New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (8/6/06)

I've been a fan of James Lee Burke ever since Dave Robicheaux first appeared in Neon Rain in 1987. His evocation of New Orleans and Louisiana is poetic and haunting. Who better to capture the beauty of the landscape and a way of life that Katrina destroyed? In this latest novel, the action take place just before the hurricane strikes but the mood is elegiac. Dave is looking back with sadness for what has already been lost.

At #1 is Phantom by Terry Goodkind: the author is an admirer of Ayn Rand; some critics find her influence in the author's depiction of the battle between the forces of good and evil in his Sword of Truth fantasy series.

At #4 is Pegasus Descending by James Lee Burke: a young woman commits suicide; another young woman comes to New Iberia with vengeance on her mind; Dave Robicheaux becomes convinced of connections between the two and once again tries to save his world.

At #5 is The Ruins by Scott Smith: another critically acclaimed offbeat thriller by Smith, this time involving couples vacationing in the Yucatan.

At #10 is Sleeping with Fear by Kay Hooper: a psychic FBI agent comes under attack by dark forces while investigating occult activity in South Carolina (last book in trilogy after Hunting Fear and Chill of Fear).

Warlord, Barbarian, Empire Builder: Who was Attila the Hun?

He was called the 'Scourge of God' and considered one of the destroyers of the Roman Empire. His own empire stretched from the Rhine to the Black Sea, from the Baltic to the Balkans. He was Attila the Hun, once a byword for mindless barbarism. John Man's fascinating recent book Attila: The Barbarian King Who Challenged Rome revisits the evidence and retraces the career of this shrewd and powerful leader of the feared nomadic horsemen who challenged the Roman Empire for nearly 20 years during the early 5th Century. Man, a travel writer and historian, has traveled extensively in Asia and Mongolia and is also the author of Genghis Khan: Life, Death and Resurrection and Gobi: Tracking the Desert. Another fairly recent look at Attila can be found in Patrick Howarth's Attila, King of the Huns: Man and Myth and in the lushly filmed made-for-TV movie, Attila.

New York Times Podcasts

New York Times Logo

If you don't have the opportunity to read the paper, try downloading a podcast to listen to the New York Times during your daily commute. The New York Times is offering podcasts on all sorts of different sections of the newspaper, including the Sunday Book Review. There are also podcasts summarizing the daily headlines, the science section and even a weekly essay on "matters of the heart". Arrive at your destination more enlightened than when you left home!

Some still like it hot

44 years ago today, we bade farewell to famous actress and notorious temptress Marilyn Monroe who passed away on August 5th, 1962. As one of the most popular stars of the 1950s Marilyn introduced a captivating sex appeal and memorable personality into all of her works. Her movies such as Some Like it Hot and Gentlemen prefer blondes are still hilarious today. And how can anyone forget the famous scene in The Seven Year Itch where a gusty sidewalk grate caused Ms. Monroe's skirts to head skyward? Or how about Marilyn's love life even including playwright Arthur Miller, for whom a theater is currently being built in North Campus at the University? Marilyn remains a fascinating woman for whom even death was a controversy.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #29

You might as well hear about it here, no doubt you will be hearing a lot about this book.

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters was THE buzz among librarians and booksellers at the American Library Association annual conference. Some of us stood in line with a coupon in hand, just to pick up a preview copy. The reviews for this debut novel thus far have been mixed but the storyline is intriguingly complex, and the telling mesmerizing.

Miss Celeste Temple travels from her tropical island home to Victorian London in search of her fiance after receiving a cryptic message from him breaking their engagement. This 768-page doorstopper is part adventure, part fantasy, part mystery, part romance, but 100% entertainment. It should appeal to Diana Gabaldon readers.

The author Gordon Dahlquist is an award-wining playwright and a director of experimental films. He lives in New York.

In My Next Life

I will be Julia Child. And I will learn to cook as she does in My Life in France, her wonderful memoir of learning to taste and eat and buy and cook and drink and converse in the world of French cuisine. Julia’s cookbooks remain my most treasured and trusted. Pick up some crusty bread, tangy cheese and table wine to accompany this book on cd.

Powerful Immigration Tale

When Sonia Nazario wrote Enrique's heart-wrenching story in the Los Angeles Times, it won two Pulitzer Prizes. Later she expanded his tale into the book Enrique's Journey, which came out earlier this year and is currently the pick of several book groups in Ann Arbor. The emotional story of Enrique travelling from Honduras to look for his mother who was working in the United States is gripping and unforgettable, including his rides - shown on the book cover - on top of freight trains in Mexico.

The Play Ground

The Play Ground

As Jackie Gleason famously said, "You're going to the moon, Alice." Well, you can't go to the moon but you can see it on Friday, August 4th, 9-11 p.m.at the Angell Hall Observatory Open House: U-M Student Astronomical Society. All are invited to peer through the telescope on the Angell Hall roof for celestial visions. Club members are on hand to answer questions. 5th-floor roof top observatory, Angell Hall (from the large State St. entrance, take one of the elevators on the left). Free. 936-3626. When you get home you can even read all about it.

Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq

A new book by Thomas E. Ricks is generating a lot of interest. Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq was featured Aug. 2 on the NPR show On Point, with Tom Ashbrook. Nine copies of the book are currently being ordered for the library system. Ricks is a Pulitzer Prize winner and Pentagon correspondent for the Washington Post.

A Deeper, Darker Trip Down the Yellow Brick Road

Looking for a really out of the ordinary listening experience? Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West is so bizarre you’ll wonder if Gregory Maguire spent a little too much time in Oz. This witch belongs to one really dysfunctional family and the Wizard is not a well-adjusted individual either. This one’s way over the rainbow.

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