News and Reviews
Fri, 03/27/2020 - 8:18am by muffy
Oona Out of Order * by Margarita Montimore (available in OverDrive eBook and audiobook) opens on New Year's Eve 1982, when Oona Lockhart is looking forward to turning 19 and the amazing year ahead - whether she chooses to tour with her boyfriend Dale and their rock band, or a year abroad at the London School of Economics.
But at the stroke of midnight, Oona awakes (she blames it on too much champagne) to find herself in her 51-year-old self in 2015, a bit lumpy, but immensely wealthy. Thanks to her faithful personal assistant Kenzie, a letter left from her earlier self, and her mother Madeleine, Oona learns that she will be bouncing around in time through all the years of her life, hitting each only once.
And so begins Oona Out of Order - from clubbing with a fringe group, traveling the world, being married to a man she does not remember, to losing the love of her life. While she mourns missed opportunities and unfulfilled relationships, Oona is determined to truly live in the moment, and to fully appreciate the love of family.
“In the end, we must give credit to Oona for finding joy and even humor in her situation and to Montimore for developing a complex narrative held together by simple truths. Read this to get a bit lost, to root for a character with a strong love for herself, and to connect on a deeply human level with the fear of leading an incomplete life… A heartfelt novel that celebrates its implausibility with a unique joie de vivre. “ (Kirkus Reviews)
For fans of The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (in eBook and audiobook). Readers might also enjoy Overseas by Beatriz Williams (in eBook) (2012), and Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald (in eBook and audiobook) (2019).
* =Starred review
Fri, 03/20/2020 - 2:54pm by eli
All physical AADL locations are closed, but there are thousands of reasons to still get a library card! Here are a few:
Get access to libraries full of audiobooks and audio content through OverDrive and AADL-licensed content. All genres—including new releases and classics—including a giant collection of L.A. Theatre Presents performances of plays like August: Osage County, A Room with a View, and more!
Fabulous Fiction Firsts #729, “Baseball is the most perfect of games, solid, true, pure and precious as diamonds. If only life were so simple.” ~ W.P. Kinsella
Fri, 03/20/2020 - 8:15am by muffy
The Cactus League by the editor of the Paris Review, Emily Nemens opens with the 2011 spring training of the Los Angeles Lions at their new state-of-the-art facility in Scottsdale, Ariz. At the center of the novel is their “movie-star handsome, paparazzi famous and spectacularly talented” outfielder Jason Goodyear. This recently divorced Golden Glove winner and American League MVP runner-up seems to be coming apart at the seams.
In a series of interconnected stories, we come to know the individuals who orbit around Jason: a sportswriter going after a sensational story; a batting coach dealing with a domestic crisis; a fortysomething cleat chaser eager to test her charm; with a big Nike deal on the table, an agent hopes to keep his client out of the tabloids; an owner who allows his personal agenda to shape the season; an ill-paid stadium organist; a young boy at the mercy of his mother’s addiction; and Jason’s fellow players who are willing to do what it takes, just to play.
“Nemens has... written a novel about baseball and how it shapes the lives of athletes as much as the town that supports it - and a beautiful one at that. Like the best sportswriting, this bighearted, finely observed novel is about far more than the game.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Emily Nemens grew up a Seattle Mariners fan. Her family’s trips to spring training in Arizona informed the setting. In a recent interview with Kirkus, she shared the three baseball books that inspired The Cactus League.
Another baseball book this spring that is definitely not JUST about the game is Gish Jen’s The Resisters. The author needs no introduction. Her latest is the story, set in a near-future dystopian America, of one family’s struggle to maintain its humanity and normalcy in circumstances that threaten their every value--as well as their very existence.
At the heart is young Gwen, born with a golden arm, she plays in secret in an underground league all of her young life. When her talent is discovered, and is recruited by the university for the privileged, her moral and personal resolve will be severely tested.
Tue, 03/17/2020 - 4:59pm by eli
AADL is seeking proposals from qualified Janitorial and Mechanical Contractors to provide Janitorial or Mechanical services to all AADL locations. The Request For Proposal Documents are attached here. Responses are due April 17, 2020 by Noon. For questions contact AADL Facilities Manager Len Lemorie at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Mon, 03/16/2020 - 3:08pm by katie-dudek
While the library's physical locations may be closed for now, check out Libby. Libby is a free app offered through AADL that lets you download audiobooks and kindle books straight to your phone. I've created step-by-step instructions for using Libby along with screenshots! You will need your library card to create a Libby account.
