News and Reviews
Fabulous Fiction Firsts #825, Spotlight on the Michigan Connection
Mon, 05/29/2023 - 3:05pm by muffy
Wade in the Water * (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) by Nyaneba Nkrumah (MFA, University of Michigan) is the unlikely friendship between a precocious black girl and a mysterious white woman in rural, segregated Ricksville, Mississippi in the early 1980s.
11 year-old Ella, the product of a fling between her mother and a black man is ignored by her mother, abused by her stepfather - her only friend being the blind old Mr. McCade. Love-starved but wise beyond her years, she is fascinated by Katherine St. James, a white graduate student, newly arrived from Princeton on a research project, who chooses to rent in the Black half of town. Curious and suspicious, most of the Black folks stay away except for Ella who eagerly befriends Katherine.
In a series of flashbacks, we learn that Katherine St. James used to be Kate Summerville, daughter of a notorious Mississippi Ku Klux Klan leader in nearby Philadelphia, Mississippi, in the early 1960s. The family fled north after the killings of three voting-rights activists, and the case remains unsolved.
“What looks like it could be a narrative of atonement and redemption is turned completely on its head in the final chapters, as more details on Katherine's involvement with her father are presented - some to the community, some only to the reader. Nkrumah seems to agree with Faulkner, who said, "The past is never dead. It's not even past…. A furious look at the long tail of Jim Crow, with lively writing and a well-drawn setting. A promising debut.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Moonrise Over New Jessup * (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) by Jamila Minnicks (UM), the winner of the 2021 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction, is a period novel set in the all-Black town of New Jessup, Alabama, and “brilliantly presents the Black struggle through an anti-integration lens that is equally powerful and persuasive.” (Booklist)
1957. Alice Young steps off the bus in New Jessup, on the way to Chicago to reunite with her sister, in hope of starting a new life. In this unique settlement founded by a coalition of Black families who believed in the ideas of separation espoused by Booker T. Washington, Alice finds warm welcome, lodging, and a job sewing in a dress shop, and soon falls in love with Raymond Campbell, son of one of the town’s founders.
As they marry and raise a family, Alice becomes aware of Raymonds clandestine involvement with National Negro Advancement Society, ideals that the town frown upon, believing it will draw unwanted and dangerous attention from the white side of town and the law. Alice must find a way to balance her undying support for Raymond’s underground work with her desire to protect New Jessup from the rising pressure of upheaval.
Based on the history of the many Black towns and settlements established across the country, “(a)n outstanding writer, Minnicks excels at capturing the atmosphere and issues of a specific locale at a particular time, the Deep South at the dawn of the civil rights era.” (Library Journal)
The One by Julia Argy (MFA in fiction from the UM Helen Zell Writers' Program, 2021) (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) is a razor-sharp and seductively hypnotic debut novel about the very fantasy of falling in love.
20-something Emily Boylan just lost her job as an adm. assistant, never mind she does maybe 10 mins of real work every day, and she is determined to move forward. So when she is approached on a Boston street by Miranda, a TV producer for the hit reality dating show The One, to join the cast after a contestant backed out at the last minute, she's on board. But the moment Emily arrives on location, it becomes clear she's been tapped to win it all, after meeting Dylan Walter and the other 29 women vying for his proposal. And as Emily's fascination with another contestant grows, both Emily and Miranda are forced to decide what it is they really want--and what they are willing to do to get it. A brilliant send-up of our cultural mythology around romance, The One examines the reality of love and desire set against a world of ultimate artifice and manipulation.
“Fans of reality TV will appreciate the insider feel first-time novelist Argy creates for her version of a very famous dating show, with the addition of cheeky suggestions of the secret motivations of some contestants that have nothing to do with love or marriage. The characters are flawed and likable, utterly convinced of the rightness of their participating in the unhealthy behaviors encouraged by the producers…A pop-culture send-up bound to inspire lively discussions.” (Booklist)
* = Starred review
Staff Picks: Thrilling Fiction That's More Twisty Than a Pretzel
Thu, 05/18/2023 - 9:39am by denbyt
I love a well-written, substantial book as much as the next reader. Something I can really sink my teeth into. Something that I can mull over, for days or weeks. But then, every once in a while, I find myself in the mood for a fast read that’ll do nothing more than keep me guessing, breathless and at the edge of my seat, until the very end. I’ve gathered a short list of the latter here, just in case you’re on the hunt for your next twisty-turny thriller to while away a few hours on a warm spring evening.
