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Adult Book News

Gore Vidal 1925-2012

palimpsetGore Vidal, the witty, versatile and prolific writer passed away Tuesday, July 31, at the age of 86. Prominent in literary circles, he not only published 25 novels, but also wrote memoirs, essays, plays, and movie scripts. His political drama, The Best Man, is currently running on Broadway starring James Earl Jones  and John Larroquette. Vidal's long career also included two unsuccessful political campaigns for public office, for which he felt himself suitably qualified. As he stated, “There is not one human problem that could not be solved if people would simply do as I advise.” His New York Times obituary describes Vidal as the "last of a breed" that included literary lions like Norman Mailer and Truman Capote. Never one to shrink from publicity or controversy, Vidal "could always be counted on for a spur-of-the-moment aphorism, putdown or sharply worded critique of American foreign policy." While several of his earlier books were considered scandalous at the time of publication, his most successful books were historical novels about American history in his American Chronicles sextet: Washington, D.C.  (1967) , Burr (1973), 1876 (1976), Lincoln (1984), Hollywood (1990) and The Golden Age (2000).



Trending now...

gonegirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
One of the runaway hits of this summer, this suspense novel is narrated in turns by Nick and Amy Dunne, a couple about to celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary when Amy goes missing. Nick is worried and mystified by Amy's disappearance, especially when her diary entries seem to point to him as the culprit. Nick is oddly evasive and definitely bitter, but is he a killer? A fast-paced, well plotted thriller.




nextbestthingThe Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
Weiner sets her story against the backdrop of the Los Angeles show biz world as young screenwriter Ruth Saunders strives for both career success and personal happiness. She thinks she's finally made the grade when a sitcom that she wrote is given the green light, but her dreams of fame and fortune are brought up short by demanding actors, unreasonable executives, and her grandmother's impending marriage. Not to mention her unrequited crush on her boss. A heartfelt and funny read.

ageofmiraclesThe Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker
A coming-of-age story of a young girl, Julia, in a world that has begun to change in alarming ways. The Earth's rotation has begun to slow, causing the days and nights to become longer, disrupting gravity, and throwing the environment into chaos. Julia must navigate this strange new world while dealing with the usual upheavals of daily life, like the rift in her parent's marriage, the unpredictable ways of friends and the mysteries of first love. Growing up is hard enough without global catastrophe.





I, MIchael Bennett by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge
What would summer be without a new James Patterson page-turner? Forced to leave Manhattan after a convicted drug lord vows revenge, Detective Michael Bennett takes his children and their beautiful nanny to upstate New York on a vacation but walks into a raging gang war in the town he remembers as idyllic. The local police are overwhelmed and he is pressed into service to protect his family. Non-stop action - just what Patterson does best.



Broken Harbor by Tana French
Mick "Scorcher" Kennedy, one of the toughest detectives on the Dublin murder squad, faces what at first appears to be an easy case, the murder of a family in a new half-finished subdivision in suburban Ireland. But there are too many unanswered questions and strange details that don't add up. To make matters worse, the scene reopens old memories for Kennedy and his sister of a shattering experience at Broken Harbor when they children. A blend of police procedural and psychological thriller, this may be French's best book yet.




Olympic Fiction: Gold

goldChris Cleave's new book, Gold, has been released just in time for the London Olympics. Cleave, author of Little Bee and Incendiary, centers his new novel on the friendship and rivalry of two world-class cyclists, and the focus, talent, sweat, and sacrifice required of elite athletes.  Both Kate and Zoe have their sights on Olympic gold, maybe to the exclusion of all other things in their lives, like Kate's young daughter who is suffering from leukemia or Zoe's relationships with other people. Having missed the prior Olympics due to her daughter's illness, Kate feels that 2012 is her last chance at glory. Zoe prizes winning above anything and is ruthless in her pursuit of fame and fortune. A rules change pits the two against each other in order to win the one coveted spot to represent their country at the Games. No spoiler here, you'll have to read the book to find out who prevails!


A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

farewelltoarmsHemingway aficionados will certainly appreciate a new edition of his classic novel, 
A Farewell to Arms,
published this week by Scribner, because of its bonus material: all of the alternate endings that Hemingway experimented with before he settled on the one that was published in 1929. In all, there are 47 ways in which the book could have ended, some using only a short sentence, some paragraphs long. The multiple endings are gathered in an appendix along with the many possible titles Hemingway tried and discarded. ("Of Wounds and Other Causes" or "Love in War") All of this supplemental text had been preserved in Hemingway's papers in the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum since 1979, but never before published. This edition offers the reader rare insights into Hemingway's thinking and writing process by reproducing the handwritten notes and crossed-out sections that demonstrate both his talent and his craft - and allows us to second-guess a genius!





Savages, the film directed by Oliver Stone and adapted from the 2010 novel by
Don kingsofcoolWinslow, opens in theaters today, July 6. Winslow's book, his 13th, received rave reviews and is considered his breakthrough work. The story of two young and successful marijuana dealers confronted by a Mexican drug cartel unhappy with the competition has "wisecracks ... so sharp, ... characters so mega-cool and ... storytelling so ferocious" that the "effect is to fuse the grave and the playful, the body blow and the joke, the nightmare and the pipe dream. It’s flippant and dead serious simultaneously." (New York Times.) Winslow has since written a prequel, The Kings of Cool, about the same characters and the back story that explains how they became the people they are in Savages.


