Fabulous Fiction Firsts #329

I have done nothing in the last 2 days except immersing myself in Beatriz Williams's Overseas, a rather puzzling title (the connection will be revealed in due course) for this most appealing romantic fantasy (or is it a paranormal romance?).

Independent, ambitious, smart Kate Wilson, an analyst at Sterling Bates (Bear Stearns, you think?) catches the eyes of British billionaire hedge fund mogel (and a 5-star client) Julian Laurence. The chemistry is undeniable and the flirty emails promise a whole lot more. Then Julian begs off. Kate is crushed. Months later, they finally connect, after a timely rescue at Central Park. (You get the picture, no violins but some nice Chopin, courtesy of Mr. there-is-nothing-he-can't do).

Of course disaster strikes, fast, furious, but not entirely out of the blue, though Julian did! Kate finds out that Julian is actually Julian Laurence Ashford, aristocratic WWI hero/poet, supposedly killed in 1916 in France. Now a mysterious and malevolent force is out to destroy them. It seems like Kate, with her 21st century sensibility and toughness is the only one who could travel back in time, reverse the course of history to save them.

This debut novel which won two Romance Writers of America awards already, is poised to become the sizzling read this summer. Comparison is being made to Diana Gabaldon and Anne Fortier. Fans of the movie Pretty Woman will delight in the frame of the novel - the Cinderella storyline, the Manhattan glitterati (a ruby necklace made an appearance here as well), and sometime, if we are lucky, love could rescue us.

Readers interested in the scenes set in World War I Amiens might check out historical notes at the author's website. The character Julian Laurence Ashford is actually based on biographical details from a number of historical figures. Amiens is also the setting for Sebastian Faulks' "intensely romantic yet stunningly realistic" Birdsong, recently adapted into a PBS Television Masterpiece Classic.

* = starred review

Luther, on DVD

BBC’s Luther is a psychological crime drama starring Idris Elba (The Wire) as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther. Elba does a smashing job of portraying Luther, a brilliant yet troubled detective with a dark side. While battling crime in London he’s dealing with a prior case that haunts his existence, as well as coping with the fact that his wife has left him. Luther is an impulsive, emotionally-charged man, on the brink of violence, and often unable to control his emotions at times when he should.

The show focuses on Luther and the detectives he works with. As a twist, former murder suspect Alice decides to make Luther a new pet project and the two are locked in a battle of wits. That keeps things interesting, as they realize they have more in common than Luther would like. It’s a definite must-see for fans of British crime dramas or police procedurals. Thus far, Season 1 and Season 2 have been released on DVD, and a third season is in the works. After such cliff hanger endings, I can't wait!

Blasts From The Past, on DVD

The library not only features new, hot TV shows, it also has plenty of chestnuts in the collection for you to borrow. How about some 80s and 90s comedy to get you started?

In Square Pegs, teenage friends Patty and Lauren are trying to get by in an American high school and become less awkward and fit in among their peers. The television sitcom aired for just one season from 1982-1983. At the time, the series was acclaimed for its realistic portrayal of high school life. It also features Sarah Jessica Parker in all her big hair, pre-Sex and the City glory.

The sketch comedy show In Living Color aired on Fox from 1990-1994 and blurred the lines of race and political correctness with its obtuse humor. Created and written by the Wayans Brothers, the show launched careers of Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx, and David Alan Grier. In addition to its regular skits and recurring characters, the popular weekly show also featured acclaimed live music performances and the dance troupe The Fly Girls. To be introduced or reacquainted, check out seasons 1-3 at AADL.

Whedon Rises Again!

