Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Sunday Salon... Week in review, Books now in Paperback, and The Orange Prize for Fiction nominees!

I've got a cup of Joe next to me and a good book lined up for today, because it's another rainy day in western Connecticut. The week was beautiful though, and I had my head in a book and my ears in headphones ( listening to Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith)! I finished The Cradle by Patrick Somerville this week and really enjoyed it. Some books just surprise you, and this one is one of them. Patrick Somerville did a nice job of making a simple story into a more meaningful one with his talented writing abilities. I've also a giveaway going on for The Cradle, so make sure you enter! Speaking of giveaways, this coming week will wrap up giveaways for Glorious by Bernice McFadden, Forbidden Passion by Rita Heron, and Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze...

In the paperback department, there are some great books that have just been released! One of my favorite reads last year was The Devlin Diary by Christi Phillips, a "dazzling novel of intrigue, passion and royal secrets that shifts tantalizingly between Restoration-era London and present-day Cambridge." Read my full review of The Devlin Diaries from June 29th, but trust me, if you are a historical fiction fan, this is a book you will definitely enjoy! Stephanie Meyer's Sci-Fi thriller for adults, The Host, is now available in paperback too! "The Earth, in the not-too-distant future, has been taken over by alien “souls,” parasitic worm-like beings that wish to experience life as humans. Some years after the occupation, only a few scattered human resistors remain..." In non-fiction, just out is The Girls From Ames: A Story of Women and a Forty-Year Friendship by Jeffrey Zazlow (on my TBR list!), and Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda janzen, which I enjoyed and reviewed last December, "They say "you can always go home", and that's exactly what Rhoda Janzen does in mennonite in a little black dress. After a hysterectomy, a husband who left her for a guy named Bob at the age of "over 40", and a horrible car accident, Rhoda was having a bad stretch of luck! But instead of Rhoda crying in her pillow at night, she picks herself up and off she goes- back to her loving family who have more than few endearing quirks." Here is the LINK to the full review.

April 29th marks the date for The Edgar Awards, which is presented by The Mystery Writers of America and honors the best in mystery! Fiction and non-fiction! There is a link to the whole list of nominees at A few of the novels up for an award are The Last Child by John Hart, which is on my nightstand right now, A Beautiful Place to Die by Malla Nunn, and The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf. There are 53 nominees in 11 categories though, so follow the link to see all the titles.

This week the short list for The Orange Prize was announced, and I thought we'd take a closer look at a few of those books today...

What is The Orange Prize for Fiction? It's one of the U.K.'s most prestigious awards, created in 1996 to celebrate, honor, and promote fiction written by women. The award itself is for the best novel of the year written by a woman in English, and the winner will receive $45,000 plus a limited edition bronze statue known as ‘The Bessie’. This years nominees must have first published their books in the U.K. between April 1, 2009 and March 31, 2010. The winner will be announced June 9th! Here's the shortlist...

The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Black Water Rising by Attica Locke
Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel
A Gate at the Stairs by Lorrie Moore
The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey

On the shortlist are a few books that have gotten a lot of buzz during the year already, most notably Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel which won the Man Booker prize this year. The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver was also a welcome treat for Kingsolver fans because it's the first novel of hers in 9 years! 2 novels were new to me, and 1 novel was also nominated for The Edgar...

The Very Thought of You by Rosie Alison... From the Publisher, "England, 31st August 1939: the world is on the brink of war. As Hitler prepares to invade Poland, thousands of children are evacuated from London to escape the impending Blitz. Torn from her mother, eight-year-old Anna Sands is relocated with other children to a large Yorkshire estate which has been opened up to evacuees by Thomas and Elizabeth Ashton, an enigmatic childless couple. Soon Anna gets drawn into their unravelling relationship, seeing things that are not meant for her eyes – and finding herself part-witness and part-accomplice to a love affair, with unforeseen consequences. A story of love, loss and complicated loyalties, combining a sweeping narrative with subtle psychological observation." This book was quietly published by a small independent press, Alma Books, (do I hear Tinker's?!) and was not reviewed by a single British national newspaper up until her nomination. What did the author think of that? "I was actually relieved," Alison says. "I had a slight terror of some poor reviewer with far too much to read picking it up and looking for a quick putdown. It's a very heartfelt book and if you don't tune into its emotional frequencies, it would be very easy for a cynic to write it off in a few dismissive lines." The Very Thought of You was also nominated for The Romantic Novel of The Year Award this year, although it did not make the shortlist, it's on my wish list!

