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.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #221

William Ryan's The Holy Thief** opens in Moscow, 1936, when Stalin’s Great Terror is beginning.

In a deconsecrated church, a young woman is found dead, her mutilated body displayed on the altar for all to see. Captain Alexei Korolev, finally beginning to enjoy the benefits of his success with the Criminal Investigation Division of the Moscow Militia, is asked to investigate. But when he discovers that the victim is an American citizen, the NKVD—the most feared organization in Russia—becomes involved. Soon, Korolev’s every step is under close scrutiny and one false move will mean exile to The Zone, where enemies of the Soviet State, both real and imagined, meet their fate in the frozen camps of the far north.

Committed to uncovering the truth behind the gruesome murder, Korolev enters the realm of the Thieves, rulers of Moscow’s underworld. As more bodies are discovered and pressure from above builds, Korolev begins to question who he can trust and who, in a Russia where fear, uncertainty and hunger prevail, are the real criminals. Soon, Korolev will find not only his moral and political ideals threatened, but also his life.

With Captain Alexei Korolev, William Ryan has given us one of the most compelling detectives in modern literature. Readers will likely draw comparison to Leo Demidov, the hero in Tom Rob Smith's Child 44, another smashing debut when it was published in 2008.

Read Ryan's interview with 10 librarians and get a sense where the sequel will take us.

** = starred reviews

Suggestions for Hunger Games fans

Attention Hunger Games fans! Worried that you won't have anything thrilling to read after Mockingjay comes out on Aug. 24? Fear not! Try one of these novels and immerse yourself in another disturbingly delightful dystopia!

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Feed by M.T. Anderson
The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines
The Diary of Pelly D by L.J. Adlington
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer
Exodus by Julie Bertagna
Unwind by Neil Shusterman
Salt by Maurice Gee
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
The Silenced by James DeVita
The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman
Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Shade's Children by Garth Nix

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #220

Alright, this one is definitely not for you if you are heading for the airport.

The Crashers* - a crack-team of National Transportation Safety Board experts is assembled in haste to investigate when a passenger plane slams into the ground outside Portland, Oregon.

Led by Leonard "Tommy" Tomzak, a pathologist, the team needs to determine if it is a terrorist attack, or worse yet, a trial run for something more devastating to come very soon.

In the meantime, in LA, Daria Gibron, a former Israeli agent, spots a group of suspicious-looking men whom she is certain, are responsible for the plane crash.

"A fresh and utterly compelling thriller, an original mix of action, investigation and a brilliant cast of characters that grabs the reader in the way few novels can and fewer do." - A must-read debut by Dana Haynes, and will sure to please fans of the master of aviation thriller John J. Nance (Blackout) , and a readalike for Hard Fall by Ridley Pearson, the undisputed king of white-knuckle adventures.

A sequel is anticipated.

* = Starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #219

U.S. born, Cornell grad Andrew Xia Fukuda's Crossing* was the 2009 semifinalist in Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Contest.

Inspired by the Manhattan Chinatown young immigrants that he works with, Fukuda allows his young protagonist to tell his story - one of loneliness, frustration and alienation.

Xing (Kris to his classmates) - pronounced Shing, meaning "star" , is a freshman at Slackenkill High School. As one of two Asian students in an all-white school, he has a hard time fitting in. When other fellow students start showing up dead, the police are baffled. It is Kris' ability to blend into the background that allows him to come close to the core of the grisly crimes, leading to a chilling climax that will resonate long after the last page is turned.

"Sad, elegant, and creepy" this deft debut will appeal to psychological thriller fans. The earnest depiction of disaffected youth will appeal to teens.

* = starred review

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #218

When a critic remarks that "Michael Crichton might have produced this had he had a literary sensibility. Thoroughly well-written, grounded in science and a sorrowful sense of human nature, this book is utterly memorable", you pay attention.

Science writer and journalist Laurence Gonzales' debut novel Lucy** is "explosive and daring".

Scientist Jenny Lowe rescued Lucy, the fourteen-year-old daughter of a primatologist from the jungles of the Congo during a civil war uprising and brought her to live in the suburbs of Chicago. It turns out that Lucy's incredible physical and intellectual powers are due to her unique heritage: she is half human and half bonobo. Forced to go public, Lucy becomes an instant and endangered celebrity, accruing marriage proposals and death threats.

"Lucy is irresistible, her predicament wrenching, and Gonzales' imaginative, sweet-natured, hard-charging, and deeply inquisitive thriller will be a catalyst for serious thought and debate", raising profound questions about identity and family, the moral, ethical, and philosophical issues of genetic engineering.

As part of his research, Gonzales observed the largest colony of bonobos in the world at the Milwaukee Zoo, an hour from his home. Bonobo extinction is a real threat, hear and watch the many faceted discussion on the Diane Rehm Show.

For a first person account of working with bonobos in the wild, read Vanessa Woods' Bonobo Handshake : a memoir of love and adventure in the Congo (2010).

Readers interested in relationships between primates and humans will not want to miss Sarah Gruen's Ape House coming out in September. This is her new novel after the blockbuster of a debut Water for Elephants.

** = Starred Reviews (In the interest of full disclosure, reviews are mixed. You be the judge but I LOVED it).

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

Performance Network: "It's gonna be one hell of a night"

If you like stories about the sea, Ireland, male friendship, or myth, here's a play you won't want to miss: The Seafarer by Conor McPherson. The chilling story opens on Christmas Eve when Sharky is back in Dublin. Two old drinking buddies want to play cards, and Sharky's soul may be in grave danger. Performance Network is staging the play through July 25.

Happy birthday, Lois Duncan!

Today marks the birthday of American novelist Lois Duncan.

Perhaps best known for her teen suspense and mystery fiction, Duncan has also held a more lighthearted pen in such works as the children's book Hotel for Dogs (perhaps better known for the screen adaptation) and a picture book called Songs of the Circus.

However, her teen novels were her biggest hit, and they are quite entrancing. My favorites include few of the ones not adapted for the screen--Gallows Hill and Down a Dark Hall. Gallows Hill features Sarah, a girl who is suspected by her peers of being a witch, which leads her into an investigation of the Salem Witch Trials. Down a Dark Hall tells the story of a young girl named Kit and her eerie encounters at a new boarding school.

One story of Duncan's that might sound more familiar would be Killing Mr. Griffin, the tale of high school students who kidnap their English teacher, which was made into a TV movie in 1997.

The most well-known may also be the least best example of her work. I Know What You Did Last Summer was turned into a movie, but Duncan had no part in the creation of the film, and actually did not like the final product.

Perhaps most representative is the true story of Lois Duncan's search for her own daughter's killer, Who Killed My Daughter?.

Crime and Mystery TV From Across The Pond

When you watch British television, it's easy to imagine the English countryside, dotted with small villages, where mysteries and random acts of crime are constantly happening. If you are a fan of this genre, head to the library and check out our wide selection of TV DVDs. Visit a county where grisly murders seem to be a norm in the Midsomer Murders series. Watch the adventures of a housewife turned detective in Hetty Wainthropp Investigates. For a British detective drama series, try Chief Christopher Foyle in Foyle's War, Jaguar driving Inspector Morse, the popular Wire In the Blood series, or Inspector Jack Frost in A Touch of Frost. For a mix of english gardening and detective investigation, check out the ladies in Rosemary & Thyme. Fans of mystery novels adapted into TV can look for the Campion series or our selection of Agatha Christie DVDs.
All of these shows and many many more can be browsed here.

Inspector MorseInspector Morse

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