"Lamb," an Unusual Gospel

I am currently on my second copy of Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal. My first copy of Christopher Moore's novel was read, re-read, and loaned out so often by myself and others that it eventually fell apart.

Jesus' pal Biff is brought back from the dead to fill in the missing thirty-year "gap" in the Gospels by writing his account of growing up with the Messiah. Moore writes with a sense of humor and sarcasm that some may find crude or offensive, but others may find themselves laughing out loud every few pages. This "gospel" is nothing like what you would expect; it's full of all the taboo topics: religion, politics, sex, drugs, and rock (just rock, you know...stonemason stuff?). Since Moore pokes fun not only at Christianity, but also at Buddhism, Hinduism, and just about every other major religion, this is a book for those who don't take religion or life too seriously. I find myself picking up Lamb any time I need a good dose of wit and sarcasm or a good reminder to step back and laugh.

Ray Bradbury, master of Science Fiction and Fantasy, has died

Ray Bradbury, brilliant, prescient, prolific writer of science fiction and fantasy, died yesterday in Los Angeles.

Bradbury is credited with bringing science fiction into mainstream fiction by dispensing with a lot of the technical lingo and focusing on speculation and metaphors to dig into science and technology versus civilization.

Mr. Bradbury won dozens of awards for his enormous body of work. He captured his first prize, the 1947 O. Henry Award, for a short story called Homecoming, which was discovered by Truman Capote, who was an editor at Mademoiselle Magazine. One of his most well-known books, The Martian Chronicles further advanced his career in 1950.

Bradbury followed that success with Fahrenheit 451 in 1953. He took his notion about literature and society -- "You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them." -- and turned it into a classic that has been read by generations of high school students. In 1966, it became a chilling movie, starring Julie Christie and Oskar Werner.

Bradbury's passion for books and reading and libraries was in stark contract to his skepticism for formal education. He elaborated on this contrarian idea in an essay he wrote that can be found in the May 1971 issue of Wilson Library Bulletin (45, 9, 842-851). The title speaks for itself -- How Instead of Being Educated in College, I Was Graduated from Libraries.

Paying tribute to his grandfather, Danny Karapetian said, "...to read him was to know him. He was the biggest kid I know."

Bradbury was 91.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #333

Three weeks is a long time to fuss with a blog and it's time to let go. I still don't think I am doing this book justice but I hope you will trust me about this "luminous, haunting, and unforgettable" debut novel by Karen Thompson Walker. The premise is rather simple while the narrative voice is not.

The world awakes one Saturday morning in October to find the rotation of the Earth on its axis slowing down (thus The Slowing). Days and nights grow longer. Gravity is affected. Birds can't fly and people are getting sick. In a California suburb, 11 yr. old Julia is dealing with the catastrophe utterly "unimagined, unprepared for, unknown", with stoic determination and optimistic innocence.

The Age of Miracles * * is middle school - "the time when kids shot up three inches over the summer, when breasts bloomed from nothing, when voices dipped and dove". While some girls turn beautiful, a few boys grow tall, Julia still looks like a child. Apart from the usual adolescent angst of friendship, first love, budding sexuality, Julia must navigate her family's volatile dynamics and secrets; learn the meaning and demands of loyalty, honesty, kindness, and responsibility, against the backdrop of an ever-shifting reality.

"Walker (a former Simon & Schuster editor) captures each moment, intimate and universal, with magical precision. Riveting, heartbreaking, profoundly moving".

Inspired by the Tsunami which packed a force powerful enough to shorten the length of the day by microseconds, the rights to this debut have been sold to 25 countries, with an initial print run of 100,000 - HUGE.

