August Titles Up for Release

There’s still a solid month left for lofty reading. Here’s a partial list of new titles releasing this month…

August 2

Packing for Mars by Mary Roach

August 3

Starvation Lake by Bryan Gruley

I Curse the River of Time: A Novel by Per Petterson

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

August 9

City of Veils: A Novel by Zoe Ferraris

Three Sisters by Bi Feiyu

August 10

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

Composed: A Memoir by Rosanne Cash

Blind Man’s Alley by Justin Peacock

The Murder Room by Michael Capuzzo

Let’s Take the Long Way Home by Gail Caldwell

August 11

A World Without Islam by Graham E. Fuller

August 17

The Life You’ve Imagined by Kristina Riggle

Three Stations by Martin Cruz Smith

The Pindar Diamond by Katie Kickman

Crossfire by Felix & Dick Francis

The Blasphemer by Nigel Farndale

Turbulence by Giles Foden

Keeper by Andrea Gillies

The Queen of Patpong by Timothy Hallinan

August 24

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey

Butterfly by Sonya Hartnett

The Sonderberg Case by Elie Wiesel

Juliet by Anne Fortier

August 31

Skippy Dies by Paul Murray

Freedom: A Novel by Jonathan Franzen

The Insufferable Gaucho by Robert Bolano

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Michigan Authors Pen ‘Killer Thrillers’

Cover ImageNPR asked audiences last month to submit nominations for a list of the 100 most suspenseful novels ever. After receiving some 600 titles, NPR’s panel of thriller writers and critics has narrowed the list down to a still hefty, but manageable 182 novels.

The station is basing their contest on an answer once given by James Patterson, which defines a thriller by the “intensity of emotions they create…of apprehension and exhilaration, of excitement and breathlessness…By definition, if a thriller doesn’t thrill, it’s not doing its job.”

I’m so happy to say that author Harry Dolan made the list for his clever Ann Arbor mystery, Bad Things Happen. I read Mr. Dolan’s book late last year and absolutely loved it. You can read NLR’s review without any fear of plot spoilers and catch the book’s trailer here.

For the full NPR article and a chance to weigh in, link to ‘Killer Thrillers’:  Vote For The 10 Best Ever. You can cast your vote and submit as you please, however, don’t overlook Michigan’s beloved Elmore Leonard; he hits the list with Killshot and Road Dogs. You can check out more on these two titles with the following links to the Killshot movie trailer as well as the book trailer contest for Road Dogs.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Chelsea’s Carey Wallace Brings True Vision to ‘Blind Contessa’

Cover ImageIncredibly unique, wildly vivid, and so unlike anything I have read…

These were a mere few of my many thoughts upon finishing the book The Blind Contessa’s New Machine. Needing to know more about the genesis of this stunning slip of a book, I took to the site of author Carey Wallace.

As the title suggests, blindness sits at the core of this work. Yet as Wallace slowly syphons the reader’s vision, she delicately replaces it with a creative vision that manages to supersede that of any other. While Wallace’s site reveals that she hasn’t personally experienced blindness, she hopes that The Blind Contessa’s New Machine might give her readers “…permission to find the world just a little more beautiful, a little more strange, a little more wonderful than what we think we can see.”

When I realized that Carey Wallace grew up in several small towns in Michigan, I managed a lovely exchange with the author and found out that she spent her elementary school years in Hillsdale where her dad was a professor before moving on to graduate from Chelsea High School. While Wallace currently resides in Brooklyn, she considers Chelsea her hometown and shares the sweet fact that “the more time I spend there as an adult, the more remarkable I find it.” Ms. Wallace credits the dedication of former teachers who were “fully supported by a community that deeply valued the arts” for her deft skills as a writer and creative.

With Ms. Wallace’s sincere responses to my queries, it was easy to hear the echo of Contessa’s fleshed and heartfelt characters. If she had any program in The Blind Contessa’s New Machine, she says, it may have been this: to challenge materialism, to complicate the seen world’s claim to be “reality”, and to encourage people that their sense that “there must be more than this” is not only accurate, but the foundation of all truth.

The Blind Contessa’s New Machine appears on the July 2010 Indie Next List. Check back with NLR for a full review later this week.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Information

Carey Wallace also runs ‘The Hillbilly Underground.’ In its tenth year, the Underground is an arts retreat that welcomes a diverse group of artists to the Michigan lakeside for a precious ten day block of undisturbed creative freedom.

W.K. Berger Aims to Thrill With ‘The Purples’

W.K. Berger is launching his first novel this summer titled The Purples, an action-packer about Detroit in its heyday. In a recent email, Mr. Berger said that the idea for The Purples “came out of a long-ago family connection to the infamous Purple Gang, a wild group of Jewish rumrunners who ruled Detroit during Prohibition.”

According to his bio Mr. Berger has written articles for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Chicago Tribune among many other well-known publications. These days however, he is busy promoting his thriller, which must be a full time job in its own right.

