Ages 18+.

Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future

“We form. We shine. We burn. Kapow.”

Printz Honor author A.S. King has done it again. Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future is superbly written and features a unique premise.

Glory is seventeen. Her mother commited suicide when Glory was just four years old. Her father is depressed and works from home on the couch. Her boy-obsessed best friend Ellie lives across the street in a hippie commune. She is about to graduate high school and our story begins at the end of her childhood.

One night something happens that allows Glory and Ellie to see a person's infinite past and future simply by looking at them. In this future there is a second civil war, women’s rights disappear, there’s a new tyrannical leader, a new army, and young girls vanish daily. Glory takes meticulous notes on what she sees hoping it will make a difference.

Glory is a fantasticlly written teen character. She is the odd-girl-out, a loner with no need for friends. She has her camera and the newly unlocked darkroom of her dead mother. And with the discovery of her mother’s old notebooks Glory learns mountains about herself and her family and how it all came to be, and it allows her to see a better future for herself.

Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall Comes to TV

Hilary Mantel’s Thomas Cromwell trilogy has been a historical fiction powerhouse - with both entries, Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies becoming bestsellers and Booker Prize winners. The final book in the trilogy is underway, with no official release date at this time, although Mantel has shared details readers can expect to encounter in The Mirror and the Light.

Now Mantel’s epic is coming to TV. After assisting with the stage adaptation of her work by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Mantel signed off on a BBC adaptation, with the caveat that the show avoid historical errors and any ”nonsense” added for drama.

The six-part series will air on BBC2 in Britain later this year, with an PBS Masterpiece American release to follow. Fans of the Showtime series Homeland will be interested to see Damian Lewis (Nicholas Brody) in the meaty role of Henry VIII as part of the star-studded cast. An official trailer was just released, so fans can enjoy a quick peek to tide them over.

New Hilarious TV Show: "Vicious"!

Fans of The Office, Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm, and Arrested Development will love the new TV show Vicious! Featuring star actors Sir Ian McKellan (The Lord of the Rings), Sir Derek Jacobi (Gladiator), Iwan Rheon (Game of Thrones), and Frances de la Tour (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), this show is a sure-fire hit.

From the first minute of the show, viewers are thrown into the intimate lives of Freddie and Stuart, two brutally honest elderly gentlemen living in London. Freddie is an arrogant washed-up actor who sees himself as the epitome of beauty. His partner Stuart acts as a homemaker, hosting dinner parties and rushing through never-ending phone calls with his mother. Freddie and Stuart's close friends frequently visit the apartment, much to the displeasure of their hosts. They certainly make up a motley crew: Violet brags of her love interests, Ash shines with youthful optimism, Mason constantly complains, and Penelope can't remember what she had for breakfast. Viewers will even enjoy Balthazar, Freddie and Stuart's decrepit dog, who is often mentioned but stays out of sight.

Nearly the entire series is filmed in Freddie and Stuart's living room, but the show manages to maintain interest through witty dialogue. In fact, Freddie and Stuart seem to have a dialogue entirely their own; they never miss an opportunity to wickedly hurl insults at each other. Never has personal ridicule been so hilarious! This example from the first episode characterizes the show's sarcastic humor well:
"Stuart: Egg and cress sandwich, Mason?
Mason: Is that what that is? I thought it was a crumb surrounded by a toothpick!
Stuart: Well perhaps you'd like some of what you brought. I could always cut you a slice of nothing."

Be sure to check out AADL's other New TV Shows as well as the rest of the Comedy TV collection!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #504 - "This being human is a guest house... Be grateful for whatever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond." ~ Rumi

Award-winning filmmaker/artist Miranda July brings "(her) characteristic humor, frankness and emotional ruthlessness" to her debut novel The First Bad Man * * *. (Check out her short stories in No One Belongs Here More Than You that reviewers called "simultaneously bizarre and achingly familiar.")

Fortysomething Cheryl Glickman, managing director of Open Palm, a women's non-profit works from home at her bosses' suggestion. Tightly-wound and incredibly regimented, she lives alone and suffers from debilitating globus hystericus. Cheryl has been secretly in love with Phillip, one of her board members and fantasizes a sexual relationship. At times, she has reasons to hold out hope, until Phillip's tearful confessions.

When Cheryl's bosses ask if their 21 year-old daughter, Clee, can move into her house for a little while, Cheryl's eccentrically ordered world explodes. Gradually, Cheryl and Clee work out a bizarre arrangement in that they act out the staged scenarios in a series of women's self-defense videos, with Clee playing the part of the "bad man". Ultimately, it is the selfish and cruel Clee who bullies Cheryl into reality and, unexpectedly, provides her the love of a lifetime.

