News and Reviews
Wed, 10/21/2020 - 4:25pm by garlandz
Do you know this word? if not-- that's okay. It means "good morning" in Japanese. Language can divide people, but, it doesn't mean that we all are that different. Yet when we find differences in others, how do we handle them? Well that is one of the questions implied in the movie "Good Morning" by filmmaker Yasujirō Ozu.
Mon, 10/19/2020 - 6:13pm by manz
Looking for a fast-paced thriller to get you in the mood for spooky reading season? The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor fits the bill! I was drawn to this book because it’s a coming-of-age story with an element of horror, in the same vein as Stand By Me, IT, or Stranger Things. Set in England, The Chalk Man takes place in both 1986 and 2016.
It follows the story of Eddie and his best friends. As 12 year olds they rode around on bikes having little adventures, and they used chalk drawings on pavement as a secret way of communicating with each other. Something terrifying happens that summer and they are forever changed by it. Fast forward to 2016. Now adults, Eddie finds a chalk drawing that instantly takes him back to that horrifying summer. But who sent this new chalk drawing? What is still out there?
It’s a debut book for this author, and it isn’t perfect, but it’s very rare I read a book so suspenseful I can’t put it down. Will you follow the chalk drawings?
Sat, 10/17/2020 - 5:34pm by muffy
Straight From the Horse's Mouth * by Moroccan author Meryem Alaoui (translated from the French by 2018 Albertine Prize-winner Emma Ramadan) introduces the “resourceful, foul-mouthed, and spirited Jmiaa Bent Larbi” (Publishers Weekly), a 34 year-old sex worker navigating life in a working class Casablanca neighborhood.
Stoic without being bitter, brutally honest without being sentimental, Jmiaa recounts her courtship with the devilishly handsome Hamid, their marriage against the wishes of her family, and how once Hamid moved them to Casablanca, he began to pimp her out to his friends to finance a constant stream of get-rich schemes. Now 15 year later, Jmiaa still works the same street and struggles to earn enough money to support a young daughter and Hamid who has since been smuggled into Spain. Life, however, is not without its pleasures - the quiet moments with her daughter, watching tv, drinking and gossiping with the other girls, and the occasional drive with a favorite client.
Unexpectedly, Jmiaa is introduced to Chadlia, a Dutch expat. filmmaker she calls “Horse Mouth” because of her toothy smile, who presents her with an exciting opportunity. Chadlia is making a film about the working women of Morocco, and eventually casts Jmiaa as the lead. Over the next three years, her life changes in ways she never could have imagined.
“Jmiaa's Casablanca is full of corrupt cops and exploitative men who take advantage of the prostitutes' vulnerability, but it is also full of friendship, laughter, and triumph….Alaoui's shimmering prose is funny and original; Jmiaa, noting Horse Mouth's Arabic is unusually fluent for an immigrant, says, "Normally it's like their tongue is in physical therapy: it needs crutches to get to the end of a phrase." Alaoui's tale is one to savor for its language and its verve.” (Publishers Weekly)
* = Starred review
Fri, 10/16/2020 - 1:54pm by fredbeldin
Despite a florid title suggesting cardboard castles and Halloween mask monsters, The Curse of the Cat People is a sublimely strange fantasy/drama more interested in exploring the psychology of children than perpetuating a hit film franchise. Seven year old Amy spends her days suspended in daydreams, making her an outcast at school and misunderstood by her career-minded parents. Her father punishes her over flights of fancy he interprets as lying; her mother frets but cedes most of the parenting duties to household servants. Amy's parents are haunted by the tragedy of the husband’s former wife, a troubled woman whose violent death was a defining moment in the lives of both partners. Amy knows nothing of this when she finds a photo of the beautiful, doomed woman and begins to fantasize about her as a glamorous imaginary friend.
Producer/screenwriter Val Lewton enjoyed a surprise horror hit with Cat People in 1942, but was reluctant to make a sequel despite pressure from studio bosses. His solution was simply to subvert the desires of the marketplace, accept the schlocky title assigned to him and follow his own muse. The result is a gentle, eerie fairy tale filled with bewitching images of shadows and snowstorms which surely disappointed horror fans of the day but stands alone as a uniquely affecting experience. The Curse of the Cat People can be found at the AADL on DVD, paired with the original classic that inspired its creation. Watch the sequel first.
