World Fantasy Award Nominees

And the nominees for the World Fantasy Awards include: 2 debut writers (both just happen to be women...) and 2 set in Africa

Zoo City by Lauren Beukes-my personal favorite from this South African writer

Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin-she has written plenty of award winning short fiction,this is her first novel & part of the Inheritance Trilogy (the third book comes out in October)

Silent Land by Graham Joyce- genre mashup mostly of suspense fiction and a bit of fantasy thrown in; compared to writers Haruki Murakami and Ian McEwan

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay- not unlike the fantasy writer George R R Martin did with his Song of Ice and Fire series, Kay tries to do with one book set in a world not unlike 8th Century China; lots of kudos from reviewers

Redemption In Indigo by Karen Lord- another first fiction retells a Senegalese folktale

Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor-known for her young adult fiction, this book takes place in a postapocalyptic Saharan Africa where a young girl must use her magic to end the oppression of her people, the Okeke

Lifetime achievement awards go to Peter S. Beagle (of Last Unicorn fame) and Angélica Gorodischer.

The winner will be announced at the World Fantasy Convention held this year on October 30th in San Diego. So get your geek on!

August's Books to Film

The adaptation of actor-novelist-screenwriter David Nicholl's One Day hits local theaters this week.

It’s 1988 and Dexter Mayhew and Emma Morley have only just met. But after only one day together, they cannot stop thinking about one another. Over twenty years, snapshots of that relationship are revealed on the same day—July 15th—of each year. Dex and Em face squabbles and fights, hopes and missed opportunities, laughter and tears. And as the true meaning of this one crucial day is revealed, they must come to grips with the nature of love and life itself. This summer's best date night movie.

Needing no introduction is the much anticipated star-studded-summer-blockbuster : The Help, a Hollywood adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's debut novel.

In Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962, there are lines that are not crossed. With the civil rights movement exploding all around them, three women start a movement of their own, forever changing a town and the way women--black and white, mothers and daughters--view one another.

All the hoopla aside, if you have thus far resisted reading this bestseller (or gush over it) and couldn't quite articulate why, read Martha Southgate's piece "The Truth about the Civil Rights Era: Martha Southgate on The Help " in the latest Entertainment Weekly.

The darling of this year's Traverse City Film Festival and the World Documentary Jury Award winner, Project Nim is based on Elizabeth Hess's Nim Chimpsky : the chimp who would be human.

Project Nim, the brainchild of a Columbia University psychologist, was designed to refute Noam Chomsky’s claim that language is an exclusively human trait. Nim Chimpsky, the chimpanzee chosen to realize this potentially groundbreaking experiment, was raised like a human child and taught American Sign Language while living with his “adoptive family” in their elegant Manhattan town house.Over the next two decades he was exiled from the people he loved, put in a cage, and moved from one facility to another, including, most ominously, a medical research lab. But wherever he went, Nim’s humanlike qualities and his ability to communicate with humans saved him. A creature of extraordinary charm and charisma, Nim ultimately triumphed over a dramatic series of reversals and obstacles. His story, both moving and entertaining, also raises the most profound questions of what it means to be human—and about what we owe to the animals who enrich our lives. Limited showing at the Michigan Theater, Friday, August 19. Don't miss it.

The Kitchen Daughter and the SIMMER Blog

Back in June, we were contacted by Jael McHenry, author of The Kitchen Daughter. She liked our blog and agreed to come visit. On Thursday, August 18th, Ms. McHenry will be at the Downtown Library at 7 pm. She will talk about her debut novel and sign copies (Don't worry if you don't have yours yet. Copies will be available for purchase).

Jael is also an enthusiastic amateur cook. Her food blog SIMMER is very popular with foodies. Bring questions about food, cooking and writing for an evening of great discussion and fun.

AND she is bringing us FOOD! We were sure that the TSA won't let her bring them on the plane but her mom is going to step in and BAKE! So come and taste one of the fabulous recipes in The Kitchen Daughter. Are we in for a treat!

BTW, if you don't already know... since our blog was published in April, The Kitchen Daughter was named "Pick of the Week" in the Boston Globe's Word on the Street, and in June Oprah picked it as one of this summer's "Tantalizing Beach Reads."

