Ages 18+.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #461 - “Human reason can excuse any evil; that is why it's so important that we don't rely on it.” ~ Veronica Roth

The Library Journal April Debut of the Month was The Bees * by Laline Paull.

Narrator Flora 717 is a lowly sanitation bee, born to "accept, obey, and serve" the Queen, and to abide by the strict hierarchies of the hive. Early on, Flora shows herself unique in many way, some proves useful in a time when the hive is at risk. But when Flora discovers she is fertile, her desire to protect her egg will cast her in a totally new light, emboldening her to even challenge the Queen's role as mother to all.

"A powerful story reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale in which one original and independent thinker can change the course of a whole society."

Readers of the dystopia genre might also enjoy:

Shades of Grey: the road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde. Welcome to Chromatacia, where for as long as anyone can remember society has been ruled by a Colortocracy. Social hierarchy is based upon one's limited color perception. In this world, you are what you can see, and Eddie Russett, a better-than-average red perception wants to move up.

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist. A gripping exploration of a society in the throes of an experiment, in which the "dispensable" ones are convinced under gentle coercion of the importance of sacrificing for the "necessary" ones.

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan. In the future United States, one woman wakes up to discover that her skin color has been changed to red as punishment for an abortion which has been outlawed. Now she must embark on a dangerous journey in order to find refuge from a hostile and threatening society.

* = starred review

Science Tools to Borrow

EarthEarthEarthEarthDid you know AADL has some really cool science tools available for cardholders to borrow? We have globes of the Earth and Mars; there are dinosaur and other prehistoric animal kits. There are several meters available such as an environmental, UV, sound, microwave and EMF . We also have stereo and digital microscopes and Dobsonian telescopes.

With summer almost here, plan a quiet evening stargazing with one of the telescopes or reserve one of the dinosaur kits to share with your little ones on a rainy day. If you are runner, consider borrowing the neulog pulse meter to compare your active and resting heart rate. With so many geeky-cool fun things to try, it may take all summer to try them all.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #460

Being released the latter part of June is Everything I Never Told You * *, the deeply-affecting debut novel by Celeste Ng, a UM grad (MFA, Helen Zell Writers' Program) and recipient of the Pushcart Prize and Hopwood Award. I expect a fair amount of buzz, not just locally. (Check out Vogue's Summer's Buzziest Beach Reads).

"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet." - every parent's worst nightmare. All her family knows is that the 15 year-old is missing from her home. The local police treats it as a runaway while her mother refuses to accept anything other than stranger abduction of her middle and favorite child - a motivated and exceptional student, pretty, popular and well-behaved. The rest of the family is less certain and in turn, as they each reflects on the Lydia that they know and love (including Lydia herself), a fractured image emerges, casting shadows, laying bare secrets each is desperate to keep.

The narrative flashed back to 1957 in Cambridge when a premed Radcliffe freshman Marilyn Walker met James Lee, a first-generation Chinese-American who was her graduate teaching instructor. They married over her mother's objection, trading in her dreams of becoming a doctor for the anonymity of a faculty wife at a small college in nowhere Ohio where James was able to find a teaching position. Their background (his - immigrant laborers and scholarship student), (hers- single mother from the South), aspirations (his - to belong) (hers - to stand-out), and dashed dreams became means by which their children were defined and measured, but never truly understood.

"As the police try to decipher the mystery of Lydia's death, her family realize that they didn't know her at all. Lydia is remarkably imagined, her unhappy teenage life crafted without an ounce of cliché. Ng's prose is precise and sensitive, her characters richly drawn." Highly recommended as a YA crossover and book group choice.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Celeste Ng will be in Ann Arbor, July 18, 2014 @ Literati Bookstore, 124 E. Washington. Don't miss this chance to meet her. I am hoping she might touch on her take on ethnic fiction, and why she does not want to be the next Amy Tan.

Best Adult Fiction For Teens (And Adults!)

There are many fiction books written for adults that appeal to teens due to the subject matter or the teen protagonists in the story. The number of adults reading books for teens or featuring teens keeps getting higher as the genre becomes stronger with quality books. There are many good books that fall into this category. A few adult fiction novels featuring teens as main characters that I’ve read this year and recommend are:

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton Disclafani
In the midst of the Great Depression 15 year old Thea Atwell is sent to a boarding school for southern debutantes as punishment for her role in an unforgivable family tragedy. She ends up there longer than she expected, makes friends, excels at horseback riding, and learns a lot about herself as she tries to sort through being estranged from her family and being racked with guilt and feeling lost. The books is part family drama and part scandalous love story. I couldn’t put it down.

