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Staff Picks: A Bit of Romantasy

by lucroe

For readers craving that overlap between romance and fantasy, check out these titles that have it all: magic, creatures, and love! 

Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna | Request Now
The cover of Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu MandannaA cozy romantasy about Mika Moon, who happens to be a witch but no one knows except her coven, who don't understand how lonely she has felt throughout the years. When a mysterious message arrives asking her to come to Nowhere House to train three young witches how to control their magic, she knows it's a bad idea to go. Who knows, maybe there she'll find something worth taking a chance on like the house librarian Jamie Kelly who she is immediately attracted to but who gives her the cold shoulder. Could she melt that icy heart of his?

 

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Staff Picks: Fabulous Fiction from U-M Alum

by emjane

The Helen Zell Writers Program, University of Michigan’s MFA program, has an impressive alumni list, who—would you believe it—have written some impressively good books! Here are a few of my favorites.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett | Request Now

The cover of The Vanishing Half, by Brit BennettTwin sisters Desiree and Stella both leave home at 16 and their lives, which up until that point had been lived in tandem, dramatically diverge. Told from shifting perspectives between Desiree, Stella, and their daughters, The Vanishing Half spans generations to tell an engaging story of identity, family, and connection.

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Staff Picks: Teen Books on TV

by nicole

Several Teen books have been adapted into shows in the past few years. If you like to read the book before you see it on TV, check out these YA stories that have been recreated for the small screen.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman | Request Now

The cover of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil GaimanAccording to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just after tea. Which means that Armageddon will happen on Saturday night. So the armies of Good and Evil are gathering, the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse are revving up their mighty hogs and hitting the road, and the world's last two remaining witch-finders are getting ready to fight the good fight, awkwardly armed with antiquated instructions and stick pins. Armageddon is in the air. Which is a major problem for Crowley, a fast-living demon, and his opposite and old friend Aziraphale, a fussy angel. They like it down here, and they're not particularly looking forward to the end of it all. So they've got no choice but to defeat the marching ranks of the Witchfinder's army and - somehow - stop the Rapture from happening. Above all, they've got to find and kill the most powerful being on earth, the Antichrist (which is a shame, as he's a really nice kid). There's just one glitch: someone seems to have misplaced him. This over-the-top story is equal parts humor and fantasy, and the TV series is also available in our catalog.

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Staff Picks: Breakfast Bonanza: Cookbooks for the Start of Your Day

by eapearce

Whether or not you believe that the most important meal of the day is breakfast, as the old adage goes, there is something to be said about having a delicious beginning to your morning. In the following cookbooks, you’ll get ideas for how to make breakfast unique, yummy, easy, and all three!

Breakfast: The Cookbook, by Emily Miller | Request Now

The cover of Breakfast: The Cookbook, by Emily MillerThis delightful and comprehensive book shares recipes for home-cooking breakfasts from all over the world. Hundreds of recipes are compiled here with straightforward and simple instructions, so that you can prepare a dish that you’ve perhaps never even heard of before (a good thing, if you’re cooking at 7am!). Culinary notes and backgrounds on the origins of the recipes add a nice touch and provide the reader with interesting insight as to where the recipe they are preparing comes from and how people in that region might enjoy it. Conveniently, the index is organized by both food and country, so you can search for what you’re looking for by either categorization. Recipes are divided by food type as well as dietary restriction, such as gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan, quick and easy, under five ingredients and more. Lovely photographs accompany the recipes. This is a great book for any breakfast-lover, or even for anyone who is breakfast-curious and looking to up their morning meal routine.

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Staff Picks: Motown Turns 65

by lucroe

Berry Gordy founded Tamla Records on January 12, 1959, later adding the Motown Records label. We celebrate the immense contribution to music with some books, CDs, and a movie. To learn more about Motown go to Detroit’s own Motown Museum.

