Monday, 29 March 2010

The Witch's Trinity

It is 1507 in Tierkinddorf, a medieval village in the woods of Germany. On the brink of a famine, peasants are convinced a witch has cast a spell on the village affecting their crops and animals.

When Gude Muller's son, Jost, leaves with a hunting party, her vile daughter-in-law, Irmeltrud, locks her out of the hutte grateful for one less mouth to feed. Confused and hungry, Gude wanders the snow covered forest and begins to see mysterious apparitions and hear garbled voices resembling the devil in the forms of animals. Shadows and voices appear tormenting Gude and forcing her to question her own reality.

Along comes an itinerant friar claiming he can extract confessions from the afflicted and save the village. And everyone is a suspect. Using the witchcraft manual, Malleus Maleficurm - The Witch's Hammer, the friar relentlessly interrogates villager after villager determined to identify the guilty and burn them at stake.

Erika Mailman takes a dark historical period and adds an element of mystery and supernatural. She paints a stark picture of life in a medieval village and peppers the tale with German language adding folklore. As the plot evolves and the characters develop, an intensity of paranoia grows with villagers using any deceptive means to escape the stake.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Prepub alert

Here is a list of popular fiction novels scheduled for release
in the next few months. Enjoy!

Brown, Dale. Executive Intent, May 2010
Deaver, Jeffery. The Burning, June 2010
Evanovich, Janet. Sizzlling Sixteen: A Stephanie Plum Novel, June 2010
Isaacs, Susan. As Husbands Go, July 2010
Johansen, Iris & Roy. Shadow Zone, July 2010
Kellerman, Faye. Hangman. August 2010
Lowell, Elizabeth. Death Echo, June 2010
Margolin, Phillip. Supreme Justice, June 2010
Martini, Steve. The Rule of Nine: A Pail Madriani Novel, June 2010
McCall Smith, Alexander. Corduroy Mansions, July 2010
McEwan, Ian. Solar, March 2010
Patterson, James & Maxine Paetro. Private, June 2010

Sunday, 21 March 2010


by Gil Adamson

With nothing more than the clothes on her back, the Widow, absconds westward into the mountains of Canada hiding from two ruthless men relentlessly tracking her.

It is 1903 and Mary Boulton is widowed by her own hands. Haunted by her own madness and and delusional visions, Mary forges a primitive existence living on wild vegetation, while running from her twin brothers-in-laws, who are determined to vindicate their brother's death.

Lost, hungry and exhausted, Mary encounters an unconventional cast of characters in her journey offering her shelter, sanctuary and eventually sanity. Details of her harrowing past, a disappointing marriage and death of infant, slowly emerge as the character delves deeper into the rugged wilderness and the recesses of her mind.

First time novelist, Gil Adamson, is an author to appreciate. Her lean prose, curious characters, descriptive settings create a well-balanced novel readers of literary fiction will enjoy. Adamson's work has been compared to literary award winner Charles Frazier, author of Cold Mountain.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Book Buzz

Even though The Passage is scheduled for a June release, the 700 page post-apocalyptic novel about a six-year old girl determined to save the world from a virus turning victims into blood thirsty monsters is receiving lots of media attention. The trilogy is being compared to Stephen King's The Stand in plot and length,

While jogging with his then nine-year old daughter, novelist and English professor at Rice University, Justin Cronin hatched a suspenseful page thriller destined to hit the best seller list. Besides selling the manuscript to Ballantine for $3 million, Fox 2000 also snagged the movie rights.

Expect a sweeping market campaign including a website for consumers here, book trailers, maps and downloadable giveaways.

Friday, 5 March 2010

What do you read?

Recently, I was lucky enough to take a reader's advisory workshop sponsored by my employer featuring Nancy Pearl. In case you are not familiar with Nancy, she is the queen of reader's advisory, an author, NPR commentator and the former Executive Director of the Washington Center for the Book. And she even has an action figure designed after her. Not bad for a librarian!

Nancy says readers select reading material based on four elements: plot, character, setting and literary with plot being the most popular and literary the least. Of course, many books overlap criteria. And the best novels balance more than one element.

Examples of plot driven books include legal thrillers, suspense and adventure novels by authors like Tom Clancy, John Grisham and Dan Brown. These books are often referred to as page-turners and appear on best seller lists. If you open a novel and see a lot of white space, it is probably a plot driven book.

In character driven novels, authors develop and follow a main protagonist, such Lily Bart in the House of Mirth. Other examples include Huckleberry Finn and Cather in the Rye. Authors use characters to tell a story using their emotions and experiences. Many books on Oprah's list are character driven novels.

Books based on setting include a specific time period or location. Many readers enjoy historical fiction, which falls in this category. Novels such as the Other Boleyn Girl (Tudor Dynasty) by Philippa Gregory and the Prince of Tides (South Carolina) by Pat Conroy are both examples of books with prominent settings.

And last but not least is literary fiction. Literary fiction requires some thinking and is not for everyone. Authors capture readers with the use of language, description, imagery and prose. Literary fiction is the hardest category to define, crosses all genres and often includes more than one element such as plot, character development and setting.

Many classics and award-winning books fall under literacy fiction. Of course, what one reader considers literary another reader may deem trash. Some examples of literary fiction include The Grapes of Wrath by Steinbeck, Snow Falling on Cedars by Guterson and Breakfast at Tiffany's by Capote.

It is important to remember, there is a book for every reader, a reader for every book but not all books are for all readers!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

After all the media hype promoting Shanghai Girls, I have say I was quite disappointed. While the author, Lisa See, definitely did her research on the historical fiction novel, the plot and subplots were unbelievable and predictable. The ending has no resolution and leaves readers hanging. A sequel has been rumored. In my opinion, the Lee had better start a new novel.
It is 1937 and Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, especially for Chinese sisters, Pearl and May. The sisters are well-educated and sophisticated, but their affluent life quickly crumbles, when there fathers sells them to Chinese-Americans as wives to cover his gambling debts.
The roller coaster novel explores the pains of Chinese immigrants and Angel Island, prejudice of Chinese in America and the role of Chinese wives. If the author had spent more time showing readers through character and plot development, rather than telling them, the shallow book would have been better. Instead the novel is a series of horrible events leading up to nothing, except survival by two superficial characters.
Do yourself a favor and leave this book on the shelf. If you really want to understand Chinese culture and traditions, treat yourself to a novel by Amy Tan.