Joss Whedon, writer, director, producer, cult favorite and god of the geek pantheon, is going to have a good month. His highly-anticipated thriller, The Cabin in the Woods, opens today. In two weeks his Marvel comics blockbuster, The Avengers, will explode into theaters everywhere. Both films have already received exalted critical praise. Converts to Whedon’s fandom must wait to see the second of his films, but you can revel in his other works right now.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer – Whedon’s first and perhaps greatest work. Seven seasons on the air, and one season in graphic novel form.
Angel – A part of the Buffyverse, this avenging vampire was certainly not the first of his kind, but he is one of the best.
Firefly – An interplanetary smuggler and his ragtag crew try to survive in the wild black yonder.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along BlogNPH is a mad scientist trying to win the heart of Penny, but how is he to do it when he is thwarted at every turn by that disgustingly handsome Captain Hammer?
DollhouseLa Femme Nikita meets The Pretender in this short-lived espionage series.
Runaways – A group of teens who have inherited their supervillain parents’ legacies decide to run away and live apart from the traditionally defined good guys and bad guys.

Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop

The documentary Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop is an intimate, behind-the-scenes look at O’Brien’s 32-city music and comedy show known as The Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour.

The tour was a result of O’Brien stepping away from "The Tonight Show" after a dramatic dispute with NBC over moving the show’s timeslot from 11:35 pm to 12:05 am, following Jay Leno. O’Brien didn’t agree with the deal and walked away from the show with a settlement, but was contractually banned from appearing on radio or TV for six months.

The talk show host didn’t want to stop the late-night comedy act, so he took it on the road, in a most interesting fashion. I saw it performed live, and it was indeed a wonderful ruckus.

The film is an in-depth look into the birth of the tour, how the live comedic material was brought to life. It follows O’Brien and crew on an emotional backstage look at what it takes to do so much in so little time. Conan fans will appreciate the candid look at his life during such a tumultuous time. Two weeks after the successful live show wrapped, O’Brien began preparations for his newest late night show, Conan, which now airs on TBS.

Titanic Inspired Fabulous Fiction Firsts #324

April 15, 2012 marks the centennial anniversary of the sinking of the RMS TITANIC on her maiden voyage. Locally, check out Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition at the Henry Ford Museum, running through September 30, 2012, as well as other related programs.

The media is feeding the renewed interest with high-profiled and pricy (£10 million) projects like Julian Fellowes' (creator of Downton Abbey) four-part miniseries called simply - Titanic that will premiere Saturday, April 14 (8:00-11:00 p.m., ET) on ABC. Like Downton, the focus is on the divide between the classes.

Not to be outdone, publishers have timed their release of 3 first novels inspired by this historic event.

The Dressmaker by DC political reporter Kate Alcott is a "vivid, romantic, and relentlessly compelling historical novel about a spirited young seamstress who survived the disaster only to find herself embroiled in the media frenzy left in the wake of the tragedy."

A highly-anticipated debut, The Lifeboat * by Princeton grad. (Architecture) Charlotte Rogan, (with glowing endorsement by Emma Donoghue, J.M. Coetzee, Hilary Mantel, Tim O'Brien and Valerie Martin) sets the scene in 1914 when a young and newly-minted heiress is on trial for her actions during the three weeks she spent on an overcrowded and under-provisioned lifeboat after an explosion at sea. A provocative, complex psychological drama that examines instinct and morality. Read the New York Times review and author interview.

"Time travel, airships, the Titanic, Roswell ...David Kowalski builds a decidedly original creature that blends military science fiction, conspiracy theory, alternate history, and even a dash of romance..." in his debut The Company of the Dead *, which promptly won 2 SciFi Awards when it was published in Australia in 2004.

In April 2012, Joseph Kennedy--nephew of John F. Kennedy, and a major in the Confederate army, is one of six people who can restore history to its rightful order -- even though it would mean his death, and the deaths of everyone he loves.

"Imaginative, monolithic, action-packed", "(a) magnificent alternate history, set against the backdrop of one of the greatest maritime disasters."

David Kowalski is an obstetrician and gynecologist living in Sydney, Australia.