"Told in Cheryl's own confiding, unfiltered voice, the novel slides easily between plot and imagination, luring the reader so deeply into Cheryl's interior reality that the ridiculous inventions of her life become progressively more and more convincing."

Called "dazzling, disorienting, and unforgettable", The First Bad Man is a "spectacular debut novel that is so heartbreaking, so dirty, so tender, so funny...that readers will be blown away."

For open-minded readers ready for something new and unusual.

* * * = 3 starred reviews

Jane Smiley's Some Luck depicts americana beautifully

If you’re a Jane Smiley fan like me, you’ve been eagerly awaiting the publication of her newest novel, Some Luck, which is the first in a projected trilogy appropriately titled The Last Hundred Years. Smiley won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel A Thousand Acres, and similar to A Thousand Acres, Some Luck follows several generations of a twentieth century Iowa farm family. The book is broken up into 34 brief chapters, each marked with the start of a year, beginning in 1920 and ending in 1953. As expected, some major life events are recounted over this period, but I enjoyed Smiley’s poignant telling of the day-to-day activities and situations that come together to create a family and a life. Because of this, the pace of Some Luck is truly unique: I found myself eagerly turning each page, not because of any unresolved plot lines, but rather because the book follows the unexpected pacing of life itself.

“Smiley depicts isolated farm life with such precision that readers can understand exactly how little boys help their father shorten lambs’ tails, and how Rosanna copes when she must deliver her baby alone,” states the review of Some Luck in the Washington Post. Some Luck is far from just another Midwestern nostalgic farm novel, however. “Smiley’s version is weirdly bold in a different way, stubbornly telling the story with the same kind of unadorned (and sometimes unspoken) language its characters use,” writes the review.

If you’re unfamiliar with Jane Smiley but enjoy the works of Marilynne Robinson and Annie Proulx, I would highly recommend giving Some Luck, and other of Smiley’s works a try. Early Warning, the second book in the trilogy, will be published in 2015.

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas

I love the unique new picture book, Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas, written by Lynne Cox and illustrated by Brian Floca (who won awards for his work last year in Locomotive). The adorably depicted book tells the true story of Elizabeth, a southern elephant seal who lived in the Avon River in Christchurch, New Zealand for many years. Most elephant seals live in large groups in and around the ocean, but not Elizabeth! In attempt to place Elizabeth in her natural habitat, volunteers tow her hundreds of miles out to sea on three separate occasions, but Elizabeth always manages to return to her home in the city. Her tremendous endurance and determination wow the locals, and are sure to impress readers as well!

“Nature and urban life rarely intersect so incongruously: There’s something inherently funny in seeing commuters gawp and swerve around the huge, regal mammal,” says The New York Times Book Review. “Children may wonder, “Who has the right of way?” That’s a very good question, which Cox, with great restraint, allows readers to ask — and maybe answer — for themselves.” Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas is truly a special new addition to the AADL collection.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #503 - “Letter writing is the only device combining solitude with good company.” ~ George Gordon Byron

For many of us who travel over the break, it is crucial to have the company of a good audio book. Here are some tried-and-true winners that take the form of epistolary novels and will keep you engaged and entertained.

I just returned That Part Was True (2014) by Deborah McKinlay. Charming and delightful, with mouth-watering recipes. Highly recommended.

"Spinsterly" (self-described) 46 year-old Brit. Eve Petworth is long-divorced, privileged and painfully shy. Then uncharacteristically she strikes up a pen pal friendship with successful American novelist Jackson Cooper (think Robert Parker) through their mutual love of food and fine cooking. Over time, they support each other through challenges (hers, a bridezilla daughter and his, writer's block) and personal relationship dramas before Jackson suggests they meet for a culinary rendezvous in Paris.

Attachments (2011) by Rainbow Rowell
Gossiping and sharing their personal secrets on e-mail in spite of their company's online monitoring practices, Beth and Jennifer unwittingly amuse Internet security officer Lincoln, who unexpectedly falls for Beth while reading their correspondence.

Frances and Bernard (2013) by Carlene Bauer (FFF, a Fabulous Fiction Firsts)
It is not love at first sight for Frances and Bernard. She finds him faintly ridiculous while he sees her as aloof. But after that first meeting, Bernard writes Frances a letter which changes everything and soon they are immersed in the kind of fast, deep friendship that can alter the course of lives.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2008) by Mary Ann Shaffer (a FFF)
In 1946, writer Juliet Ashton finds inspiration for her next book in her correspondence with a native of Guernsey, who tells her about the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club born as an alibi during German occupation.

Letters from Skye (2013) by Jessica Brockmole (a FFF)
A love story told in letters spans two world wars and follows the correspondence between a poet on the Scottish Isle of Skye and an American volunteer ambulance driver for the French Army, an affair that is discovered years later when the poet disappears.