The It Girl by Ruth Ware | Request Now
Hannah and her husband have a great life. A happy marriage. A baby on the way. They’ve put the decade-ago death of their college friend April firmly in the past…until Hannah is told the man who had died in prison, after having been convicted of April’s murder, may have been innocent. Hannah sets out to find the truth. Written in alternating timelines, pre and post-murder, this thriller has every essential ingredient for a page-turner. A cast of potential suspects, a complex victim who is more than what she appears to be, a well-developed narrator, and a twisty-turny plot. The author’s most recent release, The It Girl is going to inspire you to go back and read her backlist–if you haven’t already.
Staff Picks: Fabulous Fiction by AAPI Authors
Sun, 05/14/2023 - 12:23pm by emjane
We’re highlighting books by Asian American and Pacific Islander authors in honor of AAPI Heritage Month – however, don’t just limit your AAPI reading to May! AADL participates in the Unerased Book Club, which highlights amazing titles monthly. Here are four of my favorites read by the group in prior months, but keep checking AADL.TV for our future discussions!]
My Sweet Girl by Amanda Jayatissa | Request a Copy |Watch the Book Club Discussion
This twisty thriller centers on Paloma, a woman in her early 30s living in California and having a crisis. Paloma tries to be patient and kind, but life is so much more challenging now that she’s cut off from her parents' riches– plus the people out in the world are so infuriating. Paloma’s story is told in alternating chapters between the present day and her time in an orphanage in Sri Lanka, where she was adopted as a pre-teen.
Staff Picks: Books for Summers in Michigan
Tue, 05/09/2023 - 11:16am by eapearce
It may not feel this way when we’re weathering the fifth month of snow storms, but Michigan is a beautiful state! And there’s no better time to explore near and far than the spring, summer and early fall. With school letting out soon and the weather continuing to get warmer, lots of us are planning summer getaways, whether for a day or a week or longer. While of course it can be exciting to leave our beloved mitten-shaped home and see what’s beyond state lines, there’s so much to do and appreciate within the pleasant peninsulas, too. Need inspiration? Check out some of these cool local travel guides.
Michigan Day Trips by Theme, by Kathryn Houghton | Request Now
This book has been regularly updated since its first publication in 2013, most recently in 2021. Organized super conveniently based on what the reader might be interested in doing, this is great to flip through for ideas for destinations and stops all around the state. You can browse by region or by what you’re seeking out: Lighthouses, Science & Nature, Art, Festivals, Museums, and more. The range of activities in this book is particularly well-done: you won’t just find well-known tourist destinations here. Included are more rural nature centers, small museums and even just interesting historic buildings in lesser known towns that you might want to swing through. This is a book to keep in the car all summer long, to flip through and see what you might be able to add on to your journey!
Fabulous Fiction Firsts #824
Tue, 05/09/2023 - 8:27am by muffy
Named 2012 Sweden’s Book of the Year, and based on real events, (read The New York Times article) Stolen * by Ann-Helen Laestadius (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook), is part coming-of-age story, part love song to a disappearing natural world, and part spotlight on an indigenous culture under siege.
On a winter day north of the Arctic Circle, 9 year-old Elsa skies alone to visit her beloved reindeer calf at the family’s corral, only to find notorious local poacher Robert Isaksson, standing over her brutally savaged calf. Threatened to silence in order to protect her Sami herder family, the police has no choice but to declare it another case of “stolen” animals instead of a crime.
Ten years on, Elsa is now working the family herd and teaching at the village school. In the intervening years, she has lost a beloved uncle to suicide, her brother becomes estranged from the family and yet, the torture and slaughter of the reindeer continues with the apathetic police force. Finally, Elsa decides to push back, with the help of a young journalist.
“The novel highlights the problems and issues the Sámi face - racism, loss of culture, alcoholism, suicide, governmental mistakes and neglect, and the devastating effects of climate change. “ (Library Journal)
“Of Sámi descent herself, award-winning journalist Laestadius offers a rare, multigenerational look at the diverse and deep-rooted cultural heritage of this traditional arctic community. Akin to gritty stories of Old West cattle rustlers evading the law and society, Laestadius' unvarnished saga demonstrates the universality of oppression and revenge and conflicts over land and race.” (Booklist)
Stolen is Laestadius’ (English language) first adult novel and is being adapted into a film for Netflix.
* = Starred review
Staff Picks: Gardening 101
Mon, 05/08/2023 - 12:24pm by lucroe
Join us for the Gardening & DIY Fest on May 21 from 11am-5pm for hands-on activities, presentations, & artisan items for sale. Below you will discover some gardening books that are great for the beginner and anyone looking to help keep nature thriving!
