Ages 18+.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #441

Winner of the American Booksellers Association "Indies Introduce Debut Authors" and Amazon Editors' Fall Pick", Australian Fiona McFarlane's The Night Guest * * * is also one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Fiction Book of 2013, "(a)n enrapturing debut novel that toys with magical realism while delivering a fresh fable."

Widowed Ruth Field lives alone in an isolated beach house. Her days are measured by calls from her grown sons and predictable routines. Lately, she thinks she hears a tiger on the prowl around her property at night, bringing back memories of her childhood in Fiji. One day a stranger arrives claiming to be a care worker sent by the government, and Ruth let her in, but not without suspicions that this Frida is hiding secrets. As strange things begin to happen, Ruth's sense of reality becomes shaky.

"This is a tale that soars above its own suspense to tell us, with exceptional grace and beauty, about aging, love, trust, dependence, and fear; about processes of colonization; and about things (and people) in places they shouldn't be."

"A pleasurable novel, with turns of plot and phrase both startling and elegant."

A readalike for S.J. Watson's debut Before I Go to Sleep

* * * = 3 starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #440 - "There is no odor so bad as that which arises from goodness tainted" ~ Henry David Thoreau

Ewart Hutton's debut Good People * * is one of Kirkus Reviews' Best Fiction Book of 2013, and shortlisted for the 2012 British Crime Writers' Association New Blood Dagger for best first novel.

In this "atmospheric, criminally smart" new police procedural, award-winning playwright (BBC Radio) introduces Detective Sergeant Glyn Capaldi. Disgraced and banished from Cardiff to the Welsh countryside, Capaldi (half-Welsh, half-Italian) investigates the disappearance of a van packed with young men after a night of rugby and hard drinking. Those who turn up could not explain why one of the men and the only woman in the group are missing.

In the face of opposition from the local constabulary and his superior, Capaldi delves deeper when one of the men is found hanged, and uncover a network of conflicts, betrayals, and depravity that resonates below the outwardly calm surface of rural respectability.

"(A) stunningly dark debut. The first-person narrative keeps it personal, making the detective's vulnerabilities that much more intense."

"...the plot twists are cunning, and Glyn Capaldi is the most appealing antihero this side of Ian Rankins' John Rebus."

Readers who enjoyed Peter May's The Blackhouse would not want to miss this one. (See previous FFF blog).

* * = 2 starred reviews

Pope Francis, the first Pope from the Americas, is Time Magazine's Person of the Year

Pope Francis, one of the Catholic Church's most popular pope's, was named Time Magazine's Person of the Year this morning on NBC's Today Show..

Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio in Argentina almost 77 years ago (December 17th is the Pontiff's birthday), was elected Bishop of Rome and absolute sovereign of Vatican City on March 13th of this year. He is a Pope of many firsts, including he is the first Jesuit priest to become a Pope and the first one born in the Americas.

In his nine short months as the 266th Pope (the anti-Popes are excluded), he has rocked the globe with his humility and his rejection of the opulent trappings of the papacy (from garments to living quarters to transportation). But it his public walking of the talk of the Gospels that has galvanized peoples of all faiths and nationalities. Pope Francis focuses a light on the need to help the poor, feed the hunger, and heal the sick through social action. He urges the Church to be pragmatic in its priorities -- he views the intense focus on gay marriage, abortion, and the "tyranny of unfettered capitalism" as impediments to the important work that needs to be done to restore compassion worldwide and renewed efforts to bridge differences that block the way to world peace.

Social media went into overdrive this summer when it was reported that Pope Francis said even atheists can go to heaven. That's not exactly what he said in response to an open letter written by a well-respected atheist and published in La Repubblica. This translation gets close to the heart of the matter: "First of all, you ask if the God of the Christians forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith. Given that—and this is fundamental—God's mercy has no limits if he who asks for mercy does so in contrition and with a sincere heart -- the issue for those who do not believe in God is in obeying their own conscience."

