Ever wondered . . .

how a jet's black box works, how a skin graft is grown, or how a pet translator interprets the mood of your dog or cat? Take a look at Cool Stuff and How it Works. This full color picture book uses advanced imaging technology such as X rays, scanning electron micrographs, and infrared thermograms, along with traditional graphics, to reveal the workings of all this and more. A feast for the eye and brain!

Jay-Z knocks us to Kingdom Come

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So... Jay-Z is retired... right... just like Jordan was...

Anyway, check out Jay-Z in his seventh solo album, Kingdom Come. It was just released around Thanksgiving and it debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200.

Let's see if it even comes close to The Black Album...

Master of Souls

I enjoy traveling by book both in time and place. I quite enjoyed "Master of Souls" a Mystery of Ancient Ireland book 15 of 16 by Peter Tremayne pseudonym for Peter Berresford Ellis a well-respected authority on the ancient celts. It features Sister Fidelma & is set in 7th century Ireland with a well thought out plot. I could see where some of the red herrings were leading me but was pleasantly surprised with the twist at the end.

More information on the series apears at the website The International Sister Fidelma Society.

Another excellent mystery series I recommend is the "Brother Cadfael" series of 20 books set in the 12th century in Shrewsbury, England & written by the late Ellis Peters pseudonyn for Edith Pargeter.

December New and Noteworthy

The Book of Lost Things* by John Connolly.
An enchanting novel about a 12-year-old English boy, David, who is thrust into a realm where eternal stories and fairy tales assume an often gruesome reality and learns lessons of bravery and loyalty. Never truly frightening and consistently entertaining.

Billionaires Prefer Blondes* by Suzanne Enoch
Witty romance with sizzling chemistry between an art thief and her billionaire beau.

A Safe Place for Dying* by Jack Fredrickson. (FFF)
Smartly plotted, briskly paced and laced with humor mark this impressive debut of “Dek” Elstrom, an embattled intrepid Chicago PI who became the prime suspect in a series of explosions.

Mad Dogs* by James Grady.
5 CIA operatives, hidden away in a lunatic asylum in Maine, embark on a week-long run for freedom and revenge. “Whipsaw bouts of action, dark humor and poignant glimpses into the characters' broken lives” makes for a page-turner.

Dead and Buried* by Quintin Jardine.
Marvelous British procedural - Edinburgh detective Skinner is tapped by the head of MI5 to investigate security breaches while juggling several other crimes and crises close to home.

The Blonde* by Duane Swierczynski.
Adrenaline-charged thrill ride through the streets of Philadelphia for Jack Eisley and the blonde in question who just infected him with deadly and fast-replicating nanomachines. Fast and funny.

* = Starred Reviews

South Africa Remembered

Explore social issues in the mid-20th centry of South Africa in , Cry, The Beloved Country, by Alan Paton. Paton, a native white of South Africa explores the power of ideas in this story of a old Zulu parson as he searchs for his son. The murder of a white man, devoted to helping the native South African, results in far reaching changes in both a white and a black family, along with a rural native tribe.

Discovery Launch Tonight!

STS-116 is scheduled to launch tonight, Thursday, December 7th, at 9:36pm ET. Their mission is to rewire the space station. Since 1998 it has been running on a temporary electrical system. Two new solar panels were successfully installed in September, so everything should be set to switch to the permanent system.

You can watch the launch live at NASA’s website.

Among the crew will be Sweden's first astronaut, Christer Fuglesang.

Pride of Baghdad

Writer Brain K. Vaughan’s latest graphic novel, Pride of Baghdad, follows the story of four lions that escape from the Baghdad Zoo during a U.S. bombing raid in 2003. The story was inspired by actual events. (You can read the BBC story here.) Vaughan explores the idea of freedom and what it means to the individual. His characters come from different backgrounds and generations, each representing a different point of view on their situation. Vaughan’s method of telling this story, through the use of anthropomorphism, works well to get his feelings on war across without sounding too preachy. The illustrations and color by Niko Henrichon add to the story by giving the reader a good feel for the locations.

There are some very graphic depictions of violence, so this book is not for children.

Incubus Has Number One

Incubus has its first number one album on the Billboard 200 Chart this week with Light Grenades. In 2004, A Crow Left of the Murder debuted at number two on the Chart.

Burning Ring of Fire

Warm up on a cold winter night by reading or listening to this great book on Johnny Cash, The Man Called Cash. Follow the steps of Johnny Cash from his humble beginnings in Arkansas as a sharecropper's son to his death in Nashville. The Book on CD is read by Rex Linn, who offers his Southern voice to give the story a very nostaglic feel.

Local Historian Grace Shackman to Speak

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Grace Shackman, well-known Ann Arbor historian and author, will discuss her latest book Ann Arbor Observed at the library's 'Sunday Edition' program on Sunday, December 10 at 2:00 p.m. at the Pittsfield Branch. Ms. Shackman's book consists of a selection of articles she has contributed over the years to the 'Ann Arbor Observer's' 'Then and Now' feature. She will read from the book, speak about her research methods and local history sources and resources. The book, which makes a fine holiday gift, will be for sale at the event and a book signing will follow. It's a great opportunity to meet a delightful local author and learn about some intriguing chapters in Ann Arbor's history.

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