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

Choosing Award Winning Books

Wednesday, May 9 | 7:00-8:30 PM | Downtown Multipurpose Room

Ever wonder how on earth a book gets chosen as a national award winner? Or what the process is for selecting award books?

Join local librarians who have served on American Library Association book award committees as they discuss the process used to select national award-winning books and authors. Panelists include: Meaghan Battle, 2010 member of the John H. Newbery Medal for youth; Erin Helmrich, 2012 Chair of the Michael L. Printz Award for teens; and Jacqueline Sasaki, 2008-2011 member of The Reading List for adults.

This event is for adults and teens (grade 4 and up).

Today: Kids! Submit Your Art for Jurying for the 2012 Kids Art Fair

Sunday May 6, 2012: 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm -- Pittsfield Branch: Program Room

The Kids' Art Fair is Back!!

The Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, the Original, will be accepting artwork from young artists in 3rd - 8th grade to be juried for the 2012 Kids' Art Fair to be held at the Townie Street Party on the evening of Monday, July 16.

You need to attend only one of these three sessions at Pittsfield Branch: Sunday, April 29 from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm; Wednesday, May 2 from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm or Sunday, May 6 from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm.

Interested young artists should arrive with samples of their work and be prepared to talk to judges. Please arrive at least an hour before the session closes to make sure you have time to show and discuss your art work with each Juror. Jurors from the Ann Arbor Street Art Fair, The Original will score the work. During the jury session the artists should be prepared to show and discuss their artwork to the judges.

The Jury is a great opportunity for young artists to discuss their artistic process, talk about meaning, and hear gentle critiques and suggestions.This is a great chance to see the jurying process at work - and a unique opportunity (if yours is chosen) to be able to actually sell your art! Additional information may be found at artfair.org.

Fabulous Fiction "Firsts" #328

Gillespie and I is British author Jane Harris' second novel (first in our collection), and a follow-up to her award-winning The Observations (2006).

Writing her memoirs in her Bloomsbury flat in 1933, Ms. Harriet Baxter recounts the summer of 1888 when she traveled to Glasgow as a well-heeled, youngish spinster, eager to embrace the excitement of the International Exhibition.

Untethered, self-assured but nevertheless adrift and grieving from the recent death of her kindly aunt, Harriet was immediately drawn to Ned Gillespie, a young, immensely talented painter and his large, eccentric family. "The initially playful narrative tone darkens decidedly as the double mystery of Ned's eventual suicide and Harriet's reliability as a memoirist steadily unpeels."

This "elegant novel of love, loss and redemption among the Victorians and Caledonians", is "irresistible and unforgettable". Already long listed for the Orange Prize, and shortlisted for the Galaxy National Book Awards, it "places (Harris) alongside Michel Faber, D.J. Taylor, and Sarah Waters as a gifted 21st-century conjuror of new 19th-century novels incorporating our own era's sensibilities while deeply honoring the milieu of the characters she creates."

"A rewarding, gripping, and disconcerting novel".

Winners of the 2012 Indies Choice Award for adult fiction and non-fiction

The American Booksellers Association (ABA) has released the titles of the winners of the 2012 Indies Choice Award for the adult fiction and non-fiction categories.

And the winners are... for fiction, The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides, and for non-fiction, Blood, bones, & butter: the inadvertent education of a reluctant chef by Gabrielle Hamilton.

From the ABA website: "The Indies Choice Book Awards reflect the spirit of independent bookstores nationwide and the IndieBound movement. Book of the Year winners and Honor Award recipients are all titles nominated by ABA member booksellers to the Indie Next Lists... [The finalists] were chosen by a jury of seven ABA member booksellers from titles appearing on the Indie Next Lists in 2011."

Last year, the winner of the adult fiction category was Room, by Emma Donoghue and non-fiction went to Unbroken: a World War II airman's story of survival, resilience, and redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.

ABA also has a category for the Indies Choice Award called the Adult Debut Book of the Year, which for 2012 went to Téa Obreht's The Tiger's Wife. The 26-year-old author's first novel instantly became a huge success, also winning the United Kingdom's most prestigous literary award in 2011, the Orange Prize for Fiction.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #327

True * is author Riikka Pulkkinen's first novel available in English. A graduate of the University of Helsinki, she received the Kaarle Prize and the Laila Hirvisaari Prize in 2007 for her first novel The Border.

Haunting and melancholic, True is forty years of family secrets and untold history, gradually teased out through the voices of the three generations of the Ahlqvist women. Elsa, a world-renowned child psychologist is dying. Daughter Ella, a brutally efficient physician and granddaughters Anna and Maria are struggling to cope, but have accepted Elsa's wishes to spend her remaining days at home. When Elsa proposes a dress-up picnic in the spring sunshine, Anna pulls out a lovely dress hidden for decades in a closet - a dress that belongs to Eeva, her mother's nanny. Eeva's forgotten story, whom her grandparents have been silent about for years, is finally revealed layer by layer through Elsa's painful recounting and Anna's probing, and resonates with her own loss. As Eeva once observed : "Love is always true".

"Pulkkinen has a fine eye for description and infuses her characters with longing". "The emotional intelligence of the prose avoids melodrama to develop authentic poignancy." A fine writer to watch.

