Top Genre Fiction You May Have Missed

April 15th, 2014

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews.

This modern spy novel pits two covert operatives against each other in an intricate cat-and-mouse game. As Dominika and Nathaniel ply their tradecraft, they navigate the moral ambiguities of a post–Cold War world, where no one is as they seem and betrayal is business as usual.

 

Read-alikes: Alan Furst’s Night Soldiers, John le Carré’s Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and Charlie Huston’s Skinner.

The Outcasts by Kathleen Kent.

Love, morality and greed collide in this Reconstruction-era western. A whore without a heart of gold, Lucinda escapes from a Fort Worth brothel to begin a new life—and a new con. She and her lover are bound to cross paths with Texas Ranger Nate, who is chasing stone-cold killer McGill. Both Nate and Lucinda are unforgettable characters, driven by the need to survive.

Read-alikes: Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers, Charles Portis’ True Grit, and 3:10 from Yuma (film, Lionsgate, 2007)

Last Days by Adam Nevill.

Deep in debt, documentary filmmaker Kyle Freeman reluctantly accepts the financial backing of an enigmatic self-help guru to make a movie about infamous cult the Temple of the Last Days. Unique, atmospheric, and deeply disturbing, Nevill’s novel delivers a visceral horror experience that will haunt readers long after they put the book down.

Read-alikes: Ramsey Campbell’s The Grin of the Dark, Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, and Paranormal Activity (film, Paramount Pictures, 2009)

Murder as a Fine Art by David Morrell.

London, 1854: The Artist of Death ritualistically re-creates the sensational Ratcliffe murders inspired by the writings of the notorious opium addict Thomas De Quincey. In this fast-paced mystery, filled with colorful characters and authentic period detail, Scotland Yard detectives, along with De Quincey and his daughter, must find the Artist of Death before he executes another macabre masterpiece.

Read-alikes: Stephen Gallagher’s The Bedlam Detective, P. D. James and T. A. Critchley’s The Maul and the Pear Tree: The Ratcliffe Highway Murders, 1811, and Alan Moore’s From Hell.

Me before You by Jojo Moyes.

Unemployed 26-year-old Louisa takes the only job she can find: as a “care assistant” to 35-year-old quadriplegic Will. When Louisa discovers the depth of Will’s unhappiness, she embarks on a mission to convince him that life is worth living and, in the process, begins to think about her own future. This bittersweet, quirky novel recounts an unlikely friendship while grappling with complex issues in a realistic and sensitive manner.

Read-alikes: Jonathan Evison’s The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, Elizabeth Berg’s Talk before Sleep, and Michelle Wildgen’s You’re Not You.

Editor

The Confidence Code on The View

April 14th, 2014

Today, April 14, on the View: Claire Shipman, co-author of The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance–What Women Should Know (Find this book in our catalog). She will also appear on Good Morning America.

Here’s what it says in our catalog: “Confidence. We want it. We need it. But it can be maddeningly enigmatic and out of reach. The authors of the New York Times bestseller Womenomics deconstruct this essential, elusive, and misunderstood quality and offer a blueprint for bringing more of it into our lives.

Is confidence hardwired into the DNA of a lucky few—or can anyone learn it? Is it best expressed by bravado, or is there another way to show confidence? Which is more important: confidence or competence? Why do so many women, even the most successful, struggle with feelings of self-doubt? Is there a secret to channeling our inner confidence?

In The Confidence Code, journalists Katty Kay and Claire Shipman travel to the frontiers of neuroscience on a hunt for the confidence gene and reveal surprising new research on its roots in our brains. They visit the world’s leading psychologists who explain how we can all chose to become more confident simply by taking action and courting risk, and how those actions change our physical wiring. They interview women leaders from the worlds of politics, sports, the military, and the arts to learn how they have tapped into this elemental resource. They examine how a lack of confidence impacts our leadership, success, and fulfillment.

