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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #777

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 12:41pm by muffy

who_is_maud_dixonWho is Maud Dixon? * * * (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook), Alexandra Andrews’s devilishly plotted debut” (Publishers’ Weekly) is a stylish psychological thriller - twisty, cinematic and compulsively readable, already optioned for film.

Florence Darrow, an aspiring writer, is fired from her low-level publishing job. Having turned her back on her single mother and the hardscrabble Florida upbringing, she was too glad to accept a job as a live-in assistant to the enigmatic and publicity-shy novelist known as Maud Dixon. Helen Wilcox - the real Maud Dixon, whose debut rocketed to the top of the chart, turns out to be only a few years older than Florence. Though secretive and prickly at times, Helen seems to trust Florence, and turns over management of her personal and professional accounts. Then rather out of the blue, proposes a research trip to Morocco where her next novel is set.

Things become complicated when Florence wakes up in a hospital after a car accident. Being addressed as Madame Wilcox, and there is no sign of Helen (dead or alive), leaves Florence to wonder if she could get the publishing career (after all, SHE has been typing up Helen's drafts) and the life she wants ($3 million and the glorious house in the Catskills) by simply becoming Maud Dixon. 

“At every diabolical twist and turn, Andrews' impish sense of humor peeks around the corner to jack up the fun….Terrific characters, vivid settings, and a deliciously dastardly, cunningly constructed plot.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

Inevitably, Patricia Highsmith’s The Talented Mr. Ripley, comes to mind. It will also appeal to fans of  Liv Constantine’s The Last Mrs. Parrish and Emily Gray Tedrowe’s The Talented Miss Farwell.

* * *  = 3 starred reviews

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Hello Earth!

Wed, 05/05/2021 - 1:34am by copelands

HelloEarthSimply put, Hello Earth!: Poems to Our Planet is just a wonderful read. Author Joyce Sidman writes her love letter to our planet through poems that observe and meditate on all of the Earth’s splendor. The poems are a perfect combination with illustrator Miren Asiain Lora’s organic and compelling work. Throughout, they reflect on the abundant features and encourage us to celebrate our own corner of the world. Sidman writes of Earth as a person, using personification to imagine how it would respond to her words. She celebrates its beauty, questions our conservation as humans, and reflects on how it has sustained us over time through its resources. Starlight, jungles, snow, and rainstorms. Mountains, deserts, forests, and seas. There’s a poem for many of these wonders. Additionally, fun facts for each of the poems are listed where kids can learn about the Earth’s age, size, history and more. Did you know our bodies are made up of 60% water? Or, that we as humans live at the surface of the Earth inside the crust: a thin, cool layer? Readers can also learn how to preserve the Earth through recycling and reducing waste. After reading this book, it’s almost impossible not to have a greater appreciation for our magnificent planet. Hello Earth! is a great combination of poetry and education that will inspire and motivate everyone to celebrate the wonder of nature and science.

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House of Leaves

Thu, 04/29/2021 - 10:00pm by LawsonB


a page from House of Leaves

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski is an edited book of journaling about what could be considered a dissertation about a documentary about a house that's larger on the inside than it is on the outside. It's colorful, and I mean that literally, it's printed as a full-color version; the word house is always blue, for example.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #776, “We all like chicken.” ~ Malcolm X

Thu, 04/29/2021 - 5:46pm by muffy


Brood * (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) by Jackie Polzin (Brown, Iowa Writers' Workshop) is “a wonderfully written first novel, full of nuance and humor and strangeness, whose unnamed narrator lives in the Camden neighborhood of Minneapolis and is married to an economist,” wrote Elizabeth McCracker in her New York Times Book Review,  “Brood” is a perfectly titled book, a word that can be thing or an action, can refer to people or single chickens or multiple chickens or children. The reader turns the title over and over, to see all the meanings it accrues.”

The novel opens with the chickens - Gam Gam, Miss Hennepin County, Gloria and Darkness — nesting in a repurposed dollhouse coop in the backyard of our unnamed narrator, who heroically tries to keep her small brood alive despite the seemingly endless challenges. Now with Percy, the narrator’s economist husband, up for professorship at a prestigious university on the West Coast, she needs to find them a home.  As Percy is preoccupied with their future, our narrator turns her gaze on their past - her job cleaning houses; her friend Helen, a real estate agent and new mother; her recent miscarriage - likely their last hope of a family; and how the chickens have become "an endless source of entertainment and worry.”

