Fabulous Fiction Firsts #464 - The Best Crime Fiction Debuts (2014 Sizzling Summer Reads #1)

You knew about The Abomination and The Curiosity already. The following join Booklist's Best Mystery/Thriller Debuts of the year. Great chillers for the summer heat. Don't forget Summer Game 2104 starts today.

Decoded * by Jia Mai
This riveting tale of cryptographic warfare and a bestseller in China, takes us deep into the world of code breaking, and the mysterious world of Unit 701, a top-secret Chinese intelligence agency. Rong Jinzhen, an autistic math genius discovers that the mastermind behind the maddeningly difficult Purple Code is his former teacher and best friend, who is now working for China's enemy. The author's experience working in the Chinese intelligence service may have contributed to the story's realism.

The Deliverance of Evil * by Roberto Costantini
Haunted by a 24-years unsolved murder case from his early career, brash Commissario Michele Balistreri is overcome with remorse and renewed determination when the victim's mother commits suicide, in a first installment in a best-selling trilogy from Italy.

North of Boston * * by Elizabeth Elo
Surviving a fishing boat collision that ends her friend's life, Boston girl Pirio Kasparov, convinced that the incident was not an accident, is tapped to participate in a research project at the side of a journalist who helps her unravel a plot involving the frigid whaling grounds off Baffin Island.

Precious Thing * by Colette McBeth
Astonished to discover that a police press conference assignment is about her best friend from high school, television journalist Rachel endeavors to learn the fate of her missing friend before making a discovery that brings everything they once shared into question.

Shovel Ready * * by Adam Sternbergh (One of Booklist's Top 10 Crime Fiction as well as Best Crime Fiction Debuts of the year)
In this futuristic hard-boiled noir, working as a hit man on the ravaged streets of New York City after a dirty bomb is unleashed on Times Square, Spademan takes an assignment to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist only to discover that his mark holds a shocking secret and that his client hides a more sinister agenda.

The Word Exchange * * by Alena Graedon
A dystopian novel for the digital age, when the "death of print" has become a near reality, Anana Johnson, an employee at the North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL), searches for her missing father and stumbles upon the spiritual home of the written world and a pandemic "word flu."

BTW...a personal favorite and a cautionary tale that is at once a technological thriller and a meditation on the high cultural costs of digital technology.

* = starred review
* * = 2 starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #463 - "The books that help you most are those which make you think the most." ~ Pablo Neruda

As one reviewer puts it so aptly, Ruby * * "is difficult to read for its graphic and uncomfortable portrayal of racism, sexual violence, and religious intolerance", but debut author Cynthia Bond had me in the palm of her hand right from the start, opening with "Ruby Bell was a constant reminder of what could befall a woman whose shoe heels were too high".

Liberty Township, East Texas. Once so pretty that "it hurt to look at", Ruby is now "buck-crazy, ...(h)owling, half-naked mad". As a child, she suffered abuse beyond imagination, so as soon as she could, she fled to New York. When a telegram from her cousin forced her to return home, 30 year-old Ruby found herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. Once sharply dressed and coiffed, "she wore gray like rain clouds and wandered the red road in bared feet", and folks walked a curve path to avoid her door. Except for Ephram Jennings, who has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids. And on one end-of-summer day, 45 year-old Ephram asked his sister Celia to make up her white lay angel cake, thus began a long, sweet courtship that would anger the church folks in town. Eventually, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

"(E)xquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage."

