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December Service Update

Fri, 11/27/2020 - 1:00pm by josie

The AADL resumes contactless pickup service beginning Wednesday, December 9, at noon at all five AADL locations.

Library lobbies will remain open from noon to 8pm seven days a week for contactless pickup service, with contactless locker pickup also an option at four AADL branches.

Due to high numbers of new COVID cases in Washtenaw County, we are making some adjustments to enable service to continue with fewer staff in the buildings at the same time, to decrease the risk of spread among our staff. This means some services will be temporarily suspended in December. We thank you for your patience as we adapt to changing public health conditions, and we look forward to resuming full service as soon as we safely can.

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The Sioux Chef's Indigenous Kitchen

Mon, 11/23/2020 - 5:38pm by samanthar


Book coverThe Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen is more than a book of recipes; it’s an education, exploration, and exaltation of seasonal, indigenous American food.  Author and chef Sean Sherman has worked to decolonize the Indigenous diet by tracing the history of foods and their introduction to the first people. There is no white flour, sugar, or dairy in this cookbook - only authentic Indigenous ingredients that have evidence of being utilized in America before European influence. While there were many unfamiliar ingredients to me - like juniper and sunchokes- there was plenty of the familiar, too, like sweet corn and squash. Chef Sherman encourages homecooks to go out to your local farmer’s market and find ingredients that are in season and close to your kitchen, and incorporate or substitute them into the recipes. The focus stays on the fundamentals of food, with the recipes organized into chapters based on where ingredients are gathered, like Fields and Gardens, and Prairies and Lakes. Even if you don’t plan on making any of the recipes featured, the beautiful photos and Sherman’s informative writing is well worth checking out. I especially enjoyed reading through and seeing the beautiful photography, the special attention paid to every ingredient, and the anecdotes and informative stories sprinkled throughout. 

                                                     Excerpt from book

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100 Reasons to be Thankful in 2020

Mon, 11/23/2020 - 11:45am by muffy


New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2020, a greatly anticipated annual list since 1968 that covers fiction, nonfiction, memoirs, poetry and stories. Just announced today is the 10 Best Books of 2020.


During this live streaming event, the 10 New York Times book editors each gave an impassioned endorsement for their personal favorites that did not make the list. Here they are:

Kirkus Reviews:  Best Books of 2020: 100 favorite fiction titles this year, as well as the 100 Best Picture Books for young readers. 

Time Magazine: The 100 Must-Read Books of 2020 - “Fiction, nonfiction and poetry that deepened our understanding, ignited our curiosity and helped us escape.”

Library Journal: Best Books 2020: Worst Year, Best Books, 144 titles across 15 categories will help get libraries and readers through to better days.


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Friends & Strangers: J. Courtney Sullivan's Diverting New Novel

Mon, 11/23/2020 - 10:35am by eapearce


Book cover image for Friends and Strangers

In J. Courtney Sullivan's latest novel, Friends and Strangers, she continues to demonstrate her ability to paint complex portraits of women at different stages of life. Sullivan is the author of four well-received previous novels, including Maine, Commencement, The Engagements and Saints for All Occasions. While some of these are set in the present day and some are historical fiction, all ask questions of their female characters that are deeply relevant to women then and now: do I want to become a mother? What if I don't want to become a mother? What if I regret becoming a mother? Should I get married? Should I stay with my partner when things aren't working? How can and should I support myself and my family?

Friends and Strangers asks these questions and more of two main characters, new mother Elisabeth and her college-aged nanny, Sam. Despite coming from very different backgrounds and being over a decade different in age, the two bond quickly. But each woman is dealing with some personal struggles and working to decide what trajectory to take in life. Elisabeth endured a series of brutal fertility treatments to have her first and only child, and now her husband wants another, but she isn't sure, especially because she's keeping a secret from her husband that she wants to share with him but doesn't know how. Sam met an older British man when she was visiting a friend in London and he wants to get married as soon as she graduates from college, preventing her from pursuing her dream career. Over the course of the book, both women make decisions and mistakes that lead to changes in their relationship to loved ones and each other, and ultimately to a surprising rift.

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The Night Parade

Wed, 11/18/2020 - 3:15pm by -alex-

The Night Parade follows the adventures of a young Japanese teenager as she navigates the real and spiritual realms of a traditional village.  If you're a fan of films like Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away then you'll find lots to love here.