“Calling to mind the cerebral works of Olivia Laing and Jenny Offill, Polzin’s story has a quiet intensity that churns throughout. It’s in the tension she builds within her narrator’s isolated world, navigating the paradox of domestic intimacy, the comfort and terror it sows, and the unexpected shapes motherhood can take. There are no heart-quickening plot twists or climactic endings here, and that’s the beauty of Polzin’s writing. It doesn’t need either to move you. In Polzin's deft hands, the mundane is an endless source of wonder. A moving meditation on loss, solitude, and the hope that can rise from both.” (Kirkus Reviews) 


Now, a change of pace…

The Chicken Sisters * (eBook and also available in downloadable audiobook) by K. J. Dell’Antonia where two chicken shacks and a food war will throw three generations of the citizens of Merinac, Kansas into chaos.  Oh, did I forget to mention that $100,000 is at stake? 

For a century, Chicken Mimi’s and Chicken Frannie’s both claim to serve the best fried chicken in the state. Founded by the namesake sisters, the legendary feud continues to pit the Moores against the Pogociellos. 35 year-old widowed Amanda Moore grew up working for her mom at Mimi’s before scandalously marrying Frank Pogociello and now manages the front-of-house at Frannie’s. Hoping to bring new business to their small town, Amanda applies to Food Wars, the reality TV restaurant competition that promises $100,000 to the winner… as long as she could bring Mimi’s (and her estranged mother Barbara and the dishy new cook, Andy) on board. 

What Amanda could not predict is the arrival of Mae, her older sister - a Marie Kondo–eqsue professional organizer with a television show called Sparkling, and a secret agenda. 

“Dell’Antonia writes convincingly and sympathetically about complicated family relationships, giving Mae and Amanda each relatable flaws. The Food Wars scenes are a fun peek behind the curtain of the reality TV world, and the small-town warmth of Merinac is comfortingly quirky.  A charming and satisfying story about family bonds that will make meat eaters everywhere crave fried chicken.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

 * = Starred review

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Sat, 04/24/2021 - 5:19pm by marianaroo

ConsentConsent is a memoir by Vanessa Springora, a French editor, publisher, and filmmaker. She is a survivor of sexual assault and her story is testament to the traumatic experiences she had with the famous French writer, Gabriel Matzneff.  

This beautifully written memoir is not for the faint of heart. Although tastefully written, the novel can be difficult to read at  times. It is a chilling account of a vulnerable young girl and the extent to which a predator will go in his grooming process. Le Consentement was a bestseller in France and caused an uproar, so much so, that the government changed the age of consent to 15. It is unbelieve to learn that up to this year France did not have a fixed age of consent.

This book gives a voice to the victim who was silent for decades. Her predator by being a famous writer was well known in literary circles and even published books detailing his affairs. The triumph of this book is to understand the ambivalence, denial, hope and finally acceptance of being a victim and in doing so, and writing about it, opening a dialog to create a spectacular fall down of her perpetrator. In the era of  #MeToo movement. This novel is a must. Bravo!

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A Fine Mess

Fri, 04/23/2021 - 10:50am by mrajraspn08

A Fine MessWith recent talks about the federal deficit and now increasing taxes, I thought I would do what I do and conduct some research. I'll start this by saying I am not a numbers person and expected to go through about 5 minutes of boring tax and deficit information, but instead I lucked out. A Fine Mess presents the US tax laws in a way that acknowledges just how crazy and difficult to understand they are. In fact, that's what the whole book is about. It compares us tax law with that of other countries, pointing out where we do it wrong and where we do it right. It promises no solutions, but makes informed suggestions. The only downside to this book is when you sit with the information and realize how widespread the issues mentioned are (Japan's taxes take a few minutes and are done by their version of the IRS, and a few simple tax adjustments that are unpopular on the surface would actually save money for you and the country). Whether you enjoy this kind of topic or not, this is still very much worth a read.

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Children's Series For All Ages

Mon, 04/19/2021 - 10:16pm by LawsonB

There are few series of children's books that can be enjoyed by any age group, but nonetheless the do exist. These three series are ones that I still enjoy now that I'm an adult, and they'll fill anyone with similar nostalgia they give me.