Saving our Seeds : the Practice & Philosophy by Bevin Cohen | Request Now
Local writer, gardener, as well as a lecturer (he will be presenting a talk on seed saving at the Garden & DIY Fest) brings together his years of experience in this excellent guide to seed saving. He includes steps to save seeds from 43 different veggies and fruits as well as a history of seed saving and heartfelt stories from his own life as a seed activist. Great for the beginner or anyone just interested to know more about the importance of seeds and pollination. Interested in growing veggies? Check out his book, Grow Great Vegetables in Michigan
Fabulous Fiction Firsts #823 - The 1%
Wed, 05/03/2023 - 10:22am by muffy
Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson (also available as eBook and audiobook) is a deliciously funny, sharply observed “comedy of manners, charting the fates of the Stockton siblings and their spouses…A wealthier cousin of Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney's The Nest. ” (Kirkus Reviews)
The Stocktons, residents of Brooklyn Heights’ renowned fruit streets are the product of generational wealth and capitalist success. Cord, middle-child and the only son, had just moved into the family home recently vacated by his parents, downsizing to a nearby condo. His wife Sasha, a successful graphic designer from a middle class family, secretly referred to by his sisters as "the GD" (gold digger) because of her hesitation in signing a pre-nup, is struggling to fit in with this tight-knit family.
Darley, the eldest daughter who gave up her banking career for motherhood, regrets renouncing her inheritance when she married Malcolm, a first generation Korean American, now that a scandal has derailed Malcolm's career. Party-girl Georgiana, the youngest, considers herself a “do-gooder”, works for a non-profit and is secretly involved with a colleague while no one cares to tell her he is married.
“Jenny Jackson has written a lovely, absorbing, acutely observed novel about class, money and love. These are the themes of Henry James and Jane Austen, but they are observed with a fresh eye and a contemporary voice. Who wouldn’t want to read Pineapple Street?” ~ Nick Hornby
Staff Picks: Celebrating AAPI Comic Book Creators
Tue, 04/25/2023 - 4:40pm by lucroe
In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, we present a series of graphic novels featuring stories by Asian American and Pacific Islander creators. These works, which range from auto biographical, to steampunk, to magical realism and good old-fashioned superheroes, explore not only challenges unique to Asian and Pacific Island Americans, but also issues of death, loss, power and responsibility common to everyone.
They Called Us Enemy by George Takei, Justin Eisinger, Steven Scott & Harmony Becker | Request Now
The award-winning true story of actor and activist George Takei's early childhood experience in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. The story sheds light on a dark chapter in American History as well as the early years of an Asian American icon.
Staff Picks: Great Reads Published by Fifth Avenue Press
Wed, 04/19/2023 - 7:07pm by emjane
Did you know the library has a publishing imprint? Since 2017, Fifth Avenue Press has worked to bring great books written by Washtenaw County residents into reality – and into the hands of readers and library users!
One of the neatest things about this collection of books is that ALL of them are available for you to read digitally RIGHT NOW! You can read them directly in your browser from AADL’s catalog or download the PDFs to read from other devices. You can learn more about Fifth Avenue Press here.
Over in Motown by Debbie A. Taylor. Illustrated by Keisha Morris | Request Physical Copy Now | Access the Digital Copy Now
Staff Picks: Look to the Stars—Books on Astronomy
Wed, 04/12/2023 - 9:02pm by lucroe
Explore the cosmos with these fascinating reads from the scientists that study the stars to the amateur astronomers photographing it, there is a plethora of books for all levels of interest. Coming on May 11 to the library is Melissa Kaelin (see her book below) called Chasing the Aurora Below the 45th Parallel where she will give advice to those seeking the Northern Lights in Michigan.
Below the 45th Parallel : the Beginner's Guide to Chasing the Aurora in the Great Lakes Region by Melissa Kaelin| Request Now
It may not be as often seen in this part of Michigan, but if you want to know when and where your chances of seeing the Northern Lights in the Great Lakes region are check this book out. Author Kaelin is the founder of the Michigan Aurora Chasers that tracks the aurora borealis in real time. WDIV has a brief segment about her and the group here.
Staff Picks: Check Out LP Records at AADL!
