The Americana Series Monthly Challenge – May 2019: Michigan

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The Americana Series Monthly Challenge – May 2019: Michigan

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Apr 27, 2019, 11:50am

Each month, we will visit a different state in the United States of America for the Monthly Reading Challenge in the Mystery & Suspense Extra! Group. This month, we are traveling to a “home state” for a couple of our members - Michigan.

The Americana Series Monthly Challenge – May 2019: Michigan


Michigan (/ˈmɪʃɪɡən/) is a state in the Great Lakes and Midwestern regions of the United States. The state's name, Michigan, originates from the Ojibwe word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake". With a population of about 10 million, Michigan is the tenth most populous of the 50 United States, with the 11th most extensive total area, and is the largest state by total area east of the Mississippi River. Its capital is Lansing, and its largest city is Detroit. Metro Detroit is among the nation's most populous and largest metropolitan economies.

The area was first occupied by a succession of Native American tribes over thousands of years. Inhabited by Natives, Métis, and French explorers in the 17th century, it was claimed as part of New France colony. After France's defeat in the French and Indian War in 1762, the region came under British rule. Britain ceded this territory to the newly independent United States after Britain's defeat in the American Revolutionary War. The area was part of the larger Northwest Territory. Michigan was admitted into the Union in 1837 as the 26th state. It soon became an important center of industry and trade in the Great Lakes region and a popular immigrant destination in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Although Michigan developed a diverse economy, it is widely known as the center of the U.S. automotive industry, which developed as a major economic force in the early 20th century. It is home to the country's three major automobile companies (whose headquarters are all within the Detroit metropolitan area). While sparsely populated, the Upper Peninsula is important for tourism thanks to its abundance of natural resources, while the Lower Peninsula is a center of manufacturing, forestry, agriculture, services, and high-tech industry.


Michigan is the only state to consist of two peninsulas. The Lower Peninsula is often noted as shaped like a mitten. The Upper Peninsula (often called "the U.P.") is separated from the Lower Peninsula by the Straits of Mackinac, a five-mile (8 km) channel that joins Lake Huron to Lake Michigan. The Mackinac Bridge connects the peninsulas.

The state has the longest freshwater coastline of any political subdivision in the world, being bounded by four of the five Great Lakes, plus Lake Saint Clair. (2nd in total shoreline to Alaska) As a result, it is one of the leading U.S. states for recreational boating. Michigan also has 64,980 inland lakes and ponds and 36,000 miles of streams. A person in the state is never more than six miles (9.7 km) from a natural water source or more than 85 miles (137 km) from a Great Lakes shoreline. (no wonder Michigan has 150 lighthouses and navigational lights!)

Fun Facts

Michigan's motto is "Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice," which means, "If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you."

Sault Ste. Marie, founded in 1668 by Father Jacques Marquette, was the first European settlement in the Midwest, and the third-oldest one west of the Appalachians.

Michigan abolished the death penalty in 1846 for all crimes other than treason, becoming not only the first state but the first English-speaking government in the world to do so.

The first air-conditioned car was manufactured in 1939 by Detroit's Packard Motor Car Company.

Yoopers (residents of the U.P.) refer to people from the rest of the state as “trolls” because they live “below the Mackinac bridge.” Other nicknames are flatlanders and lopers, the latter name being short for Lower Peninsula. (Da Yoopers, a band from the U.P. are famous for “singin' 'bout deer huntin' an' farts.”)

A wide variety of commodity crops, fruits, and vegetables are grown in Michigan, making it second only to California among U.S. states in the diversity of its agriculture. Traverse City is the tart (i.e., pie) cherry capital of the world, and hosts the week-long National Cherry Festival each July. Apples are the largest and most valuable fruit crop in Michigan. The state has 11.3 million apple trees. Michigan is the third largest apple producing state in the U.S.