"Definitely not for the faint of heart or for those who prefer lighter reads, this book exhibits a dark and redemptive beauty. Bond's prose is evocative of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, paying homage to the greats of Southern Gothic literature. "

A graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, and American Academy of Dramatics Arts, PEN/Rosenthal Fellow Cynthia Bond founded the Blackbird Writing Collective. Currently, she teaches therapeutic writing at Paradigm Malibu Adolescent Treatment Center.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Bittersweet: an enthralling, suspenseful summer read

Bittersweet, the brand new novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, had me in its suspenseful grips until the very last page! The book begins innocently enough with the introduction of the main character, shy and plain Mabel, who lives in awe of her college roommate Ev Winslow. Wealthy, beautiful and mysterious, Ev seems to barely notice Mabel until they connect one evening in their dorm room and become fast friends. Mabel is overjoyed when Ev invites her to her family’s stunning summer property on Lake Champlain, and prepares for what will surely be the best summer of her life. Readers can’t help but feel a sense of foreboding, however, even as Mabel makes new friends, lounges on the beach and flirts with Ev’s brother. How exactly does Ev’s family have so much money when none of them seem to have jobs? And why does Ev’s aging, senile aunt keep begging Mabel to “find the manila folder” in the old family archives? As Mabel becomes more and more immersed in present and past family drama, it seems as though not only her presence at the summer estate but her very life may be in danger.

Maggie Shipstead, popular author of Seating Arrangements and Astonish Me, writes of Bittersweet: “a wild New England gothic full of family secrets, mysteriously locked doors, sailboats, suntans, forbidden lust, and a few priceless works of art. An engrossing summer blast.” Indeed, Bittersweet is the kind of book you want to bring with you this summer, whether you’re laying on the beach or just curled up on the front porch.

You can read more about Bittersweet and about Beverly-Whittemore on the author’s website. She also wrote The Effects of Light, which you will find in our collection!

Teen Stuff: How I Live Now

A film based on the 2005 Printz award winning book by Meg Rosoff, How I Live Now is set in the near future in the UK. American teenager Daisy is sent to live with her cousins in the English countryside. Full of angst she is slow to communicate and form relationships with her family members. She slowly starts to open up and crack a smile or two when suddenly the UK falls into a military state and the the kids are forced to evacuate the farm as chaos and violence continues to surround them. Daisy tries to escape and this is her story.

See this list for more movies based on books teens love.

Bibliocraft - A Crafter/Library Lover's Dream

An honest question here: Do you love your library? If you're here, on this page, reading this, then I can pretty much guess that you do. I'm not surprised; your library has so much to offer! Books, and games, and science-y things--and now, for all of you library-loving crafters out there, a book that can help you combine your crafting talents and your undying love of all things LIBRARY.

Bibliocraft. How perfect is that? A book that tells its reader all about how to harvest crafting inspiration from the endless potential on the library shelves. It starts you out slow and steady, walking you through some library basics, like how to find what you want in a library catalog and some important points about copyright in library books.

And then it gets real. Part 2: THE CRAFTS.

The rest of the book is a smorgasbord of amazing projects inspired by library resources like, oh, perhaps, the ones you might find here. Historic watermarks transformed into pillows, Japanese family crests turned into coasters, votive holders, pendants made from quilled paper, and, my personal favorite, instructions for making a pocketed kitty-kat apron. With...wait for it...additional instructions for making actual knitted kittens to put in those pockets. Because why not?

You had me at "kitties", Bibliocraft.

And don't forget, along with this biblio-gem, the library has dozens of other awesome craft books and crafting programs, so make sure to check them out! (...see what I did there?)

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #462 "There is no terror so consistent, so elusive to describe, as that which haunts a spy in a strange country" ~ John le Carré

One of the hottest titles this summer - I am Pilgrim * * * by Terry Hayes, a debut espionage thriller, and "a breakneck story reminiscent of John le Carré and Robert Ludlum at their finest."

A young boy watches as his father is publicly beheaded in the blistering heat of a Saudi Arabian public square.

In Damascus, a notorious Syrian biotech expert is found eyeless in a junkyard.

