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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #656, Women's Fiction Debuts

Thu, 10/12/2017 - 10:23pm

Something Like Happy is UK novelist Eva Wood's North American debut.

Annie Hebden could really use a break. Thirty-five, divorced, flat-sharing with a messy roommate who parties all night, feeling isolated at a boring desk job and now, she is dealing with her mother Maureen's early-onset dementia. Then, she meets Polly Leonard.

Witnessing Annie's meltdown with the bureaucratic hospital administrator over her mother's care, the bubbly, outlandishly-dressed Polly is determined to take Annie in hand, never mind she has precious little time left with terminal brain cancer. At first reluctant, Annie allows Polly to talk her into joining her mission - instead of counting the days, they will make the next 100 days count.

"Delightful page-turning awaits readers, even with Polly’s inevitable finale. Polly is a wonderful character with a positively infectious attitude—memorable and magnetic, with a healthy dose of gallows humor... Jojo Moyes meets Emily Giffin in this poignant, uplifting tale of the power of friendship and the importance of making the most of each day." (Publishers Weekly)

How to Find Love in a Bookshop by former scriptwriter Veronica Henry is set in the fictional village of Peasebrook, nestled in the Cotswolds.

Emilia Nightingale had no idea what she was in for when she promised her father Julius at his deathbed that she would keep Nightingale Books open. A beloved fixture of the community, Julius was no businessman and it appeared that Nightingale Books has been operating in the red for quite some time. Selling to the eager property developers might be Emilia's only option.

As she struggles with financial woes and tries to find new ways to revitalize the business, Emilia also sees how integral the bookshop is in facilitating relationships throughout the town. Six different love stories emerge - Sarah, owner of the stately Peasebrook Manor uses the book shop as an escape and to meet her secret lover; shy Thomasina, who runs a pop-up restaurant has a crush on a man she met in the cookbook section; a single-father is trying to connect with his son through reading; and Emilia finds herself attracted to the unavailable Marlowe as she takes her father's place in the town’s string quartet.

"A light romantic comedy well-suited for bibliophiles and Anglophiles alike... (that) explores deeper questions of personal choice and the different forms in which love manifests. " (Kirkus Reviews)

For fans of Katie Fforde; Marian Keyes; and Jill Mansell.

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Three brilliant wordsmiths

Tue, 10/10/2017 - 4:27pm

As presented in delightfully rendered, craftily composed biographies of wordsmiths for children (of all ages).

Edward Estlin Cummings was born on October 14, 1894 and was raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts by two supportive and creative parents, who introduced Estlin to the wonderful world of words and provided him with the space to use them magically. Estlin’s love of words was illuminated by his passion for drawing and painting, so that the poems he created used words for language and illustration. This very unique style of poetry is well known to any who are familiar with the works of e.e. cummings. In enormous smallness : a story of e.e. cummings, Matthew Burgess details cummings’ childhood and his journey to becoming a poetry pioneer. Kris Di Giamomo’s illustrations are the perfect match to both Burgess’s and cummings’ words. Words appear as pictorial representations of leaves on trees, clouds, the night sky.

cummings was greatly inspired by the outside world that he noticed as a child. So was William Carlos Williams, born in 1883 in Rutherford, New Jersey. Jen Bryant gives us Williams’ story in A river of words: the story of William Carlos Williams. As Williams grew older and had less time for outdoor pursuits, he realized that poetry instilled in him the same feeling as the sounds of the natural world. Unlike cummings, Williams did not find the poetry bursting out of him. He first tried his hand at writing like the famous English poets he had read in school, but found that this style could not convey the images he was seeing in his mind. He put aside rhyme and rhythm and “let each poem find its own special shape on the page.” Williams became a doctor to pay the bills, but often used his prescription pads for jotting down the lines in his head. After each day of work, he wrote to create the poems that are so well known and well loved today, poems about plums and wheelbarrows. Like Di Giamomo, illustrator Melissa Sweet demonstrates that pictures can be made with words.

Bryant and Sweet team up again in The right word : Roget and his thesaurus to give us the story of another great wordsmith. Born in London in 1779, Peter Mark Roget was a collector of words, and because of his accumulation, we have one of the most amazing, breathtaking books there is. The Greek translation of thesaurus is “treasure house,” and there is not a better word within it to describe it. As a child, Roget didn’t have many friends, but he had books, and reading them inspired him to make his own. He organized his words differently from cummings and Williams: he created lists. As he grew older he realized that there was always an ideal word to describe anything and that if those perfect words could all be found in one place, a book sure to provide the best word, than the world would be improved for it. Like Williams, Roget also became a doctor, but it was ultimately his wondrous compendium of words, the “Collections of English Synonyms Classified and Arranged,” that created his legacy. Bryant tells Roget's story in way that exhibits her own admiration for the thesaurus, and Sweet has once again used words as active, cheerful illustrations to show how letters can convey meaning on many levels.

