October 26, 2016

Is “The Death of Books” Eminent? Nope!

Is “The Death of Books” Eminent? Nope!

We often hear that people aren’t reading much these days. Is the death of books eminent? New research by the Pew Center points out that people are still reading paperback and even hardcover books – in fact, often preferring them to e-books. It startled me into recalling a conference I attended while still a book editor in publishing – I seem to recall 1981 as the year – entitled “The Death of Books.” Hah. People read books and e-books. More people are listening to audiobooks. We have many more choices in how we consume the stories between book covers, even as we discover more and more sophisticated ways to acquire information. Here’s an interesting article about how reading real books is still pervasive. And here’s another about the growing interest in audiobooks, which is why we podcast for…

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October 18, 2016

When Trouble Is Truly Worth It: Two YA Book Reviews

When Trouble Is Truly Worth It: Two YA Book Reviews

Note: We welcome contributor Simran P. Gupta back to the Café with reviews of two new young adult [YA] novels. She’s not only a thoughtful literary critic and skilled essayist, but she’s opening an avenue into a literary genre which we haven’t given the attention it deserves. When Trouble Is Truly Worth It: Two Essential YA Novels To Help Ring in the School Year By Simran P. Gupta             The title of YA novelist Tony Wallach’s second book, Thanks for the Trouble, may have a sarcastic echo to it upon a first read. Upon reading the book, however, a wry and heartfelt tone emerges. The “trouble,” after all, is what forces the development of protagonist Parker Santé. Wallach’s story starts out as an enigma, through sullen, introverted Parker’s POV. A mute who prefers to spend…

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September 16, 2016

Podcast: “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis, Episode 2

Podcast: “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis, Episode 2

Here we continue our September podcast of the Amazon/Audible audiobook, “It Can’t Happen Here,” with thanks to Amazon, Blackstone Audio, Inc. and the excellent narration by Grover Gardner. In this segment we see how Senator “Buzz” Windrip insidiously works toward becoming president from the perspective of Doremus Jessup, editor of a small-town Vermont newspaper. In case you missed last Friday’s first episode, it’s here. If you have any concerns about the sentiment of the American people or their feelings about the current presidential candidates, you owe it to yourself to listen to, or read, this novel. The Audiobooks version is available here on Amazon for a very reasonable price, or free if you take a one-month subscription.

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September 14, 2016

When Ghosts of the City’s Past Linger: A Review of “The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen,” by Simran P. Gupta

When Ghosts of the City’s Past Linger: A Review of “The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen,” by Simran P. Gupta

Editor’s Note: With this book review, we take great pleasure in introducing Simran P. Gupta, a new and talented contributor to Fictional Café. Learn more about Simran at the end of her review. We hope to be seeing a lot more of her writing here at the Café! When Ghosts of the City’s Past Linger: A Review of “The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen,” by Simran P. Gupta Katherine Howe’s YA novel, The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen, is a perfect combination of spooky and romantic. The result is an equally enthralling and chilling story. Perhaps most impressive is the fact that Howe has written a love story in which one half of the equation is a ghost– yet she never says the word. As summer eases into autumn, this is a perfect book to…

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September 9, 2016

Podcast: “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis, First Episode

Podcast: “It Can’t Happen Here” by Sinclair Lewis, First Episode

In 1935, a well regarded novelist named Sinclair Lewis published a book entitled It Can’t Happen Here.  The story concerns a senator who is perceived as a man of, for and by the people. But when elected president, he reveals himself as a dictator and turns the United States into a totalitarian police state. This is a story which, 81 years later, still makes Americans cringe. Yet as we look toward the 2016 presidential elections, it’s hard to escape the fact that the Republican candidate frequently rings this bell. For further evidence of this view, read this op-ed from the Boston Globe by Joan Wickersham, “An eerily familiar fiction.” Once a stage play, the novel was never made into a movie. Fortunately, it was made into an Audible Audiobook, which we are excerpting here with…