When a young woman is murdered in a seedy hotel near Ground Zero, lying face down in a pool of acid, teeth missing and fingerprints gone, NYPD homicide detective Ben Bradley calls in his long time friend, a retired, reclusive CIA operative to join the investigation. Code named Pilgrim, he immediately recognizes these techniques as ones pulled directly from his book, a cult classic of forensic science, written under a pen name. What follows is a thriller that jockeys between astonishingly detailed character study and breakneck globetrotting, pitting Pilgrim against an adversary known only as the Saracen who has devoted his life in service to jihad. His ultimate weapon - a synthesized fast-acting form of the smallpox virus that cannot be stopped. His target - the continental US.

The inevitable encounter between Pilgrim and the Saracen will come in Turkey, around the murder of a wealthy American, in a thrilling, twisting, beautifully orchestrated finale.

"Two psychos enter, and one psycho leaves. Good entertainment for readers with a penchant for mayhem, piles of bodies and a lethal biochemical agent or two."

Debut novelist Terry Hayes began his career as a journalist for The Sydney Morning Herald, and a foreign correspondent in the US during Watergate. He is also a screenwriter and producer.

* * * = 3 starred reviews

PreK BITS - Eggy-weggs

Who lays eggs? Chickens, Geese and Ducks!
Ms. Rachel led eggy-wegg stories in Preschool Storytime this week.
The MOST WONDERFUL EGG In The WORLD is a modern-sday classic by Helme Heine.
RUBY In HER OWN TIME by Jonathan Emmett

For more eggy-wegg stories look for these favorite titles:
The PERFECT NEST
ROSIE'S WALK
ZINNIA And DOT
EGGS 1 2 3 WHO WILL The BABIES BE?
MAMA HEN'S BIG DAY
MISTER SEAHORSE
AND TANGO MAKES THREE
After all those eggs .... flapp your feathers in time to the tunes!

Geography Crafts for Kids

About now most kids are are counting down the days to summer break. However, summer doesn’t have to mean taking a break from learning. AADL has some great books that will have the whole family learning all summer long! The book Geography Crafts for Kids by Joe Rhatigan and Heather Smith offers hands on activities that will have learners of all ages thinking in new and exciting ways about the world we live in. Serve up some plate tectonics with a Pangea Pudding Puzzle or learn the art of cartography by mapping out your neighborhood. This book is filled with over 50 cool projects, along with illustrations and sidebars for parents. Check it out and learn about the world and beyond from your very own home!

The Fault in Our Stars on the Big Screen

Okay, Nerdfighters and John Green fans… Are you ready? For the past year and half John Green’s newest book, The Fault in Our Stars, has been insanely popular. And the book has reached peak buzz since the MOVIE adaptation comes out this Friday, June 6!

Hazel is a teen fighting terminal cancer. She meets and falls in love with Gus at a cancer support group. The book and movie tell the story of their romance along with their various health issues. It sounds like a downer, and it is – I went through a box of tissues reading the book. But the story celebrates being alive and being in love and I smiled as I cried and their endearing story.

Author John Green has been on set, and has been tweeting and Instagramming over the past year during filming and he and the film crew are very excited about the outcome. If the author loves it, will we? Of course when books you love get turned into movies you have to wonder… Will it be any good? Will it compare? Will the characters live up to your expectations?! We’ll find out Friday! Drop a comment and let us know what you think after you see the film!

Move over Sherlock, a new detective is in town!

Diary of a Wimpy Kid fans should definitely check out Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis. Timmy Failure is a detective who has big ideas and is determined to be the best sleuth in town. Unfortunately, he does not seem to be particularly gifted in solving mysteries. This little detail does not stop him from thinking and saying he is. Along with Total, his polar bear sidekick, Timmy does his best to solve crime and cement his reputation as the world’s best detective agency.

The format of this book follows the popular diary format and the illustrations are brilliant visual humor. Timmy often completely distorts the truth and the truth is shown in the pictures, often with a hilarious outcome. If you enjoy Mistakes Were Made, don't miss the second installment to the Timmy Failure series, Now Look What You've Done.

Pastis is also the creator of Pearls before Swine for the slightly more mature reader.

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