Fabulous Fiction Firsts #249

High body count, fast-paced action, murder, conspiracy, secret society - if that's right up your alley, then you would like Scott Mariani's The Mozart Conspiracy : a thriller (due out early next week).

A centuries-old mystery. An “accidental” death. A conspiracy that may end in murder. Former British Special Air Service officer Ben Hope is running for his life. Enlisted by Leigh Llewellyn—the beautiful, world-famous opera star and Ben’s first love—to investigate her brother, Oliver’s, mysterious death, Ben finds himself caught up in a puzzle dating back to the 1700s and might somehow be connected to mysterious death of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

British author Miriani makes his U.S. debut with the second in his series featuring ex-SAS warrior Ben Hope. For fans of Dan Brown, James Rollins, and Robert Ludlum.

March's Action-Packed Books to Film

Already in theaters is The Adjustment Bureau, adapted from the short story "The Adjustment Team" by Philip K. Dick, collected in The Early Work of Philip K. Dick. Vol. 1, The variable man & other stories. Matt Damon plays David Norris, a promising U.S. Senate candidate who falls for beautiful dancer at a chance meeting but fate and a mysterious group of men conspire to keep the two apart.

Alan Glynn's The Dark Fields is adapted into Limitless, a paranoia-fueled action thriller about an unsuccessful writer whose life is transformed by a top-secret "smart drug" that allows him to use 100% of his brain and become a perfect version of himself. His enhanced abilities soon attract shadowy forces that threaten his new life in this darkly comic and provocative film. Starring Bradley Cooper, Abbie Cornish, and Robert De Niro.

Charismatic bad boy Matthew McConaughey plays Mickey Haller in the highly anticipated adaptation of Michael Connelly's The Lincoln Lawyer.

In the film, Michael "Mick" Haller is a slick, charismatic Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who operates out of the back of his Lincoln Continental Sedan. Having spent most of his career defending petty, gutter-variety criminals, Mick unexpectedly lands the case of a lifetime: defending a rich Beverly Hills playboy who is accused of attempted murder. However, what initially appears to be a straightforward case with a big money payoff swiftly develops into a deadly match between two masters of manipulation and a crisis of conscience for Haller.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #239

Sara J. Henry's Learning to Swim : a novel (coming out this month) is the first in a projected mystery series.

Freelance writer Troy Chance rescues a child tossed off the back of a passing ferry onto frigid Lake Champlain. Gradually teasing out his story, made difficult by the fact that he only speaks French, Troy comes to understand that the boy, Paul had been kidnapped, held for months. When Troy tracks down Paul's father, successful businessman Philippe Dumond and returns Paul to Ottawa, she soon senses that Paul might still be in danger and in fact, is at the center of a bizarre and violent plot.

"A compelling plot, a pervading sense of foreboding, well-constructed characters..., Henry proves herself to be a smooth and compelling storyteller. And her lead is highly appealing: an athletic, fiercely independent young woman".

A readalike for crime-fiction authors Chevy Stevens, Norman Green and Gillian Flynn whose feisty female protagonists are also capable of making delightfully acerbic observations.

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

Still Missing - A Disturbing Thriller

I am normally not a fan of reading the thriller genre, but this book lured me in. Still Missing is the disturbing story of Annie, a 30something realtor, who is abducted by her last visitor of the day at an open house. After a year of terror and isolation in a cabin with "The Freak", she is attempting to return to her former life. We, the readers, hear the gruesome details of her ordeal through Annie's voice and her sessions with a psychologist. The author, Chevy Stevens (this is her first novel), competently balances Annie's psychological struggle with her hideous past and her current status of victim/survivor. This book is a page-turner and a very quick read. After being completely creeped out by Annie's abduction story, I found myself confused and caught off guard by the novel's twist at the end.

November's Books to Film

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As the holiday season approaches, November promises big movie hits inspired by even bigger bestsellers.

A suspenseful and star-studded adaptation of an ex-undercover agent’s autobiography entitled Fair Game: How a Top CIA Agent Was Betrayed by Her Own Government. This riveting action-thriller is based on real-life undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson whose career was destroyed when her covert identity was illegally exposed.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is based on the last and final installment in Stieg Larsson's mega-bestseller, the Millennium trilogy.

