Thursday, June 28, 2012

If You Like Robert Ludlum

Bestselling author Robert Ludlum died in 2001, but part of the legacy he left behind were several series (such as the one starring Jason Bourne) that have continued after his death. Generally fast-paced thrillers with dedicated heroes in life-threatening scenarios, Ludlum and Ludlum-like novels tend to take place all over the world and incorporate a hefty amount of spycraft to boot. The books listed below were written by novelists who, one way or another, have an association with Robert Ludlum, whether they were co-authors (Gayle Lynds), write for Ludlum series (Eric Lustbader, Kyle Mills), or write in a similar style (Jack Higgins). 

Rough Justice by Jack Higgins

Spy Fiction. Robert Ludlum readers looking for more books like his will likely enjoy Jack Higgins, whose strong characters complete their missions, no matter the cost, in espionage novels that focus on military details and the politics of war and victory. In Rough Justice, the 15th Sean Dillon thriller, presidential aide Blake Johnson gets tangled up with Harry Miller, the newest recruit on team Dillon. Death, destruction, and retaliation follow as the Russians try to start a war and the British and the Americans try to prevent one. Because the series has evolved over time, you may be confused by a few names if you've skipped a few books; to start at the beginning, pick up Eye of the Storm. The latest, A Devil Is Waiting, is newly published.

Last Snow by Eric Lustbader

Suspense Fiction. When he's not writing books for Robert Ludlum's Jason Bourne series, bestselling author Eric Lustbader has a healthy career writing his own novels. In this 2nd Jack McClure novel, the presidential strategic adviser is dispatched to Eastern Europe after a U.S. senator dies under mysterious circumstances. But his assignment there is complicated by two unlikely companions -- a rogue Russian agent and the U.S. president's daughter -- and attacks on his own life. With plenty of spycraft and a breakneck pace, this is one that Ludlum fans are sure to enjoy.

Agent 6 by Tom Rob Smith

Thriller. Tom Rob Smith's debut, Child 44, was both an award-winning, bestselling book and the 1st in a trilogy. Agent 6 is the 3rd and final novel in that trilogy, which no doubt has Smith's fans worried. But readers who loved the details of life in the Soviet regime will continue to be fascinated here, as the empire decays and -- in an interesting reflection of U.S. involvement there today -- invades Afghanistan. Spanning decades and continents, this final book finds an exhausted but determined Leo Demidov hunting for answers he's been denied for years. It also offers a conclusion to a stunning story that most readers will reach "with regret and in awe" (Publishers Weekly).

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Happy Birthday. Pearl S. Buck!

Today we celebrate the birthday of esteemed author, Pearl S. Buck.  Also known by her Chinese name Sai Zhenzhju , she was an American writer who spent most of her time until 1934 in China. Her novel The Good Earth was the best-selling fiction book in the U.S. in 1931 and 1932, and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932. In 1938, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, "for her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces."

To honor her today, we're sharing some of her most memorable quotes:

“Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.”

"The test of a civilization is in the way that it cares for its helpless members”

“If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.”

“You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.”
“The secret of joy in work is contained in one word-excellence. To know how to do something well is to enjoy it.”

Monday, June 25, 2012

Debut Mondays: The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker

With a voice as distinctive and original as that of The Lovely Bones, and for the fans of the speculative fiction of Margaret Atwood, Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles is a luminous, haunting, and unforgettable debut novel about coming of age set against the backdrop of an utterly altered world.

“It still amazes me how little we really knew. . . . Maybe everything that happened to me and my family had nothing at all to do with the slowing. It’s possible, I guess. But I doubt it. I doubt it very much.”
On a seemingly ordinary Saturday in a California suburb, Julia and her family awake to discover, along with the rest of the world, that the rotation of the earth has suddenly begun to slow. The days and nights grow longer and longer, gravity is affected, the environment is thrown into disarray. Yet as she struggles to navigate an ever-shifting landscape, Julia is also coping with the normal disasters of everyday life—the fissures in her parents’ marriage, the loss of old friends, the hopeful anguish of first love, the bizarre behavior of her grandfather who, convinced of a government conspiracy, spends his days obsessively cataloging his possessions. As Julia adjusts to the new normal, the slowing inexorably continues.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Debut Mondays: Orphanmaster by Jean Zimmerman

From a debut novelist, a gripping historical thriller and rousing love story set in seventeenth-century Manhattan

It’s 1663 in the tiny, hardscrabble Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, now present-day southern Manhattan. Orphan children are going missing, and among those looking into the mysterious state of affairs are a quick-witted twenty-two-year-old trader, Blandine von Couvering, herself an orphan, and a dashing British spy named Edward Drummond.

Suspects abound, including the governor’s wealthy nephew, a green-eyed aristocrat with decadent tastes; an Algonquin trapper who may be possessed by a demon that turns people into cannibals; and the colony’s own corrupt and conflicted orphanmaster. Both the search for the killer and Edward and Blandine’s newfound romance are endangered, however, when Blandine is accused of being a witch and Edward is sentenced to hang for espionage. Meanwhile, war looms as the English king plans to wrest control of the colony.

Jean Zimmerman brings New Amsterdam and its surrounding wilderness alive for modern-day readers with exacting period detail. Lively, fast paced, and full of colorful characters, The Orphanmaster is a dramatic page-turner that will appeal to fans of Hilary Mantel and Geraldine Brooks.

