George R.R. Martin Releases New "Winds of Winter" Chapter


George R.R. Martin has released a new chapter from The Winds of Winter, his long-awaited sixth book in the Song of Ice and Fire series. There is still no official release date for The Winds of Winter, so stay tuned. In the meantime, fans can enjoy this latest glimpse of what is to come of our friends in Westeros. And to further tide over anxious fans there's A World of Ice and Fire, a comprehensive history of the world Martin has created, from the Andals and the First Men to Robert's Rebellion and beyond.

The new chapter is from the point of view of Sansa Stark, who is now... well, I won't say. Read the books, or watch the show! The speculation is that because the Game of Thrones TV show characters' story lines are veering further away from their counterparts in the books, Martin wanted to get his interpretation of Sansa out there ahead of HBO's Game of Thrones season 5 premiere on April 12. I prefer to think that he's just a benevolent creator who knew his fans needed a crumb before the feast. But maybe "benevolent" isn't quite the right word. Is "beneviolent" a word?

And remember, maybe not today and maybe not tomorrow, but The Winds of Winter is coming!

Diego & Frida

From now through mid-July the Detroit Institute of Arts is hosting the exhibition Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Detroit. The exhibit focuses on their lives and work before Detroit, during Detroit, and after Detroit. Diego and Frida spent 1932-1933 in Detroit, where Diego worked on the Detroit Industry murals that are painted on the walls of the DIA. The work is amazing, as is the exhibit. Here’s a sneak peek of the magic if you haven’t been yet.

There’s been a lot of buzz about this exhibit and the artists are popping up all over the place, particularly Frida. Feeling inspired for more? Take a peek at the Caldecott Honor picture book Viva Frida!. There are also many other books and DVDs on Diego and Frida in the AADL collection, including the exhibit catalog that’s on order, and the visual book Diego Rivera: The Detroit Industry Murals.

New Nonfiction for Kids: Why'd They Wear That?

We’ve all seen pictures and paintings of people wearing some pretty crazy clothing and fashions over the course of history. Why have clothes changed so much over time? What caused different accessories and styles to come into fashion… and to fade back out again? If questions like this pique your interest, National Geographic’s Why’d They Wear That? is the book for you! Filled with amazing fashion facts and the reasons behind some of the more obscure style trends we’ve seen over time, this awesome book is also packed with great pictures of clothes and the people that wore them.

Did you know that in the 1700s in France, women’s hoop skirts were so wide that they had to turn sideways to get through doorways? After the storming of the Bastille, these cumbersome skirts quickly went back out of fashion—women couldn’t hope to escape with their lives if they couldn’t even get through a door!

And, before the 1860s, shoes weren’t mass produced with left and right feet: they were all just straight! So, wearing shoes was often very painful. You could only custom order right and left-footed shoes if you were very wealthy. Finally, it 1865, this problem was remedied when appropriately designed shoes were made widely available.

Why’d They Wear That has information like these crazy facts you just read, and so much more. And, for another cool book on fashion and style over time, try The Fashion Book.

PreK Bits - "A" is for April foolishness

Ms. Rachel fooled around with foolish stories in Preschool Storytime.
MOST WONDERFUL EGG In The WORLD ...a story about three hens who argue over who is most beautiful. Since they can't settle the argument, the wise Queen must decide.
We made ourselves into chickens and danced the "Chicken Pokey" ... using chicken language!
DUCK ! RABBIT !... for those who don't know when to let go of an argument.

For more Foolishness, try the following favorites:
The TORTOISE And The HARE, a fable where humble wins. This version is illustrated by award winning Jerry Pinkney.
STREGA NONA: An Old Tale by award winning Tomie DePaola. The spaghetti wins !
The GREAT FUZZ FRENZY by award winning Janet Stevens. The Fuzz wins !
SHEEP IN WOLF'S CLOTHING by Helen Lester
CAMPING SPREE WITH MR. MAGEE by Chris Van Dusen.
JUST JOKING: 300 hilarious jokes, tricky tongue twisters, and ridiculous riddles
KNOCK KNOCK! WHO's THERE?