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August 11, 2016

Book Review: “Secrets Can’t Be Kept Forever” by Stephen Seitz

Book Review: “Secrets Can’t Be Kept Forever” by Stephen Seitz

I recently attended “Bookstock 2016,” the Woodstock, Vermont, annual book festival. Many of us authors had our published works on display, for sale, and it was there I met author Stephen Seitz and his wife Susan. He’s written quite a few novels in the mystery genre and as we talked I became more interested in reading his work. I bought this one, Secrets Can’t Be Kept Forever, in paperback. The story begins innocently enough, focusing on the trials and tribulations of Ace Herron, the crime reporter for a small local newspaper that’s been bought by a media conglomerate. In the course of his work he learns of a father who has embezzled a large sum from his employer, kidnapped his son, and taken off for parts unknown. Ace pursues the story, which takes many surprising twists…

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June 26, 2016

The Last Novel of Alexandre Dumas – Troisieme Partie (Part 3)

The Last Novel of Alexandre Dumas – Troisieme Partie (Part 3)

If Alexandre Dumas were alive today, he would be living fat, admired and happy with the royalties just from his two biggest hits, The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo. In all likelihood, you have read one or both of these novels, which are among the finest examples of the thriller genre – and glorious writing to book. Dumas, writing some 200 years ago, knew what audiences liked, and he gave it to them. Michael Ross writes in his biography, “Of ten plays by Dumas and Victor Hugo, eight of the characters are adulteresses; five are common prostitutes; six are seduced; four mothers are in love with their sons or son-in-law; eleven persons are murdered; and in no less than six of these plays the leading character is either a foundling or a…

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June 24, 2016

Podcast: David Foster Wallace’s “Infiinte Jest” at 20 Years of Age

Podcast: David Foster Wallace’s “Infiinte Jest” at 20 Years of Age

The world is divided into two groups: those who have read the late David Foster Wallace’s masterpiece, Infinite Jest, and those who have not. Tipping in at just over a thousand pages, and described on Amazon as “A gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the Pursuit of Happiness in America set in an addicts’ halfway house and a tennis academy,” it’s not for everyone. I confess I bought it with high enthusiasm. Couldn’t wait to read it. Now, twenty years on, it’s still resting on my bookshelf, unread. Yet after hearing the people in this New York Times Book Review podcast discuss it, upon the occasion of the 20th anniversary edition being published, I’m ready. Sometimes books are like that, aren’t they? You just have to wait until you’re ready to read it. This podcast was originally netcast…

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June 21, 2016

A Visit to Dumas’ Chateau de Monte Cristo, Deuxieme Partie

A Visit to Dumas’ Chateau de Monte Cristo, Deuxieme Partie

“I confess that the sensation attaching to the name of an absent person bedazzled me. I became ambitious of this glory of making people talk about me places where I was not.” – Alexandre Dumas   Paris, 13 Mai, 2016. In France, a country that reveres its authors, Alexandre Dumas is considered a national treasure. He was a prolific writer, most notably for stage plays, novels, and travel nonfiction. He is said to have written 100,000 words, an estimate which, given that he penned some 400 works, must certainly be a low estimate. Dumas was also a man who lived large and loved every moment of his life, which speaks to his character and a subject of equal or greater interest: Le Chateau de Monte-Cristo. [You might enjoy watching this short video, although it’s in French.]…

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June 17, 2016

Podcast: Michael Connelly, Stephen King, John LeCarre, Frederick Forsyth and More!

Podcast: Michael Connelly, Stephen King, John LeCarre, Frederick Forsyth and More!

If you’re an avid bookie, you probably read The New York Times Book Review, which comes tucked inside the Sunday paper. For some time now Pamela Paul, the NYTBR’s editor, has been creating podcast interviews and other book news in a podcast. This month, we’re highlighting not one but several we think you’ll enjoy listening to. The first is an interview with a popular crime thriller author, LA’s own Michael Connolly, author of the fabulous Harry Bosch and Lincoln Lawyer tales, discussing his most recent novel, The Crossing. It’s followed by Alexandra Alter’s in-depth exploration about how Stephen King came up with the ideas to write the short stories in his latest collection, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams. A review of Adam Sisman’s biography of the king of spy novelists, John Le Carre, author of The Spy Who…

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