Office of the VP for Communications – Keeping alumni and friends connected to U-M

Alumni Books

  1. In Clouds of Fire

    by Elaine Stienon

    Love, violence, and death on the American frontier play a part in this story of the early Mormons and their search for peace and freedom from persecution. Nathaniel, a young man from a Shaker background, has promised to help Hannah and her brother get safely from Ohio to Missouri, where Hannah’s fiance Dan is building a cabin for them. As the arduous journey unfolds, Nathaniel falls deeply in love with Hannah, a complication with profound repercussions.

    In Clouds of Fire explores the diversity of people who were attracted to this unique religion of Mormonism, and the groups from which they came, religious and otherwise. Based on accounts and journals of the time, the book brings to life an exciting portion of American history.

    Author Elaine Stienon grew up in Detroit and attended U-M, where she earned a Hopwood award in her senior year for a collection of short stories. Since that time, she has had stories published in such literary magazines as Phoenix, South, the Cimarron Review, and the Ball State University Forum. In Clouds of Fire is her fourth published novel.

  2. Dark Lady of Hollywood

    by Diane Haithman

    This merry mash-up of Shakespeare and Hollywood’s television industry tells the story of Ken Harrison, 36, a VP of comedy development at a Big Three network. He’s right in the middle of TV’s most desirable demographic (men 18-49). But when misfortune enters stage left Ken’s comfortable world is suddenly fraught with shadows and uncertainty. Ousted from the network’s comedy department, Ken finds solace in his unread, undergrad’s copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare—and discovers Shakespeare’s mysterious Dark Lady of the Sonnets, a 16th-century enigma whose identity has baffled scholars for centuries.

    The sly and cynical Dark Lady of Hollywood was a recent finalist in the William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition. Haithman, a 1979 graduate of U-M’s Honors College (psychology/English), won a Hopwood Award during her time at Michigan.

  3. Wake-Up Calls

    by Connie Gaertner

    As the new employee at Watson’s Flowers, 17-year-old Krista knows she has to concentrate on her job and not on the party she is missing at Bayside Beach on Lake Huron. But all she really wants is to have a summer romance with Jeff Wellington, a fellow student, golfer extraordinaire, and well-known jerk.

    As Krista ignores Jeff’s rather unsavory reputation and immerses herself in lively summer boating and beach adventures with him, she also gets to know her coworkers—Mario Watson, the owner’s son and a handsome college student who tests Krista’s feelings for Jeff, and Cheyenne, a bizarre and moody girl who seems to know everything about everyone. Even though she is crazy about Jeff, Mario’s eyes beckon Krista into his life. But it is not long before Krista realizes Mario is dealing with his own set of problems. Torn between two suitors with vastly different personalities, Krista must decide which one is right for her.

    In this young adult story, a teenager must balance a new job with the possibilities of romance as she learns to trust her heart—and her intuition—to lead her to her destiny.

  4. Full Potential GMAT Sentence Correction Intensive

    by Bara Sapir

    To be in winning form, it is essential to be mindful first, so that one can master the game. And if the game is achieving a top score on admission tests, then Test Prep New York (TPNY) has published the ideal playbook to conquer the GMAT, SAT, LSAT, GRE, MCAT, ACT, and USMLE, etc. TPNY is the only test prep company to utilize mindfulness techniques, sports psychology, and holistic modalities to optimize test-taking potential for every student who peaked and plateaued with traditional study methods.

    TPNY founder Bara Sapir earned her BFA from U-M in 1991 and her masters in art history (Rackham) in 1993. Full Potential GMAT Sentence Correction Intensive focuses on what students will see on the GMAT, based on extensive research of real GMAT questions. There are more than 200 examples illustrating key grammar rules and hundreds of practice questions to build mastery of concepts, as well as over 30 exercises drawn from sports psychology, mindfulness, and holistic health to optimize test-day performance.

  5. X-15: The World’s Fastest Rocket Plane and the Pilots who Ushered in the Space Age

    by Richard A. Passman and John Anderson

    This exciting story recounts development of the iconic rocket plane of the Cold War space race. This experimental space plane was on the cutting edge of hypersonic aerodynamics, and its winged reentry from space foreshadowed the development of the Space Shuttle decades later. Launched from the wing of a modified B-52 bomber–again foretelling a concept that would be used decades later, in this case by Space Ship One and Space Ship Two–the ship rocketed higher and faster than any manned aircraft of the time. Designed to approach seven times the speed of sound, it was the first hypersonic aircraft ever created and was engineered to function both in the Earth’s atmosphere and at the edge of space.

