Fabulous Fiction Firsts #46

Starred reviews in Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, “this brilliant debut is a must read”.

Set in Chicago, The Blade Itself opens with a botched pawnshop robbery that would send young Evan to prison while Danny, his partner and childhood friend walks away and builds himself a respectable life. Seven years later, Evan is out and looking for payback. In an attempt to outwit Evan without succumbing to his past life, Danny devises a kidnap/ransom scheme that would bring on escalating collateral damage.

The Most Magnificent Mosque by Ann Jungman

The Most Magnificent Mosque celebrates the beauty of Cordoba’s Great Mosque and the cooperation of three clever boys of different faiths.

Michigan Notable Books 2007

The Library of Michigan's annual selection (annotations are from the Library of Michigan list):

Burning Rainbow Farm: How a Stoner Utopia Went Up in Smoke by Dean Kuipers. Bloomsbury.
This detailed and readable account describes the 2001 tragedy on Tom Crosslin and Rollie Rohm's farm in Vandalia, a rural Cass County town. Crosslin founded Rainbow Farm in 1993 as a shelter for marijuana smokers, libertarians, disconnected gays and lovers of live music. Local authorities charged Crosslin and Rohm with growing marijuana, used social services to remove Rohm's son from the farm, and began taking the necessary steps to confiscate the property. Kuipers provides an account of the incident and argues that maximum force is not always morally justified when dealing with the emotional issues surrounding the War on Drugs.

Death's Door: The Truth Behind Michigan's Largest Mass Murder by Steve Lehto. Momentum Books.
This book explores the enduring mystery and drama surrounding the 1913 Christmas Eve tragedy at Italian Hall in Calumet. After a still-unidentified man falsely cried, "Fire," more than 70 people, many of them children, were crushed to death in the stairwell amidst the panicked crush to flee the building. The author expertly analyzes the objectivity of the local newspaper coverage, the coroner's inquest, and the mystery surrounding the doors (did they open inward or outward?), and reaches several thought-provoking, startling, and controversial conclusions.

Donutheart by Sue Stauffacher. Alfred A. Knopf.
In this young adult sequel to Donuthead set in fictional central and west Michigan, Franklin is still obsessive but begins to gain a heart for others. His good friend Sarah needs help, but will not tell Franklin what is going on. Will Franklin take action and help Sarah? An enthralling tale of two youngsters who each learn to make their own decisions and deal in very individual ways with a puzzling grownup world. The story is a beautiful mixture of funny and original characters, intermingled with the frustrating issues of growing up.

January New and Noteworthy

The Song is You* by Megan Abbott.
Noir crime fiction by an Edgar Award nominee. "Shiz-bang adventure through Tinseltown's underbelly" when two starlets gone missing. A retro thrill ride.

The Sidewalk Artist (FFF) by Gina Buonaguro and Janice Kirk.
Alternating between contemporary Paris and Renaissance Italy this debut novel follows two parallel, intertwined romances. Novelist Tulia Rose comes to Europe looking for inspiration but unexpectedly finds romance with a mysterious, talented sidewalk artist while researching the story of Renaissance painter Raphael and his secret lover. A touch of magic and plenty of cappuccino.

Arlington Park* by Rachel Cusk.
Over the course of one rainy day, the Whitbread Award-winner plumbs the extraordinary inner nature of the ordinary suburban English life. “Darkly comic, deeply affecting and wise”.

The Bastard of Istanbul* by Elif Shafak
Turkish author recently cleared by the government of “denigrating Turkishness” because of her frank look at Turkish-Armenian antipathy, gives us this enlightening and entertaining novel of 4 generations of the Kazanci women, set in Istanbul.

The Terror* by Dan Simmons.
Scurvy, frostbite, botulism, and an enomous THING out on the ice plagued Sir John Franklin’s failed 1840 mission to find the Northwest Passage. A spellbinding sea story with grisly details.

