Tuesday, April 15, 2014

And the winners are...

The 2014 Pulitzer Prize winners have been announced. Here are the winners for Books, Drama and Music:

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Aloneand abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a friend's family and struggles to make sense of his new life. In the years that follow, he becomes entranced by one of the few things that reminds him of his mother: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the art underworld. Composed with the skills of a master, The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America, and a drama of almost unbearable acuity and power. It is a story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the enormous power of art.

Recreates the events that inspired hundreds of slaves to pressure British admirals into becoming liberators by using their intimate knowledge of the countryside to transform the war.

Provides a portrait of Thoreau's editor and Emerson's friend, who was also a daring war correspondent and a crusader for women's rights who had a passion for her life's work, which was eclipsed by tragedy and scandal after her death at the age of forty.

General Nonfiction:
Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan FaginRecounts the decades-long saga of the New Jersey seaside town plagued by childhood cancers caused by air and water pollution due to the indiscriminate dumping of toxic chemicals.

The Flick by Annie Baker

3 Sections by Vijay Seshadri

Become Ocean by John Luther Adams 

For a list of other winners and the other finalists, visit the Pulitzer Website.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame - 2014

Peter Brian Gabriel (February 13, 1950) Chobham, Surrey, England
     (Progressive rock, art rock, experimental rock, worldbeat)

Peter Gabriel is a singer-songwriter, musician and humanitarian activist.  He was the lead vocalist and flautist of the rock band Genesis which was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2010.  His solo career includes his 1986 album, So. It sold five million copies in America with the biggest hit being "Sledgehammer," which won nine MTV Awards at the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards.

Gabriel has won numerous music awards, including three Brit Awards, six Grammy Awards, thirteen MTV Video Music Awards, and in 2007 he was honored as a BMI Icon.  He has received the Man of Peace award from the Nobel Peace Prize Laureates in 2006, and in 2008, TIME magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people on the world.

Daryl Hall & John Oates - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
     (Pop rock, new wave, blue-eyed soul, soft rock, blues rock)

Daryl Hall and John Oates created a mix of soul and rock. Hall is the lead vocalist and plays a wide range of musical instruments.  Oates plays electric guitar and is the backup singer.  They also write most of the songs they perform.  In 2003, Hall and Oates were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. They have influenced the work of Bruno Mars and Justin Timberlake.

 They are best known for their six No. 1 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: "Rich Girl," "Kiss on My List," "Private Eyes," "I Can't Go for That (No Can Do)," "Maneater" and "Out of Touch".

KISS - New York City, New York
     (Hard rock, Heavy metal)

KISS is an American rock band well known for their black and white face paint and flamboyant costumes.  They took on comic book-style characters: Starchild (Stanley), The Demon (Simmons), Spaceman or Space Ace (Frehley) and Catman (Criss).

During their heyday, mid to late 1970s, their live performances feature fire breathing, blood spitting, smoking guitars, shooting rockets, levitating drum kits and pyrotechnics.  Kiss has been awarded 28 gold albums and has sold more than 40 million albums in the United States.

Nirvana - Aberdeen, Washington
     (Alternative rock, grunge)

Nirvana was an American rock band formed by singer/guitarist Kurt Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic in 1987. 

In the late 1980s Nirvana was part of the grunge scene.  It released its first album Bleach in 1989.  The band's sound relied on dynamic contrasts, between soft and loud.  Their album, Nevermind, which included "Smells Like Teen Spirit," popularized alternative rock.  The band has sold over 25 million records in the United States and over 75 million records worlwide.

Linda Maria Ronstadt (July 15, 1946) - Tucson, Arizona
     (Rock, rock and roll, folk, country rock, soft rock, jazz, big band, art rock)

Linda Ronstadt is an American popular music singer who has earned 11 Grammy Awards, two Academy of Country Music awards, an Emmy Award and an ALMA Award.  She has also earned nominations for a Tony Award and a Golden Globe award.  She is the only artist to win a Grammy Award in the categories of pop, country, Mexican American and Tropical Latin.

Ronstadt regularly crrossed over to the country chars in the 1970s, which was rare for rock singers.  She had four consecutive platinum albums in the mid 1970s: Heart Like A Wheel (1974), Prisoner In Disguise (1975), Hasten Down The Wind (1976) and Simple Dreams (1977).  She has released over 30 studio albums and 15 compilation or greatest hits albums.  She has since retired from singing when she was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in December 2012.