Safe travels.

Need Help with Health Coverage? Contact Coverage Counts!

The Washtenaw County Public Health Department and Livingston County Department of Public Health have teamed up to help families access health coverage through a grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, called "Coverage Counts". The Healthy Michigan Plan, which is Michigan's Medicaid Expansion program, is open year round and many adults are now eligible for coverage that had not been in the past. Staff members can help at any time during the process: from the initial application, helping provide supporting documents and will troubleshoot & advocate for folks having difficulty receiving the correct coverage. For more information, contact Haley Haddad at (734) 544-6879. You can follow Coverage Counts on Facebook and Twitter! www.facebook.com/coveragecounts or www.twitter.com/coveragecounts

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #502 - "Faith is about doing. You are how you act, not just how you believe.” ~ Mitch Albom

In A Song for Issy Bradley * debut novelist Carys Bray, "(w)ith courage, warmth, and intelligence...sweetly and subtly breaks your heart", as the Bradleys come to terms with grief, each in his or her own way.

A man of strong faith and even stronger sense of duty, Ian Bradley, math teacher and Mormon bishop in a secular British neighborhood, embraces his calling often at the expense of his family's needs. His wife Claire (a convert upon marriage to Ian) feels overwhelmed and lonely in caring for their large family - Zippy and Al, teenagers who endure and rebel in equal measures; 7 year-old Jacob, sensitive and wise-beyond-his years, is the one who tries to hold the family together when 4-year-old Issy dies of meningitis.

"In this wry, original, generous-spirited debut novel, members of a family come to terms with grief...They wrestle with belief and disillusionment, desire and hopelessness, pervasive sorrow and moments of transcendent joy. The result is riveting, powerful, and quietly devastating." It will appeal to fans of Me Before You; Little Bee; and Tell the Wolves I'm Home.

A much anticipated debut this December is The Bishop's Wife * * * by Teen author Mette Ivie Harrison, her first try at adult fiction, inspired by an actual crime.

Unlike Claire Bradley, Linda, the mother of five grown boys and the wife to Mormon bishop Kurt Wallheim of Draper (UT), embraces the duties and challenges of being the bishop's wife, having been raised a Mormon herself. But Linda is increasingly troubled by the church's patriarchal structure and secrecy, especially when a neighbor, Jared Helm, appears on the Wallheims' doorstep with his 5-year-old daughter, claiming that his wife, Carrie, disappeared in the middle of the night. Carrie's worried parents present quite a different image of the Helm household. The more Linda learns about the curious circumstances at the Helms' residence, the more she suspects Jared is responsible for his wife's disappearance.

When Tobias Torstensen, another member of the church becomes gravely ill, Linda tries to provide support for his wife Anna, who helped raise Tobais' sons after the death of his first wife, a mystery that begins to unfold as Linda finds an unlikely item hidden in their barn. Despite Kurt's entreaties to leave these problems alone, Linda is driven to investigate. The discovery of two bodies produces devastating revelations for the close-knit community, but Linda never thinks of giving up her search for the painful truth. For those who enjoyed Cage of Stars by Jacquelyn Mitchard.

Both Bray and Harrison were raised in strict Mormon households. Their unique perspectives and candor lend authenticity to these debuts.

* = starred review
* * * = 3 starred reviews

Waiting (Not So) Patiently for The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant?

Anita Diamant’s novel The Boston Girl is described as “a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.” Diamant is known for developing strong female characters, and Addie Baum is a perfect example, set against the background of an immigrant family and in a rapidly changing society, she combats adversity with intelligence, determination, and a sense of humor.

Below is a list of other titles that might appeal to those awaiting The Boston Girl. Some of these titles feature a historical setting, many explore the immigrant experience, and all of them introduce a resolute female character who face their challenges head on.

- Away by Amy Bloom - A Russian immigrant leaves the life she has built in 1920s New York to trek across the country in the hope of reuniting with her lost daughter.

- Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok - This modern day coming-of-age and coming-to-America story is fueled by determined and brilliant daughter Kimberley’s close relationship with her hard-working mother.

- The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell - Rose is a police typist in Prohibition New York who doesn’t realize her own naivete until she becomes influenced and infatuated with her new colleague, Odalie.

- The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston - This story of an ambitious young woman who follows her dreams to 1920s Paris, only to find the love of her life back in her own small town, is told using text amidst a scrapbook of letters, photos, postcards and other charming, everyday 20th century ephemera.

- Transatlantic by Colum McCann - A beautifully written multi-generational epic unfolds against the backdrop of three transatlantic voyages between Ireland and New York, moving between 1843, 1919, and 1991.

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