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Lectures & Panel Discussions

Paperbacks from Hell with Grady Hendrix

Thursday March 29, 2018: 7:00pm to 9:00pm
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Adults 21+

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #660

Sat, 11/18/2017 - 2:51pm

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Reviewers are calling [b:1518519|The Last Mrs. Parrish * * *] by [a:Constantine, Liv|Liv Constantine] (pen name of sisters Lynne and Valerie Constantine) a "devilishly ingenious debut thriller." (Publishers Weekly)

Amber Patterson deserves more, definitely more than her impoverished upbringing, her dead-end jobs and the constant worry about money. She set her sights on Daphne and Jackson Parrish, a wealthy “golden couple” from Connecticut who is living the privileged life she wants.

Meticulously clever and ruthlessly manipulative, Amber moves to Bishops Harbor, and plots to insinuate herself into Daphne's life, and through her, to Jackson, the handsome, powerful real estate mogul. Before long, Amber is traveling to Europe with the Parrish family; and when she finds out Daphne’s failure to give Jackson a male heir is the main source of tension in the marriage, she knows what she needs to do to become the next Mrs. Parrish, that is as long as the skeleton in her closet does not lay waste to all that scheming.

Halfway through, the narrative is picked up by Daphne, and the readers will get a surprisingly different take on the story. Well, let's just say some women get everything and some women get everything they deserve.

"With a plot equally as twisty, spellbinding, and addictive as [a:Flynn, Gillian, 1971-|Gillian Flynn's] [b:1407981|Gone Girl] or [a:Hawkins, Paula.|Paula Hawkins's] [b:/1463701|The Girl on the Train], this is sure to be a hit with suspense fans."(Library Journal)

* * * = 3 starred reviews

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #658 “There’s no such thing as ruining your life. Life’s a pretty resilient thing, it turns out.” ~ Sophie Kinsella

Fri, 10/27/2017 - 11:25pm

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[b:1516484|The Readymade Thief] by [a:Rose, Augustus|Augustus Rose] is an unputdownable literary puzzler set in contemporary Philadelphia. Its title - an obvious homage to [http://www.theartstory.org/artist-duchamp-marcel.htm|Marcel Duchamp's] [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Readymades_of_Marcel_Duchamp|famous creations] that rocked the art world a century ago.

After years of shoplifting and dealing drugs at her high school, 17 year-old Lee Cuddy finally got sent to juvie taking a fall for a friend in a drug bust. A lucky escape means living rough, until she finds refuge in the Crystal Castle - a derelict building where homeless kids squat, under the control of a mysterious figure known as the Station Master. Not one to follow rules, Lee wonders around the restricted area of the Castle, and quickly discovers why homeless kids are disappearing from the streets in suspicious numbers. She manages to steal a strange object from the Station Master that turns out to be a work of art ([https://www.philamuseum.org/collections/permanent/51541.html|With Hidden Noise], 1916) by Marcel Duchamp, recently stolen from the [https://www.philamuseum.org/|Philadelphia Museum of Art], one that holds special significance to members of a twisted reincarnation of the [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soci%C3%A9t%C3%A9_Anonyme_(art)|Société Anonyme].

With a young artist/hacker Tomi as ally, Lee tries to elude her pursuers who believe Duchamp left clues in his art that reveal the key to immortality, and that Lee holds the key to it all.

"The novel is complex on many intellectual levels, drawing heavily on theories of art history and physics, and the mystery is deep and satisfying in both its unpredictability and its culmination." (Kirkus Reviews)

"With dynamic characters and unforgettable scenes, including after-hours museum sex, mysterious pursuers, and wondrous evasions, Rose’s captivating, art-anchored pager-turner reads like a mashup of [b:1348485|Home Alone] and [b:1200193|The Da Vinci Code]." (Booklist)

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #649

Wed, 08/09/2017 - 10:41pm

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With the melancholic lyrics of one of Japan's top [http://www.natsumelo.com/2011/10/ayumi-ishida-blue-light-yokohama-1968/|singles] [b:1512870|Blue Light Yokohama * *] threading through the narrative, debut novelist [a:Obregón, Nicolás, 1984-|Nicolás Obregón] introduces Inspector Iwata in an atmospheric and hauntingly beautiful series opener. The story was inspired in part, by an actual [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Setagaya_family_murder|unsolved crime] in 2000.