* * = starred reviews

Geek Pride Day

"Towel Day", "Glorious 25th of May", or "Star Wars Day", whatever you prefer to call it, May 25th is Geek Pride Day and what better way to celebrate it than by visiting your local library? You don't have to be a Sci-Fi geek, or a math geek to celebrate Geek Pride Day, just celebrate whatever you "geek". "Whatever you geek, the public library supports you." Geek The Library reminds us that "No matter who you are, there are things you are passionate about—things you geek. The Geek the Library project is a community public awareness campaign aimed at spreading the word about the vital and growing role of your public library, and to raise awareness about the critical funding issues many U.S. public libraries face." Think of all the resources your library has to offer, be they entertainment like Star Wars or Douglas Adams books or movies, Homework Help or Test Prep, Foreign Language Materials or Foreign Language Learning from our Services and Research pages that you have access to through our website, our super nifty new Orion Starblast 4.5 Astro Reflector Dobsonian Telescope, or one of our neat Science To Go Kits from our Unusual Stuff to Borrow collection.

May's Books to Film

The Avengers (PG-13) is based on the Marvel comic series by Stan Lee, first published in 1963 and remains a bestseller. A Super Hero team featuring iconic Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow must face an unexpected enemy that threatens global safety and security. With Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (PG-13) follows a group of British retirees who decide to “outsource” their retirement to less expensive and seemingly exotic India. Enticed by advertisements for the newly restored Marigold Hotel and bolstered with visions of a life of leisure, they arrive to find the palace a shell of its former self. Though the new environment is less luxurious than imagined, they are forever transformed by their shared experiences, discovering that life and love can begin again when you let go of the past. The script is based on a novel by Deborah Moggach, previously published in the UK as These Foolish Things.

Starring Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Dev Patel, Tom Wilkinson, and Maggie Smith, it is my pick for our girls' night out.

What to Expect When You’re Expecting (PG-13) is adapted from Arlene Eisenberg's (written with her daughters Heidi Eisenberg Murkoff and Sandee Eisenberg Hathaway) perennial bestseller. It is a hilarious and heartfelt big screen comedy about five couples whose intertwined lives are turned upside down by the challenges of impending parenthood. Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lopez, Elizabeth Banks, Chace Crawford, Brooklyn Decker complete the cast.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #329

I have done nothing in the last 2 days except immersing myself in Beatriz Williams's Overseas, a rather puzzling title (the connection will be revealed in due course) for this most appealing romantic fantasy (or is it a paranormal romance?).

Independent, ambitious, smart Kate Wilson, an analyst at Sterling Bates (Bear Stearns, you think?) catches the eyes of British billionaire hedge fund mogel (and a 5-star client) Julian Laurence. The chemistry is undeniable and the flirty emails promise a whole lot more. Then Julian begs off. Kate is crushed. Months later, they finally connect, after a timely rescue at Central Park. (You get the picture, no violins but some nice Chopin, courtesy of Mr. there-is-nothing-he-can't do).

Of course disaster strikes, fast, furious, but not entirely out of the blue, though Julian did! Kate finds out that Julian is actually Julian Laurence Ashford, aristocratic WWI hero/poet, supposedly killed in 1916 in France. Now a mysterious and malevolent force is out to destroy them. It seems like Kate, with her 21st century sensibility and toughness is the only one who could travel back in time, reverse the course of history to save them.

This debut novel which won two Romance Writers of America awards already, is poised to become the sizzling read this summer. Comparison is being made to Diana Gabaldon and Anne Fortier. Fans of the movie Pretty Woman will delight in the frame of the novel - the Cinderella storyline, the Manhattan glitterati (a ruby necklace made an appearance here as well), and sometime, if we are lucky, love could rescue us.

Readers interested in the scenes set in World War I Amiens might check out historical notes at the author's website. The character Julian Laurence Ashford is actually based on biographical details from a number of historical figures. Amiens is also the setting for Sebastian Faulks' "intensely romantic yet stunningly realistic" Birdsong, recently adapted into a PBS Television Masterpiece Classic.

* = starred review

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #326

Absolutely, you won't get an argument from me that Unholy Night is not the first novel by Seth Grahame-Smith, but it is his first departure from zombies and vampires. Good enough reason for me.

Alright, it is another one of his "evolution in dark historical revisionism" but what fun. And thanks to that "brilliant and twisted mind", you will never look at The Nativity the same way again.

