Ages 18+.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #488 - “I was made and meant to look for you and wait for you and become yours forever.” ~ Robert Browning

I am so pleased to have discovered The Awakening of Miss Prim * by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera, a charming and intelligent debut novel that is already a bestseller in Europe.

An ad for the post of a librarian for a private collection brings Prudencia Prim to the remote French village of San Ireneo de Arnois. Intelligence, highly accomplished and self-assured, she accepts the job (we will find out the reasons soon enough) though she finds the situation highly peculiar. Her employer "the man in the wingchair", a book-loving intellectual, is dashing yet "stubborn, domineering, and arrogant" (his own words), always ready with a critique of her cherished Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott. What disturbs Prudencia most is the flock of children that "the man in the wingchair" is determined to home-school with a most unconventional curriculum.

As Prudencia settles into her routine and gets acquainted with the neighbors and the villagers, she finds them capable of charm and eccentricity in equal measure, determined as they are to preserve their singular little community from the modern world outside. Her hope for friendship might indeed open her heart for much more. "Set against a backdrop of steaming cups of tea, freshly baked cakes, and lovely company, The Awakening of Miss Prim is a distinctive and delightfully entertaining tale of literature, philosophy, and the search for happiness."

In a recent interview with the Madrid-based investigative-journalist-turned-author, she disclosed that the Village of San Irenoe de Arnois is an imaginary place, inspired by the European tradition; where small communities were often built near abbeys; where people’s lives have a human scale; and where tradition and culture are regarded as treasures - a welcome respite and curiosity in "a world that’s so fast and so noisy." Sorry, folks. Hope you haven't packed your bags already.

For Pym and Von Arnim readers, this is an author to watch.

* = starred review

My Life in Middlemarch

All avid readers have at least one book that has had a profound impact on their life. For Rebecca Mead that book is Middlemarch. She explores this connection between individual and text in My Life in Middlemarch, a fabulous mixture of biography, memoir, and literary criticism. Mead demonstrates how a novel can speak to an individual on multiple levels and engage with readers. This is not a typical memoir which is author-centric. Instead the focus is more on George Eliot’s biography and how it relates to her work (Middlemarch in particular).

There is a lovely quote near the middle of the book which captures Mead’s view of literature and the overall tone of My Life in Middlemarch, “A book may not tell us exactly how to live our own lives, but our own lives can teach us how to read a book.”

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner (2014) film began showing in theaters in September, but The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, has been thrilling readers since 2009. A post-apocalyptic science fiction book written for young adults, The Maze Runner will especially appeal to readers of dystopian literature like The Hunger Games and Divergent.

The Maze Runner audiobook, read by Mark Deakins, offers a captivating experience of Dashner’s novel. The narration is well-characterized and Deakins voice is clear and articulate. As the plot builds, Deakins' rendition of the characters brings their struggle to life, drawing his listeners further into the story.

The adventure begins with Thomas, a teenage boy who doesn’t remember anything about his life before the moment he arrives in The Glade. He quickly learns that, though he is welcomed by the other boys and The Glade is safe, the maze surrounding it is inhabited by dangerous creatures. Thomas is plagued by the thought that he has been sent to The Glade for a reason and is desperate to explore the maze in search of an exit. The Gladers have only one connection to the outside world: a lift, operated by The Creators, that offers supplies and a new boy every thirty days. The day after Thomas arrives, everyone is shocked when the lift delivers another member to their group. This time, it includes a message: “She’s the last one.”

The Glade community has survived with teamwork and commitment to their common goals - survival and escape. The appearance of Thomas and the girl changes everything, and Thomas must convince The Gladers to accept him before they can work together, and before time runs out.

If you've seen the movie or read the book, the AADL has the other audiobooks in The Maze Runner series, too! The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, and the prequel The Kill Order are all read by Mark Deakins and promise to be as exciting and engaging as book one. Still want more? Mark your calendar, because James Dasher has announced his plan to release another prequel to The Maze Runner, called The Fever Code, in 2016.

2014 Nobel Prize for Literature Awarded to Patrick Modiano

French author Patrick Modiano became the 111th person to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The reason given by the Swedish Academy was “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.”