Mon, 03/16/2020 - 10:22am by eli
New to the Summer Game / Bummer Game? Watch This Video for a walkthrough of the first three badges!
Everything's closed! We're all hunkered down! Everything is canceled! We're all doing our part to FLATTEN THAT CURVE....
And WHAT A BUMMER!
But SURELY, you knew that your very own AADL STAFFERS, once safely ENSCONCED in their own homes, would not be content to just leave you to SIT ON YOUR HANDS for an UNKNOWN NUMBER OF WEEKS.
And so... we are proud to offer to you several new THINGS TO DO, first and foremost of which is a little diversion called THE BUMMER GAME!
Building on our WILDLY SUCCESSFUL Summer Game, each day at Noon we'll release 3 new Badges! WHAT'S A BADGE you ask, an ember of hope catching alight? Well, they're like PUZZLES you can solve online, across the web and through our catalog, and when you find game codes and complete badges, you get POINTS.
BUT WHAT ARE POINTS you ask, as a manifold of new POSSIBILITIES unfolds before you? Well, when you find BUMMER GAME codes and complete BUMMER GAME badges, you'll earn points for the upcoming SUMMER GAME 2020! That's right! ADVANCE BONUS!
BUT WHAT DO I DO WITH POINTS, you wonder, as a vision of yourself after this is all over appears, strutting down Fifth Avenue throwing handfuls of points at passersby with BOTH HANDS. Well, In July, the SUMMER GAME SHOP will open, and you'll be able to SPEND THOSE POINTS on amazing Library Merch!
All you need to do to play is log in to (or create) an aadl.org account, no library card required. Then visit play.aadl.org and you'll see all the badges as we release them, a leaderboard, and more fun opportunities as we go. Starting with our very first BUMMER GAME BADGE DROP Monday 3/16 at Noon!
Got any questions? Don't hesitate to contact us or text us at 734-327-4200.
So, Stay Tuned, Stay Safe, and as always... THANKS FOR PLAYING!
Sat, 03/14/2020 - 10:26am by muffy
Saint X * by Alexis Schaitkin (available from OverDrive in downloadable eBook and audiobook) On the last night of their family vacation on the Caribbean island of Saint X, college-aged Alison Thomas disappeared, and her body was later discovered in a remote cay. Two local men, employees of the resort, Clive Richardson and Edwin Hastie last seen at a watering hole with Alison were arrested but were released for lack of evidence.
Eighteen years later, Alison’s younger sister Claire who was only seven at the time of the incident, is now working in Manhattan. One night, she finds herself in Clive Richardson’s cab. Obsessed with learning what happened to Alison, she stalks Clive and embeds herself in his life. As she waits for the slip that will reveal the truth, an unlikely attachment develops between them.
“As the novel gradually shifts to Clive's point of view, Schaitkin subverts the other characters' assumptions about the lives and intentions of strangers.” (Publishers Weekly) Most striking of all is Alison’s diary, astonishing in its raw depiction of a beautiful, changeable, provocative girl of eighteen at a turbulent moment of identity formation.
“This killer debut is both a thriller with a vivid setting and an insightful study of race, class, and obsession.” (Kirkus Reviews)
* = Starred review
Fri, 03/13/2020 - 8:30am by josie
The AADL will close today, Friday March 13, 2020, at 6:00 PM for an indefinite period. This closure is our effort to join in reducing the spread of Covid-19 in our community.
Details about your library account and services follow in this message. We are all sorry about closing the Library, but it is more important for us all to be safe and healthy during this difficult time.
Tue, 03/03/2020 - 9:18am by eli
We're delighted to announce the opening of 4 new meeting rooms you can book yourself with your library card!
- The Emerald Room at Traverwood Branch seats up to 8.
- The Muskrat Room at Pittsfield Branch seats up to 35.
- The Painted Turtle Room at Pittsfield Branch seats up to 8.
Fri, 02/28/2020 - 8:31am by muffy
NPR Book Reviewer Michael Schaub called The Regrets * * by Amy Bonnaffons, “(a) dazzling debut novel… Wildly inventive and daring, a reflection on the limits of love that's both hilarious and heartbreaking.”