Mon, 10/12/2020 - 8:46pm by Staffsteph
Are you struggling to find new media for your kids? Here are a few sites that I like to use to find something new for a kid to read or watch.
CommonSenseMedia.org - Common Sense Media is designed for parents looking for something for their kids to read or watch. It has lists that you can browse based on the age of the child. For example, you could look at their “best books” page and select ‘Tweens (10-12)’ and select “Kids books about France” if your child is interested in France at the moment. Once you find a book (or movie) or if you already had one in mind, you can use Common Sense Media to see if it is the right one for your child. If you go to a books page it will give you a deep dive on the contents of the book such as telling you how much violence and what type is present and what positive messages are offered in that specific book. I think this is a great tool to know what is the right book for your child.
ReadBrightly.com - This one is another great one for kids. I use this site primarily for the lists they offer. They have lists of books for all ages from babies to teenagers and a huge variety of topics. Is your child interested in space? Check out their list “Far Out Space Books for Future Astronauts” to get some suggestions on what they can read next. This site also offers activity suggestions for kids and articles about parenting for the grown-ups.
Mon, 10/12/2020 - 8:35pm by Staffsteph
When I’m asked to provide recommendations for a new book or movie I’m sometimes at a loss for what to suggest. I’m pretty good with Science Fiction and Fantasy, but even then my tastes for those genres might differ from yours. I often turn to the internet to get ideas of what to suggest. Here are a few of my favorite sites:
Tastedive.com - You can make an account to rate items and get better recommendations, but it’s not needed. This site offers recommendations for many things including books, movies, music and even videogames. You just type in a title or author you enjoy and it will spit out a bunch of books similar that you might also enjoy. It also has some genres on the left hand side that you can check to get more detailed suggestions. Did you really like “Seveneves” but right now you are looking for a Crime novel? Tastedive has you covered. Try “Lock in” by John Scalzi it says.
Goodreads.com - You can use limited functions of Goodreads without an account, but it does work best with an account (which is free). If you rate a certain number of books (I believe it’s 100), Goodreads will start recommending books to you. You can limit the suggestions to genre as well. You can also track what books you have read in goodreads and goodreads will start taking those into account when suggesting books to you. You can also search for a book and see similar titles by selecting the button on the right hand side of the page “See similar books..” (it’s a really small button). Goodreads recommends “The Three-Body Problem” if you enjoyed “Seveneves”.
Mon, 10/12/2020 - 2:57pm by muffy
Crooked Hallelujah * * (also available in downloadable eBook) by Paris Review's Plimpton Prize winner Kelli Jo Ford, has been named one of New York Times Editors' Choice. In a series of linked stories, it follows a family of Cherokee women, proud and stubborn, who sacrifice for those they love, amid larger forces of history, religion, class, and culture.
The narrative opens in 1974, in the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma when 15 year-old Justine finds herself pregnant after being raped by a local boy. Abandoned by her father, she bristles under the watchful eyes of her mother, Lula and Granny, devout members of the Holiness Church where her uncle is the minister. Wanting to reconnect with her father, she moves to the Red River region of Texas, hoping to start a new, more stable life with daughter, Reney.
Against the backdrop of oil bust of the 1980s, a grown-up Reney finds herself unmoored from her family in Indian Country. After several miscarriages, supporting a physically abusive husband, holding down a job at the local Dairy Queen, life is bleak. “Later, Ford gives Reney opportunities to pursue a healthy relationship, an education, and a stronger understanding of the legacy of her family and heritage. Ford's storytelling is urgent, her characters achingly human and complex, and her language glittering and rugged. This is a stunner.” (Publishers Weekly)
“A tender and ambitious praise-song of a novel about a family's fight for survival, love, and home.“ (Kirkus Reviews)
Winter Counts * (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) by David Heska Wanbli Weiden is set on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota, where the American judicial system and the Tribal Council often fail to mete out justice. In those instances, one would look to Virgil Wounded Horse, an enforcer-for-hire to deliver punishment.
A reformed alcoholic, Virgil is now guardian to his 14-year-old nephew, Nathan after a car accident killed his sister three years ago. When Nathan is caught with enough prescription pills in his school locker and faces 30 years in prison, Virgil’s vigilantism suddenly becomes personal.
