The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

If you are looking for an Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz read alike with a fairy twist you should certainly give Catherynne Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making a try.

The story begins with a 12 year old girl named September. September is an ordinary girl from Omaha, Nebraska who longs to play a special part in an adventure. After a character from Fairyland called The Green Wind steals her away one night, she finally gets her chance to experience some excitement. She meets many fantastical characters and makes some good friends along the way, including A-Through-L, a wyvern who believes his father to have been a library and therefore considers himself a "Wyverary."

The writing is superb and Valente does an excellent job of painting vivid pictures of fantastical scenes and situations with her words. If you enjoy The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making don't miss the sequel The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There where September returns to Fairyland for a brand new adventure.

Badge Drop #11: Drop the Beat


Okay Summer Gamers, it's Friday, and Friday means BADGE DROP! And this week we have a very special musical episode of Summer Game Badge Drop. We've got a few new Pop Music badges for you and some musical installments of Lydia and Constellations. I guess that's it for the musical theme really, but what can you expect? Isn't part of what you love about the Summer Game how CRAZY RANDOM it is? We've got plenty for you non-music lovers, too, including a new Explorer (this time you are headed to the UM Museum of Natural History!) and TWO Player Picks from fabulous players KathyD and Zigzagog!

Let's go to the badgelist:

2014 Badge Drop #11



Now that your brains are all salivating over delicious new badges, there's something we should discuss. It's August 22, which means fall is on its way soon. And if there's one thing we leave behind in the fall (get it, leave, like the leaves fall, nevermind), its the Summer Game! That's right, there are only 10 DAYS LEFT before the Summer Game closes its doors for another season. So what does that mean for you, dear player? It means you've got until midnight on Sunday, August 31 to earn all of those badges you've been putting off, tag, rate, and review all of those items in the catalog, and get to all of those library branches, local businesses, and terrarium locales to complete your code collections! That's 10 DAYS AND COUNTING!

And, as always--say it along with me--THANKS FOR PLAYING!

Sizzling Summer Reads #4 (& Fabulous Fiction Firsts #478 ) "Summer's lease hath all too short a date.” ~ William Shakespeare

The Last Kings of Sark * by Rosa Rankin-Gee (named one of Esquire magazine's 75 Brilliant Young Brits', and winner of the Shakespeare & Company's international Paris Literary Prize in 2011).

Sark, pop.400, a remote car-less Channel Island, reached only by an all-day ferry ride (or private plane) from Guernsey. Jude, a recent grad (St. Andrews and wrongly assumed to be a guy, as in Law, Hey, and the Obscure), is hired by Eddy, the patriarch of the Defoe family to tutor 16 year-old Pip for the summer before university. Thrown together by necessity, Jude and Sofi, the magnetic, mercurial family cook, quickly bond as roommates and coconspirators. Left on their own away from adult eyes, the three embark on a magical summer of exploring. Years later, as their lives take them to Paris, Normandy and London, memories of the summer they shared on Sark remain.

Debut novelist "Rankin-Gee's tactile, mellifluous prose is on full display here, as the tiniest details help fully immerse readers in the otherworldly island setting." "The fluid sexuality will be a welcome offering for readers of LGBT fiction. "

"Compelling, sensual, and lyrical..., a tale of complicated love, only children and missed opportunities."

Anne Rivers Siddons offers her fans another emotionally gripping, beach-themed read with The Girls of August.

Every August, four women gather for a week of relaxation at a beach house. This started when their husbands met at med school, and the rich Cornelia, married to the party-animal Teddy, invited them to her beach house. Cornelia didn't last, and the annual trip was suspended when Melinda (Mrs. Teddy #2) dies in a tragic accident, and the Girls of August slowly drift apart.

When "Baby," who is half the age of the other ladies becomes Mrs. Teddy #3, she attempts to reestablish the August ritual. As Rachel, Barbara and narrator Maddy gather at a remote beach house on a barrier island off the South Carolina coast, the women must come to terms with their differences and find a sense of unity in the midst of health issues, marital conflict, and infertility as they ride out a violent storm.

Not ready to bide the bare-foot season farewell? Try Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky; All the Summer Girls by Meg Donohue; The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank; The Island by Elin Hilderbrand; and A Hundred Summers by Beatriz Williams. Enjoy these precious last days of summer.

