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Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Remaining Oct Titles

As the last weekend in September approaches, I am going to try to jam in the rest of the October titles that I want to discuss. Some are nonfiction but most are fiction. Hope there are some that interest you in the mix.

Eric Kaplan, a co-executive producer and writer for The Big Bang Theory, has Does Santa Exist? : A Philosophical Investigation coming on Oct 16th. Kaplan is a doctoral candidate in philosophy at Berkeley so he does have knowledge to discuss this. This is really a discussion on how our beliefs are grounded and how do we know what is real. He uses sources from traditional philosophers to Monty Python. I am curious about his writing style.

The Dark Art: Undercover in the World's Most Dangerous Narco-Terror Oraganizations by Edward Follis and Douglas Century comes out on Oct 7th. Follis was with the Drug Enforcement Administration for 27 years and he was a highly decorated agent. He worked undercover to develop relationships with international drug lords. This is his memoir.

Elin Hilderbrand has penned her first holiday offering, Winter Street, which comes out on Oct 14th.
Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket's Winter Street Inn and the father of 4 adult children. He is looking forward to a nice Christmas at home with his 2nd wife and 3 of the 4 children until he finds his wife kissing the man who plays Santa Claus. Can Christmas be saved?

Chase Novak continues the tale that started in Breed with Brood which comes out on Oct 7th. This adds some horror to my list. Twins Adam and Alice are being cared for by their aunt. They were created by a fertility treatment that destroyed their parents and causes some children to become feral. As the aunt watches for any sign - a bunch of feral children are coming for them.

Hank Phillippi Ryan has become more popular with each title. Her newest in the Jane Ryland and Jake Brogan series is Truth Be Told which also comes out on Oct 7th. Ryland is digging up information about a middle class family that is evicted from their suburban homes and learns some facts about about a money making scheme. Meanwhile Brogan has reasons to doubt a man's confession to a 20 year old murder.

The Silent Sister by Diane Chamberlain once again comes out on Oct. 7th. Riley MacPherson believed her older sister committed suicide as a teenager. Twenty years later, she returned to her fathers house after his death to clean it out and discovered that her sister was in hiding, living under an assumed name. What had happened all those years ago to make her run? What will happen if she looks for her? Sounds like a suspenseful one to me.

Marlon James spoke during BookExpo in May. He was funny and wonderfully entertaining. He has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. His third novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, comes out on Oct 2nd.  This novel offers a fictional investigation of the attempted assassination of reggae star Bob Marley and travels from 1970s Jamaica, to 1980s New York and back to the Jamaica of the 1990s. Reviewers have called him a genius and this title inventive and stunning. I can only say, listening to him speak, I know it will be entertaining.

Now, for the last Oct. title (this one out again on the 7th), Above the Waterfall by Ron Rash. Rash novel Serena is moving to the big screen starring Jennifer Lawrence coming out I believe in Feb 2015. This one revolves around a brutal crime, a longtime sheriff burned out by the impact of crystal meth on his community and a female park ranger. All takes place in Appalachia as is common in Rash titles. Sounds like it has real atmosphere from an author the New York Times has called 'one of the best authors of his time'.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Long List for the Fiction National Book Award

Yesterday they announced the long list for the National Book Awards. We have nine of the ten on the list and I am not enthused about the tenth one. Unless I get requests for it, I am not going to purchase it. So, another list, this time 9 of the titles that made the list.

Molly Antopol's The UnAmericans is a short-story collection. Antopol was recognized as one of the "5 under 35" authors by the National Book Foundation in 2013. This is her debut work and is a masterful study of characterization. All the stories have political elements and range from Communist-era Prague to McCarthyism LA.

John Darnielle's Wolf in White Van is another debut work. Darnielle is the lead musician for the band the Mountain Goats. There are some who have read this who say 'they just don't get it' but most find it amazing and life changing. Life changing????? That is what at least 2 of them said. The main character is Sean Phillips - a disfigured man who loses himself in fantasy and role playing games. The consequences of this are devastating. Sean's story unfolds in reverse.

Next comes All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I have talked about this one before. This one made the May LibraryReads list. This is the story of a blind French girl and a young German male orphan - one in Paris and one in Berlin - and how they try to survive during the build up to World War II. It has been called moving, compelling and enthralling by reviewers.

