Fabulous Fiction Firsts #460

Being released the latter part of June is Everything I Never Told You * *, the deeply-affecting debut novel by Celeste Ng, a UM grad (MFA, Helen Zell Writers' Program) and recipient of the Pushcart Prize and Hopwood Award. I expect a fair amount of buzz, not just locally. (Check out Vogue's Summer's Buzziest Beach Reads).

"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet." - every parent's worst nightmare. All her family knows is that the 15 year-old is missing from her home. The local police treats it as a runaway while her mother refuses to accept anything other than stranger abduction of her middle and favorite child - a motivated and exceptional student, pretty, popular and well-behaved. The rest of the family is less certain and in turn, as they each reflects on the Lydia that they know and love (including Lydia herself), a fractured image emerges, casting shadows, laying bare secrets each is desperate to keep.

The narrative flashed back to 1957 in Cambridge when a premed Radcliffe freshman Marilyn Walker met James Lee, a first-generation Chinese-American who was her graduate teaching instructor. They married over her mother's objection, trading in her dreams of becoming a doctor for the anonymity of a faculty wife at a small college in nowhere Ohio where James was able to find a teaching position. Their background (his - immigrant laborers and scholarship student), (hers- single mother from the South), aspirations (his - to belong) (hers - to stand-out), and dashed dreams became means by which their children were defined and measured, but never truly understood.

"As the police try to decipher the mystery of Lydia's death, her family realize that they didn't know her at all. Lydia is remarkably imagined, her unhappy teenage life crafted without an ounce of cliché. Ng's prose is precise and sensitive, her characters richly drawn." Highly recommended as a YA crossover and book group choice.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Celeste Ng will be in Ann Arbor, July 18, 2014 @ Literati Bookstore, 124 E. Washington. Don't miss this chance to meet her. I am hoping she might touch on her take on ethnic fiction, and why she does not want to be the next Amy Tan.

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out

Those interested in personal memoirs and stories will love Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, by Susan Kuklin. Six honest teens from diverse backgrounds share their inspirational and often heartbreaking experiences in trying to find and identify who they really are. Each teen describes how they first realized they were a different gender and their transitional experiences since then. With a format based on taped interviews, readers will feel as though they are having a conversation with each teen in person. In addition to providing a great introduction to readers first exploring what it means to be transgender or intersex, "Beyond Magenta" would function well in teen book clubs or group discussions on identity. An extensive glossary and resource guide are located in the back of the book for extra clarification and further research.

Susan Kuklin is well-known for her raw and informative nonfiction books, including No Choirboy: Murder, Violence, and Teenagers on Death Row and Iqbal Masih and the Crusaders Against Child Slavery. Many of her books, including "Beyond Magenta", feature her own engaging photography. To learn more about Susan Kuklin, visit her website.

Quiz: How much do you know about the upcoming Awards Celebration on June 3?

Take this quiz to see how much you know about the 3rd-5th Grade Short Story Challenge Awards Celebration on June 3!

1. The fabulous children's author who will be present at the event is...
a. Bob Shea
b. Laura Numeroff
c. Lisa Wheeler
d. Lara Zielin

2. Writers who participated in the Challenge will receive...
a. bacon
b. a certificate
c. a commemorative pen
d. a wheelbarrow

3. Everyone interested in kids' library events can pick up...
a. the pace
b. steam
c. the pieces
d. the new summer Jump! brochure

4. There will be a food table with...
a. cookies and water
b. cookies and cream
c. donuts and lemonade
d. Elephant and Piggie

5. The top 9 winners of the Challenge will get...
a. a deflated tire
b. a smelly old sock
c. a pony!
d. a Target gift card

Whew, tough quiz. Let's see how many you got right:
(p ϛ 'ɐ ㄣ 'p Ɛ 'q ᄅ 'ɔ Ɩ)

If you got:
1 correct: You need to study up. Try stopping by the Awards Celebration and then try again!
2-4 correct: Nice! It sounds like you missed a couple things, but you can make up for that by coming to the Awards Celebration in person!
5 correct: Superstar! Show off your amazing quiz-taking skills by coming to the Awards Celebration!

New TV Shows @ AADL

The library is always acquiring additional TV shows, be they hot and new, or oldies but goodies. We also often get the new seasons of shows already available at AADL! There are a lot of new-to-AADL series making their way to the library. Check the list and place your holds!

