ThrillerFest XII

July 20, 2017

I couldn’t be there but hope to go next year! Here are the winners of the 2017 Thriller Awards!

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BEST HARDCOVER NOVEL
Noah Hawley — BEFORE THE FALL (Grand Central Publishing)
The stories of 10 wealthy victims of a boat sinking intertwine with those of a down-on-his-luck painter and a 4-year-old boy, the tragedy’s only survivors. By the Emmy-, Golden Globe- and Peabody Award-winning writer of Fargo.

 

 

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BEST FIRST NOVEL
Nicholas Petrie — THE DRIFTER (G.P. Putnam’s Sons)
Forcing himself to manage his PTSD when a fellow Marine commits suicide, Iraq and Afghanistan veteran Peter Ash helps his friend’s widow and discovers a cache of money and explosives that place him at the center of a wide-scale plot with ties to the world he tried to leave behind.

 

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BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL NOVEL
Anne Frasier — THE BODY READER (Thomas & Mercer)
For three years, Detective Jude Fontaine was kept from the outside world. Held in an underground cell, her only contact was with her sadistic captor, and reading his face was her entire existence. After her experience with isolation and torture, she is left with a fierce desire for justice—and a heightened ability to interpret the body language of both the living and the dead.

 

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BEST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL
A.J. Hartley — STEEPLEJACK (TOR Teen)
Repairing roof fixtures in her ethnically diverse industrial city in an alternate world resembling Victorian South Africa, 17-year-old Anglet Sutonga investigates the death of a young apprentice while caring for her sister’s baby against a backdrop of racial tensions, political secrets and a stolen historical icon.

 

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BEST E-BOOK ORIGINAL NOVEL
James Scott Bell — ROMEO’S WAY (Compendium Press)
Mike Romeo, the former cage fighter living low in L.A., doesn’t look for trouble. He doesn’t have to. It comes after him. So when he’s hired by a California senatorial campaign to do undercover work, Romeo doesn’t have any illusions. If there’s one thing Romeo wants, it’s justice. And he’s going to get it––his way.
 

 

BEST SHORT STORY
Joyce Carol Oates — “Big Momma” (Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine)

Also receiving special recognition during the ThrillerFest XII Awards Banquet:

Lee Child, ThrillerMaster
In recognition of his legendary career and outstanding contributions to the thriller genre.

Lisa Gardner, Literary Silver Bullet Award
Tom Doherty, Thriller Legend Award


The case for book-to-film adaptations

June 23, 2017

IMHO, there are some movies that were at least as good as the book; most of the Harry Potter films, The Lord of the Rings films, Gone with the Wind, The Godfather (1 & 2, don’t even mention 3 to me!) There is at least one film that was much better than the book – The Devil Wears Prada. I’m sure there are some more. But even so, these are infinitesimal is the world of films based on books. I’d love to hear some comments on this!

Signature Views Mini-Doc – If the book is always better than the movie, why bother adapting a book? Consider some of these reasons. 


Summer Reads | Six Picks

June 21, 2017

It’s the first day of summer – Read It Forward editors Abbe and Emma give six recommendations for summer reads!


Full panel videos from BookCon!

June 14, 2017

I couldn’t go and in case you missed it too, here are some of the panel discussions including the fabulous Margaret Atwood, “proud to be a geek” Mayim Bialik, Marvel’s Jessica Jones, Krysten Ritter,  and lots more. Enjoy!


RT Booklovers Convention 2017 – Part 3

June 12, 2017

This is really interesting, especially for aspiring romance writers!

Spotlight on Berkley Publishing Panel | RT Booklovers Convention 2017 – Join members of Berkley Publishing’s editorial and publicity teams to learn the secret sauce of Berkley’s romance program. Berkley publishes many bestselling print authors as well as bestselling e-book authors under its InterMix imprint. Learn what individual editors are interested in acquiring and how the company promotes its print and digital titles.


Jeffrey Tambor: Landing my role on Arrested Development

June 3, 2017

Jeffrey Tambor discusses how he landed the role of George Bluth, Sr. on ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, and what he remembers from the show.

 


Authors should be paid for their work!

May 23, 2017

I read this very upsetting article in The Guardian –

Cheap books, high price: why Amazon.com’s ‘one-click’ sales can cost authors dear

US sales on the web giant have recently begun defaulting to secondhand merchants, meaning writers receive nothing at all from purchases

It is a hard sell: the idea that cheaper books might be a bad thing. But an adjustment to how Amazon sells books on its site is being attacked by authors’ groups, which claim secondhand copies of new books sold at rock-bottom prices are selling in such high quantities from the retailer that authors are unable to earn a living.

A week ago, buyers on Amazon.com, the US site, began seeing heavily discounted secondhand copies of books sold by third-party sellers being presented as the default buying option, instead of new copies supplied to Amazon by publishers. Using that “buy-in-one-click” button for, say, George Saunders’s novel Lincoln in the Bardo, you’ll get it for a bargain $10.52 – but that’s an “as-new” copy from a secondhand seller, not a new copy sourced by Amazon.com (which will cost you $14.64).