Ultimately, they argue, while confidence is partly influenced by genetics, it is not a fixed psychological state. That’s the good news. You won’t discover it by thinking positive thoughts or by telling yourself (or your children) that you are perfect as you are. You also won’t find it by simply squaring your shoulders and faking it. But it does require a choice: less people pleasing and perfectionism and more action, risk taking, and fast failure.

Inspiring, insightful, and persuasive, The Confidence Code shows that by acting on our best instincts and by daring to be authentic, women can feel the transformative power of a life on confidence.” (HarperCollins)

Editor

Historical Fiction for Book Clubs

April 11th, 2014

Click on a highlighted title to go straight to our catalog.

The Shadow Queen: A Novel By Sandra Gulland

“From the author of the beloved Josephine B. series, comes a spellbinding historical novel about a young woman who rises to become the confidante to the most powerful, provocative, and dangerous woman in the 17th-century French Court: the mistress of the charismatic Sun King.”

 

Click for a Discussion Guide.

The Lost Sisterhood: A Novel by Anne Fortier

“From the author of bestseller Juliet comes a mesmerizing novel about a young scholar who risks her reputation—and her life—on a thrilling journey to prove that the legendary warrior women known as the Amazons actually existed.

Oxford lecturer Diana Morgan is an expert on Greek mythology. Her obsession with the Amazons started in childhood when her eccentric grandmother claimed to be one herself—before vanishing without a trace. Diana’s colleagues shake their heads at her Amazon fixation. But then a mysterious, well-financed foundation makes Diana an offer she cannot refuse. 

Traveling to North Africa, Diana teams up with Nick Barran, an enigmatic Middle Eastern guide, and begins deciphering an unusual inscription on the wall of a recently unearthed temple. There she discovers the name of the first Amazon queen, Myrina, who crossed the Mediterranean in a heroic attempt to liberate her kidnapped sisters from Greek pirates, only to become embroiled in the most famous conflict of the ancient world—the Trojan War. Taking their cue from the inscription, Diana and Nick set out to find the fabled treasure that Myrina and her Amazon sisters salvaged from the embattled city of Troy so long ago. Diana doesn’t know the nature of the treasure, but she does know that someone is shadowing her, and that Nick has a sinister agenda of his own. With danger lurking at every turn, and unsure of whom to trust, Diana finds herself on a daring and dangerous quest for truth that will forever change her world. 

Sweeping from England to North Africa to Greece and the ruins of ancient Troy, and navigating between present and past, The Lost Sisterhood is a breathtaking, passionate adventure of two women on parallel journeys, separated by time, who must fight to keep the lives and legacy of the Amazons from being lost forever.” (Random House)

Click to Read an Excerpt.

Editor

Reading Group Suggestions – Quirky Titles

April 10th, 2014

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid. 

“The boldly imagined story of an impoverished boy’s journey to corporate tycoon. Named a Best or Notable Book of 2013 by The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, Vogue, The Observer (London), The Sunday Times (London), Financial Times, The Christian Science Monitor, Huffington Post, Kansas City Star, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Book Page, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus Reviews.”

“His first two novels established Mohsin Hamid as a radically inventive storyteller with his finger on the world’s pulse. How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia meets that reputation – and exceeds it. The astonishing and riveting tale of a man’s journey from impoverished rural boy to corporate tycoon, it steals its shape from the business self-help books devoured by ambitious youths all over “rising Asia.” It follows its nameless hero to the sprawling metropolis where he begins to amass an empire built on that most fluid, and increasingly scarce, of goods: water. Yet his heart remains set on something else, on the pretty girl whose star rises along with his, their paths crossing and re-crossing, a lifelong affair sparked and snuffed and sparked again by the forces that careen their fates along.

How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia is a striking slice of contemporary life at a time of crushing upheaval. Romantic without being sentimental, political without being didactic, and spiritual without being religious, it brings an unflinching gaze to the violence and hope it depicts. And it creates two unforgettable characters who find moments of transcendent intimacy in the midst of shattering change.” (Penguin Putnam) 

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler.

