New Fiction on the New York Times Best Sellers List (3/25/07)

Jodi Picoult has tapped into many of the current hot button topics in American culture in her many bestselling novels. Most of them involve parents and children, husbands and wives. These novels are not lighthearted romps. While there is always a resolution to the conflict, there has also been serious damage done to the protagonists, emotional and physical. Picoult also likes to take a set of circumstances and twist the perspective. All of this may be why she is more popular with book groups than the New York Times reviewers.

This is certainly the case in Nineteen Minutes, the unnerving story of a school massacre (Columbine?). Once again things are not always as they seem. While engaging our emotions, Picoult tells a riveting story with a surprise ending.

Other new entries on the List are Whitethorn Woods by Maeve Binchy and Sugar Daddy by Lisa Kleypas.

April Fools' Day Downtown


This coming Sunday is April Fool's Day and a local artist is not joking when he says there will be a parade downtown. Mark Tucker, a lecturer at UM, is staging FestiFools. He will take over a block on Main between Liberty and William from 4 to 5 p.m. next Sunday April 1 for a parade of puppets.

For more information about FestiFools and the giant dancing puppets, you can send an email to "", call Mark Tucker at
(734) 615-8648 or go online.

Coldest Blood

I think the average mystery reader will easily relate to Jim Kelly’s realistically drawn hero Phillip Dryden. It takes more careful reading than others like Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch series but Kelly’s plotting is great. I tried skipping to the end when the night grew late but had to go back the next day and finish the book. Good yarn! An added treat for anglophiles is that it’s set in the Cambridgeshire Fens.

The trials of an immigrant family

Forteen year old Nadira is the narrator of Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos. She and her sister, Aisha and their parents, all from Bangladesh, are on their way to Canada because their visas have expired. The government has cracked down on immigrants since 9/11. Their illegal status is discovered at the border, their father is detained and his wife stays nearby. He tells the girls to return to New York to stay with an aunt and uncle. Aisha has always been the golden girl, bright, beautiful and ambitious. She worries that now all her dreams for college are just that- dreams. She retreats into her own world and Nadira, always seen as the average one, takes charge to find a way to keep her family from being deported. Budhos, also the author of Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers, knows her subject well and brngs the struggles and heartbreak of immigrant families to life through her characters and suspenseful plot.

Come what (ever) may...

Stone SourStone Sour

The Jagermeister Music Tour is coming to the State Theatre in Detroit this Friday, March 30th at 6:30pm.

Headlining the event will be Stone Sour (FYI: The song 30/30-150 from the album Come what (ever) may was nominated for a Grammy in the category of "Best Metal Performance").

Joining them will be Shadows Fall and Lacuna Coil.

Now believe me when I say that this concert is not for the faint at heart. Even you "die-hard" metal fans need to boss up before you go...

Freedom Ship by Doreen Rappaport

A small boy recounts an amazing story of bravery and determination in Doreen Rappaport's Freedom Ship. Based on the true story of a Confederate Steam ship that was kidnapped and turned over to the Union Army by a slave crew who sought freedom. The ship’s pilot Robert Smalls went on to become captain of the ship and was elected to South Carolina’s state legislature and the state senate.

The Best Dog in Vietnam

This is a war story so I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read it. This is a dog story so I am happy that I read it. Newbery award-winning author Cynthia Kadohata researched unusual soldiers in the Vietnam War, dogs who were the first in line on the battlefield, sniffing out booby traps and mines, and saving thousands of soldier’s lives. The point of view in the story hops from Cracker, the German Shepherd, to Willie her first beloved owner, to Rick, the teenage soldier who becomes her handler, and grows to trust her better than anyone. Readers who like constant action and realistic portrayals of war will dive into this one.

Public Open House on Downtown Parking


Stand up (or sit down) and be heard on the future of public parking in downtown Ann Arbor. The public open house will be held Thursday, March 29, 6 p.m. - 8 p.m., 2nd floor, City Hall. City officials are working to develop a long-term parking and access strategy and your ideas and recommendations will greatly enhance the process.

Multi-tasking Can Be Dangerous

Recently I watched a young driver smash her van at about 30 mph into the back of a truck on South Main Street – while chatting happily on her cell phone. So I’m glad to see the New York Times article “Slow Down, Brave Multitasker, and Don’t Read This in Traffic.” The article quotes David Meyer at U-M saying: “Multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes. Disruptions and interruptions are a bad deal from the standpoint of our ability to process information.” Today I see there is a correction to the article: “A front-page article yesterday about the limits of multitasking misspelled the surname of a cognitive scientist at the University of Michigan, who said that "'Multitasking is going to slow you down, increasing the chances of mistakes.'" It is David E. Meyer, not Mayer.” I hope that when this name was misspelled, it wasn't because someone was multi-tasking.

Bring on the Bags


Trowels ready, rakes set, gardeners go. City of Ann Arbor weekly curbside collection of residential yardwaste resumes, Monday April 2nd. Need some compost and mulch for your spring planting? The City's Municipal Compost Center is expanding hours to include Saturdays from 8 a.m. to noon during gardening season.

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