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #281

Jennifer Close's debut novel Girls in White Dresses * is a perfect way to wrap up a lovely summer, like putting on your favorite frock just one more time.

"Wickedly hilarious and utterly recognizable, Girls in White Dresses tells the story of three women grappling with heartbreak and career change, family pressure and new love—all while suffering through an endless round of weddings and bridal showers." You get the picture.

Sunday after Sunday, Isabella, Mary, and Lauren in their pastel dresses, attend bridal shower after bridal shower, drink champagne, eat minuscule sandwiches and doll-sized cakes, all the while thinking when-it-would-be-their-turn.

"Close's novel in a series of linked stories, expresses the perfect blend of mid twenties angst, collegiate nostalgia, and plentiful laughter."

For fans of Melissa Bank's The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing and J. Courtney Sullivan's Commencement (in audio)

* = Starred review

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #280

Coming out this week, Deborah Lawrenson's The Lantern is a fitting farewell to the August heat. Though this being British journalist Lawrenson's 6th novel, it is the first to be released in the US - a modern gothic novel of love, secrets, and murder—set against the lush backdrop of Provence.

Eve falls for the secretive, charming Dom in Switzerland, and follows him to Les Genevriers (The Junipers), an abandoned house set among the fragrant lavender fields. Each enchanting day delivers happy discoveries: hidden chambers, secret vaults, a beautiful wrought-iron lantern, and Eve has never felt more alive.

But with autumn’s arrival the days begin to cool, and so, too, does Dom. Eve becomes obsessed with the mystery of the absent, beautiful Rachel, Dom's ex-wife. The bright, warm rooms now turn cold and uninviting; shadows now fall unexpectedly; and Eve senses a haunting presence moving through the garden.

The story unfolds in Eve's modern voice and the diary of Benedicte, former owner of Les Genevriers. The two stories move slowly together, revealing family secrets and evil deeds, a credible homage to Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca.

"Lawrenson is marvelous at bringing across the sensory, sensual richness of Provence".... "Her sumptuous descriptions of the charming French countryside and the intricacies of perfume making" is enchanting and seductive. The imagery and the palpable scent linger long after the last page is turned. Lovely.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #279

Patricia McArdle's Farishta is the winner of the 2010 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, "notable for its informed view of modern Afghanistan and its affecting story of one woman making a difference."

Angela Morgan witnessed the death of her husband during the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Beirut in 1983 and suffered a miscarriage as a result. After 2 decades of hiding out in backwaters of the State Department, she must take the one assignment available or face mandatory retirement.

At a remote British army outpost in Mazar-i-Sharif (northern Afghanistan), Angela is unwelcome among the soldiers and unaccepted by the local government and warlords, especially frustrating is the enigmatic Mark Davies, a British major who is by turns her staunchest ally and her fiercest critic. Determined to contribute to the Afghan reconstruction, Angela slips out of camp disguised in a burka to provide aid to the refugees in the war-torn region. She becomes their farishta, or "angel" in the local Dari language, and discovers a new purpose.

"Drawing on the experiences of the author as a retired diplomat in Afghanistan, Farishta is a deeply moving and fast-paced story of a woman struggling to move beyond a past trauma, and finding a new community, a new love, and a new sense of self in the process." Recommended for readers interested in fiction set in contemporary Afghanistan.

For a realistic look at the trials and tribulations of a female diplomat, take a look at Valerie Plame Wilson's ordeal as documented in Fair Game : my life as a spy, my betrayal by the White House (now adapted as a movie).

Teen Stuff: New Dystopian Novels

YALSA's The Hub: Your Connection to Teen Reads, has been high on my RSS feeds for their sharp book recommendations and reviews. In a recent post, they point out how the massive success of Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy -- and the movies coming soon -- have inspired a resurgence of the dystopian novel in teen fiction over the past few years.

As a genre, dystopian novels are threaded by the existence of an oppressive society that purports to create a perfect place to live...and fails disastrously. The best dystopian lit raises questions about how our own society operates, which makes these books engaging selections for book groups.