The stories of these three scribes will appeal to word-lovers of any age, even help to create some new ones. And yes, I used a thesaurus to write this. I always do, regularly, repeatedly, and evermore.

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Grasping for that Grassy Green Cover...

Sat, 10/07/2017 - 4:25pm

But then, lo and behold, there was ANOTHER time at the library...with that book you saw on a shelf, with a GREEN cover, that drew you in - but, of course, you had to pass it by in that moment for some unbeknownst reason. Now, if you should find yourself green with envy for that grassy-colored cover, I may have the book for you! I've recently created a list of books that have, or have had, green covers - whether or not their most recent editions have that gorgeous emerald hue, they did at some point! Plus, this list is welcome to all kinds of green covered books...

Whether it be a marshy green of the novel The Marsh King's Daughter, a gawky bright green like The Awkward Age, or perhaps the olive green of Behind the Mask, all green covers are welcome on this compilation list. But this list isn't just for the adults! There's also a wide age range available for the younger reader greedy for the green...

Whether it's from the teen section like Fablehaven, maybe Gary Paulsen's The River, or even Insurgent from Veronica Roth's best-selling Divergent series, this list has a generous collection of green covered pages that you might have left on the shelf. Even the youth may have glazed over a glorious green book resting on it's display, such as The Secret Garden or Evermore Dragon. This list also gives a gateway to the many genres that glisten with glittering green covers at the library...

Maybe you were gleefully grasping through science fiction and found The Best of Ian McDonald or David Hutchinson's Acadie? Could you have gone gallivanting through the Express Shelf and seen My Absolute Darling or found The Essex Serpent? What about the non-fiction readers, who may have glanced through the graceful stacks, gazing at gripping covers glorifying goodly grub for the growing kids or great grammatical rhymes?

This list has ALL THE THINGS (or would like to have) and is growing each day! Please feel free to take a gander, and graciously grumble or gab about other green-covered books you think others may be searching for, so the list gets gargantuan. Just think: someone out there could be looking for a leafy-green book jacket that you've read before - maybe you've got the answer they've been grieving for as they search the grand volumes we have here at AADL. Or perhaps you yourself have getting grumpy in the search, and the book is in this list already!!! Only one way to find out...

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We were eight years in power : an American tragedy

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 4:13pm

Released earlier this week is a new book by Ta-Nehisi Coates entitled

Ta-Nehisi Coates is an American author, journalist, comic book writer, and educator. Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic where he writes about cultural, social and political issues, particularly as they regard African-Americans. Since his first published book in 2008, Mr. Coates is now considered one of the most influential black intellectuals of his generation. Many will be familiar with his bestseller, Between the World and Me, which won the National Book Awards' top prize for nonfiction in 2015.

His most recent book is a memoir based within a collection of eight essays written during the time of the Obama administration. Mr. Coates weaves a personal history touching on the influence of hip-hop, books he read, and the blog he maintained. Interspersed within the collection of articles are autobiographical essays reflecting on his approach at the time of writing and the optimism felt when Obama began his presidency. New introductions lend insight to his process of writing and further reviewing those ideas once shared with the rest of the world.

The selections include "The Case for Reparations" and "The Black Family in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” an article which further established Coates as a leading writer on the topic of race in America. While the essays draw from a certain period of time, Coates has broadened these ideas with added reflection and insight. Hindsight lends an introspection to where his ideas were coming from and have since grown.

Audio versions of his work are available. Between the World and Me is especially enjoyable as read by the author. His new book is read by Bennett Beresford, narrator of many audiobooks of varied genres, actor of the stage and screen, and is also an award-winning screenwriter.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #655

Thu, 10/05/2017 - 9:02pm

One of Entertainment Weekly's 20 Must-Read Books of the Fall and a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice, The World of Tomorrow * * * * by Brendan Mathews will not disappoint.

Set against the backdrop of the World's Fair, conceived to lift the spirit of city (and the country) out of the gloom of the Depression and promised a peaceful, prosperous "World of Tomorrow," is a sweeping, intricate, and ambitious debut about family, honor, love and betrayal, over the course of one whirlwind week in 1939.

Posing as a Scottish laird, escaped Dublin convict Francis Dempsey and his shell-shocked brother, Michael, are bound for New York on the RMS Britannic, having stolen a small fortune from the IRA. Francis's title and aristocratic bearing impresses his fellow passengers enough that they eagerly welcome him into their rarefied circle once they've reached Manhattan.