Where Did Our Love Go? : the Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound by Nelson George | Request Now
Where did our Love go?Originally written in the 1980s, this is a well-researched and straightforward account of Motown’s history. George traces Berry Gordy’s career as well as the vocalists, songwriters and musicians who made the Motown sound synonymous with the 1960’s. In the end, according to accounts, Gordy lost touch with his artists and Motown became “…just another record company…”. George has written a book that shows great appreciation for the Motown that was once a powerhouse of the music industry.

 

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Staff Picks: New Music by Black Artists in Celebration of Black History Month

by eapearce

AADL is always adding new music to our collection in the form of both CDs and LP records! This month we’ve got a feature on newly added titles by Black artists, in celebration of February being Black History Month. Enjoy!

Afro Futuristic Dreams, by Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids | Request Now

Afro Futuristic DreamsThis new jazz album, the first by Idris Ackamoore since 2020, draws influences from a wide variety of artists: you’ll hear elements of Parliament Funkadelic, Sun Ra and Fela Kuti along with more traditional jazz sounds and combinations. The smoothness of Afro Futuristic Dreams doesn’t take away from its politically charged message, aided by Ackamoor delivering straightforward lyrics about current events. Ackamoor, who came of age in the 1960s, has always felt that making music is about “making change happen,” and it’s clear on this new record that he’s pushing for change in the United States in lots of ways. The Pyramids were founded in the early 1970s in Ohio, and became known for combining African rhythms with the psychedelic jazz that was particularly popular in the U.S. at the time. Known for being one of the few bands who actually spent time traveling and playing in Africa to best capture the authentic sounds they were seeking, they’re just as strong as ever accompanying Ackamoor on this record (he was a founding member of the band back in the day). This record is well worth a listen.

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Staff Picks: A Library Card: Your Ticket to Free Streaming!

by emjane

Peeved that your streaming service is adding commercials? Luckily there is a whole slew of commercial-free streaming content available to you via your aadl.org catalog. You can browse the whole collection of more than 10,000 videos, or check out some recommended picks below:

Travel Documentaries

Seven Worlds One PlanetTravel the world without leaving your couch! BBC’s Emmy-winning Seven Worlds One Planet is a beautiful look at all of the continents. Don’t Forget Your Passport is more causal viewing, but its charming host and highlight of tours across the world is a great way to add future trips to your bucket list. And, of course, you can’t forget the King of Travel, Rick Steves – we have quite a few titles from his Rick Steves’ Europe series!

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Staff Picks: Into The Woods - Middle-Grade Wilderness Comics

by nicole

Looking for adventure, but stuck at home in the snow? Travel to magical jungles and frontier forests with these wild wilderness graphic novels.
 

Mighty Jack, Book 1 by Ben Hatke | Request Now

Mighty JackJack might be the only kid in the world dreading summer. But he's got a good reason: summer is when his single mom takes a second job and leaves him at home to watch his autistic kid sister, Maddy. It's a lot of responsibility. And it's boring, too, because Maddy never talks. Not ever. But then, one day at the flea market, Maddy does talk: she tells Jack to trade their mom's car for a box of mysterious seeds. It's the best mistake Jack has ever made. Soon Jack finds himself planting a very unusual garden, one that produces a crop of strange and bizarre creatures. What starts as a normal little garden out back behind the house quickly grows up into a wild, magical jungle with tiny onion babies running amok, huge, pink pumpkins that bite, and, on one moonlit night that changes everything…a dragon. If you love Ben Hatke's great storytelling or want more Mighty Jack, check out the rest of his books in the AADL Catalog.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #833, She investigates...

by muffy

murder_by_degreesMurder by Degrees * * * by Ritu Mukerji

Philadelphia, 1875. Dr. Lydia Weston teaches at the Woman's Medical College and attends to working-class patients at the city's Spruce Street Clinic where she first meets Anna Ward.  Hardworking, highly motivated and an eager learner, Anna works as a chambermaid for the wealthy Curtis family but shares Lydia’s love of literature.  During an appointment with Lydia, Anna is visibly troubled by something she won't explain, and abruptly disappears.  Soon her body is dredged out of the Schuylkill River, bloated beyond recognition, she is identified by her diary and clothes neatly folded by the river.

