Thursday, March 31, 2011

Man Booker International Prize 2011

Have you heard of the Man Booker International Prize?
The Man Booker International Prize is awarded every two years to a living author who has published fiction either originally in English or whose work is generally available in translation in the English language.
It was first awarded in 2005 and has been given every other year since then. Alice Munro won in 2009.

The 13 finalists for the 2011 Man Booker International Prize have been announced:

Wang Anyi (China)

John le Carré (UK)

(John le Carré remains on the list but has said, "I am enormously flattered to be named as a finalist of 2011 Man Booker International Prize. However I do not compete for literary prizes and have therefore asked for my name to be withdrawn.")

Amin Maalouf (Lebanon)

David Malouf (Australia)

Rohinton Mistry (India/Canada)

Marilynne Robinson (USA, above)

Philip Roth (USA, above)

Su Tong (China)

Anne Tyler (USA, above)

Read more here.

The winner will be announced on May 18th.

The Great Wide Sea by M H Herlong

Soon after their mother’s death, 15-year-old Ben and his two younger brothers are stunned when their father sells their home, buys a sailboat, and announces that they will live on board and cruise the Bahamas for the next year. Wrenched from everything he knows and forced to obey his father-captain’s orders, Ben starts out angry and finds no escape. As he says, “We were always together.” When their father sets a course for Bermuda and disappears overboard one night, the boys have little time to wonder if he jumped or fell before they’re struggling to stay afloat in a fierce Atlantic storm. Lost at sea in a damaged boat, they find their way to an island where they are stranded with little food, little water, and little hope of rescue. Herlong’s first book is a great survival story and a fine portrayal of family relationships in a time of crisis. Justifiably angry, yet logical, reflective, and at times compassionate, Ben makes a sympathetic protagonist, and his brothers are no less appealing. With enough detail to make the settings real and a minimum of metaphor, the first-person narrative is clean and direct. This page-turner of an adventure story is also a convincing, compelling, and ultimately moving novel.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

New Release

And I Shall Have Some Peace There: Trading in the Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road by Margaret Roach

Have you ever thought about leading a simpler life? This book is about someone who did just that!

Margaret Roach worked at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia for 15 years, serving as Editorial Director for the last 6. She first made her name in gardening, writing a classic gardening book among other things. She now has a hugely popular gardening blog, "A Way to Garden." But despite the financial and professional rewards of her job, Margaret felt unfulfilled. So she moved to her weekend house upstate in an effort to lead a more authentic life by connecting with her garden and with nature. The memoir she wrote about this journey is funny, quirky, humble—and uplifting—an Eat, Pray, Love without the travel-and allows readers to live out the fantasy of quitting the rat race and getting away from it all.

Book reviews called it A Beautiful Book, A Great Read, Inspirational and Irresistible.

She also has a gardening blog.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Movie Mondays

The Lincoln Lawyer

Book, 2005 by Michael Connelly

Best-selling author Michael Connelly, whose character-driven literary mysteries have earned him a wide following, breaks from the gate in the over-crowded field of legal thrillers and leaves every other contender from Grisham to Turow in the dust with this tightly plotted, brilliantly paced, impossible-to-put-down novel.

Criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller's father was a legendary lawyer whose clients included gangster Mickey Cohen (in a nice twist, Cohen's gun, given to Dad then bequeathed to his son, plays a key role in the plot). But Dad also passed on an important piece of advice that's especially relevant when Mickey takes the case of a wealthy Los Angeles realtor accused of attempted murder: "The scariest client a lawyer will ever have is an innocent client. Because if you [screw] up and he goes to prison, it'll scar you for life."

Louis Roulet, Mickey's "franchise client" (so-called becaue he's able and willing to pay whatever his defense costs) seems to be the one his father warned him against, as well as being a few rungs higher on the socio-economic ladder than the drug dealers, homeboys, and motorcycle thugs who comprise Mickey's regular case load. But as the holes in Roulet's story tear Mickey's theory of the case to shreds, his thoughts turn more to Jesus Menendez, a former client convicted of a similar crime who's now languishing in San Quentin. Connelly tellingly delineates the code of legal ethics Mickey lives by: "It didn't matter...whether the defendant 'did it' or not. What mattered was the evidence against him--the proof--and if and how it could be neutralized. My job was to bury the proof, to color the proof a shade of gray. Gray was the color of reasonable doubt." But by the time his client goes to trial, Mickey's feeling a few very reasonable doubts of his own.

While Mickey's courtroom pyrotechnics dazzle, his behind-the-scenes machinations and manipulations are even more incendiary in this taut, gripping novel, which showcases all of Connelly's literary gifts.

