Midwestern Gothic Reading

Saturday June 14, 2014: 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm -- Downtown Library: 4th Floor Meeting Room

Midwestern Gothic is proud to partner with the Ann Arbor District Library to host a reading of its contributors on Saturday, June 14, 2014.

Started in 2010, Midwestern Gothic is an Ann Arbor-based quarterly literary journal dedicated to featuring work about or inspired by the Midwest, by writers who live or have lived here. Midwestern Gothic aims to collect the very best in Midwestern writing in a way that has never been done before, cataloging the oeuvre of an often-overlooked region of the United States ripe with its own mythologies and tall tales—stories and poems that help to paint a portrait of the region. The event will consist of Midwestern Gothic contributors Rob Kenagy (poetry), Cindy Hunter Morgan (poetry), John Rodwan (creative nonfiction/poetry), and Jeff Kass (fiction/poetry) reading their work. The reading will be followed by a short reception.

AADL cardholders can download previous issues of MG from our catalog here.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #453 - "Every man is surrounded by a neighborhood of voluntary spies" ~ Jane Austen

The Zodiac Deception * by award-winning reporter for the New York Times Gary Kriss is a fast-paced WWII espionage thriller. "Crisp prose and a well-structured storyline" also makes it entertaining.

June 1942, Princeton professor David Walker didn't exactly volunteer, but OSS chief Wild Bill Donovan convinced him posing as German astrologer Peter Kepler was the only option other than prison, considering his checkered past. Walker's mission: rely on his skills learned as a protégé of both Harry Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle, to use illusion, sleight of hand and deception to gain Heinrich Himmler's trust and persuade him to assassinate Adolph Hitler.

From Berlin to Paris to Cairo; from Hitler's Eagle Nest to Himmler's occult Wewelsburg Castle, Walker walked a tightrope of deceit, navigating impossible challenges. To further complicate the mission, he fell in love with a maker of Nazi propaganda films and must rescue her from Paris' labyrinth underground sewers.

"Gary Kriss's The Zodiac Deception is a memorable debut, an unforgettable thrill ride through the dark heart of World War II Germany." A sequel is in the works. Stay tuned.

David Downing, author of the John Russell espionage series set in WWII Berlin, begins a new series with Jack of Spies, set on the eve of the First World War.

It is 1913, Jack McColl, a globe-trotting Scottish car salesman with an uncanny ear for languages, travels from city to great city trying to sell his company's luxury car, the Maia, while collecting intelligence for His Majesty's Navy. As the world tumbles towards war, his spy duties intensify along with danger quotient.

Meanwhile, a sharp, vivacious American suffragette journalist has wiled her way deep into his affections whose family may be involved in a plot against the British, putting him in the impossible position to choose between love and country.

"(F)ull of rich historical and cultural details", both of these FFFs would appeal to fans of Alan Furst, Philip Kerr; and Kate Mosse's latest Citadel (2014), where a group of WWII French Resistance women fighters risk everything to protect astonishing secrets buried in a village nestled deep in the Pyrenees.

* = starred review

Picturebook Picks: The Shape of My Heart

The Shape of My Heart by Mark Sherring is a delightful, colorful picturebook that is perfect for reading aloud. Sherring takes the readers on a journey to discover all of the wonderful, beautiful shapes that we see in our everyday life. From the shapes of our eyes to the sun, from the shapes of the zoo to our hearts, this is a heartwarming book that is perfect for engaging in seek-and-find - “Where is the duck?” - play. The illustrations, colorful and bright, are a collage of animals, shapes, and objects that children will immediately recognize. In addition, these amazing illustrations are brought to life with added sound effects, from chirps to squeaks! Children will fall in love with the high level of interaction this every-color-of-the-rainbow book has to offer.

Teen Fiction Picks: Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood

Have you ever dreamed of being related to a celebrity? Riding in limos and mingling with the glitterati? Abby Spencer never has, until now. But it’s not a dream -- it’s reality. In Abby Spencer Goes to Bollywood by Varsha Bajaj, thirteen-year-old Abby bugs her mom to contact her father, who she’s never even met, to track down her medical history after nearly dying from a surprise allergy. When she finds him, she discovers that her dad is a Bollywood film star in Mumbai, India! It isn’t until he asks her to come visit him in Mumbai that Abby’s life starts getting flipped upside down. Join Abby, a hilariously witty character, for a crazy adventurous summer dodging paparazzi and experiencing Indian culture in ways she had never dreamed of.