* = starred review

Bat Festival: Stellaluna author is coming!

Mark your calendars for Sept. 27, when the 13th annual Great Lakes Bat Festival will happen 10 am - 5 pm at Washtenaw Community College. This festival is presented by the Organization for Bat Conservation and Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum. Among authors and speakers will be Janell Cannon, who wrote and illustrated the classic picture book Stellaluna. The festival offers families a chance to learn about the fascinating world of bats. Check it out!

Nicola's Books: Meet Julie Lawson Timmer

If you're wanting to meet Ann Arbor-based author Julie Lawson Timmer, she'll be signing books at Nicolas Books in Westgate Shopping Center on Sept. 9 at 7 p.m. Her debut novel is Five Days Left. From the publisher's description: "Mara is a successful lawyer, and devoted wife and mother. Struggling with a devastating illness, she has set herself five days to make the ultimate decision for her family. Scott lives a thousand miles away, and is a foster parent to a troubled eight-year-old. Scott is facing his own five day countdown until his beloved foster son is returned to his biological mother. The two connect through an online forum, and find a friendship to help guide them through the most difficult, and momentous, week of their lives. . . "

Alternative Fairy Tales

One reason why I love fairy tales so much is because I love the alternative ways that different authors choose to tell the familiar stories. Putting twists on famous fairy tales opens up whole new interpretations for readers and viewers, and can really change the way certain characters are portrayed. The AADL has a whole host of alternative fairy tale stories of all types. One of my favorite collections is a teen series, contributed to by various authors, that “retells” many different fairy tales. There are 15 total retellings in the series, including Midnight Pearls: A Retelling of The Little Mermaid, Before Midnight: A Retelling of Cinderella, The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin and Beauty Sleep: A Retelling of Sleeping Beauty along with retellings of Jack and the Beanstalk, The Magic Flute, and others.

In the adult book Boy, Snow, Bird, Helen Oyeyemi has reimagined the story of Snow White and the Deven Dwarfs as set in the United States in the 1950s and 60s. Maintaining the focus of the original fairy tale’s obsession with beauty, Oyeyemi turns her retelling into a story of race, vanity, and family, while also painting an enchanting picture of life in Massachusetts during the mid-twentieth century. Readers will find that Boy, Snow, Bird is a thought-provoking novel, described as “gloriously unsettling” by the New York Times Book Review.

For those who are eager to read a number of alternative fairy tales, we even have some collections of retold favorites. Try Swan Sister: Fairy Tales Retold, or The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold, both compilations of alternative fairy tales from many cultures written by famous authors.

Also in our collection are The Stepsister’s Tale, Snow White and Rose Red, and the movie Ever After: A Cinderella Story.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #477 - Spotlight on Family Sagas

The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing * by Mira Jacob opens with celebrated brain surgeon Thomas Eapen sitting on his porch at his home in New Mexico talking to dead relatives. At least that is the story his wife, Kamala, prone to exaggeration, tells their daughter, Amina, a Seattle area wedding photographer. Knowing that she has been manipulated, Amina nevertheless, arranges for a visit home where she soon realizes that something may actually be wrong with her father. The trouble might be rooted in the family's visit to India some twenty years ago; the tension between her father and Ammachy, her grandmother and family matriarch; and the mystery behind the death of her older brother, the rebellious and brilliant Akhil.

"(L)ight and optimistic, unpretentious and refreshingly witty... Jacob has created characters with evident care and treats them with gentleness even as they fight viciously with each other. Her prose is sharp and true and deeply funny." "(A) winning, irreverent debut novel about a family wrestling with its future and its past."

Matthew Thomas's debut - We Are Not Ourselves * * is "a very moving book about the dangers of always wanting more."

Smart and ambitious Eileen Tumulty, dutiful daughter born to hard-drinking Irish working-class parents, looks for a better life for herself by training as a nurse. When she marries Ed Leary, a quiet neuroscientist, she is disappointed with his choice teaching at a community college despite more lucrative and prestigious offers. With their Jackson Heights (Queens) neighborhood in decline, Eileen is desperate to move out of the city (and up the social ladder), into a fixer-upper that they could ill afford. Then Ed is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's.

