New Titles Add to March Madness

The gray days of March are a bit of a stretch for those of us in Michigan. Fortunately, they’ll hold plenty of fresh, sunny reading material to keep out the cold this year. Below is a partial list of titles slated for release this month. For more extensive lists and reviews, you can always go to Book Browse. The exclamation marks below denote authors who will be making appearances in the area over the next month or so.

March Titles Due for Release

March 2 – House Rules by Jodi Picoult

March 2- Circle of Greed by Carl Cannon

March 2 – Clint: A Retrospective by Richard Schickel

March 2 – Gonville: A Memoir by Peter Birkenhead

March 2 – Hush by Kate White

! March 2 – Lift: Children, Turbulence, Life by Kelly Corrigan

March 2 – Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

! March 2 – No Aopology: The Case for American Greatness by Mitt Romney

March 2 – One Good Dog by Susan Wilson

March 2 – Our Lady of Immaculate Deception by Nancy Martin

March 2 – Son of Hamas: A Gripping Account of Teror, Betrayal, Political Intrigue and Unthinkable Choices by Mosab Hassan Yousef

March 4 – The Heights by Peter Hedges March 9 – Angelology by Danielle Trussoni

March 9 – Bone Fire by Mark Spragg

March 9 – The Devil and Sherlock Holmes: Tales of Murder, Madness, and Obsession by David Grann

March 9 – The Silent Sea by Clive Cussler

March 9 – So Much for That by Lionel Shriver

March 9 – The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard

! March 9 – The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee

March 9 – The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag by Alan Bradley

March 9 – A Week in December by Sebastian Faulks

March 15 – The Big Short by Michael Lewis March 16 – The Girl Who Chased the Moon by Sarah Addison Allen

March 16 – The Queen’s Lover by Vanora Bennett

March 23 – The Creation of Eve by Lynn Cullen

March 23 – Paul and Me by A.E. Hotchner

March 23 – The Sheen on the Silk by Anne Perry

March 23 – Caught by Harlan Coben

March 30 – Deception by Jonathan Kellerman

March 30 – Without Mercy by Lisa Jackson

March 30 – Beaufitul Assassin by Michael C. White

March 30 – Pearl of China by Anchee Min

March 30 – Solar by Ian McEwan

March 30 – 31 Bond Street: A Novel by Ellen Horan

Books to the Big Screen This Month*

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was filmed in Sweden and has already been optioned for a U.S. remake by Sony. It’s in limited release and based on the novel by Stieg Larsson.

Alice in Wonderland stars Johnny Depp in this film adaptation of the famous Lewis Carroll novel. The movie is directed by Tim Burton.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid stars Zachary Gordon and Steve Zahn. The film adaptation of Jeff Kinney’s book for young readers is directed by Thor Freudenthal.

*(information taken directly from the Mar/Apr edition of bookmarks magazine)

Support your local bookstores and universities. It matters!

– Post by Megan Shaffer

DPL to Host Author Leonard Pitts Jr.

Author and Miami Herald journalist Leonard Pitts Jr. will be reading from his first work of fiction this weekend at the Detroit Public Library. As a special guest for African American History Month, Mr. Pitts will offer a reading and discussion of his latest book release, Before I Forget.

Before I Forget falls in sync with Pitts’ profession as a syndicated columnist and pop music critic. The story of a once renowned  R&B star, Before I Forget follows the life of the fictional 70’s celeb Mo Johnson as he struggles with early-onset Alzheimer’s Disease and his quest “to make peace with his father and reconcile with his son before it’s too late.”

In addition to his work as a syndicated columnist, Leonard Pitts Jr. is also the author of Becoming Dad:  Black Men and the Journey to Fatherhood. According to his site, Mr. Pitts was awarded the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary and was a finalist for the Pulitzer in 1992 as well. His work has appeared in SOUL, Musician, Spin, TV Guide and Parenting.

The Detroit Public Library will proudly host Mr. Leonard Pitts Jr. on Saturday, February 27, 2010 at 2:00 p.m. This free reading and signing is open to the public and will take place at the DPL’s Main Branch in the Friends Auditorium. If you wish to purchase Before I Forget, Book Beat will be selling books for the event. As usual, it is always wise to call and confirm all information prior to the appearance. You can call The DPL at 313-833-4042 for more information.

