Fabulous Fiction Firsts #181

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In Chemistry for Beginners*, for Dr. Steven Fisher, the female orgasm is his life’s work. At the brink of the breakthrough of a miracle drug that could cure female sexual dysfunction (think Viagra), one of his test subjects – Annie G is wracking havoc with his data, his scientific mind and his carefully guarded heart.

This engaging and smart, romantic comedy (no longer an oxymoron, thanks to Anthony Strong - a pseudonym for Anthony Capella) is presented in the form of a scientific paper, complete with footnotes (totally believable and absolutely hilarious) and illustrations. The uniquely contemporary male perspective, memorable quotes, satirical jabs at academia, clinical research, and the drug business will surely entertain. The tentative and problematic courtship is tantalizing (think D.H. Lawrence's Lady C.), at times heartbreaking, and oh so itchy sexy.

Easily the best romance of the year, from a newcomer to the genre. Best quote: "Sex is biology, love is chemistry". And some of the best sex scenes since Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.

* = Starred review

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #175

In Zoë Klein's debut novel Drawing in the Dust*, 39 year-old American archeologist Page Brookstone is asked to risk her professional reputation and personal safety when a young Arab couple begs her to excavate beneath their home in Anatot, Israel, claiming that it is haunted by the spirits of two lovers.

When Page discovers the bones of the deeply troubled prophet Jeremiah entwined with that of a mysterious women name Anatiya, she must race against the clock to translate Antalya’s diary found nearby, before enraged religious and secular forces come into play.

Parallel the ancient love story is the contemporary one of Page and Mortichai - an engaged, half-Irish Orthodox Jew, that "raises a Jewish Da Vinci Code to an emotionally rich story of personal and historical discovery".

Zoe Klein, a rabbi, lives and works in Los Angeles. She has written for Harper's Bazaar and Glamour magazines, and appeared as a commentator on the History Channel program Digging for the Turth .

* = starred reviews

August Book to Film, Part 2 (A Fabulous Fiction First)

(Already in theaters - Sorry, I am allowed a vacation, right?) The Time Traveler's Wife is based on Audrey Niffenegger’s phenomenal debut novel. (My goodness, 223 holds!)

A literary sensation and perpetual bestseller since its publication in 2003, Time is a “soaring love story” of Clare (an artist) and Henry - a rather dashing librarian at the famous Newberry Library in Chicago, who is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder. Periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, disappearing spontaneously for experiences alternately harrowing and amusing.

Segments of the novel is set in South Haven, Michigan - Niffenegger’s (interview) birthplace and Chicago, where she now lives.

August also brings us her much anticipated new novel in 6 years - Her Fearful Symmetry - a most captivating story about two sets of twins, a rather determined ghost, and some very interesting happenings around London's Highgate Cemetery, where the novel is largely set. You could expect nothing less than the fabulous storytelling that made The Time Traveler's Wife a must-read. Another all-nighter, seriously. I am sure I won't have to remind you to GET ON THAT WAITING LIST NOW.

Following the crowds to Nora Roberts

Just for fun, I typed Nora Roberts into our catalog--245 hits. More than Stephen King! Wow, I thought, maybe I will read one of these in our Summer Reading Game. Then, for more fun, I searched J.D. Robb, the name under which Roberts writes police procedurals. Whoa, another 72 hits! Clearly Roberts is beyond prolific, and you can learn (lots) more about this bestselling phenom in Lauren Collins’ wonderful profile in the June 22 New Yorker. As many as 27 Nora Roberts books are sold every minute, the article suggests.

Summer's Fabulous Books to Film

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Set in Belle Époque Paris, Chéri is the story of the love affair between the beautiful courtesan Léa and Chéri, the son of her old colleague and rival. When a marriage is secretly arranged for Cheri to another rich courtesan, they found out, too late, how much they meant to each other.

The sumptuous period drama with blinding star voltage (Michelle Pfeiffer, Kathy Bates) is based on a short novel by Colette, pen name for the flamboyant French novelist Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette. (Limited release - a chick pick)

The Hollywood adaptation of My Sister’s Keeper is based on popular novelist Jodi Picoult's 2004 bestseller.