Cat Stevens/Yusuf Islam (July 21, 1948) - Marylebone, London, England
     (Folk rock, psychedelic rock, soft rock, pop rock, synthpop, electro, nasheed, hamd)

Cat Stevens (born Steven Dametre Georgiou) is a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, humanitarian and education philanthropist.  Stevens' albums Tea for the Tillerman (1970) and Teaser and the Firecat (1971) were triple platinum in the US.  His 1972 album Catch the Bull at Four sold half a million copies in the first two weeks.  He also earned two ASCAP songwriting awards for "The First cut Is the Deepest."  Some of his other hit songs include, "Father and Son," "Wild World," "Peace Train," "Moonshadow" and "Morning Has Broken."

He converted to Islam in 1977, changed his name to Yusuf and left his music career to devote himself to educational and philanthropic causes in the Muslim community.  Yusuf won several peace awards including the 2003 World Award, the 2004 Man for Peace Award and the 2007 Mediterranean Prize for Peace.  In 2006 he returned to pop music.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hooked on "Game of Thrones"?

Season 4 of the critically acclaimed and wildly popular Game of Thrones HBO series began Sunday, April 6th. Not only is the television series popular, but it has generated a whole new readership for the "Song of Ice and Fire" series by George R.R. Martin (pictured below), the epic fantasy books on which the television show is based. 

If you are a fan of the television show and interested in reading Martin's series, here is a list of the books in the proper order: 

A Clash of Kings (1999)  

Season 4 of the television series is based on the second half of the third book in this projected seven book series. Book 6 will be titled The Winds of Winter, though this book has no official release date yet. 

If you have read all the books in Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series and are now hooked on epic fantasy (and you have already read The Lord of the Rings!), here are a few more epic fantasy series suggestions.

The Kingkiller Chronicles by Patrick Rothfuss (2007-2011)

Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson (1999-2011)
First book: Gardens of the Moon

First Law trilogy by Joe Abercrombie (2006-2008)
First book: The Blade Itself

The Acacia trilogy by David Anthony Durham (2007-2011)
First book: Acacia

Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson (2010-2014)
First book: The Way of Kings

For more fantasy reading suggestions, don’t hesitate to ask at the Reader Services desk.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Museum of Extraordinary Things

Alice Hoffman, long known for incorporating magical realism into her novels has once again proved a master by combining the best elements of historical fiction, magical realism, mystery and now romance in her latest novel The Museum of Extraordinary Things. Coralie Sardie is the daughter of  promoter "professor" Sardie behind the Museum of Extraordinary Things, a Coney Island boardwalk curiosities show. An excellent swimmer, Coralie appears as the Mermaid in her father's museum. One night after a long swim in the cold Hudson River Coralie stumbles upon a dashing young photographer taking pictures of the trees in the moonlight. The handsome young man is Eddie (Ezekiel) Cohen, a Russian immigrant who has run away from his father's Lower East Side Orthodox community and his job as a tailor's apprentice. After Eddie photographs the devastation on the streets of  New York following the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, he becomes entwined in the suspicious mystery behind a young woman's disappearance and ignites the heart of Coralie. Novelist Alice Hoffman delights once again with her powerful and captivating storytelling.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Honor the Best Books Published in the Past Year in the U.S. - Check Out the 2014 National Book Critics Circle Awards

The National Book Critics Circle honors outstanding writing and fosters a national conversation about reading, criticism and literature. It was founded in April 1974 at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City. The NBCC awards are given each March and honor the best literature published in the United States in six categories - autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction and poetry. What I find exciting is that these are the only national literary awards chosen by critics themselves. The NBCC awards finalists' reading and the NBCC awards ceremony bring together authors, reviewers, publishing people, and passionate readers celebrating the best literary offerings of the year.

The results for 2014 are in and the recipients are:

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This is a dazzling new novel from the award-winning author of Half of a Yellow Sun. It's the story of love and race centered around a young man and woman from Nigeria who face difficult choices and challenges in the countries they come to call home.

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink
This is 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.

Jonathan Swift: His Life and His World by Leo Damrosch
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.