The Penderwicks in Spring

  • The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall are about the adventures of the Penderwick sisters, each book highlighting a different aspect of growing up and clinging to childhood. The series also delves into other issues such as loss and finding self confidence.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #775, Talk Radio

Thu, 04/15/2021 - 3:12pm by muffy


In this Modern Love meets This American Life, The Ex Talk * * * (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) is YA author Rachel Lynn Solomon’s “exceptional adult debut” (Publishers Weekly), “a sizzling rivals-to-lovers rom-com.” (Booklist) 

29 years-old Shay Goldstein, a producer at Pacific Public Radio in Seattle for 10 years, loves her job but lately, she seems to be at loggerheads with their new hire, Dominic Yun. With a freshly minted master’s degree from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism (which he never fails to mention in all conversations), Dominic immediately impresses the bosses with a big scoop on a City Hall scandal. With ratings down and the station struggling, in order to save their jobs, Shay pitches a concept - a weekly talk show where exes give relationship advice, live. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other, never mind they have never dated.  

“As the show skyrockets in popularity, the fake exes become real friends, but a growing attraction might spell disaster. Shay and Dominic are brought to life with multilayered backstories...Witty dialogue meets steamy slow-burn tension while fun romance tropes (fake dating! there’s only one bed!) take a refreshing turn by making Dominic the less sexually experienced, and more emotionally open, of the two. A vibrant supporting cast of family, friends, and co-workers helps round out the plot. Delightfully romantic and emotionally uplifting.”  (Kirkus Reviews)


Honey Girl * (also in eBook and audiobook) by Morgan Rogers is “especially notable for its celebration of friendship, especially in queer communities, and for exploring the many ways relationships can be meaningful and intimate beyond romance... A strong romantic fiction debut that will appeal to readers looking for a story of true love via self-discovery.” (Kirkus Reviews)

28 year-old Grace Porter heads to Las Vegas with her girlfriends and roommates to celebrate her PhD in astronomy. After a night of revelry, she awakes to an empty bed, a ring on her finger, a business card and a key on her pillow. Back in Portland, Oregon, her finds it hard to explain to her ex-military father how being a mixed-race lesbian, she doesn't seem to "be the right fit" for most companies in her field, made abundantly clear in her failed job interview set up by her mentor. 

Feeling listless, Grace flees to New York to track down her Vegas wife Yuki Yamamoto, a late night radio talk show host. Even though they develop a deep connection, depression claims Grace and once again, she leaves, this time to a Florida orange grove to reconnect with her mostly absent mother.

“With a cast of diverse and underrepresented characters, Rogers’s debut is a beautiful story of learning to love in so many ways: untraditionally, through deep hurt, through mental illness, and through struggles with which readers can relate. Highly recommended.” (Library Journal)

* * * = 3 starred reviews

* = Starred review

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Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

Wed, 04/14/2021 - 1:54pm by marianaroo

Klara and the SunOne of the most anticipated books of 2021 is the novel Klara and the Sun by the British writer Kazuo Ishiguro. Like many others, I discovered Ishiguro in 2005 through his masterpiece, Never Let Me Go. In 2015, I had the pleasure to attend a reading of his book The Buried Giant in Ann Arbor, sponsored by the University of Michigan English Department. 

Klara and the Sun is the first book he has published since that lecture and since winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2017. 

To my delight Klara and the Sun continues the dystopian theme seen in Ishiguro’s previous work. Klara, our narrator, is a robot with human appearance that was created as an Artificial Friend (AF) to accompany children in the distant future. The first sentence of the book is also Klara's first thought:

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Not Picture Books

Wed, 04/07/2021 - 11:49am by mrajraspn08

As we get older, our books have less and less pictures in them, which is too bad because sometimes, the illustrations add so much more to the story, like in these two series. 

Black and white ink drawing of two men, one with a wizard's hat and long beard and the other in a fur coat and hat, flying in a wooden boat with a robotic figurehead and swirling propellers on topI frequently recommend The Guardians of Childhood series, and part of that is for the art. The illustrations are many, and they are truly beautiful. William Joyce drawings sweeps you away and transports you into a fantastical world. I’m always a little breathless at some scenes, both from the perfect depictions of his words brought to life and because the style lends itself so well to the tone of the novels. 

Similar but different, illustrations—done in the style of engravings—in The Last Apprentice series add a spooky air to the stories. The books are haunting enough on their own, but the author’s aesthetic is perfectly translated throughout the course of the book due to its creepy imagery. Often, I would pause and just look at the illustrations, because it was even better than what I envisioned, and just as often, I would look away after just a quick glance, feeling chilled. 

