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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #691 - Small Gems

Fri, 12/14/2018 - 1:14pm by muffy

crudoWith winter solstice approaching and our to-do lists becoming overwhelming, there is no reason why your pleasure reading should suffer. The trick for me is to try out small gems - books under 200 pages.

Crudo, at 141 pages, is the first work of fiction by award-winning author Olivia Laing. This “brief, breathless experimental novel” (Kirkus Reviews) has been named a 2018 New York Times Notable book. 

Set in the summer of 2017, the 40-year old narrator is American writer Kathy Acker (a writer who too, is known for basing much of her work on the writing of others) is about to be married while the whole word is falling apart (nuclear testing in North Korea, floods in Houston, the Grenfell Tower fire, white supremacist march in Charlottesville, and antics of an increasingly unstable president). Frolicking with her much-older fiance and a well-heeled crowd in a Tuscan hotel, Kathy must come to terms with the idea of a lifelong commitment.

“A narrative written with immense vitality and, miraculously, the lightest of touches... It's a subversive love story that shouldn't work, but does.” ~ Deborah Levy (Wall Street Journal)

Want some suggestions : Try Buss Feed’s  46 Brilliant Short Novels you can read in a day; 10 Best Books under 200 pages;  and Short and Spectacular: 21 great novels under 200 pages : From classic to contemporary, discover favorite short books and novellas, guaranteed to stay with you long after the final page - one as short as 60 pages.  

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Croc and Bird - by Alexis Deacon -

Thu, 12/13/2018 - 2:24pm by -alex-

Book cover: two white eggs sitting on the beach.A bird and crocodile hatch next to each other on a beach.  Bound together by their mutual need and by their isolation, the two explore their world together. 

Can two very different creatures be brothers?  What does it mean to be family?  Alexis Deacon's delicate, deeply tender story explores these questions with a unique mix of humor and melancholy. 

For more, follow the link to this great feature from Picturebook Makers for a great behind-the-scenes look at how the story was made.  Croc and Bird can be found in our youth picture-book section.

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The Book of Books

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 2:11pm by samanthar

cover of bookThe Book of Books by Jessica Allen showcases 100 of America's best-loved novels. Each of the 100 books has a 2 page write up, giving fascinating information on the history of the book, its author, and social impact. It is a companion to PBS's Great American Read series.  Did you know that S.E. Hinton signed the contract for The Outsiders on the day she graduated from high school? Or that James Patterson has a whole team of people helping him produce up to 9 books a year? This is a fun read for any book lover! How many of the 100 have you read?!

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #690

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 1:20pm by muffy

way_of_all_fleshThe Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry, (a pseudonym for husband-and-wife writing team of Christopher  Brookmyre and Dr. Marisa Haetzman, an anaesthetist), is based on her research into the history of Medicine. This is the first in a new mystery series, set in Victorian Edinburgh.

Edinburgh, 1847. 20 year-old Will Raven, the newly appointed medical apprentice to Dr. James Simpson, a revered professor of midwifery, saw this opportunity as his ticket out of his sordid and hardscrabble upbringing, but not before one last visit to Evie Lawson, a prostitute he has befriended. In her garret room, Will found her cold and contorted body. Soon, young women were found dead across the Old Town, all having suffered similarly gruesome ends. As a member of Dr. Simpson’s household, Will met visiting luminaries and became intrigue with daring experiments in the new medical frontier of anaesthesia. However, it was Sarah Fisher, the Simpson’s maid, to whom Will turned to as they looked deeper into these deaths.

“Parry is particularly adept at creating memorable characters in the compassionate and progressive Simpson, impetuous but principled Raven, and intelligent and feisty Sarah, not to mention the perfectly psychopathic villain.” (Library Journal)

Fans of 19th Century medical mysteries would also enjoy Lawrence Goldstone's The Anatomy of Deception (2008) and E. S. Thomson's Beloved Poison (2016)(Booklist); Anne Perry's William Monk series and Caleb Carr's The Alienist.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #689

Fri, 11/09/2018 - 2:39pm by muffy

death_notice

Death Notice, * the first in a trilogy, introduces English language audience to Zhou Haohui,  one of the top (and best-selling) suspense authors in China today.