Phil Klay's Redeployment is another book of short stories. Klay, a former Marine who fought in Iraq, captures the terror, boredom and occasional humor of war in his debut collection. The Washington Post called it "the most compelling depictions to date of the Iraq war, and especially of the psychic toll it continues to exact on those who fought in it.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is another one I've talked about. This one just came out on the 9th of this month and we do not have our copies in yet although they have been on order. I'm sure they will make it within a week or two.This one made the September LibraryReads list and I said " Every reviewer who has read it, praises it dramatically. People have said things like " This is a beautiful, gripping novel told by a masterful hand." It is dystopian fiction when a strain of the swine flu (called Georgia flu by the way) wipes out 99% of the world's population. The remaining people settle in outposts but the story centers on a troupe of traveling Shakespearean actors that perform at the outposts. There is the feeling that just to survive is not enough and that the apocalypse is a way to reinvent freedom."

Elizabeth McCracken has a book of short stories on the list, Thunderstruck & Other Stories. This is her first collection of stories in 20 years. Most of them deal with some kind of loss of love or loneliness. McCracken's writing has been described as exquisite and a true marvel. These stories range from a grocery store manager who obsesses about a missing women to one about a man mourning his wife. Along with the heartbreak are moments of humor.

Orfeo by Richard Powers is next. He is a frequent award winner or nominee. He even made the long list (although not the short) for the Booker Award this year for this title. This one focuses on composer Peter Els who is experimenting with inserting musical notes into the DNA of bacteria in a home microbiology lab. He draws the attention of Homeland Security and goes on the run. This is the one for those who like cerebral literary fiction.

Next comes Marilynne Robinson's Lila. These last two books are not even being published until October and they are on order but you can't read them yet. Robinson has the reputation of being the greatest novelist of our time and has won the Pulitzer, the National Book Critic Award, the Hemingway PEN award and been nominated from practically everything. This title is the final book in a trilogy set in the town of Gilead, Iowa. This one centers on Lila, a disturbed young woman who marries the local Reverend.

Lastly, Jane Smiley's Some Luck also out in October. Another LibraryReads title that we discussed.
Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction; she has chaired the judges panel for the prestigious Man Booker Prize and she has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. It should not be a surprise that her next novel, Some Luck, the beginning of a trilogy celebrating family farming, made the list. Out on Oct. 7th, Smiley's first book in the trilogy follows the lives of an Iowan farm family over 30 years beginning in 1920. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

LibraryReads for October

They announced the list of the top 10 titles that librarians loved for October. It is an interesting list - some I agree with and some I would have placed a bit lower on my list. The top vote went to an author who I love.

Garth Stein wrote The Art of Racing in the Rain and if you love dogs and haven't read it - get it immediately. I LOVED that book. He has a new book coming out in Oct - well actually on September 30th but that is almost Oct. A Sudden Light  is a multi-generational family story but there is also supernatural and some mystery elements mixed into it. Stein writes exquisite prose and his character development is outstanding - not that you like everyone or maybe even anyone. This one is the story of the Riddell family, a influential logging family of the old Pacific Northwest. When Jones Riddell goes bankrupt, he and his wife decide on a trial separation and he takes his 14 year old son to the family home. Now old and decrepit, it was a mansion in it's day. Jones and his sister want to sell it to property developers but their father, suffering from dementia, wants the forest to reclaim it. There are secrets upon secrets and ghosts in this one. The story is told from the point of view of the 14 year old boy. It is pretty compelling.

Next we have Jodi Picoult, always popular with her issue related fiction. Leaving Time comes out on Oct. 14th. Jenna is a young teenage girl whose mother had disappeared after a tragic accident at an elephant sanctuary a decade earlier. She asks for help from a psychic and a retired detective because she believes firmly that her mother is still alive. If you are fascinated with elephants, this is the book for you. Jenna's mother was studying elephants grieving process and part of the story is from her point of view from her journals.

One of the two nonfiction works is next, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride by Cary Elwes arrives on Oct. 14th. For all who love the movie, this takes you behind the scenes with Elwes, Mandy Patinkin and Billy Crystal among others. Almost everyone who has read it, gives it high praise.