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A is for Awesome by Eva Chen and Derek Desierto

Mon, 04/05/2021 - 9:46pm by copelands

A is for AwesomeMarch is Women’s History Month, a time when we honor the contributions of women to American history, society and culture. While there are many youth books that honor pioneering women, below is a recommendation for a board book that young readers will enjoy.

A is for Amelia Earhart, B is for Beyoncé, C is for Coco Chanel. Looking for a fun way to learn your ABC’s while learning about some pretty powerful women too? Look no further than A is for Awesome! This fun and educational board book teaches kids about female visionaries throughout history who contributed to the world we enjoy today. There’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg, an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court who fought for gender equality and women’s rights. Malala Yousafzai advocated for female education and won the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts. Flo Jo, the late track and field athlete, is the fastest woman of all time. And there’s Oprah, the legendary television host and philanthropist who’s been referred to as the Queen of all Media and the most influential woman in the world. Whew, that’s a lot of powerful women! From fashion to music, government and human rights, A is for Awesome will introduce kids to a list of female role models from all walks of life.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #774, Choosing Kindness

Fri, 04/02/2021 - 4:57pm by muffy

kindest_lieIn The Kindest Lie *  by Nancy Johnson, “(g)enerational secrets, class divides, motherhood, and American life on the edge of political and economic change are all examined...” (Booklist)

As the Obamas are about to take up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Chicago’s Black communities are experiencing a new sense of optimism. Xavier, a mid-level manager is eager to start a family but his wife Ruth, an Ivy-league educated engineer is reluctant. Lately she has been crippled by guilt over what happened the summer before leaving for Yale on a scholarship. Abandoned by a mother addicted to drugs, she and her brother Eli were raised by kind and god-fearing grandparents who sacrificed everything to help her realize her potential. Unable to face Xavier with the truth, Ruth returns to the Indiana factory town she once called home, now plagued by unemployment, racism, and despair.

To move forward, Ruth knows she must first make peace with the past, most immediate is to track down the baby she abandoned.  But everywhere she turns, she encounters tightly held secrets and lies. Then she unexpectedly befriends Midnight, a young white boy who is also adrift and looking for connection. 

 “The Kindest Lie is a tale of how lies and omissions can shape and warp us. It is a story about reconciliation, set against a backdrop of racism and resentments. But more than anything, it is a meditation on family and forgiveness.” (Los Angeles Times)

Nancy Johnson, a native of Chicago’s South Side, is an Emmy-nominated, award-winning television journalist. A graduate of Northwestern University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, she calls Chicago home. The Kindest Lie is her debut novel. 

* = Starred review

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Gravity Falls

Fri, 04/02/2021 - 11:41am by mrajraspn08

Gravity FallsWhen I first heard about Gravity Falls, I wasn’t interested. It looked like a dumb show with dumb animation. Then I listened to a podcast episode about it, and I had to watch it. I’m so glad I did. While it does have a heavy dose of humor, that humor can vary from low-brow to very clever jokes. As a whole, the story line is incredibly compelling and well thought-out, touching on friendship, feelings of isolation, and growing pains as Dipper and Mabel explore the secrets of their small town. 

But don’t stop at just watching the show. If you only watch the special features to one DVD, watch these! The cast and creators put so much love into the show, and it’s truly touching and amazing to hear. The creator put multiple Easter eggs into each episode (the whispering in the credits? They actually mean something), and did you know he created a worldwide scavenger hunt to celebrate the end of the series? 

Everything about the show is charming and interesting, and everything beyond it even more so. I rewatch it regularly (yes, special features, too), and each time, I get even more enjoyment from it. 

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Ayurveda Research

Mon, 03/29/2021 - 11:26am by whiteb

Ann Arbor seems to hold a small cult following for holistic medicine. I recently joined the ranks and began diving into research on the topic. There are quite a few different sects to holistic medicine such as Ayurveda, naturopathy, acupuncture, etc, that of course there are endless books about each subject.

I was perusing the non-fiction section of the library and stumbled upon books about Ayurveda without actually seeking out the topic. This little coincidence felt like a nudge toward an important topic within the holistic medicine world, so I checked out a couple books. 