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Friday Five: Amy Bloom Edition

Today we celebrate the birthday this week of fiction writer Amy Bloom by sharing some of her best quotes.  Amy Bloom's character driven novels are filled with the joys and traumas of life and feature an adept understanding of emotional intelligence drawn from her years as a practicing psychotherapist. Bloom's characters, whether they are a young girl coming of age or a couple struggling with marital problems, leap from the pages with strong, descriptive voices conveying stories about life, death, and love. Lush with emotional resonance and vivid imagery, Bloom's works treat readers to rich, utterly believable narratives in which the full spectrum of human emotions -- from love to hatred -- is on display.

“Love at first sight is easy to understand; it's when two people have been looking at each other for a lifetime that it becomes a miracle.”
“There is no such thing as a good writer and a bad liar.”
“The past is a candle at great distance: too close to let you quit, too far to comfort you.”
“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.”
“A blind man can see how much I love you.”

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

If You Loved The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan . . .

Try these other great reads!  All available at your favorite library. 

Ghost Knight by Cornelia Funke
Eleven-year-old Jon Whitcroft and new friend Ella summon the ghost of Sir William Longspee, who may be able to protect Jon from a group of ghosts that threatens him harm from the day he arrives at Salisbury Cathedral's boarding school. Includes historical notes.

The Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh
In 1347, when fourteen-year-old orphan William Paynel, an impoverished servant at Crowfield Abbey, goes into the forest to gather wood and finds a magical creature caught in a trap, he discovers he has the ability to see fays and becomes embroiled in a strange mystery involving Old Magic, a bitter feud, and ancient secrets.

Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos by RL Fevers
Eleven-year-old Theo uses arcane knowledge and her own special talent when she encounters two secret societies, one sworn to protect the world from ancient Egyptian magic and one planning to harness it to bring chaos to the world, both of which want a valuable artifact stolen from the London museum for which her parents work.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Debut Mondays: Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead

Maggie Shipstead’s Seating Arrangements is a stunning debut, an irresistible social satire that is also an unforgettable meditation on the persistence of hope, the yearning for connection, and the promise of enduring love.

Winn Van Meter is heading for his family’s retreat on the pristine New England island of Waskeke. Normally a haven of calm, for the next three days this sanctuary will be overrun by tipsy revelers as Winn prepares for the marriage of his daughter Daphne to the affable young scion Greyson Duff.  Winn’s wife, Biddy, has planned the wedding with military precision, but arrangements are sideswept by a storm of salacious misbehavior and intractable lust: Daphne’s sister, Livia, who has recently had her heart broken by Teddy Fenn, the son of her father’s oldest rival, is an eager target for the seductive wiles of Greyson’s best man; Winn, instead of reveling in his patriarchal duties, is tormented by his long-standing crush on Daphne’s beguiling bridesmaid Agatha; and the bride and groom find themselves presiding over a spectacle of misplaced desire, marital infidelity, and monumental loss of faith in the rituals of American life.
Hilarious, keenly intelligent, and commandingly well written, Shipstead’s deceptively frothy first novel is a piercing rumination on desire, on love and its obligations, and on the dangers of leading an inauthentic life, heralding the debut of an exciting new literary voice. 

Friday, June 08, 2012

The Friday Five: Ray Bradbury Edition

Today we remember the legend, Ray Bradbury, author of  Fahrenheit 451, by sharing some of his famous quotes.  Thank you, Mr. Bradbury, for your literary contributions.  We will miss you.

You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”
“Stuff your eyes with wonder, live as if you'd drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It's more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.”
“There's no use going to school unless your final destination is the library.”
“Anything you dream is fiction, and anything you accomplish is science, the whole history of mankind is nothing but science fiction. ”
“We are an impossibility in an impossible universe.”

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Coming Soon! Tumbleweeds by Leah Meacham

Devoted readers of Leila Meacham will devour this long, juicy page-turner. TUMBLEWEEDS is the story of three young friends-the saint, the sinner, and the angel-growing up together in the sort of small Texas Panhandle town that lives and dies by its Friday night football games. A fateful event casts a long shadow over these three intertwined lives and leaves the reader turning the pages desperately to see how it all plays out.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Debut Mondays: The 500 by Matthew Quirk

A gripping thriller debut, set deep in the heart of the world's most powerful political arena

A year ago, fresh out of Harvard Law School, Mike Ford landed his dream job at the Davies Group, Washington's most powerful consulting firm. Now, he's staring down the barrel of a gun, pursued by two of the world's most dangerous men. To get out, he'll have to do all the things he thought he'd never do again: lie, cheat, steal-and this time, maybe even kill.
Mike grew up in a world of small-stakes con men, learning lessons at his father's knee. His hard-won success in college and law school was his ticket out. As the Davies Group's rising star, he rubs shoulders with "The 500," the elite men and women who really run Washington — and the world. But peddling influence, he soon learns, is familiar work: even with a pedigree, a con is still a con.
Combining the best elements of political intrigue and heart-stopping action, THE 500 is an explosive debut, one that calls to mind classic thrillers like The Firm and Presumed Innocent. In Mike Ford, readers will discover a new hero who learns that the higher the climb, the harder — and deadlier — the fall.

Friday, June 01, 2012

The Friday Five: Walt Whitman Edition

To celebrate Walt Whitman's birthday on May 31st, we've selected some of his most loved quotes.

“Do I contradict myself? Very well, then, I contradict myself; I am large -- I contain multitudes.”

“Be curious, not judgmental.”
“Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.”
“Whatever satisfies the soul is truth.”
“Do anything, but let it produce joy.”