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.

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.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #514 - "I want to trespass boundaries, erase all identifications, anything which fixes one permanently into one mold, one place, without hope of change.” ~ Anaïs Nin

Debut novelist Angelina Mirabella's The Sweetheart refers to Leonie Putzkammer, a 17 year-old with little prospect, living and caring for her widowed father in a Philadelphia row house and waiting tables at a diner. When an impulsive feat of athleticism on Bandstand comes to the attention of Salvatore Constantini, the legendary wrestling promoter, she is offered a chance to recast her future.

At Joe Pospisila's School for Lady Grappling, Leonie is put through a grueling regiment of physical training in and out of the ring; and coaching in dramatics (wrestling is after all, entertainment). To build a fan base, Leonie recreates herself as Gorgeous Gwen Davies, being tall, blonde, curvaceous does not hurt. Before long, she becomes known as "The Sweetheart of the ring" and has a genuine shot at the championship.

But the loneliness of the road, the injuries, the burden of finance eventually put a strain on her relationship with her out-of-work father, her tag-team partner/friend Screaming Mimi Hollander, and even on her budding romance with Sam (Spider) McGee, a men's champion wrestler. At a critical time in her debut season, Leonie finds she has a difficult decision to make.

"An engrossing portrait of the little-known (1950s) world of women's wrestling with questions about the nature of stardom and showing love..." "Angelina Mirabella's surprising, affecting, and morally complex novel describes how a single decision can ripple through the lives of everyone around us."

Recommended for those who enjoyed League of Their Own, a motion picture about the All American Girl’s Professional Baseball League (AAGPBL) in the 1940s, based on a true story, and The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg - the story about five women who worked in a Phillips 66 gas station during the WWII years.

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

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

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #513 -“When one was reinventing oneself, anywhere could be home.” ~ Manju Kapur

A debut novel - Searching for Grace Kelly * by Vanity Fair contributing editor Michael Callahan, is "a wonderful champagne bubble of a book - glamorous, aspirational, and relatable! The fifties never seem so fun! Wicked, naughty and clever." ~ Melissa de la Cruz

In the 1950s, there is no address more glamorous than New York's Barbizon Hotel for Women where the likes of Grace Kelly, Lauren Bacall, Joan Crawford, Edna Ferber, and Sylvia Plath have called home. For Laura Dixon, former debutant, and a patrician beauty from Smith, arrives to work as a guest editor at Mademoiselle on the annual August college issue. In short order, she catches the eye of the most eligible bachelor in all of NY, and befriends a bartender of great intellect. Her wildly romantic, slightly thrumpy, take-charge roommate Dolly Hickey is a Katie Gibbs girl, counting on secretarial school and a job in publishing to spare her from the drudgery shared by the women in her working-class family upstate. Above all, she longs for her own prince-charming.

Vivian Windsor, a brash, redheaded British bombshell dreams of a singing career, while working as a cigarette girl at the famous Stork Club in the meantime, waiting for her big break, taking pleasures where she can, and breaking all the rules (Barbizon and otherwise) along the way.

Together, the three young women embark on a journey of self-discovery that will take them from the penthouse salons of Park Avenue to the Beat scene of Greenwich Village to Atlantic City's Steel Pier -- and into the arms of men who will alter their lives forever.

"Callahan's debut novel truly captures glamorous New York City from young women's perspective in the 1950s." "(He) suavely combines literary finesse and pulp fiction to create a fast-moving, heart-wrenching tale of romance and tragedy."

For those who remembered fondly The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe (adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film); The Group by Mary McCarthy; and Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.

If you like your settings strictly contemporary, try Brooklyn Girls by Gemma Burgess and Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close.

* = starred review

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #512 -“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds." ~ Nicholas Sparks

Sonali Dev won the 2015 Reading List Awards for Romance with A Bollywood Affair, her first novel.

The first thing you will notice is that this romance is set in the unlikely locale of Ypsilanti, Michigan. Then this "charming contemporary Indian fairytale…(v)ibrant and exuberantly romantic" (NPR) will take over and never let go.

Mili Rathod, bound by marriage since she was four years old to a man she has not seen in 20 years, has nevertheless dutifully cared for his family in their village. Preparing herself to be the perfect Indian wife, she attends college (for sparklingly witty and intelligent conversations) while she waits for her husband Virat to come and claim her. In the meantime, she accepts the one-year scholarship in America, unaware that Virat, now married to Rima, plans to annul the marriage before the arrival of their first child.

Tasked with tracking down Mili to sign the annulment papers is Virat's playboy brother Samir, a big-time Bollywood director/filmmaker. Arriving on the Eastern Michigan University campus in a bright yellow convertible, their first meet is anything but "cute" - it is downright disastrous. Mistaken identity, conditioned expectations, personal history and family loyalty complicate matters as they fight their mutual attraction.

"Dev's heartfelt debut novel is rich in scenes and images illuminating Indian culture, leaving readers with a greater understanding and appreciation of Indian traditions while beautifully capturing the struggle between familial duty and self-discovery."

