Dan Brown's latest novel, Inferno

Last week, Dan Brown's new novel, Inferno was released and is in hot demand. In this 476 page blockbuster, Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor whose specialty in symbology takes him to Italy to unravel the secrets of Dante's Inferno, races against time to save the world.

Dan Brown came to the public's attention in 2003 when his intriguing, provocative, controversial The Da Vinci Code broke all sorts of publishing records and is, to this day, one of the bestselling novels of all time. Ever since, he has had one #1 bestseller after another. Just two years after The Da Vinci Code was released, Brown was named one of Time Magazine's 100 Most influential People in the World.

Are you on the wait list for Inferno? Never fear, we have a list of great titles that share Brown's powerful formula of mixing history, religion, and/or literature and cryptography to tell a compelling story. Try some of these to tide you over until your number comes up.

Umberto Eco's very first novel, published in English 30 years ago, is considered a classic. In The Name of the Rose, Brother William of Baskerville, a 14th century monk, is sent to Italy to investigate seven deeply disturbing murders. Three years later, Sean Connery starred in the award-winning film version.

In The Eight (1988), Katherine Neville, tells the story of Catherine Velis, a computer pro for one of the Big Eight accounting firms. Velis is fascinated by the relationship between chess and mathematics and sets out on a dangerous quest to gather the pieces of an antique chess set, scattered across the globe. If found, the complete set will reveal a world-changing secret, which began in 1790.

Jonathan Rabb, in his popular 2001 The Book of Q, moves back and forth between sixth century Asia Minor and 20th century Croatia. Father Ian Pearse is a researcher at the Vatican Library who cannot forget his passionate affair eight years earlier with Petra. When he comes across the translation of an ancient scroll that reveals a shocking code, he returns to Bosnia (and, oh yes, Petra) to save the world from the secrets buried in the scroll.

Scrolls and diaries that beg to be decoded to reveal earth-shattering religious secrets, are at the center of The 13th Apostle (2007), by Richard and Rachael Heller. This time, the sleuths are Sabbie Karaim, a biblical scholar and ex-Israeli commando and Gil Pearson, an American cybersleuth who discover there are those who are willing to kill for this possible link to one of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

If you are too impatient for your hold for the print version of Inferno, why not try Paul Michael's dramatic narrative performance in the audiobook version?

James Beard Foundation Cookbook awards


James Beard was a renowned American chef who introduced French cuisine and gourmet cooking to America. Called the "Dean of American cookery” by the New York Times in 1954, his foundation's awards are likened to the 'Oscars' of the culinary world. Just some of the award categories include best cookbooks (in various subcategories), chefs, & tv and radio cooking shows. The awards are voted on by culinary professionals & the full list can be found here. Below are some of the highlights:

Cookbook of the Year: Gran Cocina Latina: The Food of Latin America- delicious food from the many countries that comprise Latin America

Baking and dessert: Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza- From acclaimed Portland baker, Ken Forkish, comes this popular book about how to make the perfect bread

Focus on health: The New Way to Cook Light: Fresh Food & Bold Flavors for Today’s Home Cook- More than 400 recipes for healthy eating

General cooking: Canal House Cooks Every Day- Recipes inspired by the authors' blog, Canal House Cooks Lunch, by home cooks for home cooks

International: Jerusalem: A Cookbook- 120 recipes that highlight the flavors of Jerusalem

Vegetable focused & Vegetarian- Roots: The definitive compendium with more than 225 recipes- one more reason to love your veggies!

2013 Edgars have been announced

Last night, the Mystery Writers of America announced the winners of the 2013 Edgars, the mystery genre's most prestigious awards.

Some of the winners are:

Best Novel -- Dennis Lehane for Live by Night. Joe Coughlin, younger brother of Danny Coughlin (The Given Day, 2008) and the son of a cop, becomes a crime boss in Florida in 1926 during the Prohibition.

Best First Novel -- Chris Pavone for The Expats. Kate Moore used to be a CIA spy until she met, fell in love with, and married Dexter. Parenthood turns her off to the dangers of espionage, but her professional radar is triggered when Dexter's job moves them to Luxembourg where new friends, fellow expats, Bill and Julia, do not seem to be what they claim to be.

Best Paperback Original -- Ben H. Winters for The Last Policeman. It takes a special detective to investigate a homicide masquerading as a suicide, when an asteroid is six months away from destroying Earth. But NH investigator, Nick Palace, is no ordinary cop.