Mon, 04/10/2023 - 1:46pm by eapearce
In 2022, vinyl record sales surpassed the sales of CDs for the first time since 1987. Did you know that AADL has an ever-growing collection of records for checkout? Our music selection librarian works hard to curate our record collection and purchases a wide variety of classic and brand new titles. Below, read about a few recent additions to our collection that you can take home to play on your record player today! And don’t forget: come celebrate Record Store Day with us on April 22! Over a dozen vendors will be selling records and music-related items in our Downtown Lobby, you’ll have the chance to design and create your own record sleeve, and we’ll have DJ Dave Lawson spinning tunes all afternoon.
Lover’s Game, by The War and Treaty | Request Now
If you haven’t had the privilege of listening to the country music powerhouse husband and wife duo The War and Treaty, you’re in for a treat! Michael and Tanya Trotter have renamed their duo several times since first forming it in Albion, Michigan in 2014, but they’ve been The War and Treaty since 2017, and they’re here to stay. Now based in Nashville, the two have hit it big with their major label debut album, Lover’s Game. They’ve long been appreciated at live shows, but Lover’s Game allows those of us still here in Michigan to enjoy their awesome sound along with the lucky folks who get to hear them live in Nashville. The Trotters say that Lover’s Game, much of which was written during the pandemic, is “the beginning of a new campaign to expand their borders and win the hearts and minds of country music.” They channel a broad range of southern music on the album; not just country and folk, but blues and soul, gospel, R&B and rock, too. This is truly country music for everyone, even those who can’t imagine themselves throwing on a country record–give it a shot!
Staff Picks: A Feast for Arab American Heritage Month
Fri, 04/07/2023 - 2:03pm by emjane
Arab American Heritage Month is a wonderful reminder to visit AADL’s ample cookbook collection! I highly recommend making a trip to the 641 shelves on the second floor of the Downtown Library and flipping through any books that catch your eye. But if you’re looking for some curated selections, try out some of these favorites below!
Cardamom and Lime: Recipes from the Arabian Gulf by Sarah Al-Hamad | Request Now
This cookbook is a dream to flip through, with large pictures of every dish and easy-to-follow instructions. Al-Hamad shares both the Arabic name and the English equivalent for each recipe and provides a paragraph of relevant information before the recipe itself, giving historical and locational context for each offering. I’m looking forward to cooking the Potato “Chops” (p. 41): small lamb patties encased in a potato and rice mixture and then fried in vegetable oil. I’ve not made anything like them yet, but they sound delicious!
Staff Picks: Buzzy Books of 2023 (So Far!)
Thu, 04/06/2023 - 2:50pm by eapearce
We’re far from even halfway through the year, but of course there’s already buzz about what books might make the “best of” lists this year. Often, books published earlier in the year don’t get as much press as books published in the summer and fall, so it can be easy to miss excellent titles that get released in the first quarter! If you’re wondering what titles are being talked about, read on and consider adding yourself to the hold lists!
Couplets, A Love Story, by Maggie Millner | Request Now
In this unique story told in verse, the protagonist leaves a stable relationship with a man to begin her first relationship with a woman, and thus begins the exploration of her queerness. This is more than a coming-out story, however: Millner also explores the obsession so many of us have with being a part of a “couple,” the meaning of being alive and in love, and the difference between having one or both things, and the challenging journey of self-discovery. What do we lose in partnerships and what do we gain? Is the joy of a new relationship worth the potential of it falling apart and the parties involved being left with the wreckage? There is no one answer to the questions and ideas Millner poses in Couplets, but it’s lovely to explore and consider her viewpoints and compare them with your own.
Staff Picks: Celebrate National Poetry Month!
Mon, 03/27/2023 - 3:28pm by eapearce
Every year, April is National Poetry Month. We like to highlight some of our favorite collections of poetry on displays, through programs, and in the newsletter! Read on for some recommendations of excellent, varied collections of poetry that you can check out from AADL. And stop by our Downtown Library throughout the month of April to browse several staff-curated displays with more great poetry recommendations.
Musical Tables, by Billy Collins | Request Now
Beloved American poet Billy Collins has been writing for decades. His newest collection, Musical Tables, just published this year, features poems in a new style that he has become interested in: extremely short poems. Many are just three or four lines, evoking simple feelings or fleeting moments in stark, relatable words. Many are wry or witty, as with “The Code of the West”: Say what you want/about me/but leave the horse/I rode in on out of it. Others still manage to be heartbreaking and deeply thoughtful, despite their brevity, as in “Divorce”: No more heavy ball, just the sound/of the dragged chain/with every other step. Collins was the Poet Laureate of the US from 2001 to 2003 and later the New York State Poet from 2004 through 2006. Born in 1941, he has published close to twenty volumes of poetry over the course of his prolific career.
