The 2015 Story Prize

Elizabeth McCracken was presented with the $20,000 Story Prize for her collection, Thunderstruck and Other Stories * * on March 4 in New York City.

The Story Prize is an annual book award honoring the author of an outstanding collection of short fiction with a $20,000 cash award.

Anyone who loves her work (my favorite remains the unforgettable The Giant's House - her debut novel and a National Book Award finalist) will agree that this award is richly deserved.

Thunderstruck is a collection of stories that navigates the fragile space between love and loneliness, including the title story in which a family finds their lives irrevocably changed by their teenage daughter's risky behavior.

Other finalists for the prize are Francesca Marciano for The Other Language * *, and Lorrie Moore for Bark * * * . They each received $5,000.

* * * = 3 starred reviews
* * = 2 starred review

And the Oscar Goes To…

Last night at the star-studded 87th annual Academy Awards, Oscar winners were announced for the best in film for the past year. Top honors went to Birdman for Best Picture, Big Hero 6 for Best Animated Feature, Citizenfour for Best Documentary Feature, and Poland’s Ida for Best Foreign Language Film.

Individual Oscars went to Alejandro G. Iñárritu for Best Director for Birdman, Eddie Redmayne for Best Actor for The Theory of Everything, and Julianne Moore for Best Actress for Still Alice. Supporting nods going to J.K. Simmons for Whiplash and Patricia Arquette for Boyhood.

While Birdman won top prize in three of the top categories - The Grand Budapest Hotel also soared with nine nominations, taking home four Oscars, including: Achievement in costume design, Achievement in makeup and hairstyling, Achievement in production design, and Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original Score) .

Here is a full list of winners and nominees in all categories. What a year for film! Be sure to check out the other nominated films. (Of course here’s a quick list of AADL-owned titles.)

Did you watch? What were your favorite moments? What were the biggest surprises?

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #512 -“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds." ~ Nicholas Sparks

Sonali Dev won the 2015 Reading List Awards for Romance with A Bollywood Affair, her first novel.

The first thing you will notice is that this romance is set in the unlikely locale of Ypsilanti, Michigan. Then this "charming contemporary Indian fairytale…(v)ibrant and exuberantly romantic" (NPR) will take over and never let go.

Mili Rathod, bound by marriage since she was four years old to a man she has not seen in 20 years, has nevertheless dutifully cared for his family in their village. Preparing herself to be the perfect Indian wife, she attends college (for sparklingly witty and intelligent conversations) while she waits for her husband Virat to come and claim her. In the meantime, she accepts the one-year scholarship in America, unaware that Virat, now married to Rima, plans to annul the marriage before the arrival of their first child.

Tasked with tracking down Mili to sign the annulment papers is Virat's playboy brother Samir, a big-time Bollywood director/filmmaker. Arriving on the Eastern Michigan University campus in a bright yellow convertible, their first meet is anything but "cute" - it is downright disastrous. Mistaken identity, conditioned expectations, personal history and family loyalty complicate matters as they fight their mutual attraction.

"Dev's heartfelt debut novel is rich in scenes and images illuminating Indian culture, leaving readers with a greater understanding and appreciation of Indian traditions while beautifully capturing the struggle between familial duty and self-discovery."

Check out these readalikes/watchalikes selected for this title by the Reading List Council:

Bride and Prejudice (2004)
The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger (2012)
The Malhotra Bride by Sundari Venkatraman (2009), in kindle format

Newbery, Caldecott, Printz & ALL the Youth and Teen Book, Audio and Video Awards Announced!

On Monday, February 2 in a snowed in Chicago The American Library Association (ALA) today announced the top books, video and audio books for children and young adults – including the Caldecott, Coretta Scott King, Newbery and Printz awards – at its Midwinter Meeting. A hotly anticipated day for librarians, publishers, and lovers of youth and teen literature the awards the announcements culminate a year's worth of reading, listening and watching by a wide variety of librarians and educators all over the country. Over the years the variety of awards given out has grown to cover

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature:

The Crossover,” written by Kwame Alexander, is the 2015 Newbery Medal winner.

Two Newbery Honor Books also were named:
El Deafo” by Cece Bell
Brown Girl Dreaming,” by Jacqueline Woodson

Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend,” illustrated by Dan Santat, is the 2015 Caldecott Medal winner.

