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Adult Book News

Is it that time already?

Publishers Weekly - Best Books of 2016

ninety ninestoriesPW's editors recently released their lengthy list (100 adult titles, 50 children's titles) of "Best" books of 2016, conveniently divided into genres such as fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, poetry, non-fiction etc.  In the fiction category are several of the award contenders, books that are getting the literary love, and some that are less well-known, still hovering off the popular radar.

In their Top Ten is a volume of short stories called Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams. Williams, a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist, exhibits her quirky sensibility throughout this slender collection of short, fictional vignettes exploring our day-to-day interactions with an ever-elusive and arbitrary God. The figures that haunt these stories range from Kafka (talking to a fish) to the Aztecs, from Tolstoy to Abraham and Sarah, and from O. J. Simpson to a pack of wolves. Most of Williams's characters, however, are like the rest of us: anonymous strivers and bumblers who brush up against God in the least expected places or go searching for Him when He's standing right there. The Lord shows up at a hot-dog-eating contest, a demolition derby, a formal gala, and a drugstore, where he's in line to get a shingles vaccination. "Though God does not appear by name in every story, something of the divine echoes in each, something larger than the humans that populate each chapter. Each story is brief, with some less than a paragraph. Some amaze, some are quietly powerful, some gracefully absurd. Much like the divine, Williams' prose is simple and brutal, thoughtful and haunting. A spare but startling book." (Booklist)

 

 

Native American Heritage Month 2016

Picture1November is Native American Heritage Month

Since 1990, each President has designated November as the month to honor "the significant contributions the first Americans made to the establishment and growth of the U.S." According to the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the effort to gain recognition of the value of Native American culture started in the 1900's with various states and organizations declaring certain days as American Indian Days. This month not only honors the diverse traditions, cultures, and histories of Native Americans, but also serves to educate the general public about the challenges Native peoples faced in the past and continue to face in the present.

 

roundhouse2Contemporary Native American writers continue to enrich our national discourse by sharing the histories, traditions and beliefs of Native Americans through diverse novels that explore the modern Native American experience. Well known authors like Louise Erdrich, recipient of the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction in 2015, and Sherman Alexie, winner of the 2007 National Book Award, have produced powerful stories of modern reservation life and the clash of traditional customs and modern social and legal systems. Other Native American authors to consider include Linda Hogan, James Welch, Joseph Boyden, Leslie Marmon Silko, and  N. Scott Momaday.

 

 

More Literary Heavy Hitters

carnegie-fic-medal photo web2017 Andrew Carnegie Awards

On October 26, the American Library Association announced the 2017 shortlist for 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 last year. The Medals are funded through 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. Winning authors, who receive a $5,000 cash award, are picked by library professionals. The 2017 Carnegie Medal winners will be announced at the ALA Midwinter Meeting in Atlanta on January 22.

Fiction Finalists:

moonglowMoonglow by Michael Chabon
Moonglow unfolds as the deathbed confession of a man the narrator refers to only as "my grandfather." Under the influence of powerful painkillers, the ailing man tells his tale of madness, of war and adventure, of sex and marriage and desire, of existential doubt and model rocketry, of American technological accomplishment at midcentury, and, above all, of the destructive impact--and the creative power--of keeping secrets and telling lies. It is a portrait of the difficult but passionate love between the narrator's grandfather and his grandmother, an enigmatic woman broken by her experience growing up in war-torn France. The novel, not yet published, will be released on November 22.

 

Swing Time by Zadie Smith                                                       swing time
Two brown girls dream of being dancers--but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. The close but complicated childhood friendship  ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either. Tracey makes it to the chorus line but struggles with adult life, while her friend leaves the old neighborhood behind, traveling the world as an assistant to a famous singer, Aimee, observing close up how the one percent live. But when Aimee develops grand philanthropic ambitions, the story moves from London to West Africa, where diaspora tourists travel back in time to find their roots, and the women dance just like Tracey. Smith's latest is due to be published on November 15.

 

underground railroadThe Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
The novel follows Cora, a smart, young, third-generation slave in the South, and her desperate flight from state to state to find freedom. Throughout her journey, Cora and her fellow slave, Ceasar, are pursued by the cold-blooded slave catcher, Ridgeway, who is always close behind them. What makes the book so extraordinary is that Whitehead imagines the underground railroad not only as a network of safe houses and individuals opposed to slavery, but as an actual, physical railroad with engineers, conductors, and tracks beneath the ground. Chosen by Oprah for her book club, this novel is also on the shortlists for the Kirkus Prize and the National Book Award.

