Thursday, August 28, 2014

Relax This Weekend With Labor Day Fiction

As I wrote in my blog a year ago about this time, Labor Day is an American federal holiday observed the first Monday in September and I compiled a list of appropriate titles. You can celebrate this Labor Day weekend with additional titles about Labor Day itself, labor disputes, the labor movement, and labor unions.
So, kick back, relax, and try one of the following:

Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Joad family, Okie farmers forced from their dustbowl home during the Depression, try to find work as migrant fruitpickers in California.

Labor Day by Joyce Maynard
Relates a story of love, sexual passion, painful adolescence, and devastating betrayal as seen through the eyes of a thirteen-year-old boy--and the man he later becomes--looking back on the events of a single long, hot, and life-altering weekend.

Welcome to Higby by Mark Dunn
Follows the lives of the residents of Higby, Mississippi, over the Labor Day weekend of 1993.

Sense of Entitlement by Anna Loan-Wilsey
When her job takes her to Newport, Rhode Island, traveling secretary and sleuth Hattie Davish finds herself in the middle of a labor dispute that results in murder, forcing her to search for a killer amongst the town's gentry.

Over and Under by Todd Tucker
Unaware of a labor strife that is affecting both of their fathers, a pair of fourteen-year-old boys enjoy the innocence of a youthful summer in 1979 rural Indiana before local violence changes their world and tests their friendship.

Sea Glass by Anita Shreve
When Honora and Sexton Beecher are rendered penniless by the crash of the stock market, Sexton is forced to work in a nearby mill that is plagued by violence, and as they try to reconstruct their lives, they are confronted by passions of every kind.

Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett
After eleven union men are found dead in a trolley car in 1919, a man named Hayes must discover the truth behind the murders--and behind the McNaughton Corporation and the Evesden, the company town it built--before he meets a grim end.

Island Walkers by John Bemrose
Living among the other mill workers in the Island, a working-class Ottawa neighborhood, the Walker family faces new challenges as the threat of a mill closure looms.

Mary Barton is the daughter of a good and upright trade unionist, John Barton. She attracts two men, Jem Wilson, a fellow worker, and Henry Carson, son of her father's employer. When the union men decide upon murder John Barton is the chosen assassin of Henry Carson. Suspicion falls, however, on Jem, and Mary is torn between her lover and her father.

Absolute Rage by Robert Tanenbaum
The murders of an ambitious Teamster and members of his family lands Chief Assistant D.A. Butch Karp on one of his most challenging cases--one that will threaten his own family with violence as he probes into big-city labor corruption.

Storming Heaven by Denise Giardina
In the Battle of Blair Mountain, West Viriginia, in the early 20th century, coal miners fight for unionization under the leadership of Rondal Lloyd and Carrie Bishop, a nurse who helps him before and after her husband's death.

Enjoy your laborlessness, reading style!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

LibraryReads for August 2014

Each month for the past year, librarians across the nation have nominated 10 new titles that they love and and want to share with other adult readers. August's LibraryReads picks are listed below. Forthcoming September favorites can be found here.

LibraryReads is a great website to have on your radar if you want to know what books might be hot before everyone else does. You can view LibraryReads picks for past months and sign up for their monthly announcements here.

August 2014 LibraryReads List


One Kick: A Novel

by Chelsea Cain

Published: 8/19/2014
by Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 9781476749785
“Kick Lannigan survived being kidnapped as a child. Now, at twenty-one, determined never to be a victim again, she has reinvented herself. Martial arts and weapons handling are just a few of the skills she has learned over the years. Kick catches the attention of John Bishop, a mystery man with access to unlimited funds, and together they go after a cabal of child pornographers. A read-in-one-sitting, edge-of-your-seat thriller.”
Elizabeth Kanouse, Denville Public Library, Denville, NJ