When the police rules Anna’s death as suicide, Lydia is suspicious, especially when her autopsy confirms otherwise. “Mukerji, like Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs, pulls the reader into fascinating and richly detailed forensic autopsies and blesses Weston with the instincts and determination to carry out a murder investigation as effectively as--or even better than--the police.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

“This well-researched, historical-mystery debut by a practicing physician will appeal to readers who enjoy strong female characters and graphic clinical details.” (Booklist)   For fans of Jacqueline Winspear and Charles Todd

dexpectant_detectivesThe Expectant Detectivesby Kat Ailes is the first in a new cozy mystery series, set in the sleepy village of Penton. Finding themselves unexpectedly expecting, Alice and her partner Joe move out of pricy London to embrace country life in the Cotswolds. With the baby coming in 2 weeks, they sign up for a prenatal class. When one of the women goes into labor during class, frenzy ensues until someone notices Mr. Oliver, owner of the herb shop downstairs, keels over dead, and they find themselves all suspects in the murder investigation. 

Together with her band of pregnant sleuths, Alice manages to suss out Mr. Oliver's many secrets, his connection to the hippie commune in the woods and the mysterious death in the village some years ago.  What’s most disturbing for Alice is how Joe has been acting strangely and someone tries to poison her goofy canine companion Helen.

In this The Thursday Murder Club meets Midsomer Murders, “readers of Darci Hannah will enjoy Helen’s spotlight in this series. The humor is akin to Elle Cosimano’s Finlay Donovan series, and the relationship between Joe and Alice is reminiscent of Jules Capshaw’s romantic endeavors in Ellie Alexander’s “Bakeshop Mysteries.(Publishers Weekly) 

* * * = 3 starred reviews

* = Starred review

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AADL Weather Hours Update: January 12-13, 2024

by richretyi

Due to the impending snowstorm, all AADL locations will close at 3 pm Friday (Jan. 12) and reopen at noon on Saturday (Jan. 13). Items on the hold shelf will be held through Tuesday (Jan. 16).

If you have questions, please text or call 734-327-4200 or email ask@aadl.org. 

Thank you for your understanding!

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Staff Picks: Imagining the Future

by lucroe

Cli-Fi or Climate-focused fiction is a subgenre that is concerned with what might become of our world and our future if climate change continues. These authors have imagined what might be in store for us in the decades to come. Some spell doom and gloom while others take a more moderate approach. These stories offer a lot to think about and appreciate.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood | Request Now

Failure to halt climate change has created an out of control weather system where fierce storms and tornadoes are all too common. The coastlines are flooded, and there’s no seasons anymore: just one long, sticky, miserable summer. Those few who survived the plague scrounge for food while dodging genetically modified creatures gone feral, like “wolvogs” and “pigoons”.Bottom of Form Potentially the last human on earth, "Snowman" tours the remnants of his destroyed world, reminiscing and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake; the woman they both loved, Oryx; and the rise of genetic experimentation that destroyed the world.

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Staff Picks: Further Reading Related to the 2024 Washtenaw Read

by eapearce

You may have heard that the selection for the 2024 Washtenaw Read is How the Word is Passed, by Clint Smith. The keynote event for the Read will take place this spring, with a variety of related events leading up to it. If you’ve read the book and would like to participate in a discussion of it with AADL staff and fellow community members, we have one coming up on January 23 at 6pm on Zoom. And if you’re interested in further reading related to the topics Smith discusses in his book, you may want to check out one of these titles!

On Juneteenth, by Annette Gordon-Reed | Request Now

Gordon-Reed, an esteemed historian, Pulitzer Prize-winner, and Black Texas native explores the history of Texas, shares what it was like growing up as a Black girl and young woman in the state and ponders the creation of Juneteenth and its significance to her communities in Texas and beyond. Gordon-Reed is the descendent of enslaved people who were brought against their will to Texas prior to the Civil War and has spent a great deal of time studying the origins of Juneteenth and the legacies of the holiday. Though this book is fairly slim, it is packed with fascinating historical information and deeply personal stories. Readers will learn much.