Under the Dome, Season 1
The small town of Chester's Mill is suddenly and inexplicably sealed off from the rest of the world by a massive transparent barrier. The epic story of a town in peril unfolds as the residents struggle to maintain control and ultimately figure out the truth about the dome.

The Paradise, Season 1
Set amidst the Victorian splendor of Britain's first department store, The Paradise is a rags-to-riches story of a young girl who falls in love with the intoxicating charms of the modern world. As Denise finds her feet as a lowly shop girl, she must navigate her way through power struggles, intrigues, and affairs. When the shop's dashing and reckless owner, John Moray, spots her talents, she knows she can use this opportunity to rise to great things. BBC.

The Following, Season 1
When a notorious serial killer Joe Carroll escapes from death row and embarks on a new killing spree, the FBI calls former agent Ryan Hardy, a psychologically scarred veteran who captured Carroll nine years earlier, after Carroll murdered 14 female students on a college campus where he taught literature. Knowing Carroll better than anyone and close with Carroll's ex-wife, Claire, Hardy works closely with an FBI team, which includes no-nonsense agent Jennifer Mason and sharp upstart Mike Weston, and soon discovers that Carroll was not only communicating with a network of killers in the outside world, but has much more planned than just a prison escape - and there's no telling how many additional killers are out there. (Starring Kevin Bacon!)

Hannibal, Season 1
FBI Agent Will Graham hunts the most notorious serial killers. He is both gifted and cursed with an extraordinary ability: he can think, see, and feel like his prey. What he doesn't know is that his new partner has an extreme past. While pursuing a cannibalistic murderer, Special Agent Jack Crawford teams Graham with a psychiatrist, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Dr. Lecter tests Graham every step of the way, playing a game all his own, while they work to unravel the mystery and catch the killer.

Da Vinci's Demons, Season 1
In a world where thought and faith are controlled, one man fights to set knowledge free. Leonardo Da Vinci is tortured by a gift of superhuman genius. He finds himself in a conflict between truth and lies, religion and reason, past and future. His quest for knowledge nearly becomes his undoing, but Da Vinci's genius prevails and he emerges as an unstoppable force that lifts an entire era out of darkness and propels it into light.

Devious Maids, Season 1
Meet five women bonded together by their jobs, their dreams and the dirt they sweep under the rug: Aspiring singer Carmen; Rosie, who longs to be reunited with the child she left back in Mexico; Marisol, whose outward identity masks a desperate hidden agenda; and Zoila and her daughter Valentina, both employed by unhinged Genevieve Delatour. Before it's over, illicit affairs will be revealed, depraved secrets exposed, and the sordid details behind a shocking murder are discovered.

Rogue, Season 1
Grace is a morally and emotionally-conflicted undercover detective who is tormented by the possibility that her own actions caused her young son's mysterious death. In her quest for the truth, Grace goes rogue and falls deeper into a forbidden relationship with Jimmy Laszlo, head of the city's most powerful and dangerous crime family. To stay alive, Grace must help Jimmy find the traitor in his midst, while knowing he may have played a role in her own tragedy.

Graceland, Season 1
It seems like a sweet deal when new FBI agent Mike Warren's first assignment lands him in a beautiful L.A. beachfront mansion with other young undercover government agents, including his idol, legendary FBI agent Paul Briggs. But loyalties are tested and lives are put on the line when Warren is ordered to secretly investigate Briggs.

Atlantis, Season 1
Washed up on the mysterious shores of Atlantis, Jason searches for his missing father and stumbles into deadly rituals that test his quick reactions and physical strength. Perilous trials, from leaping over charging bulls and fighting the dreaded Minotaur, to surviving the rites of Dionysus and the temptations of a snake-headed goddess, ensue. No matter how great the danger, Jason can count on his two new friends, studious Pythagoras and portly Hercules, to lighten the battle with a laugh.

Fore more TV shows, be sure to check out AADL’s lists for the HOTTEST TV shows and the NEWEST TV shows.

Best Adult Fiction For Teens (And Adults!)

