New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (1/7/07)

There are no new titles this week! However, it is also that time of year when newspapers and magazines start making their "Best Fiction of 2006" lists. I want to nominate one of my personal favorites, The Dead Hour by Denise Mina. It may not make an official list but this riveting thriller will delight many readers looking for something different. Featuring Glasgow crime reporter Paddy Meehnan, the most unconventional heroine to come along in a long time, this is the second (after Field of Blood) in a planned series by Mina. And after you have read these books, you can have the pleasure of catching up with her earlier books, including the Garnethill series.

Reading Rainbow Contest

Reading RainbowReading Rainbow

Calling all Kindergarteners through Third graders! Do you like to write and illustrate your own stories? Enter your masterpiece into the 13th Annual Reading Rainbow Young Writers and Illustrators Contest. For entry form and rules, visit the Detroit Public Television website, call (313) 876-8196, or email readingrainbow@dptv.org. The contest deadline is March 27, 2007.

Every entrant will receive a Certificate of Achievement signed by host LeVar Burton. Three stories will be chosen from each grade level as national winners, and be featured in a gala awards show to be aired on Detroit Public Television.
Grand Prize: Laptop
Second Place: Flat Panel TV and DVD Player
Third Place: MP3 Player
Each of the twelve winners will also receive Reading Rainbow library sets of 10 DVDs and books for their home, school and library.

For books and movies that have been featured on Reading Rainbow, check out our collection at the library.

1001 Nights of Snowfall

For those of you already familiar with Bill Willingham’s Fables, you probably don’t need my recommendation to check out this anthology. For those of you not familiar with the Vertigo/ DC Comics series, 1001 Nights of Snowfall is a great introduction to the characters that make up Fabletown.

Snow White is sent as an envoy to solicit the help of King Shahryar, an Arabian Sultan, against the Adversary, enemy to all of Fablekind. She soon finds herself entrapped by the Sultan and must fill the nights with stories to beguile him and save her own life. Backstories of some familiar characters are told, which Willingham approaches with more detail than was given in the original tales. Find out what happened to the witch after Hansel and Gretel pushed her into the oven; the unexpected twist in the tale of Snow White after she marries her prince (she’s more independent than Disney portrayed); and why the Big Bad Wolf is so big, bad, and bitter. This book is also a splendid showcase for the talents of the many artists who contributed.

Please remember, though this book does retell the tales of beloved fairy tale characters, this book is not intended for children.

Celebrating Fiction Shorts

Short stories are one of the most under-appreciated fiction genres. That’s why it was so satisfying to see The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel picked as one of New York Times’ TOP 5 FICTION OF 2006.

While Amy Hempel is one of a handful of writers who has built a reputation based solely on short fiction, there are many more recent releases that deserve a serious look.

Saffron and Brimstone: Strange Stories* by Elizabeth Hand.
Lovely and unsettling - these 8 stories give a sensual and apocalyptic perspective on modern society, with art, death and sex all swirled together.

The View from Castle Rock :Stories* by Alice Munro.
12 exquisitely constructed tales from the grand dame of short fiction, centered around the Scottish Laidlaws and their migration to the New World, drawn from letters and family lore.

Lately* by Sara Pritchard.
11 loosely linked stories which "examine the quirkly lives of a handful of people...(who) sparkle with equal part courage and bewilderment". Masterful.

St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves*(FFF) by Karen Russell.
This first story collection of 10 upbeat, sentimental fables, narrated by articulate, emotionally precocious children from dysfunctional households is a thing of beauty, not to be missed.

Everybody Loves Somebody : Stories* by Joanna Scott.
From a McArthur Fellowship and Lannan Award winner, a stylish and apt depiction of everyday life, quietly well crafted, that will leave a lasting impression.

*= Starred Review(s) You might ask - "What about the guys?" That's next, I promise. <--!break-->

Mysteries from around the World

I've always wanted to travel the world. Fortunately I can at least travel with a good mystery from the comfort of my home. Click here for a partial list of some of these great reads. I've always enjoyed the Inspector Ghote series from India written by the prolific H.R.F.Keating. It's fun to read about the good Inspectors run in with the bureaucracy of his world. A much darker series but also outstanding are books set in Sweden written by the masterful Henning Mankell.

Amazon.com’s Teen Top Sellers

It is quite a diverse list this week. SAT test preparation…check! Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance books…check! By the way, what did you think of Eragon the movie? Also, we’ve got more tales from the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and wonderful classics like Things Fall Apart and 1984. Oh, and I would say more about Fast Food Nation but my pizza just arrived. Good luck with classes!

Forever in Blue: The Fourth Summer of the Sisterhood by Ann Brashares
Eldest (Inheritance, Book 2) by Christopher Paolini
The Elements of Style by William Strunk
The Official SAT Study Guide
Things Fall Apart: A Novel by Chinua Achebe
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
New Moon by Stephanie Meyer
Eragon by Christopher Paolini
How to Go to College Almost for Free by Ben Kaplan
Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
1984 by George Orwell

Slow-burning Drama for Cold Week

Sex, religion, and passion enliven The End of California by Steve Yarbrough, this week’s fiction pick at DearReader.com. In this domestic portrait of small-town life in Loring, Mississippi, the author examines the intersecting lives of two family guys with really complicated lives. To quote Publishers Weekly: “Yarbrough gives each character in his slow-burning drama the complex emotional scars of broken marriage and, more importantly, the space and voice with which to explore them.” If you're not sure yet, why not sign up for daily e-mail chunks to be sent to you from DearReader.com. Yarbrough was a PEN/Faulkner finalist for his acclaimed previous novel Prisoners of War set in the same town during World War II.

Anime books and magazines

The library doesn’t just have great anime tv series and films in its dvd collection; it also has books about anime in our nonfiction collection. I especially like Anime from Akira to Howl's Moving Castle: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation by Susan J. Napier and The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation since 1917 by Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy.

And if you want the very latest news on anime, take a look at Newtype USA magazine, which is available at all library branches.

Ann Arbor's African American Community to be Discussed

In honor of Martin Luther King Day, local authors Carol Gibson and Lola Jones will be presenting an introduction to the history of the African American community in Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County at the Sunday, January 14 session of 'Sunday Edition' at the Downtown Library at 2:00 pm. Their presentation will be based on their new book Another Ann Arbor, a photographic survey of the history and contributions of African Americans. The program will include a selection of the images from the book. Additional information about the local African American community can be found at the Another Ann Arbor web site. The 'Sunday Edition Program' is free and open to all.

"The fog comes on...."

January 6 is the birthday of poet, journalist, children's writer and biographer, Carl Sandburg. Born to Swedish immigrants in 1878 in a three room shack in Galeburg, Illinois, Sandburg was the quintessential Midwesterner. He stayed in the heartland, writing about his beloved Lincoln, the slaughter houses of Chicago and the whimsical characters of his Rootabaga Stories. Sandburg wrote what he knew from personal experience having dropped out of school in eighth grade, taken on odd jobs and traveled with hobos and tramps across the country.

Who can forget his wonderfully gravelly voice, shock of white hair and his image of fog in a poem of the same name:

"The fog comes
on little cat feet.
It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on."

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