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AUTHOR’S BIO

Author Bio
• Birth—September 25, 1964
• Where—Barcelona, Spain
• Awards—Edebe Children’s Literary Award, Best Novel, 1993
• Currently—lives in Barcelona and Los Angeles, California, USA

Carlos Ruiz Zafon is a Spanish novelist. His first novel, El Príncipe de la Niebla (The Prince of Mist, 1993), earned the Edebe literary prize for young adult fiction. He is also the author of three more young adult novels, El Palacio de la Medianoche (1994), Las Luces de Septiembre (1995) and Marina (1999). The English version of El Príncipe de la Niebla was published in 2010.
In 2001 he published the novel La Sombra del Viento (The Shadow of the Wind), his first “adult” novel, which has sold millions of copies worldwide. Since its publication, La Sombra del Viento has garnered critical acclaim around the world and has won many international awards. His next novel, El Juego del Angel, was published in April 2008. The English edition, The Angel’s Game, is translated by Lucia Graves, daughter of the poet Robert Graves. It is a prequel to The Shadow of the Wind, also set in Barcelona, but during the 1920s and 1930s. It follows (and is narrated by) David Martin, a young writer who is approached by a mysterious figure to write a book. Ruiz Zafon intends it to be included in a four book series along with The Shadow of the Wind. The Third book in the cycle, El Prisionero del Cielo, appeared in 2011, and was published in English in 2012 as The Prisoner of Heaven.
Ruiz Zafon’s works have been published in 45 countries and have been translated into more than 50 different languages. According to these figures, Ruiz Zafon is the most successful contemporary Spanish writer (along with Javier Sierra and Juan Gomez-Jurado). Influences on Ruiz Zafon’s work have included 19th century classics, crime fiction, noir authors and contemporary writers.
Apart from books, another large influence comes in the form of films and screenwriting. He says in interviews that he finds it easier to visualize scenes in his books in a cinematic way, which lends itself to the lush worlds and curious characters he creates

BIBLIOGRAPHY

2001 The Shadow of the Wind
2008 The Angel’s Game
2010 The Prince of Mist
2011 The Prisoner of Heaven
2011 The Midnight Palace
2012 The Rose of Fire
2013 Marina
2015 Two-Minute Apocalypse
2017 The Labyrinth of Spirits

KIRKUS REVIEW

Ruiz Zafón brings his sprawling Cemetery of Forgotten Books tetralogy to a close that throws in everything but the kitchen sink, but that somehow works.

It’s a very nice touch—spoiler alert—that the female lead of Ruiz Zafón’s latest should use a pen to do in a bad guy in a spectacularly gruesome way: “He collapsed instantly,” he writes gleefully, “like a puppet whose strings had been severed, his trembling body stretched out over the books.” Books are everywhere, of course, inasmuch as this story begins and ends in the hands of the bookseller Daniel Sempere Gispert, who, as ever, is caught up in stories that are in part of his own devising and in part the product of other storytellers—altogether very Cervantesque, that. The story begins in the crucible of the Spanish Civil War, when a very young Alicia Gris, that female lead, comes into the orbit of Fermín Romero de Torres, himself a bookish fellow who connects to Alicia immediately through her love of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “Anything to do with falling down a hole and bumping into madmen and mathematical problems is something I consider highly autobiographic,” he tells her. Fermín harbors secrets: As readers of earlier volumes will know, he has been imprisoned as a spy in Franco’s jails, and a certain jailer who has risen in the ranks of the postwar Nationalist government is due for some payback—retribution that involves, yes, books and writers and literary clues and all manner of puzzles. Ruiz Zafón clearly has had a great deal of fun in pulling this vast story together, and if one wishes for a little of the tightness of kindred spirit Arturo Perez-Reverte, his ability to keep track of a thousand threads while, in the end, celebrating the power of storytelling is admirable. Take that pen, for instance, which “is like a cat—it only follows the person who will feed it.” Even, it seems, if that food is vitreous fluid….

A satisfying conclusion to a grand epic that, of course, will only leave its fans wanting more.

THE AUDIOBOOK

The audio book is narrated by Daniel Weyman and is 27 hrs and 55 mins.

Watch Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s interview on writing the series Cemetery of Forgotten Books YouTube.