"Spies and parents never sleep."
                                                     Linda Gerber

     Espionage novels fell out of favor for awhile during the 1990's but have lately enjoyed a resurgence of interest due to the events of 9/11 and the rise of global terrorism.  Spymasters John Le Carre and Alan Furst have continued to write for the genre, and now new authors and readers have joined them in the cloak and dagger pursuit.

missiontoparisMission to Paris by Alan Furst
It is the late summer of 1938, Europe is about to explode, but Hollywood film star Fredric Stahl is on his way to Paris to make a movie for Paramount France. The Nazis know he's coming- a secret bureau within the Reich Foreign Ministry has for years been waging political warfare against France, using bribery, intimidation, and corrupt newspapers to weaken French morale and degrade France's will to defend herself. For their purposes, Fredric Stahl is a perfect agent of influence, and they attack him. What they don't know is that Stahl, horrified by the Nazi war on Jews and intellectuals, has become part of an informal spy service being run out of the American embassy in Paris.

foreigncountryA Foreign Country by Charles Cummings
On the vacation of a lifetime in Egypt, an elderly French couple are brutally murdered. Days later, a meticulously-planned kidnapping takes place on the streets of Paris. Amelia Levene, the first female Chief of MI6, has disappeared without a trace, six weeks before she is due to take over as the most influential spy in Europe. It is the gravest crisis MI6 has faced in more than a decade. Desperate not only to find her, but to keep her disappearance a secret, Britain's top intelligence agents turn to one of their own: disgraced MI6 officer Thomas Kell. Tossed out of the Service only months before, Kell is given one final chance to redeem himself - find Amelia Levene at any cost.

lehrterstationLehrter Station : A John Russel thriller by David Downing
John Russell is walking home along the banks of the Seine when Soviet agent Yevgeny Shchepkin falls into step alongside him. Shchepkin tells Russell that American intelligence will soon be asking him to undertake some low grade espionage on their behalf-assessing the strains between different sections of the German Communist Party-and that Shchepkin's own bosses in Moscow want him to accept the task and pass his findings on to them. He adds that refusal will put Russell's livelihood and life at risk, but that once he has accepted it, he'll find himself even further entangled in the Soviet net. It's a lose-lose situation. The only way out for the two of them is to make a deal with the Americans. If they can come up with something the Americans want or need badly enough, then perhaps Russell will be forgiven for handing German atomic secrets over to Moscow.



expatsThe Expats by Chris Pavone
An international spy thriller about a former CIA agent who moves with her family to Luxembourg where everything is suspicious and nothing is as it seems. Kate Moore is a working mother, struggling to make ends meet, to raise children, to keep a spark in her marriage . . . and to maintain an increasingly unbearable life-defining secret. So when her husband is offered a lucrative job in Luxembourg, she jumps at the chance to leave behind her double-life, to start anew. She begins to reinvent herself as an expat, but she's terrified that her own past is catching up to her. She discovers fake offices and shell corporations and a hidden gun, a mysterious farmhouse and numbered accounts with bewildering sums of money, and finally unravels the mind-boggling long-play con that threatens her family, her marriage, and her life.



jack1939Jack 1939 by Francine Mathews
It's the spring of 1939, and the prospect of war in Europe looms large. The United States has no intelligence service. In Washington, D.C., President Franklin Roosevelt may run for an unprecedented third term and needs someone he can trust to find out what the Nazis are up to. His choice: John F. Kennedy. It's a surprising selection. At twenty-two, Jack Kennedy is the attractive but unpromising second son of Joseph P. Kennedy, Roosevelt's ambassador to Britain (and occasional political adversary). But when Jack decides to travel through Europe to gather research for his Harvard senior thesis, Roosevelt takes the opportunity to use him as his personal spy. The president's goal: to stop the flow of German money that has been flooding the United States to buy the 1940 election - an election that Adolf Hitler intends Roosevelt lose.

Nora Ephron 1941-2012

heartburnWriter Nora Ephron died on Tuesday, June 26, at the age of 71. Acclaimed as smart, funny and stylish, she was a journalist, essayist, screenwriter, director, novelist, playwright and blogger. Although she is probably best known for rom-coms like When Harry Met Sally and Sleepless in Seattle, Ephron also wrote sharply observed essays about topics as diverse as aging, divorce, feminism and Teflon pans. She started out as a journalist at the The New York Post and contributed articles to Esquire and the New Yorker. In the 70's she began writing screenplays and adapted her own novel, Heartburn, for a movie starring Meryl Streep and Jack Nicholson. The novel is a thinly veiled account of Ephron's marriage to journalist Carl Bernstein (Watergate) and their messy divorce after his affair with a mutual friend. As Ephron frequently remarked "Everything is copy."

Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction and Nonfiction


forgottenwaltzThe American Library Association and the Carnegie Corporation of New York awarded the inaugural Medals for adult fiction and nonfiction writing at a banquet Sunday, June 24, during the annual American Library Association conference.The ALA has a long history of awarding literary prizes for children's books (Caldecott, Newberry), but this is the first time the group has sponsored awards for books written for adults. What is also new is that the judges are not critics or other writers, but library professionals. The creation of this new prize was announced in mid-May and joins a plethora of literary awards including the National Book Awards, the Pulitzers, the Orange Prize and the Man Booker, to name a few. As author Cynthia Ozick put it in an op-ed piece about the Orange Prize in the New York Times, "it may also be true, for the sake of literature itself, that a prize is a prize is a prize. For readers and writers, in sum, the more prizes the better, however they are structured, and philosophy be damned."

The biography Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie took the nonfiction prize; Anne Enright's novel The Forgotten Waltz won in fiction.




While we all know that President Abraham Lincoln is "widely lauded for saving the Union and freeing millions of slaves, his valiant fight against the forces of the undead" had remained untold. That is, until author Seth Grahame-Smith (of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies fame) "stumbled upon The Secret Journal of Abraham Lincoln. ... Using the journal as his guide, ... Grahame-Smith has reconstructed the "true" life story of our greatest president for the first time" in his book, Abraham Lincoln : Vampire Hunter - "revealing the hidden history behind the Civil War and uncovering the role vampires played in the birth, growth, and near-death of our nation." Now this amazing tale has become a major motion picture produced by Tim Burton and directed by Timur Bekmambetov which opens on June 22.
Honest Abe and vampires - 'nuff said!