 

 

 

2016 Man Booker Fiction Prize

American Paul Beatty wins for The Sellout

manbooker blueThis evening, Oct 25, in London, this year's winner of the Man Booker Prize
was announced. Paul Beatty is the very first American writer to win
the Man selloutBooker Prize for Fiction; before a rules change three years ago, only writers from the British Commonweath countries were eligbile for England's most prestigious (and lucrative) literary prize. Beatty's racial satire, The Sellout, which also won the National Book Critics Circle Award earlier this year, is a biting and edgy exploration of racial politics, viewed through a young man's isolated upbringing and the trial that sends him to the U.S. Supreme Court. Using a perverse sort of logic, the alienated protagonist seeks to both assert his African-American identity, and save his neglected town, which has been literally wiped from the map of California, by reinstating outright racial segregation and slavery. The novel challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and racial equality in  the so-called "post-racial" America. The Man Booker judges found it akin to the wit of Mark Twain and Jonathan Swift, "It manages to eviscerate every social taboo and politically correct nuance, every sacred cow. While making us laugh, it also makes us wince. It is both funny and painful at the same time.”

 

 

2016 Anthony Awards

Bouchercon Mystery Awards

The Anthony Awards for mystery fiction written in 2015 were announced on September 16 at the annual World Mystery Convention (Bouchercon) held in New Orleans, LA. The convention and the awards are named after Anthony Boucher, writer, editor, and critic of science fiction and mystery who helped found the Mystery Writers of America in 1946.

Best Novel:

killingkindThe Killing Kind by Chris Holm
Michael Hendricks kills people for money. That aside, he's not so bad a guy.
Once a covert operative for a false-flag unit of the US military, Hendricks was presumed dead after a mission in Afghanistan went sideways. He left behind his old life--and beloved fiancée--and set out on a path of redemption...or perhaps one of willful self-destruction. Now Hendricks makes his living as a hitman entrepreneur of sorts--he only hits other hitmen. For ten times the price on your head, he'll make sure whoever's coming to kill you winds up in the ground instead. Not a bad way for a guy with his skill-set to make a living--but a great way to make himself a target. "...the wild and furious action, the unusual plot featuring assassin versus assassin, and the memorable characters all keep the reader racing through this skillfully told tale of vengeance." (Library Journal)

 

Best First Novel:

pastcrimesPast Crimes by Glen Erik Hamilton
Van Shaw was raised to be a thief, but at eighteen he suddenly broke all ties to that life and joined the military--abandoning his illicit past and the career-criminal grandfather who taught him the trade. Now, after ten years of silence, his grandfather has asked him to come home to Seattle. But when Van arrives, he discovers his grandfather bleeding out on the floor from a gunshot to the head. With a lifetime of tough history between him and the old man, Van knows he's sure to be the main suspect. The only way he can clear his name is to go back to the world he'd sworn to leave behind. Tapping into his criminal skills, he begins to hunt the shooter and uncover what drove his grandfather to reach out after so long. "Hamilton details Shaw's upbringing in sharply honed flashbacks and surrounds him with a cast of intriguing characters on both sides of the law. Readers will be eager to see more of this tough, clever hero." (Publisher's Weekly)

 

Scary Reads

boo    Looking for a frightfully good book?

Ready for Halloween? If not, here are a few spooky reading suggestions to get you in the proper mood. BookPage's Book Case Blog has thoughtfully supplied its list, The Year's Best Halloween Reads, to help you summon the right sinister spirit. After sampling one of these, you may want to hide under the covers and sleep with the lights on. Check out the blog for more creepy titles.

loneyThe Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley
When the remains of a young child are discovered on a stretch of the desolate Lancashire coastline known as the Loney, Tonto Smith is forced to confront the terrifying and mysterious events that occurred forty years earlier when he visited the place as a boy. At that time, his devoutly Catholic mother was determined to find healing for Hanny, his disabled older brother. And so the family embarked on an Easter pilgrimage to an ancient shrine. But not all of the locals were pleased to see visitors in the area. And when the two brothers found their lives entangling with a glamorous couple staying at a nearby house, they became involved in more troubling rites. "This eerily atmospheric and engrossing novel will captivate readers who like their fiction with a touch of the gothic." (Library Journal)

 Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt                                                              mrsplitfoot
Ruth and Nat are orphans, packed into a house full of abandoned children run by a religious fanatic. To entertain their fellow orphans, they pretend to channel the spirits of all the dead parents, until overheard by a con man named Mr. Bell who persuades them to leave the orphanage to work as professional mediums. But during one of their seances, they dicover something darker. Decades later, Ruth's niece, Cora, finds herself accidentally pregnant. After years of absence, Aunt Ruth appears, mute and full of intention. She is on a mysterious mission, leading Cora on an odyssey across the entire state of New York on foot. Where is Ruth taking them? Where has she been? And who -- or what -- has she hidden in the woods at the end of the road? "Hints of what's in store for readers include a cult of Etherists, a noseless man, a pile of lost money, and a scar-like pattern of meteorite landings. This spellbinder is storytelling at its best." (Publishers Weekly)

 

mybestfriendsexMy Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
A dark and heartwarming story of friendship and demonic possession. The year is 1988. High school sophomores Abby and Gretchen have been best friends since fourth grade. But after an evening of skinny-dipping goes disastrously wrong, Gretchen begins to act...different. She's moody. She's irritable. And bizarre incidents keep happening whenever she's nearby. Abby's investigation leads her to some startling discoveries--and by the time their story reaches its terrifying conclusion, the fate of Abby and Gretchen will be determined by a single question: Is their friendship powerful enough to beat the devil? "Hendrix (Horrorstör) brings his blend of dark humor and horror back in this perfect balance of teenage dread and supernatural thrills. Readers who lived through high school in the 1980s may dredge up old memories of big hair and stirrup pants, which will be frightening in itself." (Library Journal)

 

 

"You can breathe, you can blink, you can cry..."

The Walking Dead, Season 7

somethingtofear2Season 7 of the hit AMC drama about the zombie apocalypse and the ordeals of the human survivors starts Sunday, October 23. Last season ended with the ultimate cliff-hanger: one  of our favorite characters was apparently killed by the new villain, Negan, wielding his signature barbed-wire-covered bat, Lucille. Clever camera angles obscured the victim, so viewers will have to tune in Sunday night at 9pm to find out who died. Speculation has been rampant, with handicappers figuring the odds on each character's life. The showrunners and cast, while keeping the victim's identity secret, promise a heartbreaking episode; executive producer Greg Nicotero's advice: "I recommend watching the episode with lots of Kleenex..."

 

 Fans of the show know that the story is adapted from the hugely searchanddestroypopular graphic novels of Robert Kirkman. What many may not know is that Kirkman, with co-author Jay Bonansinga, has written several adult science fiction novels set in the same zombified world, following different sets of survivors and their struggles. Bonansinga has continued the series, adding more titles, the most recent,  Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead: Search and Destroy, was released on October 18.

 

 

More Books to Movies - October

Now (or soon) playing:

nevergobackJack Reacher: Never go Back/Never Go Back by Lee Child
A sequel to the 2012 film, Jack Reacher, starring Tom Cruise, this installment in the franchise is based on the 2013 book, Never Go Back, which takes Reacher, the very independent ex-military policeman, back to the headquarters of his old unit near Washington, D.C. to meet Major Susan Turner. When he arrives, he is hit with shocking news: Turner is under investigation for conspiracy and Reacher is facing arrest and forced re-enlistment. Obviously, Reacher must break out, spring Turner, and go on the run to clear both their names. "As usual, head-busting physicality and analytical problem solving play key roles in Reacher's fight to prove his innocence and expose his enemies. Manhunts on both coasts, a link to corruption in Afghanistan in the wake of the U.S. military drawdown, and the possibility for romance between Reacher and Turner make this entry one of the best in the series." (Publishers Weekly). The movie opens on October 21.