Book cover.  A group of otherworldly spirits walk under a tree.On a fateful summer vacation, young Saki leaves her friends and the city behind to visit her grandmother in the family’s ancestral village.  Caught between a Buddhist temple and a Shinto shrine, Saki’s grandmother’s house becomes the jumping-off point in a wild adventure through the human and spirit worlds when Saki accidentally triggers a death curse.  Who can you trust when the local spirits and the neighborhood teenagers all have agendas of their own?  Can Saki break the curse in time, or will doom fall on her family and on the colorful cast of spirits she’s met along the way?  With only three nights to make things right, Saki finds herself locked in a race against time.

Author Kathryn Tanquary deftly mixes the real-world truth of depopulation and decline in rural communities all across Japan, along with tribulations of family life that would be recognizable to everyone who has ever been a kid or a teenager.  Added to this is a thrilling, sometimes funny and always heart-warming odyssey through ordinary mountain paths and an infinitely grander, far stranger world hiding just slightly beyond what we can see. 

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #759, “Roommates are like a box of cheap fireworks, you never know what they will do next.” ~ Kilroy J. Oldster

Mon, 11/16/2020 - 8:37pm by muffy


Here are 2 of the Top 10 Romance Debuts picked by Booklist

The Roommate * * by American expat Rosie Danan (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook)

Overeducated, underemployed Connecticut socialite Clara Wheaton takes an impulsive leap of faith moving cross-country to house-share with childhood crush Elliott Bloom, only to find herself unceremoniously deposited at Elliot’s doorstep as he speeds off to tour with his band. Disappointment becomes resentment when she finds Elliott has rented out his room for the summer. An internet search reveals that her new roommate is none other than heart-throb porn star Josh Darling. 

Their easy rapport and budding friendship develops into a no-strings-attached relationship and a new business venture “somewhere between porn and sex-ed,” designed to teach women’s partners how to better please them in bed. “Danan makes this novel premise work with a charming, believable heroine; an offbeat hero with a heart of gold; and snappy, laugh-out-loud prose. Romance fans will especially appreciate that the steamy erotic scenes are used to further character development, rather than just for cheap thrills. This delectable rom-com is both red-hot and fiercely feminist.” (Publishers Weekly) 


The Marriage Game *  by Sara Desai (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook).

When Layla Patel returns home to San Francisco jobless, homeless and in shame after a video of her reaction to finding her photographer boyfriend in bed with 2 of his models went viral, her father offers her the office above the family restaurant to start her own business, nevermind that he neglects to tell her that Sam Mehta, the CEO of a redundancy business is the current tenant. As neither of them will vacate, they reluctantly agree to share the space.

Then Layla discovers that her father has posted her marriage résumé on a Indian dating website.  To avoid making the same mistakes from her past relationships, Layla agrees to meet the 10 men on her father's list. Sam, with reasons of his own, offers to be her chaperon until one of them wins the bet : if Layla finds a husband among the blind dates, she will surrender the office to Sam, if she doesn't, then Sam must leave the office.

“It's a blast to witness Sam and Layla exchange flirtatious barbs as their snarky chemistry blossoms into something real over the course of Layla's hilariously disastrous dates. Rom-com fans should take note of this fresh, fun offering.” (Publishers Weekly) 

“This witty and delightful story about family, forgiveness, and letting go is utterly satisfying. Desai's first book will be a hit with fans of Sonya Lalli's The Matchmaker's List.(Library Journal)

Bonus Feature: Unconventional Roommates

memorialMemorial, * * * * a multiple award-winner by Bryan Washington (also available in eBook and audiobook, read by the author)

Ben(son) and Mike live together in the slowly gentrifying Third Ward of Houston. Ben is black and works as a day-care teacher, while Mike, of Japanese descent, is a cook in a Mexican restaurant. After 4 years together, sex is sporadic and things are rocky between them. Then Mike’s mother Mitsuko arrives from Japan for a visit, but upon hearing that his estranged father is dying, Mike promptly takes off for Osaka, leaving his mother with Ben who speaks no Japanese. 

As unconventional roommates, Mitsuko and Benson try to make the best of an absurd domestic situation that ends up meaning more to each of them than they ever could have predicted. In the meantime in Osaka, Mike tries to get to know his father Eiju who abandoned the family decades ago. As they share a tiny apartment and Mike helps  manage Eiju’s neighborhood bar, he gains a new perspective on their shared history, and a renewed sense of self. 

Tender, funny, and heartbreaking, this tale of family, food (Mike cooks for their Venezuelan neighbors; Mitsuko makes Ben congee), and growing apart feels intimate and expansive at the same time.” (Publishers Weekly)

"A subtle and moving exploration of love, family, race, and the long, frustrating search for home.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

* * * * = 4 starred reviews

* * = 2 starred reviews

* = Starred review

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All AADL Locations Closed for at least 2 weeks starting 11/15

Sat, 11/14/2020 - 12:16pm by josie

Due to positive COVID tests among Library staff and family, all AADL locations will be closed for at least 2 weeks starting Sunday, November 15th.