With the help of Marie Short Bear, his ex-girlfriend & the councilman's daughter, they must find out how heroin makes its way into the reservation and prove Nathan's innocence. Their investigations lead them to Denver and a drug cartel.
“The novel twists delicately around various personal conflicts while artfully addressing issues related to the politics of the reservation. Weiden combines funny, complex, and unforgettable characters with strong, poetic prose (“This was the winter of my sorrow, one I had tried to elude but which had come for me with a terrible cruelty”). This is crime fiction at its best. “ (Publishers Weekly)
“Weiden's series-launch sheds much-needed light on the legal and societal barriers facing Native Americans while also delivering a suspenseful thriller that builds to a bloody climax. A worthy addition to the burgeoning canon of indigenous literature.” (Library Journal)
* * = 2 Starred reviews
* = Starred review
Sat, 10/10/2020 - 9:34pm by copelands
Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15. AADL honors the contributions of the Hispanic/Latinx community year-round and offers a wide range of materials that explore the rich history of the Latinx experience in the U.S. Below are a few recommendations to check out this month or anytime:
Thu, 10/08/2020 - 1:59pm by samanthar
Alfonso is a black teenager living in NYC. He plays the trumpet, rides his bike around the city, and has a crush on a girl from his class. While shopping for his first suit, he is shot and killed by a white police officer, mistaking a coat hanger for a weapon. The rest of the story unfolds with Alfonso (as a ghost), his family, friends, and community trying to make sense of his death. Painful to read, it holds a mirror to current events and the reality some face everyday. Middle school and High school age readers will surely see themselves in Alfonso and his friends, while adult readers will feel pain and sympathy for Alfonso’s parents. Readers of all ages will come away with a greater understanding of what the Black Lives Matter movement is all about.
Tue, 10/06/2020 - 1:56pm by aadlloren
Fall has arrived, and it’s a perfect time to explore Ann Arbor’s natural beauty by bicycle! For a short, relaxing route, consider riding eastward from Gallup Park along the Huron River to Parker Mill County Park and back (about five miles round trip). This route is part of the Border to Border Trail network, a non-motorized, car-free pathway. It’s an excellent choice for younger, less-experienced riders. If you’re hungry for a route to a wonderful destination, ride westward from downtown Ann Arbor along Huron River Drive towards the town of Dexter (11 miles away). Relax under the trees in Dexter’s Monument Park or enjoy fresh hot apple cider at the famous Dexter Cider Mill before returning to Ann Arbor. For a more adventurous rural ride, consider the Dirthammer route, a 25-mile loop along mostly dirt and gravel roads north of town. Local author and veteran cyclist Rob Pulcifer gives it high marks in his 2010 book, “Dirt Road Washtenaw.”
Whichever route you choose, ride smart and ride safe. The League of Michigan Bicyclists and The League of American Cyclists both offer important information to help prepare you. If you’re interested in either of the latter two rides, you can watch this video to learn tips on how to share the road with cars.
You can watch a video with more information on all three of these local bike routes on AADL.TV. Find map links for all the routes in that video’s description, too. Enjoy!
Mon, 10/05/2020 - 6:14pm by wied
Dear epistolary novel, you’ve met your match in Technically, You Started It. This snarky, hilarious teen novel is told entirely in text messages. Sparking around a class project for AP History and a case of mistaken identity, the novel explores friendship, sexual orientation, and mental health. It revels in the quirky and unusual friendships and family ties held by the main characters. Where some readers may scratch their heads over the concept of a character discovering they are on the asexual spectrum and falling in love in the same novel, this #ownvoices debut by Lana Wood Johnson depicts a delightfully realistic depiction of teen demisexuality.
If a reader must occasionally suspend disbelief at the depth of communication in the all-text-message teenaged narrative, it’s the same manner in which viewers suspended disbelief that the Gilmore Girls constantly engaged in perfect, tight paragraphs of witty banter. Fans of one, should definitely consider picking up the other.
Sun, 10/04/2020 - 5:07pm by muffy
The Thursday Murder Club members - septuagenarians Elizabeth, Joyce, Ibrahim, and Ron, residents of Cooper’s Chase, a luxury retirement center in Kent, meet weekly in the Jigsaw Room to discuss cold case files of retired Detective Superintendent Penny, a former member who is now in a coma. When the shady builder Tony Curran is bludgeoned to death in his home after a witnessed argument with owner Ian Ventham, the Club members jump in to investigate, sweeping along a newly-transplanted police constable Donna De Freitas who dreams of pursuing serial killers. Things become decidedly complicated when their chief suspect Ventham is murder in plain sight, and a skeleton is discovered on top of an old grave.
