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.

Monday, 1 February 2010

Lone Survivor

In the summer of 2005, Mark Luttrell and three Navy SEALS were given the task of locating allies of Osama bin Laden in the rugged terrain of the Afghanistan mountains. When two shepherds appeared, the SEALS debated as to whether or not to kill them. Feeling merciful and obeying the rules of engagement, they let the Afghans go. Within an hour, the SEALS were surrounded by at least 100 Taliban warriors pointing AK-47s down their throats. After a violent firefight, Luttrell survived only to see his buddies perish.

This is the true account of Luttrell's harrowing five-day nightmare to escape the relentless Taliban. Dehydrated and severely wounded, Luttrell crawled up and down precipices until a village elder took mercy on him. With the help of an entire village, Luttrell was rescued by the United States military and awarded the Navy Cross for combat heroism by President George W. Bush.

In the Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, Luttrell and contributor Patrick Robinson tell the story of four gallant Navy SEALS and their valiant fight to protect our country. If you want an action packed story and a true insight into becoming a Navy SEAL, read the Lone Survivor.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The House of Mirth

In the classic The House of Mirth, Edith Wharton explores the aristocratic society of the Gilded Age, about 1876-1901. Following the Industrial Revolution, the richer were getting richer and poor getting poorer. In this satire, Wharton tells the story of Miss Lily Bart and her desperate attempt to secure a wealthy husband and a position in society, while passing up true love and happiness.

Twenty-nine year old Lily has beauty and intelligence, but no means for her extravagant lifestyle. She lives with her wealthy aunt, Miss Peniston, on Fifth Avenue. A constant on the social circuit, Lily spends her days buying custom clothing and her nights gambling at bridge, which eventually leads to her demise. Slowly ostracized from society, Lily struggles to regain her faltering position, only to find herself in a boarding house without the support of her moneyed friends.

While Wharton's novel is a romantic love story, it also explores the greed and ruthlessness of New York Society. Her prose captures the political subtleties, social manners and the lavish lifestyle of the era.

"...the only way not to think about about money it to have a great deal of it."

Wharton's characterization paints perfect pictures of the selfish and shallow personalities inhabiting the Gilded Age. By the end of the novel, readers almost feel sorry for Miss Bart and her failure to survive in a world dominated by the wealthy and the wealthier.

Monday, 18 January 2010

What's a Classic?

If you gather a room of literary experts, they won't agree on the definition of a classic book. So what makes a book a classic and why? Below are few thoughts to ponder defining classics.

1. Classics crosses cultural barriers, make connections with readers and have universal appeal.
2. Classics endure the test of time and remain popular of years.
3. Classics have recurring themes such as love, hate, death, life and faith.
4. Classics are relevant to society and address social issues.
5. Classics are respected because of their impact on society.
For a hotly debated list of the top 100 books visit