2015 Man Booker Prize Longlist Announced!


The 13 books nominated for the prestigious Man Booker Prize were announced yesterday, July 29th. This is the second year in which authors of all nationalities are eligible for the award - previously only authors from the United Kingdom and Commonwealth were considered. The award is given for an outstanding work of fiction, and is selected by a panel of five judges.

The list of nominees includes 5 Americans, up from 4 in last year's list. They include:
Bill Clegg - Did You Ever Have A Family? (release date September 8, 2015)
Leila Lalami - The Moor's Account (release date September 9, 2015)
Marilynne Robinson - Lila
Anne Tyler - A Spool of Blue Thread
Hanya Yanagihara - A Little Life

You can find copies of all of the finalist books published so far that are owned by AADL on this list. The shortlist will be announced on September 15, revealing the final 6 titles under consideration. The winner will be announced October 13, 2015, so stay tuned!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #544 - “Oh, what a tangled web we weave...when first we practice to deceive.” ~ Walter Scott

If you are still waiting around for The Girl on the Train (or just looking for the next good thriller), then I suggest you try The Truth and Other Lies * * by German screenwriter Sascha Arango. Right now, this debut is flying somewhat under the media radar but I cannot guarantee that for much longer.

Henry Hayden, best-selling author is often praised for his thrillers of "strange happenings, dark secrets, dangers lurking everywhere, and really brilliant villains". Little does the reading public know fiction resembles the truth, and that this charming, modest and generous man is a carefully constructed facade. With his mistress/editor pregnant and his wife Martha's (who is the actual writer of the novels) untimely death; his past which he has painstakingly kept hidden, is finally catching up with him. Ingeniously weaving more lies and half-truths into a story as the police close in, Henry might just survive.

"A cross between James M. Cain and Patricia Highsmith, with a wide streak of sardonic humor, this is one wicked tale."

The Hand That Feeds You by A.J. Rich, a pseudonym adopted by Amy Hempel and Jill Ciment, for their collaboration on a book their dying friend Katherine Russell Rich didn’t have time to write.(EW reveals the real story in an interview with the authors).

Morgan Prager, a criminal justice grad student returns to her Brooklyn apartment to find the mutilated corpse of her fiancé, Bennett, splayed across her bed and her beloved dogs, a Great Pyrenees, and two pit bulls, covered in blood. When she tries to locate Bennett's parents, she discovers that everything she knows of him is a lie. As the dogs face court mandate destruction, Morgan's research into Bennett's identity has taken on an urgency, especially when she finds herself on a trail littered with the bodies of other women engaged to Bennett.

"Sexy, disturbing, and highly suspenseful, this is a brilliant collaboration between two outstanding writers... who have created an emotionally and erotically charged thriller that vibrates with tension and passion."

Remember Me This Way by Sabine Durrant, a dark psychological thriller that is a departure from her chick lit. novels.

On the first anniversary of her husband Zach's death in a car crash, school librarian Lizzie Carter visits the accident scene in Cornwall for the first time only to find that someone named Xenia has left a bouquet and a love letter for Zach. Then things start being moved around and vanishing from their London house, she becomes convinced that Zach, always unstable and controlling, has faked his death and is just waiting for the right moment to kill her.

"The suspense builds with each page as secrets are revealed and the sense of menace grows at each turn. Durrant's fast-paced psychological thriller will satisfy readers who enjoyed Elizabeth Haynes's Into the Darkest Corner."

* * = 2 starred reviews

Sparky!

I purchased the adorable picture book Sparky!, by Jenny Offill, for a friend last Christmas and I am so glad that the library now has it in our collection, too! Winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award for best picture book text, this book is a true gem for readers of all ages, especially those who consider themselves animal lovers. A young girl wants a pet, but her mom keeps saying ‘no’ to every pet she suggests. Finally, her mother says that she can have any pet she wants… “as long as it doesn't need to be walked or bathed or fed." Of course, like the girl’s mom, most of us believe that description leaves few viable pet options. But, with the help of her school librarian, the girl finds a pet that fits the bill… a sluggish, yet strangely lovable sloth. Readers will grow to adore Sparky along with his owner as this too-cute book progresses.

Offill is the author of 17 Things I’m Not Allowed To Do Anymore, 11 Experiments That Failed and While You Were Napping, all for children, and the deeply moving Dept. of Speculation, for adults.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #543 - "Freedom Is just frosting On somebody else's Cake -- And so must be Till we Learn how to Bake.” ~ Langston Hughes

The Art of Baking Blind, a debut novel by Sarah Vaughan (Oxford, a former news reporter for The Guardian) is a MUST for fans of PBS' Great British Baking Show.

Five amateur bakers are competing to become the New Mrs. Eaden, Mrs. Eaden being Kathleen, the recently deceased wife of the upscale supermarket chain's founder and the author of the 1966 classic, The Art of Baking. The winner not only will take away £50,000 but a baking career is almost a sure thing.