The Universe Versus Alex Woods by Gavin Extence
Alex is struck by a meteorite at the age of 10. He is a bookish, outcast, son of a fortune teller – so he hasn’t had the easiest life. As the story jumps forward to Alex at age 17, he befriends an cantankerous elderly neighbor Mr. Peterson and the duo bond over Kurt Vonnegut. The book opens with 17 year old Alex being pulled over at the customs border with illegal substances in the glove box and an urn of ashes in the passenger seat as he sits blaring classical music while having a seizure. There’s only one thing to do but be curious enough to read it.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Rosemary is a witty college student still coming to terms with the fact that her sister (who was raised as her twin) was removed from the house at a young age, which led to her brother running away from home, leaving Rosemary and her parents alone with what’s left of the family. What gets talked about? What doesn’t? It’s a beautifully written book based on experiments done in the 1970s regarding behaviorial psychology.

Here’s a list by School Library Journal of the top books in this category for 2013, and here’s a list of books that won the Alex Award this year – given to the top 10 books written for adults that appeal to teens. There's a bunch of good titles to put on your list!

The Silkworm: A Cormoran Strike novel

Those who enjoyed J. K. Rowling’s venture into mystery writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith will be happy to hear that Cormoran Strike is back! The Silkworm is the second mystery novel featuring the war veteran turned sleuth and his eager assistant and it promises to be just as entertaining as the first.

“When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. At first, she just thinks he has gone off by himself for a few days – as he has done before – and she wants Strike to find him and bring him home.

But as Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance than his wife realizes. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were published it would ruin lives – so there are a lot of people who might want to silence him.

And when Quine is found brutally murdered in bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any he has encountered before…”

--Publisher's Description

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #459 - Paris, far more than setting

Novelists' endless fascination with the city and we readers can't seem to get enough of it.

A Paris Apartment * - cramp, decrepit, shuttered for 70 years but it is Paris, and it is in the 9th arrondissement. Sotheby's European furniture specialist April Vogt is glad for the assignment, and for putting a little distance between her and a troubled marriage. Under the dust sheets, she finds a treasure trove of priceless furniture and works of art - one being a stunning portrait of Marthe de Florian, owner of the apartment and one of Belle Epoque's most renowned actresses/courtesans.

In Michelle Gable's debut, once April begins to read over letters and journals written by Marthe, suddenly it is no longer about the materiality and provenance of the objects, but more about an extraordinary life lived and the secrets buried in the apartment. In the process, April is force to take a deeper look into herself.

"Gable's debut is strongest when Paris is the focus...". "With its well-developed, memorable characters and the author's skillful transitioning between story lines, finding similarities in the lives of two women decades apart, this stunning and fascinating debut will capture the interest of a wide audience but particularly those interested in stories about women behind famous men..."

I am Having So Much Fun Here Without You * is a sardonic dig at Richard Haddon's predicament. In Courtney Maum's debut, as the novel opens in 2002, English artist Richard Haddon is on top of the world. His first solo show in a trendy gallery sold out. His beautiful French wife Anne, is a successful attorney with pedigree, and wealthy in-laws had bestowed on the young couple a palatial apartment at an enviable Pairs address. Then Anne finds the letters from Richard's mistress, a brash and sexy American journalist who has since moved on. Well, sort of.

In an effort to win back Anne's respect and affection, Richard intends to create the next masterpiece, proposing a controversial installation that would be a sly critique on Iraq's role in the global conflict around the issues of Weapon of Mass Destruction.

"Equally funny and touching, the novel strikes deep, presenting a sincere exploration of love and monogamy. These characters are complex, and their story reflects their confusion and desire... (a)n impressive, smart novel". (This debut is one of Library Reads picks for June).

Now, most appropriate for the City of Love, Emma Mars' (a pseudonym) Hotelles * - "Rife with sexual tension and mystery" this first tale in a trilogy is about a young Paris escort; the Hotel des Charmes where each room is dedicated to one of French history's greatest seductresses; and a silver notebook.

"Funny, sensual, candid, and revealing". It has been compared to The Story of O by Pauline Réage, originally published in 1954 and quickly became the talk of the Paris salons and cafes. While the identity of the author remains shrouded for 40 years, the novel went on to win the prestigious Prix des Deux Magots in 1955, and is still one of the most "curious and mysterious novels of recent times".

While I have your attention...just one more. Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 * *, an electrifying union of fact and fiction by Francine Prose, built around a famous photograph entitled Lesbian Couple at Le Monocle, 1932 by Brassai. Prose originally intends to write a biography of Violette Morris, a decorated athlete, race-car driver, and Nazi collaborator (she is the one NOT in a dress).

"In an intricately patterned, ever-morphing, lavishly well-informed plot..., it is Paris in the 1920s (that) shimmers with excitement, dissipation, and freedom. It is a place of intoxicating ambition, passion, art, and discontent, where louche jazz venues like the Chameleon Club draw expats, artists, libertines, and parvenus looking to indulge their true selves." "A dark and glorious tour de force".

* = starred review
* * = 2 starred reviews

Best New Music At AADL

AADL is constantly adding to its diverse selection of new CDs. If you're seeking some great new tunes, consider the following must-hear material.