*Support your local bookstores and universities. It matters!

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Mengiste’s Heart Beats ‘Beneath the Lion’s Gaze’

“Once, I was beloved of God, the King of Kings. I was the Conquering Lion of Judah, a descendant of King Dawit. My blood, rich and red, is kin to that other King of Kings, the most Beloved. I ruled my kingdom in honor of His. We were as we were because He was. In this kingdom of men, angels walked amongst us, flesh and spirit side by side, fiery swords next to spears. Wings beat back bullets, bent Italian rifles, flattened tanks. Under a poisonous rain dripping from warplanes flying as low as insects, we have run and triumphed, shielded by feathers, our skin still whole and splendid under the sun.”

Addis Ababa stands at the proud yet conflicted heart of Beneath the Lion’s Gaze, the ambitious Ethiopian tale by Maaza Mengiste. Set in the revolutionary throes of 1974, emperor Haile Selassie laments as he is forcibly removed from position due to festering discontent over the corruption and famine under his rule. As the military steps in and the merciless Derg establishes itself, conflict and uncertainty lead Ethiopia and its people into both patriotic and familial confusion. It is under the lion’s gaze of Ethiopia that Ms. Mengiste pens the poetic portrait of one family and their fierce attempt to hold on to each other and the land they so love.

Hailu is an unassuming, simple man. Though he holds post as a prominent physician, Hailu downplays his medical expertise to quietly concentrate on his increasingly difficult role as paterfamilias. Once his ailing, beloved wife Selam slips beyond the power of medicine and prayer, so too does his relationship with his discordant sons. And as the new regime penetrates the hallowed inner walls of Hailu’s hospital, their sinister presence also slips into the sacred spaces of  his home and family.

With eight years between them, Hailu’s sons Yonas and Dawit are at odds with each other and their homeland. Facing the unjust onslaught of the Derg and its factions, the elder Yonas opts for prayer while the young Dawit simmers and burns with a call to action. Afire with youthful indignation, Dawit reluctantly pulls away from his family disgusted by his perceptions of their apathy. Yet unbeknownst to Dawit, each carries a vicious passion easily rivaling his own and it is this profound intensity that provides the staggering spokes that spin Mengiste’s story.

Ms. Mengiste has an enviable patience with the pen that lifts her characters and settings to incredibly convincing heights. Methodically managing a trifecta of character, time and place, Mengiste cautiously manipulates each to mirror the turbulence shaking the very foundation of Ethiopia. Intimately fleshed-out, her myriad of colorful characters are muscled and precise, providing the perfect poetic device to navigate the tense emotional and geographical parameters of the story.

Though it’s hard to use the word tender for a work so jarring, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze achieves. Mengiste’s characters offer heart-rending performances in this astounding debut drawn from her own family history. Deftly capturing the powerful love of family and motherland, Beneath the Lion’s Gaze is an ardent reminder of relentless spirit and what it means to truly be free.

*Maaza Mengiste is a graduate of the University of Michigan. Support your local bookstores and universities. It matters!

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Links

-NPR’s Weekend Edition:  In Ethiopia, A Monarch Falls in ‘The Lion’s Gaze’

-Maaza Mengiste’s Biography on BookBrowse

-Stars of Tomorrow in New York Books

Rochester Hills Library to Host Local Author Lehmann

“The primary reward for human toil is not what you get for it, but what you become by it.”

Such are John Ruskin’s words by which author Annie Lubliner Lehmann has chosen to live. A freelance writer for the past 25 years, Ms. Lehmann has published in both The Detroit Free Press as well as The New York Times. However, it is for her debut work The Accidental Teacher:  Life Lessons from My Silent Son that she will be making several upcoming Michigan appearances.

Annie Lehmann’s son Jonah was born with severe autism. Now in his 20’s, Lehmann reflects on the journey of raising a son with this frustrating and challenging diagnosis. Dedicated to “Jonah and all those with autism who speak volumes without saying a word,” The Accidental Teacher is touted “…as a must-read for anyone who has been personally touched by a major life challenge.”