2002, Chengdu. Unbeknownst to his colleagues and superiors, legendary Sgt. Zheng Haoming was quietly investigating an 18 year-old unsolved cold case when he was found murdered. Hovering over his body was provincial detective Pei Tao, closely and personally tied to the case, and insisted that it is again, the handiwork of Eumenides (after the Greek goddess of vengeance and retribution), evident by the death notice found in Sgt. Zheng’s apartment.

As more “death notices” are being delivered, announcing the killer's next targets, a new police task force is formed. What follows is a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with Eumenides always a step ahead of the police. The cliff-hanger ending will leave readers shocked and clamoring for the next installment.

"Zhou's story is thoughtfully constructed (and skillfully translated), balancing an exploration of loyalty, jealousy, and the moral tension between law and justice... This procedural...boasts the rich cultural immersion, the bird's-eye view of procedural technique in an international police force, and the complex mysteries that have long driven the popularity of Scandinavian crime fiction."(Booklist)  For fans of Jo Nesbo, and Jussi Adler-Olsen’s Department Q series.

* = Starred review

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The People Awards

Thu, 11/01/2018 - 2:41pm by mbt

The People Awards by Lily Murray

book coverIn this book, fifty historical people who changed the world are given awards starting with The Curiosity Award (Albert Einstein) and ending with The One Voice Award (Malala Yousafzai) with everything in between. Kids will be familiar with many of the honorees, such as Ellen Degeneres (The Love is Love Award) and J.K. Rowling (The Most Magical Muggle Award) while discovering others for the first time. Each award winner gets a formal portrait and selected scenes from their lives are illustrated. There are also other smaller awards sections, such as The Brilliant Idea Awards and The Trailblazer Awards, that give a brief summary of four or five individuals. Intended for youth, this colorful book will engage readers of all ages, including David Bowie fans.

 

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #688

Wed, 10/31/2018 - 8:44am by muffy

royal_runawayIf you never tire of watching Roman Holiday (1953), Audrey Hepburn’s first American film, then you would not want to miss The Royal Runaway * by Lindsay Emory.

Princess Theodora Isabella Victoria of Drieden has a habit of sneaking out of the palace. After being jilted at the altar and sent into exile by her grandmother the Queen, she is back and ready to assume her royal duties as the next in line for the throne. A steamy kiss in a local bar with the sexy Scotsman Nick Cameron seems like a harmless rebound until she learns his true identity. Before she could walk away, he blackmails her into helping him find his missing brother Christian - Thea’s ex-fiancé.

As the pair digs into Christian’s work as a lawyer, they discover a secret that could destroy the monarchy, and the conspirators will stop at nothing to gain the information. “The progressive princess proves to be as resilient as she is rebellious. Even when her throne is threatened, she insists that “human lives are more important than our culture!” Under her reign, “happily ever after” gets a refreshing update. This imaginative, absorbing, and empowering story is a must-read.” (Kirkus Reviews)

"Fans of Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan's The Royal We (2016), Meg Cabot's Princess Diaries series, and Alyssa Cole's  A Princess in Theory (2018) will enjoy this breezy read."(Booklist)

* = Starred review

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #687

Wed, 10/24/2018 - 7:29am by muffy

convenience_storeConvenience Store Woman * * by Sayaka Murata marks the English-language debut of one of Japan’s most talented contemporary writers. In 2016 she won the prestigious Akutagawa Prize, and was named a Woman of the Year by Vogue Japan. The author herself worked at a convenience store in Japan and still finds the time to do the occasional shift.