Teen Fiction Picks: How My Summer Went up in Flames

How My Summer Went up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski is about a girl named Rosie whose summer is not off to a great start. Her boyfriend cheats on her, resulting in her accidentally setting his car on fire when she tries to burn a box (full of all of the mementos he has ever given her during their nine-month relationship) in his driveway. This results in a temporary restraining order. Naturally, Rosie is depressed and still hung up on her ex. As a result, her parents get the bright idea of sending her out on a road trip with her nerdy best friend Matty and two of his equally-nerdy friends who are all obsessed with Star Wars. Despite Matty’s friends’ interests, Rosie starts to think that tagging along on this roadtrip might not be so bad afterall, as a new budding romance starts to take shape…

In this hilarious coming-of-age story, Rosie is obsessed with her ex-boyfriend, who despite being a terrible human being for cheating on her, is still the object of her affection. She’s just so caught up in their romance that she feels lost after their break-up. Fortunately, Rosie is a smart girl with lots of spark, and throughout the roadtrip, her eyes open and she comes to know herself better, regaining the strength and self-confidence she needs to get over this relationship.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #452

Delicious! * is absolutely irresistible if you are a Ruth Reichl fan. The former New York Times restaurant critic, Gourmet magazine editor-in-chief, and bestselling author of culinary memoirs is turning to fiction (some would say rather semi-autobiographical?) for the first time, and the result is "a magical novel... that draws brilliantly on her wisdom and humor about life, her perceptiveness about family, her understanding of character, her belief in romance, and ... her description of food, so vivid you can taste every bite".

My advice: Do not attempt on an empty stomach!

College drop-out Billie Breslin lands the dream job at Delicious!, New York's most iconic food magazine. She has no culinary skills to recommend her but a "superhuman palate" (she can taste any dish and list its ingredients and suggest the flavors it needs) which endears her to the colorful staff at the magazine, as well as customers at the famous Italian food shop where she works on weekends.

When Delicious! is abruptly shut down, Billie stays on in the empty office to maintaining the hotline for reader complaints, one of which leads her to a cache of letters hidden in the magazine's library, written during WWII by a Lulu Swan to the legendary chef James Beard.

This discovery leads to more clues (in the card catalog!!), a road trip, a forged connection, a glamor-makeover; and gives her the courage to face her fears, and be open to romantic possibilities.

"Reichl's... insider's look at life at a food magazine is fascinating. Her satisfying coming-of-age novel of love and loss vividly demonstrates the power of food to connect people across cultures and generations."

Also included are: A Conversation Between Ann Patchett and Ruth Reichl, and Billie's Gingerbread recipe.

* = starred review

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!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #451

Retirement is pretty fabulous and I highly recommend it. However, there are certainly aspects of my work that I truly missed, blogging about books is one of them. So, Muffy is back, and just in time to bring you this wonderful first novel, published to coincide with the celebration of Will's 450th birthday this month.

Dark Aemilia * * is based on the life and loves of Aemilia Bassano Lanyer - the first woman poet to be published (in English), whom historians have called a "proto-feminist", choosing to dedicate many of her poems to a host of distinguished women.

British novelist Sally O'Reilly begins her U.S. debut with a young Aemilia, one of Queen Elizabeth's favorites at court, and mistress to Henry Carey, first Lord Hunsdon, the Queen's lord chamberlain. Learned and intelligent, she captivates the brash, young playwright Will and their clandestine affair proves to be her undoing. As the estrangement between them grows with each misunderstanding and misfortune, their love persists - painfully and without hope.

"With elegant style, masterly wordplay, and an eye for historical detail, O'Reilly beautifully relates a passionate and tragic love story, worthy of two such well-known figures". She also casts Aemilia in the shadowy role of the "Dark Lady" - the object of Shakespeare's late sonnets, and further fuels the debate as to the authorship of his plays.

"O'Reilly brings her star-crossed lovers together and drives them apart through plot twists that are, for once, credible outgrowths of the characters' personalities and beliefs, finally giving them a tender, heartbreaking parting. First-rate historical fiction: marvelously atmospheric and emotionally engaging." For fans of Philippa Gregory and Sarah Dunant.

* * = 2 starred reviews

The Circle

Dave Eggers delights again with his newest novel, The Circle. His prose engulfs readers in an eerily familiar world of social and political advancement, somewhat reminiscent of the classic 1984. Readers will wonder what it truly means to be anonymous, and deliberate whether it is a concept more archaic than essential. At the heart of the novel is The Circle's omniscience and its proclamation that "secrets are lies."

Mae Holland, a young college graduate, is stuck in a dead-end career with no hope of leaving her provincial town, when former roommate and business legend Annie offers her a job at The Circle, a company known for its technological advancement and innovation. Although Mae impresses many with her work ethic, her lack of social media presence causes concern in her superiors. The main goal of The Circle, after all, is to connect people of the world in order to achieve infinite knowledge, and ultimately, enlightenment for humankind.

Eggers is best known for his biography, A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. He has received multiple awards including Time Best Book of the Year. Eggers also has local acclaim as he is a founder of 826 National, related to Ann Arbor's 826 Michigan.

Audiobook for Broadway Lovers: Better Nate Than Ever

Read by the author (who happens to have been on Broadway himself), Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle offers an insider’s look into the world of Broadway auditions from a kid’s point of view. Thirteen-year-old Nate Foster is tired of being bullied and misunderstood in his hometown so, with the help of his best friend Libby, this Broadway-musical lover concocts a plan to run away to New York City and audition for E.T the Musical (inspired by Steven Spielberg’s E.T., of course). The adventure that follows is both hilarious and heartbreaking, and the narration is spot on through every emotional twist and turn.

The audiobook was a 2014 Odyssey Award Honor, an award given to the best audiobooks for children and teens.

Its sequel Five, Six, Seven, Nate! is also available in print.

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