Fabulous Fiction Firsts #11

If you are expecting a pleasant little cozy, well, skip this one.

Part police procedural, part psychological thriller, and part courtroom drama, this dark tale of two missing girls in a well-heeled Duluth suburb is a complicated page-turner by a first-time novelist. In Immoral, Detective Jonathan Stride suspects murder and he is sure he has the culprit; but proving it is another story altogether. Adding to the suspense are plenty of red herring, skeletons in the closet, and the fact that the victims may not all be innocent.

Mystery reviewers everywhere agree that Brian Freeman is a talent to watch. No argument here.

What’s a four-letter word for…?

Do you love crossword puzzles? Well this weekend is the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament – the nation’s oldest and largest crossword competition. Each competitor must solve eight original puzzles, created specifically for this event, and is then scored for accuracy and speed. The contestants all compete for prizes in over 20 categories, the grand prize being $4,000!

While you may not be as good as the masters who enter this tournament, brush up on your skills with the many dictionaries that the library owns that will help you improve.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (3/19/06)

With a hint of Spring in the air, romance veterans Steel and Graham return with their latest releases. In fact all the new entries are by tried and true favorite authors, offering a little whimsey, a lot of Irish history, and one more mystery soaked in the California sun.

At #1 is The House by Danielle Steel: how a mansion in need of tender loving care changes a lawyer's life.

At #9 is Sour Puss by Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown: for cat and cozy mystery lovers everywhere, Mrs. Murphy and her cats solve another case of mysterious death.

At #10 is The Rebels of Ireland by Edward Rutherfurd: sweeping family saga covering Irish history from 1597 to 1922.

At #15 is The Island by Heather Graham: a woman stumbles into a mystery on vacation which threatens her life back home in Miami.

At #16 is The Fallen by T. Jefferson Parker: this native Californian delivers another
absorbing tale of corruption and death, following in the footsteps of Chandler, Hammett and Macdonald (Ross!).

What Do Your Brackets Look Like?

AND1's, buzzer beaters, and dunks, oh my! How does your bracket look?
If you're following the NCAA and NIT tournaments, we want you to know the library has a lot to offer. Glory Road: My Story of the 1966 NCAA Basketball Championship and How One Team Triumphed Against the Odds and Changed America Forever, and Last Dance: Behind the Scenes at the Final Four for starters. The season's hoopla wouldn't be complete without hearing from Dick Vitale. Dick Vitale's Living A Dream, or try a few issues of Slam, the magazine, for those endless time-outs.

95th Anniversary of Triange Shirtwaist Company Fire

On March 25, 1911, 146 women, mostly immigrants, died in a fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City. Many of the women were trapped on the ninth floor because the doors were locked. Some fell to their deaths from open windows. The event, though tragic, was a turning point in labor history. New laws were passed requiring reforms in health and safety.

The book, Ashes of Roses by Mary Jane Auch, is written for teens but has universal appeal for lovers of historical fiction. Auch conveys the horror of the fire and all that leads up to it from the perspective of Rose Nolan, a 16 year old Irish immigrant, who lands a job at the factory and is one of the survivors. Auch is good at evoking early twentieth century New York in all its color and squalor.

Remembering the Tuskegee Airmen

This week, in 1941, one of the most renowned and decorated African-American military units of the Second World War came into being as the 99th Pursuit Squadron [later the 332nd Fighter Group]. Better known as the Tuskegee Airmen, the group had 992 black airmen who flew P-39, P-40, P-47 and P-51 fighters in more than 15,000 sorties in North Africa, Sicily and Europe during World War II. A number of books highlight the contributions of these flyers, including Black Knights: The Story of the Tuskegee Airmen by Lynn M. Homan; A-Train: Memoirs of a Tuskegee Airman by Charles W. Dryden; Red Tails, Black Wings by John Holway; Red Tail Captured, Red Tail Free by Alexander Jefferson and Flight: The Story of Virgil Richardson. There's also a fascinating documentary, Nightfighters which depicts the exploits of the group. For more information on the group see The Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. web site and the tribute on the National Park Service web site.

Has Title IX been good for sports?

Would Tennessee’s Candace Parker, whose two dunks last weekend were the first ever in NCAA tournament play, and Oklahoma’s Courtney Paris, whose powerful play has coaches comparing her to Shaq, be pushing the basketball envelope if Title IX had never become law?

A new book, A Place on the Team: The Triumph and Tragedy of Title IX explores the controversial law. While some say the law has provided girls and women more opportunity to grow and excel in athletics, others would say Title IX’s mandate that women and men athletes be treated equally has come at too great a cost. To comply with Title IX some colleges and universities have shifted money to women’s sports while reducing funds for or even cutting “lesser” men’s sports like wrestling and crew. Is that fair or is it a case of two wrongs don’t make a right?

Children of Paradise

The University of Michigan’s Institute for the Humanities has a free public screening of the 1945 film Les Enfants du Paradis (Children of Paradise) on Tuesday, April 4 at 4 pm in Rackham room 0520. Filmed in Vichy-era France with writing by Jacques Prévert, the film follows a group of nineteenth-century pantomime actors centered around the alluring, philosophically light-hearted Garance. Roger Ebert wrote that “few achievements in the world of cinema can rival it." If you can’t make it to the screening, try the beautifully restored DVD of director Marcel Carné’s masterpiece.

Everything bad for you is not so bad

It's okay. Despite everything you've heard, pop culture is not completely rotting your brain.

In Everything Bad Is Good for You, Steven Johnson lays out a theory about how popular media are helping us develop better creative problem solving, social networking, and analysis skills. (That isn't to say that this book is against good old intellectual development through, well, books.) Johnson provides a smart take on neurological development, Dragnet, and The Sims that will just probably convince you that you're smarter than you thought.

So, whether you've been up for twelve hours trying to get the powerup and win the game, or you've been blogging about how guilty you feel when you watch Desperate Housewives, read this book and feel a little better.

Shakespeare To Go

The 2006 Stratford Festival of Canada season is fast approaching. This year’s Festival selections from the Bard include Coriolanus, King Henry IV Part One, Much Ado About Nothing, and Twelfth Night.

Need a little brush-up on the Bard? Shakespeare—the Word and the Action, a lecture series from the Teaching Company, will let you expound with the best of them during intermissions in the garden. Dazzle them at the pre-play lectures after listening to The Age of Shakespeare and Will in the World.

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