(Quotations from description on book jacket)




"What hath night to do with sleep?" 

nightcircus                             The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
Waging a fierce competition for which they have trained since childhood, circus magicians Celia and Marco unexpectedly fall in love with each other and share a fantastical romance that manifests in fateful ways.




 nightswimmer                             The Night Swimmer by Matt Bondurant
A suspenseful novel about a young American couple--Elly and Fred--who win a pub on the southern most tip of Ireland and discover the body of an eccentric villager Elly knows floating in the sea. Was it a suicide?






                              nighttriffidsThe Night of the Triffids by Simon Clark
David Masen, is a pilot, still searching for a method of destroying the implacable triffid plant as it continues its worldwide march, seemingly intent on wiping out humankind. David eventually manages to reach New York, where a very different sort of colony has been set up, a colony whose members seem to be immune to the triffid string and where David comes face to face with an old enemy from his father's past.





                              nighttosurrenderA Night to Surrender by Tessa Dare
A love story to remember-kicking off the wonderfully inventive Spindle Cove series, set in England's Regency Era in a small seaside resort town that caters specifically to ladies “of good breeding and delicate constitution.” Passionate chaos ensues when a dashing British officer, under orders, “invades” this community of strong-willed “spinsters,” only to discover he's met his match in Miss Susannah Finch!





                              nighttoodarkA Night Too Dark by Dana Stabenow
When an abandoned pickup truck complete with suicide note leads a search party to find human remains that have clearly served as a snack for a bear, case closed - suicide by Alaska. But things get complicated when the dead man stumbles out of the wilderness and onto Kate's homestead weeks later. Kate and Trooper Jim Chopin must unravel the story of the man and the body, whoever he is, which is wrapped up in the politics of the Suulutaq Mine, a gold mine near Niniltna that is proving to be a breeding ground for trouble.




bradburyRay Bradbury 1920-2012

One of science fiction's giants, author Ray Bradbury, passed away June 5 at the age of 91. Credited with making science fiction accessible to mainstream readers, he was a prolific and imaginative storyteller, chronicling the varied and mixed blessings of technology, space travel and progress. Many of his books, like The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, are fixtures in school English courses, read by several generations of students. In 1954, the National Institute of Arts and Letters honored Bradbury for “his contributions to American literature", and in 2004, he was presented with the National Medal of Arts. While none of his books won a Pulitzer Prize, Bradbury received a Pulitzer citation in 2007 “for his distinguished, prolific and deeply influential career as an unmatched author of science fiction and fantasy.” His New York Times obituary refers to him as a "master of science fiction" and millions of readers would agree.


The Orange Prize 2012

songofachillesThe Orange Prize for Fiction, Britain's annual award given to a female author, was presented to Madeline Miller on May 30 for her debut novel, The Song of Achilles, a retelling of the events of the Trojan War through the eyes of Patroclus, Achilles' best friend. Author Joanna Trollope, Chair of the Judges Committee, said: “This is a more than worthy winner — original, passionate, inventive and uplifting. Homer would be proud of her.”

The award was established in 1996 to promote female authors and has been sponsored every year since by Orange, a British mobile communications company, hence the name. Unfortunately, Orange has decided to end its sponsorship of the prize after this year so the Orange Prize may not be orange in the future. Literary prizes in Britain frequently attract corporate sponsorships and Kate Mosse, the co-founder and honorary director of the Orange Prize, verified that new brand partners are being sought.

Other nominees this year:

Half Blood Blues by ESi Edugyan
The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright
Painter of Silence by Georgina Harding
Foreign Bodies by Cynthia Ozick
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

She's back!

201206-wild-oprah-promo-6-300x205      Oprah Winfrey recently announced that she's reviving her book club, now called Oprah's Book Club 2.0, after a two-year hiatus. The latest selection, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail by Cheryl Strayed, is a memoir of the author's solo hiking trip through the deserts and mountains of California after experiencing the loss of her mother and other personal setbacks. Along with the familiar stickers on the print copies of books, Oprah has updated her club to include digital and social media elements, including discussions on Facebook and Twitter, and margin notes in the e-book versions of the selected book. Publishers and book sellers are rejoicing!

(Photo courtesy of

Nebula Award for Sci Fi Novel

amongothersOn May 19, 2012, The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America announced the winners of the 2011 Nebula Awards. Since 1965, the Nebula Awards have been given each year for the best novel, novella, novelette, and short story written in the science fiction and fantasy genres.

The prize for Best Novel went to Among Others, by Jo Walton, the story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood spent with a mother who dabbled in magic.

Other novels considered in this category include:

     Embassytown, China Miéville 
    Mechanique: A Tale of the Circus Tresaulti, Genevieve Valentine
    The Kingdom of Gods, N.K. Jemisin



 June 1 – August 11, 2012

PDL’s Adult Summer Reading Program, featuring the popular Library Bingo game, will be back again this summer. Starting June 1, adults will have their chance to win prizes for reading and discovering the Library’s many resources. Complete five boxes in a row on the Bingo form to earn prizes, like Penn movie tickets and certificates to Plymouth stores and restaurants. Bingo forms will be available in the Library and online at No registration is required – grab a bingo sheet and begin!


Bingo not your thing? Try the new Online Adult Summer Reading Program. Sign up at to create your adult summer reading account, then read five (5) books of your choice and list the titles on your online log. When you’ve finished your five, stop by the Library to pick up your prize. Prizes include certificates to Plymouth stores and restaurants and Penn movie tickets. You can start reading on June 1 and continue until August 11.

 Discover what’s between the covers (of a book) this summer!

(One prize per person, please.)