The next nonfiction book is Not My Father's Son: A Memoir by Alan Cumming which comes out on Oct. 7th. Cummings, a Scottish star of stage, television and films was asked to appear on the UK's Who Do You Think You Are - meant to reveal the mystery of what had happened to his maternal grandfather after the war. One month before this, his father tells him he was not his son. Cummings had experienced a lifetime of psychological and physical abuse at the hand of this man. There were many issues to resolve and part of his healing was the writing of this book.

Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction; she has chaired the judges panel for the prestigious Man Booker Prize and she has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. It should not be a surprise that her next novel, Some Luck, the beginning of a trilogy celebrating family farming, made the list. Out on Oct. 7th, Smiley's first book in the trilogy follows the lives of an Iowan farm family over 30 years beginning in 1920. Some think that this will be the book of the year.

With this next, we go from farming to horror. The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue follows his very successful The Stolen Child.  This also comes out on the 7th. Jack, a young 10 year old boy spends his time drawing pictures of monsters since an almost drowning incident three years earlier. His friend starts to notice that strange things start happening when Jack picks up a pencil. His mother starts hearing strange sounds coming from the ocean and the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred.

A debut novel by Allen Eskens, The Life We Bury, is next. This one, coming on Oct. 14th, follows a college student who has left home guilty (leaving his autistic brother with an unreliable mother) and becomes involved trying to clear the name of a dying Vietnam Vet who was convicted of murder. Reviewers called it gripping and fast paced. Sounds like a new author has been born.

Reunion by Hannah Pittard is a book I picked up at BookExpo. It isn't my usual type of read but once started, I couldn't put it down. You get so involved in the characters life, you have to read till the end. Kate learned that her estranged father has committed suicide. Her sister and brother insist that she return to Atlanta for the funeral. Personally she is dealing with having been unfaithful; her husband is requesting a divorce; and she is in massive debt. Returning east with her siblings, she is forced to look at her life and begins a healing process. This one comes out also on Oct. 7th.

Next comes Keigo Higashino's Malice on Oct. 7th. Higashino is as popular in Japan as James Patterson is here. Several of his mysteries have been published in the US and have become award nominee's in the US and he is a frequent award winner in Japan. This series features the Japanese police detective Kyoichiro Kaga. In this one Kaga investigates the murder of a best-selling author. It seems like all the logical suspects have rock-solid alibis.

On to the last of the ten but not the least, Ashley Weaver's Murder at the Brightwell which arrives on Oct. 14th. If you love Agatha Christie type mysteries, this is the one for you. Weaver's debut mystery is polished and intricate. Murder invades upper crust English society at a posh seaside resort in the 1930's. Amory Ames is disillusioned with her marriage to a playboy and agrees to help a friend and former boyfriend try to stop his sister from marrying another playboy. The prospective groom ends up dead and the friend is the suspect. This one is widely respected by reviewers as a gripping who-done-it.

Well, that is the list for this month. All are available for holds on the PAC. Have fun deciding if any of them are your 'cup of tea'.

Friday, September 12, 2014

October Titles Continued

I am going to start off this week by covering 3 new nonfiction titles with a military bent. I am not sure why this is the month for these but they seemed like they might gather some interest here in Columbus.

Yochi Dreazen has The Invisible Front: Love and Loss in an Era of Endless War coming out on Oct 7th. This is the story of Major General Mark Graham and his family. He and his wife lost both of their soldier sons within 9 months. One died in Iraq while serving his country. The other was in an ROTC program at the University of Kentucky when he committed suicide. Because of their tragic experience and the different reactions of friends and the military to the two losses, the Grahams became advocates for suicide prevention. This story is very effective and leaves you with the most respect for the Grahams.

John Nagl has Knife Fights coming out on Oct 16th. Nagl was the author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam. He had realized early that traditional methods of fighting would not work against guerrillas and terrorists. Here, we get an inside look at HOW we are learning to eat soup with a knife.

Finally, on the military theme, Daniel Rodriguez with Joe Layden has Rise: A Soldier, a Dream, and a Promise Kept coming on Oct 7th. Before becoming an honor student at Clemson and a star wide receiver for their football team, Rodriguez was a soldier in Afghanistan where he won both a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star. He promised a friend who did not make it out of Afghanistan that he would try to fulfill his dream of big time football. His story is one of inspiration.

OK, now on to the fiction.

