Is modesty the new rage?

According to this article on NPR, the new fashion trend for ladies is modesty. Wendy Shalit has written two books on this subject, exploring the "Modesty movement". Check out A Return to Modesty from 1999, or her latest book Girls Gone Mild.

After the War

I just found two brand new stories for young children that remind us that wars do end and that there is compassion, humor and generosity even in the midst of destruction. Both Dadblamed Union Army Cow by Susan Fletcher and One Thousand Tracings:Healing the Wounds of World War II by Lita Judge are based on true stories. The feisty Union Army cow refuses to leave her young soldier and saves many men from starvation. In One Thousand Tracings a mother and daughter send hundreds of shoes to distressed families in war torn Europe. Both stories are beautifully illustrated with fascinating author's notes at the end.

Her Majesty’s Dog

Transfer students Amane and Hyoue are mystifying their new classmates with their odd-couple romance. She’s a social misfit; he’s the hottest guy in school. But the truth is that Amane’s a powerful medium, and Hyoue isn’t human at all: he’s her guardian spirit, a demon-dog, whose powers are literally fueled by her kiss. Read Her Majesty’s Dog, the manga series by Mick Takeuchi, to follow their adventures in subduing vengeful spirits, bringing peace to the dead, and surviving high school. After all, as Amane’s finding out, all the magical power in the world can’t help her navigate the ins and outs of high school social life!

Bonsai!

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The 34th Annual Bonsai Show, presented by the Ann Arbor Bonsai Society, will take place August 25 & 26th from 10 am to 4:30 pm at the U-M Matthaei Botanical Gardens. The show will feature about 100 bonsai, demos, as well as items for purchase such as tools, supplies and books. Admission is $3 and will happen regardless of weather conditions.

So you think you can vote?

Well, if you're a citizen, you probably can vote. The question posed by Bryan Caplan in The Myth of the Rational Voter is whether you're good at it. Specifically, he questions voters' intelligence in making decisions about the economy. The American voting public routinely advocates policies, Caplan says, that make them worse off.

Why, you might ask? I'm a smart person, I know what I'm doing when I vote. But according to Caplan, many voters have four biases that screw up the economy: voters tend to be anti-market, anti-foreigner, think more jobs solve everything, and are overly pessimistic. And Caplan demonstrates graphically, as economist are wont to do, that as stupid policies less directly affect voters, they become more irrational. Think global warming.

Whether people think it's genius or elitist, the book is bound to be influential. Check out the intro here. Does it pique your interest? Then why not check it out from your friendly public library?

Bradbury and Proulx

Today, August 21st is the birthday of two literary luminaries, Ray Bradbury and Annie Proulx. Bradbury was born in Waukegan, Illinois in 1920 but his family moved to Los Angeles when he was twelve. Hoping to be an actor, he was encouraged by two of his high school teachers who saw promise in his writing to take that road instead. He first published in small science fiction magazines but got his first break when one of his stories was accepted in the 1945 edition of the anthology, Best American Short Stories. Perhaps his best known novel is Fahrenheit 451 about a fireman in a future society whose job it is to burn books. But on taking one home and reading it, he decides to join a revolutionary group that tries to keep literature alive.

Magdalen Nabb Dies

Magdalen NabbMagdalen Nabb

Magdalen Nabb, creator of the estimable Marshal Salvatore Guarnaccia, died at the age of 60 last Saturday of a stroke while out riding in Florence, Italy.

The genial Marshal, a domestic man (wife, two sons), was slow moving and solved his cases through a quiet indirection, chatting with the proprietors of cafes, bars, and shops in Florence. The mysteries are as nonviolent as murder mysteries can be. The Sicilian-born Marshal was with the Carabinieri. The stories were generally based on real cases, the Carabinieri would bring the case files to her to study. Officers of the Carabinieri in full ceremonial dress formed a guard of honor at her funeral.

She had finished one last Guarnaccia novel, Vita Nuova, due out in 2008. Nabb started writing the stories when Simenon stopped writing his Maigret books. She always sent the first copy of each of her books to Simenon.

Human strays?

Ted prefers animals to humans; animals "never lie," and unlike the kids at school, he understands them. When Ted loses his parents in a car accident, he particularly identifies with strays--after all, as a foster kid, that's what he is. Ted lands in a new home, where his basic needs are met by fair but semi-dysfunctional foster parents and where he coexists with Astin, his older roommate, and C. W., who has had 19 placements in six years.

He’s having pretty much the worst year of his miserable life. Or so he thinks. Is it possible that becoming an orphan is not the worst thing that could have happened to him? Try Strays by Ron Koertge. (taken from the Booklist review by Krista Hutley)

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #81

If you don’t read another mystery this summer, you must read The Tenderness of Wolves* by Stef Penney

The winner of the 2006 Costa Book of the Year (formerly known as the Whitbread Awards), this debut novel by a former filmmaker is set in Dove River, an isolated settlement in the Canadian tundra of 1876. Mrs. Ross, our primary narrator, stumbled onto the brutal murder of her neighbor Laurent Jammett, a reclusive fur trapper, the same night her teenaged son Francis, went missing, along with a mysterious ancient bone tablet of great value.

Penney seamlessly weaves multiple plotlines, (including the disappearance of two young girls 17 years ago) as the search parties trek northward on the trail of the killer, bracing brutal elements and the threat of predatory wolves, towards an explosive conclusion.

Tenderness is much more than a mystery - it is a psychological thriller, an adventure tale, a well-research period piece that captures the cultural and social history of the Canadian north, and most of all, a probing exploration of the unfathomable topography of the human heart.

* = Starred Reviews

I was a teenage ninja...

Have you ever wondered what life for an undercover teenage ninja in high school would be like? Join Amazing Agent Luna as she battle Count Von Brucken to find out. The stories are American originals, but are drawn and published in manga style, (right to left instead of left to right). We currently have vol 1, vol 2, and vol 3. Volume 4 comes out next month.

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