Due to an institutional error at the Office of the afterlife, 26-year old Thomas Barrett is unable to "cross over"(motorcycle accident that killed his best friend), and must complete a 3-month stint on earth so as to allow the Office to process his eventual arrival. Apart from the detailed report he must submit weekly, there are rules he is encouraged to follow so as not to incur regrets. Chief among them: not to attempt any new relationships, and especially no sexual contact.
Rachel Starr, a young librarian has rotten luck with men, but she is certain the handsome, golden-haired, melancholy young man sitting at her Brooklyn bus stop day after day is different. When she finally approaches him, the chemistry between them is undeniable, and their affair, intense and all-consuming. But as Thomas approaches the end of his time on earth, he begins to fade, body part by body part, until he is invisible. Distraught and confused, Rachel turns to Mark, her newly-single college boyfriend for solace.
“It is a plot that could be - that should be - unbearably twee, oppressively quirky, in love with its own melancholy. Instead, Bonnaffons’ (The Wrong Heaven, 2018) first full-length novel is a rare pleasure: a philosophical rom-com too weird, too bodily, too precise, too fun to get bogged down in trembling sentiment. Deep and deeply funny.” (Kirkus Reviews)
* * = 2 starred reviews
Just released is another rom-com based on a clerical error at the Afterlife Administration: Daisy Cooper's Rules for Living by Tamsin Keily. In this 'Bridget Jones meets "The Good Place" ', a woman whose untimely death sparks the journey of a lifetime.
Daisy Cooper is flying high, just about to move in with her boyfriend. A slip on an icy patch lands her in the Afterlife - except she is a bit early - by 50 years. Stuck in limbo, prevented from fully passing on while Death sorts out the mistake, she becomes his assistant. Working together, Daisy finds that Death isn't the Grim Reaper she believed him to be. And as she learns how to survive this strange reality, friendship, hope and love begin to come alive in the most unexpected ways.
"Keily's debut is a witty and clever look at life, love, and grief..." (Booklist)
Fri, 02/21/2020 - 4:20pm by muffy
The Authenticity Project by popular British blogger Clare Pooley, is inspired by her personal story. She discovered that “telling the truth about your life really can work magic and change the lives of many other people for the better.”
79-year old Julian Jessop was once the darling of the London art world, hobnobbing (and dressed) by the likes of Vivienne Westwood. Now alone and reclusive, he looks back at a life filled with lies and deceit, and realizes that “everyone lies about their lives”. In a green notebook entitled “The Authenticity Project” which he leaves at his neighborhood cafe, he recounts his story and challenges whoever picks up the notebook to share the truth.
From a cozy cafe, to a swanky wine bar, to the beaches off the South China Sea and back, the notebook brings together cafe owner Monica - a former city lawyer who longs for romance and family; Hazard, a high-flying financial trader and an equal-opportunity addict; Riley, a happy-go-lucky Aussie gardener with commitment issues; and Alice, who trades in her glamorous PR job for messy motherhood, but clings to her staged Instagram persona for validation.
“This is a glossy tale where difficulties and addictions appear and are overcome, where lies are told and then forgiven, where love is sought and found, and where truths, once spoken, can set you free….Secondary characters, including an interracial gay couple appear with their own nuanced parts in the story. The message is strong, urging readers to get off their smartphones and social media and live in the real, authentic world.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Tue, 02/18/2020 - 8:26am by eli
Thank you all for your patience while Traverwood has been closed for renovation! While we planned for a 10-week closure, we need just one more week to get the branch ready for business.
Traverwood Branch reopens at 10am on Monday, March 2, and features:
- new carpet
Fri, 02/14/2020 - 9:17am by muffy
Followers, * * * * Megan Angelo’s “spectacular debut...masterfully explores the dark side of social media.” (Publishers Weekly). Told in the alternating voices of Orla Cadden in 2015--2016, and Marlow Clipp in 2051, Followers traces the paths they take through time towards each other.
Instead of writing her novel, Orla is a reporter at Lady-ish, a celeb blog, churning out puff pieces to pay the rent on her Manhattan apartment. Her new roommate Florence (Floss) Natuzzi, a scheming, A-lister wannabe, persuades Orla that the way for them both to get ahead is for Orla to craft stories, any story (“forget about doing the right thing”) that would put Floss before the public eye, with Orla catching the afterglow.
