Author Birthdays: John Ashbery

Today marks the birthday of 83-year-old poet John Ashbery.

Ashbery has many books in our poetry section. One of his most notable would be Self-portrait In A Convex Mirror, which won not only the National Book Award in 1975, but also the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

Also in his long list of publications is April Galleons, which Library Journal reviewed, saying the "...seamless style allows a rich assemblage of voices to move nimbly between high comedy and low, among fable, memory, and meditation."

His latest is Planisphere, which came out last year and is named after a device which shows the visible stars for any date and time.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #217

Conor Fitzgerald's The Dogs of Rome introduces Commissario Alec Blume in a new projected contemporary police procedural with a smooth blending of a corrupt bureaucracy and a flawed, world-weary hero.

Seattle born expat. Alec Blume, the proverbial outsider and loner, is now police chief commissioner in Rome. When someone brutally murders Arturo Clemente, an animal-rights activist married to a prominent politician, Blume is called late to the scene. It is immediately clear that he must negotiate his way through a labyrinthine minefield that includes crooked cops, unscrupulous politicians, and an ancient city whose very history is steeped in the corruption associated with organized crime.

This promising debut is reminiscent of the early Aurelio Zen series by Michael Dibdin, gritty crime thrillers with an European setting. A personal favorite is still Cabal (1993).

For fans of another American expatriate police procedural - the Urbino McIntyre series by Edward Sklepowich, and the excellent The Commissario Guido Brunetti series by Donna Leon, both set in Venice.

Linger: Book 2 in The Wolves of Mercy Falls Series

For those of us who have read Maggie Stiefvater’s Shiver, we can look forward to the second book in the Mercy Falls Wolves Trilogy; Linger. This books starts where we last left off, where it seems as if Sam has become human again. But now that Sam appears to be human, does that mean Grace will become a wolf? Grace grapples with keeping her attachment to Sam a secret from her family. And Isabelle, who lost her brother in Shiver, is intrigued and interested in a new wolf, Cole. But Cole's past threatens the future of the whole pack. Book 2 promises to be an exciting continuation of the lives of the wolves of Mercy Falls.

Other books by Maggie Steifvater include: Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception and it’s sequel or companion book; Ballad: A Gathering Of Faerie.

You can read my reviews of all three books on their main item pages or by clicking here: Shiver, Lament, Ballad.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #216

Urban fantasist Seanan McGuire writing for the first time as Mira Grant introduces a new series with Feed* - a gripping, thrilling, and brutal depiction of a postapocalyptic 2039, the first in the Newsflesh Trilogy.

Twin news bloggers (as in RSS. Get it?) Georgia and Shaun Mason are thrilled when Sen. Peter Ryman, the first presidential candidate to come of age since social media saved the world from a virus that reanimates the dead (that's right, zombies) invites them to cover his campaign. Then Ryman's daughter is killed. As the bloggers wield the power of new media, they tangle with the CDC, a dark conspiracy behind the infected and the virus with one unstoppable command: FEED.

With "genuine drama and pure creepiness, McGuire has crafted a masterpiece of suspense with engaging, appealing characters who conduct a soul-shredding examination of what's true and what's reported."

* = Starred review

Alright, so you are still not quite sure you trust me. Would you trust NPR? Here is the poll for the 100 All-Time Best Killer/Thriller and do you see what's on the list of the finalists?

Author Birthdays: Garth Nix

Today is the birthday of Australian fantasy writer Garth Nix, who just happens to be one of my favorite authors.

Nix has written many books for children and teens, including The Seventh Tower Series, The Keys to the Kingdom, The Abhorsen Trilogy, and a great collection of short stories, called One Beastly Beast: (two Aliens, Three Inventors, Four Fantastic Tales).

I highly recommend checking out his website; it includes writing advice, news, some of his favorite books, as well as an interactive story, kind of like a Choose Your Own Adventure.

Also, we might be expecting an addition to the Abhorsen Trilogy sometime this year.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #215

The Ice Princess** is economist-turned-novelist Camilla Lackberg's #1 bestseller in Sweden (pub. 2003) and the winner of 2008 Grand Prix de Littérature Policière for Best International Crime Novel . Ice Princess is the first of her novels to reach the US market.