“What follows is a fascinating primer in detection as British TV personality Osman allows the members to use their diverse skills to solve a series of interconnected crimes. A top-class cozy infused with dry wit and charming characters who draw you in and leave you wanting more, please.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Cracow (Kraków in English), 1893. 38 year-old Zofia Turbotyńsk, a busy socialite, wife to a university professor, is itching for more, finding household management, novel reading, and charity work insufficient outlets for her prodigious energy. She frequents Helcel House, a retirement home for single women, run by the nuns. On a visit, Zofia gets involved in the search for Mrs. Mohr, a judge's widow who has been missing for 2 days. Under Zofia’s directive, they find the missing woman dead in an attic room. Though the police rules it death by natural causes (Mrs. Mohr is old and fragile), Zofia fears otherwise, and begins covertly to question the staff and residents. When another woman is found murder in her her own bed, Zofia is sure the two are connected, and foul play is afoot.
WIthout missing a beat, between attending theater galas, hosting dinners, and advancing her husband’s standing at the university, Zofia investigates, often at odds with the authorities.
"The preface offers helpful context on place and period, while the translation showcases the novel's deliciously ironic voice. Fans who like colorful locales and tongue-in-cheek mysteries will eagerly await Zofia's next outing.” (Publishers Weekly)
Reissued for the first time in over eighty years, The Great Hotel Murder by Vincent Starrett (1886--1974) with a delightful introduction from Lyndsay Faye, was first published in 1934 as Recipe for Murder, and adapted into a film in 1935. This twisty whodunit stars an eccentric amateur sleuth and theatre critic Riley Blackwood.
When Dr. Trample, an old family friend failed to show for their breakfast meeting and could not be reached, Miss Blaine Oliver alerted the manager of Chicago's Hotel Granada. In Trample’s room, they found the body of Jordan Chambers from an apparent morphine overdose. A New York Banker who registered under a different name, somehow managed to convince Trample, a total stranger to trade rooms over drinks at the bar. The Granada's owner brings in his friend Blackwood to investigate. But when another detective working the case is thrown from a yacht deck during a party, the investigation makes a splash among Chicago society. And then several of the possible suspects skip town, leaving Blackwood struggling to determine their guilt or innocence—and their whereabouts.
This devilishly complex whodunnit with a classical aristocratic setting, is sure to please Golden Age mystery fans.
* * * * = 4 starred reviews
* = Starred review
Fri, 10/02/2020 - 4:21pm by wied
Summer and fall are the seasons of plenty in Michigan, and there’s something absolutely delightful about being able to capture time in a bottle . . . or bright summer strawberries, crisp cucumber pickles, or the gorgeous heirloom tomatoes of August. Whether you tend your own garden, or are reaping the benefits of famers markets and CSAs, many of us desire a way to have a taste of beautiful ripe, local produce all winter. Artisan and small batch home canning and pickling have enjoyed a renaissance in recent decades.
If you’re looking for someplace to start, The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving or Ball Canning Back to Basics are great ways to get going (and to finally find out the difference between jelly, jam, and marmalade!).
Not Your Mama's Canning Book aims to be distinctive and funky, showcasing such modern updates on canning as brown sugar bourbon peaches, peach habanero rum preserves, and ginger lime marmalade. It also sports a long section of sauces and condiments you can make and water bath can at home. The second half of the book is filled with recipes featuring all those canned goods in their various uses, from Korean inspired flank steak lettuce wraps to masala chai latte waffles.
Fri, 10/02/2020 - 11:40am by potterbee
The 10th anniversary of I Love Yarn Day is October 10, 2020! This is an international movement dedicated to spreading the love of yarn and to celebrate with crafting of all types. In the past, celebrations have been in-person and virtual by sharing over social media platforms.
Why do we love yarn? As lovers of yarn know, working with fibers is highly beneficial for mental health and can be a great way to socialize. Studies have shown results for improved stress management and increases in self-confidence from spending time with fiber crafts.
Wed, 09/30/2020 - 1:29pm by dempseyj
Fairy tales are often entrancing and strange, but aside from that, they have surprisingly little in common. They vary widely, from funny to tragic, and from comforting to alarming, sometimes within the span of a single story.
