Ages 18+.

Queen to Play

Chess is a very popular pastime these days. We even have a large chess board in the youth department Downtown at which families can challenge their skills. This resurgence in interest has spawned a number of movies, and I think the French language film, Queen to Play, is one of the best.

On the island of Corsica, Helene is a hotel chambermaid. She becomes interested in, and then obsessed by the game, and wants to learn more. Enter Kevin Kline, as a retired American doctor (and speaking flawless French), who employs Helene as his house-cleaner, and is as cultured and skilled as Helene is naïve and unaccomplished. He is reclusive and sad and relishes the opportunity to tutor this bright, untested student of chess. No one can believe that Helene’s passion and natural ability for the game will amount to anything.

Oh, they are so wrong!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #443

The Hive*, debut of British Gill Hornby (sister to Nick and wife to Robert Harris) is inspired by Rosalind Wiseman’s Queen Bees and Wannabes, a nonfiction book that Tina Fey used as the basis for her hit movie Mean Girls.

It is a new school year at the privileged St. Ambrose Church Primary School where (Queen) Bea Stuart reigns over the school-mom clique as Rachel Mason looks on from afar. Her former best friend and confidante, Rachel has been relegated to the hinterland when her husband dumps her.

"... (A) delectable comedy of manners about mothers who congregate during drop-off and pickup, hold fundraisers," over the course of a year at St. Ambrose as they navigate a new headmaster, financial disasters, power shifts, and personal drama.

"Alternately touching and satirical but consistently entertaining. "

"(A)n enjoyably acerbic social commentary on mean girls of all ages, lightened by touches of hen lit."

A worthy addition to the pantheon of Mean Girls in Literature, and Rachel's outsider plight will remind readers of the heroine in Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette.

* = starred review

An Award Winner For Teens - Tragedy, Humor, and Hope

I checked out a copy of The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen when I heard it had won the 2013 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award as well as the Michigan Library Association's 2013 "Thumbs Up" Award. As the jacket states, "Thirteen-year-old Henry's happy, ordinary life comes to an abrupt halt when his older brother, Jesse, picks up their father's hunting rifle and leaves the house one morning. What follows shatters Henry's family, who are forced to resume their lives in a new city, where no one knows their past. When Henry's therapist suggests he keep a journal, at first he is resistant. But soon he confides in it at all hours of the day and night."

Inspired by a line in Wally Lamb's The Hour I First Believed, and based around bullying and school violence, this was not as gloomy as I expected it to be. The author, Susan Nielsen, creates a unique, fresh perspective on a topic that is all too common in the news. The story is told from Henry's point of view through journal entries, and his narrative voice has all of the sweet, awkward, goofiness of a 13 year old boy. Although the subject matter is an unthinkable tragedy, the book is written with healthy layers of humor and joy mixed in. I read the whole thing in one sitting, and the characters are lingering with me days later. This young adult novel is worth reading, no matter what your age.

Janet Dailey, romance novelist, has died

Janet Dailey, credited with revolutionizing formulaic romance novels in the late 1970s, died December 15th.

While traveling around the country with her husband in the 1970s, Ms. Dailey entertained herself reading the typical romance novel of the time -- European settings, submissive women, tame physicality. Determined to meet a challenge from her husband to do something about it, she published her first romance in 1974 that had caught the attention of Harlequin. In Ms. Dailey's world of love, the protagonists were American working women with a healthy libido. While many of her more than 100 novels were set out West, she did pen a 50-book series that covered each of the 50 states, a feat that earned her a nomination in the Guinness Book of World Records. Enemy in Camp, 1988, was her Michigan entry. It is now out of print.

Her career soared. Dailey love stories sold in the 100s of millions of copies; more than 20 of them made the New York Times Bestseller list.

Then in 1997, her reputation took a beating when Nora Roberts, another mega-successful romance writer, sued Ms. Dailey for plagiarism. Undeniable evidence was found in Dailey's novel, Notorious. among other titles. Citing family tragedies (two of her brothers died and her husband was diagnosed with cancer) and an undisclosed ailment, Dailey took a break to repair the damage after the case was settled out of court. Her publisher Harper Collins dropped Ms. Dailey. Once the dust settled, publishing house Kensington Publishing Corp. picked her up and she resumed writing once again.

Her last book, Merry Christmas, Cowboy (on order), came out in October and was #13 on the Publishers Weekly mass market bestseller list.

Ms. Dailey, who was 69, died of complications following heart surgery.

Discovery of a Short Story by Teenaged Zelda Fitzgerald

The New Yorker has just published a recently discovered story by Zelda Fitzgerald, wife of F. Scott Fiztgerald, famed author of The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night and several other novels and short stories. Zelda wrote this story when she was just a teenager and was still known as Zelda Sayre. She would meet F. Scott soon after the publication of the story in her high school’s literary journal. The story, called The Iceberg, is a piece about the fictional Cornelia, who enrolls in a typing class and abruptly marries a man she meets at the business college where the course takes place.
The New Yorker writes that the Fitzgerald estate was surprised and pleased to discover the story, having had no idea that Zelda was interested in writing before meeting F. Scott. You can read The Iceberg in full here, and read more about its discovery as well as other book news on The Two-Way from NPR.