"Modern Creation," The Whigs: Hailing from Atlanta, the Whigs are one of the solidest rock bands working today. They didn't quite break the big time with their great 2010 release, "In the Dark," but they've gone right on cranking out fun and unfussy records. The Whigs used to have more punk-inspired fire in their blood, but the band has eased up its average tempo a little to create more laid-back hooks that make for perfect summer driving jams. This record's lead single, "Hit Me," is a standout example of that formula. And if you like this one, check out the band's excellent 2012 release, "Enjoy the Company," also recently added to AADL's catalog!

"Teeth Dreams," The Hold Steady: With their sixth LP, the Hold Steady continue to prove themselves America's most literary (and, perhaps, all-around best) bar band. The big guitars and catchy riffs are great, but if you're not paying attention they can also be deceptively simple. Frontman Craig Finn is a true poet, spinning incisive, wistful and funny tales of barflies, townies and scenesters. Dig the amusing portrait of a girl you just can't take seriously in "Big Cig," or the anthemic "Spinners," which exhorts the weary-hearted to "get back out there" and find love. The songs are great rockers at surface level, but they're shot through with a distinguishing sense of humanity and positivity.

"Tomorrow's Hits," The Men: The Men got their start about five years ago with some pretty wild punk records, but they've since refined their sound to incorporate poppier hooks and some elements of classic Americana. That's still not to say the group is particularly polished; drummer Rich Samis botches a fill within the record's first 30 seconds, and the production is far from slick. But the band makes up for technical precision with sheer energy, recalling Crazy Horse's thundering majesty on "Dark Waltz," the Band's Southern shuffle on "Sleepless" and the shaggy charm of the Replacements in pretty much every track. Behold the piano- and horn-led momentum of "Another Night," and just try to resist.

Find more great new CDs here.

Adult ADHD & Relationships

Are you or a loved one affected with Adult Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder? If so, you may be interested in joining a local discussion group for information or support. This group meets from 7:00 to 8:30 pm at the WISD Teaching and Learning Center each month. The next meeting is Tuesday, May 27th from 7:00-8:30 pm. This meeting is about Relationships and AD/HD, given by Dr. Arthur Robin. He will provide audience members with practical advice for how to succeed in intimate relationships with AD/HD. After reviewing AD/HD’s impact on relationships, he will discuss strategies for couples to improve their relationships; optimize AD/HD education and adjust attitudes. For more information contact: AnnArborADDults@gmail.com.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #458

Julia Dahl, a reporter for CBS News and the New York Post specializing in crime and criminal justice impresses with her debut Invisible City *. A solid good read for fans of Gillian Flynn, Cara Hoffman and Laura Lippman. (Check out the New York Times Sunday Book Review).

Twenty-something Rebekah Roberts thinks herself lucky to be hired on as a stringer for the New York Tribune, a daily tabloid. On a brutal winter's evening, she is sent to cover a story at a Brooklyn scrap yard where the body of a woman, head shaved and naked is found. Before the identity of the victim could be established, the body is carried off and quickly buried without an autopsy. She is shocked by the NYPD's lackadaisical handling of the case and its reluctance to cross the ultra-orthodox Hasidic community, even at the risk of letting a killer get away with murder.

There is also a personal reason for Rebekah to keep pursuing the story. She is drawn to this cloistered world of the Hasidic community, hoping to find out more about her mother who abandoned her as an infant to return to her Hasidic roots. Then she crosses path with a rogue detective who knows her mother, arranges for Rebekah to interview persons close to the victim, and presses her to get at the truth. "As Rebekah wades deeper into her mother's world, she finds both brutal truths and a society that eschews outsiders."

"This novel is particularly notable for its combination of a skillfully wrought, increasingly suspenseful mystery populated by well-drawn characters and a deeply sympathetic understanding of a contemporary culture that remains insular for its own understandable reasons."

The explosive conclusion clearly anticipates a sequel. Can't wait.

* = starred review

The Secret of Raven Point

My memories of my late grandfather always involve the stories he told about his time in the army during World War II. I feel lucky that I was able to hear them before he died ten years ago. But did he talk only about the happy ones? What else did he experience that I will never know about? The Secret of Raven Point is a beautiful, moving story about a teenage girl who learns the hard way about the horrific nature of war and what it can do to people. I feel that this book deepened my connection with my own grandfather because it gave me a clearer glimpse of what he may have experienced, and why he needed to tell his story over and over.

The main character in the book, Juliet Dufresne, lies about her age, becomes a nurse and travels to the front lines in Italy when she receives a cryptic letter from her enlisted brother. She learns that he is missing and is desperate to find out what happened to him and whether he can be rescued. Meanwhile, she begins to work with a psychiatrist who is trying to prevent a patient who has experienced post-traumatic stress from facing court-martial for desertion in battle. The patient is so traumatized he cannot even speak. By coincidence, this same man may be the only one who knows what happened to Juliet’s brother, and helping the patient overcome his PTSD may be the only way to save him.

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