All AADL Lobbies will be closed to the public and no pickups will be possible.

All items ready for pickup or waiting for a pickup to be scheduled will stay right where they are until we reopen. All scheduled pickups will be canceled and you'll be able to reschedule them after we reopen.

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The Black Flamingo

Wed, 11/11/2020 - 11:01am by samanthar


Book coverThe Black Flamingo is a YA book written in verse by poet and performer Dean Atta. It’s a queer coming of age story that follows Michael, a teenager living in London who’s half Greek-Cypriot, half Jamaican. Readers follow Michael from a young child who would rather receive a Barbie than a Ninja Turtle for his birthday, to a high schooler sharing his feelings to his crush, to a young adult finding his place on a college campus. Atta’s verse is rich, and expounds the themes of love, identity, and belonging. 


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Chadwick Boseman: Remembering a King

Fri, 11/06/2020 - 12:08am by copelands

Chadwick BosemanActor Chadwick Boseman had a respected career in Hollywood until his untimely passing from colon cancer on August 28th at age 43. Boseman played many diverse characters and brought them to life on-screen. His resume included roles like Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get On Up, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. These historical figures were portrayed with grace and dignity and were reimagined for newer generations. Undoubtedly, his most notable role that gained him international fame was King T’Challa or Black Panther in the Black Panther film. Inspiring millions around the world as the powerful superhero from the fictional nation of Wakanda, Boseman saw the height of his success. Children and adults everywhere were inspired to see a Black superhero in one of Marvel’s biggest productions. Earning over 1.3 billion dollars worldwide, Black Panther went on to become the ninth-highest grossing film of all time. He reprised this role in Avengers: Endgame, the highest grossing film of all time.  Additionally, Boseman’s talent went beyond screen acting. He had a history with libraries and worked as a drama instructor at the Schomburg Center of the New York Public Library from 2002 to 2009. He will also be remembered for being a philanthropist; donating supplies to minority communities affected most by COVID-19, supporting the Jackie Robinson Foundation, and advocating to help close the gender wage gap in Hollywood. He also continuously uplifted and supported fans across the world despite his own private health battle. Thank you Chadwick Boseman, for your incredible legacy in film and beyond. For those interested in films starring Chadwick Boseman, we proudly carry many in our collection as we honor and celebrate his life and career.


Black Panther: After his father’s death, T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, returns home to the fictional nation of Wakanda where he ascends to the throne as king. His cousin, Erik Killmonger challenges him with plans to abandon the country's isolationist policies and begin a global revolution.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #758, In a dark, dark wood, there was a dark, dark house...

Fri, 10/30/2020 - 2:28pm by muffy


You Let Me In * * by Norwegian Camilla Bruce (who grew up in an old forest, next to an Iron Age burial mound) is a thrilling Gothic tale that combines the sinister domestic atmosphere of Shirley Jackson, the haunting mystery of Gillian Flynn, and the otherworldly romanticism of Holly Black. The Guardian reviewer called it (a) “smart, creepy fairy story.”

74-year-old bestselling romance novelist Cassandra Tipp has been missing for a year now. Though there is no evidence of foul play, the Police is convinced she is dead, and suspects her disappearance must be linked to the mysterious disembowelment of her husband, Tommy Tipps for which Cassandra was tried; and the subsequent murder-suicide of her father and brother.  To claim her massive fortune, her surviving heirs (nephew and niece) must come to her home in the woods, locate her final manuscript, and find a password and present it to the executor of her estate. 

What they read is Cassandra’s story - fantastical and disturbing, dominated by the Pepper-Man, a sinister fairy with spindly, leathery hands who initiated her into the underworld. “Readers will find themselves engrossed on a wild trip to a parallel, earthly dimension as Bruce reveals the secrets hidden by the Tipp family's dysfunction. Remarkably, Bruce takes the fairy trope and squeezes every ounce of tweeness out of it; she also introduces ancient elements, akin to Celtic myths, without romanticizing or sanitizing them. The characterizations are masterful but don't take a back seat to an enthralling story, a genre-blender that perplexes us with its whodunit elements and the ongoing mystery as to what is in Cass' mind and what's real. Neil Gaiman fans are a ready audience for this superb debut...“ (Booklist)


Readers might not want to miss the latest from Silvia Moreno-Garcia - Mexican Gothic, currently being adapted by Hulu into a series, (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) is a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror, set in 1950s Mexico. 