Red River* by Lalita Tademy
A follow-up to her 2001 Oprah sensation Cane River – this time the repercussions of the Colfax Riot of 1873 – an engrossing and eye-opening emotional family saga.

* = Starred Review(s)

New Year’s Resolution: Write a Bioblog

Bioblogs: Resumes for the 21st Century by Michael Holley Smith.

From the back cover of the book: "What is a Bioblog? It is a stunning, attention-getting, graphics-based art form that workers of the future will use to get hired by the best employers. A Bioblog will make you, as a knowledge worker, stand out from the pack of job seekers. It will present a unique version of you and tell employers what you can do for them in the future, as opposed to what you have done for different employers in the past. The old standard is no more. Bioblogs are the resumes of the future."

eve Contemporary Cuisine Methode Traditionelle

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eve: Contemporary Cuisine Methode Traditionnelle by Eve Aronoff is a beautiful and daunting cookbook, celebrating the food from the restaurant in Kerrytown.

Be sure you have thoroughly read the recipes before attempting to prepare them. You may need to make a trip to a local Asian or Middle Eastern ethnic food store, order some spices online, run out to Zingerman’s, Durham’s Tracklements, Monahan’s Seafood Market, Sparrow’s Meat Market, Morgan and York, or the Farmer’s Market. You may have to prepare some of the ingredients listed before attempting the main recipe.

For me the recipes are more likely to entice me to eat at eve than to attempt to actually cook the dishes. The chapter on Accompaniments has some recipes that are simpler. Even here the Fingerling Potatoes are best fried in rendered duck fat pulled from Durham Tracklement’s cured duck breast prosciutto.

In addition to the recipes and the lovely photographs there are occasional charming pieces by Eve Aronoff about the restaurant, her culinary background, her family, local food purveyors, and members of the staff.

Baby Bits - Shower Them With Books

There's a Blizzard of NEW books at the library perfect for reading to baby. Shower them with Books and some day they'll read to you! My recent discoveries are Overboard! by Sarah Weeks; The First Day Of Winter by Denise Fleming; The Cats's Meow by Warren Kimble; Mommy Carry Me Please! by Jane Cabrera; Fly Little Bird by Tina Burke; Sail Away Little Boat by Janet Buell; Time To Get Up by David Milgrim; and Bebe Goes Shopping by Susan Middleton Elya.

Heavenly Houdini

Houdini fans will delight in the rush of biographies about the fascinating daredevil/ghost chaser/magician. My personal favorite is Escape!: the story of the Great Houdini by Fleischman,Sid, award winning author, who was enchanted with magic as a child and became a friend of Houdini’s widow. She gave him the never before seen photos for this book. Other new biographies of the infamous magician are Houdini: world's greatest mystery man and escape king by Kathleen Krull and Harry Houdini: a magical life by Elizabeth MacLeod

“I am not so bad a person once you get to know me . . .”

Iggy gets kicked out of high school and there’s no one at home for him to tell. His mother has been gone for days, his father is stoned on the couch and the phone’s been disconnected, so even his social worker can’t get through.

Walking away from his public housing, Iggy sets out to make something of his life. Not an easy task when he has no skills and his only friend is mixed up with the dealer who got his mom hooked.

Iggy’s got problems galore, but Iggy also has the kind of wisdom that lets him see what no one else can. Try Saint Iggy.

Great stuff I have been reading...

I read a lot of great graphic novels and manga this past year and some of the titles that really left lasting impressions on me include: Abandon the Old in Tokyo by Yoshihrio Tatsumi, the seminal gekiga style mangaka. The manga series One Piece by Eiichiro Oda - wacked out and super fun pirate tales jammed with memorable characters, places and stories. Another is Ellen Forney's I Love Led Zeppelin - yet another wild ride celebrating alternative lifestyles and musings on memories. Rounding out the list are Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: a family Tragicomic - yes, it's as good as they say it is! Be sure to check out her Dykes to Watch Out For collections too...

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