Farewell, Fred Voodoo: A Letter From Haiti by Amy Wilentz
A foreign correspondent on a simple story becomes, over time and in the pages of this book, a lover of Haiti, pursuing the essence of this beautiful and confounding land into its darkest and brightest corners. It's a spiritual journey into the heart of the human soul.

"Metaphysical Dog" by Frank Bidart

"Distant Reading" by Franco Moretti

Give one or more categories a read and see if  you support the choices of some of the most influential critics and editors of the day.

Friday, March 28, 2014

2014 RITA Finalists Announced!

Romance Writers of America (RWA) has announced their shortlist of outstanding published novels in the romance genre. On July 15 winners will be announced and each will receive a RITA Award named after RWA's first president, Rita Clay Estrada. Take a look below for a selection of the best romance novels of 2013 according to the Romance Writers of America.

Contemporary Romance Finalists
Beach House No. 9 by Christie Ridgway

Half Moon Hill by Toni Blake

Home to Whiskey Creek by Brenda Novak

Homecoming Ranch by Julia London

It Had to Be You by Jill Shalvis

Rumor Has It by Jill Shalvis

The Second Chance Cafe by Alison Kent

The Sweet Spot by Laura Drake

Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts

Historical Romance
Darius by Grace Burrowes

Duke of Midnight Elizabeth Hoyt

The Lady and the Laird by Nicola Cornick

Love and Other Scandals by Caroline Linden

The Luckiest Lady in London by Sherry Thomas

No Good Duke Goes Unpunished by Sarah MacLean

A Rake's Midnight Kiss by Anna Campbell

Paranormal Romance
The Devil's Heart by Cathy Maxwell

The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley

Shadowdance by Kristen Callihan

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

What Reader Services Is Reading

As you might expect, we in the Reader Services Department are avid readers with a wide variety of reading interests that often go beyond the latest bestsellers. To give you an idea of what we've got perched on our reading tables or nightstands, I asked my coworkers to tell me what they're reading right now. So here's a peek into the exciting off-hours lives of your librarians!

The Round House by Louise Erdrich  

When his mother, a tribal enrollment specialist living on a reservation in North Dakota, slips into an abyss of depression after being brutally attacked, fourteen-year-old Joe Coutz sets out with his three friends to find the person that destroyed his family.        

The Goldfinch by Donna Tart

The author of the classic bestsellers The Secret History and The Little Friend returns with a brilliant, highly anticipated new novel. A young boy in New York City, Theo Decker, miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a friend's family and struggles to make sense of his new life. In the years that follow, he becomes entranced by one of the few things that reminds him of his mother: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the art underworld.

The Girls From Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow

As children, they formed a special bond, growing up in the small town of Ames, Iowa. As young women, they moved to eighth different states, yet they managed to maintain an extraordinary friendship that would carry them through college and careers, marriage and motherhood, dating and divorce, the death of a child, and the mysterious death of the eleventh member of their group. Capturing their remarkable story, The Girls from Ames is a testament to the enduring, deep bonds of women as they experience life's challenges, and the power of friendship to overcome even the most daunting odds.
The girls, now in their forties, have a lifetime of memories in common, some evocative of their generation and some that will resonate with any woman who has ever had a friend.

The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson

The son of a singer mother whose career forcibly separated her from her family and an influential father who runs an orphan work camp, Pak Jun Do rises to prominence using instinctive talents and eventually becomes a professional kidnapper and romantic rival to Kim Jong Il.

Still Foolin' 'Em by Billy Crystal

Nearing age 65, Billy Crystals acknowledges his accomplishments -- hosting major award shows, appearances on TV series like Soap and Saturday Night Live, and roles in blockbusters like When Harry Met Sally, and more -- with all the wry and quirky charm for which he is famed. Fans will find that Crystal still sparkles as he shares private disappointments along with details of those public successes, and fellow baby boomers will relate to Crystal's humorously catalog of the indignities of aging.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

As plague ravages the overcrowded Earth, observed by a ruthless lunar people, Cinder, a gifted mechanic and cyborg, becomes involved with handsome Prince Kai and must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect the world in this futuristic take on the Cinderella story.

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West by Dorothy Wickenden

A captivating book derived from a widely read and much beloved New Yorker piece about Wickenden's grandmother and her grandmother's best friend who left their affluent East Coast lives to "rough it" as teachers in the wilds of Colorado in 1916.