    Illustrated with period NASA and USAF photographs, as well as exclusive Smithsonian photography of the first of three X-15s built, the book captures the risks and dangers of the X-15 program as the writers follow the test pilots (including Neil Armstrong) who pushed the very limits of their piloting skills to master groundbreaking experimental technology. Even with the fatal crash of the third X-15, the overall success of the program helped pave the way for NASA to continue to the Moon–and this is the definitive, expertly curated, and beautifully illustrated account of its development.

    Passman is a 1944 and 1945 Michigan graduate with degrees in mathematics and aerospace engineering. He is 88 years old and splits his time between Florida and Maryland. Co-author Anderson is curator of aerodynamics at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

  6. Immaculate Inception

    by Christopher Simmons

    This apocalyptic thriller covers a lot of ground: When Judas Iscariot miraculously finds himself in the 21st century, he seeks to usher in the long-promised Kingdom of God. In a world of terror and hatred, Judas must unite Jews and Muslims into a single faith with the mysterious, powerful Arab Prince Sabah as its earthly king. But then Saturn goes missing. A massive tsunami destroys the beaches of Los Angeles. A new mother dies, but her newborn son, Elijah, lives–and he can hear what his mother hears in Heaven. Meanwhile, Father Calucci, an immortal Roman soldier cursed to walk the earth until the return of Christ, recognizes the signs: The end has begun.

    Immaculate Inception is the first in the author’s “Judas Christ” series. Simmons, BSAE ’82, has timed the events of the novel based on the “physics-correct” orbital parameters—a skill he learned from his Aero department professor, the late Harm Buning. Two of the book’s characters are based on fellow aerospace engineering alums, Simmons says. “They play critical roles in the book’s climax, but they don’t know it yet.”

  7. Secrets of the Seasons

    by Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld, Priscilla Lamont

    The family from Secrets of the Garden are back in a new book by Michigan alum Kathleen Weidner Zoehfeld, MA ’77, and illustrator Priscilla Lamont. This time characters Alice and Zack explore the reasons for the seasons. Alice’s narrative is all about noticing the changes in the air as fall turns into winter, spring, and then summer. She explains how the Earth’s yearlong journey around the sun, combined with the tilt in the Earth’s axis, makes the seasons happen.

    Alice’s text is clear and simple, and experiential. Two very helpful—and very funny—chickens give more science details and further explanation through charts, diagrams, and sidebars. Packed with sensory details, humor, and solid science, this book makes a complicated concept completely clear for young readers—and also for the many parents who struggle to answer their kids’ questions!

  8. The Confessions of Frances Godwin

    by Robert Hellenga

    The Confessions of Frances Godwin is the fictional memoir of a retired high school Latin teacher looking back on a life of trying to do her best amidst transgressions—starting with her affair with Paul, whom she later marries. Now that Paul is dead and she’s retired, Frances Godwin thinks her story is over—but, of course, the rest of her life is full of surprises, including the truly shocking turn of events that occurs when she takes matters into her own hands after her daughter, Stella’s, husband grows increasingly abusive. And though she is not a particularly pious person, in the aftermath of her actions, God begins speaking to her. Theirs is a deliciously antagonistic relationship that will compel both believers and nonbelievers alike.

    From a small town in the Midwest to the Piazza Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, The Confessions of Frances Godwin touches on the great questions of human existence: Is there something “out there” that takes an interest in us? Or is the universe ultimately indifferent?

    Robert Hellenga holds degrees from U-M and Princeton University. He is professor emeritus and Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Knox College in Galesburg, Ill., and the author of the novels Snakewoman of Little Egypt, The Sixteen Pleasures, The Fall of a Sparrow, Blues Lessons, Philosophy Made Simple, and The Italian Lover.

  9. Bluff City Pawn, a Novel

    by Stephen Schottenfeld

    Huddy Marr, the proprietor of Bluff City Pawn in Memphis, is good at what he does: He knows jewelry, he knows guns, and he knows guitars. But the neighborhood is changing. A blood bank is set to open across the street from the retail space he leases from his brother, Joe, and Huddy wants to move to a less seedy part of town. A pawn shop should stay right on the edge of seedy.

    When a longtime client dies, his widow calls Huddy to come appraise his considerable gun collections. If he can buy up the guns, Huddy knows he can make a killing, possibly change his fortunes for good. But he needs cash up front, and for that, he needs brother Joe. Soon the youngest sibling, restless Harlan, gets involved—they could use the manpower to move the haul, after all—and slowly the brothers’ original family dynamics reassert themselves. Needless to say, a change of fortune can’t come easy.

    This is Stephen Schottenfeld’s first novel. He is a graduate of U-M and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop; he teaches English at the University of Rochester.