2011 Best in Genre Fiction - American Library Association Reading List Council Awards

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The Reading List annually recognizes the best books in eight genres: adrenaline (including suspense, thriller and adventure), fantasy, historical fiction, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction and women’s fiction. This year’s list includes novels that will please die-hard fans, as well as introduce new readers to the pleasures of genre fiction - and what pleases me most is to see many debut novels among the winners and on the shortlists.

Adrenaline
The Nearest Exit by Olen Steinhauer

Fantasy
Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

Historical Fiction
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

Horror
The Dead Path by Stephen M. Irwin

Mystery
Bury Your Dead by Louise Penny

Romance
A Matter of Class by Mary Balogh

Science Fiction
The Dervish House by IIan McDonald

Women’s Fiction
Solomon’s Oak by Jo-Ann Mapson

Author Birthdays: Krantz, Friel, Smith

January 9th marks the birthday of authors Judith Krantz, Brian Friel, and Wilbur A. Smith.

Judith Krantz is an American writer of romance novels. Her first novel, Scruples, was published in 1978. It was made into a TV mini-series in 1980, and then Krantz wrote its sequel, Scruples Two, in 1992.

Krantz also wrote The Mistral's Daughter, which, like Scruples, turned mini-series. In total, seven of her novels were made for TV. Her latest novel, from 1998, is The Jewels of Tessa Kent, was described by Publisher's Weekly as "a romance of motherhood in all its full if tarnished glory".

Brian Friel is an Irish writer, mostly known for his plays. His play Dancing at Lughnasa won the Tony for Best Play in 1992; it tells the story of five sisters living in poverty in Ireland. It was made into a movie starring Meryl Streep in 1998.

Friel also wrote the drama Molly Sweeney, which in two acts tells the story of a woman blind since birth who undergoes surgery to try to restore her sight. The play is told in only monologues, and was awarded the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play.

Wilbur A. Smith is a novelist, born in Northern Rhodesia, and now living in London. He has written three series, and many standalone novels, including Elephant Song, which Publisher's Weekly has called "a fast-paced melodrama of greed and political corruption".

Smith's latest work is Assegai, a part of both his Courtney and Ballantyne series; it is set in pre-WWI Kenya, and is his 32nd novel set in Africa. He also has a book coming out next year, Those in Peril, which you can read about on his website.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #225 (What's New in Paranormal Romance)

So you think you don't read romance. Well, you might want to think again. If you had dismissed Romance as a genre for its characteristic lack of character development, these two titles might change your mind.

Christine Feehan, spins-off on her Drake Sisters series with Water Bound*, - the first in her Sisters of the Heart series.

Again, set on the shores of Sea Haven (inspired by lovely Mendocino), sea urchin diver Rikki Sitmore rescues a man from drowning, a man with no memory yet he possess the violent instincts of a trained killer.

"Feehan takes readers into turbulent, uncharted waters as a courageous, high-functioning autistic heroine with the power of a water mage is paired with a tormented hero with numerous psychic gifts and major issues of his own, delivering an edgy, compelling, character-rich (contemporary) romance".

One Touch of Scandal** by Liz Carlyle is a supernatural Victorian trilogy opener.

Accused of murdering her employer, governess Grace Gauthier begs the mysterious--and possibly dangerous--Lord Ruthveyn to help her unmask the real killer and clear her name.

A dark-eyed Lucifer, Ruthveyn guards his secrets and his shadowed past carefully. Grace’s plight and her quiet beauty moves him. He is determined to save Grace. But his growing passion places his own heart at risk and threatens to expose his dark gifts to the world.

"Grace's tenacity, wit, and compassion make her a very believable, multidimensional character and the perfect match for Ruthveyn's brooding and dark secrets. The romance sizzles, its unpredictability propelling this complex story far beyond its contemporaries."

* (*) = starred review(s)

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #222

One critic calls it "the smart modern woman's The Da Vinci Code", while I am not quite sure of the comparison, Anne Fortier's Juliet* does offer readers "a sweeping, beautifully written novel of intrigue and identity, of love and legacy, as a young woman discovers that her own fate is irrevocably tied—for better or worse—to literature’s greatest star-crossed lovers".