After receiving a frantic plea from her newly-married cousin Catalina, glamorous debutante and college student Noemí Taboada travels from Mexico City to High Place, “(a) house...sick with rot, stinks of decay, brims with every single evil and cruel sentiment", where she finds Catalina bedridden from a mysterious illness, her new husband, the handsome Englishman Virgil Doyle menacing and alluring at the same time. Then she meets the dying patriarch Howard Doyle, head of a prominent English mining family that built their now-dwindling fortune on the backs of Indigenous laborers. Soon, Noemi finds herself plagued by horrifying dreams and visions, a peculiar fungus that grows everywhere.  Before long, Noemi fears for her own life as well as Catalina's.

"In a novel that owes a considerable debt to the nightmarish horror and ornate language of H.P. Lovecraft, the situations in which Noemí attempts to prevail get wilder and stranger with every chapter, as High Place starts exhibiting a mind of its own... Readers who find the usual country house mystery too tame and languid won't have that problem here.” (Publishers Weekly)

“An inspired mash-up of Jane Eyre, Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho, Dracula, Rebecca and that 1958 classic sci-fi movie, The Blob …Inventive and smart, [Mexican Gothic is] injecting the Gothic formula with some fresh blood.” (NPR’s Fresh Air)



Haunted Houses: Classic Stories of Doors That Should Never be Opened - Classic haunted house ghost stories curated by world-renowned filmmaker and horror genre expert John Landis. This beautifully presented, highly collectible anthology features ghost stories that have enthralled, terrified and inspired readers decade after decade.  Some are relatively well known; others are long-lost treasures, awaiting rediscovery. 

* * = 2 starred reviews

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Fri, 10/30/2020 - 2:19pm by ncurtis

Between the short story and the novel is the novella; a work of prose sometimes overlooked. Novellas range widely in style as well as content and are often poignant in their brevity. Below are a few superb examples.

In Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson, Woodson’s lyrical prose carries readers through the narrator’s memories of growing up. The story begins with adult August seeing a friend from childhood, which triggers a flood of memories from youth and adolescence. The writing captures the beauty of life, even within painful experiences.

The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros tells the story of Esperanza, a girl growing up in a Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago. Set over the course of a year, the novella shows the changes and observations of a young adolescent. Esperanza experiences joys and disappointments through relationships with family and friends. She seeks a world beyond the confines of her home, while understanding the important connection she has to the people around her.

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AADL Remembers Trustee Barbara Murphy, 1945-2020

Wed, 10/28/2020 - 10:54am by josie

Barbara Murphy

It is with sadness and regret that the AADL acknowledges the passing of former Library Board member Barbara Murphy. Barbara served the AADL during a period of tremendous growth and change. Serving from December 2001 until December 2014, she participated in the hiring of the current Library Director, the building of three award-winning buildings, and the many innovations technology provided for better service.

She focused on the people always. An avid library user herself, she was keenly interested in how the AADL could best serve the community through its policies, collections, building design, but mostly through a welcoming and open culture. Her contributions will live long into AADL’s future.

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Little People, Big Dreams

Wed, 10/28/2020 - 9:12am by samanthar

Book cover of Zaha HadidLittle People Big Dreams is a wonderful series of biography books for early nonfiction readers. Each book focuses on the life story of an artist, athlete, scientist, or other important figure. The art style is unique for each book, and helps personify the figure being highlighted. The focus  varies widely from time in history and type of achievement (from Harriet Tubman to David Bowie), but the common thread is they all had to overcome challenges in order to achieve their dreams. As an adult, I love these books! They are a fun way to learn (or be reminded of) the basic biography of these important figures. The illustrations are captivating and such a joy to look at. Agatha Christie, Maya Angelou, Ella Fitzgerald, and more! New books in the series are always being added, so be sure to keep an eye out for ones you haven’t read!


Excerpt from Ella Fitzgerald book

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Festive Fall Books

Mon, 10/26/2020 - 8:50pm by copelands

Bright pumpkins. Warm apple cider and doughnuts. Falling leaves with beautiful colors. Sweater season. Fall is here! Fall is a time of new beginnings and there’s plenty to celebrate this season. Embrace the beauty and splendor of autumn with these picture books that celebrate all the wonder it brings!

Bella’s Fall Coat: Bella is a little girl who loves fall and wants it to last forever. The coat her grandmother made keeps her warm and cozy and when it becomes too small, Bella can’t part with her favorite item. Told through beautiful illustrations, she ultimately learns how to adapt to the inevitable concept of change.