Staff Picks: Great Graphic Novels
Sat, 03/25/2023 - 11:05am by emjane
We’re finally at the point where we can move beyond convincing adult readers that graphic novels are a valid format, right? (But just in case you need the pep talk – “Comics aren’t just for kids! Adding visuals to storytelling makes for a full reading experience and engaging and varied reading pace!”) Sometimes it’s wonderful to dive into a long, multi-volume Graphic Experience (and if that’s what you’re looking for, might I recommend Chew, Fables, or Scott Pilgrim, three of my favorites I find myself returning to) – but there’s something wonderful about a stand-alone graphic novel. Here are four of my favorites!
Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley | Request Now
We’ve all made decisions that, in hindsight, we’d make differently if given a second chance. Well, Chef Katie has stumbled across a way to do just that. Simply write down the thing you’d like to redo, eat one of the mushrooms the mysterious girl who appeared in your bedroom gave you, and go to sleep. When you wake up, you get your second chance. Nothing sketchy about that, right? But of course, like any media where you’re messing with the past, nothing is simple and consequences grow. O’Malley’s characters – both Katie and the folks who staff her restaurant – are likable, funny, and deeply relatable. It’s hard to avoid reading this book all in one sitting, but at the same time, I wish it had lasted longer. It’s a story fully told in one volume, but selfishly, I’d love to get more of Katie’s world.
Staff Picks: Celebrate National Arab American Month!
Thu, 03/23/2023 - 6:01pm by lucroe
April is National Arab American Heritage Month, and to celebrate the many voices of Arab & Arab American writers here are some highlights of books in our collection from fantasy to poetry to cooking. We also have an ever-growing collection of materials in the Arabic language that you can browse here. Of course, there are too many titles to include in one small blog but we hope you enjoy these authors’ works!
This Woven Kingdom by Tahereh Mafi | Request Now
Alizah is an orphan servant and also a Jinn, still persecuted, even though the wars between Jinn and humans have ended. She is also of royal blood that makes her heir to the Jinn’s lost kingdom. Kamran is the current royal prince in this Kingdom of Ardunia who wants to be a just king like his grandfather. They eventually meet and fall in love. But of course, it is not that easy with possible violent upheavals surrounding them that could potentially put them on opposing sides. This novel has roots in Islamic texts and the Persian epic, Shahnameh. Fantastic world-building and beautiful prose, this should engage any epic fantasy reader. Also, the sequel was just released, These Infinite Threads. If you like this fantasy you may also enjoy The Daughters of Izdihar by debut writer Hadeer Elsbai who blends a unique feminist fantasy inspired by modern Egyptian history.
Staff Picks: Stuck Inside? We Can Help!
Tue, 03/21/2023 - 11:15am by emjane
With early spring, you never know what you’re going to get! I usually dream of front porch swing weather, but more often than not, we’re stuck in second (or third) winter and I’m desperate for something engaging to do indoors. Luckily, we’ve got lots of books that can help spur some indoor fun.
The Perfect Cookie: Your Ultimate Guide to Foolproof Cookies, Brownies & Bars by America’s Test Kitchen| Request Now
Baking is an ideal indoor activity – it’s a fun process and as an added bonus, you end with delicious treats! America’s Test Kitchen is one of my go-to sources for recipes, especially baking. They do a great job of breaking down the steps that go into a recipe, so even if you’re not making something you’re familiar with, you have a high rate of success!
Staff Picks: Spring Clean Your Life
Fri, 03/10/2023 - 12:42pm by lucroe
Spring will be here soon, even though with snow on the ground it seems so distant. Along with flowers blooming and sunnier days, Spring brings thoughts of renewal. With this sometimes comes thoughts of cleaning house and organizing one’s life. Here are some books that can provide tips and suggestions in this time of Spring rejuvenation.
Make Space for Happiness : How to Stop Attracting Clutter and Start Magnetizing the Life You Want by Tracy McCubbin | Request Now
Founder of the L.A. company, dClutterfly (the site also has resources for decluttering), has come out with this book to help everyone deal with the emotional attachment of objects in one’s life that may lead to material excess. She provides tips in how to motivate the disorganized or stressed in order to make more meaningful purchase choices as well as letting go of those things that she considers clutter magnets.
