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Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro

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

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

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

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

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Not Picture Books

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

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

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

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

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A is for Awesome by Eva Chen and Derek Desierto

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

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

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

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #774, Choosing Kindness

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

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

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

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

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

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

* = Starred review

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Gravity Falls

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

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

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

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

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Ayurveda Research

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

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

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

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

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #773, Jane Austen Inspired

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

* * = 2 starred reviews

* = Starred review

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The Every Body Book (It Really is for Everybody)

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

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

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


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All-Season Bike Riding!

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

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

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

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

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The Office (US)

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

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

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


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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #772

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

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

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

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

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

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Digital Monsters

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

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

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

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

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Pure: Book One of the Pure Trilogy

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

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

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

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

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Attention-Grabbing Titles: Adult Edition

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

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

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

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

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #771

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


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

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

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

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

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

* * * = 3 starred reviews

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Attention-Grabbing Titles: Youth Edition

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

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

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

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

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Great Reads That Became Great Listens

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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Soulful Rhymes: Voices in Black Poetry

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

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

Light for the World to See by Kwame Alexander:

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

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #770, Feminist Retellings of the Classics

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


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

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

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

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

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

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We Walk

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

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

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Meet Ray, the Lightbulb Who Might Change Your Life Mindset

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

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

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Baby's Favorite Books

Fri, 02/26/2021 - 1:21pm by mrajraspn08

I work at a library and have written a few books, so of course I was reading to my baby from the day he was born! Here's a couple of his favorites:

Goodnight, Gorilla is about a gorilla who sneaks out of the zoo and follows the zookeeper home for bed. I find this book cute as an adult, and when you're reading it for the millionth time in the same day, it's easy to recite from memory while you do something else yourself!

Jane Yolen was one of my favorite authors as a child, and my kid loves her book How Do Dinosaurs Say I'm Mad, which teaches anger management skills early through dinosaur antics. Yolen has several other books along this line that are just as engaging. 

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #769, High Altitude Intrigues

Wed, 02/24/2021 - 10:13pm by muffy

“It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.” ~ Edmund Hillary

sanatoriumThe Sanatorium * by Sarah Pearse (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook). Elin Warner, British police detective on extended leave (there is more to that backstory) travels with her boyfriend Willy Riley, to Le Sommet, a 5-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps, at the invitation of her estranged brother Isaac, to celebrate his engagement to their childhood friend Laure Strehl. Arriving in the midst of a snow storm, they soon find themselves totally cut off from the outside world. When Laure, a manager of the resort, disappears overnight, Elin suspects foul play, and her brother as the most likely suspect. Afterall, wasn’t Isaac responsible for the death of their younger brother, Sam? 

As bodies are discovered, including that of Laure’s, it’s clear that a killer is on the loose among the remaining guests and staff. With police unable to reach the resort, Elin assumes the role of investigator, and soon focuses on the sordid history of the resort, once a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients. 

“Pearse not only creates believably fallible characters, she also vividly portrays the frigid landscape of Le Sommet buffeted by blizzards, and a chilling epilogue cries out for a sequel.” (Booklist)


shiver_4Shiver (eBook and also available in downloadable audiobook) by Allie Reynolds, is set in the French Alps where 5 friends at a reunion weekend are stranded at Le Rocher, a remote ski resort during a snowstorm.

Curtis, Milla, Brent, Dale, and Heather have not seen each other for over a decade since that winter they spent training for an elite snowboarding competition, and Saskia, the sixth member of their group, vanished and presumed dead. Yet no sooner do Milla and the others arrive for the reunion than they realize something is horribly wrong. The cable cars that delivered them have stopped working, their phones disappear, electrical power is intermittent, food supplies vanish.

“Finding out what’s going on tests the physical and mental endurance of Milla and the rest of the crew. Winter-sports fans are in for a treat here, as are all who enjoy a tale of extremes; the fierce competition between women characters is also a bonus. The answer to who’s pulling the strings here is a little incredible, but overall this debut is an atmospheric winter treat. Recommend it to those who enjoyed recent tales of reunions gone awry, such as Laura DiSilverio’s That Last Weekend (2017) and T. M. Logan’s The Vacation (2020).” (Booklist)

"The sometimes-grisly action has a palpably visual immediacy to it—it comes as no surprise that this debut novel has already been picked up for television.... This suspenseful debut thriller by a former freestyle snowboarder contains both style and substance.“(Kirkus Reviews) 

* = Starred review

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Black History Month: Sharing Black Stories

Wed, 02/24/2021 - 2:44pm by copelands

Black History Month is celebrated every February as a chance to remember and celebrate the many contributions of African-Americans to society. While this month has been designated, Black history and culture should be recognized in every month. From honoring Black history to celebrating Black culture and identity, we’ll feature a few reviews this month that celebrate and uplift the Black community. Below are a few recommendations for youth picture books.