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Staff Picks: Good Cooks for Cold Days!

by emjane

A great way to warm your home (and your spirit) in these drearier days of the year is to cook! Here are some great cookbooks to use to build a cozy, comforting meal!

 

The Soup Club Cookbook by Courtney Allison, Tina Carr, Caroline Laskow, and Julie Peacock | Request Now

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Staff Picks: Comical Cats for Kids

by nicole

If you're looking for comics for cat lovers, look no further! Find your new favorite feline in one of these comical kids graphic novels about cats.
 

Catwad, Volume 1: It's Me, by Jim Benton | Request Now

Meet Catwad. He's blue, he's a bit of a grouch, and his best friend is a happy-go-lucky cat named Blurmp who can see the bright side of anything! From pizza and computers to love and happiness, this furball has a funny take on just about everything - and he's not afraid to share it. This laugh-out-loud series will make even the grumpiest of grumblers smile! If you like the first book, make sure to check out the whole series in the AADL Catalog.

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AADL's Most Requested Items of 2023

by richretyi

most requested 2023

What were the most requested items in the AADL collection in 2023? We've got the full list. From the most requested fiction and non-fiction titles to portable CD players, The Starry Night, and our 500-piece Lake Michigan vintage poster puzzle—AADL presents our top-20 most requested everything of 2023!

Fiction

1. Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

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Staff Picks: Books by Comedians that are More Than Bits

by emjane

Many stand-up comedians are halfway-decent writers, their trade is words, after all! But there’s a difference between being able to successfully translate your act to written form (I’m looking at you, Jerry Seinfeld) and creating something new – something funny, yes, but with more depth to it. Luckily, we’re living in the golden age of comedian writers – or at least, I declare that we are! Here are four of my favorites.

Sure, I’ll Join Your Cult by Maria Bamford | Request Now

The cover of Sure, I'll Join Your CultAlt-comic Maria Bamford has found success despite working through struggles with debt, mental health, and the ethics of taking certain jobs; she credits some of this success to the role that multiple 12-step groups have played in her life, even while acknowledging their flaws.  In addition to her comedic chops, a major piece of Bamford’s appeal is how deeply willing she is to be entirely honest, even about things that most people keep under their hat: mental health, personal finance, and blatantly ignoring parking protocol. She speaks openly about her challenges and, in doing so, empowers her readers to also experience personal growth, or at least not feel so alone. Bamford has a distinct voice – both metaphorically and literally – if you’re an audiobook person, you might want to listen to this one!

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Staff Picks: Mindfulness Meditation

by lucroe

Research shows that even a few minutes of meditation a day can reduce anxiety and negative thoughts. Here are just a few beginner-friendly books that might help to nurture your meditation practice.

Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Gunaratana‌ | Request Now
The cover of Mindfulness in Plain EnglishFirst published in 1994, now in this 20th anniversary edition, this is a classic guide by Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, Bhante G. As the title says, it is an easy to follow guide to the understand the benefits of mindfulness meditation, and provides an explanation of what meditation really is, as well as the kind of attitude that you should adopt for best results. Whether you are brand new to the subject, have tried meditating before on your own but come unstuck, or would simply like a fresh perspective that can help you to improve and deepen your practice, this book is an excellent guide for all levels.

 

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Staff Picks: Keep it Cozy This Winter with DIY Titles

by eapearce

From knitting clothing and accessories of all types, to felting cute animals, to making your own wintry wreaths, our collection of titles about cozy hands-on projects will keep you busy all winter long. We have ideas for beginners looking to knit their very first hat to books for folks looking for a challenge and crocheting amigurumi gifts for the holidays or embarking on a detailed cookie-decorating journey. Our selection of DIY crafty books features way more than we can highlight here, so browse our catalog or the shelves at one of our locations next time you’re in to find what piques your interest, and stay warm this winter!