Lucky Us: A Novel

by Amy Bloom

Published: 7/29/2014 by Random House
ISBN: 9781400067244
“Is a family the people you are born to, or the people who you find along the way? That’s what Bloom explores in this novel set in pre- and post-WWII Ohio, Los Angeles, New York and Germany. The story follows resourceful Eva, who was abandoned by her mother at an early age, and her sister Iris, an aspiring actress who tries to find love at a time when her kind of love must be secretive. Every character is beautifully drawn, warm, and believable.”
Kathryn Hassert, Henrietta Hankin Branch Library, Chester Springs, PA


Heroes Are My Weakness: A Novel

by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Published: 8/26/2014 by William Morrow
ISBN: 9780062106070
“Any Susan Elizabeth Phillips novel is going to make it onto my must-read list, but this one is particularly wonderful, and here’s why: she creates, then cheerfully destroys, the romance cliche of the brooding hero with a dark secret who lives in a crumbling mansion and captivates a plucky heroine. The hero is a horror novelist, and the heroine a failed actress-turned-puppeteer. This warm, witty, comedy-drama is a perfect summer read.”
Donna Matturri, Pickerington Public Library, Pickerington, OH


Lock In

by John Scalzi

Published: 8/26/2014 by Tor
ISBN: 9780765375865
“There’s been a good run of fantasy and science fiction books this year. Joining the list of great fantastical reads is John Scalzi’s Lock In. Scalzi is best known for his military SF (especially the Old Man’s War series), so his latest is a change of pace. A blending of SF and police procedural that hits every note just right.”
Jane Jorgenson, Madison Public Library, Madison, WI


The Miniaturist: A Novel

by Jessie Burton
Published: 8/26/2014 by Ecco
ISBN: 9780062306814
“A dollhouse whose figures and furnishings foretell life events, mysterious notes, family secrets and the powerful guild and church of 1686 Amsterdam. All these elements combine for an engaging story of a young bride’s struggle to be the ‘architect of her own fortune.’”
Elizabeth Angelastro, Manlius Library, Manlius, NY


Big Little Lies

by Liane Moriarty
Published: 7/29/2014 by Amy Einhorn/Putnam
ISBN: 9780399167065
“A horrible act of violence occurs at the Pirriwee Public School’s trivia night fundraiser for parents, but what happened and who was involved? The novel begins six months before that fateful evening and lets us in on the lives of single mother Jane, twice-married Madeline, and Celeste, who secretly suffers from domestic abuse. Big Little Lies is another page-turning read from Moriarty that had me gasping with surprise at the end.”
Lora Bruggeman, Indian Prairie Public Library, Darien, IL


The Truth about Leo

by Katie MacAlister

Published: 8/5/2014 by Sourcebooks Casablanca
ISBN: 9781402294457
“I always adore Katie MacAlister! Her sense of humor is outstanding, and her heroines have real bodies. This is another installment in the delightful historical Noble series, and it doesn’t disappoint. Fans of humor with their romance are sure to enjoy this regency romp.”
Jessica C. Williams, Westlake Porter Public Library, Westlake, OH


An Unwilling Accomplice

by Charles Todd
Published: 8/12/2014 by William Morrow
ISBN: 9780062237194
“Bess Crawford, a courageous World War I battlefield nurse, is faced with another complex mystery. A patient about to receive a high honor from the King manages to disappear on Bess’s watch, sending her life into a tailspin. In order to clear her name, she must find the missing patient and find out why he is now accused of murder. Intelligent and fantastic, just like the others in this series!”
Monicah Fratena, La Porte County Public Library, La Porte, IN


The Magician’s Land: A Novel

by Lev Grossman

Published: 8/5/2014 by Viking Adult
ISBN: 9780670015672
“Even if you haven’t read the first two books in the wonderful Magicians Trilogy, you will enjoy the escapades of Quentin Coldwater. Now 30 years old, Quentin finds himself back at Brakebills, experiencing school from the teacher’s side of the desk. But his adventures are far from over! Although I’m not generally a fantasy reader, I’ve been rooting for Quentin ever since I first picked up this series and am sad to see it end.”
Kelly Currie, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, IN