I Promise by LeBron James, illustrated by Nina Mata

I PromiseNBA Champion LeBron James has accomplished a lot in his career. He’s a four-time NBA champion and four-time NBA MVP. Despite all of this success, the most important part of his legacy has been off the court. LeBron opened his I Promise school in Akron, Ohio in 2018 that especially aims to teach at risk children. Inspired by the kids from his school, the book I Promise tells a story of action and responsibility in a way that kids will take to heart. Children from different backgrounds are wonderfully shown in harmony with lessons in the text meant to inspire self reflection, accountability, and unity. Nina Mata provides vibrant, colorful illustrations to the text. With simple but powerful words, kids from everywhere will enjoy this book filled with encouragement and fun. I really enjoyed this book and found it especially helpful in the times we’re facing today.

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Helen Hoang’s Romances on the Spectrum

Mon, 02/22/2021 - 8:39pm by eileenw

Cover art for The Bride TestIn The Bride Test by Helen Hoang (paperback, large print, ebook, audiobook download), Khai Diep doesn’t believe that he’s capable of feeling emotion—not grief, not love, nothing. He deeply believes something is broken inside of him. But his mother won’t let anything stand in the way of her quest for grandchildren, not even her own son, so she returns to her native Vietnam to find him a bride. She comes back to California with Esme Tran, a woman who has never been able to escape the slums she grew up in and, in her own way, has always felt as out of place as Khai does ... not that it makes things any smoother between them as Khai's mother forces them to a share the same house.

Cover art for The Kiss QuotientLike Helen Hoang’s first novel, The Kiss Quotient (paperback, large print, ebook, audiobook download), The Bride Test’s romantic leads feature a character on the Autism spectrum, as well as aspects of Asian American immigrant family experiences. These #OwnVoices novels drew me in; they delivered everything a good romance novel should and kept me up way too late just so I could finish reading the story.

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Request for Proposals: Lawn and Snow Services for AADL

Fri, 02/19/2021 - 11:40am by eli


Project:                   Ann Arbor District Library Lawn and Snow services.


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The Age of Phillis by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Wed, 02/17/2021 - 1:03pm by howarde


The Age of Phillis Book CoverPhillis Wheatley is the first known African-American woman to have published a book, Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, in 1773. Captured in West Africa as a child, she was sold into slavery around the age of seven and purchased by the white Wheatley family of New England, who decided to give her an education and free her when she became an adult.

The documentation we have about Wheatley that does not depend on the perspectives of white people is scant. Jeffers’ poems re-imagine the inner life of a girl and then young woman ripped from her family, forced into a traumatic ocean crossing, and brought up amongst people who cared for her, yet owned her; who encouraged her intellect but wanted to erase her culture and heritage. 

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #768

Tue, 02/16/2021 - 2:00pm by muffy


Super Host by Kate Russo (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook)

55 year-old Bennett Driscoll, once a Turner Prize-nominated artist fears he is “slowly descending into obscurity”. Eliza, his wife of 20 years divorced him for a hedge fund manager in New York. His gallery dropped him because his works are no longer selling though they’ll have more value retrospectively…when he’s dead. The only bright spot is Mia, his 19 year-old daughter, an art student, who remains loyal to him.  To make ends meet, Bennett resorts to renting out his large home in (West London’s) upscale Chiswick area on AirBed (an Airbnb-like site) while living in his cramp studio in the back garden. 

Though Bennett struggles to find purpose in his day-to-day, he is most concerned with retaining his Super Host status on AirBed, fretting over every less-than-stellar review. That all changes when he comes into contact with three different guests - lonely American Alicia; tortured artist Emma; and cautiously optimistic divorcée Kirstie; as well as bartender and new love interest Claire. These encounters “highlight Bennett's essential problem: figuring out what were the missteps in his life and what he really wants now… A painter herself, Russo (daughter to Richard) makes the act of creating art come alive, while effectively limning her characters in this incisive study of contemporary life.” (Library Journal)

In Russo’s charming and poignant debut…the author writes with warm sympathy and humor. A treat for fans of Nick Hornby and Tom Perrotta.“ (Kirkus Reviews)  Readers might also want to check out the New York Times Review by Sloane Crosley

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Her Stories

Fri, 02/12/2021 - 2:41pm by LiaReads

Folklore and fairy tales connect us to magical worlds, yet also our families, history, and communities. In Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales we are introduced to various Black women and girls who are centered in the stories told. Virginia Hamilton invites us to experience these tales that have been passed down through families and follows up each story with a description of its origin. The collection ends with three personal accounts by real women, told in their own words. Her Stories is at times a little scary for our characters, others times funny, and consistently an inspiring, delightful read. 

Her Stories