The Year of Cozy: 125 Recipes, Crafts, and Other Homemade Adventures, by Adrianna Adarme | Request Now

​​The cover of Year of CozyThis book is separated into months of the year and divided by things you can “do,” things you can “make,” and things you can “live,” which makes it a great starting off point for people looking for a new project but not sure exactly where to begin. With recipes, crafts, and outdoor activities ranging from the simple, which can be completed in an hour or two, to the more complex which might take days or weeks, Adrianna really offers something for everyone in this charming book. Readers who are dog lovers will also enjoy her adorable corgi, who is often featured in the background (and sometimes the foreground!) of her photos of the things she makes and does.

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AADL Board of Trustee Applicants Sought

by richretyi

The AADL Board of Trustees seeks applicants interested in being appointed to the AADL Board for a partial term. A resignation has resulted in a vacant seat on the Board through December 2024. Interested residents of the AADL District should send an email to board@aadl.org no later than December 31st, 2023, expressing their interest and qualifications for the role.

The Board will review the responses, and vote to appoint a new trustee at their January 22 meeting. The appointed trustee will be seated in February, and the appointed term will end December 31, 2024.

Feel free to contact Library Director Eli Neiburger at eli@aadl.org or 734-327-4263 if you have any questions.

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Staff Picks: Speculative Fiction in Translation

by lucroe

Setting your New Year’s reading agenda? Consider including works translated into English. Although not nearly enough is translated, there are still plenty to choose from even within the speculative fiction subgenres like science fiction, fantasy, dystopian, and horror. Translating is definitely an art form and represents a small portion within these genres. In highlighting these books, we hope that translated works get more reading exposure. If you are interested in more translated speculative fiction, visit the Speculative Fiction in Translation site for further suggested readings.

 

Tower of Fools by Andrzej Sapkowski, translated from Polish by David French | Request Now
The cover of Tower of FoolsPenned by the author known for the legendary Witcher series, the first in his epic fantasy Hussite trilogy is brimming with rich European history and magic. Originally written in Polish, The Tower of Fools follows a doctor-magician-nobleman who lands himself in the Narrenturm, a notorious asylum in which he must fight to keep his own sanity.

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Staff Picks: IndigiLit Book Club

by maddiefancett

The IndigiLit Book Club is a discussion series that celebrates Native American authors and books, across genres, across time, and across the continent. Here's a selection of IndigiLit titles explored by AADL staff throughout the discussion series.

Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid To Ask by Anton Treuer | Request Now

The cover of Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid To AskWhat's it like for natives who don't look native?" to "Why are Indians so often imagined rather than understood?", and beyond, Everything You Wanted to Know About Indians But Were Afraid to Ask does exactly what its title says for young readers, in a style consistently thoughtful, personal, and engaging. Updated and expanded to include: dozens of new questions and new sections, including a social activism section that explores the Dakota Access Pipeline, racism, identity, politics, and more.

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Staff Picks: Reading for Native American History Month

by lucroe

November is National Native American Heritage Month. To celebrate the culture, heritage, & resiliency of Native Americans below you will find books from Native American writers of different genres and formats including Fantasy, Non-fiction, Graphic Novels, Horror, & Historical Fiction. These are just a few of the many Native American authors to enjoy at your library.  

 

To Shape a Dragon’s Breath by Moniquill Blackgoose | Request Now
The cover of To Shape a Dragon's BreathThe Indigenous population of Masquapaug was greatly reduced by the devastating event known as the great dying. Over time, the dragons known as Nampeshiwe disappeared from the island. However, when a young teenager named Anequs discovers a dragon egg and forms a bond with the hatchling, she is hailed as Nampeshiweisit, a member of her people connected to a dragon. In the past, dragons used to coexist with the islanders, helping them ward off autumn storms and bringing prosperity to the land. The Anglish, who have conquered the territory, have their own strict methods of raising dragons and managing their bonded relationships. In order to save her dragon Kasaqua from being killed, Anequs reluctantly agrees to attend an Anglish dragon school. In this unfamiliar environment, surrounded by individuals who believe they are superior to her, Anequs must not only demonstrate that she and Kasaqua can acquire the necessary skills to control their powers, but also prove that they can do so while remaining true to themselves.

