Renowned author P.D. James, died at 94


P.D. James was well-known for her Adam Dalgleish mysteries, but film buffs will also recognize her work from the 2006 film Children of Men, which was adapted from her novel of the same name. She passed away yesterday at age 94, and in her obituary she is hailed as a "grande dame of mystery" and as a successor to Agatha Christie's title of "Queen of Crime." Her good friend and fellow crime author Val McDermid has published a short remembrance of James.

James' detective Adam Dalgleish is a great example of a "gentleman detective" and his quiet, unassuming persona resonates with readers. Fans of Louise Penny's Armand Gamache may enjoy Dalgleish, who is similiarly thoughtful and artistically-inclined. The Dalgleish mysteries have also all been adapted into television series, and fans of Inspector Morse may find some of his appeal in the portrayal of Dalgleish.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #497 - “To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” ~ Thomas A. Edison

For those interested in the history of books and printing, you simply cannot pass up Gutenberg's Apprentice * * * by Alix Christie - "(a)n enthralling literary debut that evokes one of the most momentous events in history, the birth of printing in medieval Germany - a story of invention, intrigue, and betrayal, rich in atmosphere and historical detail, told through the lives of the three men who made it possible."

Caught at the center of the Gutenberg/Fust saga is Peter Schoeffer. At 25, an up-and-coming scribe at the Sorbonne, he is summoned home to Mainz by his father Johann Fust who adopted the orphaned Peter and spares no expense in his education. It turns out that Fust, a wealthy merchant and bookseller has met & financed the workshop of the "most amazing man", and to whom he intends to apprentice Peter.

Johann Gutenberg, a driven and caustic inventor, has devised a revolutionary machine he calls a printing press. Resentful at having to abandon a prestigious career as a scribe, Peter begins his education in what the Catholic Church condemns as "the darkest art".

As his skill grows, so, too, does his admiration for Gutenberg and his dedication to their daring venture: copies of the Holy Bible, Peter finds himself torn between two father figures: the generous Fust, and the brilliant, mercurial Gutenberg, who inspires Peter to achieve his own mastery. "Despite obstacles posed by the Church, guilds, family, and friends, Fust, Gutenberg, and Schoeffer's tenuous collaboration culminates in the Gutenberg Bible."

"An inspiring tale of ambition, camaraderie, betrayal, and cultural transformation based on actual events and people, this wonderful novel fully inhabits its age." Readers who enjoyed The Justification of Johann Gutenberg by Blake Morrison might very well get the rest of the story here.

A note about the author... Native Californian Alix Christie dedicates this book to a long line of master printers, including the two master letterpress printers she apprenticed with. A published journalist who turned to fiction in the 1990s, she now lives in London.

* * * = 3 starred reviews

Free Holiday Classic Film Series at The Michigan Theater!

The Michigan Theater is topping off the holiday season with a series of FREE holiday movies shown on Sundays at 1:30pm. The State Street Area Association Holiday Classic Film Series presented by Sesi Lincoln and Old National Bank. The films start showing this Sunday!

This year’s classic holiday films shown will be: Home Alone on 11/30, Miracle on 34th Street on 12/7, Elf on 12/14, and It’s a Wonderful Life on 12/21. How fun! It’s a great way to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the season and sit down for a free movie in a beautiful theater! Want to just stay home? The library has you covered with the DVDs of the films.

New TV Series @ AADL

The library is always acquiring additional TV shows and new seasons of them, be they hot and new, or oldies but goodies. Good news comes with these particular new DVDs! You can now get the entire season in one check-out! Hello, binge watching! All the discs are in one case with an extended check-out period. Here are some new-to-AADL series on order:

The Strain, Season 1
When a freak virus kills all but four passengers on an airplane at JFK, Ephraim Goodweather, head of the Center for Disease Control's "Canary Team," is immediately called to the scene. With help from a mysterious Holocaust survivor, "Eph" and his colleague uncover the outbreak's ties to vampirism. Now, the only way to stop the terrifying disease from wiping out mankind is to face its source, a sinister supernatural creature known as "The Master."

