Sports talk-show host pens rich fiction

If you’re familiar with Mike Greenberg then you probably know him as the less athletic half of ESPN’s top-rated radio program Mike & Mike. What you may not know is that Greeny has forayed into the world of fiction, last month releasing his second novel.

My Father’s Wives follows Jonathan Sweetwater, an accomplished Wall Street banker, through two tumultuous weeks of disappointment and discovery. When Jon has reason to believe that his wife is having an affair, he hastily sets out to learn why his seemingly perfect life is falling apart. Central to this search is Jon’s father, the late US Senator Percival Sweetwater III whom Jon has not seen since his own ninth birthday party.

Since the Senator is not available for comment, Jon treks the globe in search of his father’s six wives, hoping that they will reveal some long-hidden truth about his father and himself.

Ultimately Greenberg’s book is about the nature of family and relationships. The well-developed characters feel real, and the use of sports as metaphor is well-done. The book is fast-paced and Jon’s globe-trekking search for answers adds a sense of mystery and suspense to the novel. And at just over two hundred pages placing it on hold is an easy commitment to make. Unless, that is, you’re afraid of that sort of thing.

You can check out Greenbergs other books here and a New York Times review of My Father's Wives here.

Taco Tuesday: Let's Dip

It’s Taco Tuesday! What are you making for dinner? Pizza? Oh, well, that’s okay. BUT! If you’re thinking about tacos… today is apparently National Tortilla Chip Day. (Yes, there seems to be a “day” for everything.) What’s Taco Tuesday? It’s pretty much just making it a point to dine on tacos on a Tuesday.

Along with the tortilla chip comes something yummy to dip it in! The cookbook Frontera: Margaritas, Guacamoles and Snacks features just that. All the scrumptious fixings to top your tortillas with delicious. Yes there are drink recipes, but the book also provides a guacamole recipe for each month of the year. Did you know there were that many ways to make guac?

And to fancy up those tacos with things beside the usual, check out Mexican flavors: Contemporary recipes from Camp San Miguel for Some Tasty Inspiration. Happy taco Tuesday to you! (Even if you choose to eat pizza.)

The new novel Lillian On Life is dazzling

The unobtrusive new novel Lillian On Life is a breath of fresh air! Alison Jean Lester writes in the unique voice of an elegant middle-aged woman looking back on her life. Never having married, Lillian has traveled the world alone meeting people, conquering several different careers, and learning life’s lessons. “In short vignettes, Lillian looks back, drawing an impressionistic portrait of a bold life full of adventure — erotic and otherwise — in prose spiked with unflinching observations, riotous riffs and poignant reflections,” says the review of the book in the Washington Post. Each chapter title of Lillian On Life implies what experiences Lillian will relate to readers in the coming pages; one chapter is titled “On leaving in order to stay” and another, “On getting out of bed.” These stories aren’t didactic in the least, however. Instead, they interweave and flow loosely along, painting a stunning portrait of a full life, not without sorrow, but made richer because of it.

This stunning book is Lester’s first novel and if readers are lucky, it won’t be the last. You can read the full review of Lillian On Life here.

New Sherlock Holmes Story Found in a Scottish Attic


A new Sherlock Holmes story by Arthur Conan Doyle has recently surfaced after being stored away in an attic in Scotland for more than 50 years. This is the first new Holmes story by the character's creator since the last adventure was published 80 years ago.

The story, Sherlock Holmes: Discovering the Border Burghs and, by deduction, the Brig Bazaar, is in the public domain and can be read freely online. Conan Doyle wrote the story to be part of a booklet called Book o' the Brig created as part of the Scottish town of Selkirk's fundraising effort to build a new bridge in 1904. The booklet's owner, historian Walter Elliot, received the booklet by a friend over 50 years ago, and stored it in his attic.

It's unusual that cleaning out one's attic results in an international news story, but mystery fans everywhere are rejoicing at this new addition to the Holmes canon!

Award Winning Audiobook: Ready Player One

Ready Player One 2011. 15 hrs., 41 min.

Awards: The book received an Alex Award from the American Library Association and won the 2012 Prometheus Award.

Author: Ernest Cline

Narrator: Wil Wheaton

Synopsis:
It is the year 2044, and Wade Watts is like everyone else - he escapes the horrible circumstances of his life by spending nearly all his time in the OASIS, a limitless world of virtual reality. Ready Player One is the story of a massive treasure hunt, where clues are only solved by players with the greatest knowledge of 1980s pop culture, and the quest for money and power undermines the future of the human race. This fast paced and engaging audiobook is enhanced by Wil Wheaton’s expert voice acting, and as a self proclaimed geek, the narrator is a perfect fit.

For similar audiobooks, check out:

Surface Detail by Iain Banks
Makers by Cory Doctorow
Robopocalypse by Daniel H. Wilson
The Magicians Trilogy by Lev Grossman

The new graphic novel Here is the coolest thing ever!