“From the New York Times-bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club comes the story of an American family—ordinary in every way—who raises a chimpanzee.”

“Coming of age in middle America, eighteen-year-old Rosemary evaluates how her entire youth was defined by the presence and forced removal of an endearing chimpanzee who was secretly regarded as a family member and who Rosemary loved as a sister.” (Baker & Taylor)

“I thought this was a gripping, big-hearted book . . . through the tender voice of her protagonist, Fowler has a lot to say about family, memory, language, science, and indeed the question of what constitutes a human being.” (Khaled Hosseini)

No One Could Have Guessed the Weather by Anne-Marie Casey.

“Forced to give up her posh life and move to a tiny Manhattan apartment when her husband loses his job, Lucy unexpectedly falls in love with her new home and forges close friendships with three women who are also struggling with the disparities between the ambitions of their youth and middle age.”

 

Click on a highlighted title to go straight to our catalog for more details. Editor

Lacrosse in the Media

April 8th, 2014

Tomorrow morning, Wednesday April 9, Morning Joe will feature William D. Cohan, author of The Price of Silence: The Duke Lacrosse Scandal, the Power of the Elite, and the Corruption of Our Great Universities (Find this book in our catalog).

What it says in our catalog: “Bestselling author William D. Cohan, whose reporting and writing have been hailed as “gripping” (the New York Times), “authoritative” (the Washington Post), and “seductively engrossing” (Chicago Tribune), presents a stunning new account of the Duke lacrosse team scandal that reveals the pressures faced by America’s elite colleges and universities and pulls back the curtain, in a riveting narrative, on the larger issues of sexual misconduct, underage drinking, and bad-boy behavior—all too prevalent on campuses across the country.

Despite being front-page news nationwide, the true story of the 2006 Duke lacrosse team rape case has never been told in its entirety and is more complex than all the reportage to date would indicate. The Price of Silence is the definitive, magisterial account of what happens when the most combustible forces in American culture— unbridled ambition, intellectual elitism, athletic prowess, aggressive sexual behavior, racial bias, and absolute prosecutorial authority—collide and then explode on a powerful university campus, in the justice system, and in the media.

What transpired at Duke followed upon the university’s unprecedented and determined effort to compete directly with the Ivy League for the best students and with its Division I rivals for supremacy in selected sports—most famously men’s basketball, where Duke has become a perennial powerhouse and the winner of four national championships. As Cohan brilliantly shows, the pursuit of excellence in such diverse realms put extraordinary strains on the campus culture and—warned some longtime Duke observers—warped the university’s academic ethos. Duke became known for its “work hard, play hard” dynamic, and specifically for its wild off-campus parties, where it seemed almost anything could happen—and often did.

Cohan’s reconstruction of the scandal’s events—the night in question, the local police investigation, Duke’s actions, the lacrosse players’ defense tactics, the furious campus politics—is meticulous and complete. Readers who think they know the story are in for more than one surprise, for at the heart of it are individuals whose lives were changed forever. As the scandal developed, different actors fought to control the narrative. At stake were not just the futures of the accused players, the reputation of the woman claiming she was raped, and the career of the local prosecutor, but also the venerable and carefully nurtured name of Duke University itself—the Duke brand, exceedingly valuable when competing for elite students, world-class athletes, talented professors, and the financial support of its nationally prominent, deep-pocketed alumni. The battle for power involved the Duke administration, led by its president, Richard Brodhead, a blazing academic star hired away from Yale; the Duke board of trustees, which included several titans of Wall Street; the faculty, comprising a number of outspoken critics of the lacrosse players; the athletes’ parents, many of whom were well connected in Washington and New York and able—and willing—to hire expensive counsel to defend their sons; and, ultimately, the justice system of North Carolina, which took over the controversial case and rendered its judgment.