Kellogg Company has made Battle Creek the Cereal Capital of the World. The Kellogg brothers accidentally discovered the process for producing flaked cereal products and sparked the beginning of the dry cereal industry. Vernors ginger ale was created in Detroit and became the first soda pop made in the US. In 1862, pharmacist James Vernor was trying to create a new beverage when he was called away to serve in the Civil War. When he returned 4 years later, the drink he had stored in an oak case had acquired a delicious gingery flavor.

The bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald, the wrecked ship made famous in a Gordon Lightfoot song, is on display at the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at the Whitefish Point Light Station.

Michigan was the first state to provide in its constitution for the establishment of public libraries and was the first state to guarantee every child the right to tax-paid high school education.

In 1817, the University of Michigan was the first university established by any of the states. The school was originally named Catholepistemiad. (Try chanting that at a football game) and located in Detroit but was moved to Ann Arbor in 1841. Famous UM grads include Scopes trial defense attorney Clarence Darrow, Swedish diplomat-turned-Holocaust hero Raoul Wallenberg, Vader-voicing actor James Earl Jones, material girl Madonna and former US President Gerald R. Ford

UM’s rival, Michigan State University, has the largest single campus student body of any Michigan university. It is the largest institution of higher learning in the state and one of the largest universities in the country. Michigan State University was founded in 1855 as the nation's first land-grant university and served as the prototype for 69 land-grant institutions later established under the Morrill Act of 1862. It was the first institution of higher learning in the nation to teach scientific agriculture.

In 1920, Detroit was home to the first four-way traffic light.

Michigan has one of the world’s longest suspension bridges – the Mackinac Bridge. It is five miles long and connects the Upper Peninsula to the other parts of the state. The Mighty Mac took 3 years to complete and was opened to traffic in 1957.

The first auto traffic tunnel built between two nations is the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel, a highway tunnel that connects Detroit, Michigan with Windsor, Ontario, Canada.

Notable Residents

Gerald R. Ford grew up in Grand Rapids and became the 38th president of the United States He attended the University of Michigan where he was a football star. He served on a World War II aircraft carrier and afterward represented Michigan in Congress for 24 years. He was also was an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts.

Michigan music is known for three music trends: early punk rock, Motown/soul music and techno music. Michigan musicians include Bill Haley & His Comets, The Supremes, The Marvelettes, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye "The Prince of Soul", Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Aretha Franklin, Mary Wells, Tommy James and the Shondells, ? and the Mysterians, Al Green, The Spinners, Grand Funk Railroad, The Stooges, the MC5, The Knack, Madonna "The Queen of Pop", Bob Seger, Ray Parker Jr., Aaliyah, Eminem, Kid Rock, Jack White and Meg White (The White Stripes), Big Sean, and Alice Cooper.

Some of the movies that take place in Michigan include “8 Mile,” “Road to Perdition,” “Robocop,” “Grosse Pointe Blank,” “Dreamgirls,” and “Gran Torino.” The movie “Somewhere in Time” was filmed at The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.

In honor of Michigan, read a Mystery/Suspense book (any sub-genre will do!) that satisfies one or more of the following:

• A Mystery/Suspense book with “Lake,” “Great,” “Music,” or “Soul” in the title or has a Bridge or a Car on the cover; or

• A Mystery/Suspense book that takes place primarily on a body of water or features a Serial Killer, or

• A Mystery/Suspense book where BOTH of the author's initials (the first AND last) can be found in MICHIGAN.

Happy Reading ❤

Edited: May 25, 2019, 8:47pm

May 2019 Americana Challenge - Michigan
3 of 3 Complete

• A Mystery/Suspense book with “Lake,” “Great,” “Music,” or “Soul” in the title or has a Bridge or a Car on the cover; or Crimson Lake by Candice Fox; 5/4/19; 3.5 stars

• A Mystery/Suspense book that takes place primarily on a body of water or features a Serial Killer, or Never Never by James Patterson and Candice Fox; serial killer; 5/21/19; 4 stars

• A Mystery/Suspense book where BOTH of the author's initials (the first AND last) can be found in MICHIGAN. I've Got My Eyes On You by Mary Higgins Clark; 5/24/19; 2.5 stars

oh my goodness! have had to change out 2 of my books this month - the wait at the library was going to be 12 weeks or more for the ones I originally planned to read. Definitely a challenge this month.

