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Adult Book News

"The Chemist" by Stephenie Meyer

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

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

 

In the money...

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

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

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

 

 

Christmas is coming, ready or not...

The Mistletoe Promise by Richard Paul Evans

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

 

 

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.