Black Water Rising by Attica Locke... Back of the Book, Jay Porter is hardly the lawyer he set out to be. His most promising client is a low-rent call girl, and he runs his fledgling law practice out a dingy strip mall. But he’s long since made peace with his path to the American Dream, carefully tucking away his darkest sins: the guns, the FBI file, the trial that nearly destroyed him. Houston, Texas, 1981. It’s here that Jay believes he can make a fresh start. That is, until the night he impulsively saves a drowning woman’s life – and opens a Pandora’s Box. Her secrets put Jay in danger, ensnaring him in a murder investigation that could cost him his practice, his family, and even his life. But before he can get to the bottom of a tangled mystery that reaches into theupper echelons of Houston’s corporate powerbrokers, Jay must confront the demons of his past. This book was nominated for The Edgar Award for Best First Novel by An American Writer. It's gotten quite a bit of buzz, and for mystery/thriller fans this looks to be a great read.

The White Woman on the Green Bicycle by Monique Roffey... From the Publisher, "When George and Sabine Harwood arrive in Trinidad from England as young newlyweds, they have with them just a couple of suitcases and Sabine's prized green bicycle. Their intention is to stay for not more then three years, but George falls in love with the island. Sabine, however, is ill at ease with the racial segregation and unrest in her new home, and takes solace in the freedom of her green bicycle. George and Sabine become more entangled in their life on the island – in all its passion and betrayals – and Sabine's bicycle takes her places she wouldn't otherwise go. One day George make a discovery that forces him to realise that extent of the secrets between them, and is seized by an urgent, desperate need to prove his love for her – with tragic consequences. An unforgettable love story, brimming with passion and politics, set over fifty years in Trinidad – a place at times enchanting, and at times highly dangerous." I thought Monique Roffey's prose was enjoyable in the few excerpts I read. I haven't heard too much about this novel, but what little I have heard, people seems to like the book. Here's the link to an excerpt of The White Woman on the Green Bicycle, so you can see if you like the writing. Plus, has an excerpt available for all the Orange Prize shortlisters!

So, what have you been reading this week?! Have you heard any buzz about the Orange Prize nominees? Do you pay attention to award winners? Hope you found something to peak your interest this week! A few things on the plate for next week... we'll talk about that great audiobook I was listening to this week (and a giveaway for it too!), and I'll be reviewing Lydia Cooks From The Heart of Italy by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, and have a great recipe from that cookbook reprinted with special permission from the publisher (you won't find it anywhere else online!). And of course tomorrow is "Memoir Monday" and there's a great book I'm going to highlight that has a bit of crime,punishment AND a connection with Chick with Books!

Happy Reading! Suzanne


(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

Oh wow...The Very Thought of You sounds powerful, and one that I MUST add to my list! Thanks so much

Jennifer said...

I shall be reading Black Water rising quite soon. The Very Thought of You and The Lacuna are being added to my TBR list. My Sunday:

Helen's Book Blog said...

I've just started Black Water Rising so am excited to see it on someone else's blog

Michelle Santiago said...

a hot cup of coffee and a good book on a rainy day... sounds sooo very lovely :)

i haven't heard any of these books so thanks for this post :)

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Diane,
Yes, powerful is what comes to mind with The Very Thought of You too. I've been reading so many great WWII fictional books too, that I'm not at all surprised that one made it to the Orange Prize nomination.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Jennifer & Helen!
I can't wait to see what you both think of Black Water Rising! Hmm, how come I don't have an actual copy on the nightstand?! I guess I'll be rectifying that now! :-)

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Michelle & Leslie!
Thanks for stopping by! I see you're participating int the YA Bloggers Debut Book Battle, so enjoy and I can't wait to read the reviews!

Helen Ginger said...

I just finished Breathing Water by Timothy Hallinan. I liked it, but it took me a long time to get into it. It was a setting that I didn't want to go to and the character names confused me. I did finally get into it and came to like the characters (most of them).

Straight From Hel

Anonymous said...

Hi Suzanne,

Enjoyed reading your blog.

So many people have mentioned this "Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter" book on line that I guess I am going to have to break down and buy myself a copy. (I resisted a similar urge awhile back with Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, but I don't think I will be able to hold out any longer!)

Thanks for sharing the link to the Edgars as well. My book club had an Edgar Allan Poe month last October, and we read a couple of his mysteries, after which I really got into them for awhile.


Esme said...

All of these sound like great books-PS are you going to BEA?

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Helen!
Thanks for sharing Breathing Water. I hadn't heard too much about it, and will be fore warned that it may take me a while to connect. I just found that with a book I was reading this weekend, and just HATE that.

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi bibliophilica!
I have to tell you, I have resisted all the mashup novels, similar to Pride Prejudice and Zombies, but I love history and the thought of Abe Lincoln as a vampire hunter was just too much for me to resist. I requested the audiobook to review and LOVED it! The author was so good at blending the real history of the times, and Abe Lincoln's actual life, with Vampires that it all seemed so believable. I'll be having a giveaway for the audiobook this coming week so ENTER!

What a great idea for your book club! I haven't read Edgar Allan Poe in a long time, but always enjoyed his stories!

Suzanne Yester said...

Hi Esme!
I am planning to go to BEA! I am going to see about getting that Thursday off from my "real" job, but won't know if I can for another few weeks! Are you going?!

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