Richard McGuire’s Here is graphic novelization at its best! The focus of the book is a single space and the events that take place in and around it over millennia. For much of the book, this space is a living room in a large house on the East Coast, but it is also a swamp, a city, a future archaeological dig, and much more. McGuire’s uses multiple panels on each page to show the overlapping and intertwining years. A dinosaur wanders by while a child plays with a similar plastic dinosaur in a panel on the opposite page. A question posed between people in the 18th century seems related to a question or answer between different people in the 21st century. The natural world changes and interweaves throughout the book too. A tree grows for several hundred years, and then is depicted on the forest floor. Swamps give way to glaciers, which then give way to forest and farmland. I loved how the unique perspectives that Here provides beautifully represent the transient nature of all things. “Meanwhile,” states the book jacket appropriately, “the attention is focused on the most ordinary moments and appreciating them as the most transcendent.”

Dept. of Speculation is a work of art!

When Jenny Offill’s newest novel Dept. of Speculation appeared on the hold shelf for me, I was surprised by the slim volume with the simple cover. “Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all,” opens the book jacket description, and this immediately intrigued me. I started the book right away and finished it in one sitting. Offill writes with an amazing blend of poetry and prose and evokes imagery and emotions unlike most other authors I have read. Although Dept. of Speculation lacks some of the typical details given to readers—we never learn the narrator’s name, for example—I felt that this dispensation of traditional information allowed me to better appreciate the true intention of the book. “There are enough bracing emotional insights in these pages to fill a much longer novel” says the jacket, and I couldn’t agree more. Time is another detail that is left to interpretation; the narrator describes incidents that take place over several decades—past, present, and future—while still managing to move the novel ultimately forward in time. Dept. of Speculation is truly a work of art, and a perfect read for these cold, hide-inside February days.

Offill has also written Last Things and several books for children, including While You Were Napping and 17 Things I Am Not Allowed To Do Anymore.

Newbery, Caldecott, Printz & ALL the Youth and Teen Book, Audio and Video Awards Announced!

On Monday, February 2 in a snowed in Chicago The American Library Association (ALA) today announced the top books, video and audio books for children and young adults – including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards – at its Midwinter Meeting. A hotly anticipated day for librarians, publishers, and lovers of youth and teen literature the awards the announcements culminate a year's worth of reading, listening and watching by a wide variety of librarians and educators all over the country. Over the years the variety of awards given out has grown to cover

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature:

The Crossover,” written by Kwame Alexander, is the 2015 Newbery Medal winner.

Two Newbery Honor Books also were named:
El Deafo” by Cece Bell
Brown Girl Dreaming,” by Jacqueline Woodson

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend,” illustrated by Dan Santat, is the 2015 Caldecott Medal winner.

Six Caldecott Honor Books also were named:

Nana in the City,” illustrated and written by Lauren Castillo
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art,” illustrated by Mary GrandPré, written by Barb Rosenstock
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole,” illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett
Viva Frida,” illustrated and written by Yuyi Morales
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus,” illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jennifer Bryant
This One Summer,” illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, written by Mariko Tamaki

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:

Brown Girl Dreaming,” written by Jacqueline Woodson, is the King Author Book winner.

Cozy Books for Winter

Are you feeling done with winter even though winter isn’t done with you? I can relate! Luckily, we’ve got some great kids books to make the winter more cozy and fun. My favorite new addition to this group is Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold, by Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen. This book is a true gem. Each page combines poems about life during the winter, gorgeous illustrations, and a sidebar explaining the facts behind the poem. For a lovely mix of art and science, you can’t get much better than this book!

If you’re going stir crazy and need some fun activities, check out Fun and Festive Winter Crafts, which will teach you how to make a number of seasonal crafts and offers information on the science of winter. Creating Winter Crafts will also help drive away boredom.

Finally, if you want a hilarious and sweet winter classic, try the great picture book Tacky the Penguin, by Helen Lester. And for older readers, check out my personal winter favorite, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s classic The Long Winter. I guarantee you that this book will make you feel better about our winters!

Grab some hot chocolate and cozy up with one of these books! Spring will be here before we know it. Hopefully.

The World of PostSecret

The wildly popular community mail art project PostSecret, in which individuals decorate and mail a postcard with a secret on it to creator Frank Warren, was first established in 2005. Since then, the secrets that Frank has received have been displayed around the world in museums and galleries, and are posted on the PostSecret website, as well as published in PostSecret books. It had been a few years since a PostSecret book was published, but now fans can be excited about The World of PostSecret, the sixth book displaying some of the thousands of postcards that Frank receives. The book also features images and secrets from the short-lived PostSecret app. The range of emotions that one experiences while reading a PostSecret book is vast. The secrets will make you cringe, laugh, cry, and shake your head in disbelief and appreciation. I especially enjoyed The World of PostSecret because it contains follow-up stories to some of the secrets that readers might be most curious about.

Other PostSecret books in the AADL collection include The Secret Lives of Men and Woman, My Secret, Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives, and A Lifetime of Secrets.

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