Set in winter in the coastal town of Fjallbacka, Erica, a thirtysomething biographer returns to her hometown to deal with her parents' untimely death. On a whim, she visits her childhood friend Alex only to find her dead in the bathtub, in an apparent suicide. Alex's grieving parents and Erica's curiosity compel her to delve deep into Alex's past as well as her relationships. Working with a local police officer, Patrik, they uncover secrets and sordidness that the town folks would have preferred to stay buried under their glossy lifestyle and pristine landscape.

This will appeal to fans of Nordic crime fiction and psychological thrillers who prefer a strong female presence, especially those of Asa Larsson and other notable female writers such as Karin Alvtegen Karin Fossum, Mari Jungsted, and Helene Tursten.

** = starred reviews

To Kill a Mockingbird Celebrates 50 Years

Tomorrow marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Harper Lee's renowned, poignant novel To Kill a Mockingbird. This novel, which Harper Lee once believed would have dismal sales (if any at all), was originally published on July 11, 1960 by J.B. Lippincott. Lee's story tackles issues of racism, flaws in the justice system, morality, and rape gracefully and became an instant success: on May 1, 1961, less than a year after it's publication, Lee was awarded a Pulitzer Prize. To Kill a Mockingbird has since made it's mark as an American classic, with 30 million books sold to date.

New to the library's collection is Scout, Atticus, and Boo : a Celebration of Fifty Years of To Kill a Mockingbird by Mary McDonagh Murphy. This book is filled with anecdotes and interviews of writers and celebrities, from Tom Brokaw to Oprah Winfrey, that explores their reactions and inspiration gained from the novel.

Interested in reading this classic for the first time? Want to revisit the book that you read way back in high school? Here at the library you can find a copy of the book, a sound recording, and a DVD of the 1962 film adaptation starring Gregory Peck.

Author Birthdays: Radcliffe, Jordan, Tsuda

Apparently, July 9th is a good date for birthing authors.

Among those born on this day are Alexis Piron, Johann Nikolaus Götz, Matthew Lewis, Dame Barbara Cartland, Mervyn Peake, Oliver Sacks, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Ligotti.

Today is also the birthday of noted gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe, who wrote The Mysteries of Udolpho, which influenced not only the noted gothicist Edgar Allan Poe, but also the Marquis de Sade.

In addition, we also can celebrate June Jordan, a Renaissance-woman of Caribbean descent. She was not only a novelist, but also a poet, journalist, teacher, and activist. Included in her works is the book Naming Our Destiny, of which Library Journal said, "Though Jordan's voice is especially musical in her sonnets, the range of all these poems is wide, touching our very souls".

Lastly, I'd like to mention it is also the birthday of Masami Tsuda, a Japanese graphic novelist, whose most noted work is the teen manga Kare Kano.

Summer Books to Film

winter's bonewinter's bone

Winter's Bone is based on the novel by the Missouri writer Daniel Woodrell.

16-year-old Ree knows she has to bring her father back, dead or alive who skipped bail on charges of running a crystal meth lab, otherwise, she and her two young brothers will be turned out of their home. Living in the harsh poverty of the Ozarks, Ree learns quickly that asking questions of the rough Dolly clan can be a fatal mistake. But, as an unsettling revelation lurks, Ree discovers unforeseen depths in herself and in a family network that protects its own at any cost. (The New York Times review). Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. (Official trailer).

The Girl Who Played with Fire is the second filmed installment of Stieg Larsson's best-selling "Millennium Trilogy". Front and center this time is the enigmatic Lisbeth Salander. It follows up on her next nasty brush with the law and her heartbreaking backstory. Again, plenty of action and intrigue. (U.S. trailer).

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #214

Debut novelist Dexter Palmer's The Dream of Perpetual Motion** is "Shakespeare's The Tempest in a steampunk setting".

It opens with Harry Winslow, a lone narrator floating endlessly in an enormous zeppelin, with only the voice of his beloved Miranda for company. In a wild tale full of tin men, monsters, a magical playhouse, and a unicorn, Harry recounts his history with the Taligent family: Miranda, his lifelong love, her mad scientist of a father, and the role he plays to render them virtual prisoners in perpetual motion.

"Intoxicatingly ambitious", this novel is pointedly a commentary on language, art, technology, and alienation... It walks the tightrope between madness and genius, between profoundly difficult truths and pure nonsense, without a safety net for either writer or reader. A novel of ideas that holds together like a dream". Thoughtful, challenging and totally captivating.

Dexter Palmer holds a Ph.D. in English Literature from Princeton University, where he completed his dissertation on the works of James Joyce, William Gaddis , and Thomas Pynchon.

** = starred reviews

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