Sisters Kate and Anna share a bond closer than most sisters. Throughout their young lives, the sisters endure various medical procedures and hospital stays. Kate has Leukemia, and Anna was conceived to save her sister's life. Anna, now 11 seeks medical emancipation, hires her own lawyer, and initiates a court case that would divide the family. (3 hankies)

Public Enemies is adapted from Bryan Burrough's Public Enemies : America's greatest crime wave and the birth of the FBI, 1933-34 - the true story of legendary Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger, the charismatic bank robber whose lightning raids made him the number one target of J. Edgar Hoover's fledgling FBI and its top agent, Melvin Purvis. Starring Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, and Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard, one would not be surprised to find this the action/thriller of the summer.

First Woman to Row Alone Across an Ocean

Tori Murden McClure has an AB from Smith College, a master’s in divinity from Harvard, a JD from the University of Louisville, and an MFA from Spalding University. Very impressive -- as is her new book, A Pearl in the Storm: How I Found My Heart in the Middle of the Ocean. Currently vice president at Spalding, McClure is the first woman to row alone across an ocean. This beautifully written memoir offers readers a spectacular blend of adventure, romance, and self discovery.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #157

In Aussie Toni Jordan's Addition, there is no getting around the fact that Grace Lisa Vandenburg is neurotic - lovable but definitely neurotic! - counting the bristles on the toothbrush and the poppy seeds on her cake (daily) neurotic. Her obsession with counting renders her unemployable and very much a loner except for Nikola Tesla, the turn-of-the-twentieth-century inventor whose portrait sits on her bedside table and who rescues her in her dreams.

Seamus Joseph O'Reilly, an Irish transplant is intrigued by Grace who steals his banana at the check-out line. A shared table at Grace's morning coffee run soon blossoms into romance, and Grace begins to want a normal life with this passionate and darling man. The path to recovery as well as true love is never smooth - but on the way, Grace learns a few valuable lessons and we are treated to a "sweet, agreeable romantic comedy".

This superb debut marks Jordan (interview) as a writer to watch.Discussion questions are available for an upbeat book group choice.

For a novel on the topic of obsessive-compulsive disorder, try teen novelist Terry Spencer Hesser's Kissing Doorknobs. For another humorous take on the subject, try Steve Martin's The Pleasure of My Company.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #156

David Cristofano's The Girl She Used to Be* is a "compulsively readable, skillfully constructed" first novel that you won't be able to put down.

After assuming 8 different identities since aged 6 through the Government's Witness Protection Program that ultimately could not safeguard her parents, Melody McCartney is no longer sure who she is and therefore is stunned when someone actually calls her by her real name!

Enter Jonathan Bovaro, son of the Mafia family that is at the root of her troubles. He is elusive, dangerous, and charming. Melody should run the other way but she cannot resist him, and stays.

Major nail-biting suspense with lots of plot twists, intense and itchy-sexy. Don't miss this one.

* = Starred Review

It's not your Grandma's Harlequin!

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Harlequin, one of the most recognized publishers is celebrating 60 years of bringing romance to the American reader. As part of the celebration, it is offering 16 free downloads of full-length titles from its various imprints.

Whether your interest is in :

African-American, Chick Lit, Contemporary Romance, Erotic Fiction, Fantasy, Historical, Inspiration, Mystery, Paranormal, or Suspense & Adventure, they have something that would appeal to your notion of the romantic. There is even an imprint for romance in Spanish.

Tell Harlequin is a special website where readers are encouraged to voice their opinion (and get free stuff!).

Sean Connery + Nonstop Shenanigans

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What better way to celebrate the banishing of snakes from Ireland than to watch a young Sean Connery sing Pretty Irish Girl? In Darby O'Gill and the Little People, Disney created some pre-CGI special effects that, amazingly, still hold up. Just try to guess how the scenes involving Darby (Albert Sharpe) and King Brian of the Leprechauns (Jimmy O'Dea) were created. You'll be amazed to find out that both actors were nearly the same height and that there was no chroma key involved!

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