Ages 18+.

Books to Films (Holiday Releases)

Julianne Moore, Clive Owen, and Michael Caine starred in this adaptation of P. D. James’ The Children of Men, set in near-future London when all human males have become sterile. Historian Theo Faron is asked to join a band of revolutionaries--a move that may hold the key to humanity's survival. (December 25th)

Perfume: The Story of A Murderer is about one man’s pursuit of the perfect perfume, but the indulgence in his rare gift and greatest passion - his sense of smell - leads to murder. Based on the 1986 acclaimed bestseller and international sensation by Patrick Suskind. The novel is a brilliant, powerful, and gripping page-turner. (December 27th)

Zoë Heller’s Man Booker Prize shortlisted novel What Was She Thinking?:Notes on a Scandal is beautifully captured in this film adaptation.
When Sheba Hart's love affair with an underage male student comes to light, school teacher Barbara Covett decides to write an account of the affair in her friend's defense, in the process revealing not only Sheba's secrets, but also her own. The film boasts a stellar cast with Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. (Limited release December 27. Watch the papers for local release date.)

The Painted Veil is a remake of the 1934 Greta Garbo film, inspired by W. Somerset Maugham’s masterpiece.
Set in England and Hong Kong in the 1920s, it is the story of the beautiful but love-starved Kitty Fane (Naomi Watts), who is forced to accompany her husband (played by Edward Norton) to the heart of a cholera epidemic, where she reassesses her life and learns how to love. (December 29th)

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #45

If you just cannot get enough of the religious suspense genre, here is another one for you.
Oh yes, the Knights Templars are again in the thick of things.

In Julia Navarro’s Brotherhood of the Holy Shroud, when the unidentified body of a tongue-less man turns up in the ashes of a suspicious fire in the Turin Cathedral, home of the Holy Shroud of Turin, Marco Valoni, Director of the Italian Art Crimes Department, investigates.

Soon he is sure several shadowy, anonymous groups of powerful and wealthy men with ties to Legend of the Knights Templars are somehow involved, while his only suspect is already in the Turin prison. More importantly, a far more shocking crime is about to happen. It is up to Valoni and his crack team of investigators to stop it.

Julia Navarro is a well-known Madrid-based journalist who is currently a political analyst for Agencia OTR/Europa Press and a correspondent for other prominent Spanish radio and television networks. Her second novel is due out in 2008. Brotherhood is already a bestseller in Europe.

The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno

Everybody knows that the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown could solve every mystery they faced as kids, but what happened when they grew up? In The Boy Detective Fails, Joe Meno tells the story of grown up child sleuth Billy Argo who, at the age of 30, finds himself living in a halfway house, unable to deal with his sister's suicide and his crippling fear of failure. Billy's world is rainy and dreamlike, and you start to feel as though many of his adventures are only side-effects of his medication, but over the course of the book he accidentally solves the mystery surrounding his sister's death and comes to terms with the fact that not always knowing the answers is part of being an adult.

This book also gives the reader a chance to play detective, with a decoder ring tucked into the back cover to help decipher some secret messages that Billy receives, and a cryptogram that runs across the bottom of many of the pages.

A Memorable Book of 2006

I'm making my own personal favorite 2006 book list, checking it twice - and deciding that my list definitely includes Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert. When she was in her early 30s, Gilbert moved to a big house with her husband with the plan of getting pregnant. The plan collapsed when Gilbert realized that not only did she not want a child, she didn't want to be married anymore. Her soul-searching travels through Italy (for pleasure), India (for prayer) and Indonesia (for balance) make extraordinarily good and amusing reading. One of her book's funniest lines is when she first tries to talk with God: "It was all I could do to stop myself from saying, 'I've always been a big fan of your work.'" In this book, Gilbert struck me as sort of a non-denominational Anne Lamott, with a keen eye, sharp wit, and a strong sense of the spiritual.

A romance in two voices

Calliope is tired of being dragged by her mother cross-country from one Renaissance Faire to another. Eliot longs for the day when his father used to sell swimming pools -- before he "found God," and subsequently founded the fat camp for Christian kids ("What would Jesus eat?"). When Cal and Eliot meet, there's instant chemistry -- literally and figuratively. Do they have a future? Or will Eliot's father and Cal's mother (and her jouster boyfriend) tear them apart? posted by Greg Leitich Smith

Scrambled Eggs at Midnight is a romantic comedy with an almost classic feel. Check out Cynsations to learn how co-authors Barkley and Hepler got together on this book.