The Lincoln Lawyer is #1 in the Mick Haller series by Michael Connelly. The Brass Verdict is the second, followed by The Reversal. His latest Mick Haller novel, The Fifth Witness, is due out next month on April 5th.

Movie, 2011 directed by Brad Furman

Features: Matthew McConaughey, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe

Storyline: A lawyer conducts business from the back of his Lincoln town car while representing a high-profile client in Beverly Hills.

Did you know? Trace Atkins is in the film.

Watch the trailer:

Have you read the book or seen the movie?

When I saw previews for the movie, I didn't realize it was based on a book. The Mick Haller series sounds pretty good. I saw the movie last night and thought it was great. It reminded my of when McConaughey played Jake Brigance in the movie adaptation of Grisham's A Time to Kill.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Peach Keeper

Have you been waiting for the release of Sarah Addison Allen's next book? It came out this week!

The Peach Keeper by Sarah Addison Allen

It’s the dubious distinction of thirty-year-old Willa Jackson to hail from a fine old Southern family of means that met with financial ruin generations ago. The Blue Ridge Madam—built by Willa’s great-great-grandfather during Walls of Water’s heyday, and once the town’s grandest home—has stood for years as a lonely monument to misfortune and scandal. And Willa herself has long strived to build a life beyond the brooding Jackson family shadow. No easy task in a town shaped by years of tradition and the well-marked boundaries of the haves and have-nots.

But Willa has lately learned that an old classmate—socialite do-gooder Paxton Osgood—of the very prominent Osgood family, has restored the Blue Ridge Madam to her former glory, with plans to open a top-flight inn. Maybe, at last, the troubled past can be laid to rest while something new and wonderful rises from its ashes. But what rises instead is a skeleton, found buried beneath the property’s lone peach tree, and certain to drag up dire consequences along with it.

For the bones—those of charismatic traveling salesman Tucker Devlin, who worked his dark charms on Walls of Water seventy-five years ago—are not all that lay hidden out of sight and mind. Long-kept secrets surrounding the troubling remains have also come to light, seemingly heralded by a spate of sudden strange occurrences throughout the town.

Now, thrust together in an unlikely friendship, united by a full-blooded mystery, Willa and Paxton must confront the dangerous passions and tragic betrayals that once bound their families—and uncover truths of the long-dead that have transcended time and defied the grave to touch the hearts and souls of the living.

Resonant with insight into the deep and lasting power of friendship, love, and tradition, The Peach Keeper is a portrait of the unshakable bonds that—in good times and bad, from one generation to the next—endure forever.

Watch the book trailer:

Read an excerpt here.

The Peach Keeper is her 4th novel. She's a popular book club author!

Have you read any of her books? If you haven't, you might like to if you read Alice Hoffman or Kate Morton.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Daring to Dream: The Dream Trilogy #1 by Nora Roberts

Set in Monterey, California, this first novel in the Dream trilogy features Margo Sullivan, the feisty and beautiful daughter of a wealthy family's housekeeper. She's been offered the same privileges as the Templeton children, but Margo resents handouts. She feels she has much to prove to herself, her surrogate family, and her mother. Margo dreams big--she wants wealth, fame, and success--but she doesn't want anyone else's help. Her plan is to go as far away from home as possible, so she starts with Hollywood and then moves on to Europe, where she finds fame as a supermodel. But when her world comes crashing down around her, Margo discovers that reaching out for help--especially to your family--can be just as challenging and rewarding as solving your problems on your own.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Matched by Ally Condie

Amazon Best Books of the Month, December 2010:

For Cassia, nothing is left to chance--not what she will eat, the job she will have, or the man she will marry. In Matched, the Society Officials have determined optimal outcomes for all aspects of daily life, thereby removing the "burden" of choice. When Cassia's best friend is identified as her ideal marriage Match it confirms her belief that Society knows best, until she plugs in her Match microchip and a different boy’s face flashes on the screen. This improbable mistake sets Cassia on a dangerous path to the unthinkable--rebelling against the predetermined life Society has in store for her. As author Ally Condie’s unique dystopian Society takes chilling measures to maintain the status quo, Matched reminds readers that freedom of choice is precious, and not without sacrifice.

This is the first book in the soon to be published dystopian trilology. Book two in this series, Crossed, will be in bookstores on November 1, 2011.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Science Fiction/Fantasy Awards

Initially, I was going to post the nominees and winner of the 2010 Hugo Awards, but was surprised to find many different Sci Fi/Fantasy awards at After looking at the 2010 winners of each of the awards, it was clear that one book, The City and The City by China Mieville is a stand out. This book has taken the Hugo, Clarke, Locus F, WFA and also won the Nebula in 2009. If Sci Fi is your cup of tea, this is the book to read this year!