Housewives Vicki, Jenny, and Karen; single dad Mike; and single mom Claire will face off at the Eaden country estate through rounds of cakes, biscuits, breads, pies and pastries, pudding, and "celebratory tea" while dealing with personal challenges and difficult family dynamics. As unlikely alliances are forged and secrets rise to the surface, they will learn, as did Mrs. Eaden before them, that while perfection is possible in the kitchen, it's very much harder in life.

"Delectable 'food porn', as one character puts it."

The Cake Therapist by award-winning cookbook author Judith Fertig brings to mind Aimee Bender's The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake.

Claire "Neely" O'Neil, a pastry chef of extraordinary talent has a unique gift. She can "taste" feelings - cinnamon makes you remember; plum is pleased with itself; orange is a wake-up call. She can also customize her creations to help her clients, whether to celebrate love, overcome fear, or mourn a devastating loss.

When she returns home to Millcreek Valley (OH) after a series of personal and business set-backs in the big city, opening her own bakery seems the perfect move, especially now that the town has become a thriving bridal district. Neely's talents for helping people through her pastry palette have always been useful, but a recurring flavor of alarming intensity signals a long-ago story involving a unique piece of jewelry begs to be told. Getting to the end of this story may be just what she needs to help herself.

"Fertig crafts a culinary tale that has as much substance as sweetness and is as pleasingly layered as Neely's signature rainbow cake. "

For readers who enjoyed The Love Goddess' Cooking School by Melissa Senate; The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister; When in Doubt Add Butter by Elizabeth Harbison; and The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #542 - "Fiction and poetry are doses, medicines. What they heal is the rupture reality makes on the imagination." ~ Jeanette Winterson

What a joy it is to meander the waterways through the heart of France with The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George, the first English translation for a bestselling German author.

Fifty year-old Monsieur Perdu watches over the other inhabitants of 27 Rue Montagnard. By day, he runs a literary apothecary on a floating barge docked along the Seine, prescribing appropriate books to (mostly willing) customers for the myriad of ailments and hardships of life. His intuition and profound knowledge of books serves him well, mending broken heart and souls, except for his own.

For twenty years he refuses to open the letter left for him by Manon, the love of his life, until the chance encounter with a new tenant stirs up emotions long buried within. Once he reads the letter, the devastating contents compel him to haul anchor, take the bookstore barge on a trip upriver to Avignon, in search of closure and forgiveness - but not before taking on an uninvited guest. His neighbor Max Jordan, a young American author with severe writer's block, is looking for fresh ideas and the perfect story, and is in need of a sanctuary from over-zealous paparazzi and adoring fans.

"The two navigate the canals of France trading books for food (The Enchanted April to a baker's daughter, and the latest John Irving to a lockkeeper's wife), engaging in adventures small and large, all against the backdrop of quaint villages and bittersweet memories."

"A charming novel that believes in the healing properties of fiction, romance, and a summer in the south of France." All aboard.

For those who enjoyed The Storied life of A. J. Fikry by Gabirelle Zevin, and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #541 - “On my way out I was even going to shake his hand, but I remembered just in time that I'd killed a man." ~ Albert Camus, The Stranger

Algerian journalist Kamel Daoud's The Meursault Investigation * * is “(a) tour-de-force reimagining of Albert Camus's 1942 classic The Stranger, from the point of view of the mute Arab victims.” It won the Prix François Mauriac and the Prix des Cinq-Continents de la francophonie, and is a finalist for the Prix Goncourt. A feature film based on the novel is slated for release in 2017.

The narrator, Harun was the younger brother of “the Arab” killed by the infamous Meursault, the antihero of Camus’s classic novel. Seventy years after that event, Harun, who has lived since childhood in the shadow of his sibling’s memory, refuses to let him remain anonymous: he gives his brother a story and a name—Musa—and describes the events that led to Musa’s casual murder on a dazzlingly sunny beach.

Night after night, "(a)s Harun meditates on guilt, alienation, and his failed affair with Meriem, a university student, his quarrel is revealed to be not just with his mother and Meursault, but with post-Independence Algeria and God himself. Ultimately, Harun identifies more with his brother's killer than with his own zealous countrymen. "

"The novel…not only breathes new life into The Stranger; it also offers a bracing critique of post-colonial Algeria…" (The New York Times Magazine)

"Fiction with a strong moral edge."

”For its incandescence, its precision of phrase and description, and its cross-cultural significance, The Meursault Investigation is an instant classic.“ (The Guardian)

* * = 2 starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #540 - “Sensual pleasure passes and vanishes, but the friendship between us, the mutual confidence, the delight of the heart, the enchantment of the soul, these things do not perish and can never be destroyed.” ~ Voltaire

The Enchanted April (1922), a women's fiction classic by Elizabeth Von Arnim is transported a century forward and across oceans by children's author/publisher Brenda Bowen into Enchanted August, her debut novel for adults, and an invitation to get away from it all, if only for little while.