The price of resolving the scandal proved extraordinarily high, both in terms of unexpected human suffering and the stratospheric costs of settling legal claims. The Price of Silence is a story unlike any other, yet sheds light on what is really happening on campuses around the country as colleges and universities compete urgently with one another, and confirms William Cohan’s preeminent reputation as one of the most lively and insightful journalists working today.” (Simon and Schuster)

Editor

A Prayer Journal

April 7th, 2014

 A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor

While she was a young student of writing, before she published anything of significance that would launch her onto the world stage as one of America’s greatest Southern writers, before anyone really knew who she was, Flannery O’Connor kept a journal of prayers.  And now that deeply personal journal addressed to God is available for us to share.  Each entry, composed between 1946 and 1947, offers words of sincere wonder, gratitude, doubt, and faith.  The journal is short on length, but long on thoughtfulness, as a young woman wanders into her adult life, wondering just what her relationship to God is.  For quiet contemplation, try reading this.  It won’t take long to read; but it may stay with you for years to come.

 D. L. S.

National Book Critics Circle Awards

April 4th, 2014

March 13, 2014 the National Book Critics Circle announced its Award Winners for Publishing Year 2013.

The annual National Book Critics Circle awards are the only literature honors given out by book reviewers and critics.  Click on a highlighted title to go straight to our catalog.

Biography – Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World, by Leo Damrosch.

“Jonathan Swift is best remembered today as the author of Gulliver’s Travels, the satiric fantasy that quickly became a classic and has remained in print for nearly three centuries. Yet Swift also wrote many other influential works, was a major political and religious figure in his time, and became a national hero, beloved for his fierce protest against English exploitation of his native Ireland. What is really known today about the enigmatic man behind these accomplishments? Can the facts of his life be separated from the fictions?

In this deeply researched biography, Leo Damrosch draws on discoveries made over the past thirty years to tell the story of Swift’s life anew. Probing holes in the existing evidence, he takes seriously some daring speculations about Swift’s parentage, love life, and various personal relationships and shows how Swift’s public version of his life—the one accepted until recently—was deliberately misleading. Swift concealed aspects of himself and his relationships, and other people in his life helped to keep his secrets.

Assembling suggestive clues, Damrosch re-narrates the events of Swift’s life while making vivid the sights, sounds, and smells of his English and Irish surroundings. Through his own words and those of a wide circle of friends, a complex Swift emerges: a restless, combative, empathetic figure, a man of biting wit and powerful mind, and a major figure in the history of world letters.” (Yale University)

Fiction – Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi.

“As teenagers in a Lagos secondary school, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love. Their Nigeria is under military dictatorship, and people are leaving the country if they can. Ifemelu—beautiful, self-assured—departs for America to study. She suffers defeats and triumphs, finds and loses relationships and friendships, all the while feeling the weight of something she never thought of back home: race. Obinze—the quiet, thoughtful son of a professor—had hoped to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London.

Years later, Obinze is a wealthy man in a newly democratic Nigeria, while Ifemelu has achieved success as a writer of an eye-opening blog about race in America. But when Ifemelu returns to Nigeria, and she and Obinze reignite their shared passion—for their homeland and for each other—they will face the toughest decisions of their lives.

Fearless, gripping, at once darkly funny and tender, spanning three continents and numerous lives, Americanah is a richly told story set in today’s globalized world: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s most powerful and astonishing novel yet.” (Random House, Inc.)

General Nonfiction – Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital, by Sheri Fink.

“Pulitzer Prize winner Sheri Fink’s landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina — and her suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice. After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Five Days at Memorial, the culmination of six years of reporting, unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing. In a voice at once involving and fair, masterful and intimate, Fink exposes the hidden dilemmas of end-of-life care and reveals just how ill-prepared we are in America for the impact of large-scale disasters–and how we can do better. A remarkable book, engrossing from start to finish, Five Days at Memorial radically transforms your understanding of human nature in crisis.” (Amazon.com)

Poetry – Metaphysical Dog : Poems, by Frank Bidart.