2051. Constellation, California, is a closed community where government-appointed and corporation-sponsored celebrities like Marlow and her husband Ellis live 24/7 on camera, closely watched by their 11.6 million loyal followers, their every thought and action monitored by an implant called “The Device”. No longer enjoying her popularity and prescribed lifestyle, Marlow dreams of fleeing. When she learns that her whole family history is based on a lie, she summons the courage to run in search of the truth, leading her to that fateful day in 2016 when the world as we knew it, was forever changed.
“Angelo masterfully intertwines the lives of Orla, Floss, and Marlow while reflecting a painfully accurate picture of our current fame-driven, tech-obsessed society and its possible destruction.... Angelo also weaves in a perspective on contemporary political decisions (The Wall, immigration/deportation) and the effect they could have on us all in the not-so-distant future. This is an intricate and brave story of friendship, ambition, and love and the lengths people will go to protect it all.“ (Booklist)
* * * * = 4 starred reviews
Mon, 02/10/2020 - 7:21pm by muffy
London, 1946. 2 years after liberation, former British spy Olivia “Livy” Nash worked as a proofreader for a third- rate newspaper by day and devoted her evenings to the company of black-market Polish vodka. When she was sacked and about to be turned out by her landlord, she was approached by the infamous Ian Fleming, offering her the opportunity to return to Paris, posing as a journalist to track down a list of former Nazi spies and collaborators, who could be useful in fighting “the next war”.
But what really sent Livy back to the City of Light, was the chance to confront the traitor among their WWII Resistant unit, who delivered Livy, nicknamed “Spitfire” and her lover/Commander Peter Scobee into the hands of the Gestapo, thus drawing her back into the dangerous world of spies and counterspies.
“Huie does an excellent job dramatizing events in the early days of the cold war. Vibrant characters, international intrigue, gritty action, and a wittily acerbic Ian Fleming, too—who could ask for more?” (Publishers Weekly)
* = Starred review
Wed, 01/08/2020 - 2:57pm by muffy
January brings the highly anticipated debut Such a Fun Age* by Kiley Reid. (Check out the New York Times Review and the NPR interview with the author.) It’s the latest HELLO SUNSHINE (Reese Witherspoon's Book Club) pick. Film rights sold to Lena Waithe.
25 year-old Temple grad Emira Tucker knows she is good at her job - nannying for Philadelphia newcomer Alix Chamberlain and her 2 young daughters, never mind she is aimless, broke, and a disappointment to her ambitious parents. As a favor to her employer, Emira leaves a party early to babysit the Chamberlains’ toddler Briar. A late-night visit to the local high-end supermarket proves problematic when the store security, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping. A bystander captures the whole incident on video, and it goes viral.
While Emira is humiliated, Alix resolves to make things right, unwittingly bringing into their midst Kelley, someone from Alix’s past, with “unintended--as well as willfully unseen--consequences.” (Publishers Weekly).
“Reid illuminates difficult truths about race, society, and power with a fresh, light hand. We're all familiar with the phrases white privilege and race relations, but rarely has a book vivified these terms in such a lucid, absorbing, graceful, forceful, but unforced way.” (Library Journal)
* = Starred review
Mon, 01/06/2020 - 9:00pm by muffy
In this “brashly retro escapist caper“ (Kirkus Reviews), master thief Riley Wolfe has just stolen a 12-ton statue in broad daylight during its installation ceremony in Downtown Chicago, and dropped the sponsor, a big pharma CEO into the freezing waters of Lake Michigan from a combat helicopter. Next, he sets his sights on stealing the Iranian Crown Jewels, on loan to a small Manhattan private museum. Valued at billions, and protected by a state-of-the-art high tech security system, not to mention the legendary heavily-armed Revolutionary Guards, the true attraction for Riley is one simple fact: they are absolutely unstealable. And Riley has never shied away from a challenge.
As Riley’s intricate, audacious (and often ruthless) plan unfolds, he is pursued by a brilliant and relentless Chicago FBI agent Frank Delgado, setting in motion a nail-biting game of cat and mouse.
* = Starred review
Tue, 12/31/2019 - 11:59pm by richretyi
Of the millions of items circulated at the Ann Arbor District Library in 2019, here were the most requested, including fiction, non-fiction, movies, music, tools, art prints, and TV & miniseries.
