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Best of 2022

Sat, 12/03/2022 - 11:12am by muffy

best_of_the_bestBookPage’s The Best Books of 2022.

Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best Books 2022

Kirkus Reviews editors pick of the Top !00 Fiction Books, and Best 100 Nonfiction of the Year.

2022 Books We Love - Great Reads, Thoughtfully Curated by NPR, especially notable are the 51 titles in Staff Picks (by names we know and trust). 

The New York Times’ 100 Notable Books of 2022.  The 10 Best Books of 2022: The staff of The New York Times Book Review choose the year’s standout fiction and nonfiction.

The 2022 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children’s Books. This year’s 10 winners are picked by a panel of three expert judges who consider every illustrated children’s book published this year in the United States. A feast for the eye!

There is something for everyone in Publishers’ Weekly Best Books of 2022: Top 10, Fiction, Mystery/Thriller, Poetry, Romance, SF/Fantasy/Horror, Comics, Nonfiction, Religion,

Lifestyle, Picture Books, Middle Grade, and Young Adult

Time Magazine’s The 100 Must-Read Books of 2022 (from gripping novels, transporting poetry, to timely nonfiction that asked us to look deeper). 

If, like me, you spend a lot of time on the road, and you have blown through the  2022 Audie Awards, you might want to check out The Washington Post’s 10 best audiobooks of 2022, Harper’s Bazaar’s The 44 Best Audiobooks To Make Your Next Road Trip Fly By, and BookPage’s Best Audiobooks of 2022

 

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Staff Picks: Stream it on AADL.org

Thu, 12/01/2022 - 12:18pm by emjane

Scoot over, Netflix, there’s another streaming option! Did you know that there is a wide assortment of streaming content available to you via your aadl.org catalog? You can browse the whole collection of more than 13,000 videos, or check out some recommended picks below:

Nature Documentaries

There are nature documentary series aplenty available to stream. Why not check out the classic Planet Earth? Or Blue Planet? Frozen Planet? (We’ve got a lot of Planet content!) Only have a little pocket of time but want some cuteness? We’ve got you covered with Andy’s Baby Animals.

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Staff Picks: Indoor Gardening

Tue, 11/29/2022 - 5:29pm by lucroe

Whether you are new to taking care of plants, just need some advice on some you already have, or would like suggestions on purchasing some plants for yourself or others, here are some worthwhile reads that can help with the care and upkeep of the indoor garden.

What is my plant telling me? by Emily Hay Hinsdale | Request Now

What is my plant telling me? by Emily Hay HinsdaleWhy are those leaves browning or yellowing or just dropping off? Will this plant thrive better in a southwest facing window? Low or high light or just a hint? This book covers the care of 50 common houseplants in alpha order A (African violet) to Z (ZZ plant). Great for beginners. Her other book is another great gift for the absolute beginner to indoor gardening called Never Put a Cactus in the Bathroom

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #821, Spotlight on Indigenous Voices

Mon, 11/28/2022 - 3:29pm by muffy

white_horseOne of CrimeRead’s Best November Novels, and USA Today’s 15 great reads to honor Native American History Month (according to Goodreads),   White Horse * * by Erika T. Wurth (she is of Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee descent) is part horror novel, part detective story (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook), that's perfect for fans of Stephen Graham Jones and Catriona Ward . (Library Journal)

The title, taken from the name of the Denver bar where our protagonist Kari James often parks herself for cold beers and hot metal. It is where she meets up with her cousin Debby, who presents her with a beaded bracelet that once belonged to Kari’s mother, a woman who disappeared just two days after Kari was born. 

Every time she puts on the bracelet, it causes Kari to see the ghost of her mother - screaming, bloody, and crying for help, and she wonders for the first time if her mother's disappearance wasn't all it appeared to be. Growing up, her permanently-disabled father and Auntie Squeaker were mum on the subject, forcing Kari now on a quest to uncover what really happened, and the truth long denied by both her family and law enforcement forces. 

“Wurth creates a compelling world that feels so real it's easy to forget you're reading a work of fiction. She allows readers to truly get inside Kari's head, and they will ache for her as she leaves no stone unturned in her investigation. White Horse is a must-read for anyone fond of ghost stories and the horror genre, as Wurth's voice is both authentic and insistent.” (Booklist) 

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Longlisted for the 2022 Scotiabank Giller Prize, A Minor Chorus * * *  by Canadian poet Billy-Ray Belcourt, a Lambda Literary Award winner, and a member of the Driftpile Cree Nation, which the BookPage reviewer called “a feat of technical brilliance… a slippery, scholarly work, rooted in the layered complexity of Indigenous life."

Our protagonist is a queer Indigenous doctoral student in Northern Alberta who temporarily steps away from his dissertation on critical theory, and returns home to write a novel, informed by his conversations with fellow doctoral student River over the mounting pressure placed on marginalized scholars; with Michael, a closeted man from his hometown whose vulnerability and loneliness punctuate the realities of queer life on the fringe;  and memories of cousin Jack, trapped in the awful cycle of police violence, drugs, and despair. In between, he has casual sex, analyzing the differences between rural and urban Grindr profiles and hookups. 