Six Caldecott Honor Books also were named:

Nana in the City,” illustrated and written by Lauren Castillo
The Noisy Paint Box: The Colors and Sounds of Kandinsky’s Abstract Art,” illustrated by Mary GrandPré, written by Barb Rosenstock
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole,” illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett
Viva Frida,” illustrated and written by Yuyi Morales
The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus,” illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jennifer Bryant
This One Summer,” illustrated by Jillian Tamaki, written by Mariko Tamaki

Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award recognizing an African American author and illustrator of outstanding books for children and young adults:

Brown Girl Dreaming,” written by Jacqueline Woodson, is the King Author Book winner.

The 2015 Notable Books (Literary Fiction)

Being announced at the same time as the Reading List is one of the grand dame of ALA awards. "Since 1944, the goal of the Notable Books Council has been to make available to the nation’s readers a list of 25 very good, very readable, and at times very important fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books for the adult reader." Here is the current fiction list:

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
How much sacrifice does the love of a sister require?

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Navigating the dark of World War II a German boy and a French girl survive using senses other than sight.

The Bone Clocks: A Novel by David Mitchell
The human condition: bleak but not without moments of redemption.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan
A deceptively simple story reveals complexities of life choices.

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
A thoughtful exposition of love, in all its endless varieties.

The Enchanted: A Novel by Rene Denfield
Death row inmates await escape through execution in this weirdly gorgeous tale.

Narrow Road to the Deep North: A Novel by Richard Flanagan
Australian beaches, Burmese jungles, love and death permeate a story of World War II POWs.

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee
From fish farm to big pharma, 100 years later it’s all the same.

Orfeo: A Novel by Richard Powers
On the run from Homeland Security, Peter Els reflects on a life of attempted creation and immortality through music and chemistry.

Something Rich and Strange: Selected Stories by Ron Rash
A brutal and beautiful collection of human tales set in the Carolinas.

Station Eleven: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel
Love, music, and Shakespeare sustain survivors of a global pandemic.

Tigerman by Nick Harkaway
Funny, strange, and dangerous, the island of Mancreu may be beyond saving, but perhaps a superhero can bring redemption. “Full of win.”

Consult the full list for Poetry and Nonfiction picks.

The 2015 Reading List

While most of the country's households were glued to the Superbowl, and Chicago was slammed with a memorable snowstorm, the intrepid librarians at ALA Midwinter announced this past year's best of the best in genre fiction - the Reading List. The winner in each of the 8 categories are:

Adrenaline
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Detroit serves as the economically battered backdrop of this inventive, visceral suspense story about a series of bizarre murders that draws a group of memorable characters into a complex web of violence. Smart, stylish and addictive, this page-turner shows how the American Dream has failed many on a personal level.

Fantasy
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Following the sudden, suspicious deaths of his entire family, exiled half-goblin Maia becomes emperor, a role requiring diplomacy and adherence to strict protocols. Focusing on the intricacies of court life, this elegant novel unfolds at a pace that allows readers to savor the rich tapestry of character, setting and plot.

Historical Fiction
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Banished from the court of Versailles, spirited Charlotte-Rose de la Force meets a nun who weaves together the strands that form the Rapunzel fairy tale, revealing its surprising origins. A captivating marriage of history and folklore featuring characters true to their time periods, yet timeless in their dreams and desires.

Horror
The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman
Beneath the streets of 1970s New York, Joey meets the merry children, a gang of ancient child vampires, and discovers that immortality isn't all fun and games. Gritty, clever and gonzo, this fresh take on the vampire mythos gets darker and creepier as the pages turn.

Mystery
Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver
This classic English mystery follows Amory and her estranged husband, Milo, whose paths cross at a seaside resort, where suspicious deaths implicate Amory’s former fiance, Gil. A vivid mystery that sparkles with personality as Amory and Milo puzzle out the truth behind the murders and negotiate their own complicated relationship.

Romance
Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
Comic misunderstandings ensue when playboy Bollywood director Samir travels to America to secure an annulment for his brother, married at age four to Mili in a traditional arranged Indian wedding ceremony. Appealing protagonists, a diverse supporting cast and a colorful multicultural backdrop lend this charming story unexpected emotional depth.

Science Fiction
The Martian by Andy Weir
Stranded on Mars, wisecracking botanist Mark Watney proves that an astronaut has to be smart, resourceful and, perhaps, a little crazy to survive. Strong characterization, well-researched but accessible technical detail, and a deft blend of suspense and humor will please science enthusiasts and fans of survival stories on any planet.