“In “Those Nights,” Frank Bidart writes: “We who could get / somewhere through / words through / sex could not.” Words and sex, art and flesh: In Metaphysical Dog, Bidart explores their nexus. The result stands among this deeply adventurous poet’s most powerful and achieved work, an emotionally naked, fearlessly candid journey through many of the central axes, the central conflicts, of his life, and ours.

Near the end of the book, Bidart writes:

In adolescence, you thought your work

ancient work: to decipher at last

human beings’ relation to God. Decipher

love. To make what was once whole

whole again: or to see

why it never should have been thought whole.

This “ancient work” reflects what the poet sees as fundamental in human feeling, what psychologists and mystics have called the “hunger for the Absolute”—a hunger as fundamental as any physical hunger. This hunger must confront the elusiveness of the Absolute, our self-deluding, failed glimpses of it. The third section of the book is titled “History is a series of failed revelations.”

The result is one of the most fascinating and ambitious books of poetry in many years.”

John Leonard Prize – A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra.

“Two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child in this majestic debut about love, loss, and the unexpected ties that bind us together. “On the morning after the Feds burned down her house and took her father, Havaa woke from dreams of sea anemones.” Havaa, eight years old, hides in the woods and watches the blaze until her neighbor, Akhmed, discovers her sitting in the snow. Akhmed knows getting involved means risking his life, and there is no safe place to hide a child in a village where informers will do anything for a loaf of bread, but for reasons of his own, he sneaks her through the forest to the one place he thinks she might be safe: an abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded. Though Sonja protests that her hospital is not an orphanage, Akhmed convinces her to keep Havaa for a trial, and over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will shift on its axis and reveal the intricate pattern of connections that weaves together the pasts of these three unlikely companions and unexpectedly decides their fate” (Random House, Inc.)

Editor

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

April 3rd, 2014

(Find this book in our catalog)If this book were to be made into a movie it would be a romantic comedy, but it is much more than that. It is the story of Don Tillman, a genetics professor who is socially inept & has Asperger’s like symptoms. He is highly intelligent, focused, & seemingly unemotional, but feels he should have a wife. Therefore he starts The Wife Project. He designs a detailed questionnaire to put out on the internet or give to possible candidates. This leads to all sorts of situations, but things get really complicated when he meets Rosie. She is rebellious, non-conformist, erratic, with issues of her own. She is everything Professor Tillman is not looking for, yet they become friends. What will happen when Don starts The Rosie Project? With a lot of laugh aloud humor & a touch of pathos, this is a fun & engaging read. Read it when you need a boost of happy. It is very satisfying to see how Don changes throughout the novel.

http://pages.simonandschuster.com/therosieproject

 

Posted by Julia

Military Book Award

April 1st, 2014

Allen C. Guelzo has won the inaugural Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History, honoring “the best book in the field of military history published in English during the previous calendar year,” for Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (Find in our catalog). The award, which carries a prize of $50,000, was announced in a recent ceremony at the New-York Historical Society.

 

Chairman of the judging committee Dr. Andrew Roberts commented: “Gettysburg will stand out as a lasting and important work in the military history genre.”

Here’s what it says in our catalog about the book: ”

From the acclaimed Civil War historian, a brilliant new history—the most intimate and richly readable account we have had—of the climactic three-day battle of Gettysburg (July 1–3, 1863), which draws the reader into the heat, smoke, and grime of Gettysburg alongside the ordinary soldier, and depicts the combination of personalities and circumstances that produced the greatest battle of the Civil War, and one of the greatest in human history.