Meanwhile, Tom Cronin, a retired assassin living a quiet family life in a farm upstate, is pressed into service one last time - to track the Dempsey brothers down. During the week that follows, the lives of these characters collide spectacularly with big-band jazz musicians, a talented but fragile heiress, a Jewish street photographer facing a return to Nazi-occupied Prague, a vengeful mob boss, and the ghosts of their own family's revolutionary past.

"From the smoky jazz joints of Harlem to the opulent Plaza Hotel, from the garrets of vagabonds and artists in the Bowery to the backroom warrens and shadowy warehouses of mobsters in Hell's Kitchen, Brendan Mathews brings the prewar metropolis to vivid, pulsing life." (Library Journal)

"With the wit of a ’30s screwball comedy and the depth of a thoroughly researched historical novel, this one grabs the reader from the beginning to its suspenseful climax." (Publishers' Weekly)

Fans of Brooklyn by Colm Toibin; Rules of Civility by Amor Towles; and Netherland by Joseph O'Neill would not want to miss this.

* * * * = 4 starred reviews

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PreK Bits - "A" is for APPLE

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 7:52pm

Ms. Rachel presented an apple theme in Storytime this week.
GOBBLE GOBBLE MOOOO TRACTOR BOOK … the day Farmer Brown slept-in, the animals drove the tractor!
We clapped out letters to the “Apple Bingo” song … A-P-P-L-E !!
APPLE PIE … "Botheration!" That enormous juicy apple is up so high. However can we get it and put it in our pie?"

Fall is apple season and here are more apple books:
APPLESAUCE DAY ... this is the day that comes after you visit the orchard and bring home apples. One more kind of busy....
TEN APPLES UP ON TOP ... a "beginning Reader" title.
FROM APPLE TREES TO CIDER PLEASE ... "Grab the wagon. It's a bright autumn day!".
A APPLE PIE … a traditional apple pie alphabet with illustrations by Gennady Spirin.
APPLES A to Z … and apple alphabet and primer.
TEN RED APPLES .. a counting book.
The SEASONS Of ARNOLD’S APPLE TREE … one year.
FLORENTINE And PIG ... includes recipes for a fine fall picnic!
The APPLE ORCHARD RIDDLE … the class field trip to the orchard.
LITTLE APPLE GOAT … how the trees were planted.
For more Fall related titles … see PreK Bits – FALL stories for 1-6 yrs. Old … an AADL Public List of titles for preschool and young elementary ages.

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The Ninth Hour

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 5:48pm

The Ninth Hour, Alice McDermott’s latest novel, radiates a feeling of quietude, stillness, though, in the first pages of this novel, an immense action is unfolding. McDermott fans will find here the usual fluidity of writing as she spans across decades with grace. The Ninth Hour is written with precision, full of small particulars that grapple with big questions. The words unfold calmly, belying the action that they hold. The plot is not full of twists and turns but does have it’s fair share of scandal, especially to the Catholic Church, within whose rules and rituals this novel is framed. There is infidelity here, suicide.

The story begins with a young man taking his own life and in doing so, leaving behind a pregnant widow. When their daughter, Sally, is born, both mother and daughter come to rely heavily on the sisterhood of nuns who helped with mourning, grieving, and pregnancy. The Ninth Hour is mostly Sally’s story, as told by her children, but also, the story of the sisters who raised her. Through details revealed as to who these nuns were before they took their vows, we catch a glimpse of the women beneath the wimples. Despite personality differences and backgrounds, the nuns, as a whole, have a great capacity for dispensing care. McDermott’s quiet strength lies in these intensely observed characters.

As Sally passes through adolescence, she thinks she too will become a nun. Her first test comes on a journey to a convent in Chicago. A train ride reveals to her the most basic of human needs and desires, “a sampling of the ‘others’ she was giving her life to: vulgar, unkempt, ungrateful.”
As she strives to be good, Sally wonders if one person’s penance can guarantee salvation for someone else. This is a question at the root of McDermott’s exploration of family, sin, religion, and the influence of the past. Put aptly by Lily King, in her review in The Washington Post, “There are so many ways to read this beautiful novel: as a Greek tragedy with its narrative chorus and the sins of the fathers; as a Faulknerian tale out to prove once more that the 'past is not even past'; as a gothic tale wrestling with faith, punishment and redemption à la Flannery O’Connor; or as an Irish novel in the tradition of Anne Enright and Colm Tóibín, whose sentences, like hers, burn on the page.”