Check out these readalikes/watchalikes selected for this title by the Reading List Council:

Bride and Prejudice (2004)
The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger (2012)
The Malhotra Bride by Sundari Venkatraman (2009), in kindle format

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #511 - “Nothing looks so like innocence as an indiscretion.” ~ Oscar Wilde

A Small Indiscretion, a debut novel by O. Henry Award-winner Jan Ellison is a gripping and ultimately redemptive novel of love and its dangers, marriage and its secrets, youth and its treacherous mistakes, earning praises from fellow writers with: "engrossing, believable, gracefully written family drama that reveals our past's bare-knuckle grip on our present" (Emma Donoghue); and "... Absorbing, chilling, and moving..." (Robin Black).

The novel opens with a nineteen-year old Annie Black arriving in London and landing a temporary secretarial job working for structural engineer Malcolm Church. While Malcolm is besotted with her, it is Malcolm's wife's much younger lover, a charismatic photographer named Patrick that Annie falls for. During the Christmas holidays, the foursome travel to Paris where a small indiscretion will eventually come back years later to destroy two families an ocean apart.

Moving back and forth across time between that distant winter in Paris and Annie's life two decades later as a lighting designer in San Francisco with a picture-perfect family, the author teases out interlocking facet's of Annie's story that will pull the reader forward, until a photograph arrives in Annie's mailbox, igniting an old longing and setting off a chain of events that rock the foundations of her marriage and endanger her business as well as her family.

"Part romance novel, part coming-of-age story, and part family drama, this somber book about a perpetually flawed woman is a challenging and thought-provoking read." For readers of Amy Bloom, Meg Wolitzer, and Lorrie Moore.

Award Winning Audiobook: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society 2008. 8 hours.

Awards: Audiofile Magazine's Earphones Award for excellence in narrative voice and style and vocal characterization; in print, the book reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list for paperback trade fiction in 2009.

Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Narrators: Paul Boehmer, Susan Duerden, Rosalyn Landor, John Lee, Juliet Mills

The Society is a book club formed during World War II when the Nazi regime occupied Guernsey. Their story is told through a series of letters exchanged between the islanders and an English newspaper columnist in 1946. This correspondence reveals the members’ quirky personalities, as well as their joy and heartache during the occupation. The variety of characters - from a pig farmer to a phrenologist to a French concentration camp survivor - and the wonderful voice acting by five talented narrators make this audiobook truly outstanding.

For other multi-voice audiobooks, including some of the talented narrators mentioned above, try these titles:

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
Silent House by Orhan Pamuk
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
The 19th Wife: a novel by David Ebershoff

The Dark Side II: Highway of Horror With Bestselling Horror Authors Andrew Pyper & Nick Cutter

Tuesday March 3, 2015: 7:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

This event will be recorded

Get ready for a spine-tingling evening when bestselling horror genre authors Andrew Pyper and Nick Cutter visit the Downtown Library for one night of chilling readings and conversation, as part of their Dark Side II: Highway of Horror author tour. There will also be plenty of time for questions and answers — if you dare! A book signing will follow, and books will be for sale.

Andrew Pyper is the award-winning author of six internationally bestselling novels, including The Killing Circle, a New York Times Best Crime Novel of the Year. Three of Pyper’s novels, including The Demonologist, are in active development for feature films. His new novel, The Damned, was released in February 2015 and has already been optioned as a feature film by Legendary Pictures.

Nick Cutter is a pseudonym for Scotiabank Giller prize-nominated author Craig Davidson. Davidson has published four books of literary fiction, including Rust and Bone (which was made into an Oscar-nominated feature film of the same name), and Cataract City. Under the name Nick Cutter, he published The Troop in 2014 and his newest book, The Deep, in January 2015.

This event is cosponsored by Nicola's Books.

The 2015 Notable Books (Literary Fiction)

Being announced at the same time as the Reading List is one of the grand dame of ALA awards. "Since 1944, the goal of the Notable Books Council has been to make available to the nation’s readers a list of 25 very good, very readable, and at times very important fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books for the adult reader." Here is the current fiction list:

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
How much sacrifice does the love of a sister require?

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Navigating the dark of World War II a German boy and a French girl survive using senses other than sight.

The Bone Clocks: A Novel by David Mitchell
The human condition: bleak but not without moments of redemption.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan
A deceptively simple story reveals complexities of life choices.

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
A thoughtful exposition of love, in all its endless varieties.

The Enchanted: A Novel by Rene Denfield
Death row inmates await escape through execution in this weirdly gorgeous tale.

Narrow Road to the Deep North: A Novel by Richard Flanagan
Australian beaches, Burmese jungles, love and death permeate a story of World War II POWs.

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee
From fish farm to big pharma, 100 years later it’s all the same.

Orfeo: A Novel by Richard Powers
On the run from Homeland Security, Peter Els reflects on a life of attempted creation and immortality through music and chemistry.

Something Rich and Strange: Selected Stories by Ron Rash
A brutal and beautiful collection of human tales set in the Carolinas.

Station Eleven: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel
Love, music, and Shakespeare sustain survivors of a global pandemic.

Tigerman by Nick Harkaway
Funny, strange, and dangerous, the island of Mancreu may be beyond saving, but perhaps a superhero can bring redemption. “Full of win.”

Consult the full list for Poetry and Nonfiction picks.

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