* = Starred review

War is Coming

Sunday, April 1st marks the return of the award winning HBO drama Game of Thrones. In this second season HBO takes eager fans back into the land of Westeros, picking up where the first season ended and what is to be considered the second book of George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series. If you have not caught up on the first season you can get in line for the regular or blu-ray versions which are available at AADL.

A Clash of Kings the second book in Martin’s series brings readers back into the land of Westeros where among all the other side stories that readers have come to love or hate, four kings are vying for power. Pick up the second book to find out what happens with the royal families as they continue playing the ever changing game of thrones.

AADL also carries A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons. The third, fourth and fifth books respectively in George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series.

Be prepared for this season War is Coming April 1st on HBO.

C-SPAN's 2012 StudentCam Local Winners

Today, C-SPAN announced the 75 winning videos in the 2012 StudentCam video documentary competition. C-SPAN's StudentCam is an annual national video documentary competition that encourages students to think seriously about issues that affect their communities and the nation.

This year students were asked to create a short (5-8 minute) video documentary on a topic related to the competition theme “The Constitution and You." Students were asked to focus on any section of the Preamble, Articles, or Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

148 students from across the country are winning a total of $50,000. A record 1,203 entries were received in this year's competition.

Congratulations to our local winners!!!

Ruby Emberling, Maria Newton, and Delaney Wright
11th Grade Pioneer High School
"Students' First Amendment Rights"

Tamar Hofer, Andrew Siddall, and Jassadi Moore
11th Grade Pioneer High School
"First Amendment Rights for Students"

Queen Elizabeth II's Diamond Jubilee

Diamond Jubilee: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond JubileeDiamond Jubilee: Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee
February 6 marked the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's 60 year reign starting in 1952. To read about the Diamond Jubilee celebrations click here. Recent biographies written about the Queen include: Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by noted biographer Sally Bedell Smith. Smith follows the young princess as a student to a love-struck teen (after meeting Philip) through her current reign. This is a well-written and engrossing account of a Queen that successfully balances royal tradition and modernity. Another title, The Real Elizabeth : an intimate portrait of Queen Elizabeth II, takes on the subject of the role of the monarchy itself specifically under her auspices over the past 60 years and how it has changed over time. And do not forget, her royal consort, Prince Philip, who has served by her side (and one step behind her). There is a recent biography, Prince Philip : the turbulent early life of the man who married Queen Elizabeth II that focuses on his turbulent childhood as his family is exiled from Greece (where he was born) to his mother’s schizophrenia and his father leaving him at an early age in order to live with his mistress. His charm and good looks eventually win him the hand of the-then Princess Elizabeth for whom he renounces his titles, religion and even family. A storybook romance indeed! To read more about their life together, read Philip and Elizabeth : portrait of a royal marriage. Movies about her include Helen Mirren’s outstanding portrayal in the Queen and the British TV show, Queen : a dramatic portrait of one of the world's most powerful women, as well as several documentaries including Windsors, a royal family.

Detroit 1-8-7 on DVD

In the crime drama Detroit 1-8-7, an Inner-city homicide unit is led by Michael Imperioli as Detective Louis Fitch. He and his top-notch colleagues investigate homicides in Detroit. The show is more character driven than police procedural, and the acting is great.

A fun fact about this show, is that it was filmed where it’s set. The pilot was shot in Atlanta, but the remainder of the series was filmed on location in Detroit. The series originally ran on ABC from September 21, 2010 to March 20, 2011 and has since been cancelled.

The show was intended to be a mockumentary, but it switched gears after the Detroit Police Department cancelled all real-life documentary ride-alongs after a controvercial shooting while another documentary was being filmed. Even after editing, bits of the mockumentary are still evident in Detroit 1-8-7’s pilot episode.

If you’re looking for another cop show, because perhaps, like me, you can’t get enough police dramas, then give Detroit 1-8-7 a try. But be warned that it’s no Wire or Homicide: Life on the Street.

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