Edited: May 10, 2019, 10:21am

I'll really be going to visit "him" in June. Love the U.P.
📌- ★

3/3 - DONE
Carol Visits With "Big Mac"

📌1. A Mystery/Suspense book with “Lake,” “Great,” “Music,” or “Soul” in the title or has a Bridge or a Car on the cover.
The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman - 4.5★

📌2. A Mystery/Suspense book that takes place primarily on a body of water or features a Serial Killer.
The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood- 4.5★

📌3. A Mystery/Suspense book where BOTH of the author's initials (the first AND last) can be found in MICHIGAN.
The Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn- 3.5★

Apr 27, 2019, 12:43pm

>3 Carol420: we used to go up to Sault Ste Marie and Mackinac Island regularly when I was a kid but I think I only crossed the bridge once in all that time. I know that my brother got so sick crossing the bridge he had to sit on the floor in the car so that he couldn't see out....wimp. lol

Apr 27, 2019, 12:54pm

>3 Carol420: I can ride across it okay but I don't think I could walk across it. The expansion strips are grated and it's way, way too far down. It is really something to behold. My husband is from Michigan and he says that his Dad and grandfather and their friends went hunting in the UP in the winter. Before the bridge was constructed people sat in line waiting to be ferried across sometimes as much as 2-3 days.

Edited: May 26, 2019, 5:02pm

May 2019 Americana Challenge - Michigan
of 3 Complete

• A Mystery/Suspense book with “Lake,” “Great,” “Music,” or “Soul” in the title or has a Bridge or a Car on the cover.

📌 A Mystery/Suspense book that takes place primarily on a body of water or features a Serial Killer.
Ragdoll - Daniel Cole - 4.5 Stars 5/11/19

📌 A Mystery/Suspense book where BOTH of the author's initials (the first AND last) can be found in MICHIGAN.
Dead to the World - Charlaine Harris - 3.5 Stars - 5/5/19

Apr 27, 2019, 3:35pm

Don’t think i’ll have any problem in reading a book with a serial killer in. 😂

Apr 28, 2019, 3:44pm

I'll be reading Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman.

Apr 30, 2019, 1:52am

>8 gaylebutz: That looks interesting - it’s got some pretty good reviews

Edited: May 2, 2019, 12:21pm

#3 - Initials found in MICHIGAN

The Devil Crept In, by Ania Ahlborn

Young Jude Brighton has been missing for three days, and while the search for him is in full swing in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, the locals are starting to lose hope. They’re well aware that the first forty-eight hours are critical and after that, the odds usually point to a worst-case scenario. And despite Stevie Clark’s youth, he knows that, too; he’s seen the cop shows. He knows what each ticking moment may mean for Jude, his cousin and best friend. That, and there was that boy, Max Larsen...the one from years ago, found dead after also disappearing under mysterious circumstances. And then there were the animals: pets gone missing out of yards. For years, the residents of Deer Valley have murmured about these unsolved crimes…and that a killer may still be lurking around their quiet town. Now, fear is reborn—and for Stevie, who is determined to find out what really happened to Jude, the awful truth may be too horrifying to imagine.

Although I can eat paranormal novels for 3 meals a day, I am not so much a fan of real horror. Not in books or movies. Something about the description of this one caught and held my attention so I thought I’d give it a try. Before I knew it I had read half the book and was looking forward…no, I was compelled…to read the rest. The story was just unbelievable enough to make you wonder if maybe there could be a smidgen of truth in it…and that in itself was horrifying. Stevie was the only character in the entire story that was remotely likable…the others you just wished that the monster would have them for midnight snacks. I guess I would have to say that the book was interesting, entertaining and 100% horrifying. A worthy recipient of the 4 stars.