Anne Rice's Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt (a Wonderful Christmas Read)

The seven-year-old Jesus relates his life in Alexandria and the return of his family to Nazareth. Spare and lean, lyrical and reverent, vivid and riveting, Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt is "a mystery story, of the child grappling to understand his miraculous gifts and numinous birth" (Kirkus Reviews, October 1, 2005).

Anne Rice's act of faith in writing this novel is detailed in her author's note where she describes her research and her journey back to the Catholic Church.

I'm Dreaming of a White Yankee Doodle Stagolee!

One of the Ann Arbor District Library's outreach programs is Library Songsters, where a musician teaches K-12 students to how to write songs using information they learn in history or geography class. The students start to understand why the traditional songs they grew up singing are still popular a century or two after they were written.

There are whole books about one song: the seasonal White Christmas, the early American tune, Yankee Doodle, the ballad of a St. Louis barroom brawl, Stagolee, the folk/blues classic John Henry. New York, our most famous city, has more songs written about it than any other metropolis in America. The folk process itself is examined in volumes like American Roots Music and Making People's Music.

American Roots Music

What a treat! If you Listen to NPR and "American Roots" music program, enjoy a collaboration between the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum with the DVD series American Roots Music. You'll find a wonderful collage of regional "roots music" including historical clips and contemporary performance clips. This volume features Chicago Blues; Folk Music of the 60's counter culture; Gospel; Tejano; and Native American with Nakai & Mirabel.

Small Gems

Just in time for short days and long to-do lists, these little books are great excuses to take a break and enjoy a bit of solitude, in the best company – yours.
They are quick reads – no more than 100 pages or so, and tuck nicely into your coat pocket. Next time you find yourself standing in line; or being put on hold, listening to elevator music, you will have the perfect distraction.

Mademoiselle Benoir by Christine Conrad.
May-Dec. romance in the French countryside sets off family wars across the Atlantic.

An Afternoon with Rock Hudson by Mercedes Deambrosis; translated from Spanish by Mike Mitchell.
Chance encounter between two old friends triggers off some self-destructive behavior, including anonymous sex with a man sitting at the next café table. Amusing.

Mercedes-Benz: From Letters to Hrabal by Paweł Huelle; translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones.
Narrator Pawel tells of the driving lessons he took in the early 1990s around Gdansk, Poland, all the while entertaining his instructor Miss Ciwle with stories of his family’s ownership of Mercedes-Benz cars. Great storytelling.

The Bird is a Raven by Benjamin Lebert; translated from the original German by Peter Constantine.
Two strangers share a sleeping compartment on a night train bound for Berlin. Throughout the hours of darkness secrets are revealed and lives changed. You won't be able to put this one down!

Music from Big Pink: A Novella by John Niven.
Born in Scotland, John Niven toured and recorded as guitarist with The Wishing Stones, and co-wrote/directed the award winning (British) short film ‘Tethered’.
This tragic, beautiful… "factional book is a heartbroken rock'n'roll postcard from a past" where fictional characters rub shoulders with real people.

The Scent of Your Breath by Melissa P; translated from Italian by Shaun Whiteside.
A breathless autobiographical second novel by this bright young Sicilian writer - a smoldering tale of sexual obsession, plumbed deeply from the disturbing mind of a teenage girl terrorized by love.

Fabulous Fiction First #44

Followers of Ian Rankin’s Inspector John Rebus series might want to consider this one…

Bleeding Hearts is a first U.S. edition of a stand-alone, originally published in the U.K.(1994) under his pseudonym - Jack Harvey.

Michael Weston is a highly-paid and seasoned assassin, famed for his long-distant shot through the heart. Things did not go well with the last job – it was a set-up. Now he must find his double-crossing employer and at the same time, stay a step ahead of his archnemesis - an American PI named Hoffer.

Reviewers expect the nonstop action, copious violence and arcane details about weaponry and forensics will please thriller junkies, but it’s also "smart and inventive” enough to engage fans of the Rebus series.

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