Staff Picks: Animal Lives
Tue, 03/07/2023 - 3:30pm by lucroe
There is so much to gain from being immersed in and observing nature, besides an overall appreciation of its beauty and wonder, there is the hope that we can become better stewards of our environment. To study nature is not only to understand ourselves and our place in it, but to learn about our fellow creatures as well. Here are but a few of the more recent plethora of books that open up our minds to a new understanding of animals, whether it is the dog in our house, the crustacean in the sea, or ants in the garden, these books fascinate.
Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? By Frans de Waal | Request Now
Dutch primatologist and frequent writer on animal behavior, de Waal here tackles the way research has been conducted on animals in the past (along with its bias), and how tests should be species specific rather than humancentric. In vignettes, he shows how intelligence tests when given correctly to fit the species, show not only that animals are much smarter and that previous tests were flawed, it challenges the idea that humans are the superior intellect. He also points out through research that animals show empathy, cooperation, and problem-solving capabilities. Well worth the read along with his book on animal emotions called Mama’s Last Hug.
Staff Picks: Award-Winning Audiobooks
Fri, 02/24/2023 - 2:01pm by eapearce
Along with using the Libby app to checkout ebooks and audiobooks, AADL has a wide-ranging collection of audiobooks on CD! We’re adding new titles to this collection all the time. Here are some favorite and award-winning audiobooks you might want to check out.
Finding Me, by Viola Davis | Request Now
There’s something special about hearing a book read in the author’s own voice, especially when that book is an autobiography, and especially when the author is Viola Davis. In her memoir, Davis talks about coming-of-age under challenging circumstances in Rhode Island after her sharecropper grandparents migrated there from South Carolina. Listeners follow along with her fascinating story of outrunning her past all the way to finding her true purpose of a creative life on the New York stage and beyond. Davis has said that she hopes her story inspires others to find their outlets for creative expression and not be held back by labels that the world puts on people, especially young Black women.
Staff Picks: Exploring Afrofuturism
Wed, 02/22/2023 - 1:43pm by lucroe
Afrofuturism is a wide-ranging social, political and artistic movement that imagines a world where African-descended peoples and cultures (largely ignored in mainstream depictions of a utopian future) play a central role in the creation of that world. Afrofuturism’s influence is represented in every art form from the literature of Octavia Butler and Samuel Delaney to the music of Sun Ra and Janelle Monae to Black Panther and its costume designer Ruth E Carter. The list goes on….
Afrofuturism : the World of Black Sci-Fi and Fantasy Culture by Ytasha Womack | Request Now
A primer for understanding Afrofuturism and those that play a role in it. Whether one is interested in knowing the artists or further understanding the movement from its beginnings, this informative and entertaining work is, as DJ Spooky puts it a “…quantum romp through the Afro-Multiverse…”
Staff Picks: Skip the Hold Line and Check Out the Express Shelf!
Mon, 02/20/2023 - 3:49pm by emjane
You may gulp when you see the length of the hold list for these amazing titles. They’re deservedly in high demand and are worth the long wait. But sometimes you just don’t feel like waiting for that hot new title! And if you’re lucky, you might be able to snag an Express Shelf copy.
What is the Express Shelf? We get extra copies of super popular books and rather than using them to fill holds, we put them back on the shelf as soon as they’re returned! They check out for two weeks and can’t be renewed, but with books this good, you’ll want to find the time to read them before the due date! It’s a bit of a lottery, but I recommend making a quick perusal of the Express Shelf a part of every library trip. You never know what great thing you might be lucky enough to find!
Staff Picks: Black Comic Book Creators
Tue, 02/14/2023 - 11:25am by lucroe
In celebration of Black History month, we present a series of graphic novels featuring powerful stories by Black creators, exploring many aspects of race in ways both real and fantastic.
Bitter Root Vol 1 by Check Brown, Sanford Greene, Rico Rizzi & Clayton Cowless | Request Now
Set in Harlem renaissance New York, it tells the tale of the Sangereye family that use roots and potions to fight supernatural forces that threaten the world in a blend of horror and historical fiction.
Staff Picks: Spotlight on Ukraine
Fri, 02/03/2023 - 11:06am by eapearce
The ongoing war in Ukraine has many people interested in learning more about the country and in reading titles by Ukrainian authors. AADL is growing our collection of these titles! We’re also growing our collection of books in Ukrainian for both kids and adults. Browse AADL’s World Languages collection to see newly added titles in Ukrainian. In March, you can also view our Spotlight on Ukraine display in the Downtown Library lobby. For English speakers interested in Ukraine, here are a few titles to start with!