Tue, 12/24/2019 - 8:58am by richretyi
All AADL locations will close at 6pm on Tuesday (Dec. 31) and all locations will be closed Wednesday (Jan. 1). The AADL will reopen at 9am on Thursday (Jan. 2) with regular hours. Have a safe and happy New Year!
Mon, 12/23/2019 - 7:49pm by muffy
The Girl Who Reads on the Métro (Overdrive eAudio) is French author Christine Féret-Fleury’s first book to be translated (by Ros Schwartz) into English. “With a cast of characters reminiscent of the French film Amélie, Féret-Fleury creates a world that is delightful and enchanting...Light and sweet as a bonbon, this little confection of a book is delicious." (Kirkus Reviews)
Juliette, a real-estate agent, leads a perfectly ordinary (and rather solitary) life in Paris. On her daily metro rides, she notices other riders and the books they are reading - the lady with the cookbook, the man in a green hat who reads about insects, and the romance reader who always tears up at page 247.
One morning Juliette decides to walk to her office, and find herself in an unfamiliar neighborhood. When she sees a young girl slips through a rusty gate wedged open with a book, she follows, thus walking into the bizarre and enchanting lives of Soliman, his young daughter, Zaide, and Books Unlimited. Before she realizes what is happening, Juliette agrees to become a passeur, taking used books from Soliman’s “store”, and using her intuition, matches books with readers. Without a second thought, Juliette quits her job, dives headlong into a new life, and discovers that the life she may change the most could be her own.
Mon, 12/16/2019 - 5:55pm by muffy
“To consider yourself well versed in contemporary literature without reading short stories is to visit the Eiffel Tower and say you’ve seen Europe. Not only would monumental writers be missing from your literary tour, but entire angles and moves and structures of which the novel, in its bulk, is incapable.” ~ Rebecca Makkai, Music for Wartime, (2015)
4 debut collections introducing 4 remarkable new voices in short fiction.
Show Them a Good Time: Short Stories by Nicole Flattery (Trinity College, Dublin) A blisteringly original and wickedly funny collection tells the stories of women slotted into restrictive roles: the celebrity’s girlfriend, the widower’s second wife, the lecherous professor’s student, the corporate employee. And yet, Flattery’s characters blithely demolish the boundaries of these limited and limiting social types with complexity and caustic intelligence.
"A seamless blend of reality and the surreal, Flattery's stories defy genre in an affecting yet unobtrusive manner. Readers should expect to be equal parts intrigued and unsettled." (Publishers Weekly) For fans of Mary Gaitskill, Miranda July, Joy Williams, and Ottessa Moshfegh.
This debut collection The Beadworkers: Stories by Beth Piatote (Piatote is Nez Perce, and a Native American Studies professor at UC Berkeley) is “told with humor, subtlety, and spareness that explore the inventive and unforgettable pattern of Native American life in the contemporary world...(with) unifying themes in the strength of kinship, the pulse of longing, and the language of return.”
"Hope and heartbreak abound in this debut collection set among Native Americans in the northwest . . . Piatote balances the emotional complexities of her characters' lives with the political complexity of their relationship with an America all too eager to look away. A poignant and challenging look at the way the past and present collide." (Kirkus Review)
Young Australian author Josephine Rowe's debut collection Here Until August: Stories is full of heartbreak, travel, and seduction. They follow the fates of characters who, by choice or by force, are traveling beyond the boundaries of their known worlds. These are people who move with the seasons. We meet them negotiating reluctant or cowardly departures, navigating uncertain returns, or biding the disquieting calm that so often precedes moments of decisive action.
From the Catskills to New South Wales, from the remote and abandoned island outposts of Newfoundland to the sprawl of a North American metropolis, these transformative stories show how the places where we choose to live our lives can just as easily turn us inward as outward.
The characters in Happy Like This by Ashley Wurzbacher, are smart girls and professional women—social scientists, linguists, speech therapists, plant physiologists, dancers—who search for happiness in roles and relationships that are often unscripted or unconventional. In the midst of their ambivalence about marriage, monogamy, and motherhood and their struggles to accept and love their bodies, they look to other women for solidarity, stability, and validation. Sometimes they find it; sometimes they don’t.