Pope Francis has enchanted the world by his embrace of social media. In addition to being a presence on Facebook, the Pope can be found on Twitter at @Pontifex. At last count, he was up to 3,349,929 followers.

To learn more about his approach to life and religion, read his latest book, published earlier this year -- On Heaven and Earth: Pope Francis on Faith, Family, and the Church in the 21st Century.

High Interest/Low Reading Level Fiction

If you, or someone you know, are an English Language Learner looking for higher level reading materials to increase your vocabulary, here’s a cool way to find them on aadl.org. Go to the Catalog tab and enter Lang-Learn-Fiction RL-2 into the search box. RL stands for Reading Level. To search for a different reading level, simply type in a different number after RL. Once your search results come up, you can refine your search to find the titles that interest you the most. These high interest, low level readers, sometimes called HiLo books, are also great for adults who are learning to read.

Inspired Addition - More Trees for Traverwood

WindbreakWindbreakOne of my very favorite spaces in town is the reading room of the Traverwood Branch Library. I think it is that combination of coziness, open space and trees, inside of the building, that makes me feel so calm. I didn't think it could get better until a donated piece of artwork was installed over the fireplace. Gale Nobe's black & white photograph, Windbreak, is the perfect addition to the space.The row of aspen trees in the image visually echos the tree-inspired architecture of Traverwood. We have exhibited Gale's work previously, but this venue highlights the lovely and haunting evening scene with the moon hanging overhead. Go in peace and enjoy!

Chesstastic this Sunday, December 15

Sunday, December 15 | 1-4 PM | Traverwood Branch | Gr. K-Adult

What could be better on a cold winter afternoon than sitting down and playing a game or two of chess?! It’s as easy as dropping by Traverwood this Sunday December 15 between 1 and 4 p.m. We’ll help match you up with an opponent and then let the battle begin!

To hone your skills try these new titles Chess Tactics for the Tournament Player and Power Chess For Kids: More Ways to Think Ahead and Become One of the Best Players in Your School: Volume 2.

Juicy Eighteenth Century Biographies

Gossip about the rich and famous was just as popular in the 18th century as it is now. The library has a great collection of biographies and movies about this period and the fascinating people who lived in it. In Aristocrats: Caroline, Emily, Louisa, and Sarah Lennox, 1740-1832 author Stella Tillyard carefully documents the lives of four sisters via the thousands of letters they left to posterity. Descended from royalty, one sister almost became queen when she attracted the love of then Prince of Wales, while three sisters defied convention and married for love. You’ll be impressed by how modern excerpts of their letters sound! There is also a BBC miniseries based on the books.

In The Lady in Red: An Eighteenth-century Tale of Sex, Scandal, and Divorce covers the divorce trial of Lady Worsley, who ruined her husband’s reputation as well as her own by exposing the scandalous details of her married life to the public.

You’ve probably heard about Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, a contemporary of the Lennox sisters and ancestor of the late Princess Diana and whose biography sparked the 2008 film The Duchess. But did you know that she had a sister? Harriet Spencer lived just as glamorous and scandalous a life as her more famous sibling, having affairs and even kissing voters on the campaign trail to help her favorite Whig candidates win elections!

Even kings and queens had shocking secrets that they would have liked to have kept hidden. A Royal Affair: George III and His Scandalous Siblings discusses the lives of the British monarch’s younger siblings, including Prince William who married secretly for love, and Princess Caroline, who married the mad Danish King Christian and ruled Denmark for a time with her lover, a German physician. Her story has been fictionalized in both the 2012 film A Royal Affair and the 2001 book The Royal Physician’s Visit.

Not even the king's children were free from controversy. In Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III author Flora Fraser recounts the lives of the king's beloved daughters who were kept hidden away during the American Revolution and the the turbulent years of the king's madness in the 1780s.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #439

A recast of the First Wives Club meets An Ex to Grind, Saginaw debut novelist Robin Devereaux-Nelson's In Violet's Wake * is an unexpected delight.

