Author Birthdays: Giono, Cullen, Sharpe

March 30th marks the birthday of authors Jean Giono, Countee Cullen, and Tom Sharpe.

Jean Giono was a French writer and veteran of WWI. One of his later novels, Le hussard sur le toit, was made into a French film, The Horseman On The Roof, starring Juliette Binoche (whom you may recognize from Chocolat or The English Patient).

Giono's other novels include The Man Who Planted Trees (which is about, oddly enough, a man who plants trees), and The Solitude of Compassion, which Library Journal called "a throwback to a simpler place and time, when through communion with nature Giono sought to evade the harsh realities of his time".

Countee Cullen was an American poet and a part of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as the husband to the only child of W. E. B. Du Bois. He won more literary prizes than any other African-American writer of the 1920s.

Cullen's poetry is collected in a few volumes here at AADL. One, Caroling Dusk, includes works by other Harlem Renaissance writers, like Cullen's father-in-law. Another collection (of only his poetry) is My Soul's High Song, which Booklist has described as "as concerned with beauty as it was with commenting on racial problems; and his espousal of the loveliness of the poetic line and the prose sentence with social critique results in a beguiling iron-fist-sheathed-in-velvet-glove effect".

Tom Sharpe is an English satirist. His novel Porterhouse Blue was made into a short TV series. Set in an all-male college, it makes fun of Cambridge and many of the people who might go there.

Sharpe's works have been criticized by many, including Publishers Weekly, which deems his novels to be unappealing to an American audience because of their harsh and biting contents. One novel, The Midden, while laughing at aristocrats and the well-to-do, contains "exuberant slapstick comedy, a ridiculously high body count, and a no-nonsense British matron to sort through the whole mess", according to Booklist.

A Game of Thrones to Hit The Small Screen

On April 17th, 2011 renowned New York Times Bestselling Fantasy author George R.R. Martin's epic series A Song of Ice and Fire will have its season premiere on HBO. Entitled A Game of Thrones which is also the title of the first book in the acclaimed series the first season of the HBO series is set to cover the first book in Martin's unfinished seven book saga.

George Martin weaves and intertwines the lives of the kings, queens, lords, ladies, and knights who make up the fictional land of Westeros. Martin's masterful writing style leaves the reader emotionally exhausted and is what keeps fans eager for the next book. However, there is a sense of apprehension looming over HBO not being able to adequately recreate the vision of Westeros and depict the tangential lives of the characters who make up Martin's epic A Song of Ice and Fire series.

With that being said the harsh and adult content of this series in which Martin does not stray from the mature subject matter of rape, incest or brutality which makes the A Song of Ice and Fire series geared towards a largely adult readership. With HBO's success in producing mature and adult oriented shows like True Blood based on - Charlaine Harris' Sookie Stackhouse Southern Vampire series - it goes without question that HBO would be best suited to produce George Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire saga.

Martin has written and published four of the seven books that are expected in the series. Much to the frustration of his readers, Martin is notoriously known to extensively delay the release of the next installment within this series. With A Game of Thrones being published in 1996 and A Feast for Crows, the fourth book in the series published in 2005, Martin has taken nine years to get up to the fourth book. The latest installment, A Dance with Dragons was recently announced to be released on July 12, 2011. At fifteen years to put out five books, Martin is still better than Robert Jordan and those who are patient are rewarded with quality work where George R.R. Martin has not failed to produce.

Barring an unanticipated major flop with the upcoming first season, HBO should settle in for a long ride with the A Song of Ice and Fire series which will include the visual narration of A Clash of Kings and A Storm of Swords the second and third book in the series.

Author Birthdays: Shirer, Cornwell, Sandford

February 23rd marks the birthday of authors William L. Shirer, Bernard Cornwell, and John Sandford.

William L. Shirer was an American writer of mostly non-fiction history books. Much of his works focus on Nazi Germany, which isn't surprising, considering he was a WWII journalist who actually reported from Berlin. Part of his book 20th Century Journey called "The Nightmare Years", about his time in Germany, was made into a TV movie with Law & Order star Sam Waterston playing the journalist.

Shirer's "This is Berlin" is a collection of his radio broadcasts from said city. As noted by Library Journal, it gives "the reader a sense of the drama and tension of 'history as it happens'". He also wrote a diary of the days leading up to the war.

Bernard Cornwell is an English historical novelist, best known for his novels centered on character Richard Sharpe, which take place during the Napoleonic Wars. They were also adapted into a television series.

Cornwell has also written stories in the times of Saxon and Arthurian Britain, and the American Civil War. His latest, The Fort, published last year, is a tale of the Revolutionary War, more specifically, of the Penobscot Expedition.

John Sandford (born John Camp) is an American journalist and novelist, probably best known for his Prey series, featuring the character Lucas Davenport. His newest novel, Buried Prey, is in this series and comes out in May.

Sandford's other works include the novel Dead Watch, which has been called "full of suspense, political intrigue, and violence" by Library Journal; you can also see some of his journalistic exploits on his website.

Man Vs. Machine

For the first-time ever, Jeopardy! Champions will be challenging a machine. Next week, renowned Jeopardy! Champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter will take on “Watson”, an IBM computing system. Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, is very unique. Designed by a team of specialists, Watson will have the ability to analyze “subtle meaning, irony, riddles and other complexities in which humans excel and computers traditionally do not.” All winnings from the game will be donated to charity.