Budmo!: Recipes from a Ukrainian Kitchen, by Anna Voloshyna | Request Now
In this new cookbook, you can celebrate the rich culture of Ukrainian cuisine with traditional recipes with a modern twist. Anna Voloshyna is a young Ukrainian chef who moved to the Bay Area in 2011 from Kyiv. There, she began hosting Eastern European pop-up dinners featuring recipes from her homeland, and from these, Budmo! was born. Voloshyna’s mouth-watering recipes include her grandmother’s roasted duck, reinvented borscht with sorrels and soft eggs, and roasted beet pkhali, a minced vegetable dish topped with pomegranate molasses. “Budmo!” means “cheers!” in Ukrainian and you’ll want to host your own dinner party featuring recipes from this gorgeous book after you flip through the pages!
Staff Picks: Celebrating Black Chefs
Wed, 02/01/2023 - 11:35am by emjane
A culinary road-trip to Oakland to eat at the Brown Sugar Kitchen, to New York to dine at Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster Harlem, and to the island of Edisto to knock on Emily Meggett’s side door and get some Gullah Geechee home cooking sounds amazing! If a cross-country trip isn’t in the cards for you, we’ve got great cookbooks to bring a bit of these chef’s kitchens into your own!
The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food by Marcus Samuelsson | Request Now
More than a collection of recipes, The Rise highlights the role food—Black food specifically—plays in social justice. Broken into collections of recipes created in honor of Black chefs, activists, and authors (among others), The Rise places biographies and thought-provoking histories alongside sharply photographed food and recipes all the more meaningful because of the context. From the simpler hoecakes to the more complex Ayib and Sweet Potato Ravioli with Berbere Brown Butter, The Rise could keep you cooking for days. I think I’ll start by making Leftover Wine Spiced Chocolate Cake with Mulled Wine Raspberries (doesn’t that sound decadent?!)
Staff Picks: Romantic Movies
Mon, 01/30/2023 - 11:23am by lucroe
Valentine’s Day is around the corner so enjoy these romance movies, some with a crossover appeal into other genres like horror, action, and fantasy.
The Lovebirds directed by Michael Showalter | Request Now
Issa Rae and Kumail Nanjiani play a couple that at the start seem to click perfectly but eventually the magic fades. But this is not about them coming apart, it is ultimately about being in the wrong place, wrong time when they accidentally stumble into a murder scene. In order to clear their names, they must find the killer but not without a lot of action and comedic moments along the way. Through it all, will the couple’s relationship become stronger or will this drive them even further apart? Watch and find out. 86 min.
Staff Picks: Great Family Read Alouds
Fri, 01/27/2023 - 2:22pm by eapearce
Reading aloud is a great activity even for kids (and adults!) who already know how to read. But it can be challenging to find a good read aloud book for families with children of varying ages. It has to be exciting and interesting enough to keep the attention of older kids, but gentle enough for the younger ones. Here are a few of our recommendations for titles the whole family will enjoy listening to.
Sideways Stories from Wayside School, by Louis Sachar | Request Now
First published in 1978, this book is chock full of old-school humor that kids will love. Wayside School was built straight up from the ground, thirty stories high, with one classroom on each story. The book is written in short chapters with funny anecdotes from various classrooms in the school, making it perfect to read aloud in short snippets.
Staff Picks: If You Liked This Year's Washtenaw Read, You Might Also Like...
Tue, 01/24/2023 - 10:48am by eapearce
The 2023 Washtenaw Read is Such a Fun Age, by Kiley Reid. Reid will give a talk, answer questions and do a book signing at the Downtown Library on Sunday, February 5 at 4pm. If you enjoyed Such a Fun Age, you might also enjoy some of these other titles!
That Kind of Mother, by Rumaan Alam | Request Now
First-time mother Rebecca is experiencing many of the common feelings of new mothers: she loves her son, but is also overwhelmed caring for him and mourns her life pre-child. Feeling desperate, she hires a Black woman named Priscilla to be her son’s nanny. As Priscilla becomes a large part of Rebecca’s life, Rebecca is forced to confront her long-held blind spots about her privilege, and ultimately begins to feel that Priscilla teaches her more about motherhood and herself than anyone else. When Priscilla tragically dies in childbirth, Rebecca steps up to adopt the baby, though she’s deeply unaware of what it means to be a white mother with a Black baby. Now, she must learn to raise two children whom she both loves fiercely, but who will have different experiences of the world simply because of their skin colors.