"Beautifully translated by Lola M. Rogers to capture the full chill of a Finnish winter and the lightness of its spring,"

* = Starred review

Tournament Time: Friday & Saturday Events!

FRIDAY April 6, 2012: 6:00 pm to 8:30 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

All-Ages Mario Kart Tournament With A MarioKart7 Mini-Match Up

It's a Mario Kart Wii tournament for kids, teens, and adults! Race around familiar classic tracks and exclusive Wii tracks, too. Don't worry about bringing your own Wii-mote, this tournament will require the use of GameCube Controllers!

For participation in the MarioKart7 Mini-Match Up, please bring your own 3DS.

SATURDAY April 7, 2012: 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm -- Downtown Library: Multi-Purpose Room

Wii Sports Resort Team Tourney For All Ages

Take a vacation to Wuhu Island and the Wii Sports Resort! Bring family and friends and play your way through some awesome team games. We'll have prizes for the winning teams!

New Book Clubs to Go - April 2012

Over the next few weeks, we will be rolling out a large number of new Book Clubs to Go. It is a mix of classics (you asked for them), literary and popular fiction, among them a couple of award winners. We did not forget our nonfiction readers either.

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
Traces the fortunes of four generations of one family as they attempt to build a life for themselves in the American West. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize when it was first published in 1971, Angle of Repose has also been selected by the editorial board of the Modern Library as one of the hundred best novels of the twentieth century.

Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Forging a deep friendship with a Wampanoag chieftain's son on the Great Harbor settlement where her minister father is working to convert the tribe, Bethia follows his subsequent ivy league education and efforts to bridge cultures among the colonial elite. New York Times bestselling tale of passion and belief, magic and adventure from the Pulitzer Prize winning author.

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
Chronicles the author's year spent testing the edicts of conventional wisdom to assess their potential for improving life, describing various activities ranging from getting more sleep and singing to her children to starting a blog and imitating a spiritual master.

The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Harrison William Shepherd, a highly observant writer, is caught between two worlds--in Mexico, working for communists Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Leon Trotsky, and later in America, where he is caught up in the patriotism of World War II.

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann
In 1974 Manhattan, a radical young Irish monk struggles with personal demons while making his home among Bronx prostitutes, a group of mothers shares grief over their lost Vietnam soldier sons, and a young grandmother attempts to prove her worth. The 2009 National Book Award for Fiction, and the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

Maine by J. Courtney Sullivan
Descending on a family beach house won in a bet years earlier, three generations of women gradually impart difficult respective secrets including a pregnancy, a terrible crush and a deeply held resentment for past misdeeds.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
A deeply evocative story of ambition and betrayal, The Paris Wife captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his wife Hadley.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Discovering in childhood a supernatural ability to taste the emotions of others in their cooking, Rose Edelstein grows up to regard food as a curse when it reveals everyone's secret realities.

Sing You Home by Jodi Picoult
Ten years of infertility issues culminate in the destruction of music therapist Zoe Baxter's marriage, after which she falls in love with another woman and wants to start a family, but her ex-husband, Max, stands in the way.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
A researcher at a pharmaceutical company, Marina Singh must step out of her comfort zone when she is sent into the heart of the Amazonian delta to check on a field team that has been silent for two years--a dangerous assignment that forces Marina to confront the ghosts of her past.

A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
A novel that circles the lives of Bennie Salazar, an aging former punk rocker and record executive, and Sasha, the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. It is about the interplay of time and music, about survival, about the stirrings and transformations set inexorably in motion by even the most passing conjunction of our fates. The 2011 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and The National Book Critics Circle 2010 prize for fiction.

Newbery Honor Recipient Jennifer Holm to Speak at UofM

Jennifer Holm is the author of several critically acclaimed books for children and young adults, including three novels that have received the prestigious Newbery Honor: Our Only May Amelia, Turtle In Paradise, and Penny From Heaven. Holm is also recognized for her popular youth graphic novel series, Babymouse.

Holm will be participating in the Sarah Marwil Lamstein Children's Literature Lecture as a part of the Zell Visiting Writers Series on March 29th, 2012. The event starts at 5:10pm and will be located in the The Helmut Stern Auditorium on the ground floor of the University of Michigan's Museum of Art (UMMA) at 525 South State Street on the U-M's Central Campus.

Admission is free and open to the public.

2012 Indies Choice Award Finalists for Adult Fiction

The American Booksellers Association (ABA) has released the titles of the 2012 Indies Choice Award Finalists for the adult fiction category.

From the ABA website: "The Indies Choice Book Awards reflect the spirit of independent bookstores nationwide and the IndieBound movement. Book of the Year winners and Honor Award recipients are all titles nominated by ABA member booksellers to the Indie Next Lists... [The finalists] were chosen by a jury of seven ABA member booksellers from titles appearing on the Indie Next Lists in 2011."

Last year, the winner of the adult fiction category was Room, by Emma Donoghue.

Finalists for 2012:
The Cat's Table, by Michael Ondaatje
Everything Beautiful Began After, by Simon Van Booy
1Q84, by Haruki Murakami
The Marriage Plot, by Jeffrey Eugenides
Salvage the Bones, by Jesmyn Ward
Wingshooters, by Nina Revoyr

The winner will be announced by ABA on April 5th, 2012.

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