“Belcourt's smart, thoughtful writing will appeal to readers who prize introspection over plot, and is also a great crossover for memoir readers.” (Booklist) 

“Belcourt weaves in a steady stream of references to work by Judith Butler, Roland Barthes, and Maggie Nelson without losing narrative momentum, and he delivers incendiary reflections on the costs, scars, and power of history and community. This is a breathtaking and hypnotic achievement.” (Publishers Weekly)  

Readers might also want to check out the other titles on Oprah Daily’s 31 Native American Authors to Read Right Now.

* * * = 3 starred reviews

* * = 2 starred reviews

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Staff Picks: Didn’t I Read That in School? : Classics Worth Revisiting

Wed, 11/23/2022 - 11:04am by emjane

I read some wonderful pieces of literature in high school and undergrad – but when the reading is homework, I often didn’t spend the time it takes to fully appreciate both the writing and the story. Plus, the more life experience I gather, the more opportunities I have to consider a story from multiple perspectives. Here are some titles I felt were worth a reread!

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston| Request Now

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale HurstonTheir Eyes Were Watching God has an ideal balance of beautiful description and a compelling plot, and all that was wasted on me when I sped through it in undergrad (a term with three literature classes sounds lovely, but is TOO MUCH!) Thank goodness I was spurred to pick it up again so I could participate in an AADL Book Club Discussion.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #820

Tue, 11/22/2022 - 3:37pm by muffy

cloisterThe Cloisters, *  a debut by art history professor and museum professional Katy Hays is a gripping tale of “Murder! Occult! Obsession”, (Kirkus Reviews) set at the famed The MET Cloisters. (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook

Ann Stilwell, a Whitman graduate still mourning the sudden death of her father, is glad to turn her back on Walla Walla where she has lived all her life, and heads to NYC for a summer internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Upon arrival, she learns the offer has been rescinded and she is reassigned to The Cloisters, after a chance meeting with Curator Patrick Roland. Being a skilled linguist, Ann will be working with the medieval art collection, preparing for an upcoming exhibition of the arcane history of divination and the Tarot. Reserve and alone in a new city, Ann is surprised and pleased to be befriended by the beautiful and supremely competent Rachel Mondray, a fellow intern, and Leo, The Cloisters' gardener.

When Ann discovers a hidden 15th-century deck of tarot cards that might hold the key to predicting the future, she keeps it a secret, a secret she shares only with Rachel. Soon academic curiosity quickly turns into obsession. The dangerous game of power, seduction and ambition at The Cloisters among the researchers eventually turns deadly. 

“Hays carefully leaves the supernatural elements open to interpretation, and Ann's summer is ultimately shaped by a tragedy with a traceably human cause. Readers will be fascinated by the evocative setting as well as the behind-the-scenes glimpses into museum curatorship and the cutthroat games of academia. It makes for an accomplished debut.” (Publishers Weekly) 

 * = Starred review

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Staff Picks: Book Club Picks for Engaging Discussion

Mon, 11/14/2022 - 7:21pm by emjane

Every good book does not make for a good book club selection – and sometimes you don’t know until it’s too late and your group’s discussion peters out at “well, I enjoyed reading it.” Luckily, your local library has your back! Here are four books that I absolutely loved that also happen to make for great discussion. Conveniently, all four are offered as part of our “Book Clubs to Go” collection (and so are a bunch more titles). What is a Book Club to Go, you ask? It’s a handy-dandy, heavy-duty tote bag, filled with ten copies of the same title and a packet of information about the book, including discussion questions. The only thing you’ll have to provide are the refreshments!

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel | Request a Copy | Request a Book Club to Go

Station ElevenA fast-moving pandemic devastates the world, leaving just a small percentage of people – and almost no infrastructure – behind. Jumping between perspectives and timelines, Emily St. John Mandel tells the stories of some of these survivors and their descendants, as they make their way through western Michigan. Tense, beautiful, and thought-provoking, this literary page-turner brought plenty to talk about to my book club. 

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #819, Small (Texas) Towns, Big Secrets

Fri, 11/11/2022 - 5:00pm by muffy

They might be flying under the media radar, but these two debuts are not to be missed….

olympus_texasIn Olympus, Texas * * *  by Stacey Swann (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) the Briscoe family is well known in this part of east Texas. 

Indiscretions and infidelity run through the generations. Peter, the patriarch, a real estate tycoon with a notorious roving eye, has exhausted his long-suffering wife June’s good will and forgiveness with his many affairs, and his ”other” family, twins Arlo & Arti, fathered with his mistress Lee.  

After being caught having an affair with his brother Hap’s wife, Vera, youngest son March has just returned to town after an absence of 2 years. Within days of March's arrival, someone is dead, marriages are upended, and even the strongest of allies are tested.

