Small Gems

Just in time for short days and long to-do lists, these little books are great excuses to take a break and enjoy a bit of solitude, in the best company – yours.
They are quick reads – no more than 100 pages or so, and tuck nicely into your coat pocket. Next time you find yourself standing in line; or being put on hold, listening to elevator music, you will have the perfect distraction.

Mademoiselle Benoir by Christine Conrad.
May-Dec. romance in the French countryside sets off family wars across the Atlantic.

An Afternoon with Rock Hudson by Mercedes Deambrosis; translated from Spanish by Mike Mitchell.
Chance encounter between two old friends triggers off some self-destructive behavior, including anonymous sex with a man sitting at the next café table. Amusing.

Mercedes-Benz: From Letters to Hrabal by Paweł Huelle; translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.
Narrator Pawel tells of the driving lessons he took in the early 1990s around Gdansk, Poland, all the while entertaining his instructor Miss Ciwle with stories of his family’s ownership of Mercedes-Benz cars. Great storytelling.

The Bird is a Raven by Benjamin Lebert; translated from the original German by Peter Constantine.
Two strangers share a sleeping compartment on a night train bound for Berlin. Throughout the hours of darkness secrets are revealed and lives changed. You won't be able to put this one down!

Music from Big Pink: A Novella by John Niven.
Born in Scotland, John Niven toured and recorded as guitarist with The Wishing Stones, and co-wrote/directed the award winning (British) short film ‘Tethered’.
This tragic, beautiful… "factional book is a heartbroken rock'n'roll postcard from a past" where fictional characters rub shoulders with real people.

The Scent of Your Breath by Melissa P; translated from Italian by Shaun Whiteside.
A breathless autobiographical second novel by this bright young Sicilian writer - a smoldering tale of sexual obsession, plumbed deeply from the disturbing mind of a teenage girl terrorized by love.

DVDs to Save the Planet

In recognition of the Air Quality Act, passed by Congress on December 17, 1967--the first legislation to place pollution controls on the automobile industry--here are a few recent DVDs about the environment:

Blue Vinyl: Skeptical of her parents' decision to re-side their home with polyvinyl chloride, Judith Helfand set out to find the truth behind the toxic effects of the material.
An Inconvenient Truth: A passionate and inspiring look at former Vice President Al Gore's campaign to expose the myths and misconceptions of global warming, and to create public awareness on the subject.
Who Killed the Electric Car: An investigation into the birth and death of the electric car, as well as the role of renewable energy and sustainable living in the future.

Good Reads - some ideas

It's such a pleasure to find a new good read. With over 170,000 books being published yearly in the United States I feel it helps to get a recommendation.

Monday December 11th on NPR's "Fresh Air" NPR Maureen Corrigan recommends "The Year's Best Mystery and Nonfiction". This article also gives you access to several other lists of recommended Holiday books including recommendations by Ann Arbors own Karl Pohrt owner of Shaman Drum Books in Ann Arbor.

Fabulous Fiction First #44

Followers of Ian Rankin’s Inspector John Rebus series might want to consider this one…

Bleeding Hearts is a first U.S. edition of a stand-alone, originally published in the U.K.(1994) under his pseudonym - Jack Harvey.

Michael Weston is a highly-paid and seasoned assassin, famed for his long-distant shot through the heart. Things did not go well with the last job – it was a set-up. Now he must find his double-crossing employer and at the same time, stay a step ahead of his archnemesis - an American PI named Hoffer.

Reviewers expect the nonstop action, copious violence and arcane details about weaponry and forensics will please thriller junkies, but it’s also "smart and inventive” enough to engage fans of the Rebus series.

Grisly Grimm

If you are tired of the “Disneyfied” versions of your favorite fairy tales, but short on time, then Jonathan Vankin’s condensed versions are for you. Based on the original tales of the brothers Grimm, they have been converted to comic form by fifty-two artists for the book The Big Book of Grimm (released by Paradox Press, an imprint of DC Comics). You will find some familiar names among them—Keith Giffen (of Ambush Bug and Justice League fame), Sergio Argones (creater of Groo the Wanderer and marginals for MAD Magazine since 1963), Joe Staton (numerous DC titles including Justice Society of America, Green Lantern, and Scooby Doo), and James Kochalka (American Elf). My personal favorite was Kochalka’s “Dog and Sparrow”, which was as cute as it was gruesome.

Globalization

The benefits of globalization debate is a constant one. Nobel Prize winning economist and professor at Columbia University Joseph E. Stiglitz writes in Making Globalization Work of the possibility that globalization can work for everyone. For an interview with the author you can listen here in the last hour of the show.

The Independent Media Center has put together a video to express their view of globalization and what happened in Miami during the FTAA meeting.

For other selections in the AADL collection click here. PBS has three DVDs in a series titled Commanding Heights, the battle for the world economy DVD 1 DVD 2 DVD 3 discussing the effects of globalization.

Ciara's The Evolution at Number One

Remember Goodies by Ciara in 2004 and how hot that was. Do you think The Evolution will be just as hot as it enters this week at number one on the Billboard 200 Chart?

Did you see Idlewild?

Idlewild - OutKastIdlewild - OutKast

As far as the not-so-new-anymore Outkast movie, Idlewild goes, some loved it... some hated it...

Oh well, at the least both sides seem to agree that the soundtrack is on point... so check it out!

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (12/17/06)

For this season of peace, there is a lot of mayhem entering the List this week. With his latest novel, some critics are also suggesting Crichton himself is running amok.

At #2 is Next by Michael Crichton: "The author of “Jurassic Park” describes a not-too-distant future when genetic engineering runs amok."

At #5 is Treasure of Khan by Clive Cussler and Dirk Cussler: "In his 19th adventure, Dirk Pitt confronts a murderous Mongolian tycoon who manipulates the oil market and knows the secret of Genghis."

At #6 is Brother Odd by Dean Koontz: "With his ability to see the spirits of the dead, Odd Thomas, a character in two previous novels by Koontz, heads off a catastrophe at a monastery."

Listen Local

It’s important to shop local, but we also can listen local, to holiday CDs including In the Christmas Spirit by the Ann Arbor-based Chenille Sisters, or A Boychoir Christmas: Dancing Day by the Boychoir of Ann Arbor. If you get stuck in holiday traffic, just pop of one of these into your CD player and sing away!

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