In the literary world things are really ramping up on the Internet, and Berger’s site for The Purples is no exception. Just when you thought getting published was the hurdle, authors must now hone their promotional and marketing skills to visually compete online. A definite nod must go out to The Purples site which (though it pains me to say) includes a very decent trailer.

Though I haven’t yet read The Purples, I am thrilled at the prospect of another historically based book shedding light on Detroit and its incredibly diverse history. For past NLR reviews that touch on these subjects, try Annie’s GhostsGrand River and Joy, and The Art Student’s War.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

New Titles on Tap for May

Another month, another slew of good books in the chute. As my work load picks up in May, I will likely be posting less but reading more this month. Regardless, here is a list of some of the many titles appearing in May. Please feel free to post a comment on any of the titles sharing your likes or dislikes (thus assisting in the weeding out of time snatchers). By the way, I did review Paul Doiron’s debut thriller The Poacher’s Son for BookBrowse which was quite good. Look for a full review on NLR in the next few weeks.


New Titles for May (partial list)

May 3:  The Lonely Polygamist by Brady Udall

May 4:  Private Life by Jane Smiley

May 4:  The Prince of Mist by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

May 4:  The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

May 4:  Dead in the Family by Charlaine Harris

May 4:  Spoken from the Heart by Laura Bush

May 4:  Innocent by Scott Turow

May 4:  Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address Illustrated by Jack E. Levin, Mark R. Levin

May 4:  The Last Stand:  Custer, Sitting Bull, and the Battle of the Little Bighorn by Nathaniel Philbrick

May 4:  My Fair Lazy by Jen Lancaster

May 4:  Spells by Aprilynne Pike

May 4:  Blue-Eyed Devil by Robert B. Parker

May 4:  Tell-All by Chuck Palahniuk

May 4:  The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer

May 4:  The Shadow Effect: Harnessing the Power of Our Dark Side by Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Debbie Ford

May 4:  Indigo Blue by Catherine Anderson

May 4:  Sh*t My Dad Says by Justin Halpern

May 4:  Passages in Caregiving:  Turning Chaos into Confidence by Gail Sheehy

May 4:  The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ by Philip Pullman May 11: Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin

May 11: War by Sebastian Junger

May 11: The Pregnant Widow by Martin Amis

May 11: Fever Dream by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child

May 11: The Poacher’s Son by Paul Doiron

May 11: The Frozen Rabbi by Steve Stern

May 11: Last Call by Daniel Okrent

May 18: Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

May 18: 61 Hours by Lee Child

May 18: Storm Prey by John Sandford

May 25: The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Steig Larsson

May 25: Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer by John Grisham

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Lit Legend Leonard and More

There are plenty of reading events going on in the Detroit area this week so be sure to see my last post for information. In addition, a few extra points of interest have come to my attention that are definitely worth sharing.

Tune in to this NPR interview Elmore Leonard, At Home In Detroit by Noah Adams to hear from our very own local literary legend.

The Book Beat has scheduled a signing by R & B legend Andre Williams on March 20, 2010 from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m. Williams’ Sweets and Other Stories is a “tough and gritty collection of tales of tragedy and perseverance from the mean streets of Chicago and beyond.” This is the first fiction effort from Andre Williams who performed on some singles for Detroit’s Fortune Records in the 50’s and 60’s.*

Check out this week’s update on  NPR’s What We’re Reading which features The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag, the second book in Alan Bradley’s Flavia de Luce detective series. It won’t appeal to all, but this eleven-year-old girl who made her character debut in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie completely won me over. You can find NLR’s brief review by clicking here.

The Orange Prize for Fiction longlist was announced for 2010 and you’ll never believe who was on it? Yes, Hilary Mantel for Wolf Hall – what a shocker! Kidding. I actually bought this book back in December and now feel officially compelled to read it. There has been so much noise surrounding this title, I was waiting for it to die down a bit before I cracked the spine. Is it hype or is it just that good?

*Information courtesy of Book Beat site.

-Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters!

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Miller’s ‘Blue Like Jazz’ Has Mass Appeal

Cover ImageI promised I would try to post at least something throughout this crazed week of winter break. So on this Lenten eve, I find myself pulling out a book whose title I randomly discovered in a magazine tossed in the reception room of a Birmingham dentist office about a year ago.

While waiting for my delayed appointment, I was looking for reading material and the only rag left on the table was oddly some sort of Christian publication. As I waited to be ushered to “the chair”, I flipped open to an article about author Donald Miller.

Inspiration finds us in the strangest of places, and it was in that dentist’s office that I was first attracted to the writings of Mr. Miller. Having long tired of the contrived books of spirituality that flooded the market, I was extremely interested in Donald Miller’s unorthodox and deeply honest approach in his exploration of faith and the question of his religious beliefs.