The Story Hour: A Novel

by Thrity Umrigar

Published: 8/19/2014 by Harper
ISBN: 9780062259301
“Another beautifully written novel by Thrity Umrigar. A relationship develops between Maggie, a psychologist, and Lakshmi, a troubled Indian woman. As their stories develop, it is hard to figure out which woman does more to impact the other’s life. Highly recommended.”
Ellen Firer, Merrick Library, Merrick, NY

Friday, August 22, 2014

American Author wins the Hugo Award at the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention

First awarded in 1953, the Hugo Award is named for Hugo Gernsback, founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories. The Hugo is awarded for excellence in the field of science fiction and fantasy and many consider it to be the most prestigious science fiction award. Voting for the Hugo award is open to all members of the World Science Fiction Society.

Recently announced in London, Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie is the winner of the 2014 Hugo for best novel. Take a look at this review on for more information on this novel narrated by a starship that has been described as ambitious, brilliant and thrilling. The next book in the trilogy, Ancillary Sword is due out in October.

Other books shortlisted for the 2014 Hugo Award:

The Wheel of Time (series) by Robert Jordan and Brian Sanderson
Parasite by Mira Grant
Warbound by Larry Correia
Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Rural Noir

Rural noir is dark and gritty, involving crime or violence about characters in rural settings and desperate circumstances. The storyline always moves downward from bad to worse and the protagonist moves expeditiously towards disaster. The characters are typically working-class or impoverished and the storylines and pacing can range from fast-paced and suspenseful or more deliberate with a great deal of description.  In contrast to its harshness in tone and plot many novels have beautiful and lyrical text and many of these novels are considered literary fiction. Below are some noteworthy titles in the genre.

Crimes in Southern Indiana by Frank Bill
The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
American Salvage and Once Upon A River by Bonnie Jo Campbell
Winter's Bone, Tomato Red, Death of Sweet Mister by Daniel Woodrell
Father and Son by Larry Brown
Child of God by Cormac McCarthy
The Adjustment, Cottonwood, The Walkaway by Scott Phillips
Ranchero  Beluga by Rick Gavin
Rain Gods by James Lee Burke
Serena by Ron Rash

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

For the Armchair Traveler in Need of a Last Minute Vacation

Susan Orlean embodies the the travel journalist with her book of essays entitled My Kind of Place: Travel Stories From a Woman Who's Been Everywhere. She travels to Paris, features the African music scene, attends World Taxidermy Championships in Springfield, Illinois. In each place she finds people worth knowing about and a world you did not realize that it was out there.

Marlena de Blasi is a chef who goes to Venice to explore and experience the cuisine that region has to offer. She ends up in a life changing romance in A Thousand Days in Venice. A lush tale for a beautiful city.

The Lost Girls: Three Friends, Four Continents, One Unconventional Detour Around the World by 
Jennifer Baggett, Holly C. Corbett, and Amanda Pressner is next on our list. This is the tale of three friends at a crossroads in their twenties quit their high pressure New York media jobs, leave their friends and everything familiar behind, and embark on a year-long backpacking adventure around the world. 

Alice Steinbach is a journalist from the Baltimore Sun who goes on sabbatical. The Pulitzer Prize-winning writer explores the nature of independence, chronicling her own adventures as a woman in search of freedom from the things that define her as she journeys to Paris, Oxford, Milan, and beyond. Her book is Without Reservations: the Travels of an Independent Woman.

Frances Mayes is well known for her book Under the Tuscan Sun. However in her other title,  A Year in the World, she travels a month at a time - each to a different location. Once month it is Spain, the next it could be England. Each time they travel, she and her companion try to live in the community that they are exploring. Her descriptions of food and the beauty of her surroundings will have you planning your next journey.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


We've all heard about the terrible Ebola epidemic unfolding in West Africa and threatening to become a worldwide epidemic of a severity never seen before on earth. According to epidemiology experts, the likelihood of the virus spreading to other parts of the world is real. If that fact doesn't frighten you enough, here are some fiction titles that explore what could happen if this possibility becomes a reality.