Did you ever wonder about the "Three Wise Men"? Who were they? Why the strange gifts? What happened to them? In Grahame-Smith's telling, they were infamous thieves dressed in borrowed finery, led by the charming, elusive and murderous Balthazar as they stumbled upon the Holy family in the famous manger after a daring escape from Herod's prison. Before they could make off with the gifts, Herod's men began to slaughter the first born in Judea, and they cast themselves, reluctantly at best, as the Holy Family's escort in their flight into Egypt. Thus began a heart-stopping, swashbuckling adventure.

The action, danger, intrigue, and humor is palpable but what impressed me most are the ingenious, unexpectedly poignant back stories he has created for the biblical figures - from the young, ambitious and secretly decent Pontius Pilate; Mary, the mouthy, sassy 15 year-old who is tough and surprisingly maternal; to the cruel, mad and diseased King Herod.

Film rights for Unholy sold ($2 million) to Warner Bros. before its publication. Seth Grahame-Smith wrote Tim Burton's film Dark Shadows (being released May 2012) and the screenplay for Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, a previous novel, in theaters June 2012.

Readalike: Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon ; illustrated by Gary Gianni.

April's Books to Film

Based on Nicholas Sparks' novel The Lucky One (PG-13), it follows U.S. Marine Sergeant Logan Thibault as he returns from his third tour of duty in Iraq, with the one thing he credits with keeping him alive --- a photograph he found of a woman he doesn’t even know. Learning her name and where she lives, he shows up at her door.

In Think Like a Man (PG-13) - the film adaptation of Steve Harvey's bestseller Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man : what men really think about love, relationships, intimacy, and commitment, 4 interconnected and diverse men whose love lives are shaken up after the ladies they are pursuing buy Harvey's book and start taking his advice to heart. When the band of brothers realize they have been betrayed by one of their own, they conspire using the book's insider information to turn the tables and teach the women a lesson of their own.

In The Pirates! Band of Misfits (PG), Hugh Grant stars in his first animated role as the luxuriantly bearded Pirate Captain --- a boundlessly enthusiastic, if somewhat less-than-successful, terror of the High Seas. With a rag-tag crew at his side, and seemingly blind to the impossible odds stacked against him, the Captain has one dream: to beat his bitter rivals Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz to the much coveted Pirate Of The Year Award. We have Author Gideon Defoe to thank for his two adventurous tales in The Pirates! Band of Misfits : an adventure with scientists & an adventure with Ahab

In the film The Raven (R) when a serial killer who bases his methods of killing on Edgar Allan Poe’s stories (beginning with The Murders in the Rue Morgue and The Pit and the Pendulum and working his way through other stories), Poe joins forces with a young Baltimore detective to solve the crime. The script is based on biographies of Edgar Allan Poe

War is Coming

Sunday, April 1st marks the return of the award winning HBO drama Game of Thrones. In this second season HBO takes eager fans back into the land of Westeros, picking up where the first season ended and what is to be considered the second book of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. If you have not caught up on the first season you can get in line for the regular or blu-ray versions which are available at AADL.

A Clash of Kings the second book in Martin’s series brings readers back into the land of Westeros where among all the other side stories that readers have come to love or hate, four kings are vying for power. Pick up the second book to find out what happens with the royal families as they continue playing the ever changing game of thrones.

AADL also carries A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons. The third, fourth and fifth books respectively in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series.

Be prepared for this season War is Coming April 1st on HBO.

The Hunger Games Book and Movie

With release this week of The Hunger Games movie, the Amazon Best Sellers for Teens list shows 11 of the top 15 books are from Suzanne Collins' mega blockbuster series: The Hunger Games, Catching Fire and Mockingjay. That's amazing, to think of all those teens reading all those books.

Meanwhile the film is rated 87 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.2 of 10 on IMDb. Entertainment Weekly has a piece called 'The Hunger Games': What the movie missed about the book. A young colleague who saw the movie last night said she liked the book better -- but enjoyed the film and appreciated that it was exciting but not gory, faithful to its PG-13 rating. What do you think?

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