“I never liked jazz music because jazz music doesn’t resolve. But I was outside the Bagdad Theater in Portland one night when I saw a man playing the saxophone. I stood there for fifteen minutes, and he never opened his eyes. After that I liked jazz music. Sometimes you have to watch somebody love something before you can love it yourself. It is as if they are showing you the way. I used to not like God because God didn’t resolve. But that was before any of this happened.”

More along the lines of Utne Reader than biblical passage, Blue Like Jazz offers an alternative approach to the questions of faith tossed up by post-modern society. Though I would say that Blue Like Jazz might be considered a bit trippy in its non-traditional methods, I found Miller’s work utterly sincere as he ponders the existence of God and his own life’s purpose. Not only for those of religious practice looking for something different, Miller’s literary offerings and style will likely appeal to secular populations as well.

*Support your local bookstores and universities. It matters!

– Post by Megan Shaffer

February Titles Ready for Release

It’s hard to believe we are already talking February, however, this month’s titles slated for release hold quite the variety. Below is an abbreviated list of books hitting your bookstore shelves this month (for more see links below).

February 1:  Worst Case by James Patterson

February 1:  Kitchen Chinese:  A Novel About Food, Family, and Finding Yourself by Ann Mah

February 1: Pulitzer:  A Life in Politics, Print, and Power by James Mcgrath Morris

February 1:  Devotion:  A Memoir by Dani Shapiro

February 1:  The Hungry Season by T. Greenwood

February 1:  Conspirata by Robert Harris

February 2:  Point Omega by Don DeLillo

February 2:  Secrets of Eden by Chris Bohjalian

February 2:  Shadow Tag by Louise Erdich

February 2:  Spirited:  Connect to the Guides All Around You by Rebecca Rosen

February 2:  Mornings in Jenin: A Novel by Susan Abulhawa

February 4:  Yalta:  The Price of Peace by Serhil Plokhy

February 4:  The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

February 9:  Black Hearts:  One Platoon’s Descent into Madness in Iraq’s Triangle of Death by Jim Frederick

February 9:  Brava, Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

February 9:  The Bread of Angels:  A Journey to Love and Faith by Stephanie Saldana

February 9:  The Midnight House by Alex Berenson

February 9:  The Postmistress by Sara Blake

February 9:  A Dark Matter by Peter Straub

February 9:  Union Atlantic by Adam Haslett

February 9:  Willie Mays:  The Life, The Legend by James S. Hirsch

February 10: The Wife’s Tale by Lori Lansens

February 16: Horns by Joe Hill

February 16:  Ruby’s Spoon: A Novel by Anna Lawrence Pietroni

February 16:  The Man From Beijing by Henning Mankell

February 23:  A Big Girl by Danielle Steel

February 23:  The Wives of Henry Oades by Johanna Moran

February 23:  The Infinities by John Banville

Movie Adaptations Appearing on the Big Screen

Shutter Island: Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Emily Mortimer, and Mark Ruffalo, and directed by Martin Scorcese. This movie is based on the novel by Dennis Lehane.

Percy Jackson & The Olympians:  The Lightning Thief:  Starring Logan Lerman, Kevin McKidd, and Steve Coogan, and directed by Chris Columbus. This movie is based on the the book (young adult) by Rick Riordan.

*Support your local bookstores and universities. It matters!

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Full February release lists

BookBrowse (for members)

Barnes and Noble Coming Soon New Releases

A ‘Lit’tle of This, a Little of That

The Catcher in the RyeLegendary author J.D. Salinger died Wednesday at the age of 91. Salinger was widely known for his book The Catcher in the Rye which still remains on many high school required reading lists. Click here for Salinger’s “Best Sayings” from Catcher in the Rye. For more information on the author and his life, try this link to NPR.

The following article came to me from several people before I even got the chance to read The New York Times last Sunday. “Reading might well have been among the last remaining private activities, but it is now a relentlessly social pursuit,” bemoans Motoko Rich in The Book Club With Just One Member. As Rich moves beyond book to reader to examine the ways in which we choose to read, she shares their effects on the commercial pursuits of our contemporary book industry.

In case you are living under a rock, apple introduced the new iPad and it appears to be much more than an e-reader. A stretch for the literary purist, this latest gizmo brings much more than a book to the table. For more, read Publishers Embrace iPad As Rival to Kindle on NPR’s Morning Edition.

The largest book in the world will go on show for the first time as part of the British Library exhibition on maps. HuffPost reports that the largest book will be among 100 maps considered “some of the greatest in the world”.

Yes, I’m worried.

NPR’s What We’re Reading for Jan. 27 – Feb. 2 includes The Unnamed by Joshua Ferris. Mr. Ferris held a reading at The University of Michigan last Monday night as part of their Creative Writing program.

Poor Colm. Once again overlooked for his book Brooklyn, poet Christoper Reid walked away with the Costa Book of the Year  Award for 2009. The prestigious literary prize is given to writers based in the UK and Ireland. Reid’s book, A Scattering, is a tribute to his late wife.

*As always, support your local bookstores and universities. It matters!

-Post by Megan Shaffer