Born outside Paris in 1945, Modiano is a prolific novelist and screenwriter. His work continually combines topics such as identity, guilt, and memory with recurring places, namely Paris, and events, often the German occupation of France during World War II.

For example, Mondiano's novel Missing Person, which won France's Prix Goncourt in 1979, features an amnesia-stricken private investigator determined to use his paltry clues to piece together the story of his life from before the Nazi occupation. The book draws from classic noir fiction and ghost stories, but is a thematically rich and atmospheric read. Check our catalog for more books and films by Modiano.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #487 - “There are two ways of seeing: with the body and with the soul. The body's sight can sometimes forget, but the soul remembers forever.” ~ Alexandre Dumas

In What is Visible *, debut novelist Kimberly Elkins presents a "wonderfully imaginative and scrupulously researched" fictional memoir of the life and challenges of Laura Bridgman, the first deaf and blind woman to learn language, some fifty years before Helen Keller. Though she was an internationally renowned figure in the mid-19th century, Laura has been all but forgotten by history.

At age 2, Laura lost her sight, hearing, and the ability to taste and smell from scarlet fever. At age 7, she was taken from her family home in Hanover, New Hampshire by Dr. Samuel Howe, founder of the Perkins Institute in Boston, and taught to communicate via hand spelling. Laura soon became celebrated figure attracting hundreds to exhibitions at the Institution, including a visit by Charles Dickens and Dorothea Dix. But Laura suffered greatly when Dr. Howe married and began a family of his own.

"Told in alternating chapters by Laura, Howe, his poet wife Julia, and Laura's beloved teacher Sarah Wight, this is a complex, multilayered portrait of a woman who longed to communicate and to love and be loved. Elkins fully captures her difficult nature and her relentless pursuit of connection."

Blind * * *, a YA debut by Ann Arbor native (Community High) and Alex Award winner (Big Girl Small) Rachel DeWoskin is "one of those rare books that utterly absorbs the reader into the life and experience of another."

When 14 yr. old Emma Sasha Silver loses her eyesight in a freak accident, she must relearn everything from walking across the street to learning to decipher braille. After a year at the Briarly School for the Blind, she is finally able to return home. But just as she is able to start high school and try to recover her friendships and former life, one of her classmates is found dead in an apparent suicide.

"DeWoskin...skillfully balances the pain of loss with the promise of new experiences and discovery.... The life of a formerly sighted teen blossoms in Emma's strong voice as she explores the world, conquers fears, and attempts living everyday life again with her large, bustling, Jewish suburban family. A gracefully written, memorable, and enlightening novel. "

”A vivid, sensory tour of the shifting landscapes of blindness and teen relationships."

* = starred review
* * * = 3 starred reviews

Texts from Jane Eyre

In the hilarious new book Texts from Jane Eyre, and Other Conversations with Your Favorite Literary Chracters, readers get to see goofy, imagined text conversations involving characters from many well-known books. This fun book is a quick read, and definitely offers some hearty chuckles by placing centuries-old characters in the modern day. I was especially pleased by how well the author, Mallory Ortberg, takes the often-humorous neuroses of these characters and accurately imagines how they would come through via text message. Even the writing style of the book that each character appears in is maintained in the texts. Ortberg initially wrote some “text” series for the website The Toast and you can see those—and get a preview of the book!—here.

Professional Recertification Program @ JFS

One of the most challenging aspects about coming to a new country would be to ensure your professional certification from home is valid in your new community. This can be a barrier that many immigrants face with difficulty due to the expense. Now, Jewish Family Services has such a recertification program for new immigrants to be certified as an accountant, a teacher, a barber or a number of professions, per the attached brochure. Give Dominic Ortega, the JFS Career Services Advisor, a call at 734-769-0209. Translation services available.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #486 - “No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue." ~ Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

Already a bestseller in Europe and its native Sweden, A Man Called Ove * * by Fredrik Backman is just now getting the well-deserved buzz in the U.S.

Meet Ove. He is a less likable version of Major Pettigrew and Harold Fry, a man of staunch principles, strict routines, a short fuse, and has absolutely no use for people.