 

americanpastoralAmerican Pastoral by Philip Roth
Roth's tale of a troubled father-daughter relationship, while set in the turbulent 1960's, still resonates today. Seymour "Swede" Levov - a legendary high school athlete, a devoted family man, a hard worker, the prosperous inheritor of his father's Newark glove factory - comes of age in thriving, triumphant postwar America. He marries a former beauty queen, has a child, and buys a house in the country. But everything he loves is lost when the country begins to run amok during the Vietnam War era. Race riots, Watergate, anti-war protests, and the radicalization of his daughter Merry, who plants a bomb that kills a man, all combine to destroy Swede's comfortable life and his belief in the American dream. The novel won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998 and is considered to be among the greatest works of modern American fiction. Actor Ewan McGregor directs and stars in the film, along with Jennifer Connelly and Dakota Fanning; it opens on October 21.

 

infernoInferno by Dan Brown
Another adventure in the career of Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon, hero of The Da Vinci Code, The Lost Symbol, and Angels and Demons, this time based on the first part of The Divine Comedy, the epic poem by Dante Alighieri. It starts when Langdon awakens in a hospital in the middle of the night. Disoriented and suffering from a head wound, he recalls nothing of the last thirty-six hours, including how he got there, or the origin of the macabre object that his doctors discover hidden in his belongings. He realizes that he is in possession of a series of disturbing codes created by a brilliant scientist, a genius whose obsession with the end of the world is matched only by his passion for Dante Alighieri's dark epic poem The Inferno. "Brown delivers an amazing and intense read that arguably is the best Langdon thriller to date. Everything a reader expects from Brown is here, plus a well-written thriller with jaw-dropping twists as well. A high demand for the works of Dante plus a surge in Italian tourism is sure to follow." (Library Journal). The movie stars Tom Hanks as the intrepid Langdon racing through the beautiful cities of Italy; it opens on October 27.

 

 

Librarian Faves for November 2016

November 2016 LibraryReads List

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

library reads logo websiteThis monthly list is created by librarians and library staff to help connect readers to new books and authors. An online community of librarians vote each month on their favorite new books and the results are tallied. "The list is a straightforward calculation: whichever ten books get the most nominations go onto the monthly list. The book with the most nominations becomes the #1 Pick. It’s as simple as that." The list is not meant to be a "best" list - just a list of collective favorites - books librarians loved and want to share.

 

 #1 for November:

Faithful by Alice Hoffman

faithfulWeaving a bit of her signature magic into the story of a young and lost girl, Hoffman creates Shelby Richmond, an ordinary high school senior until an extraordinary tragedy changes her fate. Her best friend's future is destroyed in an accident, while Shelby walks away with the burden of guilt. She spends the next decade struggling to find her way in the world. A fan of Chinese food, dogs, bookstores, and men she should stay away from, Shelby has to fight her way back to her own future. In New York City she finds a circle of lost and found souls--including an angel who's been watching over her ever since that fateful icy night. Slowly, she learns to forgive herself and heal. "Hoffman provides readers as well as her deeply wounded heroine some quirky human anchors to make her journey back to higher functionality more than bearable, even entertaining: e.g., an anonymous Samaritan, apparently male, who sends her hand-drawn postcards bearing get-well messages in the form of visual and verbal riddles.....A novel full of people—flawed, scarred, scared—discovering how to punish themselves less and connect with others more." (Kirkus Reviews)

 

 

Fantastical Fiction to TV

Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams

dirkgentlyReaders familiar with Douglas Adams' popular and very funny sci-fi tale, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, will have some idea of the type of story to expect from his book Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, and the most recent BBC America television adaptation based on it. Earlier this year, BBC America ordered eight episodes for a series based on the characters in the sci-fi/mystery/detective novel published in 1987 and endorsed by Adams as "a thumping good detective-ghost-horror-who dunnit-time travel-romantic-musical-comedy-epic". The TV series deviates from the book's plot a bit by introducing washed-up rocker Todd Brotzman who stumbles upon the murder scene of a millionaire and meets Dirk Gently, an unconventional detective who believes in the interconnectedness of all things. Dirk is psychic and just knows they’re destined to untangle the peculiar events surrounding the mystery together, whether Todd likes it or not. A collection of wild and dangerous characters’ further infiltrate and complicate their world, each episode landing them a few random steps closer to uncovering the truth. And possibly the secret to the end of life on earth. As Dirk explains: everything is connected - a missing cat, corpses, cops, assassins, ghosts, Pararibulitis, vampires, a lottery ticket, a corgi - and an understanding of this fundamental interconnectedness is necessary to solve the whole crime. The show's first episode airs on October 22 at 9pm and stars Samuel Barnett as Dirk and Elijah Wood as Todd.