Intruders, Season 1
A chilling paranormal tale about an evil secret society devoted to chasing immortality by taking refuge in the bodies of the living. Add to this a sinister agent bent on executing the unlucky to cover his crimes and a ten-year-old girl who picks the most dangerous moment to run away from home.

Drunk History, Seasons 1 & 2
Historical reenactments from A-list talent as told by inebriated storytellers. Based on the award-winning and wildly popular web series, this follows the drunken and often incoherent narration of historical moments.

Looking, Season 1
The series revolves around three thirty-something friends living in San Francisco, who explore the exciting, sometimes overwhelming, options available to a new generation of gay men. Patrick is a 29-year-old video game designer, aspiring artist Agust’n, 31, questions the idea of monogamy, and the group’s oldest member, Longtime waiter Dom, 39, is facing middle age with dreams still unfulfilled.

Black Sails, Season 1
1715. New Providence Island is a lawless territory, controlled by notorious pirate captains. The most feared is Captain Flint. As the British Navy returns to exterminate Flint and his crew, another side of him emerges. He allies himself with Eleanor Guthrie, daughter of the local kingpin, to ensure their survival. Many opponents stand in their way: rival captains; Eleanor's father; and John Silver, recently recruited onto Flint's crew, who constantly undermines his captain's agenda.

AADL has also ordered new DVDs of seasons that we already own, but now all in one box ready for binge watching -- For shows such as The Wire, The Sopranos, The X-Files, Arrested Development, and more!

Fore more TV shows, be sure to check out AADL’s lists for HOT TV shows, as well as NEW TV shows.

PreK Bits - Lucky Leaves


Ms. Rachel brought "Leaf Time" to Storytime ... for "L" day ....

FROG And TOAD ALL YEAR ... "The Surprise" by Arnold Lobel ... Frog sets out to surprise Toad one day, and Toad has a surprise for Frog!
We sang with Miss Sara and her guitar ... "Going On An "L" Trip" to the tune of "Going On A Picnic" ... and packed our "luggage" with "leaves", "locomotive", "lady", "lovey", "(front-end) loader", "light", "ladder", "lip balm" ... you get the idea! =-D
LITTLE OWL LOST by Chris Haughton ... little owl fell from his nest ... is lost ... and looking for Mommy.

For more stories from "leaf time" .... try the following recommends:
The LITTLE YELLOW LEAF by Carin Berger
SNEEZE BIG BEAR, SNEEZE! by Maureen Wright
BIG WOLF & LITTLE WOLF and The LITTLE LEAF THAT WOULDN'T FALL by Nadine Brun-Cosme.
TAP The MAGIC TREE by Christie Matheson
FALL BALL by Peter McCarty
EXTRA YARN by Mac Barnett
... then have a cup of cider or some luscious baked pumpkin squash ...

The Best of 2014 (Suggestions to get a jumpstart on Black Friday)

Library Journal's The Best of 2014 is a mix of the Top Ten of the year and the best of this year' s genre fiction, graphic novels, business, consumer health, craft & DIY, memoirs, and science.

Titles on the LibraryReads Top Ten Favorites that public library staff most enjoyed recommending in 2014 are no strangers. They are sure bets!

I quite like the list of 30 Books You NEED To Read In 2014 posted by The Huffington Post. Some of them might have been flying under the media radar this past year but everyone of them is an exceptional read. Definitely for the adventurous literary reader.

School Library Journal's Best Books of 2014. These 70 books distinguish themselves with excellence in writing, art, design, storytelling, originality, and appeal. From picture books to nonfiction, for lap-sharing and independent readers.

For the visual readers of all ages, check out the New York Times Best Illustrated Books Awards. The 2014 winners are a feast for the senses.

Alright... you are twisting my arm. If you must (toys, I mean), here are some suggestions you can count on...

Parents Magazine rated this year's best toys for every age, starting with baby and ending with big kids! These 58 winners (at all price points, I might add) would bring you kisses and hugs. There is even a list of toys for kids with special needs.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #496

Classical violinist Louisa Treger (biography) depicts the life and loves of Dorothy Richardson (1873-1957), one of the most important writers of the 20th century in a fictional biography The Lodger, - "(a) compelling story of one woman tormented by unconventional desires."