There are many fiction books written for adults that appeal to teens due to the subject matter or the teen protagonists in the story. The number of adults reading books for teens or featuring teens keeps getting higher as the genre becomes stronger with quality books. There are many good books that fall into this category. A few adult fiction novels featuring teens as main characters that I’ve read this year and recommend are:

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton Disclafani
In the midst of the Great Depression 15 year old Thea Atwell is sent to a boarding school for southern debutantes as punishment for her role in an unforgivable family tragedy. She ends up there longer than she expected, makes friends, excels at horseback riding, and learns a lot about herself as she tries to sort through being estranged from her family and being racked with guilt and feeling lost. The books is part family drama and part scandalous love story. I couldn’t put it down.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
Alex is struck by a meteorite at the age of 10. He is a bookish, outcast, son of a fortune teller – so he hasn’t had the easiest life. As the story jumps forward to Alex at age 17, he befriends an cantankerous elderly neighbor Mr. Peterson and the duo bond over Kurt Vonnegut. The book opens with 17 year old Alex being pulled over at the customs border with illegal substances in the glove box and an urn of ashes in the passenger seat as he sits blaring classical music while having a seizure. There’s only one thing to do but be curious enough to read it.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Rosemary is a witty college student still coming to terms with the fact that her sister (who was raised as her twin) was removed from the house at a young age, which led to her brother running away from home, leaving Rosemary and her parents alone with what’s left of the family. What gets talked about? What doesn’t? It’s a beautifully written book based on experiments done in the 1970s regarding behaviorial psychology.

Here’s a list by School Library Journal of the top books in this category for 2013, and here’s a list of books that won the Alex Award this year – given to the top 10 books written for adults that appeal to teens. There's a bunch of good titles to put on your list!

Sophie’s Squash

It’s the season for gardens, planting, and VEGGIES, VEGGIES, VEGGIES. The local farmer's markets have been HOPPING with vendors and shoppers. Though it's not quite squash season... Sophie’s Squash is a darling new picture book that features a young girl who loves her freshly plucked squash. So much so that she names it Bernice and treats it as though it’s a baby doll. Her parents are perplexed and don’t know what to do when Bernice starts to rot. Sophie is determined to love Bernice forever! This is a funny and sweet book that talks about the seed to plant process and goes along with that stack of kids gardening stories you’ve got at home. It has such a cute ending.

School Library Journal lists it as one of the Best Picture Books of 2013.

The Silkworm: A Cormoran Strike novel

Those who enjoyed J. K. Rowling’s venture into mystery writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith will be happy to hear that Cormoran Strike is back! The Silkworm is the second mystery novel featuring the war veteran turned sleuth and his eager assistant and it promises to be just as entertaining as the first.

“When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before…”

--Publisher's Description

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #459 - Paris, far more than setting

Novelists' endless fascination with the city and we readers can't seem to get enough of it.

A Paris Apartment * - cramp, decrepit, shuttered for 70 years but it is Paris, and it is in the 9th arrondissement. Sotheby's European furniture specialist April Vogt is glad for the assignment, and for putting a little distance between her and a troubled marriage. Under the dust sheets, she finds a treasure trove of priceless furniture and works of art - one being a stunning portrait of Marthe de Florian, owner of the apartment and one of Belle Epoque's most renowned actresses/courtesans.

In Michelle Gable's debut, once April begins to read over letters and journals written by Marthe, suddenly it is no longer about the materiality and provenance of the objects, but more about an extraordinary life lived and the secrets buried in the apartment. In the process, April is force to take a deeper look into herself.

"Gable's debut is strongest when Paris is the focus...". "With its well-developed, memorable characters and the author's skillful transitioning between story lines, finding similarities in the lives of two women decades apart, this stunning and fascinating debut will capture the interest of a wide audience but particularly those interested in stories about women behind famous men..."

I am Having So Much Fun Here Without You * is a sardonic dig at Richard Haddon's predicament. In Courtney Maum's debut, as the novel opens in 2002, English artist Richard Haddon is on top of the world. His first solo show in a trendy gallery sold out. His beautiful French wife Anne, is a successful attorney with pedigree, and wealthy in-laws had bestowed on the young couple a palatial apartment at an enviable Pairs address. Then Anne finds the letters from Richard's mistress, a brash and sexy American journalist who has since moved on. Well, sort of.

In an effort to win back Anne's respect and affection, Richard intends to create the next masterpiece, proposing a controversial installation that would be a sly critique on Iraq's role in the global conflict around the issues of Weapon of Mass Destruction.