Kosuke Iwata, newly reinstated to the Homicide Division of the Tokyo Police was immediately assigned to a multiple murder case when the lead detective committed suicide. His new partner, the sharp-tongued, brash dynamo Noriko Sakai was less than enthusiastic - weary of the gossips surround Iwata's troubled past, suspicious of his American background (UCLA), and frustrated with superiors who clearly want them to fail.

On February 14, four members of the Kaneshiro family were brutally butchered in their home. While the Tokyo brass were ready to pin the murders on a crippled thug, Iwata and Sakai puzzled over the ritualistic details at the crime scene - missing body part, a distinctive incense smell, and symbol of a [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Sun_(occult_symbol)|black sun] scrolled on the ceiling. Almost immediately, the "Black Sun Killer" claimed another victim - the widow of a prominent judge.

Fighting his personal demons and insomnia, Iwata relentlessly follows up on every lead, explores every angle, trying to connect these murders while finding others as far away as Hong Kong, and instinctively knowing that the killer is not done.

"Obregón (a LA-based travel writer who fell in love with Japan while on assignment for a magazine) maintains a high level of suspense throughout his superior fiction debut, an intricately constructed whodunit that doesn’t sacrifice depth of characterization for plot." (Publishers Weekly)

Fans of police procedurals set in contemporary Japan might also enjoy [b:1457862|Malice] (the first in the Kyochiro Kaga mystery series) and [b:/1502107|Under the Midnight Sun] (a Detective Sasagaki novel), both by [http://theedgars.com/|Edgar-nominated] [a:Higashino, Keigo, 1958-|Keigo Higashino].

The tormented Iwata brings to mind [b:1199475|Insomnia] (2002), an American psychological thriller that is a remake of the 1997 Norwegian [b:1455440|noir] classic.

* * = 2 starred reviews

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #644

Sun, 07/02/2017 - 8:38pm

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Michigan author [a:Dionne, Karen|Karen Dionne's] hardcover debut [b:1509939|The Marsh King's Daughter *] transports her readers to the wilderness of Michigan's Upper Peninsula where a woman must risk everything she has and use every skill she learned to hunt down the dangerous criminal who taught her everything she knew - her father.

When Helena Pelletier heard on the news that the notorious murderer/kidnapper known as "The Marsh King" has killed two guards and escaped from [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marquette_Branch_Prison|Marquette] maximum security prison, she knew she could no longer outrun her past.

Born in a primitive cabin to a 14 year-old kidnapped victim, Helena grew up without modern conveniences or human contact except for her aloof mother and Jacob, who held them captive. Despite his brutal behavior, Helene loved him, loved their life together, governed only by the seasons - farming, fishing, tracking, and hunting. But it was also a 13 year-old Helena who facilitated their rescue and put Jacob behind bars.

Twenty years later, married with two young daughters and a thriving business, Helena faces the daunting task of explaining to her husband why their family is at risk; why the police considers her a person of interest; and even more incredulous, why she is the only one with survivalist skills to track her father in the wild.

"Echoing [https://www.biography.com/people/hans-christian-andersen-9184146|Hans Christian Andersen's] fairy tale of the [http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheMarshKingsDaughter_e.html|same title], Dionne's latest is a well-crafted, eerie, and unnerving psychological thriller." (Library Journal)

For fans of [b:1363959|Still Missing] by [a:Stevens, Chevy|Chevy Stevens]; [b:1363849|Room] by [a:Donoghue, Emma, 1969-|Emma Donoghue]; and [b:1466151|Our Endless Numbered Days] by [a:Fuller, Claire|Claire Fuller].

* = starred review

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Public Event

Discuss "The Girl on the Train" Before Author Paula Hawkins Visits Ann Arbor!

Monday May 8, 2017: 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Westgate Branch: West Side Room

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2017 Michigan Notable Books

Tue, 01/10/2017 - 12:21pm

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The Library of Michigan has announced with [http://www.michigan.gov/libraryofmichigan/0,2351,7-160-54574_39583-401586--,00.html|2017 winners] of the [http://www.michigan.gov/libraryofmichigan/0,2351,7-160-54574_39583-401586--,00.html|Michigan Notable Book Award] - an honor highlighting books celebrating Michigan people, places, and events.