“Swann's debut is rich in Texas flavor and full of nods to classical mythology—quotes from Ovid, twins human and canine, and the kind of relentless bad luck that usually means you've offended a deity. A total page-turner.” (Kirkus reviews)

Similar in tenor and tone to Brady Udall's The Lonely Polygamist (2010) and Cristina Alger's The Darlings (2012), Swann's rich and compelling novel will delight anyone anxiously awaiting the next season of HBO's Succession.” (Booklist)

AUDIO PICK

old_placeOne of Kirkus Review's Most Anticipated Fall Books, The Old Place * *  by Texas native/Brooklyn podcaster (Who? Weekly) Bobby Finger (also in downloadable eBook) is set in Billington, Texas. "Reminiscent of Alice Elliott Dark’s novel Fellowship Point (a tale of two New England dowagers), it focuses on best friends and neighbors Mary Alice Roth and Ellie Hall and their deeply intertwined past and present." (BookPage)

For the first time in almost 4 decades, high school math teacher Mary Alice is at loose ends, having been forced into retirement, and decides to rekindle a lapsed relationship with her neighbor Ellie. It used be they were each other’s best friends. Ellie, recently divorced, is a nurse at a nearby hospital when she moved next door with her 12 year-old son Kenny, the same age as widowed Mary Alice’s son Michael. The boys quickly became inseparable, until a tragedy took them both the morning after their high school graduation.

As Mary Alice and Ellie make effort to renew their friendship with morning coffees, their routine is upended with the arrival of Mary Alice’s sister Katherine, with news that would expose the many secrets she has been keeping from the citizens of Billington, especially from Ellie. 

“Finger handles the nature of Kenny and Michael’s friendship and the town’s reaction with unexpected nuance, showing the problematic confusion in how people see themselves, see others, and assume they are seen by others. What could have turned melodramatic becomes an exploration of the danger of unnecessary secrets.  A surprising page-turner—homey, funny, yet with dark corners of anger and grief.” (Kirkus Reviews)  

* * * = 3 starred reviews

* * = 2 starred reviews

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Staff Picks: Holiday Cooking

Wed, 11/09/2022 - 8:59pm by lucroe

It is that busiest time of year for some of us &, if you like to cook, the holidays can be a chance to show off your skills or at least try some recipes you think may impress. Here are some cookbooks to get you started whether you are baking a pie, cooking a vegan spread, or looking to become the next mixologist, there’s a book for you in our collection!

Baking & Desserts

Baking for the Holidays by Sarah Kieffer | Request Now

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Traverwood Elevator Outage

Wed, 11/02/2022 - 4:32pm by eli

In late August 2022, the hydraulic pump that powers the elevator at Traverwood failed, taking the elevator out of service. After attempts to repair the pump or get the elevator back into service were not successful, it was determined that a new pump and motor would be needed. Unfortunately, our vendors have been unable to locate the needed parts available for sale in the US due to ongoing supply chain and manufacturing issues.

Our current information is that the needed parts will arrive on November 30, 2022. Once the parts arrive our vendor should be able to get the elevator back into service within a few days. We will update the website banner when the elevator is back in service.

We're very sorry for this extended outage and the impact that it has on access to the library. We have exhausted the options available to us to make this happen sooner, and can only wait for the parts to arrive.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #818, Do You Believe in Magic?

Fri, 10/28/2022 - 4:11pm by muffy

thistlefoot

In Thistlefoot, * * * (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) poet/folklorist Genna Rose Nethercott “brings strong gifts to bear on this retelling of Slavic folktales. . . . at once a modern folktale, a road trip-like saga, and a chiller featuring ghosts, golems, and flesh-eating witches.” (Library Journal, “Top Fall Debut Novels”)

In the tradition of modern fairy tales like Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Naomi Novik's Spinning Silver, Thislefoot is the saga of estranged siblings - Bellatine and Isaac, the youngest living direct descendants of Baba Yaga, who found themselves recipients of a bequest. The siblings agreed to meet at the Port Authority of New York though they have not seen each other for six years ever since Isaac took to the road at 17.  When they opened the enormous crate, they found Baba Yaga’s famous chicken-legged hut. When actor/shape-shifter Isacc saw how woodworker Bellatine was immediately enamored with Thistlefoot, he made her a deal - if they would tour their family’s puppet show for one year, he would trade his half of Thistlefoot for the proceeds. 

Unbeknown to them, a sinister figure known only as the Longshadow Man has been stalking the hut since 1919 and seeks to destroy it--and the Yagas--once and for all. 

“Nethercott's quiet, lyrical, yet potent prose likewise breathes life into this stirring, multigenerational fairy tale, which suggests that you will always carry your ancestors' suffering within you, even when you know little of your own family history. In some chapters, the wise, cynical Thistlefoot speaks to the reader directly, recalling its history with Baba Yaga, the witch from Slavic folklore, as well as chilling anecdotes of Jewish persecution in early twentieth-century Russia (now Ukraine). This fable about fables reminds us of the staying power of stories, even as they evolve or contradict themselves over time. “ (Booklist)

BONUS FEATURE

very_secret_soceity_of_irregular_witches The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches, * * * by Sangu Mandanna (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook).

From an early age, Mika Moon, an orphan from a long-line of witches in India, is told to keep her magic hidden, for her own safety. Raised in isolation by Primrose, a family friend and head of a secret British coven, as an adult, Mika takes to the internet and posts videos in which she “pretends” to be a witch. Then comes the invitation by Ian Kubo-Hawthorn, a retired actor, inviting her to Nowhere House, and tutor 3 young orphaned witches how to control their magic. 

What Mika finds is a warm and loving household, all except for the "devastatingly handsome" Jamie Kelly, the house librarian, who is overly protective of little witches. Together they must learn to trust each other if they are going to survive the upcoming visit from the lawyer of the absent family matriarch that could mean the end of this found-family. 