Carlos Fuentes 1928-2012

oldgringoInfluential Mexican author, Carlos Fuentes, died on May 15 of an internal hemorrhage, after collapsing at home in Mexico City. Fuentes'  New York Times obituary describes him as "one of the most admired writers in the Spanish-speaking world," part of the "explosion of Latin American literature in the 1960s and ’70s," known as El Boom, that brought Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, and others to international recognition. A prolific writer and thinker, he wrote in all genres and received numerous international literary honors and awards. His 1985 novel, The Old Gringo, about the adventures of American writer Ambrose Bierce during the Mexican Revolution, became the first U.S. bestseller written by a Mexican author. It was later adapted for film and starred Gregory Peck and Jane Fonda. 

Trending Now...


Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James
When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview the young, enigmatic entrepreneur Christian Grey she encounters a man who is brilliant, beautiful, and deeply flawed. Lured by her looks, stung by her wit, and challenged by her independent spirit, Grey is determined to make Ana his possession. (Admit it, you're curious about all the hype!)



Deadlocked by Charlaine Harris
It's vampire politics as usual around the town of Bon Temps, but never before have they hit so close to Sookie's heart… Growing up with telepathic abilities, Sookie Stackhouse realized early on there were things she'd rather not know. And now that she's an adult, she also realizes that some things she knows about, she'd rather not see-like Eric Northman feeding off another woman. A younger one.



The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan
Grace Winter, 22, is both a newlywed and a widow. She is also on trial for her life. In the summer of 1914, the elegant ocean liner carrying her and her husband Henry across the Atlantic suffers a mysterious explosion. Setting aside his own safety, Henry secures Grace a place in a lifeboat, which the survivors quickly realize is over capacity. For any to live, some must die. As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace recollects the unorthodox way she and Henry met, and the new life of privilege she thought she'd found.




In One Person
by John Irving
Billy, the bisexual narrator and main character, tells the tragicomic story (lasting more than half a century) of his life as a "sexual suspect," a phrase first used by John Irving in 1978 in his landmark novel of "terminal cases," The World According to Garp. His most political novel since The Cider House Rules and A Prayer for Owen Meany.




The Shoemaker's Wife
by Adriana Trigiani
Two star-crossed lovers--Enzo and Ciro--meet and separate, until, finally, the power of their love changes both of their lives forever. Set during the years preceding and during World War I.




Tudors Redux...

Finished with the Edwardians of Downton Abbey? Still craving that English history fix?

wolfhall           Remember the Tudors? Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Mary and Elizabeth had their place in the forefront of popular culture a couple of years ago with their own TV series (The Tudors) and several best-selling books like The Other Boleyn Girl (also a movie). In 2009, Hilary Mantel won the Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, the story of Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell set amid the political and religious intrigue resulting from Henry's desire to shed his first wife for the younger Anne Boleyn.  As Janet Maslin of the New York Times puts it,"Wolf Hall” was a historical novel that ingeniously revisited well-trod territory (the early marriages of Henry VIII), turned the phlegmatic villain Thomas Cromwell into the best-drawn figure, and easily mixed 16th-century ambience with timeless bitchery."


            bringupthebodiesMantel is now back with the second of a planned trilogy. Bring Up the Bodies begins after Henry's marriage to Anne, which has produced Henry's second daughter Elizabeth I. But Henry still longs for a son and his eyes are starting to stray toward Jane Seymour, the daughter of another powerful and ambitious family. Thomas Cromwell connives as he must, always aware, in Maslin's words, "that being Henry's henchman, fixer and stand-in (he even ghostwrites a love letter as Henry courts Jane) is a mixed blessing." And he's made a few enemies along the way. What happens to Anne and Cromwell himself is no mystery, but "The wonder of Ms. Mantel’s retelling is that she makes these events fresh and terrifying all over again." (Janet Maslin, NYT)



Maurice Sendak (1928-2012)

wherethewildAcclaimed children's author and illustrator, Maurice Sendak, passed away Tuesday due to complications from a stroke. He started as an illustrator in 1951, then authored his first book in 1956. His best books were highly original, challenging the way children were portrayed in picture books by featuring characters who were not sweet, well-behaved, pink or glittery. In Sendak's world, children and creatures felt strong emotions, acted out (whether from anger or exuberance), had bizarre adventures, and did not necessarily learn a lesson. In his best known book, Where the Wild things Are, Jack, an angry little boy is sent to his room without his supper and from there journeys to join other wild things, huge shaggy monsters who roar their terrible roars and gnash their terrible teeth. After rampaging for awhile, Jack finally returns home, where he finds his dinner waiting, still warm. While considered a children's writer, Sendak's books speak to a wider audience - many adults find themselves captivated by his work. Whatever one believes about an afterlife, let us hope that Maurice Sendak is enjoying the wild rumpus.


sherlockThe new season of Sherlock, with three new episodes, begins on Sunday May 6, on PBS. This contemporary series is the latest in a long tradition of Sherlock Holmes books, spin-offs, adaptations, sequels, prequels, updates, mash-ups, graphic novels, movies, comics, etc. Introduced in the classic Arthur Conan  Doyle stories, Sherlock Holmes, the world's greatest detective, is an indelible character, with almost supernatural skills of deduction, who seems to live on and on. There are as many versions of Sherlock Holmes as there are fans. "Excellent! I cried. Elementary said he."



The new annotated Sherlock Holmes ; Volume I / Sir Arthur Conan Doyle ; edited, with a foreword and notes by Leslie S. Klinger ; with additional research by Patricia J. Chui ; introduction by John Le Carre.




And the Winner is...  Gone by Mo Hayder

goneIn Gone, Hayder's seventh novel, and the fifth to feature her popular murder detective Jack Caffrey, the scene is set in early winter, in the West Country. Caffrey is brought in to interview the victim of a car-jacking. So far, so routine. But this incident is different. This time the car was taken by force, and on the back seat was a passenger, an eleven year old girl. She is still missing. Before long the jacker himself starts to communicate directly with the police, and Caffrey knows this wasn't a one-off. He will strike again - another car with another child on the back seat. Even scarier still is the fact that the jacker seems to be one step ahead of the police, no matter how quickly they pursue him.