Winner of The John Simmons Short Fiction Award, "Wurzbacher dives into the lives of women in this brilliant collection, examining the ways they live and relate to each other while harboring their own secrets and feelings. Her lyrical prose and unflinchingly confrontational voice are powerful and captivating." (Booklist)
Wed, 12/11/2019 - 3:51pm by richretyi
All AADL locations will be closed on Tuesday (Dec. 24) and Wednesday (Dec. 25). Regular Library operations and hours resume on Thursday (Dec. 26).
Tue, 12/10/2019 - 8:00pm by muffy
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2019 by Kirkus Reviews, Get a Life, Chloe Brown * * * launches the first in the Brown Sister series by self-published author Talia Hibbert, and marks her first release by a mainstream publisher.
“(A) socially inept control freak" by her own account, Chloe Brown is forced to re-examine her life after a near-death experience. Chronically-ill (Fibromyalgia), and practically home-bound, her whole social circle consists of her siblings and family. Then she comes up with seven directives to help her "Get a Life". At the top of the list - move out of her family's palatial home into her own apartment, where she immediately runs afoul with the snarky building superintendent, Redford "Red" Morgan who sees her as yet another privileged, spoiled brat. Buff, tattooed, with an easy smile that quickly charmed her sisters and all the other residents, Chloe is determined not to like him, that is until they strike a bargain.
“This interracial romance with a disabled heroine is an #OwnVoices treat that will satisfy readers who love a cinnamon-roll hero and love scenes that scorch the dang pages. “ (Booklist)
“...(t)his is an incredibly funny, romantic, and uplifting book. Red is as charming, sexy, and vulnerable as can be, but Chloe steals the show with her sarcasm, wit, and eccentric coping mechanisms.” (Kirkus Reviews) . For fans of Sally Thorne, Jasmine Guillory, and Helen Hoang. For another steamy, interracial romance, try Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher, one with a surprising UM/Ann Arbor connection.
* * * = 3 starred reviews
Tue, 11/26/2019 - 7:49pm by muffy
Before you dive into On Swift Horses * by Shannon Pufahl (Stanford, Stegner Fellow), you might be interested in listening to NPR's Scott Simon talks with the author about her debut novel - inspired by her grandmother’s story.
In 1956, newly-wed Muriel and Lee left her Kansas hometown for San Diego, hoping for a better life and a little bungalow all of their own. Lee’s brother Julius, was supposed to join them but disappeared without a word. Eavesdropping on her customers at the Heyday Lounge frequented by retired jockeys and bookies, Muriel began slipping off to the racetrack and trying her luck with the horses. Wildly successful, she secretly used her winning to allow Lee to fulfill his dream of a house in the suburbs.
When Julius, a habitual gambler finally showed up, with a mustang in tow, Muriel was secretly pleased while Lee was guarded, until Julius’s secretive and reckless past caught up with him, bringing discord into their lives, and forcing Muriel to look deep into her heart.
Narrated by Muriel and Julius in turn, “...Pufahl's sharp, gritty details of 1950s San Diego and Las Vegas effectively draw the reader into her protagonists' struggles to bring meaning to their lives, however different their experiences.” (Library Journal)
“Pufahl's prose is lush and slow with the romance of emotion and the postwar frontier. Her dialogue is sparse and pointed, every word deliberately spoken. On Swift Horses is a queer Western for an utterly contemporary audience.” (Booklist)
* = Starred review
Mon, 11/25/2019 - 9:09am by eli
Now that Pittsfield Branch has reopened, we're getting ready for our last branch closure of this round of renovations. Traverwood Branch Library will be closed starting December 16th for up to 10 weeks of renovation.
Any requests that would have been ready for pickup at Traverwood Branch will be held at Westgate Branch instead. If you'd like to have your Traverwood requests held at another location, you can change that yourself on your my account page, or just contact us and let us know your preference. Don't forget that there's lots of parking behind Westgate Branch's rear entrance! Just go around the Rite Aid end to find it.
During this closure, we'll be replacing the carpet, refinishing the wood floors, constructing a new bookable meeting room, and rearranging some shelving. We'll also be reworking the rotating program room doors for better safety and utility, replacing all the public internet and kids game computers, and relabeling the collection into categories.