Here's what The Hub recommends (click here for the AADL list):

"Wither by Lauren DeStefano (a futurist world in which the first generation is almost immortal but in subsequent generations females die at age 20 and males at 25 so girls are forced to become breeders in polygamous marriages) and Megan McCafferty’s Bumped (it’s 2036 and identical twins rebel against the expectation that they will become fanatically religious wives and mothers or high-priced surrogates for couples made infertile by a widespread virus).

Ally Condie’s Matched (pbk. out in Sept.) and its sequel Crossed (out in Nov.) features a world where death is mandatory at age 80 and teenagers’ marriage partners are predetermined by the Society. In Lauren Oliver’s Delirium, the government believes that love is a disease and 18-year-old teens receive a government-mandated cure to make them happy and safe.

Enclave by Ann Aguirre has both dystopian and post-apocalyptic elements. A plague years ago has forced people to live in underground enclaves fighting cannibalistic freaks for food. On naming day, at 15, teens’ earn the right to join the group best suited to them – as Hunters, Breeders or Builders. Deuce has lived in the enclave all her life and unquestioningly accepted the word of her elders when they say no one can live Topside. When she’s cast out she realizes the elders lied."

Whimsy and Wisdom from Wayside School

Picking exactly the right BOCD for a long family car trip can be very important. For a steady stream of witty, engaging stories, try The Wayside School Collection, by Louis Sachar. For newbies, Wayside School was supposed to be 30 classrooms on one level, but accidentally it was built 30 stories high with one classroom on each level. Characters -- both kids and adults -- are engaging, hilarious, and entirely believable (at least to me). The BOCD collection has 7 discs each lasting 77 minutes -- for a total of almost 9 hours of listening. Hit the road, pop in Disc 1, and prepare for happy listening!

Author Birthdays: Potter, Ashbery, Davis

July 28th marks the birthday of authors Beatrix Potter, John Ashbery, and Jim Davis.

Beatrix Potter was an English author known for her children's books, most notably The Tale of Peter Rabbit. There are actually over 20 tales of Peter Rabbit and his fellows, like Mrs. Tittlemouse and Mr. Tod.

Potter's other works include The Fairy Caravan, about a guinea pig who runs away from home to join the circus, and the sort-of-autobiography Letters to Children From Beatrix Potter, edited by Judy Taylor.

John Ashbery is an American poet. According to the Academy of American Poets, he has won nearly every major American award for poetry, and has quite a few other awards as well.

Ashbery's collections include the Griffin Poetry Prize winner Notes From the Air, and the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle and National Book Award winning Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.

Jim Davis is an American cartoonist. You've probably at least heard of his most famous strip, Garfield. In addition to the actual strip, he also helped to write and produce the many TV shows, specials, and CGI movies starring the lazy cat.

While his main cartoon is Garfield, Davis also wrote U.S. Acres, also called Orson's Farm, which you still might recognize if you have ever watched the animated series Garfield And Friends.

If you're looking for Summer Game points, try taking a look at some of those titles!

Not Your Average Book Group

Looking for ways to kick up your book group this summer? At a recent Booklist webinar, several publishing bigwigs tossed around ideas for making your group more social and less stuffy.

Magazines. If you're stressed for time and reading Cutting for Stone in four weeks just isn't going to happen, then consider using an issue of a magazine or just one article. You can now put magazines on hold through your online account at the AADL, and the title selection is massive. Try a trending topic in a lesser known mag, like Commentary or The Crisis. Or go for the adventurous with Rock and Ice or Ski.

Go Out. Minnesota's largest open book group goes by the name Books & Bars, who says their group "isn’t your mother’s book club. We provide a unique atmosphere for a lively discussion of interesting authors, fun people, good food and drinks." They read everything from The Hunger Games series to McCarthy's The Road.

Some libraries are also organizing book groups in social settings, like Skokie Public Library's LitLounge, which hosts book swaps and trivia nights in addition to discussions. At the Oak Park Public Library in Illinois, they have Genre-X, a twenties and thirties book group that meets at The Snug, a room at the local brewpub and discuss in person what they've been chatting about via their Goodreads group.

For more book group ideas from Booklist, check out their quick and insightful blogs.

Syndicate content