The Ayurvedic Self-Care Handbook by Sarah Kucera is a simple little book about Ayurvedic medicine that gets straight to the point. It’s an attractive modern guide on how to incorporate the rituals of Ayurveda into your life with ease. It doesn’t include heavy jargon or any deep diving on the facts and studies about the practice, which makes it a great book for someone just interested in it’s basic application to everyday life.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #773, Jane Austen Inspired

Thu, 03/25/2021 - 10:45am by muffy


Ladies of the House : A Novel * (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) by Lauren Edmondson is a contemporary retelling of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility

When Sen. Gregory Richardson is found dead in the arms of his young mistress, it falls to Daisy Richardson to keep her family together. Forced to take a leave as chief of staff for a progressive senator from Maryland, Daisy must convince her mother Cricket to sell the family home in Georgetown they can no longer afford, nevermind that it has been in the family for generations. Then news breaks that the Senator has been under investigation for financial misconduct.  Whatever resources they manage to salvage would now be garnered as restitution. 

Wallis, Daisy’s younger sister seems determined to move on but falls hopelessly for the most inconvenient person - the son of the late Senator’s arch rival, and one with political ambitions of his own. The only bright spot for Daisy is her life-long friendship with journalist Atlas Braidy-Lowes, just returned from his London assignment and newly engaged. His next project - to write an exposé on the one subject Daisy is desperate to avoid: her father. 

“As Atlas uncovers the widening scope of the senator's crimes, the novel finds Austen's themes alive and well in contemporary society, where women must choose between nice or powerful men and are left without options if a man behaves badly while they try to balance their hearts, careers, and reputations in search of happiness. This retelling is a witty success.” (Publishers Weekly)

A great choice for book groups (a reader's guide is provided).” (Booklist)

all_stirred_upAll Stirred Up is inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion. Brianne Moore “brings foodies and rom-com lovers together in this tasty delight of a debut.“ (Booklist) 

When bad management forces the family to close all of their restaurants, Susan Napier returns to  Edinburgh, intent to save Elliot’s, her grandfather’s beloved flagship. She is not amused when she realizes Chris Baker, her grandfather’s former protége AND her ex-boyfriend, is also back in town to open his own restaurant down the street. 

A celebrity chef and the judge of a popular TV cooking competition, Chris is wary and still deeply hurt by their rocky breakup, but the competitive food scene and staffing snafus force them to re-engage. When they are tricked into competing against one another in a cooking showdown during the city's food festival, all bets are off.

“This chaste love story, peppered with just the right amount of family drama, foodie descriptions, and rom-com hijinks, is a treat.” (Publishers Weekly)



Written in the Stars * *  by  Alexandria Bellefleur (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook), is “(a)n enchanting debut romance featuring Pride and Prejudice character archetypes, banter, and sexual tension shaken together to create a perfectly delicious contemporary romance.“(Library Journal)

In this charming queer rom-com debut, a free-spirited social media astrologer agrees to fake a relationship with an uptight actuary.  After a disastrous blind date, Darcy Lowell is desperate to stop her well-meaning brother from playing matchmaker ever again. So she fibs and says her latest blind date was a success. Elle Jones, an astrologer, dreams of finding her soulmate. But she knows it is most assuredly not Darcy. 

When Darcy begs Elle to play along, they agree to help each other navigate the difficult holiday dinners with families. The last thing they expect is to develop real feelings during a fake relationship.

* * = 2 starred reviews

* = Starred review

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The Every Body Book (It Really is for Everybody)

Wed, 03/24/2021 - 10:33am by mrajraspn08

Every Body BookPuberty is hard for most of us, but when you’re transgender, it can be even more complicated. You have no idea what’s going on, and trying to figure it out just makes everything all the worse, because you’re repeatedly called by a gender you don’t identify with.

The Every Body Book fills a real need for transgender youth. Never assuming gender, it creates a safe place to discuss all aspects of growing up. Children and teenagers can comfortably read about various sexualities, gender options, and changing bodies with gender-inclusive language used throughout. Illustrations include youth of various abilities, race, and genders, so literally “Every Body” can feel like it belongs. An excellent book to have on hand if you work with or care for children who might have questions and need someone, or some book, for answers. 


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All-Season Bike Riding!

Wed, 03/24/2021 - 8:13am by aadlloren

Spring is here, but this is Michigan---we aren't quite through with cold weather yet! AADL has teamed up with local bicycle nonprofit Common Cycle to make a two-part video series about riding bikes in cold and inclement weather. The first video focuses on bike maintenance, and the second video concerns bike rider comfort and safety. Both offer valuable tips for bicyclists any time of year!

If you're dusting off your bicycle after a winter of hibernation or just need a quick refresher, remember to review safe riding habits. The League of Michigan Bicyclists and The League of American Cyclists both offer important information to help prepare you. You can watch this video to learn tips on how to share the road with cars. 