Edited: May 2, 2019, 12:22pm

#2 - feature 2 serial killers (even if they didn't mean to be)

The Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood

One fateful summer morning in 1986, two 11-year-old girls meet for the first time and by the end of the day are charged with murder. Twenty-five years later, journalist Kirsty Lindsay is reporting on a series of attacks on young female tourists in a seaside town when her investigation leads her to interview funfair cleaner Amber Gordon. For Kirsty and Amber, it's the first time they've seen each other since that dark day when they were just children. But with new lives – and families – to protect, will they really be able to keep their secret hidden?

It's a chilling tale of two 11 year old girls who were involved in the death of a small child and the resulting impact that that deed has on them. I found the story to be absorbing... plausible... as well as unsettling. It shows the seamier side of human nature and the devastating circumstances that interwove the lives of these two women. From the first page to last the book builds on the unexpected. Alex Marwood manages to fill the story with evil characters without ever making them unbelievable or the women unsympathetic. She keeps the suspense alive and viable throughout.

May 2, 2019, 1:47pm

>11 Carol420: Perhaps they should rename this The Accidental Serial Killer!

May 2, 2019, 6:11pm

>12 Andrew-theQM: As usually happens with cases like this the system kinda screwed things up.

Edited: May 4, 2019, 12:06pm

Jaret's Trip to Michigan
(1/3) completed

• A Mystery/Suspense book with “Lake,” “Great,” “Music,” or “Soul” in the title or has a Bridge or a Car on the cover.

• A Mystery/Suspense book that takes place primarily on a body of water or features a Serial Killer.

• A Mystery/Suspense book where BOTH of the author's initials (the first AND last) can be found in MICHIGAN
Crooked House by Agatha Christie 5 stars 5/3/2019

Edited: May 7, 2019, 6:52am

Spent all day yesterday in Holland...Holland Michigan that is. Beautiful tulips this year. Another reason I love my 'adopted" state.

May 7, 2019, 11:46am

>15 Carol420: How pretty! Another interesting thing I didn't know about Michigan.

Edited: May 7, 2019, 1:58pm

>16 gaylebutz: I think that is one thing that I like about this challenge that Brenda is doing such a magnificent job on. We all know a few things about our 50 states...some more than others... but there is so much more that we never learn in school that makes each state so unique. I've lived in Michigan for 40 years and I'm still discovering what a wonder that it is.

Edited: May 7, 2019, 3:03pm

>17 Carol420: >16 gaylebutz: I know virtually nothing about your 50 states, and am enjoying learning from Brenda’s challenges. Anything I have learnt I have learnt from my friends on Shelfari, Leafmarks and Librarything! 👍

May 7, 2019, 3:40pm

Started The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick, for the first strand of the challenge.

May 7, 2019, 10:42pm

May 9, 2019, 6:46am

>20 bhabeck: I'm loving it, too, Brenda. It is giving me a great feel for the geography of the US - prior to this I sort of knew where to place California, Florida, Texas, and New York on the map, but that was just about the sum of my knowledge. Now, I'm finding out where the other states fit in.
You have another willing pupil here, so Thank You, very much, :D

Edited: May 18, 2019, 4:59pm

Book 1. Mystery which takes place primarily on a body of water: Sail Away, a cosy mystery by Celia Imrie, 78% of the story is set on an Atlantic cruise ship. 3.75★s.

May 9, 2019, 9:56am

>18 Andrew-theQM: >21 Sergeirocks: Interesting to hear your perspectives on US geography, as you’re not from the US. Maybe future challenges could be about other countries so we (me in particular) could learn more about them. Not sure how that would work though.

>22 Sergeirocks: 78% is quite a precise number to come up with :) !

Edited: May 9, 2019, 11:40am

>21 Sergeirocks: thanks Sergei - I'm finding that I've learned quite a bit as well. I've always been a fan of US History and Geography but there have been several things I've posted that I didn't know previously. (Who knew that Hawaii had a spider with a smiley face on its butt?)

>23 gaylebutz: >22 Sergeirocks: I agree!

>23 gaylebutz: that was my thought as well. We have the "Around the World" Challenge on M&S Extra but I thought something more "in-depth" might be nice too.