36 year-old Keiko Furukura has been working at the same Tokyo convenience store for literally half of her life. While colleagues and managers come and go, Keiko remains - finding purpose and satisfaction in the routine. Considered since childhood to be peculiar, her work allows Keiko a sense of normalcy.  While family and friends continue to pressure Keiko to seek a “proper job” and to marry, she boldly strikes a deal with the lazy, shifty irascible Shiraha.

“Alienation gets deliciously perverse treatment in Convenience Store Woman . . . the book’s true brilliance lies in Murata’s way of subverting our expectations . . . With bracing good humor . . . Murata celebrate(s) the quiet heroism of women who accept the cost of being themselves.” (NPR “Fresh Air”)

The downloadable eAudiobook (through Overdrive) expertly read by the delightful Nancy Wu, will appeal to fans of Banana Yoshimoto, Han Kang, and brings to mind Amelie, a 2001 French romantic comedy.

* * = 2 starred reviews

 

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #686

Wed, 10/17/2018 - 10:00am by muffy

Apocalyptic Manhattan. 2 debuts giving voice to 2 reluctant heroines.

severance

Severance * * by Ling Ma is “(s)mart, funny, humane, and superbly well-written.” (Kirkus Reviews, check out the interview with the author)

When a pandemic called Shen Fever sweeps New York, decimating its population and threatening to shut down the city, for unknown reasons, Candace Chen is spared. Unfervered, she agrees to remain at the Manhattan book publisher while others flee. Sequestering herself in the office tower except for her daily walk with her camera, she captures the eerie, abandoned city as the anonymous blogger NY Ghost. On the last day of her contract, Candace commandeers a yellow cab and meets up with a ragtag group of survivors in Pennsylvania, led by the self-appointed leader named Bob who assures them if they make it to the “Facility”(shopping center) near Chicago, they would have all it needs to restart society.

But Candace is carrying a secret that Bob plans to exploit. Imprisoned and isolated, Candace realizes her only option is to escape into the unknown.

“With womb dystopia a hot topic inspired by the renewed popularity of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, an already established audience will be eager to discover this work.” (Library Journal) 

 

suicide_clubSuicide Club : a novel about living * by Rachel Heng. “Fans of modern speculative fiction and readers who love stories that warn us to be careful what we wish for will be enthralled by Heng's highly imaginative debut, which deftly asks, "What does it really mean to be alive?" (Library Journal)

Lea Kirino is a "Lifer," which means that if she does everything right, she has the potential to live forever.

At 100, she has a great job, a pedigreed fiancé, and good habits that would optimize her lifespan. But Lea's perfect life is turned upside down when she spots her estranged father on a crowded sidewalk. A misstep marks the beginning of her downfall as she is drawn into his mysterious world of the Suicide Club, a network of powerful individuals and rebels who reject society's pursuit of immortality. Soon Lea is forced to choose between a sanitized immortal existence and a short, bittersweet time with a man she has never really known, but who is the only family she has left in the world.

* * = 2 starred reviews

* = Starred review

 

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Animal Show-Offs!

Thu, 10/11/2018 - 2:11pm by Lucy S

BirdDid you know that there is fish called the sarcastic fringehead? I learned about this strangely-named, huge-mouthed, sharp-toothed fish from Steve Jenkins and Robin Page in their highly informative and entertaining book, Look at Me! How to attract Attention in the Animal World. This wonderful compendium of demonstrative animal behavior contains many examples of times when animals want to stand out rather than stay hidden.

Jim Arnosky also has a new book about animals called Look at Me! Wild Animal Show-Offs. His captivating illustrations are accompanied by personal details of his observations of unique animal performances in the wild.

Melissa Stewart highlights different outstanding characteristics in the animal world in Pipsqueaks, Slowpokes, and Stinkers: Celebrating Animal Underdogs. Her book takes a humorous approach in presenting facts about those sometimes less admired animals; the ones that sleep the most, smell the worst, or take up the least amount of space. Stephanie Laberis’ illustrations add to the humor.