“The world Mandanna has created is exceedingly cozy and heartfelt, full of people bursting with love who have trouble expressing it due to trauma in their pasts. From the three magical girls to the elderly gay caretakers to the hot, young Irish librarian, each resident of Nowhere House is a lovingly crafted outcast reaching for family. Various threads laid out seemingly haphazardly through the story all come together in surprising ways… A magical tale about finding yourself and making a found family that will leave the reader enchanted. “ (Kirkus Reviews)

“This sweet and sometimes steamy fantasy romance will appeal to fans of TJ Klune's The House in the Cerulean Sea (2020) or Karen Hawkins' The Book Charmer (2019).” (Booklist)

acts_of_violetActs of Violet (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) by Margarita Montimore, is “(a) winding tale of two sisters pulled together and pushed apart by fame, magic, and the cult of celebrity.” (Kirkus Reviews)

10 years ago, Violet Volk, a celebrated stage magician on one-night only performance, managed a remarkable stunt onstage: she vanished. As the anniversary of the disappearance approaches, her hold on her fans (called the wolf packs, the meaning of Volkov in Russia) and on the public imaginations is stronger than ever.  Cameron Frank, host of a fledgling podcast “Strange Exits” is devoting the season to all things Violet. He fully comprehends that securing an interview with Sasha, Violet’s quiet and publicity-shy sister would very well guarantee a next season with the network. 

“Supplementing the straightforward prose with a slew of narrative devices that include tabloid articles, email exchanges, and podcast transcripts, Montimore achieves a thoughtful, panoramic portrait of larger-than-life Violet while underscoring Sasha's pain as she tries to grieve under an unforgiving public eye. This spellbinding effort delivers its fair share of magic.” (Publishers Weekly) 

“Montimore's (Oona Out of Order, 2020) second novel illuminates the darker side of fame as it highlights the burdens borne by family members and casts a wry eye on the true-crime phenomenon. Fans of Nicole Baart and Kelly Harms will enjoy Sasha's and Violet's sisterly contrasts: the shared frustrations between a pragmatic people-pleaser and an audacious extrovert. Like an enthralling magic trick itself, Acts of Violet asks readers to suspend their disbelief and rewards them for the effort.” (Booklist)

* * * = 3 starred reviews

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Staff Picks: Writing in Washtenaw County

Fri, 10/21/2022 - 11:39am by emjane

It doesn’t take much digging to find some excellent books by authors with ties to Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County (it doesn’t hurt that we pull many in to teach at the University!) Some of these authors I picked up knowing they were local, some were just happy coincidences, all were great reads.

A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself by Peter Ho Davies | Request Now

A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself by Peter Ho DaviesI read this moving, assumed-autobiographical novel by Peter Ho Davies in one sitting. The book itself wastes no words: the writing is taut and packs an emotional punch from the first page. The narrator begins with the choice he and his wife make to abort a fetus due to health reasons – a decision that resonates throughout their challenging, but ultimately successful pregnancy with their son. Davies presents an honest and complicated account of fatherhood that I continue to think about months after reading. Not interested (or ready) to mull over the meaning of parenthood? I also absolutely loved Davies’ book The Fortunes.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #817, Taking Paris by Storm

Thu, 10/13/2022 - 8:52pm by muffy

mademoiselle_revolution

Mademoiselle Revolution *  by Zoe Sivak (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook). 18 year-old Sylvie de Rosiers, the daughter of a white coffee plantation owner and an enslaved woman, enjoys the comforts of a lady in the 1791 French colony of Saint-Domingue society, though never quite fully accepted by the island elites.  When forced to flee the island for Paris with her beloved half-brother Gaspard during the slave revolt that leads into the Haitian Revolution, they find shelter with their Aunt Euphemie, 

There the siblings befriend young Elisabeth and Eleonore Duplay, and Sylvie especially, is drawn to their tenant Maximilien Robespierre and his mistress, Cornélie Duplay, and unwittingly, into another revolution. When the Reign of Terror descends, Sylvie must decide whether to become an accomplice while a new empire rises on the bones of innocents…or risk losing her head.

"As the Rosiers draw near the fringes of power, they must navigate the shifting sands of racism, unexpected romance, tyranny, and the people's trust in authority…. Sylvie is sympathetic, mercurial, and flawed, impulsively bolting from conflicts and into danger. Sivak's debut novel is replete with rich details of eighteenth-century life, her characters freely mingling with historical figures and events. Readers will appreciate the tour through French history. “ (Boolist)

“A richly imagined work of historical women’s fiction incorporating themes of diversity and equality very relevant today, this thrilling debut will give book clubs much to discuss.” (Library Journal)

caribbean_heiress_in_paris

A Caribbean Heiress in Paris * *  by Adriana Herrera  (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) is the first in the projected Las Léonas Series.  

Luz Alana Heith-Benzan inherited her family’s centuries-old rum business in Santo Domingo but her fortune remains in the hands of her absent guardian until she marries.  So with three hundred casks of her best rum, her younger sister and her two best friends, she sets sail for Paris and the 1889 Exposition Universelle, in the hopes of expanding the business into European markets. However, she finds buyers and shippers alike refuse to do business with a woman, never mind a woman of color.