AUTHOR’S BIO

Rebecca Kuang immigrated to the US from Guangzhou, China in 2000. She is currently studing Chinese history at Georgetown, where her research focuses on Chinese military strategy, collective trauma, and war memorials. She is a 2018 Marshall Scholar, and will be heading to the University of Cambridge next fall to do her graduate studies.

Fiction-wise, She graduated from Odyssey Writing Workshop in 2016 and attended the CSSF Novel Writing Workshop in 2017. Her debut novel, The Poppy War, is the first installment in a trilogy that grapples with drugs, shamanism, and China’s bloody twentieth century.

BOOKPAGE REVIEW

In Nikan, opium opens the gateway to the gods. Confined to their Pantheon in the spirit realm, they can only hope to influence the choices of those on earth with whispered promises through the haze of pipe smoke. For Rin, an undersized orphan, the thought of communing with the gods is terrifying. But as the drums of war begin to beat in R.F. Kuang’s extraordinary debut novel The Poppy War, Rin discovers that a day might come when she has no choice.

After testing into Sinegard, the most elite military academy in Nikan, Rin Fang discovers she is special. Through training with a seemingly insane professor, her shamanistic ability to conjure fire starts to blossom. When Mugen, a militaristic empire who defeated Nikan in previous Poppy Wars, invades their homeland, the students find themselves dispersed into the middle of a horrific ground war. Rin, conscripted into a misfit band of shaman outcasts, must fight both the ever-advancing Mugen army and her increasing sense that something inside her desperately wants to escape. Her sanity might be the price of finding the answers.

R.F. Kuang must first be congratulated on seamlessly drawing on and then reshaping Chinese history as influence for the world Rin inhabits. Martial arts sparring sessions and colorful street parades instantly conjure images of western Asian culture, but at no point does this world ever feel like a simple reflection of our own. Nikan’s richly detailed culture and history feel substantial and authentic, supporting the characters’ actions as the war unfolds.

And when that war begins, it’s almost shocking in its realness. It is not a conflict fought far away as Rin sits idly in a classroom. The violence is immediate, visceral and wrenching, pulling on the reader’s sense of disgust and anger. The “war is hell” trope plays out solemnly and intimately here, leaving no character untouched. By the climax of the narrative, everyone the reader meets is scarred.

Thank goodness we have Rin to lead us through it. Her tenacity, stubbornness and insecurity are instantly sympathetic and Kuang’s attention to Rin’s feelings opens up oceans of emotional depth. There’s a definite weight to Rin’s conflicting choices that only builds as the suspenseful final act plays out. It would be a thrill to see Rin, fresh from the crucible of The Poppy War, on the pages of a sequel novel. With such a brilliant start, one can’t help but think how certain hers and Kuang’s futures surely are.

THE AUDIOBOOK

The audio book is narrated by Emily Woo Zeller and is 18 hrs and 57 mins.

Watch Rebecca Kuang’s interview on her novel The Poppy War YouTube.







AUTHOR’S BIO

A writer turned lawyer turned writer.
Robert Dugani was born on February 17, 1961 in Pocatello, Idaho, United States. He was raised in Northern California the middle child of a family of ten siblings. Dugoni jokes that he didn’t get much of a chance to talk, so he wrote. By the seventh grade he knew he wanted to be a writer.

Dugoni wrote his way to Stanford University, receiving writing awards along the way, and majored in communications/journalism and creative writing while working as a reporter for the Stanford Daily. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa and worked briefly as a reporter in the Metro Office and the San Gabriel Valley Office of the Los Angeles Times.

Dugoni attended the UCLA law school and practiced law for 13 years in San Francisco. His longing to return to writing never wavered, however, and in 1999 he awoke one morning and made the decision to quit law and write novels. On the 4-year anniversary of his wedding day, keeping a promise to his wife, he drove a u-haul trailer across the Oregon-Washington border and settled in Seattle to pursue his dreams.

NOVELS

A Steep Price, July 2018
The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell, May 2018
Close to Home, September 2017
The Trapped Girl, February 2017
The 7th Canon, October 2016
In The Clearing, May 2016
Her Final Breath, September 2015
My Sister’s Grave, November 2014
The Conviction, June 2012
Murder One, May 2012
Bodily Harm, June 2010
Wrongful Death, February 2010
Damage Control, February 2007
The Jury Master, March 2006

KIRKUS REVIEW

Quite a departure from Dugoni’s dark novels about Detective Tracy Crosswhite (The Trapped Girl, 2017, etc.): the frankly inspirational tale of a boy who overcomes the tremendous obstacles occasioned by the color of his eyes.