A couple of my co-workers have asked to be included when I post the Challenge each month - they're not big mystery readers so aren't part of this group but they've been learning US Geography as

Edited: May 9, 2019, 11:53am

>23 gaylebutz: It will work beautifully. I do a challenge for the "Around The World" group that I call "Armchair Passport". It's been 3 years now and we haven't repeated a country yet and we've all learned so much. I just made a list of every country in the world that i could find and randomize them to pick one each month. Some are not as easy as others....

>24 bhabeck: Maybe your co-workers would like to join the Around The World group since it's not tied to Mystery & Suspense genre.

>22 Sergeirocks: I think it was more like 78.38% :)...says the person that hates numbers!

May 10, 2019, 10:21am

Done. Love my visit to the bridge. Thanks Brenda.

May 10, 2019, 10:29pm

>26 Carol420: whoohoo! well done Carol!

May 11, 2019, 10:18am

>27 bhabeck: Thanks, Brenda.

May 12, 2019, 5:39pm

Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman
3.5 ★

Fiercely ambitious Luisa "Lu" Brant is the first female state's attorney of Howard County, Maryland, and she sees an opportunity to make her name by trying a mentally disturbed drifter accused of beating a woman to death in her home. As Lu prepares, the case dredges up painful memories, reminding her small, but tight-knit, family of the night when her brother, AJ, saved his best friend at the cost of another man's life. Only eighteen, AJ was cleared by a grand jury. Now, Lu wonders if the events of 1980 happened as she remembers them.

This wasn’t a straightforward murder mystery. It switched back and forth between Lu’s childhood and her adulthood in the present with a lot of focus on relationships in the family and between friends. The mystery between the drifter who killed a woman in her home and his connection to Lu’s family is revealed slowly in bits throughout the story. There were a lot of interesting things about the story but I don’t think I liked it as much as I could have because I couldn’t relate or sympathize much with Lu.

May 14, 2019, 4:05pm

>23 gaylebutz: >24 bhabeck: I was reading in ebook format and made a note of when they went to sea (22% of the way through the book) - I wanted to make sure the book fit the criterion! ;D
(And, yes, I would have discounted it if they'd spent less than 50% of the time on the water - lucky for me that they remained on the boat until the end of the book, 👍.)

May 14, 2019, 4:07pm

>25 Carol420: It may well have been 78.38% but my ebook counter only deals in whole numbers, ;D

May 14, 2019, 4:26pm

>31 Sergeirocks: LOL! If it deals at all with numbers it does better than me:)

May 14, 2019, 9:04pm

>30 Sergeirocks: That makes sense now! Impressive attention to detail - lol!

May 18, 2019, 4:58pm

Book 2. Mystery which has a Bridge on the cover: The Sentence is Death by Anthony Horowitz. 4★s.

May 20, 2019, 12:44pm

Book 3. Mystery book where BOTH first and last author's initials can be found in MICHIGAN, for me can only mean Michael Connelly... The Poet 5★s.

May 20, 2019, 2:36pm

>35 Sergeirocks:

Well done little meerkat!

May 20, 2019, 6:51pm

2/3 of the way there.

✔️ A Mystery/Suspense book with “Lake,” “Great,” “Music,” or “Soul” in the title or has a Bridge or a Car on the cover;

The Woman in the Lake by Nicola Cornick ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 8/5/19

• A Mystery/Suspense book that takes place primarily on a body of water or features a Serial Killer, or

✔️ A Mystery/Suspense book where BOTH of the author's initials (the first AND last) can be found in MICHIGAN.

Ritual by Mo Hayder ⭐️⭐️⭐️1/2 6/5/19

May 23, 2019, 6:39pm

>36 Carol420: Ooh! Cake! ;D

May 24, 2019, 7:04am

>38 Sergeirocks: Couldn't find a snake or a rat so thought this would be the next best thing for a meerkat. Besides it would photograph better:)

May 24, 2019, 3:22pm

>39 Carol420: I'd far rather have the cake, lol!

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