Enters James Evanston Sinclair, Earl of Darnick, who turns his back on his father’s dirty money and dirtier politics, and builds himself a whisky empire.  Realizing they both have something to gain from a marriage of convenience--Luz would be able to access her inheritance, Evan could gain control of his late mother's distillery, the deal is done. 

“While their relationship is meant to be just a business transaction, they would both like to act upon their physical attraction. Soon, emotions and passion blur the line between business and pleasure. Herrera kicks off an enticing historical romance series with this lush, diverse feminist tale. Racism and sexism are tackled head-on in ways that feel both appropriate to the time and relatable to today. Paris and Scotland are vibrant settings, and the large cast is filled with interesting, nuanced characters, from friends to foes. With fascinating historical detail, suspenseful drama, and scorching hot intimate moments, this story hits all the notes of a superb romance, while the setting and characters make it fresh and exciting.” (Kirkus Reviews)

"Adriana Herrera’s novel is as layered, spiced, and intoxicating as Luz’s rum, but its most effective aspect is the sobering ways it layers indictments of colonialism and slavery amid luscious romance and revenge. Adriana Herrera's stories of brilliant and mission-driven Afro-Latinx heroines are not to be missed." (Entertainment Weekly)

* * = 2 starred reviews

 * = Starred review

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Staff Picks: Halloween Hauntings—Movies & TV

Mon, 10/10/2022 - 3:28pm by lucroe

It’s that time of year to enjoy some scary tales, so put the kids to bed and curl up tight. Here are some video suggestions for a frighteningly good time.

Evil (TV Show) First 2 seasons available on DVD | Request Now

EvilEvil is a show that puts all the fears of devils and demons in your face (just ask George, you’ll get the reference once you’ve watched it long enough!). David Acosta (Mike Colter, who played comic book hero Luke Cage) is a Catholic priest in training (sometimes questioning his path) and charged with looking into purported supernatural events. He teams up with a skeptical psychologist, Kristen Bouchard (Katja Herbers), and a technology wiz, Ben Shakir (Aasif Mandvi). Is it a miracle, a demonic possession, or something explained through logic and science? Produced by the team behind the award-winning shows, Good Wife and Good Fight.

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Staff Picks: Short & Sweet Titles

Tue, 10/04/2022 - 9:05am by emjane

Where are the short books for grownups? They can be tough to come by, but there are some really good ones out there! At 212 pages or less, these books don’t ask too much of your time, but give you plenty to think about! Though “sweet” might not be the first word you’d use to describe them (except for The Uncommon Reader which is decidedly sweet!), sitting down with any of these titles is a real treat!

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (120 pages) | Request Now

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett It all starts when the Queen of England chases her dogs into a city of Windsor bookmobile. Not intending to leave with anything but her canines, but recognizing it would hurt the feelings of the librarian if she didn’t check out a book, the Queen picks a title on a whim (from an author she had named a Dame!). Since she has the book, she may as well read it before it’s due, and then, well, she should probably get another one, and all of a sudden, she’s inadvertently ignited a passion for reading that’s starting to impact her royal responsibilities. The Uncommon Reader is a delightful snack of a book from beginning to end. Plus, though she’s never referred to as Queen Elizabeth II, given the book Queen’s penchant for corgis, and the cover art, you can bet she’s who Bennett expects you to picture.

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Staff Picks: Long & Worth It Titles

Thu, 09/29/2022 - 3:27pm by emjane

I absolutely love to read (surprise, surprise), but sometimes when I pick up a book the size of a dictionary, I think, “Do I really want to dedicate my next x hours of reading time to just this one book?” These titles are definitely tomes, but they’re all ones that when I was halfway through, I thought, “Oh, gee, I’m glad there’s so much book left!”

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (512 pages) | Request Now

The Art of Fielding by Chad HarbachSet at a small college on the Wisconsin shore of Lake Michigan, The Art of Fielding follows five characters: Henry (college baseball star facing the yips), his teammates Mike (team captain, guiding his star player) and Owen (Henry’s gay roommate), Guert (college president) and Guert's estranged daughter Pella (returning home after a failed relationship). Over the 500+ pages, these characters’ struggles and journeys to discover themselves unfold with the calm, slow pace of a game of baseball, with occasional bursts of drama and action. Knowledge and love of baseball is not required to enjoy the book, though I imagine basic understanding of the sport enhances it. Similarly, The Art of Fielding is woven with references to Moby Dick – familiarity with Melville’s work helps one appreciate those elements, but it’s not necessary to get something out of the book.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #816, Unlikely Assassins

Fri, 09/23/2022 - 2:39pm by muffy

killers_of_a_certain_age

Deanna Raybourn, author of the Edgar Award–nominated Veronica Speedwell Mysteries, as well as the Lady Julia Grey series,  presents a contemporary stand-alone in  Killers of a Certain Age  * * *  (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook.) 

After 40 years of dedicated service to The Museum, a clandestine international organization, Billie, Mary Alice, Helen, and Natalie are retiring, being sent off with an all-expenses paid luxury cruise. They are not the deadliest assassins for nothing - Billie at once notices a fellow colleague passing himself off as a crew member. A search of his cabin unearths a sophisticated bomb, large enough to send the whole ship off to oblivion.  Realizing only the Museum Board could order the termination of field agents, these 60somthing know that they will have to turn the table, rely on their training, experience, and each other to survive. 