This year's 20 award winners include [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/record/1492038|Beer Money: A Memoir of Privilege and Loss] by Frances Stroh, a recollection of a city, an industry and a dynasty in decline, and finding a way out, [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/record/1488963|Detroit Resurrected: To Bankruptcy and Back] by Nathan Bomey, which tells the story of Detroit's financial ruin, backroom intrigue and political rebirth, and [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/record/1493580|Terror in the City of Champions: Murder, Baseball and the Secret Society that Shocked Depression-era Detroit] by Tom Stanton, a thrilling true crime story.

The list features fiction too, such as [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/record/1487464|The Charm Bracelet], Viola Shipman's story of love, family and the importance of connectivity, it covers generations of Michigan history and will resonate with anyone who has enjoyed the beauty of summers in northern Michigan, [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/record/1484085|Sweetgirl] by Travis Mulhauser, about a fearless teen facing the wasteland of addiction amid the isolation of the Upper Peninsula, and [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/record/1490640|The Last Good Girl] by Allison Leotta, the thrilling latest entry in her legal suspense series.

There's something for everyone on this list - whether you're interested in travel, classic cars, biology, poetry, or architecture.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #624 “I've always wanted to play a spy, because it is the ultimate acting exercise. You are never what you seem.” ~ Benedict Cumberbatch

Tue, 12/20/2016 - 9:06pm

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[b:1501378|Ascension], the first book in a new series by [a:Dowling, Gregory|Gregory Dowling] is set in 18th century Venice in the weeks leading up to the [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feast_of_the_Ascension|Feast of the Ascension].

Alvise Marango, having grown up in London, is back in Venice, the city of his birth, alone, barely making a living as a [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cicerone|cicerone], if not for his command of the English language. Rescuing an unsuspecting Mr. Boscombe and his tutor Shackleford from some shady characters at the gondola landing, he is hired as guide as they continue their [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grand_Tour|Grand Tour].

After a series of gruesome murders, with the latest being that of Shackleford, Mr. Boscombe is arrested, along with Marango as his accomplice. With a solid alibi and his intimate knowledge of Venetian history and politics, Marango impresses the authority enough to be recruited as a spy.

From the grandest palaces to its darkest alleys, he follows the trail of a missing book that might lead him to a secret society and its sinister plan to destroy the city on its most important and spectacular holiday. That is, if he manages to stay alive.

British author Gregory Dowling moved to Venice in 1981, where he teaches American Literature at [http://www.unive.it/pag/13526/|Ca' Foscari University of Venice].

Readers partial to the setting and time period might also enjoy [a:Myers, Beverle Graves|Beverle Graves Myers'] [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/search/series/%22A%2BTito%2BAmato%2Bmystery%22|Tito Amato series] (many of them available for download), featuring an opera singer who is also a spy; and [a:Goodwin, Jason, 1964-|Jason Goodwin's] [b:1325613|The Bellini Card] that takes [http://www.aadl.org/catalog/search/subject/%2522Yashim%2B%2528Fictitious%2Bcharacter%2B%253A%2BGoodwin%2529%2522|Investigator Yashim] of the Edgar Award-winning series to Venice.

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Must-reads for Stephen King fans or newcomers

Thu, 12/01/2016 - 6:27pm

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[:catalog/record/1485607|End of Watch], Stephen King’s spectacular conclusion to the mystery trilogy that began with the Edgar Award Winning [:catalog/record/1446490|Mr. Mercedes], was released earlier this year, shooting to the top of the New York Times Bestseller List. King has revealed that he’s hard at work on his next book, titled Sleeping Beauties, which will be released sometime in 2017, but for King fans who don’t want to wait that long, it’s time to take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of his best earlier works.

Stephen King is one of the most versatile and prolific authors alive today. Although he is best known for his horror writing—stories like [:catalog/record/1038664|Carrie], [:catalog/record/1038671|Christine], [:catalog/record/1038678|Cujo], [:catalog/record/1038777|The Shining] and [:catalog/record/1038723|It]—are familiar to almost everyone, even if they haven’t read the books, he’s also written general fiction, science fiction and mysteries, including some under pen names. If you’re a long-time King fan looking to reread, or a first timer delving into the often twisted world of King’s work, the following titles will have you turning pages faster than you ever thought you could!:

The idea for [:catalog/record/1389742|11/22/63] first came to King in the 1970s, but the book wasn’t published until 2011. It tells the riveting story of Jake Epping, a Maine schoolteacher who discovers a “time bubble” that transports him back to 1958. Convinced by his friend that he must attempt to stop the JFK assassination and thus alter the history of the world for the better, Jake embarks on a five-year quest to do just that. But, time is obdurate—as King emphasizes frequently in the book—and stopping the assassination is no easy feat. Part time travel adventure, part love story, part historical fiction, part thriller, 11/22/63 is the ultimate definition of a page turner.