If you’re interested, a good place to start is The Annotated Brothers Grimm. Some of these tales you may have heard a hundred times before, and others you’ve probably never even heard of. The annotations are a big help, since many of the stories can be rather baffling on the first (and even the fifth!) read.
Another influential collection is The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault. These stories were among the first literary fairy tales (which, to my understanding, differ from oral fairy tales in that they were told by aristocrats). Many of them have been adapted and retold countless times, but it’s fun to see them in the form that made them famous.
Fri, 09/25/2020 - 8:27am by muffy
Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) opens in 1948, at Kyoto, Japan, when an 8 year-old Nori(ko) was abandoned by her mother at the doorstep of her grandparents’ imperial estate, with the parting words - “Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist.” For the next 2 years, Nori was confined to an attic room, subjected to persistent beatings by her grandmother, and daily chemical baths to lighten her skin - a shameful reminder of the illicit affair between her mother, a married Japanese aristocrat and an African-American GI. Her only contact with the outside world was the rhythmic drumming of rain on the roof from season to season.
That was, until the unexpected arrival of Akira, her 15 year-old half-brother, the legitimate heir to the Kamiza estate, and a violin prodigy. The siblings formed an unlikely but powerful bond, a bond that their formidable grandparents could not allow, thus setting the stage for profound and unexpected consequences, irrevocably changing the lives they were meant to lead.
“(Debut novelist) Lemmie has a gift both for painting pictures with lush descriptions and for eliciting horror with the matter-of-fact way in which she recounts abhorrent acts. Lemmie intimately draws the readers into every aspect of Noriko's complex story, leading us through the decades and across the continents this adventure spans, bringing us to anger, tears, and small pockets of joy. A truly ambitious and remarkable debut.” (Booklist)
A New York Times Editors Choice Selection and longlisted for the 2020 The National Book Foundation’s Award for Translated Literature, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 * (also available in downloadable eBook), Cho Nam-Joo’s semi-autobiographical debut novel, originally published in 2016 (and translated from the Korean by Jamie Chang), “is credited with launching Korea's own #MeToo moment. It effectively communicates the realities Korean women face, especially discrimination in the workplace, rampant sexual harassment, and the nearly impossible challenge of balancing motherhood with career aspirations.” (Library Journal)
The novel opens in August, 2015, when 33 year-old Kim Jiyoung, a new stay-at-home mother, at the outskirts of the frenzied metropolis of Seoul, begins to exhibit strange symptoms that alarm her family. Often without warning, she speaks as if possessed by other women, alive and even dead, both known and unknown to her. Her worried husband Jung Daehyun sends her to a male psychiatrist, whose clinical reports form much of the novel.
“Through four chronological milestones childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, and marriage Cho presents what happened in the prior 33 years that actuated Jiyoung's abnormal behavior; each period is marked by gross misogyny, from microaggressions to bullying to abuse to unrelenting dismissal. Cho's matter-of-fact delivery underscores the pervasive gender imbalance, while just containing the empathic rage.“ (Booklist)
* = Starred review
Fri, 09/18/2020 - 9:02am by samanthar
The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards showcases some of the best work in the comic and graphic novel genre. Click here to see a full list of winners and nominees, and check out some of these great works from the catalog!
Best short story : Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers
Fri, 09/18/2020 - 7:57am by muffy
Members Only * by Sameer Pandya (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) chronicles Raj Bhatt’s terrible, horrible, very bad week, triggered by one careless, unfortunate, regrettable remark made during a meeting at his members-only club.
Raj, a professor of Anthropology at a California university, married, and father of 2, is the only nonwhite member of a private tennis club. At a prospective new member interview, his effort to connect with an African American couple comes across as a racist joke. Immediately, those he considers his friends turn on him, nevermind for years, he has silently endured slights and snubs from the membership.
The next day, a group of right-wing students at the University organizes a protest against him over objections to his lectures on the history of American slavery (labeling him as a reverse racist), threatening the safety of his family, his livelihood, and his integrity. Growing up as a bicultural Indian American immigrant, Raj is often unsure of where he belongs, now he finds it increasingly difficult to navigate the complicated space between black and white America.