“The story jumps back and forth between the late 1970s and early '80s, when the women were first recruited, to the present day… The writing is witty and original, and the plot is unpredictable…As the women race around the world trying to stay alive, Raybourn vividly evokes a number of far-flung locations while keeping readers on their toes trying to figure out what's going to happen next….A unique examination of womanhood as well as a compelling, complex mystery. “ (Kirkus Reviews)

AUDIO PICK

old_woman_with_the_knife

The Old Woman with the Knife (downloadable eBook and audiobook) is the first book to be translated into English for South Korean author Gu Byeong-mo.

65 year-old Hornclaw knows retirement is imminent. After 4 decades of eliminating double-crossers, corporate enemies, and cheating spouses with ruthless efficiency as a “disease control specialist”, she has to admit she is no longer as fast or as strong - liabilities for an assassin. But before she could settle into retirement, living modestly in the same small apartment, with her aging rescue dog, Deadweight, she had one last assignment. Due to an uncharacteristic slip-up, she is injured and makes an unexpected connection with a doctor and his family at an all-night clinic. But emotions, for an assassin, are a dangerous proposition.

“In (Chi-Young) Kim’s fluid translation, the novel resembles recent South Korean narratives that became popular in the United States, like Bong Joon Ho’s 2019 film Parasite and Hwang Dong-hyuk’s 2021 television series Squid Game,  like these works, “The Old Woman With the Knife” uses occasionally cartoonish action and horror sequences to offer a broader social commentary.” (The New York Times Book Reviews

*  *  *  = 3 starred reviews

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Staff Picks: Great Games You Can Play in Under an Hour

Tue, 09/13/2022 - 10:06am by emjane

Don’t get me wrong, those long games you can spend all afternoon (or even all weekend) playing are wonderful, but sometimes you only have an hour or so. These great games can all be played relatively quickly (with the caveat that sometimes the first play as you’re learning the rules can be a bit longer)! And, even better, they can all be checked out from your FAVORITE LOCAL LIBRARY!

Forbidden Island | Request Now

Forbidden IslandThis quick cooperative game is a great transitional game for eager boardgamer kids ready to play the “grown up games” (but it’s also fun for just adults to play, too!) Your team of players must work to rescue four relics from the Forbidden Island before the water levels rise and the island sinks into the sea forever! Each player is randomly assigned a role with unique skills, preventing your most seasoned players from always being the “star of the show” and allowing for some replayability. The game is structured with various difficulty levels, making it simple to create a surmountable challenge depending on who’s playing. The one downside of Forbidden Island is that once you’ve experienced all the player roles, the game can develop a bit of a “same” feeling (even though the board is different each play). This makes it a perfect candidate to borrow, rather than buy!
 

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Request For Subcontractor Bids: 265 Parkland Plaza

Wed, 09/07/2022 - 8:28pm by eli

O'Neal Construction Inc. on behalf of AADL

REQUEST FOR SUBCONTRACTOR BIDS

Project:

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Quirky Fiction

Tue, 09/06/2022 - 10:11am by emjane

Characters with out-there personalities, situations that could happen but aren’t particularly common in the everyday, and plots that don’t follow the through-line you might expect: these traits are what make a book fall under the “quirky fiction” umbrella. These sorts of books are my very favorite, and I’m always looking for more! Don’t hesitate to comment if you’ve got one that I should check out!

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson | Request Now

Nothing to See Here by Kevin WilsonLillian doesn’t have a whole lot going in her life, so when her former classmate Madison reaches out with an intriguing employment offer, Lillian follows through. Madison, the wife of a prominent (and rich!) politician, needs some help looking after her twins. The one wrinkle: when they get agitated (which happens a lot), they spontaneously combust. Not only can burning twins cause chaos in their atmosphere, but the knowledge of their “little problem” would tank their father’s political career.

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Staff Picks: Modern Romance

Mon, 09/05/2022 - 2:34pm by eapearce

The past few years have offered a slew of great new romance novels, many of them featuring diverse characters and cultures–something that used to be much less common in romance novel publishing! We’re excited to recommend some of these fun new reads this week.

Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley | Request Now

Fake It Till You Bake It by Jamie WesleyIn this sweet romance, a football player and a reality television star pretend to date in order to save his bakery. After starring in the country’s most beloved reality show–and turning down the proposal at the end–going out in public is hard for Jada Townsend-Mathews. Not knowing the real story, people are disgusted with her choice. Back in her hometown, she gets a job at a hot new cupcake bakery owned by professional football player Donovan Dell. Donovan’s uptight nature makes the job less-than-perfect, but when a photographer captures him and Jada together and the tabloids assume the two are dating, they decide to roll with it. The press might help them rehabilitate the bakery and improve Jada’s image, so it seems like a win-win. Faking it proves harder than they anticipate though, until, of course, it doesn’t…. 

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Staff Picks: Essay Collections to Make You Laugh (and maybe feel something too!)