Staff Picks: Books to Celebrate the Lunar New Year
Wed, 01/18/2023 - 3:43pm by emjane
Also known as Chūnjié, Seollal, and Tết, the Lunar New Year celebrations begin Sunday, January 22 this year. Learn more about the traditions and mark the New Year in the books below!
Mindy Kim and the Lunar New Year Parade by Lyla Lee | Request Now
Elementary-schooler Mindy is mostly ready to learn more about her Korean heritage as Lunar New Year approaches – though she’s a little worried the parade her dad wants to take her to will be boring, and she knows that celebrating the new year without her mother will be different. In this short chapter book, learn about the traditions of Lunar New Year alongside Mindy and watch she and her dad make the most of the holiday!
Fabulous Fiction Firsts #822 - Resourceful Women
Mon, 01/16/2023 - 2:32pm by muffy
The Bandit Queens * * by Parini Shroff (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) is “a darkly hilarious take on gossip, caste, truth, village life, and the patriarchy….. A perfect match for fans of Oyinkan Braithwaite's My Sister, the Serial Killer (2018) and clever, subversive storytelling.“ (Booklist)
Ever since her abusive husband Ramesh disappeared five years ago, Geeta has become a social piranha in their small Indian village. She is feared and ostracized - for rumor has it that Geeta killed him. It turns out being a "self-made" widow has its perks…freedom. When a member of her microloan group (that funds her thriving wedding jewelry business) consults her for her “expertise” in husband disposal, it sets in motion a chain of events that will change everything, not just for Geeta, but for all the women in their village.
Inspired by the resourcefulness of Phoolan Devi, the Bandit Queen (the subject of a 1994 featured film), a folk heroine who exacted revenge on her abusers, Geeta reluctantly agrees to help Farah kill her husband. In the process, Geeta connects with widower Karem, a gentle and kind bootlegger, and her estranged childhood friend Saloni, fortuitous because bigger troubles come knocking at her door.
“Shroff deals sharply with misogyny and abuse, describing the misery inflicted as well as its consequences in unflinching detail, and is equally unsparing in her depictions of mean-girl culture in the village. Readers are in for a razor-stuffed treat.” (Publishers Weekly)
Viviana Valentine Gets Her Man, the first in the Girl Friday Mystery by Emily J. Edwards (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook). New York City, 1950. Viviana Valentine is girl Friday to Tommy Fortuna, a private eye working out of Hell’s Kitchen. When fabulously wealthy Tallmadge Blackstone hires Tommy to tail his 18 year-old daughter Tallulah, who is resistant to marry his partner, the much older Webber Harrington-Whitley, it looks like routine business, and it will pay the bills.
At a society event, Viviana meets the delightful Tallulah. Unfortunately, before she could report to Tommy the next day, she finds a lifeless body on the office floor and Tommy missing. The cops, led by Detective Jake Lawson who finds Tommy’s business tactics questionable at best, is quick to issue a warrant for his arrest. It is now up to Viviana to take on the Blackstone case, and to clear Tommy’s name.
“Though the mystery doesn’t seem to be up to much, Edwards sneaks in a raft of twists and complications under your guard, and the big reveal is surprisingly big and revealing. Just what 1950s men’s magazine fiction would be like if it were written by and about women.” (Kirkus Reviews)
The Socialite's Guide to Murder: A Pinnacle Hotel Mystery by S. K. Golden (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) a series debut perfect for fans of Rhys Bowen and Ashley Weaver.
1958. 21 year-old Evelyn Elizabeth Grace Murphy, heiress to The Pinnacle Hotel, one of New York City’s premier hotels, is privileged, pampered and frankly, spoiled. Since finding her mother’s body in an alley when she was six, she suffers from agoraphobia, and rarely if ever, leaves the hotel. From her perch in the penthouse suite and the hotel staff at her disposal, life is grand, until a valuable painting in a splashy affair goes missing, and the artist murdered in the hotel corridor, following a violent confrontation with her best friend, actor Henry Fox. Before Evelyn could prove Henry’s innocence, the head of hotel security is arrested.
Enlisting the help of bellboy/her secret crush, Malcolm "Mac" Cooper, they pick locks, snoop around the hotel, and discover the walls around them contain more secrets than they previously knew. Now, Evelyn must force herself to leave the hotel to follow the clues to find the murderer. “Suggest to readers who enjoyed other hotel-set mysteries with young amateur sleuths, like Nita Prose's The Maid and Audrey Keown's Murder at Hotel 1911.” (Library Journal)
* * = 2 starred reviews