Hi, I'm here today to tell you about the NEW BOOK deals at your library!

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The new material shelves are FULL at the library, and we literally can't be undersold! Every day, all these books are FREE for a limited time only (four weeks, plus renewal), and guaranteed to please! If you don't like it, you can return it at any time for full borrowing price!* Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back!

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #442 - Follow the rules and everybody gets hurt . . .

Former Swedish police officer Anders de La Motte's U.S.debut Game: a thriller * * is the first of a crime-fiction trilogy in which siblings are drawn into a dangerous cellphone game with global ramifications.

On a hot July morning on a commuter train from Märsta, Sweden, to Stockholm, slacker Henrik "HP" Pettersson finds a unique cellphone programmed to invite him to play "the Game," with promises of money and internet stardom. The "game" escalates quickly from prank-like theft to increasingly dangerous vandalism and violence. When it threatens national security Rebecca Normén, a bodyguard with the Swedish Security Police (and maybe not so incidentally, HP's estranged sister) gets involved. A dark secret shared between siblings comes to light.

"Relentless pacing leads to a stunning finale as HP tries to be not just a player but a real hero." In hot pursuit is Buzz (no. 2 in the series), and the last installment Bubble to be released early next year.

For gamers and fans of game chillers.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Teen Stuff: Reality Boy by A.S. King

Seventeen year old Gerald Faust’s life changed forever the day his mother invited “The Nanny Network” to film he and his family when he was five years old.

As a teen he is now rage-filled with emotional outbursts triggered by his (probably psychopathic) sister Trisha. His dysfunctional family of five is lead by his non-caring mother who sympathizes with Trisha and is in total denial at the state of her family and what Gerald might be going through.

The former reality TV star is left with anger, no friends, no one to help him, and he’s basically ready to snap at any moment. He meets Hannah, the junk man’s daughter, so as outcasts they form a bond, and Gerald eventually accepts that he is the one who has to change his life and to allow himself to get what he deserves in life.

AADL was lucky enough to have Printz Honor author A.S. King visit the library during our Short Story Writing Contest this past spring. It was a pleasure seeing her and to hear her words of wisdom on writing and sticking with your dreams. Her latest novel, Reality Boy, is a wonderful read and it will make you think twice the next time you’re watching a reality show on TV. For more by King, I highly recommend Please Ignore Vera Dietz and Everybody Sees The Ants.

The last installment of Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's beloved "Alice" series is now available!

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, the author of the long-running, much-loved “Alice” series, has written the series’ final installment, Now I’ll Tell You Everything, available now. This book chronicles Alice from the ages of 18 to 60. It has been long-awaited by many of her fans that have been with Alice since she was nervously starting 6th grade at a new school in The Agony of Alice, first published in 1985.

Since The Agony of Alice, Naylor has published 28 total Alice books, including three prequels to the series geared towards younger readers. Over the course of the series, Alice navigates many of the challenges of growing up. The books often make the list of the American Library Association’s most challenged books due to their frank discussion of families, friendships, religion, dating and sex.

The recent publication of Now I’ll Tell You Everything has left many readers nostalgic. After “growing up with Alice,” knowing that Alice’s adventures are over is a difficult realization for devoted fans. Throughout her writing of the series, Naylor received thousands of letters and emails from these fans expressing their love of the books, sharing their stories and making suggestions for future Alice books (some of which Naylor actually used!).

The Alice books can be enjoyed by all ages. The earlier novels are appropriate for elementary school children, and readers can age along with Alice over time. Older fans who remember Alice from their youth can reread some of the books and now finally find out what the rest of Alice's life has in store for her.

The country music world mourns the passing of Ray Price

The country music world mourns the passing of Ray Price

Ray Price, a giant in the country music scene for since 1951, died yesterday at his home in Mt. Pleasant, TX.

Price, a WWII vet (US Marine Corps), attended veterinary school for a brief time, singing in night clubs on the side. He was signed to Bullet Records, a Nashville-based record label. In 1951, Hank Williams called him out of the blue, inviting him to sing with Williams at the Grand Old Opry, thus cementing a lifelong friendship.

Five years later, Price revolutionized the sound of country music when he put an idea he'd had into play. He described it thus in a 1998 interview with The Washington Post: "We were having trouble getting a good clean bass sound. So instead of going with the standard 2/4 beat, I said, 'Let's try a 4/4 bass and a shuffle rhythm,' and it cut. It cut clean through."

He applied that technique to Crazy Arms and so was born the Ray Price Beat, and a skyrocketing career. Crazy Arms spent 20 weeks at No. 1.

Mr. Price's last album, [bL1285634|Last of the Breed] (2007), was a collaborative effort with Willie Nelson (whom Price discovered) and Merle Haggard. The album won a Grammy at the 50th Grammy awards in 2008.

Price's second revolutionary tweaking of the country sound was to add strings to his music. The resulting 'countrypolitan' sound was at first eschewed, and then widely copied, by all the great performers.

Ray Price was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1966.

Mr. Price, who was 87, had been battling pancreatic cancer since late last year.

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