AADL and Common Cycle have also teamed up to add a Bicycle Pump and Tool Kit to the AADL Tools collection! Find more information and reserve it at

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The Office (US)

Mon, 03/22/2021 - 12:10pm by whiteb

The Office (US) is a sitcom mockumentary that showcases a monotonous office life turned charming, awkward and hilarious with the workers' inability to get anything done. The character profiles and their developments are unlike anything television has seen before, with the workers transforming from friction and chaos to wholesome with only a touch of chaos. 

This TV series dives into the lives of manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell) who is seriously underqualified to run a business, as he’s unintentionally offensive, creating trouble at every turn and trying so hard to please the people he works with; Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson), another major character, juxtaposes Michael Scott’s character so well with dedication to his work and his relentlessness to get things done; and, Jim (John Krasinski) and Pam (Jenna Fischer), the office pranksters who create emotional buildup with their unfolding relationship that will have you sobbing and devoted to seeing them until the very end.


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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #772

Thu, 03/18/2021 - 10:00pm by muffy

lost_apothecaryThe Lost Apothecary (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) by Sarah Penner, one of the most anticipated debuts of 2021, will appeal to fans of parallel historical/contemporary narratives about women's lives. 

After discovering her husband James’ infidelity, American Caroline Parcewell travels to London alone, for what was supposed to be a much-anticipated anniversary trip. On the banks of the Thames, she joins a mudlarking tour and finds an old apothecary vial that appeals to the historian in her. With the help of a librarian at the British Museum, she unearths links to the unsolved “apothecary murders” more than two centuries ago, and to Nella Clavinger.

A second generation apothecary and once a respected healer, Nella’s shop was hidden down a dark London alley, dispensing well-disguised poisons to women to use on men who wronged them in various ways.  On a cold February evening in 1791, Nella found her newest customer to be the precocious 12-year old servant girl Eliza Fanning. A friendship developed between the two that would eventually prove devastating, and would threaten to expose the many women whose names were recorded in her register.  And as Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate, we will find that history often repeats itself.

“Penner finds clever parallels between Nella and Caroline, and avoids the pitfall of one storyline outshining the other—all three women have compelling tales, and while Nella’s business may not be on the up-and-up, her motives are understandable. Readers who enjoy Katherine Howe and Susanna Kearsley will be drawn to this promising, fast-paced debut.” (Booklist) 

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Digital Monsters

Wed, 03/17/2021 - 12:38pm by mrajraspn08

We all know about Pokemon. But there was a whole genre of monster-collecting genre, and I’m here to talk about my favorite: Digimon. 

DigimonThe first season sees a group of kids transported from summer camp to a digital world, where they meet their own “digital monster” best friend and save both the human and digital worlds. The second season continues with our heroes older and training a new group. In Kizuna, truly a love letter to the fans, the kids are older and becoming adults, struggling like the now grown fans with leaving their childhood behind. 

The third season takes place in our world, about a small group of new Digimon Tamers who have to keep their city safe while also learning how to bond with their partners. This season has a stunningly deep portrayal of depression and some remarkable character growth for a nineties kids’ show. 

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Pure: Book One of the Pure Trilogy

Mon, 03/15/2021 - 10:33am by LiaReads

Pure sets the start of a futuristic, dystopian trilogy where people are divided between those that were able to escape into an artificial protective dome before disaster hit and those who were left on the outside. Many who could not access the safe haven did not survive but for those who did, they all had a strange thing in common: they were fused to the nearest object, animal, or even person they had been in physical contact with at the time of the detonations.

One of our protagonists, a sixteen year old girl with a doll's head fused to her hand, takes us through life on the outside of the dome and the ways she and others are surviving in what often looks like a hopeless circumstance. On the inside of the dome, we meet a boy who learns that there is much more to the truth than the adults in his life have ever revealed. Despite their two different lives, there is a surprising connection between the two teens that is discovered while they both attempt to do the right thing.

Pure is horrifying in the best possible way. It draws you in and leaves you thinking about it way after the last chapter is done.

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Attention-Grabbing Titles: Adult Edition

Fri, 03/12/2021 - 10:25am by mrajraspn08

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover. But what about its title, especially when the title is as weird as these are? 

The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Every time I see this, I wonder how it’s possible. But Oliver Sacks explains how for someone, this did happen, and he goes into other strange mental afflictions. As a lover of psychology, I can always trust him for an interesting true story. 

Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging. I read it ages ago, yet the title still catches my eye. The first in a series of equally amusingly titled teen books, it follows teenager Georgia in her exploits trying to woo the local “Sex-God”. 

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #771

Thu, 03/11/2021 - 9:58pm by muffy


Big Girl, Small Town * * *  (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) by Michelle Gallen (Trinity College Dublin) is shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. A finalist for two other major awards, it’s a “darkly hilarious novel about small-town life . . . Wildly entertaining.”(The Guardian)

Aghybogey is a small fictional town in Northern Ireland still haunted by The Troubles, where every family has been changed by the lingering divide between Protestants and Catholics. This is where we meet up with our heroine, 27 year-old Majella O’Neill, as captivating as she is unique. 

Since her father Gerard’s disappearance after Uncle Bobby was killed in an IRA incident, Majella is the sole supporter of her alcoholic, lay-about, drama-queen of a mother. Her predictable routine is punctuated by her daily walk to the evening shift at the A Salt and Battered chip shop, binging on DVDs of Dallas (she used to watch with her Dad), and her nightly solitary after-hours fish and chips dinner, packing on weight that renders her socially invisible. 

Being on the autism spectrum Majella “keeps a running list in her head of top 10 things she likes and dislikes. The dislikes list actually runs to a full 97 items, with subcategories, but she sometimes thinks it could be distilled to one item: other people.”  Now with the murder of her granny Maggie, her family is once again in the public eye, and the subject of local gossip and speculations. 

“Majella is a compelling character caught in a fascinating slice of time, and her journey is exquisitely rendered. With echoes of Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine crossed with the 1990s-set British sitcom Derry Girls, this debut is recommended for fans of Ottessa Moshfegh, Emma Donoghue, and Sally Rooney (Library Journal)

* * * = 3 starred reviews

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Attention-Grabbing Titles: Youth Edition

Wed, 03/10/2021 - 10:18am by mrajraspn08

When working at the library, we come across some fun titles that you just have to laugh at. Here are a couple that you’re going to have to check out! 

What Breathes Through Its Butt? I never knew I needed to know this! This book takes the weird science questions kids sometimes wonder and actually answers them. 

The Screaming Hairy Armadillo and 76 Other Animals With Weird Wild Names. I left this title featuring strangely-named animals and the origins of their names on my desk at work, and the next day, everyone was laughing at the absurdity of it. 

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Great Reads That Became Great Listens

Mon, 03/08/2021 - 9:44am by mrajraspn08

Sometimes I appreciate audiobooks more than other times. But some books I enjoy even more in audiobook format because the narrators do such a fantastic job. 

I recently listened to Kim Harrison's newest, American Demon, read by Marguerite Gavin. Not only can Gavin convincingly speak as a different ages and genders, but she can also portray the different species with amazing efficiency. I've long been a fan of the Hollows series--an urban fantasy about a local witch who works with local law enforcement to stop supernatural threats--and her narration makes me want to reread the entire series, this time in audio. 

One of my first audiobooks was the House of Night series. My favorite narrator was Caitlin Davies, whose portrayals of the main characters sounds even better than I imagined!

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Fri, 03/05/2021 - 12:10pm by fredbeldin


All Night Long 1962A midnight jam session becomes a hotbed of emotional manipulation and ruined reputation in this loose rewrite of Othello set in the London jazz scene. Musicians congregate to celebrate the wedding anniversary of renowned pianist Rex and retired singer Delia, but one guest plots to drive them apart and lure the wife back to the stage for his own gain. Patrick McGoohan is incandescent as the Iago of the piece, an ambitious, amoral drummer who single-handedly drives the plot as he circulates among the partygoers, gaslighting a succession of gullible hipsters. All Night Long never lags as it moves swiftly and nearly in real time, the party shifting perceptibly from gaiety and camaraderie to paranoia and suspicion. Featuring cameos and performances from jazz legends like Charles Mingus, Dave Brubeck and Tubby Hayes, the music seeps through every scene and even helps identify character — McGoohan’s frenzied drum solos expose the obsession at the center of his role better than any dialogue.

British director Basil Dearden was known for socially-progressive message pictures, although All Night Long’s only political statement is its casual acceptance of interracial romance. The taut, gritty thriller Victim is another standout with blunter concerns, condemning Britain’s then-current anti-homosexuality laws, while Sapphire examines the fragile logic of racism and the breezy yet cynical The League of Gentlemen is a high-concept heist plot populated by disillusioned ex-soldiers. All four films were released on DVD by Criterion/Eclipse, and each is available through the AADL for the forward-thinking cineaste.