Fever by Megan Abbott

The panic unleashed by a mysterious contagion threatens the bonds of family and community in a seemingly idyllic suburban community. The Nash family is close-knit. Tom is a popular teacher, father of two teens: Eli, a hockey star and girl magnet, and his sister Deenie, a diligent student. Their seeming stability, however, is thrown into chaos when Deenie's best friend is struck by a terrifying, unexplained seizure in class. Rumors of a hazardous outbreak spread through the family, school and community. As hysteria and contagion swell, a series of tightly held secrets emerges, threatening to unravel friendships, families and the town's fragile idea of security.

Immunity by Lori Andrews
When his partner collapses and dies, DEA agent Castro Baxter refuses to believe that the cause of death was an overdose, a suspicion that is corroborated by tests which reveal a deadly contamination that could cost the lives of thousands.

The Things That Keep Us Here by Carla Buckley
How far would you go to protect your family ? Ann Brooks never thought she’d have to answer that question. Then she found her limits tested by a crisis no one could prevent. Now, as her neighborhood descends into panic, she must make tough choices to protect everyone she loves from a threat she cannot even see. In this chillingly urgent novel, Carla Buckley confronts us with the terrifying decisions we are forced to make when ordinary life changes overnight.

Black Moon by Kenneth Calhoun
Insomnia has claimed everyone Biggs knows. Even his beloved wife, Carolyn, has succumbed to the telltale red-rimmed eyes, slurred speech and cloudy mind before disappearing into the quickly collapsing world. Yet Biggs can still sleep, and dream, so he sets out to find her.

Life Support by Tess Gerritsen
A delirious patient in critical condition disappears without a trace, and Dr. Toby Harper is under fire from the hospital administration for losing a patient. Toby knows she must find the patient, and her hunt is intensified when a second delirious patient dies in the hospital's care.

The Babel Effect by Daniel Hecht
When Ryan and Jessamine McCloud are hired to investigate the neurological and genetic implications of violence, they uncover a possible link between human violence and a contagious unknown toxin that is causing a global epidemic.

Isolation Ward by Joshua Spanogle
Called in by the CDC after three mentally handicapped women with the same mysterious symptoms check into the same Baltimore hospital, Dr. Nathaniel McCormick is caught in a web of deceit as he follows the trail of a lethal virus to California.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Shark Week!

Any week can be a Shark Week if you have a library card. You will not have to wait for the show to be on T.V. – just come in and check-out these DVDs to enjoy with your family and friends. 
If you want to learn more facts about these creatures, then these are just for you:
Shark Week – the 25th Anniversary Collection
Shark Week – Jaws of Steel Collection
 However, if you are into science-fiction, like the suspense, the action, or even the comedy of it all, we have that too. Top of the list would be Jaws and Jaws 2, followed by Shark Night and Open Water. And whether you like or not, the latest movie on the scene is Sharknado. 

 Take your pick now before Sharknado 2: the Second One, comes to a library near you.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Man Booker Prize - 2014 Longlist

 On July 23rd, the longlist for the 2014 Man Booker Prize was announced. This will be the first year that the Booker Prize has allowed submission of any novel that is written in English, from anywhere in the world. The list resulting from the new rule includes four American writers, six British, two Irish, and one Australian.
The shortlist of six titles will be announced on September 9th, the winner on October 14th.
Meanwhile, we have thirteen great suggestions for reading away the final weeks of summer. Which six would get your vote for the shortlist? Which one would be the final winner?

Joshua Ferris – To Rise Again at a Decent Hour

Siri Hustvedt – The Blazing World

Howard Jacobson – J *

Paul Kingsnorth – The Wake *

Neel Mukherjee – The Lives of Others *

David Nicholls – Us

Joseph O’Neill – The Dog 

Richard Powers – Orfeo

Ali Smith – How to be Both*

Niall Williams – History of the Rain

*Not yet available in a U.S.edition
For a judge's opinion of the selections, click on the following link:
Man Booker Prize Judge - The Guardian