“This realistic, character-driven novel with multiple, exceptionally well developed, threads of suspense engages contemporary identity politics and what it means to belong - to a club, to a racial group, to a country, and to various cultures and subcultures.... Pandya's writing here is smooth, clear, funny, and often subtly beautiful. Members Only is the thoughtful page-turner we need right now.” (Booklist)
* = Starred review
Wed, 09/16/2020 - 11:54am by Staffsteph
Do you like bugs and other “Disgusting Critters”? Are you looking to find more information about them in an easy to read book with great illustrations?! Look no further than Elise Gravel’s series called…. “Disgusting Critters”! You can learn about Lice, Flies, Slugs, Spiders, Bats, and more. Each book is loaded with fun illustrations, humor and most importantly actual factual information to help you be more informed about the disgusting critters in our world. Did you know that the female fly can lay more than 100 eggs at one time?! That fact and more are awaiting you in this fun and informative series.
Tue, 09/15/2020 - 12:22pm by samanthar
Did you know September 22 is National Voter Registration Day? It’s a day to celebrate our democracy, and make sure your voice will be counted in the November 3 election. It’s easy to register or check that you are registered at your current address. All you need is a Michigan driver’s license or state ID, and you can register or update your registration online by following the steps here: https://mvic.sos.state.mi.us/Home/RegisterToVote/#video
It’s never too late to get registered to vote - You can register at any time up to 8 pm on Election Day at your county or city clerk’s office!
Not sure if you are registered? Check your registration status here: https://www.vote411.org/check-registration
Mon, 09/14/2020 - 12:47pm by dempseyj
Spending time in nature can be a refreshing break from our day-to-day lives. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could bring some of that nature home with us? According to these two books, it’s been there all along, right in our backyards. We just have to look closely and we’ll see it.
The Urban Bestiary by Lyanda Lynn Haupt
How well do you know the creatures that live alongside you? From hawks to moles to coyotes, there are animals leading complex and varied lives just outside our homes. Whether they’re a welcome guest or a nuisance, they’ve been in our neighborhoods for as long as we have, so it’s only polite if we get to know them a little better.
Fri, 09/11/2020 - 11:55am by samanthar
Winner of the Eisner 2020 Best Reality Based Work, They Called Us Enemy is a powerful graphic novel documenting actor, author, and activist George Takei’s youth spent in US Japanese internment camps during WWII. In 1942, George and his father, mother, little brother, and baby sister were forced out of their Los Angeles home and imprisoned in US military camps. This was done to about 120,000 people, on the singular basis of being of Japanese descent. I knew about the internment camps and discrimination against Japanese Americans that took place at the time, but Takei’s telling brings out the nuances of what life was like for a child living through this devastating time. It is shocking to think that this happened in America, and less than 80 years ago. It hits home how this could happen again all too easily. I enjoyed the story being told in a graphic novel format. It helped keep it from getting pulled down by the heaviness of the subject, and I found myself more readily engaged by a graphic novel than if this was a traditional nonfiction book. I think it’s important for everyone to know about this deplorable time in United States history, and George Takei’s book is an excellent way to learn about it.
Thu, 09/10/2020 - 3:24pm by muffy
Love After Love * * is award-winning short story writer Ingrid Persaud’s debut novel, which Entertainment Weekly called “a window into Caribbean literature and a wider lens on immigration, race, and sexuality. Mostly, though, it’s just a great story; funny, tender, and true.” Set mostly on the island of Trinidad, it traces the lives of a makeshift family over 2 decades.
After Betty Ramdin’s abusive alcoholic husband Sunil dies, she takes in Mr. Chetan, a math teacher at the school where she is an administrator as a lodger. Kind, polite and adept in the kitchen, Betty and her five-year old son Solo take to him immediately, and gradually they form an unconventional family, loving and supportive of each other.
When Betty’s attempt to seduce Mr. Chetan fails, he comes out to her, trusting her with a secret that could mean jail or worse in Trinidad’s homophobic culture. Then by chance, Solo overhears Betty confiding in Mr. Chetan a secret so powerful that it drives him to leave Trinidad, vowing never to return. Living in New York with Sunil’s brother Hari and his family, he works menial jobs, available to the undocumented, lonely and an easy prey to grifters. Estranged from each other, Betty and Solo are buoyed by the continuing love and friendship of Mr. Chetan, until his own secret is uncovered with heartbreaking repercussions.