"Equally funny and touching, the novel strikes deep, presenting a sincere exploration of love and monogamy. These characters are complex, and their story reflects their confusion and desire... (a)n impressive, smart novel". (This debut is one of Library Reads picks for June).

Now, most appropriate for the City of Love, Emma Mars' (a pseudonym) Hotelles * - "Rife with sexual tension and mystery" this first tale in a trilogy is about a young Paris escort; the Hotel des Charmes where each room is dedicated to one of French history's greatest seductresses; and a silver notebook.

"Funny, sensual, candid, and revealing". It has been compared to The Story of O by Pauline Réage, originally published in 1954 and quickly became the talk of the Paris salons and cafes. While the identity of the author remains shrouded for 40 years, the novel went on to win the prestigious Prix des Deux Magots in 1955, and is still one of the most "curious and mysterious novels of recent times".

While I have your attention...just one more. Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 * *, an electrifying union of fact and fiction by Francine Prose, built around a famous photograph entitled Lesbian Couple at Le Monocle, 1932 by Brassai. Prose originally intends to write a biography of Violette Morris, a decorated athlete, race-car driver, and Nazi collaborator (she is the one NOT in a dress).

"In an intricately patterned, ever-morphing, lavishly well-informed plot..., it is Paris in the 1920s (that) shimmers with excitement, dissipation, and freedom. It is a place of intoxicating ambition, passion, art, and discontent, where louche jazz venues like the Chameleon Club draw expats, artists, libertines, and parvenus looking to indulge their true selves." "A dark and glorious tour de force".

* = starred review
* * = 2 starred reviews

Moo!

There are a lot of books about mooing at AADL. If you’re a reader of children’s picture books, animals and animal sounds are heavily featured in this area. Moo! by David LaRochelle is one of my favorite new picture books, and it’s told with only one word: MOO!

The gist of the story is that the cow gets ahold of the farmer’s car and takes it for a ride, and well, things don’t go so well for him. The coolest part of the whole book is that the entire is story is told using only the word “moo.” It’s a great opportunity for kids to learn about reading aloud, voice inflection and how the same word sounds differently when said with a “.” or an “!” at the end. Moo. Moo? Moo! Mooooooooooooo. Give it a whirl be ready to laugh!

Best New Music At AADL

AADL is constantly adding to its diverse selection of new CDs. If you're seeking some great new tunes, consider the following must-hear material.

"Modern Creation," The Whigs: Hailing from Atlanta, the Whigs are one of the solidest rock bands working today. They didn't quite break the big time with their great 2010 release, "In the Dark," but they've gone right on cranking out fun and unfussy records. The Whigs used to have more punk-inspired fire in their blood, but the band has eased up its average tempo a little to create more laid-back hooks that make for perfect summer driving jams. This record's lead single, "Hit Me," is a standout example of that formula. And if you like this one, check out the band's excellent 2012 release, "Enjoy the Company," also recently added to AADL's catalog!

"Teeth Dreams," The Hold Steady: With their sixth LP, the Hold Steady continue to prove themselves America's most literary (and, perhaps, all-around best) bar band. The big guitars and catchy riffs are great, but if you're not paying attention they can also be deceptively simple. Frontman Craig Finn is a true poet, spinning incisive, wistful and funny tales of barflies, townies and scenesters. Dig the amusing portrait of a girl you just can't take seriously in "Big Cig," or the anthemic "Spinners," which exhorts the weary-hearted to "get back out there" and find love. The songs are great rockers at surface level, but they're shot through with a distinguishing sense of humanity and positivity.

"Tomorrow's Hits," The Men: The Men got their start about five years ago with some pretty wild punk records, but they've since refined their sound to incorporate poppier hooks and some elements of classic Americana. That's still not to say the group is particularly polished; drummer Rich Samis botches a fill within the record's first 30 seconds, and the production is far from slick. But the band makes up for technical precision with sheer energy, recalling Crazy Horse's thundering majesty on "Dark Waltz," the Band's Southern shuffle on "Sleepless" and the shaggy charm of the Replacements in pretty much every track. Behold the piano- and horn-led momentum of "Another Night," and just try to resist.

Find more great new CDs here.

Syndicate content