Hopewell Cottage
Little Lost Island, Maine.
Old, pretty cottage to rent on a small island.
Springwater, blueberries, sea glass.
August.

When Lottie Wilkes and Rose Arbuthnot spotted this notice at their children's preschool bulletin board on a dreary spring morning, it seemed like a godsend, and a much needed break from relentless child-rearing demands and husband-troubles. To cover the steep rent, they invited two strangers - Caroline Dester, an indie actress in need of anonymity to nurse a very public humiliation; and elderly Beverly Fisher, who is not at all what they were expecting. If its not a perfect quartet, they were determined to make it work. That is, until the late-August blue moon, when real life and its complications made their way to this idyllic island.

"Bowen has conjured up a delightful and inviting island summer complete with all the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes of Maine to create a feast for the senses." "A thoroughly pleasant summer read as breezy as the island itself."

Also suggested are: The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons; Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan; Summer Rental by Mary Kay Andrews; and the latest from Jane Green - Summer Secrets.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #539

Exquisite Corpse *, marks the first US release for Paris-born bestselling graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu. This is the English translation of her Cadavre Exquis, originally published in French, and a prize-winner at the 2010 Angoulême International Comics Festival, the second largest comics festival in Europe.

Down-trodden twenty-something Zoe is a "booth babe", hawking luxury goods at trade shows by day and dreading the evenings with the unemployed Neanderthal of a boyfriend at home. On a lunch break, she meets Thomas Rocher, a recluse who happens to be a world-famous author, and soon becomes his girlfriend/muse. Everything is fabulous until Thomas' wife shows up, and that's just the first secrets that put into play an expected yet satisfying ending.

"(An) absorbing, fast-paced erotic literary drama... (this) funny and fresh exploration of authorship and a writer's relationship to fame is utterly charming."

An immensely fun and quick read.

* = starred review

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #538 -“Are you ready to stop colluding with a culture that makes so many of us feel physically inadequate? Say goodbye to your inner critic, and take this pledge to be kinder to yourself and others." ~ Oprah Winfrey

Dietland * *, Sarai Walker's debut - is "part Fight Club, part feminist manifesto, an offbeat and genre-bending novel that aims high, and delivers."

Alicia "Plum" Kettle, tipping the scale at 300 lbs. is counting the days when she will become her true, thin self... "she won't be alone all the time... she'll dress in pretty clothes, she'll travel, she'll have a job that she likes", instead of being the closeted advice columnist for a glamor teen magazine, working out of the corner café. After every diet plan imaginable has failed her, Plum is contemplating bariatric surgery. While used to humiliated stares and taunts, she is uneasy when she finds herself being stalked by a odd-looking young woman who leaves her strange little "gifts" that ultimately leads her to a secret society of women responsible for a series of gruesome kidnappings and killings worldwide.

"Hilarious, surreal, and bracingly original, Walker's ambitious debut avoids moralistic traps to achieve something rarer: a genuinely subversive novel that's also serious fun." If I have failed to convince you that this is one debut not to be missed, here is what two of my favorite authors have to say...

"Dietland is a book I have been waiting for someone to write all my life, and it hit me hard right where I live, right where so many of us have wasted too much time living. It's courageous, compassionate, intelligent, pissed off and much more fun than it has any right to be." ~ Pam Houston

"Sarai Walker is an immensely talented writer and her debut novel, Dietland—filled with wit, wisdom and wonder—is a pleasure." ~ Jill McCorkle

For readers who enjoyed The Middlesteins; Where'd You Go, Bernadette; and The Next Best Thing. Ideal for book groups seeking something more socially aware and gender-conscious in their women's fiction.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #537 - “Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.” ~ Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Our Endless Numbered Days * * by Claire Fuller is a dark and captivating debut that you are not likely to forget for a very long time, and one that you would be tempted to re-read, immediately.

Concert pianist Ute Bischoff scandalized the music world when she married James Hillcoat, a handsome and cocky teenager eight years her junior, who stood in one night as the page-turner of her music score. They settled into a comfortable family life until their daughter Peggy was eight years old. While Ute was away on a concert tour, James, an increasingly obsessed survivalist, took her to a remote hut in the woods, telling her that the rest of the world has been destroyed. For the next nine year, they lived rough in the wilderness, marking their days by the sun and the seasons, and making a life for themselves. Then Peggy saw an unfamiliar pair of boots in the forest and began to search for their owner...

"Fuller alternates Peggy's time in the forest with chapters that take place in 1985 after she reunites with her mother, building an ever-present sense of foreboding and allowing readers to piece together well-placed clues... (her) careful pacing gradually reveals the mystery of a life that is as sympathetic as it is haunting."

A fabulous crossover for mature teens, especially those who enjoyed The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean (a 2008 Printz Award Winner); Fourth of July Creek by Smith Henderson; Room by Emma Donoghue; and Stolen by Lucy Christopher, (a 2011 Printz Award Honor Book).

* * = 2 starred reviews

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