A resident of West Bloomfield, Annie Lehmann is married and has three children. Jonah, her eldest son, is the inspiration for this memoir. All proceeds from her book will be donated to autism research. The Rochester Hills Public Library will present Annie Lubliner Lehmann this Tuesday, February 23, 2010 at 7:00pm. As always, confirm dates and times before heading to an event.

*Support your local bookstores and universities. It matters!

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Links

Related Post From NLR

-The Accidental Teacher is a 2009 Silver Recipient of the Mom’s Choice Awards.

-For more information about the book, link to the University of Michigan Press.

Everyone’s Reading… ‘Presumed Innocent’

Presumed InnocentIt’s hard to believe Scott Turow’s suspense novel Presumed Innocent was published twenty-three years ago. Regardless, it’s back on the scene as the 2010 pick for the Metro Detroit public libraries’ Everyone’s Reading program. Now in its ninth year, Everyone’s Reading is an initiative to promote “community dialogue through the shared experience of reading and discussing the same book.”

Why Presumed Innocent ? The Everyone’s Reading 2010 site observes, “Scott Turow ushered in the age of the legal thriller. Despite many other skilled writers who followed…Turows [sic] work remains unique:  critically acclaimed psychological studies that appeal to a wide audience.” In addition, Turow’s work raises “important questions of morality, truth and justice” thus making the book attractive for discussion.

As part of the program, a series of very cool events are lined up in conjunction with this year’s title to encourage discussion and provide insight on the genre. Sponsored in part by the Michigan Center for the Book, libraries in Oakland and Wayne counties will host a variety of talks and events including:  forensic scientists, attorneys from the Innocence Project, lawyers, polygraph technology, medical examiners, movie showings, brown-bag group discussions and appearances by author Scott Turow himself.

The 2010 Everyone’s Reading program runs from February 15th through April 28th. You can pick up a copy of the book at any participating library along with corresponding reader and program guides. For all information including events, dates, times, and participating libraries you can link here.  Amazingly, all events are free – all you need is a library card. Thanks Michigan.

*Support your local bookstores and universities. It matters!

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Michigan’s Mennonite is at it Again

Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen: Book CoverOur little Mennonite is at it again! Considering the success of Rhoda Janzen’s memoir Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, Henry Holt and Co. is banking on a repeat performance with Janzen’s follow-up Backslide. After strong reviews from the gate, Mennonite has been an unexpected success putting up impressive numbers for both the Hope College professor and her publisher.

By definition, to backslide is to lapse morally or in the practice of religion; a fitting sequel title for those who have read Mennonite. According to PW’s Holt correspondent, Backslide picks up where Mennonite ends and follows Janzen’s journey back into the Pentecostal church and into “a tumultuous year which brings a new marriage, step motherhood and a bout of cancer.” The book is “about what happens when a backslider decides to slide back into religion.” Ms. Janzen’s sequel is slated to release in 2012.

If you haven’t read Mennonite in a Little Black Dress, it is hilarious…and very smart. If you missed it the first time around, you can catch my review on NLR with the following link:  Mennonites and Potheads.

*Support your local bookstores and universities. It matters!

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Links

PW’s article Holt Finds Hit in ‘Mennonite’ Tale; Inks Author to Second Book

Mennonite Weekly Review

NLR’s review of Mennonite in a Little Black Dress

Author Rosenblatt Finds Solace in ‘Making Toast’

Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt: Book CoverIn line with my “winter break briefs”, I think you’ll find this literary piece of considerable interest…

If you’re looking for inspiration, I heard a fantastic interview on NPR’s All Things Considered today.  ‘Making Toast’: Simple Gestures For Moving On is an interview with author Roger Rosenblatt who suddenly found himself helping his son-in-law raise his three grandchildren after his daughter Amy collapsed and died two years ago. Exceptionally moving, Rosenblatt inspired some of the most profound calls I have ever heard on a call-in program. Though I haven’t read the book Making Toast, this February 16th release will certainly be on my list.

*Support your local bookstores and universities. It matters!

-Post by Megan Shaffer

Related Links

-The New Yorker’s ‘Making Toast’: After a daughter dies, a new life with her children.

– “Making Toast” Video on Harper Collins

Book World:  Carolyn See’s Washington Post Review