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Staff Picks: Washtenaw Reads Shortlist

by nicole

The 2024 Washtenaw Read has been announced! Pick up a copy of this year's chosen read, How the Word Is Passed, then check out these honorable mentions from the list of titles considered for the Washtenaw Read this year.

The Seed Keeper, by Diane Wilson | Request Now

The cover of The Seed KeeperRosalie Iron Wing has grown up in the woods with her father, Ray, a former science teacher who tells her stories of plants, of the stars, of the origins of the Dakota people. Until, one morning, Ray doesn't return from checking his traps. Told she has no family, Rosalie is sent to live with a foster family in nearby Mankato - where the reserved, bookish teenager meets rebellious Gaby Makespeace, in a friendship that transcends the damaged legacies they've inherited. On a winter's day many years later, Rosalie returns to her childhood home. A widow and mother, she has spent the previous two decades on her white husband's farm, finding solace in her garden even as the farm is threatened first by drought and then by a predatory chemical company. Now, grieving, Rosalie begins to confront the past, on a search for family, identity, and a community where she can finally belong. In the process, she learns what it means to be descended from women with souls of iron - women who have protected their families, their traditions, and a precious cache of seeds through generations of hardship and loss, through war and the insidious trauma of boarding schools.

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Staff Picks: Ace Stories

by nicole

Explore identities all across the asexual (or "ace" for short) spectrum, and check out these stories for teens and adults about the lives and relationships of ace people.

Let's Talk About Love, by Claire Kann | Request Now

The cover of Let's Talk About LoveIn this young adult novel, Alice, afraid of explaining her asexuality, has given up on finding love until love finds her. Alice's last girlfriend, Margo, ended things when Alice confessed she's asexual. Now Alice is sure she's done with dating... and then she meets Takumi. She can't stop thinking about him or the rom-com-grade romance feelings she did not ask for. When her blissful summer takes an unexpected turn and Takumi becomes her knight with a shiny library-employee badge, Alice has to decide if she's willing to risk their friendship for a love that might not be reciprocated-- or understood.
 

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Staff Picks: You’ve Got Me Under Your Spell: Paranormal Romances to Cozy Up With!

by eapearce

Fun paranormal romances have had an upsurge in popularity lately and it’s easy to see why! With all the juiciness of a standard romance plus maybe some vampires, werewolves or witches added in, or a unique fantastical setting, they’re transportive reading! Here are a few new additions to the genre that you might want to check out.

A Witch’s Guide to Fake Dating a Demon, by Sarah Hawley | Request Now

The cover of A Witch's Guide to Fake Dating a DemonMariel Spark is prophesied to be the most powerful witch in centuries in her famous family, but she’s not particularly interested in brewing potions or casting spells. She prefers baking and gardening to anything magical. When she accidentally summons a demon while baking a cake one day, she finds herself in a bit of a pickle. Formerly known as a ruthless and powerful collector of mortal souls, Ozroth the demon has lost a bit of his fearsomeness ever since a soul bargain went wrong. Despite unrelated goals, can the two work together to get what they both want out of life? And if so, might they just fall in love while going about it? This is a quirky and unique story that will leave readers smiling.

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Staff Picks: Haunting Books that Stick with You

by emjane

One of the casualties of being a prolific reader is that it can be challenging for any one book to be memorable. Sure, you know you’ve read it, and probably remember whether you liked it or not, but the specifics get fuzzy. Or is it just me? There are those books, though, that have an eerie quality that just sticks with me. Did I like them? Yes. But is that why I keep thinking about them? Maybe not. If you’re looking for a good book to quietly haunt you, here are four that will always be with me.

Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam | Request Now

The cover of Leave The World BehindAmanda and Clay, and their teenage children Archie and Rose, drive from New York City to Long Island to enjoy a week’s vacation outside of the city at a swanky rented house. The first 30-pages or so of this taut novel are relatable details of travel and trying to unwind and minor family drama that quietly build tension: the dark, abandoned pool on the book cover clearly indicates something more sinister. And, with an unexpected knock at the door after dark, the shoe drops. Ruth and G.H., purportedly the owners of the home, show up, seeking refuge after something happened in the city. Something – a blackout? – But maybe something more? The story unfolds with strained relations between the renting family and the owning family, further tightened due to uncertainty of what is happening in the world outside of the vacation home. As a reader, you’re generally kept just as in the dark as the characters are, with the occasional haunting sentence about the near future, dousing all hope that their vacation (and lives) will continue on as expected. The film adaptation of Leave the World Behind is set to hit Netflix next week, and I’m very curious to see how it will translate to screen.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #832, A little bit witchy, loads of magic, a touch of horror, in these retellings of the classics

by muffy

scandalous_confessions

The Scandalous Confessions of Lydia Bennet, Witch * Melina Taub’s (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook), adult debut, examines Pride and Prejudice through a new lens, and offers a highly unexpected redemption for the wildest Bennet sister.

This retelling, in the form of a long letter, recounts how Lydia, being the seventh daughter of the seventh daughter discovers her magical powers as a witch (there had been three stillborns before Jane, Lizzy and Mary) and promptly turns the family cat into her human sister Kitty. As the novel opens, Lydia, living with Wickham in Newcastle, under much reduced circumstances, is dependent on her magic to get by. Then unexpectedly, she comes to the aid of the much hexed Georgiana Darcy.

But magic comes at a price here, and for every spell a witch casts she must offer up something in return. In order to spare her and Kitty's lives, she had foolishly made a promise to Lord Wormenheart, a dragon demon, and soon Wormenheart came to collect, sending Lydia on a dangerous adventure to procure the Jewel of Prophecy. 

“Full of spell-casting garden parties, demons, hidden jewels, vibrant dances, backstabbing, and societal slights, this is vividly descriptive, frothy fun.”(Library Journal)

“Taub breathes new life into classic characters in a novel that is carefully researched and surprisingly layered… A delight for both Austen lovers and fans of magical adventure stories.“ (Kirkus Reviews)

after_the_forest

After the Forest,* * *  Australian Kell Woods’ fantasy debut (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) picks up 20 years after Greta and Hans escaped from the witch in the gingerbread house. 

Back in their homestead in the Village of Lindenfeld, deep in the Black Forest, the siblings are relying on the mysteriously addictive gingerbread Greta bakes for income, and to pay off Han’s gambling debts.  In part because of the deliciousness of her goods (from a recipe she found in an old grimoire, a witch's handbook), rumors grow around town that Greta herself is a witch. And as dark magic is returning to the woods, Greta must learn to embrace her power, come into her own as a witch, and work together with new allies to save herself and her home. 

“Each chapter opens with a clever retelling of part of "Snow-White and Rose-Red," eventually linking that fairy tale with Greta's own neo-Grimm journey toward both emotional and magical maturity as, despite her initial distaste for witchcraft, she comes into her own and learns to wield her nascent powers to help the people she loves. The romantic subplot is similarly well-wrought and fantastical: Greta's lover Matthias, a stranger from the Tyrol, is a prince-charming-in-disguise. All of Woods's characters are drawn with exceptional sensitivity, and Greta's well-crafted struggle to thrive despite early suffering and ongoing societal prejudice resonates. Woods is a powerful new voice in speculative fiction.” (Publishers Weekly) 

“Offer this lyrical, character-rich fantasy to fans of Mary McMyne's The Book of Gothel (2022) and Genevieve Gornichec's The Weaver and the Witch Queen (2023).” (Booklist)

immortal_longingsInspired by Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, Immortal Longings * * * *, Chloe Gong’s adult fantasy debut launches her Flesh and False Gods trilogy (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook).