New Adult Fiction: Viper Wine

Viper Wine, the debut by Hermione Eyre, is far from your typical historical fiction novel. Considered a great beauty of her day, Venetia Stanley is popular at the 17th century court of Whitehall palace, adored by her husband, and revered by painters and poets who all wish to pay homage to her looks. After years of marriage and motherhood, however, Venetia feels that her looks are beginning to fade, and asks her husband, Sir Kenelm Digby, a charismatic inventor who dabbles in alchemy, to assist her in finding a potion or elixir that will preserve her youth. He refuses, claiming that she is perfect just the way she is. Forced to look elsewhere for help, Venetia is eventually given a potion that contains viper’s blood and opium, and that works…. for awhile. As other women at the court follow in Venetia’s footsteps, the elixir becomes all the rage, with disastrous consequences.

Eyre draws obvious parallels between Venetia’s desire for physical perfection and today’s obsession with beauty and looks. She even deftly weaves into Viper Wine cameo appearances by today’s celebrities, including Naomi Campbell and Groucho Marx, thus creating a truly unique reworking of the idea of the historical novel. Venetia Stanley, her husband, and several other characters are actual people from the era of Charles I, and it’s clear that Eyre devoted extensive time to the research of this book. This fascinating exploration into how far we have gone… and continue to go, to achieve beauty will appeal to even those who typically avoid historical fiction.

Get to Know the Judges: Erin McCahan


Leading up to the It's All Write Teen Short Story Contest celebration on June 7 (mark that on your calendar!), we'll be posting information about the judges who have the difficult task of narrowing down our contestants. Our next judge is Erin McCahan, an author born in our own beloved Michigan (East Grand Rapids)!

McCahan grew up in Ohio and is very proud of her Irish heritage. She's particularly interested in Victorian and Colonial history. Her published works include I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SOMEONE ELSE (2010) and LOVE AND OTHER FOREIGN WORDS (2014). LOVE is a comedic coming-of-age story in which gifted teenager Josie must contend with the upcoming nuptials of her sister to an insufferable fiance and the mixed emotions involving her boyfriend, her crush, and her best friend Stu. Josie's genius-level IQ can't help her out when it comes to mastering the languages of familial, romantic, or platonic relationships, but one way or another, she has to figure it out.

The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones

The new season of Game of Thrones is almost here and for many fans April 12th cannot come soon enough! If you're as excited as I am about the return of the new season, you may be on the lookout for any small sliver of (non-spoiler!) Game of Thrones news or for more content to devour before the start of the 5th season.

A recent addition to our collection is The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones, a comprehensive history of the Game of Thrones universe. As many of George R. R. Martin's fans know, one of his many strengths is the complex worldbuilding within the Game of Thrones novels. The World of Fire and Ice does an amazing job of simplifying the plethora of information offered throughout the series into a (relatively) concise history of the Game of Thrones world.

This 326 page mega-book contains detailed maps of the Game of Thrones world, color illustrations, full family trees for each of the major Houses, and an extended history with cultural information spanning the entire Game of Thrones universe. It also includes all-new material that George R. R. Martin wrote specifically for this collection. This incredibly informative companion novel is a must read for fans searching for an in-depth look at the history of Essos, Westeros, and everywhere in between.

Looking for a quicker way to get reacquainted with your favorite Game of Thrones characters and their backgrounds? Give the Game of Thrones graphic novels a try! For more information about the HBO television series specifically, be sure to take a look at Inside HBO's Game of Thrones for a cool sneak peek at what happens behind the scenes of one of the most popular shows on television.

Fire & Ice Series

Michael Ridpath is an English author with a banking background who has written a few different series, including a financial series. His latest is the Fire & Ice series. With four novels so far, the mystery books are set in Iceland and follow a main detective named Magnus Jonson and his colleagues as they investigate crimes and murder in Reykjavík and beyond.