(Book Description from



On April 26, 2012, the Edgar Award for Best Mystery Novel, named after (you guessed it!) Edgar Allan Poe, will be presented to one of the five nominees shown here. 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" in the mystery/crime genre.  So, should it be The Ranger by Ace Atkins, Gone by Mo Hayder, The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino, 1222 by Anne Holt, or Field Gray by Philip Kerr?




Edgar Allan Poe coming to the big screen!

In The Raven, American writer and master of the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe, is on the case, turning sleuth to hunt down a Baltimore serial killer whose crimes are based on Poe's own creepy tales such as The Tell-Tale Heart and The Murders in the Rue Morgue. Actor John Cusack plays Poe, the haunted poet who is credited with inventing the detective genre, and he captures the gaunt, jaundiced demeanor of the alcoholic and dissolute writer. Of course, the bird that is the omen of death and the inspiration for Poe's most famous poem puts in an appearance. The movie opens on April 27th. Nevermore!


The Pulitzer Prizes were announced Monday - for the first time since 1977, there was no Pulitzer Prize awarded for fiction. No explanation was offered beyond the statement, “The three books were fully considered, but in the end, none mustered the mandatory majority for granting a prize, so no prize was awarded.”The Fiction Award, in the amount of ten thousand dollars, is usually bestowed on a work of distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life.  According to the New York Times, the publishing world is shocked and dismayed, to say the least.  Author and bookstore owner, Ann Patchett, expressed her frustration in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, stating "If I feel disappointment as a writer and indignation as a reader, I manage to get all the way to rage as a bookseller."  

"Nominated as finalists in this category were:

  "Train Dreams," by Denis Johnson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a novella about a day laborer in the old American West, bearing witness to terrors and glories with compassionate, heartbreaking calm;  

 "Swamplandia!" by Karen Russell (Alfred A. Knopf), an adventure tale about an eccentric family adrift in its failing alligator-wrestling theme park, told by a 13-year-old heroine wise beyond her years, and  

 "The Pale King," by the late David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown and Company), a posthumously completed novel, animated by grand ambition, that explores boredom and bureaucracy in the American workplace."

  (Quotations and annotations from Pulitzer press release) 

All that live must die, passing through nature to eternity. 

The literary world has lost two best-selling, gifted authors this month: Thomas Kinkade (1958-2012)
and Miss Read (Dora Saint, 1913-2012).


Thomas Kinkade was a prolific painter of bucolic and idealized scenes who also wrote novels emphasizing faith, simple pleasures, inspirational messages, and life-affirming values. He became known as "the Painter of Light," painting, in his words, "scenes that serve as places of refuge for battle-weary people." Although art critics dismissed his work as kitsch, sales of his inviting, light-bathed landscapes made many millions, and his works, and/or reproductions are ubiquitous in American homes. In his novels, he invites readers to enter locations similar to his paintings. His stories center on a picturesque little village, Cape Light, nestled in coastal New England, where folks still enjoy a strong sense of community, and everybody cares about their neighbors. 



Dora Saint, whose novels about the rhythms of English village life were written under the crisp, bookish pseudonym of Miss Read, died on April 7 in Berkshire, England. She was 98. In more than 30 books published from the mid-1950s to the mid-1990s, Saint chronicled the goings-on in two fictional villages, Fairacre and Thrush Green. Written in the first person, the books were narrated as the memoirs of a “Miss Read,” a rural schoolteacher, as Saint had been in life. Both series, which have been likened to the work of Jane Austen or Jan Karon, center on the ebb and flow of small town, rural life: schooldays and church events, tea parties and flower shows; thatched cottages, herb gardens, and evocative descriptions of all creatures large and small. Gentle but not too sweet, the books contain generous humor, few real threats or disasters, no sex, and no language to make you blush.


         April 15, 2012 marks the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the
majestic oceanliner, the RMS Titanic.  The story of the doomed ship and its passengers has inspired scores of research, books, movies, TV shows and songs, and still captivates our sympathy and imagination. Commemorative  events are being held across the globe, with memorial services, themed dinners, re-enactments and exhibits. There will be observances in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where Titanic was built; in Southampton, where it began the voyage; in Halifax, Canada, where 150 victims are buried; and in New York, the port Titanic never reached. And at the spot where Titanic went down, 350 miles southeast of Newfoundland, millions of rose petals will be scattered on the water.

        Take part in the remembrance  - a good book is amost like being there!


Every Man for Himself by Beryl Bainbridge
The fated voyage of the Titanic, with its heroics and horror, has been dramatized many times before, but never by an artist with the skills and sensibility of Beryl Bainbridge.  Bainbridge vividly recreates each scene of the voyage, from the suspicious fire in the Number 10 coal bunker, to the champange and crystal of the first-class public rooms, to that terrible midnight chaos in the frigid North Atlantic.  This remarkable, haunting tale substantiates Bainbridge as a consummate observer of the human condition.

And the winner is...


Julie Otsuka's "The Buddha in the Attic," a brief, poetic novel about young Japanese mail order brides who emigrate to the U.S. and marry men they have never met, has won the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. The Award for Fiction is awarded annually by the PEN/Faulkner Foundation to the author of the year's best work of fiction by a living American citizen. The Foundation is an outgrowth of William Faulkner's generosity in donating his 1949 Nobel Prize winnings, "to establish a fund to support and encourage new fiction writers." The award is America's largest peer-juried award for fiction.