Samuel James Hill is born with ocular albinism, a rare condition that makes his eyes red. Dubbed “the devil boy” by his classmates at Our Lady of Mercy, the Catholic school his mother, Madeline, fights to get him into, he faces loneliness, alienation, and daily ridicule, especially from David Freemon, a merciless bully who keeps finding new ways to torment him, and Sister Beatrice, the school’s principal and Freemon’s enabler, who in her own subtler ways is every bit as vindictive as he is. Only the friendship of two other outsiders, African-American athlete Ernie Cantwell and free-spirited nonconformist Michaela Kennedy, allows him to survive his trying years at OLM. In high school, Sam finds that nearly every routine milestone—the tryouts for the basketball team, the senior prom, the naming of the class valedictorian—represents new challenges. Even Sam’s graduation is blasted by a new crisis, though this one isn’t rooted in his red eyes. Determined to escape from the Bay Area suburb of Burlingame, he finds himself meeting the same problems, often embodied in the very same people, over and over. Yet although he rejects his mother’s unwavering faith in divine providence, he triumphs in the end by recognizing himself in other people and assuming the roles of the friends and mentors who helped bring him to adulthood. Dugoni throws in everything but a pilgrimage to Lourdes, and then adds that trip as well.

Although the author acknowledges in a postscript that his story is perhaps “too episodic,” his life of Sam Hell is inspiring and aglow with the promise of redemption.

THE AUDIOBOOK

The audio book is narrated by the author and is 11 hrs and 41 mins.

Watch Robert Dugani’s interview on his novel The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell YouTube.







AUTHOR’S BIO

• Birth—N/A
• Where—Silver Spring, Maryland, USA
• Education—B.A., George Washington University; M.A., Cambridge University;
J.D., University of Pennsylvania
• Currently—lives in Cherry Hill, New Jersey

Pam Jenoff was born in Maryland and raised outside Philadelphia. She attended George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Cambridge University in England.

Upon receiving her master’s in history from Cambridge, she accepted an appointment as Special Assistant to the Secretary of the Army. The position provided a unique opportunity to witness and participate in operations at the most senior levels of government, including helping the families of the Pan Am Flight 103 victims secure their memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, observing recovery efforts at the site of the Oklahoma City bombing and attending ceremonies to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of World War II at sites such as Bastogne and Corregidor.

Following her work at the Pentagon, Pam moved to the State Department. In 1996 she was assigned to the U.S. Consulate in Krakow, Poland. It was during this period that Pam developed her expertise in Polish-Jewish relations and the Holocaust. Working on matters such as preservation of Auschwitz and the restitution of Jewish property in Poland, Pam developed close relations with the surviving Jewish community.

Pam left the Foreign Service in 1998 to attend law school and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. She worked for several years as a labor and employment attorney both at a firm and in-house in Philadelphia and now teaches law school at Rutgers.

Pam is the author of The Kommandant’s Girl, which was an international bestseller and nominated for a Quill award, as well as The Diplomat’s Wife, The Ambassador’s Daughter, Almost Home, A Hidden Affair and The Things We Cherished.

She lives outside Philadelphia with her husband and three children.

NOVELS

The Kommandant’s Girl (2007)
The Diplomat’s Wife (2008)
Almost Home aka The Officer’s Lover (2009)
A Hidden Affair (2010)
The Things We Cherished (2011)
The Ambassador’s Daughter (2012)
The Winter Guest (2014)
The Last Embrace (2015)
The Last Summer at Chelsea Beach (2015)
The Orphan’s Tale (2017)

KIRKUS REVIEW

An absorbing saga of 20th-century Korean experience, seen through the fate of four generations.

A Jewish trapeze artist and a Dutch unwed mother bond, after much aerial practice, as the circus comes to Nazi-occupied France.