When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined.

Borlú must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own. This is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a shift in perception, a seeing of the unseen. His destination is Beszel's equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the rich and vibrant city of Ul Qoma. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, and struggling with his own transition, Borlú is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of rabid nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman's secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them and those they care about more than their lives.

What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlú of the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Biography, Memoir and Nonfiction

Monday, April 18, 2011
Authors @ Your Library Presents: Wendy McClure

7:00PM - 8:30PM Wendy McClure will discuss and sign her new book, "The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie."

For anyone who has ever wanted to step into the world of a favorite book, here is a pioneer pilgrimage, a tribute to Laura Ingalls Wilder, and a hilarious account of butter-churning obsession. McClure is always in pursuit of "the Laura experience." Along the way she comes to understand how Wilder's life and work have shaped our ideas about girlhood and the American West. "The Wilder Life" is a loving, irreverent, spirited tribute to a series of books that have inspired generations of American women. It is also an incredibly funny first-person account of obsessive reading, and a story about what happens when we reconnect with our childhood touchstones-and find that our old love has only deepened.

For all of those who loved Little House, this sounds like a worthwhile evening. The Schlafly location is in the central west end.

Check out her website too. It's

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Reading Challenge 2011

Today marks the beginning of a new glad winter is over!

It's time for spring cleaning...of the bookshelf! This spring, I challenge you to read the book you've had on your bookshelf for the longest time. Will you join in? I'll be reading The Almost Moon by Alice Sebold. I started listening to that book on tape over 2 years ago and never finished it! Now is the time.

For years Helen Knightly has given her life to others: to her haunted mother, to her enigmatic father, to her husband and now grown children. When she finally crosses a terrible boundary, her life comes rushing in at her in a way she never could have imagined. Unfolding over the next twenty-four hours, this searing, fast-paced novel explores the complex ties between mothers and daughters, wives and lovers, the meaning of devotion, and the line between love and hate. It is a challenging, moving, gripping story, written with the fluidity and strength of voice that only Alice Sebold can bring to the page.
What will you be reading this spring?

PS  We'll continue with the winter challenge (millenium trilogy) for another month or so and then schedule the discussion meeting.

Sunday, March 20, 2011


our new blog contributors!

    Mary will (hopefully) be posting on Mondays. She
      will be covering crime and mystery.

Veronica is in charge of Tuesay posts. Her specialty will be biographies, memoirs and nonfiction.

Linda will blog on Wednesday. Her posts will focus on science fiction.

Karen has Thursday. She will write about all things young adult.

Natalie will cover Fridays. Her area of interest is historical fiction.

Susan is the Saturday blogger. She will post about romance and chick lit.

Heather will write the Sunday posts. She's blogging about motivational and inspirational reading.

I will keep up some of the regular daily features and continue with the challenges. My other posts will cover fiction and literature.

Can't wait to see what you all have to say!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

New Poster

As my niece continues her way through medical school, the rest of our book club is going to try and help out with the daily postings. No doubt she will be keeping an eagle out for what we write so not to worry on that front. I am a teacher so I'm going to be bringing some light to young adult literature. Look for me on Thursdays each week when I will introduce you to a genre that often goes unnoticed by adults. I will feature the book, Matched this week. I have high hopes that you will find my posts informative as you look to add books to your collection.

Group Picture-The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane

We missed Heather this month.

We had a wide range of feelings about this book, but overall, we liked it. I think we wanted more history and less hocus pocus. We did like the back and foth between two time periods. It brought up a lot of good discussion points, so we definitely recommend it for book clubs.

Friday, March 18, 2011

New Author

Hello Novel Discussion followers. Look for me, Linda, in future posts, as you'll be hearing from me once a week! I'm sure I won't be able to hold a candle to Kat, but I'll give it a try!

Katniss will be played by...

Jennifer Lawrence.

What do you think of her being casted as the heroine of The Hunger Games?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thoughts for Thursday

Have you seen the Long List for the 2011 Orange Prize?

One of our 2011 picks is on the list!