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Endangered Birds

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 1:00pm

On July 4, 2017 I saw a bald eagle flying over the Huron River! It was the first time I had ever seen a bald eagle in the wild. During the past several decades bald eagles were a very rare sight in the Ann Arbor area. After reductions in the use of dangerous pesticides such as DDT and 40 years on the endangered species list, bald eagle populations have significantly recovered in southeastern Michigan and around the United States.

”Bald Eagle Numbers Soaring in SE Michigan” is a short article in The Daily Telegraph (published in Adrian, MI). It has information on the recovery of bald eagles in southeast Michigan.

You can find out more about both Bald Eagles and Golden Eagles on the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service website.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Birds of North America Online database is a very informative resource. You can find it by subject under “Science & Technology”, or you can find it alphabetically by name. For each bird species there are sections covering a variety of interesting topics including “Demography and Populations” and “Conservation and Management”.

12 Birds Back From the Brink by Nancy Furstinger highlights 12 different bird species that have made a comeback after being close to extinction. This book discusses both the reasons why species numbers declined to dangerous levels, and the actions that were taken to save them from extinction. It emphasizes the dramatic differences that human behavior can make in the survival or extinction of a species. Although intended for kids, the information in this book may be interesting to readers of all ages.

Here are some more kids’ books on endangered birds that both kids and adults may enjoy:

Endangered and Extinct Birds by Jennifer Boothroyd introduces both endangered and extinct birds. This book is easy to read and has lots of photographs.

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World’s Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery tells the story of how scientists and volunteers are trying to save the unique and fascinating kakapo parrot of New Zealand. Like a number of other bird species in New Zealand, the kakapo parrot cannot fly.

Olivia’s Birds: Saving the Gulf by Olivia Bouler features Olivia’s colorful illustrations of many types of birds. As an 11 year old, Olivia used her artistic talent to raise money for the vast numbers of birds devastated by the catastrophic 2010 Gulf oil spill. This book shows that even young people can make a difference by taking action!

Parrots Over Puerto Rico by Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore has information on how scientists are trying to save Puerto Rican parrots from extinction. Puerto Rican parrots are the only parrots native to the United States. This book includes fantastic collage artwork and information on the history of Puerto Rico.

A Place for Birds by Melissa Stewart has lots of colorful illustrations, facts about birds, and suggestions for how people can help birds to survive.

If you’d like to try drawing some birds, Draw 50 Birds by Lee J. Ames includes all types of birds: common, rare, recovering, and extinct. There are no written instructions in this book, just drawings.

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It's almost Halloween!

Wed, 10/04/2017 - 12:27pm

It’s that most wonderful time of the year: Halloween! As an avid lover of all things fall and Halloween, this is by far my favorite time of the year. I love costumes and being able to dress up as some of my favorite characters. This year I’m planning to cosplay as Roadhog, from Overwatch. If you’re as into costumes as me, come check out some of our books to help you take your costume to the next level!

New this year, The hero's closet : sewing for cosplay and costuming, is a great intro book to cosplay and costume making. It has a lot of helpful beginner steps if you’ve never tried to make your costume before.

Epic cosplay costumes is another great reference for all of the parts of costume making. With cute advice notes from the author, this book is a great start to becoming your favorite character.

For a more basic guide that you can use with items around your house, check out: Halloween. This book centers more on simple designs and standard Halloween costumes. It also includes some tips for spooky home décor!

Here's a cute costuming book for the younger costumers among us: Creating Halloween crafts. It has fun craft ideas for decoration and costumes that might be fun for the whole family!

These next two books are probably the best for my costume. If you’re into characters with fancy and elaborate weapons, these two will help you learn how to design your own, much lighter, versions.

Make : props and costume armor is written by a master prop maker, and goes into details for both armor and weaponry. It is a very in-depth collection of ideas using everything from simple foam to 3D printing.

In another recent release, The costume making guide : creating armor & props for cosplay, you’ll find all of the steps to take your idea and turn it into a full costume. The author guides you through each part of costume making whether you need armor, weaponry, or other outfit parts.

Looking forward to seeing all of the ideas everyone reading this comes up with! Hopefully I’ve given you a bit of inspiration. Now to get back to making my hook…

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Drop off your gently used Halloween costumes for the 3rd annual Halloween Costume Swap!

Mon, 10/02/2017 - 10:05am

Starting now through October 22, drop off your clean, gently used Halloween costumes to any AADL branch! Then, on Sunday, October 22 from 3:00-4:30pm at the Downtown Library, come pick out a new costume for this year! We're looking for costumes for people of all ages. This is a great way to save money, clear your closet, and pick out something snazzy for all your Halloween needs!