Wonderfall: Author, illustrator, and Ann Arbor native Michael Hall writes about a tree that is shown throughout the entire fall season, from the end of summer to the first snowfall. People, vehicles, and animals pass by the changing tree; going back to school, celebrating holidays, and preparing for winter. Information is also given on the animals, acorns, and saplings and the process each goes through in preparation for winter.

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Blackletter for Halloween!

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 3:20pm by aadlloren

The bold, severe style of Blackletter calligraphy feels right at home on certificates, diplomas, and Halloween greeting cards! Its repetitive upright structure makes it a great starting point for beginning calligraphers and lettering enthusiasts. Also known as Gothic script, Blackletter is formed with a crisp chisel (broad-edged) pen, but you can also try drawing its distinctive letters in pencil.

Watch Loren demonstrate how to write Blackletter on AADL.TV. He uses an inexpensive disposable nylon-tip broad-edge pen.

Try making Blackletter yourself! You can download and print these basic guides to get you started:

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Have You Tried Amaro Yet?

Fri, 10/23/2020 - 12:01pm by mbt

cover of Amaro bookA couple of years ago a friend introduced me to amaro. At the time I had never heard of it and no one I knew was drinking it. Now? Pre-pandemic I was able to have a flight of amaros at two Ann Arbor restaurants and stores have begun stocking a variety of choices. So just what is Amaro and why is becoming  the new thing?

The introduction in Amaro: The Spirited World of Bittersweet, Herbal Liqueurs with Cocktails, Recipes, and Formulas by Brad Thomas Parsons made me laugh as he describes his experience in a small Seattle bar known for its apertifs. The description of a couple ordering V&T's when the opportunity to experience something new and different is priceless. That alone will make you love the world of Amaro that Parsons takes you into. 

Amari, yes the plural of Amaro, is hard to describe. Amaro is Italian for bitter and that is about the only thing definite when comparing varieties. When friends ask me what Amaro is I usually respond “a nice nightcap”, but for many others it is the key ingredient in a variety of cocktails. Known as an after-dinner digestif, amaro is a herbal liqueur, often bitter, but it is oh, so much more.  Read Parsons section Understanding Amaro and you will start to see the complexity of the world of Amaro. Read the entire book and you may start shaking up some tasty cocktails at your next social distancing, outdoor gathering. Or, like me, you may just be making your own amaro through the upcoming long winter. 

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Good Morning

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.

Good Morning (1959 film)

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The Chalk Man

Mon, 10/19/2020 - 6:13pm by manz

chalk manLooking 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? 

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #757, The Other Casablanca

Sat, 10/17/2020 - 5:34pm by muffy

straight_from_the_horses_mouthStraight 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

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Fri, 10/16/2020 - 1:54pm by fredbeldin

curse of the cat peopleDespite 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.

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Where can I get recommendations for new books or movies.. for kids?

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. - 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. - 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. 

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Where can I get recommendations for new books or movies?

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: - 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. - 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”. 

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #756, Reservation Blues

Mon, 10/12/2020 - 2:57pm by muffy

crooked_hallelujahCrooked 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_countsWinter 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

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Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at AADL

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:

Adult Non-Fiction:

Definitely Hispanic: Growing Up Latino and Celebrating What Unites Us by LeJuan James

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I Am Alfonso Jones

Thu, 10/08/2020 - 1:59pm by samanthar


Book cover

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.

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Ann Arbor by Bike: Three Fun Bike Rides

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!

A cyclist along Huron River Drive
A cyclist along Huron River Drive.

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Technically, You Started It

Mon, 10/05/2020 - 6:14pm by eileenw

Cover art for Technically You Started ItDear 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.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #755, These Irrepressible Amateur Sleuths

Sun, 10/04/2020 - 5:07pm by muffy

thursday_murder_clubThe Thursday Murder Club * * * * by Richard Osman (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook),  “mixes mirth and murder in his exceptional debut…witty.” (Publishers Weekly)

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)  

For fans of Lynne Truss's Constable Twitten mysteries (Publishers Weekly),  Christopher Fowler's Bryant & May series (Booklist), and Alan Bradley’s Flavia De Luce series


Mrs. Mohr Goes Missing *  by Maryla Szymiczkow, (a pseudonym for Warsaw-based Jacek Dehnel, and Piotr Tarczyński) is first in the The Zofia Turbotyńska Mysteries series. 

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


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The Joy of Preserving Food in Jars

Fri, 10/02/2020 - 4:21pm by eileenw

Not Your Mama's Canning BookSummer 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.

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I Love Yarn Day

Fri, 10/02/2020 - 11:40am by potterbee


image of an eye plus words, love yarn dayThe 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.