"Thomas works on a large canvas to create a memorable depiction of Eileen's vibrant spirit, the intimacy of her love for Ed, and the desperate stoicism she exhibits as reality narrows her dreams. Her life, observed over a span of six decades, comes close to a definitive portrait of American social dynamics in the 20th century. Thomas's emotional truthfulness combines with the novel's texture and scope to create an unforgettable narrative."

Thirty-five years (and 20-some titles) after her wildly successful generational saga set in Australia - The Thorn Birds (based on her family's history), Colleen McCullough returns to the genre with Bittersweet, an epic romance set in the decades after WWI, about two sets of Latimer twins, all trained as nurses but each with her own ambitions.

"McCullough's background in medicine is apparent as she seamlessly weaves in information about the history of nurse's training in Australia and the development of modern pathology. Bittersweet is both a fascinating exploration of the bonds between sisters and a fine historical novel."

* = starred review
* * = 2 starred reviews

Great Book for Teens: Since You’ve Been Gone

I’ve been a fan of Morgan Matson ever since reading her first book, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, but this summer, I completely fell in love with her latest book, Since You’ve Been Gone.

Shy Emily knows her sociable best friend Sloane will always be there to take charge in new situations, but when Emily returns home from a family trip, she discovers her best friend is gone. Sloane is not at home and won’t answer her calls or texts. Then Emily receives a mysterious letter from Sloane, a list of fifteen random things to do – like kiss a stranger and ride a horse – and hopes that completing this list will somehow reveal what happened to Sloane. More coming-of-age story than mystery, this book will resonate with any shy teen who has had to grow more outgoing after a big life change. It's a great read for anyone who enjoys smart realistic teen fiction with a touch of romance and is perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen or Stephanie Perkins.

Badge Drop #10: Stop Feeling List-less! Try These New Badges!

PLAYERS, START YOUR ENGINES! Or...at least your BRAINS!

We've got some goodies to give you, and those goodies are, of course, SHINY NEW BADGES!

Feeling list-less? MAKE SOME LISTS and earn the latest contribution badges! Want to get out and EXPLORE? We've got a badge in ANN ARBOR'S BIGGEST PARK! Need more animal adventures? LIONS, AND SERPENTS AND AARDVARKS, OH MY!

From constellations to creatures to a player pick (Thanks, SG Player Olivia!), we've got LOTS for you to do with this set of badges.

2014 Badge Drop #10



So, lace up your hiking shoes, dig into the story of our 7th president, don your bat-cape, and look to the sky this week! And don't forget there's still some time to catch up on any of this summer's previous badges, too!

THANKS FOR PLAYING!

It's National Aviation Week!

Happy National Aviation Week, all! Today is the start of an entire week dedicated to celebrating aviation. National Aviation Day, which is also Orville Wright's birthday, will be on August 19th, but if you can't wait until then to start learning about aviation, we've got you covered! Here are some great choices:

For kids:
A is for Airplane: An Aviation Alphabet: Little ones can work on their alphabet using all aviation-themed words!
The Wright Brothers: How they Invented the Airplane is a Newberry Honor book that follows the Wright brothers and will teach young ones about how they got started.
The Wright Brothers for Kids: How they Invented the Airplane: 21 Activities Exploring the Science and History of Flight: For kids that want to take a more hands-on approach to learning about flight, this book offers up a variety of fun aviation-themed activities.
Night flight : Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic: This beautiful book's exciting details and daring illustrations will leave kids wanting to learn all they can about Amelia Earhart. If they're begging for more, direct them to the fabulous Amelia Lost :The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart!

For adults:
Birdmen: The Wright Brothers, Glenn Curtiss, and the Battle to Control the Skies is a new book that traces the first people to fly in planes as they fought to control publicity and show off their own inventions and bravery.
Feel like watching something? Enjoy the 2004 Oscar-winner The Aviator, or delve into Amelia Earhart's story (among other!) with Unsolved Mysteries: Strange Legends.

Finally, no aviation list could be complete without the classic movie Airplane! or How to Build a Hovercraft: Air Cannons, Magnet Motors, and 25 other Amazing DIY Science Projects, a book that will teach you how to build your own unstoppable paper airplane!

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