Love Roald Dahl? Try Mr. Gum!

Mr. Gum is a thoroughly rotten old man, but the Mr. Gum series by Andy Stanton is anything but rotten. In fact, it’s downright hilarious.

Reminiscent of Roald Dahl, this series combines plenty of off-the-wall humor with an eccentric villain and a touch of magic to create a thoroughly enjoyable read that is also a fantastic read-aloud. The series begins with You’re a Bad Man, Mr. Gum!, in which our villainous Mr. Gum attempts to get his revenge on the dog who dug up his yard. It continues with Mr. Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire, Mr. Gum and the Goblins, Mr. Gum and the Power Crystals, Mr. Gum and the Dancing Bear, What’s for Dinner, Mr. Gum?, Mr. Gum and the Cherry Tree, and Mr. Gum and the Secret Hideout.

So if you’re looking for new adventures after journeying to Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and making friends with Matilda, then you should definitely take a look at the Mr. Gum series.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #455

Violet Kupersmith, still in her early 20s, offers "(a)n extraordinarily compelling debut of ghost stories, written as an undergraduate (Mount Holyoke) that grapple with the legacy of the Vietnam War".

Praised by fellow writers as "surgically precise and feverishly imaginative" (Tea Obreht), "...teem(ing) with sensuous and exuberant life" (Valerie Martin), "...deftly funny and yet so deadly serious" (Yiyun Li), The Frangipani Hotel * * will not disappoint.

The titular L'Hotel Frangipane, "swanky name, shitty place", located in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, is a 1/2-star, seven-story death trap, run haphazardly by an extended family where a beautiful young woman, floating fully dressed in an overflowing bathtub in an unoccupied room, seduces an American businessman into a moonlight swim with dark intent.

In "Skin and Bones", in need of losing a few pounds, an overweight Houston teenager is shipped off to spend the summer with her grandmother in Ho Chi Minh City, only to discover the delicious Bánh mì, offered by a curiously-friendly street vendor as the city naps in the sultry afternoons.

Based on traditional ghost stories told to her by the author's Vietnamese grandmother, "each of the stories is replete with characters both fabulous and ordinary, stories out of this world and firmly rooted in it. Each is meticulously told by a storyteller talented and wise beyond her years." Highly recommended for literary fiction fans.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Young People's Theater: The Wizard of Oz

Young People's Theater will present the classic story of The Wizard of Oz from May 16-18 at the University of Michigan Power Center. For ticket information, click here. Meanwhile, YPT also is organizing summer camps which you can learn about here.

Hugo Awards


Hugo award finalists have been announced. The awards will be officially given at this year’s World Science Fiction Convention called Loncon 3 since it is the third time to be held in London, England. If you love scifi or fantasy, this is one of the largest and oldest annually held convention for fans (the first one was held in 1939 in NYC, and it has been held continuously since 1946). This year marks the 75th anniversary of the convention so in addition to the Hugo Awards, there are Retro-Hugo Awards honoring the best of scifi/fantasy from 1938. The following are this year's best novel nominees:

Ancillary justice by Ann Leckie: story focuses on the AI soldier, Breq, previously a starship now in a fragile human body; a space opera that will make you think what it is to be human vs AI; 1st part of the Imperial Radch series

Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross: multiple award winner Stross continues delving into the Freyaverse and our post-human descendants started in Saturn’s Children, followed by a short story called ‘Bit Rot’

Parasite by Mira Grant: a genetically engineered parasite that lives inside all humans delivering meds, protecting us from illness, and boosting our immune system? Sounds good until they start thinking on their own…1st in the Parasitology series. Mira Grant also writes award winning urban fantasy under the name Seanan McGuire , and has been nominated for Hugo awards for Feed and Deadline

Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia: the series is available, and you can read a short prequel to it for free online called the Grimnoir Chronicles: Detroit Christmas

Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson: anyone who knows scifi/fantasy has heard of this epic series that spans some 14 volumes with prequels; some J R R Tolkien influence, some Asian mythology…there was a computer game and a roleplaying game, even a soundtrack album Jordan died in 2007 and Sanderson picked up his notes for the final book and turned it into 3 books. Fans launched an online campaign to get the entire series nominated so it should be interesting to see if it wins!

Winter is on its way out, but Season 4 of Game of Thrones is coming!

Many of us are eagerly awaiting the start of season four of Game of Thrones, which begins on Sunday, April 6th on HBO. The AADL has the first three seasons of the show on DVD and Blu-Ray, but we also have a large selection of other Game of Thrones-related materials that fans may be interested in. The show was inspired by and is strictly based on the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. The library has all five of the currently published books available. Martin has said that he may publish the sixth installment of the series, The Winds of Winter, in 2015. Even if you’ve already seen the show, reading the books is a cool way to find out more details and clear up any confusion.

The AADL also has graphic novel adaptations of Game of Thrones. These are fast-paced and colorful reads that fans will surely enjoy. There are also unique books about the Game of Thrones fantasy world and the show in our collection. The Wit and Wisdom of Tyrion Lannister collects a number of the hilarious and witty quotes said by one of the most popular characters into a fun book. The Unofficial Game of Thrones cookbook: from direwolf ale to auroch stew—more than 150 recipes from Westeros and beyond has appetizers, side dishes, main courses and desserts, all inspired by meals or situations from Game of Thrones. We also have the official companion to the HBO show, Inside HBO’s Game of Thrones. It is filled with hundreds of photos of the set, actors, and props from the show. Finally, an extremely helpful book is The Lands of Ice and Fire: maps from King’s Landing to across the Narrow Sea, a collection of maps and diagrams that show the world described by Martin in his books and shown to viewers on the show. As fans know, keeping the many settings of Game of Thrones straight can be a challenge; this book can help those who are struggling better visualize the continents of Westeros and Essos

A Modern Fairy Tale

Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” had inspired many fantastic works in the last few years, including Disney’s Frozen and Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs. Fans of the latter will definitely want to check out the latest Snow Queen-inspired novel, Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee.