25-year-old Julie Jacobs is heartbroken over the death of her beloved Aunt Rose. But the shock goes even deeper when she learns that while her twin Janice inherits Aunt Rose's estate, Julie is left with a key to a safety deposit box in Siena, promising her a legendary treasure left to her by her mother, and the knowledge that she's actually a Tolomei, and a direct descendant of Giulietta - the historical Juliet immortalized by Shakespeare.

As Julie tries to unravel the clues to the treasure left in her mother's notebook, she fears others have an interest in her progress and she might indeed be in danger, and that the 600-year-old curse of "A plague on both your houses" might still be at work. She really needs her Romeo. Now, could he be the dark, handsome and prickly policeman Sandro Santini?

Anne Fortier grew up in Denmark and emigrated to the United States in 2002 to work in films. The story of Juliet was inspired by her mother. The rights to this, her debut novel, have been sold to 29 countries.

For fans of The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, and The Birth of Venus by Sarah Dunant, romantic thrillers steeped in history and gorgeous settings.

* = starred review

September Books to Film, Part 2

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The highly acclaimed novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro has been adapted into film, to be released September 15.

Kathy (Carey Mulligan), Tommy (Andrew Garfield) and Ruth (Keira Knightley) live in a world and a time that feel familiar to us, but are not quite like anything we know. They spend their childhood at Hailsham, a seemingly idyllic English boarding school. When they leave the shelter of the school and the terrible truth of their fate is revealed to them, they must also confront the deep feelings of love, jealousy and betrayal that threaten to pull them apart.

Kazuo Ishiguro created a remarkable story of love, loss and hidden truths. In it he posed the fundamental question: What makes us human?

The Town is based on Chuck Hogan's Prince of Thieves.

Doug MacRay is an unrepentant criminal, leader of a group of ruthless bank robbers who pride themselves in stealing what they want. With no real attachments, Doug never has to fear losing anyone close to him. But that all changed on the gang’s latest job, when they briefly took a hostage --- bank manager Claire Keesey. Then Claire meets an unassuming and rather charming man named Doug, not realizing that he is the same man who only days earlier had terrorized her. The instant attraction between them gradually turns into a passionate romance that threatens to take them both down a dangerous, and potentially deadly, path.

Cast includes: Ben Affleck, Jon Hamm (Mad Men), Rebecca Hall, Jeremy Renner, and Blake Lively. In select theaters September 17.

September Books to Film

American ClooneyAmerican Clooney

The American is adapted from Martin Booth's A Very Private Gentleman.

As an assassin, Jack (George Clooney) is constantly on the move and always alone. After a job in Sweden ends badly, Jack holes up in a small medieval town nestled in the mountains of Abruzzo. While there, Jack takes on an assignment to construct a weapon for a mysterious buyer, accepts the friendship of a local priest, and pursues a torrid liaison with a beautiful prostitute, Clara.

Julia Roberts stars in this big-budget, glossy, Hollywood adaptation of Elizabeth Gilbert's runaway bestseller Eat, Pray, Love : one woman's search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia. It traces the author's decision to quit her job and travel the world for a year after suffering a midlife crisis and divorce - a journey that took her to three places in her quest to explore her own nature and learn the art of spiritual balance.

Flipped is the deligthful adaptation of Wendelin Van Draanen's teen romantic comedy of errors, told in alternating chapters by two fresh, funny new voices.

The first time she saw him, she flipped. The first time he saw her, he ran. That was the second grade, but not much has changed by the seventh. She says: “My Bryce. Still walking around with my first kiss.” He says: “It’s been six years of strategic avoidance and social discomfort.” But in the eighth grade everything gets turned upside down. And just as he’s thinking there’s more to her than meets the eye, she’s thinking that he’s not quite all he seemed.