Lyrics Alley by Leila Aboulela
Jamrach's Menagerie by Carol Birch
Room by Emma Donoghue
The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi
Whatever You Love by Louise Doughty
A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
The Memory of Love by Aminatta Forna
The London Train by Tessa Hadley
Grace Williams Says it Loud by Emma Henderson
The Seas by Samantha Hunt
The Birth of Love by Joanna Kavenna
Great House by Nicole Krauss
The Road to Wanting by Wendy Law-Yone
The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
The Invisible Bridge by Julie Orringer
Repeat it Today with Tears by Anne Peile
Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Lola Shoneyin
The Swimmer by Roma Tearne
Annabel by Kathleen Winter

About the Orange Prize:
The Orange Prize for Fiction celebrates excellence, originality and accessibility in women's writing from throughout the world. The winner receives a cheque for £30,000 and a limited edition bronze known as a 'Bessie', created and donated by the artist Grizel Niven. Both are anonymously endowed.
Read more here.

Barbara Kingsolver won last year for The Lacuna.

Which of the 2011 long list nominees have you read?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sunday Survey

Have you finished The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane? Less than 1 week left to finish it! We're meeting at Susan's house @ 6pm on Friday to discuss it.

5=I love it!
4=I really like it.
3=I like it.
2=It's just okay.
1=I don't like it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Do you read The Pioneer Woman's blog?

The Pioneer Woman is also known as Ree Drummond. If you haven't seen her blog, you should check it out. Lots of interesting things over there.

Her new book was just released last month:

The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels-A Love Story

I'll never forget that night. It was like a romance novel, an old Broadway musical, and a John Wayne western rolled into one. Out for a quick drink with friends, I wasn't looking to meet anyone, let alone a tall, rugged cowboy who lived on a cattle ranch miles away from my cultured, corporate hometown. But before I knew it, I'd been struck with a lightning bolt . . . and I was completely powerless to stop it.

Read along as I recount the rip-roaring details of my unlikely romance with a chaps-wearing cowboy, from the early days of our courtship (complete with cows, horses, prairie fire, and passion) all the way through the first year of our marriage, which would be filled with more challenge and strife—and manure—than I ever could have expected.

This isn't just my love story; it's a universal tale of passion, romance, and all-encompassing love that sweeps us off our feet.

It's the story of a cowboy.

And Wranglers.

And chaps.

And the girl who fell in love with them.

If you're not into love stories, she also has a cookbook: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Ranch Wife.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Movie Mondays

The Eagle

Book, 1954 by Rosemary Sutcliff

In A.D. 119 the Ninth Roman Legion marched north into the wilds of Britain beyond Agricola's Wall and disappeared without a trace. Fifteen years later, Marcus Flavius Aquila, the son of the unit's commander, embarks on a quest to recovers the lost eagle standard on the Ninth, symbol of a legion's- and his family's- honor.

The Eagle of the Ninth is heralded as one of the most outstanding children's books of the twentieth century.

Movie, 2011 directed by Kevin McDonald

Features: Channing Tatum

Storyline: In Roman-ruled Britain, a young Roman soldier endeavors to honor his father's memory by finding his lost legion's golden emblem.

Watch the trailer:

Have you read the book or seen the movie?

I didn't realize this film was based on a children's book. I haven't seen it yet, but I do love Channing Tatum!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Survey

Less than 2 weeks left to finish The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane!

5=I love it!
4=I really like it.
3=I like it.
2=It's just okay.
1=I don't like it.

We're meeting on Friday, March 18th @ Susan's house @ 6pm.

Friday, March 4, 2011

March Madness

Not that March Madness, but this one.

64 books, 1 winner! Vote for round 1 here.

If you vote, you have a chance to win a copy of ALL 64 BOOKS!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Thoughts for Thursday

Have you seen the March '11 Indie Next List yet?

There are so many interesting books on the list this month. This one in particular is at the top of my to-read list:

A Thousand Cuts by Simon Lelic

"In his powerful, wrenching debut, Lelic takes a sadly familiar crime and delves into the equally familiar menace at its root: bullying."

In this riveting debut novel about sexism, bullying, and the horrific effects of random acts of violence, Detective Inspector Lucia May investigates a school shooting in which a teacher has killed three pupils, another teacher, and then himself-a tragedy that could not have been predicted. It should be an open-and-shut case. Yet as Lucia begins to piece together the testimonies of the various witnesses, an uglier and more complex picture emerges, calling into question the innocence of others. Brilliantly interweaving the witnesses' accounts with Lucia's own perspective, A Thousand Cuts is a narrative tour de force from a formidable new voice in fiction.

A Thousand Cuts is also known as Rupture in the UK.

I love this book cover!

Which pick for March is at the top of your list?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

April Book Choices!

It's already the 1st of March! It's time to pick our book of the month for April!