The story takes place in a magical, labyrinth-like museum in a country where the snow never stops. While exploring the museum one day, Ophelia discovers the prison of the Marvelous Boy, a boy who never ages and who is destined to give the sword to the hero who will slay the Snow Queen. Though still grieving the death of her mother, Ophelia agrees to team up with the Marvelous Boy to help him defeat the Snow Queen and end the endless winter.

What I loved most about this novel was its careful balance of fantasy and reality. While much of the plot and the tone of the story feel like a dreamy or sometimes nightmarish fairy tale, Ophelia’s grief and its effect upon her family keep the heart of the story incredible real.

Audiobook for Kids: Malcolm at Midnight

Many favorite children’s books feature heroic mice, but what about heroic rats?

In Malcolm at Midnight by W. H. Beck, we meet Malcolm, a rat who becomes a class pet when fifth-grade teacher Mr. Binney mistakes him for a mouse. When Malcolm learns about rats’ bad reputation, he decides it might be best to let everyone continue thinking he’s a a mouse, especially after he joins the Midnight Academy, a secret society of class pets that has vowed to keep the school safe. But when the leader of the Midnight Academy goes missing and everyone discovers Malcolm is really a rat, he will have to set off alone to save the school from real evil of McKenna School.

Reminiscent of Kate DiCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux but with a familiar classroom setting, this book would be a good choice for animal lovers and children with classroom pets.

For more books featuring heroic rodents, check out this list.

Available for Download through AADL: Books by Local Author Tristan Gregory

All four titles in The Wandering Tale series by local author Tristan Gregory are now available for download from the catalog! Satisfy an appetite for adventure (think swords, knights, and damsels and distress) with these little gems. Tight schedule? No worries - read a novella in one sitting!

If you're looking for something a little meatier, try Gregory's epic fantasy novel Twixt Heaven and Hell, where one wizard who dreams of peace will clash with a power-hungry warlord in control of sorcerers and demons in a battle to save his precious land and people. Full of magic, action, and plenty of atmospheric suspense - fantasy fans won't want to miss this one!

To download a book, click on one of the links below, then click on the book cover image underneath "Download This Item". Easy!! (If you aren't logged into your AADL account, you'll be prompted to do so - still pretty easy).

The Swordsman of Carn Nebeth (Wandering Tale 1)
The Three Fingers of Death (Wandering Tale 2)
The Giant of Tidesmouth (Wandering Tale 3)
The Crown Unconquered (Wandering Tale 4)

Twixt Heaven and Hell

Le Morte d'Arthur (a short story to whet your appetite)

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #450 - For All Ages

Here is something extraordinarily fun and quirky and I hope, unexpectedly moving as well.

"If Roald Dahl had rewritten The Picture of Dorian Gray to include a gang of 24 bandits and a giant balloon, the result might have been Gianni Rodari's wonderfully improbable novel that, for all its humor, is loosely based upon the 1978 kidnapping and murder of Italian politician Aldo Moro" and that! would be Lamberto Lamberto Lamberto.

When we first meet 93-year-old millionaire Baron Lamberto, he has been diagnosed with 24 life-threatening ailments, one for each of the 24 banks he owns. But when he takes the advice of an Egyptian mystic and hires servants to chant his name over and over again, he seems to not only get better, but younger, to the chagrin of his ne'er-do-well nephew who is impatient to inherit.

When a terrorist group lays siege to his island villa, his team of bank managers has to be bussed in to help with the ransom negotiations, and a media spectacle breaks out . . .

Gianni Rodari (October 23, 1920 -April 14, 1980) was an Italian writer and journalist, most famous for his books for children. The recipient of the Hans Christian Andersen Award in 1970, Rodari is a household name in Italy among educators and parents, not to mention children. Influenced by French surrealism and linguistics, Rodari advocated poetry and language play as a way to recover the rhythm and sound of oral tradition and nursery rhymes. One of Italy's most beloved fables, Lamberto is only now translated into English. Much of the charm lies with Maggioni's ink drawings in this edition.

ALA's 2014 Reading List Winners - Librarians' Top Picks in Genre Fiction

Congratulations to this year's winners in 8 genre fiction categories, just announced at the American Library Association's Midwinter Meeting in Philadelphia. It is great to see among them some first novels. An added value of the Reading List (as opposed to the Notable Books) has always been the inclusion of the shortlists which enriches the readers exploration of the genres.

Adrenaline Winner:
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews. This modern spy novel pits two covert operatives against each other in an intricate cat-and-mouse game. As Dominika and Nathaniel ply their tradecraft, they navigate the moral ambiguities of a post-Cold War world where no one is as they seem and betrayal is business as usual.

Short List
The Caretaker by A.X. Ahmad, a FFF (blog)
Ghostman by Roger Hobbs, a FFF (blog)
Lexicon by Max Barry
Lost by S.J. Bolton

Fantasy Winner
Vicious by V.E.Schwab. A friendly rivalry turns vicious when college friends Victor and Eli obtain super-human powers and use them for very different purposes. This dark paranormal fantasy, a riveting tale of vengeance and redemption, proves that extraordinary powers don’t necessarily make superheroes.

Short List
The Necromancer’s House by Christopher Buehlman
A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan
American Elsewhere by Robert Bennett Jackson
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker, a FFF (blog)

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