New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (6/11/06)

The List has one thing in common with Congress. Incumbents are hard to beat. Week after week a new book by a past best-selling author debuts on the List. Name recognition can even trump a bad review. And this week the trend continues with three new entries.

At #1 is At Risk by Patricia Cornwell: this was first serialized in "The New York Times Magazine" for fifteen weeks; Cornwell said, “This book is more about suspense, and characters, and their skills of deduction. It is people who solve this case---a determined investigator digging through boxes. That’s how things happen out there." Is she taking on CSI?

At #13 is Killer Instinct by Joseph Finder: the author scored a hit with Company Man; he has returned with a thriller about getting ahead in business with a little help from the Special Forces.

At #15 is The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl: this author had a hit with his first literary mystery, The Dante Club; he returns with another fascinating blend of fact and fiction.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts # 25

Historical mystery fans – here is a new reason to rejoice. Let’s see… exotic locale, opulent settings, a tough, savvy amateur sleuth, plenty of seduction, danger and intrigue, not to mention a few dead bodies. Could we ask for more?

Jason Goodwin, a noted historian turns to fiction for the first time with The Janissary Tree, a mystery set in the waning days of the Ottoman Empire. The sultan’s eunuch (Warning: DO NOT jump to conclusions here) Yashim Togalu suspects the involvement of the Janissaries’, an elite troop in a series of barbaric murders and jewel theft around Istanbul and the royal court.

This is the impressive debut of a projected series.

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie wins 2006 Thumbs Up!

The Thumbs Up! Award committee has voted Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar as the 2006 Thumbs Up! Award winner. Sleeping Freshmen. . . is the journal of Scott Hudson during his first year in high school. It’s a year full of bullies, romance, honors classes, and brotherhood, and oh yes, his mother’s pregnancy.

The committee also chose three Honor books. They are Twilight by Stephenie Meyer which received the most teen votes, Looking for Alaska by John Green, and Peeps by Scott Westerfeld.

A "Magykal" Summer Read

For all those Harry Potter and Fantasy fans out there, there is a new series in youth literature that is a lot of fun. Angie Sage has written a series called Septimus Heap which tracks the story of a young boy who was switched at birth and raised as a soldier, away from his large, quirky wizard family. With a twist in fate the boy becomes involved in an escape with an ExtraOrdinary Wizard and a princess. He eventually discovers his true identity: that he is the seventh son of a seventh son for whom many prophecies have been foretold. While these stories are not quite as engaging as the Harry Potter series, they are still a good, light summer read for young minds (or those young at heart) and you will not be able to put them down. The first book in the series is called Magyk while the second book, Flyte, just came out this year.

Angie Sage is also collaborating with illustrator Jimmy Pickering for a new series this summer, Araminta Spookie, which will be coming out in August. The first book in the series will be My Haunted House. So check out Angie Sage for a "magykal" summer read!

The Hostage Crisis Revisited: The U.S., Iran and Islam

A new, highly praised account of the Iranian hostage crisis of 1979-81 views the events against the background of United States relations with countries in the Islamic world and the rise of militant Islam. Mark Bowden's narrative Guests of the Ayatollah revisits the capture of 66 Americans and their 444 day ordeal. In the process the author looks at the motivation of the radical student followers of the Ayatollah Khomeini, portrays key figures on both sides including American staffers, Marine guards, CIA members, Islamic ideologues and others with a page-turning "you are there" approach. This is a well-written account of what the author terms "the first battle in America's war with militant Islam." Another fairly recent book on the topic is The Crisis: The President, the Prophet and the Shah by David Harris. Additional books on crisis are also available.

Orange Award for New Writers

Yiyun-Li's first collection of stories, A Thousand Years of Good Prayers is one of the recipients of the Orange Award for New Writers. In the title story, an old man from China tells his new friend, an Iranian woman, of the gulf he's tried to bridge with his daughter from whom he's been estranged for many years. Ironically, even with the language barrier, he's able to communicate more effectively with her than with his own flesh and blood. Other stories also speak to the dislocation of the Chinese both in their own country and in America after the ravages of the Cultural Revolution.

Zaha Hadid at the Guggenheim

zahahadid

Zaha Hadid is the first woman to be awarded the distinguished Pritzker Architecture Prize, in 2004. The Iraqi-born, London-based architect is internationally known for projects that have literally "shifted the geometry of buildings."

The current exhibition at the Guggenheim is a 30-year retrospective of her work in a wide range of mediums: paintings, sketches, architectural drawings, urban plans, models, relief models, animations, furniture, and design object. It opens today and runs through October 25th, 2006.
The exhibition catalog will be available soon but you can read up on Zaha Hadid in Zaha Hadid : Testing the Boundaries.

Summer's Most Magical Form of Transport: Books

summerreading2a

Looking for some great summer reading recommendations? You cannot go wrong with NPR’s Alan Cheuse. Here are the excerpts of some of the titles on his 2006 Summer Reading list.

Swell Books for Summer Loafing by Susan Stamberg is another source not to be missed. This morning I heard wonderful suggestions from three independent booksellers. My list is growing and I need to get a bigger beach bag!

And then there is the Talk of the Nation Summer Reading List.

Just to make sure you won’t run out of good reads this summer, we will soon be making some summer reading suggestions too in our Books Blog. Watch for them.

New Fiction on the New York Times Best Sellers List (6/4/06)

After last weekend's sunshine it appears we are back to gloomy weather this week. The two new entries are "hard-boiled" American mysteries that also walk on the dark side of human nature.

At #2 is Dead Watch by John Sandford: in this new series Jacob Winter is a political operative instead of a newspaperman but he also ends up pursuing a murderer.

At #3 is The Hard Way by Lee Child: Jack Reacher is back, helping a dealer in mercenaries find his kidnapped wife.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #24 - Geography as Character

Two exemplary recent Australian releases treat geography as character - the highly original and witty debut Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living by Carrie Tiffany, and The Secret River by the 2001 Orange Prize winner, Kate Grenville.

Set in 1930s Victoria, Everyman is narrated by Jean Cunningham, the young, curious and courageous sewing teacher on the “Better-Farming Train” which travels throughout the country, bringing advice to agricultural communities. Love comes in the form of Robert, an idealistic soil scientist with the rare ability to identify the origin of soil by taste, and who adheres unyieldingly to his Rules for Scientific Living.

The Secret River on the other hand, is inspired by Grenville’s own family history and the early settlement of New South Wales. William Thornhill and his family must struggle for a delicate coexistence with the native population along the savage Hawkesbury River.

Landscape is far more than mere setting. Whether harsh or lush, beneficent or punishing, it drives the plots and leaves indelible marks in the lives of these characters.

Syndicate content