Fabulous Fiction Firsts #717, “Women’s voices always rise two octaves when they talk to cleaning women or cats.” ~ Lucia Berlin
Sat, 11/16/2019 - 7:12pm by muffy
In Vacuum in the Dark * * by Jen Beagin, Mona is twenty-six and cleans houses for a living in Taos, New Mexico. Though this is a standalone second novel, you might want to start with Pretend I’m Dead, in order to get the full backstory. Named “A Best Book of the Year” by O, The Oprah Magazine, and shortlisted for Kirkus Review’s First Novel Prize, the 2017 Whiting Award winner Jen Beagin (a former cleaning lady herself) sets her debut in Lowell, MA where the 24 year-old Mona, alone and emotionally adrift, is trying to move forward in life.
While handing out clean needles to drug addicts, she met and fell for Mr. Disgusting, a charismatic artist turned drug addict who proceeded to break her heart in unimaginable ways. To start afresh, she moved to Taos. There, she shares an adobe house with a new-age couple “Yoko and Yoko”; and gets hopelessly tangled up with a client’s husband. As her business picks up, Mona finds it increasing hard to keep a professional distance from her clients (snooping in their belongings and taking photographs). Then there is the Hungarian artist couple with serious substance-abuse and boundary issues who asks Mona to pose for them; and a single father who may be hiding a disturbing secret.
Through it all, Mona is saved from her self-destructive tendencies by the voice of NPR's Terry Gross, a wise, imaginary best friend as she searches for meaning and belonging.
“Beagin is a wonderfully funny writer who also happens to tackle serious subjects, which few authors are able to pull off successfully…(She) never treats these subjects lightly, but she doesn't shy away from employing very dark humor; the result is a comic novel that's a joy to read but never frivolous or superficial.” (NPR)
For fans of Sunshine Cleaning. Readers might also enjoy A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories by Lucia Berlin. A 2015 finalist for the Kirkus Prize, these 43 stories “capture the lives of hard-living women from Denver to Peru to the Bay Area to the Texas borderlands.”
* * = 2 starred reviews
Fri, 11/01/2019 - 6:33pm by muffy
Against the backdrop of the construction of the Crystal Palace for The Great Exhibition; and the contentious selection process of the Royal Academy exhibitions, Macneal creates a thrilling psychological thriller about art and obsession that the New York Times Book Review called “(a) lush, evocative Gothic.”
Iris Whittle toils long hours at a factory painting faces on porcelain dolls but secretly harbors the ambition to be an artist. When she is approached by Louis Frost, a member of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood to pose for his painting, she agrees, against the wishes of her family, especially her twin sister Rose, on the condition that Louis would teach her how to paint. As Iris grows into her artistic talent and mutual affection with Louis, she is unaware of the attention of Silas Reed, a curiosity collector and taxidermist, who schemes to make Iris his prized specimen.
The only person who is convinced that Iris is in danger is a young street urchin that Iris befriends, but he might not be a match for the evil that lurks in the seamier side of Victorian London.
For further reading on this 19th century art movement, try The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites by Elizabeth Prettejohn and Pre-Raphaelite Women Artists. You might also enjoy the television series Desperate Romantics that dramatizes the Brotherhood’s quest for artistic immortality which takes them into some of the lewdest, darkest, and funniest corners of 1851 London.
* * = 2 starred reviews
Fabulous Fiction Firsts #715, “With my friends, the sad truth is that our best “best friend” days are behind us…” ~ Mindy Kaling
Sat, 10/12/2019 - 4:26pm by muffy
The Other's Gold by Hopwood Award winner Elizabeth Ames (Staudt), (MFA, UM) follows Lainey, Ji Sun, Alice, and Margaret, from their freshman year at Quincy-Hawthorn College to adulthood. Theater-major Lainey, a mixed-race adoptee, devotes herself to political activism and short-lived romances. Alice, a star athlete and pre-med student is secretive and reserve. Immensely wealthy, Korean-born Ji Sun is painfully aware of her otherness; and Margaret, with her questionable academic credentials, is marked by her extraordinary beauty. Gravitating to their beloved window seat, the foursome quickly become inseparable.
This four-part novel - the Accident, the Accusation, the Kiss, and the Bite is devoted to the terrible mistake each makes that galvanizes their friendship, and ultimately tests their loyalties and strength of character.