At 59, Ove has just been made redundant. His wife Sonia has dies four years ago ,"taking with her all the color in a world Ove sees as black-and-white". So Ove decides to take matters into his own hands. Various attempts to "off" himself end in hilarious (and fortunate) mishaps, and timely interference, divine and otherwise. Even strangers conspire to derail his plan, like the man who falls on the train track just as Ove is able to jump.

Each time he makes a fresh attempt to kill himself, Ove finds himself imposed upon - his oldest friend and most feared enemy, Rune is about to be forcibly removed to a nursing home, while Rune's wife Anita is frantic about a plumbing issue (Ove could fix just about anything). The new neighbors - "the foreign pregnant woman" with her young daughters seem to need help all the time. Sundry homeless pets and young men ask to be taken in. And there is the daily inspection of the housing estate for rule-breakers, never mind he has been voted out of office by the Residents' Association long ago.

"Backman does a crafty job revealing the full vein of precious metal beneath Ove’s ribs, glint by glint. Ove’s history trickles out in alternating chapters—a bleak set of circumstances that smacks an honorable, hardworking boy around time and again, proving that, even by early adulthood, he comes by his grumpy nature honestly... What the book takes its time revealing is that this dyed-in-the-wool curmudgeon has a heart of solid gold."

"If there was an award for Most Charming Book of the Year, this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down."

Readers might also enjoy Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler; An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg; and The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass.

* * = 2 starred reviews

New movies on order at the AADL!

The AADL has a great selection of recently released films for you to check out in case you missed them while they were in theaters (or want to see them again!).

Million Dollar Arm, starring John Hamm, is the heartwarming biographical story of JB Bernstein, a sports agent who’s fallen on hard times. In a desperate attempt to keep his business running, JB creates a baseball competition in India called “million dollar arm,” and brings the two finalists (real-life pitchers Dinesh Patel and Rinku Singh) back to the US to attempt to sign them with professional teams.

The Grand Seduction, starring Taylor Kitsch (of Friday Night Lights fame), is a Canadian film set in a small fishing village along the coast. In order for a lucrative factory to be built, the citizens must procure a doctor to move to the town and set up his practice there. When big-city doctor Paul Lewis arrives for a trial stay in the town, the locals band together to try and make everything perfect for his visit. As Paul’s time left in the village dwindles and no decision has been made, a final “grand seduction” is planned to try and convince him to remain.

Begin Again, featuring Keira Knightley, Mark Ruffalo, and Adam Levine, is a lovely story about Gretta, a struggling British songwriter who has just been dumped by her rockstar boyfriend. While performing at a local bar, she’s discovered by an also-struggling music producer, Dan. After convincing Gretta to sign with him, the two embark on a summer-long outdoor recording session in New York City, flanked by a team of talented musicians and Dan’s daughter, an aspiring musician herself.

If I Stay is the film adaptation of the wildly popular young adult novel of the same title. Chloe Grace Moretz stars in the film as Mia Hall, a talented young cellist who is nearly killed in a car accident. As she lays in a coma in the hospital, the audience sees her flash back through the happy and sad experiences she’s had throughout her life. We see her early life as the daughter of a famous rock musician and his inexperienced wife, her first interest in the cello and ensuing talent, and when she meets her boyfriend, Adam. After learning that the other members of her family have died, Mia realizes that it is up to her to decide whether she will join them in death or fight back through to the world of the living.

Other new releases just added to the collection include Maleficent, Guardians of the Galaxy, Chef, The Giver, and A Most Wanted Man.

Parkinson's Movement & Dance Class

This is a fantastic opportunity for people with Parkinson’s Disease and their families/care partners to explore music and movement in ways that are enjoyable, creative and stimulating. This program is modeled after the Mark Morris Dance Group and the Brooklyn Parkinson Group’s “Dance for PD” program. It is appropriate for anyone with PD, no matter how advanced, and no dance experience is required! It meets on Wednesday evenings, 6:30-7:30pm, Oct. 1-Nov 5 at Turner Senior Resource Center, 2401 Plymouth Rd. The Cost for the 6 week class is $30 per person/$50 per couple, and scholarships are available. Call 734-998-9350 to register.

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