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Soulful Rhymes: Voices in Black Poetry

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 1:49pm by copelands

February might be over, but we're continuing the celebration of black history and culture. Check out a few recommendations below for some of the best in Black poetry.

Light for the World to See by Kwame Alexander:

Light For the WorldIn this collection of poems, the New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander gives readers  a rap session about race. Best known for his youth novels, Alexander writes a book of poetry for adults in Light for the World to See. Inspired by three distinct events, Alexander masterfully writes about the murder of George Floyd, the anti-racism protest of Colin Kaepernick, and the historic election of Barack Obama. Adding to the thought provoking text and galvanizing themes are graphic illustrations that make this title all the more enjoyable to read.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #770, Feminist Retellings of the Classics

Thu, 03/04/2021 - 10:00am by muffy


Shortlisted for the 2020 Women’s Prize for Fiction,  A Thousand Ships by Natalie Haynes, (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook, read by the author) based on the plays by Euripides, is a gorgeous and timely retelling of the Trojan War, from the women, some familiar, others less so, “whose lives, loves, and rivalries were forever altered by this long and tragic war.”

The narrative opens on the night Troy fell, ending 10 years of conflict with the Greeks (Remember that sneaky wooden horse?)  As the city burns, the Trojan women find themselves the spoil of war - among them Hecabe, the once proud queen of Troy, brought low by the loss of her husband and sons; her daughter Cassandra, cursed to foresee the future; the Amazon princess Penthesilea who fought Achilles; and Creusa, who courageously tries to save her family.

We also hear from the Greek camp - Calliope, goddess of epic poetry, who offers a tale not of the men's glory but of the experiences of the women; Penelope, who writes biting letters to Odysseus for his long absence; Clytemnestra, who seeks revenge against Agamemnon for sacrificing their daughter; Oenone, Paris' abandoned wife; and Helen, who resents being blamed as the cause of war, and the prophecies she has no power to stop. 

“The telling is nonlinear, but the varied stories flow naturally together, ensuring that readers won't lose their way. Haynes' freshly modern version of an ancient tale is perfect for our times.” (Booklist)

For fans of Madeline Miller. Readers might also want to check out Emily Hauser’s For the Most Beautiful: a Novel of the Women of Troy (2017).  Further reading coming this spring and summer: Euripides’ Trojan Women: A Comic, by Rosanna Bruno, text by Anne Carson (May) ; Daughters of Sparta by Claire Andrews (June); and Women of Troy by Pat Barker (Aug.)

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We Walk

Wed, 03/03/2021 - 9:04am by mrajraspn08

I’ve spoken before about the desperate need for books about low-functioning/high needs autism, so I was thrilled to see We Walk hit library shelves. It delivered more than I thought possible. Amy S.F. Lutz talks about life parenting a child with severe autism, ranging from discussions on the medicalization of marijuana to the philosophy of personhood. She also talks about how the higher-functioning autism community does a disservice to children like her son and how there needs to be a better balance (in the community and also in the medical field) to reflect both ends of the spectrum; before anyone gets upset about this, though, she does so in a very fair and even fashion that had me reconsidering my prior beliefs (see the compromise on “functioning/needs” label in my first sentence). So much of these points had me nodding in understanding and pausing in thought. I highly recommend this to anyone, but especially those involved in the autism community, from whichever end of the spectrum, and I believe this perspective could and should be required reading for anyone making decisions in the community.

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Meet Ray, the Lightbulb Who Might Change Your Life Mindset

Mon, 03/01/2021 - 9:11pm by eileenw“Meet Ray. He is the light bulb who lives in the closet at the end of the hall.” Those two lines were all it took for me to be charmed by this simple but insightful picture book by Marianna Coppo, titled Ray.

While Ray has lived in several different rooms, the closet he currently resides in doesn’t offer much in the way of entertainment or wonder. Every day he hangs out with the same books, and toys, and off-season holiday decorations, and Tom (the spider—every closet needs one). But just as often as the light is on, the light is off. We’re told “darkness is boring if you don’t know how to fill it.” Ray doesn’t even see anything when he dreams. Until one day, he’s unscrewed from the closet light fixture, and placed in a lantern. Ray is taken camping—one short experience that changes everything for this little lightbulb. Although he comes back home to the closet after his camping trip, the memories he has now fill the darkness.