Read the rest here: https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2017/may/17/secondhand-book-sales-authors-cheap

I link all my reviews to Amazon because I try and make enough money to pay for my website, and I usually just about break even. But it is upsetting to learn that if you buy a “used” new book from a third party seller, the author doesn’t make a dime. I like cheap books as much as anyone, but authors deserve to get paid. This practice doesn’t seem to affect anyone else – the publisher still makes their money, so why shouldn’t the author?

So if you are going to buy a book on my recommendation, please click through the link I provide – usually in the book cover. Then make sure you are purchasing a NEW copy, if that is what you want, directly from Amazon and not from a second party seller.

Climbing off my soapbox now.

Thanks.


New Jewish Fiction Jan-June 2017

May 22, 2017

I recently did a presentation on new Jewish fiction at my library and thought I’d share the list here as well. These are books by Jewish authors or about Jewish subjects that have been published from January through June, 2017.

JANUARY

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Nine Folds Make a Paper Swan by Ruth Gilligan: Interweaves the experiences of a young Lithuanian emigrant in Ireland at the start of the twentieth century, the unlikely friendship between a
young Irish deaf boy and a lonely caretaker in 1958, and the identity crisis of an Irish journalist in the present day. “Gilligan makes a stellar U.S. debut with this wistful and lyrical multigenerational tale linking the struggles of two immigrant Jewish families in Dublin with an Irish Catholic woman’s complicated relationship with her Jewish lover.” Publisher’s Weekly

 

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The Patriots by Sana Krasikov: Three generations of a Jewish-American family endure the difficult challenges of the Depression and the Cold War while pursuing dreams of better lives and reflecting on painful experiences from their earlier lives in Moscow. “In a galvanizing tale of flawed and courageous protagonists, erotic and political passion, and harrowing struggles for survival, Krasikov masterfully and devastatingly exposes the “whole dark clockwork” of totalitarianism and asks what it means to be a hero, a patriot, a human being.” Booklist

 

FEBRUARY

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A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman: An Israeli comedian, a bit past his prime, conveys with semi-questionable humor anecdotes from his violence stricken youth during a night of standup. Meanwhile, while a judge in the audience wrestles with his own part in the comedian’s losses. “Grossman brings real humanity to this heart-wrenching and well-written novel, offering insight into one man’s psychological makeup and how society has damaged him. An excellent translation; highly recommended.” Library Journal

 

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We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter: A novel based on the true story of a Jewish-Polish family recounts how the Kurcs are scattered throughout the world by the horrors of World War II and fight respective hardships to survive, reach safety and find each other. “First-time novelist Hunter got the idea for this book in conversations with her grandmother after unearthing family history of which she’d been ignorant…engrossing read is best recommended for those who enjoy fiction set during World War II and sprawling family sagas.” Library Journal

 

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The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff: The Nightingale meets Water for Elephants in this powerful novel of friendship and sacrifice, set in a traveling circus during World War II. Sixteen-year-old Noa, forced to give up her baby fathered by a Nazi soldier, snatches a child from a boxcar containing Jewish infants bound for a concentration camp and takes refuge with a traveling circus, where Astrid, a Jewish aerialist, becomes her mentor. “Against the backdrop of circus life during the war, the author captures the very real terrors faced by both women as they navigate their working and personal relationships and their complicated love lives while striving for normalcy and keeping their secrets safe.” Publisher’s Weekly

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On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman: Living in her suburban hometown, while her fiance is off on a crowdfunded cross-country walk, Faith discovers mysterious artifacts in her home’s attic that
make her question a promising new relationship and everything she believes. “Lipman is known for her dialogue, so snappy, funny, and real that it cancels out any dubiousness about the kooky mystery plot. Warm, clever, a little silly, a lot of fun.” Kirkus Reviews

 

 

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The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan: “Just because the men have gone to war, why do we have to close the choir? And precisely when we need it most!” Letters and journals reveal the struggles, affairs, deceptions and triumphs of five members of a village choir during World War II as they band together to survive the upheavals of war and village intrigue on the English home front. ” Ryan’s novel, reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, captures the experience of the war from a woman’s perspective. Readers may have come across this kind of story before, but the letter/diary format works well and the plot elements satisfyingly come together.” Publisher’s Weekly

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The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky: One very special work of art—a Chaim Soutine painting —will connect the lives and fates of two different women, generations apart, in this enthralling and
transporting debut novel that moves from World War II Vienna to contemporary Los Angeles. “Umansky’s richly textured and peopled novel tells an emotionally and historically complicated story with so much skill and confidence it’s hard to believe it’s her first.” Kirkus Reviews

 

MARCH

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The Women in the Castle by Jessica Shattuck: Written with the devastating emotional power of The Nightingale, Sarah’s Key, and The Light Between Oceans, Jessica Shattuck’s evocative and utterly enthralling novel offers a fresh perspective on one of the most tumultuous periods in history. At the end of World War II, in a crumbling Bavarian castle that once played host to all of German high society, three widows’ lives and fates become intertwined. “Haunting, a beautifully written and painfully vivid glimpse into one of the most horrific times in world history.” Bookpage