Best Fact Crime -- Paul French for Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China -- In 1937 China, the teenage daughter of a retired British consul is brutally murdered and her father refuses to rest until he finds who committed this heinous crime. French brings to edge-of-seat life, the chain of evidence in this case.

For a complete list of all the winners, please check here.

The winners of the 2013 Indies Choice Book Awards and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards have been announced!

The American Booksellers Association (ABA) released the winning titles of the 2013 Indies Choice Book Awards and the E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards on April 17th.
Be sure to check out the other honor lists as well for these awards, located on the ABA's website.

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The Indies Choice Book Awards
From the ABA website: "The Indies Choice Book Awards reflect the spirit of independent bookstores nationwide and the IndieBound movement. Book of the Year winners and Honor Award recipients are all titles nominated by ABA member booksellers to the Indie Next Lists."

The winners of the 2013 Indies Choice Book Awards are listed below. Click on the titles to find them in the AADL's catalog, or on the authors' names to see more books they've written, and/or different formats of their award winning books!

Adult fiction: The Round House: A Novel, by Louise Erdrich

Adult non-fiction: Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, by Cheryl Strayed

Adult debut book of the year: The Snow Child: A Novel, by Eowyn Ivey

Young adult book of the year: The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green

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E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards
"The winners of the E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards, reflecting the playful, well-paced language, the engaging themes, and the universal appeal to a wide range of ages embodied by E.B. White’s collection of beloved books."

The winners of the 2013 E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards are listed below. Click on the titles to find them in the AADL's catalog, or on the authors' names to see more books they've written, and/or different formats of their award winning books!

Middle-reader level: Wonder, by R.J. Palacio

Picture book level: Extra Yarn, by Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen (Illus.)

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #399

Originally published in Germany in 2001, The Russian Donation * * is the first book in the Dr. Hoffmann series by Christoph Spielberg (translated by Gerald Chapple), and the 2002 winner of Germany's Friedrich Glauser Prize for Best Debut Crime Novel.

When a former patient and hospital employee Misha Chenkov shows up dead at the ER, Dr. Felix Hoffmann, physician at a Berlin teaching hospital is surprised and perplexed. He becomes suspicious when his autopsy order goes unfulfilled, the body is cremated, and hospital records simply vanished. Determined to get to the bottom of it, Hoffmann stumbles into an intricate conspiracy that reaches from the bowels of the hospital to its highest offices and puts his life at risk.

Spielberg, a physician has created a reluctant sleuth who is strong, resourceful, and "unwilling to put up with any crap". Look for future cases to follow.

For fans of Robin Cook's medical thrillers who might also enjoy Helene Tursten's Night Rounds (2012) which features Detective Inspector Irene Huss of the Violent Crimes Unit in Goteborg, Sweden.

* * = Starred reviews

George Jones, Country-Western heartbreak crooner, has died

George Jones, whose beautiful sad country ballads consoled countless broken hearts, died today in Nashville.

Born in Pensacola, TX in 1931, Jones lived his songs. Famous for missing concerts when he was on a drunken tear, he survived drugs, car crashes, several divorces and repeated financial ruin. His third marriage, in 1969, to Tammy Wynette took the meaning of tempestuous into the stratosphere. They wrote and sang of the endless drama and tragedies in their relationship which lasted just six years, but produced some real blockbuster country songs, such as Good Year for the Roses and \We're Gonna Hold On. Their daughter, Georgette, told their story from her point of view in her 2011 memoir, The Three of Us: Growing Up with Tammy and George.

One of his most wrenchingly sad songs; He Stopped Loving Her Today, was pure George Jones at his mournful best. The song's subject yearns tragically for years for a lost love and dies with a smile on his face.

Jones won countless awards for his body of work. He was honored by the Country Music Association, was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and last year he was presented with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Jones, who had been hospitalized on April 18th, was 81.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #397

For over a decade, US publishers have been looking for English language books that deal with Chechnya, a volatile and bloody Russian Republic consistently in the news. They were thrilled when Whiting Award & Pushcart Prize winner Anthony Marra, (Stegner Fellow, Iowa Writers' Workshop) submitted his novel A Constellation of Vital Phenomena *.

In the final days of December 2004, in a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa hides in the woods when her father is abducted by Russian forces. Fearing for her life, she flees with their neighbor Akhmed, a failed physician, to the bombed-out hospital where Sonja, the only remaining doctor treats the wounded rebels and refugees. Over the course of five dramatic days, Akhmed and Sonja reach back into their pasts to unravel the intricate mystery of coincidence, betrayal, and forgiveness that unexpectedly binds them and decides their fate,

"Marra collapses time, sliding between 1996 and 2004 while also detailing events in a future yet to arrive, giving his searing novel an eerie, prophetic aura. All of the characters are closely tied together in ways that Marra takes his time revealing, even as he beautifully renders the way we long to connect and the lengths we will go to endure".