Ingrid grew up in a Jewish circus family in Darmstadt, Germany. In 1934, she marries Erich, a German officer, and settles in Berlin. In 1942, as the war and Holocaust escalate, Erich is forced to divorce Ingrid. She returns to Darmstadt to find that her family has disappeared. A rival German circus clan, led by its patriarch, Herr Neuhoff, takes her in, giving her a stage name, Astrid, and forged Aryan papers. As she rehearses for the circus’ coming French tour, she once again experiences the freedom of an accomplished aerialist, even as her age, late 20s, catches up with her. The point of view shifts (and will alternate throughout) to Noa, a Dutch teenager thrown out by her formerly loving father when she gets pregnant by a German soldier. After leaving the German unwed mothers’ home where her infant has been taken away, either for the Reich’s Lebensborn adoption program or a worse fate, Noa finds work sweeping a train station. When she comes upon a boxcar full of dead or dying infants, she impulsively grabs one who resembles her own child, later naming him Theo. By chance, Noa and Theo are also rescued by Neuhoff, who offers her refuge in the circus, provided she can learn the trapeze. The tour begins with a stop in Thiers, France. Astrid is still leery of her new apprentice, but Noa catches on quickly and soon must replace Astrid in the act due to the risk that a Nazi spectator might recognize her. Noa falls in love with the mayor’s son, Luc, who Astrid suspects is a collaborator. Astrid’s Russian lover, Peter, a clown, tempts fate with a goose-stepping satire routine, and soon the circus will afford little protection to anybody. The diction seems too contemporary for the period, and the degree of danger the characters are in is more often summarized than demonstrated.

An interesting premise imperfectly executed.

THE AUDIOBOOK

The audio book is narrated by Jennifer Wydra, Kyla Garcia and is 12 hrs and 57 mins.

View Pam Jenoff on her novel The Orphan’s Tale YouTube.







AUTHOR’S BIO

Lee was born in Seoul, South Korea. Her family came to the United States in 1976, when she was seven years old, and she grew up in Elmhurst, Queens, New York.[1] Her parents owned a wholesale jewelry store there. She attended the Bronx High School of Science, and later studied history at Yale College and law at Georgetown University Law Center. She also worked as a corporate lawyer in New York for several years before becoming a writer. She lived in Japan for four years from 2007 to 2011. Lee lives in New York with her son, Sam, and her husband, Christopher Duffy, who is half-Japanese.

Lee also served three consecutive seasons as a “Morning Forum” English-language columnist of South Korea’s newspaper Chosun Ilbo.

She has also lectured about writing, literature, and politics at Columbia, Tufts, Loyola Marymount University, Stanford, Johns Hopkins (SAIS), University of Connecticut, Boston College, Hamilton College, Harvard Law School, Yale University, Ewha University, Waseda University, the American School in Japan, World Women’s Forum, the Tokyo American Center of the U.S. Embassy and the Asia Society in New York, San Francisco and Hong Kong.

NOVELS
Pachinko, 02-07-17
Free Food for Millionaires, 06-06-07

KIRKUS REVIEW

An absorbing saga of 20th-century Korean experience, seen through the fate of four generations.

Lee (Free Food for Millionaires, 2007) built her debut novel around families of Korean-Americans living in New York. In her second novel, she traces the Korean diaspora back to the time of Japan’s annexation of Korea in 1910. “History has failed us,” she writes in the opening line of the current epic, “but no matter.” She begins her tale in a village in Busan with an aging fisherman and his wife whose son is born with a cleft palate and a twisted foot. Nonetheless, he is matched with a fine wife, and the two of them run the boardinghouse he inherits from his parents. After many losses, the couple cherishes their smart, hardworking daughter, Sunja. When Sunja gets pregnant after a dalliance with a persistent, wealthy married man, one of their boarders—a sickly but handsome and deeply kind pastor—offers to marry her and take her away with him to Japan. There, she meets his brother and sister-in-law, a woman lovely in face and spirit, full of entrepreneurial ambition that she and Sunja will realize together as they support the family with kimchi and candy operations through war and hard times. Sunja’s first son becomes a brilliant scholar; her second ends up making a fortune running parlors for pachinko, a pinball-like game played for money. Meanwhile, her first son’s real father, the married rich guy, is never far from the scene, a source of both invaluable help and heartbreaking woe. As the destinies of Sunja’s children and grandchildren unfold, love, luck, and talent combine with cruelty and random misfortune in a deeply compelling story, with the troubles of ethnic Koreans living in Japan never far from view.

An old-fashioned epic whose simple, captivating storytelling delivers both wisdom and truth.

THE AUDIOBOOK

The audio book is narrated by Allison Hiroto and is 18 hrs and 16 mins long.

View Min Jin Lee on her novel Pachinko YouTube.



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