Ages 18+.

A Divided Life

In Secondhand World,the first novel by Katherine Min, first person narrator, Isa Myung Hee looks back at her life as a Korean-American teenager while recovering from burns in a tragic fire that killed her parents. Isa, daughter of successful but aloof first generation Koreans, alienated from her parents and the target of racial prejudice at school, is drawn to an albino outsider named "Hero." It is only when she discovers her mother's affair that she questions her rejection of her heritage.

Publisher's Weekly calls the story "a swirling, textured and beautifully detailed web of perception..."

For teen novels that explore similar themes, try the novels of Marie Lee, and the books, American Eyes, stories edited by Lori Carlson and Girls for Breakfast by David Yoo.

Sidney Sheldon, beloved American storyteller, has died

Sidney Sheldon, beloved American storyteller, has diedSidney Sheldon, beloved American storyteller, has died

Sidney Sheldon, a one-man, award-winning writing machine who had enormous success penning commercially successful novels, died January 30 in California.

In addition to his career as a novelist, Sheldon, an Army Corps pilot during World War II, also wrote for the theater, the movies, and television. He won a Tony for Redhead an Oscar for The Bachelor and the Bobbysoxer, 1947, and an Emmy for I Dream of Jeannie.

But it was his string of blockbuster bestsellers featuring strong successful women (Tell Me Your Dreams, 1995, The Stars Shine Down,1992, and Nothing Lasts Forever, 1994), that cemented his place in the hearts of fiction-loving readers.

Sheldon died just short of his 90th birthday (February 17, 2007).

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #49

AT LONG LAST!!! The much anticipated first novel from Peter Ho Davies, named one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists 2003 for his two award winning short-story collections The Ugliest House in the World and Equal Love, is finally here.

The Welsh Girl* is an ambitious and moving wartime romance. The story opens with the building of a POW camp for German prisoners in the remote Welsh countryside in 1944. 17 year-old Esther, pregnant after being rape by an English soldier, and Karsten, a German POW haunted by the loss of honor, are thrown together during his escape.

Adding texture and contrast to Esther and Karsten’s story is British army officer Rotheram’s difficult assignment to interrogate captured nazi officer Rudolf Hess, both of them haboring secrets and struggling with matters of honesty and honor.

“What makes this first novel …an intriguing read isn't the plot, …but the beautifully realized characters, who learn that life is a jumble of difficult compromises best confronted with eyes wide open.” (Publishers’s Weekly)

Read an interview with P.H.D. and an interesting piece in Michigan Today by Leslie Stainton.

* = Starred Reviews

2007 Edgar Award Best Young Adult Nominees

On the 198th birth of Edgar Allan Poe the 2007 Edgar® Nominees were announced. The winner will be announced April 26 in NYC. Read the list and tell us which one you think should be named the winner.

The Road of the Dead by Kevin Brooks

The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson

Crunch Time by Mariah Fredericks

Buried by Robin Merrow MacCready

The Night My Sister Went Missing by Carol Plum-Ucci

New Fiction on the New York Times Best Sellers List (1/28/07)

While Richard North Patterson has been writing big (!) bestsellers for several years, his first book The Outside Man is still my favorite. The story is compelling, the plotting tight, the prose concise and he delivers all this in only 236 pages.

At #1 is Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich: "A mysterious man in Stephanie Plum’s life helps her track down a matchmaker who skipped bail."

At #6 is Exile by Richard North Patterson: "A San Francisco lawyer defends a Palestinian woman accused of assassinating the Israeli prime minister."

At #15 is Web of Evil by J.A. Jance: "Alison Reynolds, a former Los Angeles news anchor. comes under suspicion when her about-to-be-ex husband is murdered."

See ya, space cowboy

Cowboy Bebop is an anime that wears its influences on its sleeves. On its surface, it’s a cool science fiction story set in a future where most of humanity has left the ruined Earth to seek better lives in other parts of the solar system. But it’s also steeped in the traditions of noir and westerns, with bounty hunters and mysterious femme fatales, and all those influences come together to make it one of the most stylish and memorable anime series around.

Come for the very pretty animation and jazzy score; stay for the memorable characters. Spike and Jet, our protagonists, have all the mercenary instincts of the very good bounty hunters that they are, but they’re hampered by bad luck and the occasional twinge of conscience. Along the way they meet Faye Valentine, who’s trying to pay off a really big debt; Ed, a brilliant hacker; and Ein, the smartest Welsh corgi that you’ll ever meet.

If you like the anime tv series, you might also be interested in the feature film and the companion manga.

Homes With Visitability

Americans are not accustomed to designing single-family homes for the probability that someone close to them will have mobility problems in the future. At a recent meeting of Senior Advocates of Washtenaw (SAW), a workgroup of Blueprint for Aging, Carolyn Grawi, Sue Hart and David Esau introduced the concept of visitablility. The goal is for anyone living in or visiting your home to be able to enter, move about, and use the bathroom.

AADL is barrier-free, and has books that address this concept: Design for Assisted Living, Design for Dignity, Beautiful Barrier-Free, and Building Design for Handicapped and Aged Persons. Go to for more information.

Ryszard Kapuscinski, Polish journalist and author, has died

Ryszard KapuscinskiRyszard Kapuscinski

Ryszard Kapuscinski, a world-renowned Polish journalist and author, died yesterday in Warsaw.

Kapuscinski’s personal reporting of political events, a style he referred as “literature by foot.,” transcended the bounds of traditional journalism with his inclusion of illustrative examples of magical realism,

His 1978 book about Ethiopian leader, Haile Selassie, The Emperor:Downfall of an Autocrat first brought him to the world’s attention. Among his impressive body of work, he wrote about Latin America (The Soccer War) and Angola (Another Day of Life).

Kapuscinski was 74.

Barbara Seranella, creator of the “Munch” Mancini mystery series, has died

Barbara SeranellaBarbara Seranella

Mystery lovers have lost one of the genre's most original voices. Barbara Seranella, creator of the eight-book series featuring “Munch” Mancini, died January 21 in Ohio while awaiting a liver transplant.

Ms. Seranella’s complicated, troubled anti-hero P.I., “Munch” Mancini, is an ex-con prostitute who fled her dreadful past to pull her life together as a Brentwood mechanic. Munch’s first appearance was in No Human Involved. The last entry, An Unacceptable Death, was published last year.

Ms. Seranella, whose last book, Deadman’s Switch, will be published posthumously in April, was 50.

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