"...simply spectacular. Not since Everything Is Illuminated have I read a first novel so ambitious and fully realized". ~ Ann Patchett

"Remarkable and breathtaking,... a spellbinding elegy for an overlooked land engulfed by an oft-forgotten war. Set in the all-too-real Chechen conflict, Marra conjures fragile and heartfelt characters whose fates interrogate the very underpinnings of love and sacrifice.” ~ Adam Johnson

For readers who enjoyed The Tiger's Wife; Cutting for Stone; and City of Thieves.

* = starred review

The picture book Woolbur has won the 2013 Michigan Reads! Award

The 2013 Michigan Reads! title has been announced! The award goes to the picture book Woolbur, written by Leslie Helakoski and illustrated by Lee Harper.

Woolbur is a unique story about a young sheep who is not afraid to be himself! Some of his antics include running with the dogs and dying his wool blue! His mom and dad are worried about him at first, but his grandparents tell them not to worry. In the end, the other sheep start to see the beauty in Woolbur’s creative ways and realize it is not so bad to live outside the box of a “normal” sheep life.

Helakoski, originally from Louisiana, is a graduate of Northern Michigan University and currently resides in southwest Michigan near Kalamazoo. Her picture book Big Chickens also won the Michigan Reads! Award for 2007.

The Michigan Reads! One State, One Children's Book program “focuses on the importance of reading and sharing books with children, especially toddlers through early elementary, and the vital role libraries play in providing access to the quality books, programs and services that lay the foundation for reading and school success.”

The 2013 Pulitzer Prizes have been announced

The Pulitzer Prizes for 2013 were announced today.

In 1917, Joseph Pulitzer established these awards to recognize excellence in 21 categories, which include journalism, fiction, drama, music, poetry, and non-fiction. More recently, online reporting was added.

Some of the winners this year include:

Fiction -- Adam Johnson, for The Orphan Master's Son, a timely choice, tells the story of Pak Jun Do, who is sent to the orphan camps in North Korea. First trained as a tunnel soldier (fighting in pitch darkness beneath the DMZ), he is 'elevated' to kidnapper.

History -- Fredrik Logevall, for Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam -- Logevall spent 12 years looking at primary diplomatic sources in the archives of Paris, Washington, D.C., and Hanoi to get at the heart of the conflict.

Biography -- Tom Reiss, for The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo -- Reiss delves into the life of the father of Alexandre Dumas, General Alexandre Alex Dumas. Born in Haiti, sold into slavery by his own father, the General eventually went on to military greatness when he reorganized the army of the French Republic.

In 20 categories, each winner receives $10,000 and a certificate. In the Public Service category, a medal was bestowed on the Florida newspaper, the Sun Sentinel, for its investigation into off-duty police officers who endangered the lives of citizens by speeding.

For a complete list, check here.

Cookbook Award Winners

The International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) has awarded the following books (see full list here):

Cookbook of the Year & Best International Cookbook: Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi & Sami Tamimi: 120 recipes that highlight the flavors of Jerusalem

Best American Cookbook: Hiroko’s American Kitchen: Cooking with Japanese Flavors: how to combine Japanese cooking flavors with Western style fare

Baking: Savory or Sweet: Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza: must-have baking guide to breads and pizzas providing the techniques and equipment advice to make them

Chefs and Restaurants cookbook: Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan, the award-winning chef from San Francisco's Slanted Door restaurant presents his life story along with a guide to making delicious Vietnamese food

Culinary History: The Cookbook Library: Four Centuries of the Cooks, Writers, and Recipes That Made the Modern Cookbook, tasting their way through centuries of cookbooks and recipes they have been collecting for 45 years, authors Anne Willan and her husband Mark Cherniavsky provide a fascinating history of cooking & cookbooks, lore, and of course recipes from as far back as medieval times

Culinary Travel:Burma: Rivers of Flavor: Burma is opening its doors and this book is a wonderful introduction its culinary marvels

First Book: The Julia Child Award: Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deborah Perelman: if you aren't familiar with the author's blog, go to it and see why this book is so popular

Food Matters: Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics: well-researched and written for the average joe, the science behind what a calorie is and much more

Literary Food Writing:Yes, Chef: A Memoir: life of chef, Marcus Samuelsson, from humble beginnings as an orphan to world-renowned chef

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