The Missing Place by Sophie Littlefield comes out on Oct. 14th. Two mothers come to an oil rig town in North Dakota looking for their two lost sons. The mothers and their backgrounds are as different as night and day but they must learn to work together to overcome the roadblocks that the oil company puts in their way and also the indifference of the local police force. A wonderful sense of place and good character development as well as a mystery to solve.

If you have read either of Robert Olen Butler's first 2 Christopher Marlowe Cobb WWI thrillers, you will for sure want to pick up his third in the series. The Empire of Night arrives on Oct. 7th. Cobb, the Chicago journalist turned into a spy for American intelligence is sent to 1917 Berlin to find a mole inside the British government. The person the government pairs him with happens to be his stage actress mother.

John Connolly has the 12th of his Charlie Parker series, The Wolf in Winter, coming out on Oct. 28th. The people in Prosperous Maine are, well, prosperous and they like it that way. After a homeless man is killed and his daughter goes missing, Charlie Parker comes to town to investigate and the town people feel threatened. They don't want their secrets uncovered. How far will they go to stop Parker?

Last for this week is an espionage title by Matthew Dunn. Dark Spies arrives on Oct. 7th. Dunn is a former senior field operative with MI6 so his work is very true to life in this series featuring Will Cochrane. Cochrane comes to the US and sees a Russian spymaster who's supposed to be dead. He has trouble understanding why the CIA tells him not to take a shot at the guy. Will he listen? Doubtful. If he doesn't, what will happen.

Enjoy! Back with more next week.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

October Blockbusters

October is a very popular publishing month and in addition, it is the month where Christmas titles start to arrive. There are reams of books being published and some of them are by the A-list authors that people love. This week, I will cover as many of those as I can.

Debbie Macomber has her latest Christmas novel, Mr. Miracle, coming on Oct 7th. Angel-in-training Harry Mills poses as a teacher to help a community college student find her way. This one will be made into a Hallmark movie next fall.

Danielle Steel's latest, Pegasus, arrives on Oct 28th. Definitely not a Christmas story, this follows the fortunes of two German families during World War II. Close friends and widowers discover they must go their separate ways when one discovers his mother was Jewish. He escapes with his family to the United States and brings with him as a gift from the remaining friend, Lipizzaner stallions. A story of friendship, sacrifice and rebirth.

Clive and Dirk Cussler give us the 23rd Dirk Pitt novel, Havana Storm, on Oct 28th. Pitt is investigating a toxic outbreak in the Caribbean while his children chase an Aztec stone that supposedly was lost with the sinking of the Maine. All end up in Cuba and in trouble with a post-Castro power struggle. The usual action and adventure from Cussler.

Dick Francis's Damage has Felix Francis following in his father's footsteps. This title arrives on Oct 7th. There has been some illegal doping of horses and the Racing Authority asks Jeff Hinkley to investigate. Felix worked with his father and has been continuing the horse racing mysteries since Dick Francis's death in 2010.

Deadline is John Sandford's 8th Virgil Flowers title. It arrives on October 7th. Flowers is investigating a local dognapping ring where the dogs are sold to medical labs. He is called in to investigate the killing of a local reporter. Strangely enough, in private session, the school board authorized the killing of the reporter by a vote of 4 to 1.

Also continuing a series from a deceased author, Tilly Bagshawe has Sidney Sheldon's Chasing Tomorrow arriving on Oct. 7th. This title continues the saga of Tracy Whitney, the thief that won people's hearts - stealing form the rich and greedy. She has one last plan in mind before retiring with partner Jeff for marriage and a child. Unfortunately, the past has a way of catching up.

The 31st Stone Barrington novel, Paris Match, arrives on Oct 7th also. Stone finds himself in Paris taking care of some local business when an old nemesis finds him. Then, the rumor mill back in the States threaten not only Stone, but the country. Stone is attacked on all sides but I bet he finds his way out.

John Grisham has his next blockbuster coming out on Oct 21st, Gray Mountain. A law associate, Samantha Kofer, is laid off and ends up at a legal aid clinic in Appalachia. Her new job takes her into the murky world of coal mining. Grisham attacks real world issues of the environment and the economy in this one.

We will stop there this week. There lots more by the next tier authors that I am excited about but that will come later. Enjoy thinking about these.