This Fabri Literary Prize winner is a buddy road trip story. When Violet leaves her sixth husband Marshall VanDahmm high and dry, he is sure her second husband Costa is to blame. A heated brawl turns into an unlikely friendship and one by one, Marshall and Costa seek out Violet's other ex-husbands (minus #1, the sainted Winston), to help themselves understand what they loved about Violet and why she abandoned them all. When they learn Violet plans to track down Jake, her old high school love and “the one who got away,” the men set off on a road trip to find Jake to warn him.

"A charming anti-romance. Devereaux-Nelson's group of guys learns a touching lesson from the girls: Sometimes, all you need is to talk it over with friends."

Readers might also enjoy The Ninth Wife by Amy Stoll - when Bess Gray learned that the man she is about to marry has eight ex-wives, she sets out on a cross-country journey to meet them; and Jonathan Tropper's This is Where I Leave You - " a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind--whether we like it or not."

* = starred review

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #438 - Contemporary Israeli Fiction

The #1 bestselling author in Israel Liad Shoham makes his American debut with Lineup * * (translated from the Hebrew by Sara Kitai) - a superbly plotted, uncompromising crime thriller, "a twisted tale of mistaken identity, organized crime, a disgraced detective looking for redemption, a tireless young reporter, and an innocent man with a not-so-innocent past."

A brutal rape in a quiet Tel Aviv neighborhood has the police baffled. There are no witnesses, suspects, or clues, until the victim's father steps in and finds overwhelming evidence pointing to Ziv Nevo, a small-time crook with no alibi. Veteran detective Eli Nahum, under pressure to wrap up this high-profile case, is willing to take short cuts in order to get a quick confession.

"Lineup focuses on these two men, detective and suspect, as they both end up betraying what they value most, fighting for their lives, and struggling to make amends for their mistakes in this gritty, fast-paced, complex novel of suspense."

"The vagaries and details of big-city life are well drawn, and events and characters appear and vividly form as the story gains momentum." For fans of the urban crime thrillers of Michael Connelly and Robert Crais.

Award-winning novelist Orly Castel-Bloom is considered a leading voice in contemporary Hebrew literature. A frequent lecturer in the US (Harvard, UCLA, NYU) and UK (Oxford, Cambridge), she teaches at Tel Aviv University. Her newest (and the first in English translation in our collection) Textile * * "captures the culture of modern-day Israel with provocative deadpan humor."

Mandy Gruber, proprietor of a successful pajama factory catering to the ultra-Orthodox Jews, is hamstrung by deathbed promises made to her mother, binding her to an unhappy marriage and an antiquated business. Alienated from her self-proclaimed genius husband Irad, her daughter Lirit, and Dael, a son who serves as a sniper in the Israel Defense Force, Mandy takes solace in the too-frequently scheduled cosmetic surgeries. But when the surgery goes awry, everyone closely and distantly related to Mandy will feel the repercussions.

"With understated flair and stoic wit, Castel-Bloom uses the Gruber family to explore the themes of globalization, materialism, superficiality, and longevity, anchoring her story in a neighborhood and attempting to connect all this beauty and luxury to some kind of posterity beyond grasp."

A welcomed addition to modern family sagas played out in a setting steeped in culture and history.

* * = 2 starred reviews

New Book Clubs to Go Kits for December

Now that winter is here many of us are drawn to the comforts of a warm house and a good book. Why not share this experience with a group of friends and start a book club! Participating in a book club is an excellent way to enjoy your love of reading and challenge your mind to read books you might not normally choose. It also does wonders for your communication skills, allowing you to listen and share different point of views and different ways of expression.

AADL has a collection of Book Clubs to Go to make this experience easier. Included in each BCTG are 10 copies of the featured book for discussion (or 10 each of two related titles), 1 copy of movie DVD if available, a resource folder containing the following: summary information and reviews of the title(s); author biography; a list of suggested discussion questions and read-alikes; tips for book groups; and evaluation forms so you can let us know what you think of the service.

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