Magnus was born in Iceland, but due to family problems he moved to Boston with his father and brother at a young. After working homicides for the Boston Police Department, he moved back to Iceland to work as a homicide detective there. He immediately delves into cases, explores family history, Icelandic sagas, and the death of his father.

It’s a good readalike for Arnaldur Indriðason’s wonderful Reykjavík Murder Mystery series as well as Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s. Thora Gudmundsdóttir series.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #520

Plague Land * * by S.D. Sykes. Dispatched to a monastery at the age of seven, now at seventeen Oswald de Lacy assumes the title Lord of Somershill Manor when his father and two older brothers too, succumb to the Plague that has decimated the countryside. Left at home are his overbearing mother and his dangerous and unmarried sister Clemence.

In quick succession, local villagers Alison Starvecrow and her sister are found murdered, which the ambitious village priest blames on a band of demonic dog-headed man. It is now Oswald's responsibility to solve the crimes. But every step Oswald takes seems to lead him deeper into a dark maze of political intrigue, family secrets and violent strife.

"Sykes adds an intricate and intriguing debut (the first of a planned series) to the ever-widening pool of medieval-era mysteries. Thrilling plot twists and layered characters abound in this rich tale of murder and mystery in 14th-century Kent."

Readers might enjoy watching the Brother Cadfael series, based on mysteries by Ellis Peters; and Hugh De Singleton series by Melvin R. Starr.

Sadly, this brings to mind The Siege Winter, a stand-alone by the late Ariana Franklin (and completed upon her death by her daughter Samantha Norman), whose award-winning series based on the character of Adelia Aguilar, a medieval woman forensic pathologist will be fondly remembered by historical mystery fans.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #519 - “When we are children we seldom think of the future. This innocence leaves us free to enjoy ourselves as few adults can. The day we fret about the future is the day we leave our childhood behind.” ~ Patrick Rothfuss

Man at the Helm * by Nina Stibbe (Love, Nina : a nanny writes home), an impressive first novel, has been compared to P. G. Wodehouse in its pacing; and Gerald Durrell's memoir My Family and Other Animals (1956), about an eccentric family's relocation to the Greek isle of Corfu, and a BBC Masterpiece Theater adaptation.

The narrator, 9-year old Lizzie Vogel has lived a charmed life. But when his homosexual affair is discovered, Lizzie's father packs them off to the tiny village of Flatstone, where life for the Vogels takes a drastic turn. The new neighbors are hostile and disapproving (of divorcees and fatherless children), and Lizzie's theatrical mother slips ever more into drinks, pills, and obsessive playwriting. Lizzie and her all-knowing older sister fear that the infamous Crescent Homes for Children is in their future, unless they could find a new husband for their mother, and a new "man at the helm" for the household. As one unsuitable suitor follows another, chaos ensues. Lizzie confronts the downright craziness of grown-up love and learns that sometimes a family needs to veer catastrophically off-course in order to find true happiness.

"An extraordinarily well-written, deeply satisfying read about an unusual, highly entertaining group of people." "Charming and bittersweet, with a very English flavor, this social comedy is distinguished by Stibbe's light touch and bright eye." Check out the New York Times Review.

Everlasting Lane * by Andrew Lovett is "(a) captivating, absorbing, and suspenseful evocation of the spells of childhood in a timeless coming-of-age tale."

After the death of his father, 9-year old Peter Lambert moves with his mother to the village of Amberley, and a cottage on Everlasting Lane. As the new kid, he is befriended only by the other two outcasts in his class - chubby Tommie and the neighborhood bossy Anna-Marie. Escaping the bullies, they find pleasure and solace in the countryside and soon meet up with local eccentrics who prefer solitude.

At home, Peter is disturbed by the growing awareness that his own aggrieved mother might be falling apart - first by changing her name, and then expressly forbidding him from entering a locked room in the attic.

Written in beautiful prose, "as charming and haunting as the movie Stand By Me... (w)ith nods to such children's classics as Alice in Wonderland, Lovett's first novel, inspired by events from his own childhood, contemplates the often very fine line between imagination and reality."

* = starred review

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