[: catalog/record/1038752|Needful Things], one of King’s slightly lesser-known books, is set in Castle Rock, Maine, where several of his stories take place (The poor residents of Castle Rock have been through a lot). A new shop opens up in town, selling a wide variety of curiosities. In fact, anyone can go into the store and find whatever it is that their heart desires most. But buyer beware—although nothing in the store costs money, there’s a high price to pay for “purchasing” your deepest wants.

[:catalog/record/1038791|The Stand] is one of King’s most epic works—the full version clocks in at 1153 pages. The riveting story opens with a patient who escapes from a biological testing facility unknowingly carrying a strain of super-flu that ultimately wipes out 99% of the world’s population in just a few weeks. The few that remain are terrified and in need of someone to lead them. The two leaders that do emerge are polar opposites: one an elderly woman who urges the survivors to create a peaceful community in the American West and the other the mysterious “Dark Man” who has evil intentions and delights in chaos. As both leaders begin to gather power, everyone left on earth will have to choose who follow—and that decision in turn will determine the fate of all of humanity. Although reading The Stand is no easy feat, if for nothing else than the sheer length of it, as the New York Times Book Review says, it has everything: “Adventure. Romance. Prophecy. Allegory. Satire. Fantasy. Realism. Apocalypse. Great!”

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #611 Spotlight on Psychological Thrillers

Fri, 08/19/2016 - 7:07pm

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An August pick on [http://www.indiebound.org/indie-next-list|Indie Next] and [http://libraryreads.org/august-2016-libraryreads-list/|LibraryReads] lists, and a runaway UK debut bestseller, [b:1496771|Behind Closed Doors * ] by [a:Paris, B. A.|B.A. Paris] is one of the most terrifying psychological thriller you are likely to come across.

London attorney Jack Angel - movie-star-handsome and successful, sweeps Grace Harrington off her feet when he offers to dance with Millie, Grace's Down-syndrome younger sister under her care. The first sign that things are not what they seem to be is when Millie tumbles down a flight of stairs on their wedding day. On their honeymoon, Jack made clear his psychopathic plans, using Millie as leverage to ensure Grace's cooperation.

"Debut-novelist Paris adroitly toggles between the recent past and the present in building the suspense of Grace’s increasingly unbearable situation, as time becomes critical and her possible solutions narrow. This is one readers won’t be able to put down." (Booklist)

[b:1492878|All the Missing Girls * ], the first adult title by YA author [a:Miranda, Megan|Megan Miranda], is about the disappearances of two young women a decade apart. It has been 10 years since Nic(olette) Farrell left Cooley Ridge after her best friend, Corinne Prescott, disappeared without a trace. Now a cryptic note from her dementia-ravaged father brings her home. Within days of her arrival, her young neighbor Annaleise Carter disappears, reawakening the decade-old investigation that focused on Nic, her brother Daniel, boyfriend Tyler, and Corinne's boyfriend Jackson.

Told backwards from Day 15 to Day 1 since Annaleise's disappearance, Nic works to unravel the shocking truth about her friends, her family, and ultimately, herself. "Miranda convincingly conjures a haunted setting that serves as a character in its own right, but what really makes this roller-coaster so memorable is her inspired use of reverse chronology, so that each chapter steps further back in time, dramatically shifting the reader’s perspective." (Publishers Weekly)

[b:1495080|The Trap] by East German debut novelist [a:Raabe, Melanie, 1981-|Melanie Raabe] is a fast, twisty read.

Reclusive novelist Linda Conrads hasn't left her home since she discovered her sister's body 11 years earlier. When she sees the face of the murderer on television, the same face that she saw leaving the crime scene, she goes about setting a trap by crafting her next thriller utilizing all the details of her sister's murder. But her careful plan goes horribly awry.

Film rights sold to [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TriStar_Pictures|TriStar Pictures.]

* = starred review