Sickened by Julie Gregory | Paperback, 384 pages

A young girl is perched on the cold chrome of yet another doctor’s examining table, missing yet another day of school. Just twelve, she’s tall, skinny, and weak. It’s four o’clock, and she hasn’t been allowed to eat anything all day. Her mother, on the other hand, seems curiously excited. She''s about to suggest open-heart surgery on her child to "get to the bottom of this." She checks her teeth for lipstick and, as the doctor enters, shoots the girl a warning glance. This child will not ruin her plans.

From early childhood, Julie Gregory was continually X-rayed, medicated, and operated on—in the vain pursuit of an illness that was created in her mother’s mind. Munchausen by proxy (MBP) is the world’s most hidden and dangerous form of child abuse, in which the caretaker—almost always the mother—invents or induces symptoms in her child because she craves the attention of medical professionals. Many MBP children die, but Julie Gregory not only survived, she escaped the powerful orbit of her mother's madness and rebuilt her identity as a vibrant, healthy young woman.

Sickened is a remarkable memoir that speaks in an original and distinctive Midwestern voice, rising to indelible scenes in prose of scathing beauty and fierce humor. Punctuated with Julie's actual medical records, it re-creates the bizarre cocoon of her family's isolated double-wide trailer, their wild shopping sprees and gun-waving confrontations, the astonishing naïveté of medical professionals and social workers. It also exposes the twisted bonds of terror and love that roped Julie's family together—including the love that made a child willing to sacrifice herself to win her mother's happiness.

The realization that the sickness lay in her mother, not in herself, would not come to Julie until adulthood. But when it did, it would strike like lightning. Through her painful metamorphosis, she discovered the courage to save her own life—and, ultimately, the life of the girl her mother had found to replace her. Sickened takes us to new places in the human heart and spirit. It is an unforgettable story, unforgettably told.

Unbearable Lightness by Portia de Rossi | Hardcover, 272 pages

Portia de Rossi weighed only 82 pounds when she collapsed on the set of the Hollywood film in which she was playing her first leading role. This should have been the culmination of all her years of hard work—first as a child model in Australia, then as a cast member of one of the hottest shows on American television. On the outside she was thin and blond, glamorous and successful. On the inside, she was literally dying.

In this searing, unflinchingly honest book, Portia de Rossi captures the complex emotional truth of what it is like when food, weight, and body image take priority over every other human impulse or action. She recounts the elaborate rituals around eating that came to dominate hours of every day, from keeping her daily calorie intake below 300 to eating precisely measured amounts of food out of specific bowls and only with certain utensils. When this wasn't enough, she resorted to purging and compulsive physical exercise, driving her body and spirit to the breaking point.

Even as she rose to fame as a cast member of the hit television shows Ally McBeal and Arrested Development, Portia alternately starved herself and binged, all the while terrified that the truth of her sexuality would be exposed in the tabloids. She reveals the heartache and fear that accompany a life lived in the closet, a sense of isolation that was only magnified by her unrelenting desire to be ever thinner. With the storytelling skills of a great novelist and the eye for detail of a poet, Portia makes transparent as never before the behaviors and emotions of someone living with an eating disorder.

In this remarkable and beautifully written work, Portia shines a bright light on a dark subject. A crucial book for all those who might sometimes feel at war with themselves or their bodies, Unbearable Lightness is a story that inspires hope and nourishes the spirit.

The End of the World as We Know It by Robert Goolrick | Paperback, 240 pages

It was the 1950s, a time of calm, a time when all things were new and everything seemed possible. A few years before, a noble war had been won, and now life had returned to normal.

For one little boy, however, life had become anything but "normal."

To all appearances, he and his family lived an almost idyllic life. The father was a respected professor, the mother a witty and elegant lady, someone everyone loved. They were parents to three bright, smiling children: two boys and a girl. They lived on a sunny street in a small college town nestled neatly in a leafy valley. They gave parties, hosted picnics, went to church—just like their neighbors. To all appearances, their life seemed ideal. But it was, in fact, all appearances.

Lineage, tradition, making the right impression—these were matters of great importance, especially to the mother. But behind the facade this family had created lurked secrets so dark, so painful for this one little boy, that his life would never be the same.

It is through the eyes of that boy—a grown man now, revisiting that time—that we see this seemingly serene world and watch as it slowly comes completely and irrevocably undone.

Beautifully written, often humorous, sometimes sweet, ultimately shocking, this is a son's story of looking back with both love and anger at the parents who gave him life and then robbed him of it, who created his world and then destroyed it.

Karen is hosting the April meeting.

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