Women's Fiction
My Real Children by Jo Walton
Patricia Cowan, an elderly woman suffering from dementia, remembers two different lives, two different careers, two different families and two different worlds. A striking novel of how tragedy turns to joy and heartbreak turns to love with a narrative twist that hooks the reader and never lets go.

Check out the shortlists and readalikes, in the complete list.

Golden Globe Award Winners

Last night the 72nd Golden Globes announced winners in top categories for motion pictures and television for the year. There is a lot of good stuff to get caught up on!

Best Motion Picture - Drama went to Boyhood (also winning Best Director for Richard Linklater and Best Supporting Actress for Patricia Arquette), Best Motion Picture - Comedy went to The Grand Budapest Hotel, Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture for Television went to Fargo (also wining Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture for Television for Billy Bob Thornton), Best Animated Film went to How to Train Your Dragon 2, Best Foreign Film went to Russia’s Leviathan, Best Television Series - Comedy went to Amazon’s Transparent (also winning Best Actor, Comedy Series for Jeffrey Tambor), and Best Television Series - Drama went to The Affair (also winning Best Actress, Television Series - Drama for Ruth Wilson).

See here for a full list of all winners.

Next up in screen awards is the Academy Awards which will be held on February 22nd, with nominees being announced on January 15th.

Small Gems (and Fabulous Fiction Firsts #500)

It's that time again. As we approach winter solstice, the days are getting shorter and we are getting into high gear for the holidays, don't despair. Here are some suggestions for SHORT titles that you could curl up with.

46 Brilliant Short Novels You Can Read In A Day, great reads under 200 pages. Mostly.

From GoodRead: Popular Under 200 Pages Books - wonderful time to catch up on some classics and new award winners. The Huffington Post also jumps on the bandwagon with their thoughtful and inspired reading list. Here is a list for nonfiction readers.

My personal find this year?

Our Lady of the Nile (in French) by Scholastique Mukasonga, winner of the 2012 Renaudot Prize and the Ahamadou Kourouma Prize - a moving and nuanced portrait of violence and survival; a debut novel of "rugged beauty and unbearable suspense".

The conflict between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority is expressed through the microcosm of Our Lady of the Nile, a Catholic boarding school for wealthy and influential young ladies in Rwanda. Virginia and Veronica are two Tutsi girls in the lycee because of quotas, and they are keenly aware of the dangers they face as ethnic minority. When Gloriosa, the daughter of a Hutu politician, starts telling lies about being attacked by Tutsis, the retaliatory violence costs Veronica her life and Virginia her education.

Born in Rwanda in 1956, the author experienced from childhood the violence and humiliation of ethnic conflicts. In 1973, she was forced to flee to Burundi and settled in France in 1992. Two year later, she lost 27 members of her family to the genocide of the Tutsi.

Slightly longer but spectacular in every way is Lily King's Euphoria * * *, a thinly-veiled account of the love affair between Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, her third husband while she was married to Reo Fortune as they were conducting anthropological research in the remote territories of New Guinea. (Readers curious as to the accuracy of the storyline might want to check out this article called "Mead's Folly").

"A taut, witty, fiercely intelligent tale of competing egos and desires in a landscape of exotic menace—a love triangle in extremis… The steam the book emits is as much intellectual as erotic…King is brilliant.”

Little wonder that it has been named winner of this year's Kirkus Prize for Fiction and the New England Book Award. New York Times, as well as Time Magazine, and NPR named it one of the 10 Best Fiction of 2014. I promise you that it is well worth the wait.

* * * = 3 starred reviews

National Book Award Winner for Young People's Literature

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature at last night's awards ceremony. In the book the author shares her childhood memories and reveals the first sparks that ignited her writing career in free-verse poems about growing up in the North and South. The other finalists in this category were:

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two by Deborah Wiles

See the full 2014 National Book Award list of winners in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. (And AADL's list of the titles in the catalog for quick hold placing!)

National Book Award Finalists Announced


It's book award season! Britain announced their Booker Prize winner yesterday, and this morning brings the list of National Book Award finalists. There are five finalists in four categories: Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People's Literature. The list includes major names, such as past National Book Award winner Marilynn Robinson, former US Poet Laureate Louise Gluck, and New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast.

You can view the list of finalists in the AADL catalog, read more about these titles, and place holds. The winners will be announced November 19th.

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