“Beautifully written, the novel is told in Trinidadian dialect ("You here bazodee over a man you ain't seen since he was in short pants"). The skilled treatment of the characters brings them to vivid life, as it does the richly realized Trinidadian setting. “ (Booklist)
Read-alike suggestion: The New York Times review of Love After Love by Gabriel Bump reminds me of Everywhere You Don't Belong, (2020) his debut novel, set in Chicago, which Tommy Orange called "(a) comically dark coming-of-age story, .... (a) meditation on belonging and not belonging, where or with whom, how love is a way home no matter where you are.”
* * = 2 starred reviews
Wed, 09/09/2020 - 2:52pm by Lucy S
Roald Dahl called her “undoubtedly the absolute primary influence on my own life,” and Sofie Magdalene (Hesselberg) Dahl, his mother, was an indeed a master storyteller who wove the folklore of her Norwegian heritage into tales to entertain her 5 children. When Sofie enrolled him in boarding school, Roald repaid this kindness to her by writing her letters, telling her stories of his life for her amusement. He wrote her at least once a week for 32 years, and these letters that his mother kept are just a small part of what Roald Dahl gave the world through his words.
Louis Armstrong was employed by Louis Karnofsky from a young age and helped this coal merchant/junk dealer on his daily rounds. But Karnofsky was more than a boss to young Armstrong, he was a surrogate father and the man who bought him his first horn. Even as he became a famous jazz musician, Armstrong remembered the generosity and warmth of the Karnofsky family and to honor their Jewish heritage, wore a Star of David around his neck for most of his life. Armstrong was also fluent in Yiddish due to his time spent with this generous family.
These are just two of the 65 “secret sidekicks” in The Who, The What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate The Secret Sidekicks of History. Editors, Jenny Volvovski, Julia Rothman,and Matt Lamothe have put together a collection “highlighting some of history’s ‘unknowns’ along with their famed counterparts.” Not everyone written about here would be considered heroic today, but certainly influential, and the many writers and illustrators who write about them illuminate the idea that behind every influential person exists someone who helped them ascend. The unique illustrations befitt their subjects and help to create a collection that is fascinating for the mind and the eye.
Tue, 09/08/2020 - 4:48pm by ncurtis
In her cookbook, Cooking with Scraps, author Lindsay-Jean Hard shows readers how to reduce waste by using food products they may have previously discarded. Have a recipe that calls for egg whites? No need to break eggs and throw away the yolks, when you can substitute the liquid from a can of beans. The recipes can save time in the kitchen, money at the store, and offer ways to to meet dietary restrictions.
Even readers who do not feel like lifting a whisk can enjoy flipping through the pages. High resolution photographs complement the text, and the layout is clean and modern. The about the author reveals that Hard attended the University of Michigan and works at Zingerman’s Bakehouse, so there are touches of local Ann Arbor pride.
Tue, 09/08/2020 - 12:29am by copelands
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was a legendary singer/songwriter and activist. The diva, who passed away in 2018, had a voice steeped in soul. An 18-time Grammy winner, she was known worldwide for her passionate and emotive singing. AADL offers many materials to help remember, celebrate, and educate readers on her life and career. In A Voice Named Aretha, written by Katheryn Russell-Brown, Franklin’s biography is told in a style suitable for young readers. Laura Freeman is the illustrator and her beautiful images tell Franklin’s story as wonderfully as the text. Young readers will learn how Franklin started singing and used her voice to inspire generations.
Another good choice for YA readers is Who is Aretha Franklin. The popular series examines Franklin and follows her career; from singing in church as a child, to recording certain hits like Respect, Chain of Fools, and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. The book also takes a look into her family life and relationships; one of her most notable being with her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin.
Additionally, The Queen Next Door by Linda Solomon, is a photography book that can be enjoyed by all ages. Solomon was Franklin’s longtime photographer and personal friend. The book features wonderful photographs of Franklin’s intimate moments. Social events like birthday parties, live concerts, music video sets, and more are captured. Also, the book honors the deep connection Franklin had with her hometown Detroit, as it is published by Wayne State University Press. For more info on this book, click here. If you’re interested in the legendary career of Aretha Franklin, be sure to take a look at one of these titles. Long live the Queen!