Journalist Stephen Baker has written about this project as it developed in the new book, Final Jeopardy: Man vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything. Learn how Watson works, and what it took to develop the project with Jeopardy!. And be sure to watch the competition next week, taking place February 14, 15 & 16. For more information, you can also visit jeopardy.com.

Author Birthdays: Krantz, Friel, Smith

January 9th marks the birthday of authors Judith Krantz, Brian Friel, and Wilbur A. Smith.

Judith Krantz is an American writer of romance novels. Her first novel, Scruples, was published in 1978. It was made into a TV mini-series in 1980, and then Krantz wrote its sequel, Scruples Two, in 1992.

Krantz also wrote The Mistral's Daughter, which, like Scruples, turned mini-series. In total, seven of her novels were made for TV. Her latest novel, from 1998, is The Jewels of Tessa Kent, was described by Publisher's Weekly as "a romance of motherhood in all its full if tarnished glory".

Brian Friel is an Irish writer, mostly known for his plays. His play Dancing at Lughnasa won the Tony for Best Play in 1992; it tells the story of five sisters living in poverty in Ireland. It was made into a movie starring Meryl Streep in 1998.

Friel also wrote the drama Molly Sweeney, which in two acts tells the story of a woman blind since birth who undergoes surgery to try to restore her sight. The play is told in only monologues, and was awarded the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Foreign Play.

Wilbur A. Smith is a novelist, born in Northern Rhodesia, and now living in London. He has written three series, and many standalone novels, including Elephant Song, which Publisher's Weekly has called "a fast-paced melodrama of greed and political corruption".

Smith's latest work is Assegai, a part of both his Courtney and Ballantyne series; it is set in pre-WWI Kenya, and is his 32nd novel set in Africa. He also has a book coming out next year, Those in Peril, which you can read about on his website.

Santa Live on CTN

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Santa will be taking calls LIVE from the North Pole via CTN Channel 17. That's right, kids. Just call 734.794.6155 on Thursday, Dec. 9, 6 ~ 8 p.m. and talk to Santa, Mrs. Claus and their helpful elf Graeme. I've got my list ready, how about you?

Ben 10 Alien Force, on DVD

Okay, Ben 10 fans, you’ve checked out all the books and read them twice. Which means you’re ready for some DVD action starring Ben 10. “There’s never a dull moment in the life of Ben 10,” the fifteen year old superhero.

New to AADL are several DVDs of Cartoon Network’s Ben 10 Alien Force to fill your desire. Also check out the live action movie.

Family Guy's Alex Borstein and Cherry Cheva !!

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Alex Borstein, the voice of Lois on the Fox TV show Family Guy and the former star of MADtv (Ms. Swan) returns to the Library to discuss Family Guy and her screenwriting career. Joining her is Ann Arbor's own Cherry Cheva, now a writer/producer on Family Guy and the author of teen novels, She's So Money and Duplikate. Do not miss this opportunity to get an inside look at one of the most popular and creative shows on TV. Family Guy has been nominated for many awards, including eleven Primetime Emmy Awards, of which it won three. In 2009, it was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, the first time an animated series was nominated for the award since The Flintstones in 1961.

Monday, November 8, 7-9 pm, Downtown Library, Multi-Purpose Room, Grades 9-Adult

TV on DVD: The Cop Files

Police dramas have been around forever it seems, and they end up being my favorite shows a lot of the time. Is it the suspense? The drama? Our attachment to the lead detectives? I think it’s a combination. There are oodles of cop shows that have had us on the edge of our couches over the years with their grit, drama, action, and lovable characters.

A variety of detective styles and settings are featured in shows like Hill Street Blues, Murder, She Wrote, Columbo, 21 Jump Street, Magnum P.I., Matlock, and Twin Peaks.

Let’s not forget about The Wire, Monk, The Shield, Homicide, Life on the Street, Law & Order: SVU, NCIS, Wire in the Blood, X-Files, Dexter, and Veronica Mars. Speaking of the variety of detectives... some of these feature a detective with OCD, a detective who is a serial killer, a teenage detective, and a detective who believes in aliens. Egads, how fun!

In addition to these titles, AADL owns many more police dramas on DVD. Check out our list of detective shows to see what your DVD player is itching for. I’m having fun getting caught up on some episodes, and rewatching others. What are your favorites?

62nd Primetime Emmy Awards

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The 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards aired on Sunday, August 29th on NBC and highlighted the best of the best in primetime television. Why not take the time to watch a few of the primetime TV series' nominees and winners?
The most anticipated categories include Outstanding Comedy, Outstanding Drama Series and Outstanding Reality Competition Program.

Outstanding Comedy nominees were ABC's Modern Family, Showtime's Nurse Jackie, NBC's 30 Rock and The Office, HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm and FOX's Glee. Modern Family won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series marking the show's first win and nomination in the category.

Outstanding Drama nominees were AMC's Mad Men and Breaking Bad, CBS's The Good Wife, HBO's True Blood, Showtime's Dexter and ABC's Lost. Mad Men won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series for its' third year in a row.

The Outstanding Reality Competition Program category was introduced in 2003. This year's nominees included Bravo's Top Chef, CBS's The Amazing Race, FOX's American Idol, ABC's Dancing with the Stars and Lifetime's Project Runway. Top Chef won the award in this category for the first time and defeated The Amazing Race which has dominated and won the award every year since the inception of this category.

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