Julie Otsuka was born and raised in California. In addition to The Buddha in the Attic, Otsuka is the author of the novel When the Emperor Was Divine and a recipient of the Asian American Literary Award, the American Library Association Alex Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She lives in New York City.


Finished reading A Dance with Dragons? (Book 5)

gameofthronesLongtime fans of George R.R. Martin's epic fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire , are eagerly awaiting the next book in the sequence, The Winds of Winter. And new fans have discovered the books after seeing the HBO series, Game of Thrones, which tells the story of the first book and begins a second season in April. But Martin is somewhat famous for the amount of time he takes with each book, usually years, so how to endure the wait? Fortunately there are other great fantasy series that can help you pass the time. You may want to try:

                        The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings) by J.R.R. Tolkien

                   The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicles) by Patrick Rothfuss

                   The Way of Kings (Stormlight Archive) by Brandon Sanderson

                   Shadowmarch (Shadowmarch) by Tad Williams

                   Gardens of the Moon (Malazan, Book of the Fallen) by Steven Erickson                  


fellowshipofthering     nameofthewind       wayofkings       shadowmarch      gardensofthemoon


                SURPRISE!  IT'S GOOD FOR YOU!

 iStock_woman_reading_ebook_XSmall According to a recent article in the New York Times, Your Brain on Fiction by Annie Murphy Paul, neuroscientists have discovered that reading fiction stimulates the brain in astonishing ways. The brain responds to reading about an experience and actually living that experience by activating the same neurological regions. Studies also show that there is significant overlap between the parts of the brain used to understand stories and the sections used in interpersonal encounters, thus helping us practice our social skills. "The novel, of course, is an unequaled medium for the exploration of human social and emotional life. And there is evidence that just as the brain responds to depictions of smells and textures and movements as if they were the real thing, so it treats the interactions among fictional characters as something like real-life social encounters....Reading great literature, it has long been averred, enlarges and improves us as human beings. Brain science shows this claim is truer than we imagined." 

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with an Irish Author!

          Ireland has a long and hallowed literary tradition that contemporary Irish authors are continuing and expanding with great new books of every genre.  Here are a few to help you get your Irish on.  Erin Go Bragh!


The Book of Tomorrow by Cecilia Ahern.
Forced into a humbler life with relatives in Ireland after the sudden death of her father, spoiled sixteen-year-old Tamara Goodwin discovers a diary of future entries written in her handwriting that she hopes will reveal the truth about her mother's troubling health.




A Death in Summer by Benjamin Black (John Banville).
When newspaper magnate Richard Jewell is found dead at his country estate, clutching a shotgun in his lifeless hands, few see his demise as cause for sorrow. But before long Doctor Quirke and Inspector Hackett realize that, rather than the suspected suicide, "Diamond Dick" has in fact been murdered.




Minding Frankie by Maeve Binchy.
A tale of joy, heartbreak and hope, about a motherless girl collectively raised by a close-knit Dublin community. When Noel learns that his terminally ill former flame is pregnant with his child, he agrees to take guardianship of the baby girl once she's born. But as a single father battling demons of his own, Noel can't do it alone. Fortunately, he has a competent, caring network of friends, family and neighbors.



The Last Storyteller by Frank Delaney.
Advised to find inspiration in mythological heroes, Ben MacCarthy is reluctantly enmeshed in a gun-running operation during Ireland's tumultuous 1950s and uses his new connections to recapture the heart of an actress he has loved for years.




The Dead Republic by Roddy Doyle.
Irrepressible Irish rebel Henry Smart is back-and he is not mellowing with age. His career in film over, Henry settles into a quiet life in a village north of Dublin, where he finds work as a caretaker for a boys' school and takes up with a woman named Missus O'Kelly. After being injured in a political bombing in Dublin in 1974, Henry is profiled in the newspaper and suddenly the secret of his rebel past is out.


1916 1916 by Morgan Llywelyn.
Ned Halloran has lost both his parents, and almost his own life, to the sinking of the Titanic, and has lost his sister to America. Determined to keep what little he has, he returns to Ireland and enrolls at Saint Enda's school in Dublin. Soon enough Ned becomes totally involved with the growing revolution...and the sacrifices it will demand.




A Dublin Student Doctor by Patrick Taylor.
Fngal O'Reilly enrolls at Dublin's Trinity College to study medicine, where he witnesses the plight of the city's poor, boxes and plays rugby, tries to keep up with his studies and work at Sir Patrick Dun's Hospital and romances a nurse named Kitty O'Hallorhan.




Faithful Place by Tana French.
Back in 1985, Frank Mackey was nineteen, growing up poor in Dublin's inner city, and living crammed into a small flat with his family on Faithful Place. But he had his sights set on a lot more. He and Rosie Daly were all ready to run away to London together, get married, get good jobs, break away from factory work and poverty and their old lives. But getting sucked in is a lot easier than getting out.



Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories

The National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction has been given to Binocular Vision: New and Selected Stories by Edith Pearlman. Pearlman is deemed a "writer's writer," whose  "depictions of people, places, and manners are so perfect that the stories become totally immersive. The characters, always interesting, are limned just as strongly whether female or male, young or old." (Publishers Weekly)

The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) was founded in April 1974 and the awards honor the best literature published in English in six categories—autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction and poetry. These are the only awards chosen by the critics themselves.The NBCC awards finalists’ reading and NBCC awards ceremony, presented annually in March, bring together authors, reviewers, publishing people and passionate readers for a celebration of the best of each year’s literary offerings. (National Book Critics Circle)


        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 1987 as “Women’s History Month."  Since 1995, Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.”

        This year's theme focuses on the struggle of women to gain equal access to education.  While American women currently outnumber men in colleges and universities nationwide, it was not always the case.  Throughout history, women have faced barriers to both basic and higher education due to to a variety of cultural norms and taboos. Much of the recent progress can be traced to the passage of Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination in institutions that receive federal funding. As a result, women in the United States have much fuller access to all aspects of education, including athletics, scholarships, facilities, and academic programs once closed to them.