The novel opens in 1906 with Dorothy Richardson being invited to spend a weekend in the country with her old school friend Amy Catherine (called Jane now) and her new husband Bertie (H.G.) Wells, a writer hovering on the brink of fame. The sumptuous meals and idyllic seaside setting stand in sharp contrast to Dorothy's attic room in a seedy Bloomsbury boarding house, and her £1/week wage as an assistant to a Harley Street dentist.

But what draws Dorothy most (though he first appears unremarkable) are Well's grey-blue eyes and "his intellect and impish nature". Despite her good intention not to betray her friend, Dorothy free-falls into an affair with Bertie.

When a new boarder arrives at the boarding house, the beautiful Veronica Leslie-Jones, Dorothy finds herself caught between Veronica and Bertie. Amidst the personal dramas and wreckage of a militant suffragette march, Dorothy finds her voice as a writer.

"The early 1900s weren't exactly a friendly time for single women in London, and the book does a wonderful job of showing Dorothy's desire for independence as well as her fear of being alone... Treger's writing flows easily and the book is impeccably researched (including Richardson's twelve-volume autobiographical novel-sequence Pilgrimage), making this an enjoyable read."

"Dorothy Richardson may not be a household name, but Treger's novel does a fine job of showing just how compelling her life was in this novel full of passion, history and literature." For readers who enjoy Virginia Woolf (who btw, considered Richardson a literary rival) and Edith Wharton.

Stunning Debut Fiction: Etta and Otto and Russell and James

Etta and Otto and Russell and James, by Emma Hooper, is described as “a gorgeous literary debut about an elderly woman’s last great adventure walking across Canada. A beautiful novel of pilgrimage, of fulfilling lifelong promises, of a talking coyote called James, of unlikely heroes and hundreds of papier-mâché animals….”

Elderly Otto wakes up one morning to find his eighty-two-year-old wife gone from their bed. Upon walking into the kitchen of their home, he finds a carefully penned note from her saying that she has set off on a walk to fulfill her lifelong dream of seeing the ocean, and that she’ll try to remember to come back home. The only problem: the ocean is 2008 miles away from the couple’s home in Saskatchewan.

Otto surprisingly doesn’t pursue his beloved wife, but instead keeps himself busy and his worries at bay by carefully crafting hundreds of papier-mâché animals and writing Etta long letters that he does not know where to send. Otto’s close friend Russell, who has loved Etta from afar for decades, insists on finding Etta, however. He leaves his farm for the first time in his life determined to pursue her and bring her home safely.

Etta, meanwhile, steadfastly continues her journey to the ocean accompanied by a friendly coyote named James, and as her trip goes on the lines between memory, illusion and reality become increasingly blurry. The book itself is a mixture of memory and reality, too; it’s not told in chronological order, but rather blends emotions and experiences in the present with those from the past.

The stunning descriptions of Canada are a wonderful backdrop to this novel that “reminds us that it’s never too late to see the things you’ve longed to see, or say the things you’ve longed to say.”

NEW Picture Book: Mix It Up!

As a fan of Hervé Tullet’s fantastic interactive picture book Press Here, I was excited to take a peek at the author’s latest interactive picture book, Mix It Up! The premise behind the book is simple but so much fun! Children are directed to mix colorful patches of paint (really just pictures of paint) in a variety of ways – from mixing it with their fingers to squishing the patches of paint together – and then turn the page to reveal the new color their mixing has created. Far less messy than traditional fingerpainting, this innovative picture book is great for young children learning all about colors.

Fans of the author may also want to check out his other brand-new picture book, 10 Times 10, a counting book coming soon to our shelves!

National Book Award Winner for Young People's Literature

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson won the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature at last night's awards ceremony. In the book the author shares her childhood memories and reveals the first sparks that ignited her writing career in free-verse poems about growing up in the North and South. The other finalists in this category were:

Threatened by Eliot Schrefer

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin

Noggin by John Corey Whaley

Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two by Deborah Wiles

See the full 2014 National Book Award list of winners in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. (And AADL's list of the titles in the catalog for quick hold placing!)

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