Mon, 09/05/2022 - 12:33pm by emjane

Have you already read David Sedaris’s latest and are looking for more? Or are you (like me), still waiting your turn on the hold list? Either way, I’ve got great news – there are SO MANY wonderful humorous, yet insightful, essay collections out there. Here are just four of my favorites:

Vacationland by John Hodgman | Request Now

Vacationland by John HodgmanLet’s face it, most people still recognize John Hodgman as the PC in those long-running Apple commercials. But people who only know him as that are missing out because THE MAN CAN WRITE! (And, perhaps less surprising, he’s very funny). In Vacationland, an essay collection adapted from his one-man show, Hodgman chronicles tales from his childhood as an only child (or, as he calls it being a member of the “worldwide super-smart-afraid-of-conflict narcissist club”) to his path to adulthood and fatherhood. Hodgman is poignant without sappiness and his humor adds to his storytelling without feeling forced or overpowering. Gosh, I think I’ve just convinced myself to give this one a re-read!

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Staff Picks: Back to School Picture Books

Mon, 09/05/2022 - 11:26am by eapearce

We can’t believe school is starting back up already! Here are some back-to-school themed picture books to help ease the transition and celebrate school!

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes | Request Now

Chrysanthemum by Kevin HenkesThis classic picture book tells the story of Chrysanthemum, an adorable mouse, who is excited for her first day of school. But when she tells her classmates her long and unique name, she gets teased for its uniqueness. Saddened, Chrysanthemum doesn’t want to return to school despite the efforts and encouragement of her kind parents. However, when the beloved music teacher, an expectant mother, tells the class that she is naming her baby Chrysanthemum, everyone is delighted and Chrysanthemum’s classmates all wish they were named after a flower. This sweet book encourages owning your identity and supporting others. Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse is another great first-day-of-school read by Henkes.

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Staff Picks: Make it Musical!

Mon, 08/29/2022 - 2:19pm by emjane

Whether you’re interested in the science of music or just want to hear a good story about a fictional band, we’ve got you covered! Here are four titles I’ve enjoyed where music takes center stage (or maybe side-stage, but it’s still there!)

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid | Request Now

Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins ReidTaylor Jenkins Reid’s books are having a surge in popularity – deservedly so, in my opinion. Like her other titles, Daisy Jones uses multiple characters’ perspectives to tell the story of the development of a successful rock band in the 1960s. Beautiful Daisy has been sneaking into rock clubs and partying since she was a young teen and eventually starts to get noticed for her remarkable voice. Meanwhile, Billy Dunne’s band, The Six, is making its way through the rock scene. Eventually, producers try to merge the two acts, and while something fantastic is created, it's marred by ego-driven drama.  Sound suspiciously like the plot to The Final Revival of Opal and Nev that I recommended a few weeks ago? The premises and executions are definitely SIMILAR, but both take their stories in different directions and provide their own unique read. I inadvertently read them one after the other, and while I might suggest spacing them a bit, it didn’t feel like reading the same book.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #815, Jazz-Age Mysteries

Sun, 08/21/2022 - 6:55pm by muffy

last_call_at_the_nightingaleLast Call at The Nightingale * *  by Katharine Schellman (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) launches her new series (after her Lily Adler Series), set in Prohibition-era Manhattan. 

Siblings Florence and Vivian Kelly spend their days toiling as seamstresses in a dress shop run by a mean owner. While Florence is sensible and practical, preferring to spend her evenings in their squalid tenement room, Vivian escapes to The Nightingale, an underground nightclub where the jazz band plays, illegal liquor flows, and the low light and dance floor welcomes all - from Asian bartender Danny Chin, waitress and singer Bea Henry, Nightingale owner Honor "Hux" Huxley and to  uppercrust Manhattan society. 

One night, on a cigarette break, Vivian discovers a body in an alley behind the club, and she is arrested during a subsequent police raid. An unlikely bail comes with strings - she is to spy on the dead man's family and help find the killer.

“Schellman lavishes many chapters on her colorful Roaring ’20s setting before moving the murder probe to the front burner, an understandable gambit in a series kickoff. Colorful period detail, providing insights into the social and political tenor of the times, might allay the impatience of traditional whodunit fans. Once the action gets started, Vivian nails the clever killer and finds a lover and potential sleuthing sidekick. A colorful period crime yarn with a heroine worth rooting for.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

miss_aldridge_regretsMiss Aldridge RegretsLondon-based Louise Hare’s US debut, (also in eBook and downloadable audiobook) is set largely aboard the glittering RMS Queen Mary, sailing from Southampton to New York.

London, 1936. Lena Aldridge, a mixed-race girl passing for white is barely able to pay her rent singing in a sticky-floored basement club in Soho since her pianist father died a year ago. The dazzling theater career she hopes for might finally be hers when an American shows up offering a starring role on a Broadway show and a first-class ticket on the Queen Mary bound for New York. The timing is perfect considering the sleazy owner  of the club (and married to her best friend Maggie) is murdered right in front of her. 

Seated at a table in Cabin (First) Class with the wealthy and dysfunctional Abernathys, she is drawn into their bizarre family dynamics when the patriarch is murdered in a chilling familiar way. More murders follow and soon, Lena finds herself fighting for her life. 

“The novel's ambiance is spot-on; somewhat like Carola Dunn's Daisy Dalrymple set 10 years later or Marie Benedict's The Personal Librarian. As Lena narrates, switching from the present to the past, readers gain helpful glimpses of her backstory.  With vividly drawn characters, this exciting blend of murder mystery and historical romance is hard to put down once one starts reading.” (Library Journal)

For fans of Nekesa Afia’s debut Dead Dead Girls  (and its sequel Harlem Sunset) and these Jazz Age Mysteries That'll Make You Swing. 

