogo

2312On May 18, the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America presented author Kim Stanley Robinson the Nebula Award for Best Novel for his book, 2312. The futuristic story imagines scientific and technological breakthroughs that transform humanity. Earth is no longer the only home for humans; new habitats have been created throughout the solar system on moons, planets, and everyplace in between. On Mercury, in a city that is a marvel of design, Swan Er Hong arrives to mourn her recently deceased grandmother Alex, one of Mercury's movers and shakers, only to discover mysterious projects in the works that have the potential to destroy the entire solar system. "A brilliant, plausible account of how humans might colonize planets, moons and asteroids, 2312 is also about the future of art and family."(NPR Books)




The SFWA also named author Gene Wolfe as the 2012 Damon Knight Grand Master for his contributions to the literature of science fiction and fantasy. Wolfe's long career started inthe 1960's and he has been a prolific writer of novels and  short stories ever since. He is most famous for The Book of the New Sun, four volumes written from 1980-1983 about young Severian, an apprentice in the Guild of Torturers on the world called Urth, exiled for committing the ultimate sin of his profession - showing mercy toward his victim.




Last year, the bicentennial of Charles Dickens' birth, prompted literary critics to take renewed interest in his life and works. Dickens, as all would acknowledge, is one of the preeminent English writers of all time. Although many writers are compared to him, can any  contemporary author really measure up to the great master? Jimmy Soo, deputy books editor for Newsweek/The Daily Beast, compiled a list of novelists worldwide who could be favorably compared to Dickens, stating that "wherever an author is found chronicling the lives of ordinary folk with gripping prose and sprawling plots, a Dickens parallel is rarely far behind."  Among others included on his list is Michigan's own Elmore Leonard. "There is much talk of the Detroit scribe as the most American novelist today. So gritty is his realism that you can breathe the very odors of the land and hear the familiar noises of its blue-collar people." Another reason to appreciate "Dutch" Leonard - the Dickens of Detroit!

Elmore Leonard and his son, author Peter Leonard, will be speaking at the Friends Annual Meeting on May 22,  here at the Library. Call the Library at 734.453.0750, ext 4, to register.