APRIL

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What To Do About The Solomons by Bethany Ball: Reminiscent of Nathan Englander’s For the Relief of Unbearable Urges and Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, and told with razor-sharp humor and elegant acuity, What to Do About the Solomons is an exhilarating first book from a bright new star in fiction. A humorous multigenerational family saga set in Israel, New York, and Los Angeles explores the secrets and gossip-filled lives of a kibbutz near Jerusalem. “For all its humor, penetrating disillusionment underlies Ball’s memorable portrait of a family, once driven by pioneer spirit, now plagued by overextension and loss of direction, unsure what to do with its legacy, teetering between resentment, remorse, and resilience.” Publisher’s Weekly

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All the Rivers by Dorit Rabinyan: A controversial, award-winning story about the passionate but untenable affair between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, from one of Israel’s most acclaimed novelists. When an Israeli translator named Liat goes to New York for six months of study, she meets Hilmi, a charismatic and kind Palestinian born in Hebron, and their passionate affair grows into something more, forcing them to choose between love and duty. “Bernstein Prize winner Rabinyan’s modern take on forbidden love between young dreamers on opposite sides of a bitter cultural conflict enthralls and delights.” Publisher’s Weekly

MAY

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The Awkward Age by Francesca Segal: “They’ve chosen the one thing that will make our family life impossible. It’s genius really, when you think about it. It’s the perfect sabotage.” After her daughter, Gwen, has trouble adjusting to her new beau, James, Julia Alden must do her best to unite two households, but when Gwen turns for comfort to James’ 17-year-old son, Nathan, the consequences will test her mother’s loyalty and threaten their fragile new happiness. ” In finely wrought prose, with characters who seem to walk beside us and speak aloud, Segal’s latest novel is a sympathetic portrait of the difficulties in finding love and raising teenagers.” Kirkus Reviews

 

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Shtum by Jem Lester: After strategically faking a separation with his wife to influence a tribunal’s decision about the future of his severely autistic son’s education, Ben Jewell moves in with his elderly and cantankerous father and learns harsh lessons about accountability. Funny and heartbreaking in equal measure, Shtum is the impassioned debut novel about fathers and sons and autism with all the heart and verve of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. “Lester’s debut, based on his experience of raising a child with autism, is an emotional and uplifting tale of love and sacrifice.” Publisher’s Weekly

 

JUNE

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The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish: A mysterious collection of papers hidden in a historic London home sends two scholars of Jewish history on an unforgettable quest….”Kadish’s characters are memorable…Kadish leaves no stone unturned in this moving historical epic. Chock-full of rich detail and literary intrigue.” Kirkus Reviews

 

 

 

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The Lost Letter by Jillian Cantor: A historical novel of love and survival inspired by real resistance workers during World War II Austria, and the mysterious love letter that connects generations of Jewish families. A heart-breaking, heart-warming read for fans of The NightingaleLilac Girls, and Sarah’s Key. “Excellent writing, unusual storytelling, and sympathetic characters make a winning combination.” Kirkus Reviews

 

 

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The Songs by Charles Elton: Iz Herzl, famed political activist and protest singer, has always told his children that it is the future not the past they should concentrate on. Now, at 80, an almost forgotten figure, estranged from everyone who has ever loved him, his refusal to look back on his extraordinary life leaves his teenage children, the brilliant Rose and her ailing younger brother, Huddie, adrift in myths and uncertainty that cause them to retreat into a secret
world of their own. “A heartbreaking read. Recommended for fans of literary fiction.” Library Journal


Tribute to Elizabeth Bennet from PRIDE AND PREJUDICE

April 18, 2017
It’s part of a video series from Penguin Random House called Kick-a** Characters, which are salutes to some favorite characters in literature. I will warn you ahead of time it’s a two minute video, and can’t possibly include every plot point from Pride and Prejudice, but I think it functions as a good overview!


Brit Bennett: 8 Great Questions

April 11, 2017

Brit Bennett (author of The Mothers) | 8 Great Questions – Author Brit Bennett answers eight great book-y questions! 

THE MOTHERS by Brit Bennett

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
NBCC John Leonard First Novel Prize Finalist
PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction Finalist
New York Public Library Young Lions Award Finalist
An NPR Best Book of 2016
An Entertainment Weekly Best Book of 2016
A Vogue Magazine Best Book of the Year
A Goodreads Choice Award Finalist
One of Elle.com’s Best Books of the Year

“Ferociously moving … despite Bennett’s thrumming plot, despite the snap of her pacing, it’s the always deepening complexity of her characters that provides the book’s urgency.” –The New York Times Book Review

“Luminous… engrossing and poignant, this is one not to miss.” –People, Pick of the Week

“Fantastic… a book that feels alive on the page.” –The Washi

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ngton Post

A dazzling debut novel from an exciting new voice, The Mothers is a surprising story about young love, a big secret in a small community—and the things that ultimately haunt us most.

Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition. It begins with a secret.

“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.”

It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty. Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance—and the subsequent cover-up—will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt.

In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a “what if” can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.