“This literary work (by debut author Ames) illustrates the strength it takes to maintain closeness despite moral and ethical setbacks. Dealing with issues of guilt, pain, and the realistic, ruthless hardships of life, The Other's Gold shows that friends will stay by your side, if you let them fully in.” (Booklist)
Hawthorne College, Edelton, Maine. Malin, Ruby, John, Max, Gemma, and Khaled have been friends since freshman year and inseparable as housemates - Gemma, an insecure theater major from London; John, a tall, handsome, and wealthy New Englander; Max, John’s cousin and a shy pre-med major; Khaled, a wise-cracking prince from Abu Dhabi; and Ruby, a beautiful art history major, and Malin, our narrator - an expert at hiding a troubling past. But by the time Senior Day is over, one of them is dead.
“(Debut author) Brockman perfectly captures the insecurities that plague young adults, as well as the intense relationships that form in the crucible that is college. Deliberate pacing complements the sinuous structure, with anxiety and dread mounting as the story lines coalesce. Not every reveal feels earned, but the shocking central twist and devastating conclusion amply compensate. Fans of Patricia Highsmith and Donna Tartt should take notice.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A truly chilling thriller with a twist so quiet, you never hear it coming.” (Kirkus Reviews)
* * * = 3 starred reviews
May I also suggest Richard Russo’s latest Chances Are… ? Four decades after their graduation from Minerva College, Lincoln, a commercial real estate broker, Teddy, a tiny-press publisher, and Mickey, a musician beyond his rockin' age, convene on Martha's Vineyard. But each man harbors secrets, and regrets for the part he played in the mystery that still haunts them since Memorial Day, 1971.
Tue, 10/01/2019 - 1:51pm by muffy
The Secrets We Kept * * * by debut novelist Lara Prescott is set at the height of the Cold War, based on the true story of the CIA plot of infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda, but with the greatest love story of the 20th century.
Narrated by 3 women between 1949 and 1961, they were instrumental in bringing Doctor Zhivago to the West, when for a decade, celebrated poet Boris Pasternak could not find a publisher for his novel in Soviet Russia, banned "due to its critiques of the October Revolution and its so-called subversive nature".
In Moscow, Olga Vsevolodovna, Pasternak’s mistress and muse, and inspiration for Zhivago’s heroine, Lara endured three years at a Gulag for refusing to denounce Pasternak or the novel. In Washington D. C., American-born Irina Drozdova, a typist at the Agency (CIA) found herself recruited for “fieldwork”, and under the tutelage of glamorous Sally Forrester, a former OSS agent, quickly learned the trade craft of being a “carrier” - make drops, and invisibly ferry classified documents. Her ultimate mission - disguised as a nun, she was to place copies of Dr. Zhivago, printed in the original Russian into the hands of Soviet citizens visiting the 1958 World's Fair.
“Through lucid images and vibrant storytelling, Prescott creates an edgy postfeminist vision of the Cold War, encompassing Sputnik to glasnost, typing pool to gulag, for a smart, lively page-turner. This debut shines as spy story, publication thriller, and historical romance with a twist.” (Publishers Weekly)
* * * = 3 starred reviews
Tue, 09/03/2019 - 8:26am by eli
Good News Everyone! AADL's industry-leading Tools Collection is now available for request! Most tools go out for 1 week (with a few extended loan tools, such as sewing machines and telescopes) and can be renewed one time if there are no outstanding requests on that item.
Thanks to those of you who have used our experimental Tools Event Bookings! We are winding down the experiment for the Winter while we use what we've learned to build a new Tools Event Booking system that will be easier to use. We will stop accepting new Tools Event Booking requests on September 30, and Event Bookings won't be available for dates after October 31st. The service will be back in the spring with a much easier process and the ability to see your bookings from your My Account page.
Tue, 09/03/2019 - 8:02am by eli
We're continuing a year of branch upgrades with some updates for the Pittsfield Branch Library. The branch will close at 6 PM on Sunday, September 22, for 6-8 weeks of work.
The updated Pittsfield branch will have three new bookable meeting rooms, including a large 35-person meeting room with screen for presentations. Also there will be new public computers and kids game computers, and the book collection will be converted to categories.
During the closure, any requests with a Pittsfield pickup point, or Pittsfield Summer Game Shop Orders, will be held at Westgate Branch. If you'd like your items ready for pickup sent to another branch, you can change the pickup location on your My Account page before it's ready, or just contact us when your items are ready and we can send them along for you.