Thu, 09/03/2020 - 2:12pm by muffy
After the death of their parents, sisters Ann and Poppy Gordon are preparing to sell the family’s beloved Wellfleet summer home, but the inheritance dispute with their estranged adopted brother Michael brings back long-buried memories; and secrets of that fateful summer 15 years ago that fractured their family, and forever changed the trajectories of their lives.
“A riveting family saga that fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Cristina Alger, and Marisa De Los Santos will devour. Clancy's debut novel is a delight. She flips between decades, immersing the reader in sun-soaked Wellfleet summers before traveling to the present day and back again. With nostalgia as thick as the scent of coconut-scented sunscreen, The Second Home explores the consequences of emotional decisions and the strength needed to set things right.” (Booklist)
East Coast Girls,* the first adult title by teen author Kerry Kletter, follows four women who return to Montauk where they spent childhood vacations. More than just best friends, Hannah, Maya, Blue, and Renee filled in the gaps for one another left by their inattentive, neglectful, or toxic families. But the summer of their high school graduation, a terrible trauma flung their lives in different directions and caused them each to deal with the fallout in their own less-than-optimal way.
Now twelve years later, as their idyllic summer cottage is about to be sold, Maya convinces the women to come together for one last chance of restoring their friendship.
“Alternating narrators divulge masterfully drawn characters who feel like family, causing feelings of both sympathy and frustration. Pitch-perfect pacing and language reveals all the right pieces at just the right moments and the idyllic Montauk setting is skillfully depicted. Kletter will be an author to watch for fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Emily Giffin.” (Booklist)
* = Starred review
Thu, 09/03/2020 - 1:21pm by dempseyj
Science fiction and fantasy (SFF) books can be inventive, immersive, and inspiring. They also tend to be quite heavy. Sometimes you want to read a book that has all those qualities, but that you can also carry around without spraining anything. These three novellas offer exactly that.
Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh
Tobias lives alone in the heart of a forest, and has for hundreds of years. Then he meets a young man who has heard tales about an ancient being who tends the woods. This is a story about the power of fairy tales, friendship, and--most importantly--trees. (I am very enthusiastic about trees.)
Mon, 08/31/2020 - 1:05pm by samanthar
In her second published work, Postcolonial Love Poem, Mojave American poet Natalie Diaz lyrically tells readers what was stolen - bodies, land, love, rivers, language - by colonialism. While her work features heavily the themes of loss and othering, she does not dwell in wishing for a pre-colonial world. Her prose pushes readers to her present day brothers and sisters, how they walk with living wounds across polluted land. Diaz’s work is powerful and unlike any other I have read, juxtaposing facts
1 percent of the population of America.
Fri, 08/28/2020 - 10:54pm by copelands
Definitely Hispanic is the first book from social media star LeJuan James. James is a bicultural and bilingual YouTuber who found viral success through making comedic videos of his experiences as a first-generation Hispanic-American. James uses both English and Spanish in his videos where he often parodies his parents in various scenarios from his childhood.
In addition, Definitely Hispanic is a collection of essays, each dealing with topics close to James’ heart. Written in an intimate way, he engages with readers and gives a direct visualization of life in a vibrant Hispanic family. A recurring theme throughout much of the book is gratitude, mostly to his parents. They were strict but caring and James quickly found that his house rules were very different from his American friends’. Even though he was frustrated at times with the many rules and guidelines he had to follow, James realized as he got older that he is incredibly proud of his heritage. He later understood that his parents’ strict actions were out of unconditional love. Although both of his parents often worked multiple jobs to make ends meet, James recalled never wanting for anything when growing up.
In the opening chapter #Home, James reflects on his upbringing in Central Florida. During this time he moved frequently between Puerto Rico and the U.S. and began to understand his identity as a Hispanic American. He longed for acceptance in American circles but also thoroughly enjoyed his summers in Puerto Rico. He played with his cousins and enjoyed foods like quesitos and drinking limber (fruit juice). In #LaPela, he hilariously explains the spanking his parents used on him when he misbehaved and how in many cases, he deserved to be punished. #HispanicFamilyGatherings, one of my favorite chapters, offers a look into various family celebrations. This includes telling of how competitive his family is regarding sports; celebrating the winter holidays with much fanfare; and embracing any outsiders who visit as family. In the chapter #DatingHispanicWomen, he offers his advice on dating Hispanic women and the unique situations that might arise. He advises bowing gracefully out of arguments he feels he’ll never win to embracing the loyalty and impassioned love they give.