* * = 2 starred reviews

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Staff Picks: Great Two-Player Games

Thu, 08/11/2022 - 1:50pm by emjane

During the deepest, darkest days of the pandemic, my partner and I found ourselves desperately missing our Game Nights from the before-times and started a quest to find the best two-player games we could find. Though our gaming options have since broadened again, we still often find ourselves turning to one of these games for a quick after-dinner match!

Patchwork | Request Now

Patchwork board gameThe concept of Patchwork is simple: each player is given a quilt square and needs to fill it by piecing together patches. Players take turns selecting patches (imagine cardboard Tetris pieces), collecting bonuses, and attempting to finish their quilt. Quick to learn and light to carry, Patchwork also seems like a great game to bring on a picnic! Just make sure you have plenty of room on your blanket; the box is small, but a fair amount of space is needed to spread out the patches.

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Staff Picks: Road Trip Audiobooks

Thu, 08/11/2022 - 1:10pm by eapearce

August is a great month for road trips, and it can be a challenge to stay entertained during long hours of traveling. One solution is to listen to an audiobook! There are several ways to listen to audiobooks for FREE through AADL. You can check out audiobooks through the Libby app, formerly known as OverDrive, and you can check out physical books on CD to listen to at any of our library locations!

Here are a few of our favorite audiobooks!

Lincoln in the Bardo, by George Saunders | Request Now

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Staff Picks: Grab a Book, See the World!

Thu, 08/11/2022 - 12:50pm by eapearce

Reading a book lets you step out of your real life for a little while and enter different worlds—sometimes in small ways and sometimes in vast ones. One of the best things about reading is picturing places we’ve never been or haven’t been to in a long time. Here are some recommendations that will transport you to destinations near and far.

Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon | Request Now
Cover of Blue Highways by William Least Heat-MoonFirst published in 1982, Blue Highways is the acclaimed memoir of Heat-Moon’s three-month soul-searching travels around the United States in the late 1970s. After experiencing some personal troubles, Heat-Moon, who is of Osage heritage, equipped his van with a bed, portable toilet, and additional storage space and set out on a road trip, sticking only to what he called “blue highways”--the small, out-of-the-way, and sometimes forgotten roads of rural America. He traveled nearly 13,000 miles, stopped in small towns with names that interested him, avoided major cities and thoroughfares, and engaged the variety of people he met in conversation. The stories that emerge from his travels are fascinating, thought-provoking, sometimes uplifting and sometimes sad. The forty years that have elapsed since its publication make Blue Highways no less worth reading!

 

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Staff Picks: Great Books from 2021 You Might Have Missed

Thu, 08/11/2022 - 10:29am by emjane

So many amazing and meaningful books come out EVERY YEAR and it's IMPOSSIBLE to read them all. Maybe you missed hearing about a title. Maybe you peeped at the hold list and thought “another time.” That time is now! Here are four great books that came out in 2021 that are worth circling back for!

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton | Request Now
Cover of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton, orange in the center with the silhouette of a guitar and within the guitar body the silhouette of a person in profileOpal, a young Black woman in 1970s Detroit is ready to leave her Michigan life behind when she’s discovered by British up-and-coming musician Nev at a nightclub show. The two talents find great success, but reach an explosive end after Opal protests the racist actions of another band on their label. Told from multiple characters’ perspectives, Opal & Nev, unravels the story from the 1970s while also chronicling an attempt to reunite the two for one last performance in the modern day. The use of multiple narrators keeps the book propelling forward – I found myself wanting to set aside all responsibilities and just sit with the book until I made it to the end!

 

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #814

Mon, 08/08/2022 - 5:22pm by muffy

alais_emmaAlias Emma * * *  (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) by Ava Glass (the pseudonym for a best-selling novelist, the first in a planned series) is an “adrenaline-fueled tour of clandestine London.” (Library Journal) 

In the last two weeks, 4 Russian scientists defected to the UK have been assassinated, with the efficiency and audacity, hallmark of the Russian military spy agency GRU. Now, Emma Makespeace, a newly-minted MI6 secret agent, has been assigned to protect their next target - Michael Primalov, a London pediatric oncologist and son of high-valued Russian dissidents. Trying to convince Michael that his life is in danger and to accept her protection is no easy task. He is finally convinced when they are attacked on the London street. 

But something is wrong. When Emma’s request to bring MIchael in is denied and a cryptic message left by her trusted mentor instructs her to “go dark” since London's famous Ring of Steel has been hacked by the Russian government, the pair must cross the city without being seen by the hundreds of thousands of CCTV cameras. To reach safety, Emma leads Michael through alleys, sewer tunnels, and back channels that don't appear in any guide book. 

In this breakneck, race-against-the-clock thriller, readers might want to ask, at some point….Should Michael trust Emma? For nothing about Emma Makepeace is real. Not even her name.

“Intense, cinematic action propels this terrific old-fashioned thriller neatly brought up to date. Glass is off to an impressive start.” (Publishers Weekly)

According to Spyscape  "Alias Emma (2022) is already in pre-production at The Ink Factory, the London studio that produced the John le Carré series The Little Drummer Girl and The Night Manager."

* * * 3 starred reviews