Every year the twin cities of San-Er hold a set of gladiatorial-style games, a fight to the death with the promise of unimaginable riches for the victor. This year, among the 88 contestants is a disguised Princess Calla Tuoleimi of Talin, who disappeared after assassinating her parents five years ago. Her goal -  to finally bring down the brutal monarchy, inequality and poverty by killing her uncle, reclusive King Kasa who will be on hand to greet the winner. But first, she must win the game. 

Enter Anton Makusa, an exiled aristocrat, one of the best jumpers in the kingdom, flitting from body to body at will, who aims to use the winner’s take toward keeping his comatose lover alive. “As the games unfold, Calla and Anton strike an unlikely alliance that blossoms into a love affair--but only one can win, and to become victor, the star-crossed lovers will have to break their bond. Though this outing owes debts to both Shakespeare and The Hunger Games, the intricate magic system feels entirely fresh. Gong keeps the pages flying with pulse-pounding action, tension, and intrigue, creating an adventure that will linger in readers' minds long after the last page.” (Publishers Weekly)

* * * * = 4 starred reviews

* * * = 3 starred reviews

* = Starred review 

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Staff Picks: Recent Titles Featured in AADL’s Black Lives Matter Discussion Series

by eapearce

Did you know that, since 2020, AADL staff has hosted regular readings and discussion of books written by authors from the Black diaspora? This intentionally broad discussion series seeks to encourage and support community members in their exploration of and engagement with works that provide insight on anti-Black racism. Staff has read fiction and non-fiction titles, titles for youth, teens and adults, titles of all genres, and titles written in three different centuries! You can read more about the BLM Discussion series here, and read on for some recent titles that AADL staff have spent time reading and discussing. The recording of these discussions has either aired recently on our website, or will air soon.

Blended, by Sharon M. Draper | Request Now

The cover of BlendedThis youth fiction title stars protagonist Isabella, who has a Black father and a white mother who struggle to share custody of Bella after their divorce. Isabella loves playing the piano, her friends at school, ice cream, her older stepbrother and both of her families, but sometimes she just feels like she doesn’t fit in anywhere. When racial tensions escalate at her school, Isabella starts to feel particularly lost and confused. Her bravery and strength shine through throughout the novel, and the different scenarios she deals with make for a thoughtful and realistic read for people of all ages.

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Staff Picks: Not Just For Scares, Horror Films Offer More

by lucroe

Horror movies are about more than just the familiar tropes of violent slashers and creepy haunted mansions. In fact, horror movies often reflect the major concerns of our times, whether it is the climate crisis, racial or gender-based prejudice, economic inequity, or humanity’s hubris. Consider Frankenstein’s monster, Dawn of the Dead (rampant consumerism), or Jordan Peele’s movies (Get Out, Us, Nope) (racism, class privilege, exploitation), that are among so many great films past and present alike. Here are some lesser known but just as worthy films to take in this Halloween or any time the mood for a scare strikes.

Amulet directed by Romola Garai | Request Now
The promotional poster for 'Amulet' directed by Romola GaraiIn Romola Garai's directorial debut, the audience is introduced to a destitute former soldier who becomes employed by a young woman and her terminally ill mother. However, he soon becomes aware of a disturbing presence within the decaying, enigmatic old house: a force of life that is both eerie and unsettling. Amulet skillfully combines elements of a haunted house film and body horror, while also incorporating religious themes. Garai deftly challenges preconceived notions of victimhood and heroism by subverting traditional gender roles in her main characters, Tomaz and Magda. Initially, it appears that Magda is the one in need of rescue, but in reality, it is Tomaz's dark past of war crimes, specifically rape, that catches up with him, placing him in the position of the pursued. Through this narrative twist, the film offers a rare portrayal of a man who is alone and fearful on screen, a departure from the typical horror genre conventions.

The Babadook directed by Jennifer Kent | Request now