Detroit Puppet Art Theater's "The Sleeping Beauty" August 23rd

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On August 23rd at 7:00 pm the library hosts a performance of "The Sleeping Beauty", a marionette ballet performed by Detroit's Puppet Art Theater, at the Downtown Library. The members of the troupe are masters of puppetry art theater trained in the former Soviet Union.

A beautiful princess, wicked fairies and a handsome prince will be brought to life with exquisite marionettes and accompanying classical music.

We all know that Sleeping Beauty has been cursed by a wicked fairy and is forced to sleep until she is awakened by a kiss from a Prince. Most versions focus upon the Princess’s story but this production sheds light on the story of the Prince as well. We find out how he knows of the sleeping Princess and why he feels destined to rescue her. You can relax and enjoy the show because this story, as all fairy tales, promises a very happy ending.

If you would like to refresh your memory of the classic tale, Sleeping Beauty is a beautiful version illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman. The Walt Disney version of The Sleeping Beauty is available on Blu-ray. Finally, if you would like to listen and imagine the story yourself, Tchaikovsky's Sleeping Beauty performed by the National Philharmonic Orchestra is an excellent version.

Fan of Romance Series?

AADL now owns all the books in Best-selling Lisa Kleypas’s Hathaways Series. This includes the most recently published additions, Married by Morning (May 2010), and Love in the Afternoon (June 2010). As my favorite romance author, I couldn’t help but buy the books. For those who haven’t had a chance to read the latest additions to the series, and are interested in a different option, there are audiobook versions as well. Using our ebook/eaudio service, MCLS, downloadable WMA audiobooks of all 5 books are available. To use this service you must download Overdrive to your computer and any other programs you may need, put in your library card number and select AADL, and checkout (if available) or place a hold on a file of your choosing. Here’s a quick start guide to help you get started today!

Other popular books by Lisa Kleypas include: The Wallflower Series, and standalone books; Suddenly You, Where Dreams Begin, and Again the Magic.

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.

BBC Historical Drama: Part 4

Part 4 – Sarah Waters, William Golding, Anne Bronte, Thomas Hardy, Flora Thompson, John Balderston

Lately, I've been reading a lot of historical fiction based in England. With images from those books/novels in mind, I started checking out different historical dramas, the best of which I've seen are from BBC. Step into the 1800s and get involved of the lives of Nan Astley, Edmund, Helen Graham, Fancy Day, and Laura Timmins!

Tipping the Velvet is a colorful passionate drama about a lesbian, Nan Astley, and the relationships she finds, including one with her music hall co-star, Kitty. When Kitty decides to marry a man, Nan must find a way to survive the heartbreak of her first love. The book the screenplay was adapted from shares the same title and was written by Sarah Waters.

Based off of William Golding’s unforgettable sea trilogy, To the Ends of the Earth tells the story of a young aristocrat that sets sail to a new governmental post in Australia. However, Edmund soon discovers how naïve and unaware he is hurtling into this adventure.

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall is a miniseries based off of one of the published works of lesser known Bronte sister, Anne Bronte. In this controversial (at the time it was written) story, Helen Graham tries to rescue herself and her son from her husband who has become a lecherous drunk.

Under the Greenwood Tree is a light romance, a bit different that better known works by Thomas Hardy. Fancy Day is a young woman who comes home to take care of her ailing father. She returns home to her small village, to the unexpected advances of three distinct gentlemen.

Developed from Flora Thompson’s trilogy, Lark Rise to Candleford, is an ongoing BBC Series that’s in its third season. In this series, Laura Timmins moves from the smaller village of Lark Rise, to the larger town of Candleford, to live with her cousin and find work. Laura finds herself surprised at the vast difference of the pace of life and scandals that occur in Candleford in comparison with Lark Rise.

Berkeley Square tells a story from an early 20th century perspective, more specifically; 1902 (had to throw this in the mix!). Berkeley Square is actually based on a play written by John L. Balderston. In this play and miniseries, three young nannies get jobs with well-to-do London families in this coming-of-age-tale that has been compared with Road to Avonlea.

If you’ve missed previous parts of my BBC Historical Drama blog, you can find them here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

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