Lisbeth Salander lies in critical condition, fighting for her life. If and when she recovers, she’ll be stand trial for three murders, unless she can prove her innocence, and will plot revenge - against the man who tried to kill her, and the corrupt government institutions that very nearly destroyed her life.

Love & Other Drugs is a comedic exposé of the highly competitive and cutthroat world of pharmaceuticals. It is based on the real-life experiences of one-time Pfizer rep Jamie Reidy, who as an ambitious college grad schmoozes doctors, nurses, hospitals and begins a relationship with a woman suffering from Parkinson's, all while competing against other salesmen who try to push their brand of drugs. Loosely based on Jamie Reidy's Hard Sell : The evolution of a Viagra salesman.

No shortage of eye-candy with Jake Gyllenhaal and Anne Hathaway starring.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #224

First-time novelist John Verdon created an extraordinary fiction debut in Think of a Number**.

This suspense thriller begins in the idyllic Catskills (NY) where Dave Gurney, one of the most celebrated NYPD homicide detectives retires from a life dominated by violent crimes and attempts to repair a strained marriage rocked by personal tragedies. Then a college friend showed him a series of taunting letters that end with “Think of any number…picture it…now see how well I know your secrets.” Amazingly, those who comply find that the letter writer has predicted their random choice exactly. What begins as a diverting puzzle quickly ignites into a massive serial murder investigation.

Think of a Number is an exquisitely plotted novel that grows relentlessly darker and more frightening as its pace accelerates. An absolutely fresh brain-twister and a compulsive page-turner.

** = starred reviews

More October's Books to Film

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The Social Nework, considered by people in-the-know as perhaps, the best film of the year, is based on Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires : the founding of Facebook, a tale of sex, money, genius and betrayal - a fast-paced, inside look at a story of fortune gained and innocence lost, and how a company that was created to bring people together ultimately tore two friends apart.

In 2003, Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg were Harvard undergrads and best friends looking for a way to stand out among the university’s elite and competitive student body. Then one lonely night, Zuckerberg hacked into the campus computer system to pull off a prank that crashed Harvard’s network. This stunt almost got him expelled, but it also inspired Zuckerberg to create Facebook, the social networking site, and their small start-up quickly went from college dorm room to Silicon Valley. But different ideas about Facebook’s future tested their relationship that eventually spiraled into out-and-out warfare.

Opening this weekend is Red, a star-studded espionage-thriller, based on the graphic novel by Warren Ellis (writer) and artist Cully Hammer.

Paul Moses (Bruce Willis) retired -- until the CIA, his former employer decided he was too dangerous to live. When a kill team interrupts his solitude, he changes his status from green to red. As the bodies pile up, the men who set this ruthless killer back into action feel safe in their Langley offices without realizing that Moses has a different plan.

Author Birthdays: Stevens, Greene, Finney

October 2nd marks the birthday of authors Wallace Stevens, Graham Greene, and Jack Finney.

Wallace Stevens was an American poet and lawyer, as well as a two-time winner of the National Book Award and a Pulitzer winner. Both awards went to his 1954 book of Collected Poems. However, he wasn't only famous for his poetry; in the 1930s, Stevens got in a fistfight with Ernest Hemingway.

Stevens was a Modernist. One of his poems, "The Man with the Blue Guitar" was inspired by Pablo Picasso's "The Old Guitarist." This poem in turn influenced artist David Hockney.

Graham Greene was an English writer, known for his books' religious themes. Greene was a Catholic, however the Church didn't always like his writing. Many of his stories were self-proclaimed thrillers, though not all. He liked to note that he wanted his serious works to be the main body used for criticism, not his "entertainments."

Many of Greene's books were made into films, including The End of the Affair, The Honorary Consul (US: Beyond the Limit), Stamboul Train (Orient Express), and The Quiet American. He also wrote both the novella and the screenplay for The Third Man.

Jack Finney was an American writer, probably best known as a Science Fiction novelist. One of his books, The Body Snatchers, was the basis for the sci-fi favorite Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and its many remakes.

Finney also wrote Time and Again, which is a tale of time travel, and includes several illustrations and images, some of which are actually from the 1880s. The story is about a man named Si, who is asked to perform in a secret government project which requires self-hypnosis in order to travel back in time.

Today is also the birthday of Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi, promoter of civil disobedience and non-violence.

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.

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