Of the half-dozen full-length histories of the battle of Gettysburg written over the last century, none dives down so closely to the experience of the individual soldier, or looks so closely at the sway of politics over military decisions, or places the battle so firmly in the context of nineteenth-century military practice. Allen C. Guelzo shows us the face, the sights, and the sounds of nineteenth-century combat: the lay of the land, the fences and the stone walls, the gunpowder clouds that hampered movement and vision; the armies that caroused, foraged, kidnapped, sang, and were so filthy they could be smelled before they could be seen; the head-swimming difficulties of marshaling massive numbers of poorly trained soldiers, plus thousands of animals and wagons, with no better means of communication than those of Caesar and Alexander.

What emerges is an untold story, from the trapped and terrified civilians in Gettysburg’s cellars to the insolent attitude of artillerymen, from the taste of gunpowder cartridges torn with the teeth to the sounds of marching columns, their tin cups clanking like an anvil chorus. Guelzo depicts the battle with unprecedented clarity, evoking a world where disoriented soldiers and officers wheel nearly blindly through woods and fields toward their clash, even as poetry and hymns spring to their minds with ease in the midst of carnage. Rebel soldiers look to march on Philadelphia and even New York, while the Union struggles to repel what will be the final invasion of the North. One hundred and fifty years later, the cornerstone battle of the Civil War comes vividly to life as a national epic, inspiring both horror and admiration.” – (Random House, Inc.)

Editor

Recent Top Women’s Fiction

March 31st, 2014

Booklist of March 15, 2014 showcased the top 10 women’s fiction from the last 12 months (reviewed in Booklist between March 15, 2013, and March 1, 2014). Click on a highlighted title to go straight to our catalog.

The Apple Orchard. By Susan Wiggs.

“Art specialist Tess has a successful professional life but is lacking in the family department. When she’s named heir to one-half of an estate and discovers the other half goes to the sister she never knew she had, her life gets turned upside-down.”

 

The Bookstore. By Deborah Meyler.

“Between studying art history at Columbia University on a prestigious scholarship and a two-week fling with a magnetic, wealthy man, 23-year-old Esme Garland from England is happily settling into life in Manhattan when she discovers she’s pregnant. This character-driven novel is witty and poetic.”

 

A Fall of Marigolds. By Susan Meissner.

“The heartbreaks of two women, separated by decades, come together in the history of a scarf that holds special meaning to each woman. Christian fiction author Meissner’s first mainstream women’s fiction novel hits all of the right emotional notes without overdoing the two tragedies.”

 

Golden State. By Michelle Richmond.

“Estranged sisters Julie and Heather are brought together as Heather goes into labor and Julie, a doctor, rushes to her side to assist. But the sisters are separated by forces beyond their control, as their city, San Francisco, is in chaos, shut down by political protests. Perfect for fans of issue-driven women’s fiction.”

 

Ladies’ Night. By Mary Kay Andrews.

“Grace, an interior-design blogger, discovers her husband is cheating on her. She begins therapy with a group of other “marital misfits,” and the women soon start meeting at Grace’s mother’s bar, where they plot revenge but eventually learn to move on.”

 

Sweet Salt Air. By Barbara Delinsky.

“Two girlhood friends who’ve been estranged for the past 10 years reunite to collaborate on a cookbook, both of them harboring secrets. Never fear; Delinsky knows when a happy ending is in order.”

 

Time Flies. By Claire Cook.

“In this delightful beach read, two best friends reunite for their high-school reunion and overcome their fears. The banter is a lot of fun, and the characters’ realization of what is important is certain to make readers yearn for reconnections of their own.”

 

Who Asked You?By Terry McMillan.

“Told from the perspectives of several of the characters, this novel offers an array of personalities and everyday life challenges within a story of close friends, family, and neighbors as they grow and change over many years.”

 

The Whole Golden World. By Kristina Riggle.

“Dinah’s world is about to fall apart—her teenage daughter has been caught half-naked in her teacher’s car. Rain, the teacher’s wife, is watching her life fall apart instead of rejoicing in the news that she’s finally pregnant. Fans of Jodi Picoult will devour this story.”

 

Annotations Booklist March 15, 2014 – editor