        Books like The Heart Specialist, about a young woman who overcomes academic obstacles to become a doctor, or Remarkable Creatures, the story of two 19th century female amateur paleontologists who confront the entrenched scientists of their time, can help us appreciate the present, and remind us of past hardships.

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


Try these books to fill the void:                                                                 amerheiress

Start with The American Heiress or The Buccaneers, two novels about rich young American girls who marry into British aristocracy, a la Lady Cora.

Continue with A Duty to the Dead and Maisie Dobbs, tales of English gentlewomen who become nurses during WWI, like Lady Sybil.

Explore the experiences of men like Matthew Crawley, and servants, Thomas and William, as they serve their country during the trench warfare, as depicted in Birdsong and A Farewell to Arms.

destinyTrace the societal upheaval the war brought in Flirting with Destiny, the story of four young girls whose expectations and futures change due to the loss of an entire generation of young men. (Lady Edith?)

Discover the repercussions felt by the soldiers, like Mr Lang, the valet, who returned to civilian life with the psychological scars of battle following them as in A Test of Wills.

Follow the span of history in Fall of Giants, the story of five interrelated families as they move through World War I, the Russian Revolution and the struggle for women's suffrage.

                      This should hold you until Season 3!


LocalZASLOW-obit-articleInline best-selling author and columnist, Jeffrey Zaslow, died Friday, February 10th following an auto accident in northern Michigan.  He is survived by his wife, Sherry Margolis, a news anchor for Fox 2 in Detroit, and three daughters. Acclaimed for his Wall Street Journal columns, he was perhaps best known for The Last Lecture, a book co-authored with  Randy Pausch, a terminally ill professor, and for The Girls from Ames, an account of the long-term friendship of a group of women. His newest book, The Magic Room: A Story About the Love We Wish for Our Daughters, is about a bridal salon in Fowler, MI, and the hopes and dreams of the women who shop there. Not only a talented writer, Jeff was an entertaining speaker who appeared twice at PDL to discuss his books. We will miss him.


 Tuesday, February 7 is the bicentenary of Charles Dickens' birth in 1812. He was a master storyteller, a sharp social critic and reformer, the creator of unforgettable characters, and a comic genius. His novels continue to be classics, never going out of print, and have been adapted for TV, stage and film over and over. Celebrations are taking place all over the world with events and exhibitions devoted to his life and career.

Dickens started his career with little education, having been forced to drop out of school and work in a factory as a child to help support his family while his father was in debtor's prison. The themes of poverty and child labor are reflected in many of his novels, and he wrote compassionately of the plight of orphaned and poor children like Oliver Twist, David Copperfield and Pip from Great Expectations.

So rediscover Dickens - how can you not love an author who starts a book "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...?" (A Tale of Two Cities)


edithTwo of America's most famous authors were born in January:poe

Edith Wharton (January 24, 1862 – August 11, 1937) and Edgar Allan Poe (January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849.)

Edith Wharton, novelist and Pulitzer Prize winner, grew up in upper-class pre-World War I society and became one of its most astute critics. In such works as The House of Mirth and The Age of Innocence she employed both humor and empathy to describe the lives of New York's upper class and the vanishing of their world in the early years of the 20th century. (The American version of Downton Abbey!)

Best known for his tales of mystery and the macabre, Edgar Allan Poe was one of the earliest American practitioners of the short story and is considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre. His poetry is also renowned. Who can forget The Raven (nevermore!) or Annabel Lee? Countless readers have thrilled to the beating of The Tell-Tale Heart and the horrors of The Pit and the Pendulum. As befitting a gothic author, Poe died under mysterious circumstances, after having been found in the street by a passer-by. His medical records were lost so the cause of his death has never been determined.



As part of the continuing activities of the Great Michigan Read 2011-2012, The Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History and the Michigan Humanities Council will present a reenactment of the Ossian Sweet murder trials on Saturday, January 14 at 1pm. The murder trials and ultimate acquittal of Dr. Sweet are the subjects of the  book,  Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle, chosen as this year's Great Michigan Read. This event is FREE and open to the public. The Great Michigan Read is presented by the Michigan Humanities Council with support from Meijer and the National Endowment for the Humanities. For more information on the Great Michigan Read program, please visit




 The Library of Michigan recently announced the list of Michigan Notable Books for 2012. The list includes 20 titles published in the last year that feature people, places, events, or authors related to Michigan. The intent is to celebrate life in Michigan, and the list includes a wide range of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and children's books. While inclusion in the list does not involve prize money, authors appreciate the prestige and visibility that comes with being named. The books on the list offer fascinating portraits of our Michigan experience: biographies of famous Michiganders, histories of Michigan icons like Jacobson's and the Big Three automakers, murder mysteries, ghost stories, travelogues, and poetry by Jim Harrison. Many of the titles are available at PDL - just ask us!

(2012 Medallion-copyright The Library of Michigan)


snowangel lonestar lawman mistress xmashome lancaster lonestar

     It seems every author has a holiday story to tell. Romances, mysteries, westerns, sweet and inspirational tales - you  can always find a holiday-themed book to suit your fancy, tickle your funny bone, or warm the cockles of your heart!

killers xmasshoppe elves tradingc bite nine xmastreasures


          Tis the season for every newspaper, media outlet, blogger, and pundit to print, publish or post a"Best Books of 2011" list.  There's the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2011, Amazon Editors Top 100, Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction, Library Journal's Top Ten, O Magazine's Best Fiction of 2011, Bookpage Best Books of 2001,and the Barnes and Noble Best Books of 2011 - to name a few!  There are lists for genres, catregories and niches - the book critics at the New York Times have even narrowed their big list down to a manageable ten. This should help you find that perfect gift for your crazy sister-in-law or great-uncle Earle.



Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, was born on November 30, 1835.  Author of numerous books, newspaper articles, lectures, and essays, he is considered to be the quintessential American author. Twain was a master at mimicking colloquial speech and popularized a distinctive American literature built on American themes and language. Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn, the Prince and the Pauper, and the Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court are among the many unforgettable characters he created.




Prolific science fiction author Anne McCaffrey passed away recently at the age of 85. Best known for her best-selling series Dragonriders of Pern,  she was also the author of over 100 novels, short stories, and novellas. McCaffrey was the first woman to win a Hugo Award and a Nebula Award, and was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 2005. She was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2006.

The Dragonriders saga, which is notable for combining elements of fantasy with pure science fiction, is set on the planet Pern which is threatened by the Thread, a type of deadly spore that falls from the sky. To combat this peril, the inhabitants have joined forces with a species of intelligent, telepathic dragons.  Christopher John Farley of the Wall Street Journal wrote that McCaffrey "reimagined the ancient mythology of dragons, transforming them from enemies of men into friends, creating a psychological and emotional bond between humans and the fire breathing creatures, and successfully tapping into a deep-seated fantasy most readers didn't even know they had - the desire to ride on the back  of a dragon and fly across the sky."


And the Winner Is...bonse

 Jesmyn Ward won the National Book Award for fiction on Wednesday, November 16, for Salvage the Bones, a haunting tale of the struggles of a 15-year-old pregnant girl in a black community as a hurricane bears down on a fictional Gulf Coast town in Mississippi. Although the novel's characters face down Hurricane Katrina, the story isn’t really about the storm. It’s about people facing challenges, and coming together to overcome adversity. Ward's novel was based partly on first-hand experience. She was with her family in Mississippi when Katrina hit. They fled their house, fearful of drowning in their own attic. "I wanted to write about the experiences of the poor and the black and the rural people of the South," said Ward.

deathFans of both Jane Austen and P.D. James will be intrigued to learn that P.D. James, the queen of modern British mystery fiction, has written a sequel to Pride and Prejudice. Due to be published in the U.S. in December, Death Comes to Pemberley features Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy as sleuths in a murder investigation. James, better known for her books about Adam Dalgleish and Scotland Yard, says that the new novel allowed her to merge two of her great enthusiasms: the novels of Jane Austen and writing detective stories. As demonstrated by the legions of sequels, spin-offs, mash-ups, TV adaptations and movies, Jane Austen's popularity continues to endure. It is a truth universally acknowledged!

catch22Joseph Heller's Catch-22, the iconic, satirical send-up of war and bureaucracy that created the perfect phrase to describe a hopelessly no-win situation, was published in 1961. Fifty years later it remains a classic of American literature and is one of the funniest books ever written.  Set in Italy during World War II, it introduces Yossarian, a bombardier who is attempting to survive the war despite the U S. Army policy - the Catch-22 - that keeps increasing the number of missions he must fly to complete his service.  The novel has sold more than 10 million copies, and is read by people from all over the political spectrum, from anti-war activists to the cadets at the U.S. Air Force Academy.  Anniversary celebrations have included presentations, TV interviews, an animated video, and the publication of a 50th Anniversary edition with an introduction by Christopher Buckley.

Enjoying the new Masterpiece Mystery series based on Kate Atkinson's Jackson Brodie books? Besides Case Histories, Brodie is featured in three other titles: One Good Turn, When Will There be Good News?, and Started Early, Took My Dog. Potrayed by Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films), Brodie is a tough private detective with a soft heart who can't resist coming to the rescue of the lost and lonely. Atkinson's mysteries are not typical crime novels, they unfold leisurely with alternating points of view and seeming tangents. "The mysteries Atkinson is most invested in are those of the human heart." (NYTimes)


Finalists Announced
Winners will be announced at the National Book Awards Ceremony on November 16, 2011 in  New York.
Finalists for fiction are The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obrecht, The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak, The Buddha in
the Attic by Julie Otsuka, Binocular Vision by Edith Pearlman, and Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward.
The National Book Awards are the preeminent literary prizes in the United States and have been awarded
since 1950 by the National Book Foundation in order to recognize exceptional books written by American
authors and to increase public awareness of reading in general.

October 8th is World Zombie Day

prideRead up on some of your favorite literary undead characters here at the Library. Titles include the ever popular parody Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (optioned for film), Zombies! Zombies! Zombies!, a short story collection, and Warm Bodies,  about a zombie who falls in love with a human. Literary mashups like The War of Worlds, Plus Blood, Guts, and Zombies and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Undead are a great way to get your zombie on!

Media buzz is building for several newly released books.  Reviewers have praised debut novelist Chad Harbach for his baseball themed coming-of-age tale, The Art of Fielding#6 on the New York Times Bestseller list.

Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus, featuring rival magicians who fall in love, has been released to much fanfare.

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles continues to climb the lists since it was picked as an  Early Show read. 

The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, about a foster child who uses the Victorian language of flowers to find her way in the world, is turning out to be a sleeper hit. 



low-res_coverGMR_logoArc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age by Kevin Boyle

Plymouth patrons will once again join hundreds of communities across the state participating in the Great Michigan Read, the statewide one-book reading initiative sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council, by reading Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder by native Detroiter Kevin Boyle. Arc of Justice tells the story of Detroit in the Roaring Twenties when Ossian Sweet, an African American physician, purchased a home for his family in an all-white Detroit neighborhood in 1925, and started the chain of events that eventually led to a sensational murder trial, with the famous attorney Clarence Darrow for the defense. Arc of Justice was published in 2004 and garnered high praise, winning the 2004 National Book Award, and nominations for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. It was named a Michigan Notable Book in 2005, and is the basis for the play Malice Aforethought: the Sweet Trials, performed at the University of Detroit Mercy in 2007.