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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #761, Award-Winning Debut Short Story Collections in Celebration of Winter Solstice

Sun, 12/20/2020 - 4:13pm by muffy

how_to_pronounce_knifeHow to Pronounce Knife: Stories * *  by Canadian poet Souvankham Thammavongsa is the winner of the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize.  “In sparse prose braced with disarming humor, Thammavongsa (born in a Laotian refugee camp) offers glimpses into the daily lives of immigrants and refugees in a nameless city, illuminating the desires, disappointments, and triumphs of those who so often go unseen..." (The Paris Review) 

In these 14 stories (among them one short-listed for Commonwealth Short Story Prize and an O.Henry Award winner) we meet watchful children, wounded men, and restless women caught between cultures, languages, and values. 

In the titular story a young school girl is embarrassed when she finds her father unable to pronounce simple English words. In the  2019 O. Henry-prized "Slingshot"   a 70-year-old woman experiences a summer of sexual reawakening with her 32-year-old neighbor. Red, a chicken factory worker longs for  a nose job so she would have a chance at the front office where everyone has “a thin nose that stuck out from her face and pointed upward.” In "Randy Travis," when her mother becomes obsessed with the country singer, a 7 year-old is made to write hundreds of love letters in her name.  

“Cosmopolitan aficionados of pristine short fiction--think Paul Yoon, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Phil Klay--will want to read.” (Library Journal)

sleepovers

Winner of the 2019 C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize, and hailed by Lauren Groff as “fully committed to the truth no matter how dark or difficult or complicated it may be”, Sleepovers: Stories *, the debut short story collection by Ashleigh Bryant Phillips takes us to a forgotten corner of the rural South, full of cemeteries, soybean fields, fishing holes, and Duck Thru gas stations.

Each story focuses on individuals in the same rural, hardscrabble North Carolina town.  In "Shania," a 7 year-old is awed by her friend named after the country music star. As blood sisters they know little about each other’s family circumstance, and their friendship is cut short after domestic violence erupts in Shania's decrepit house. In  "The Locket"  Shirley, a 60-year-old pool custodian with a painful childhood befriends Krystal, a teenage babysitter with an impressive dive, and offers up her only treasure, with devastating consequences. 

"Phillips demonstrates an impressive ease at depicting transition, trauma, and loss, brilliantly evoking a close-knit world held together by the strength of friendship. This collection stands out in the field of current Southern fiction.” (Publishers Weekly)

In Memoriam

afterpartiesAnthony Veasna So, Author on the Brink of Stardom, Dies at 28. The author of crackling, kinetic and darkly comedic stories that made vivid the lives of first-generation Khmer-Americans.  Death was sudden and unexpected. (The New York Times)  

So’s first book, Afterparties: Stories (eBook), a collection of short stories have been described as a “history-haunted comedy of Cambodian-American manners,” is to be published by Ecco next August, after a fierce bidding war. 

One of the stories in the collection (that first appeared in the literary journal n+1) “Superking Son Scores Again”  is that of “hapless, hopeful and striving teenage skater boys, clad in too-large T-shirts, eager for heroes, even fallen ones like Superking Son.“ In “The Three Women of Chuck’s Donuts” which The New Yorker published in February, Mr. So writes of two sisters, Kayley and Tevy, typical preteen and teenage Cambodian-American children. They are working the night shift one summer with their mother at the family’s restaurant, chafing at the ever-present burden of their parents’ hideous past trauma, flicking it away with black humor.

* * = 2 starred reviews

* = Starred review

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Holiday Hours: December 2020 and January 2021

Fri, 12/18/2020 - 10:00am by richretyi

holiday hours

AADL holiday hours for all locations:

December 23: Noon-8pm
December 24: Closed

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New Art Prints in AADL's Collection

Thu, 12/17/2020 - 1:30pm by audrey

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It’s been a long year, and we know we can’t be the only ones getting tired of the walls of our homes. Have no fear, the Art Print collection is here to save your interior decorating needs with an infusion of new works to spice up your home. We’re introducing six new artists to the collection, with multiple works for you to check out and take home.

For those that miss our Letterpress Labs or just want a bold splash of color to shake up a room, Amos Kennedy’s prints are a great choice. These letterpress prints feature words to live by, or at least think about, overlaid over bright colors. From Art Lives! to War, Kennedy never loses sight of the final work, so the viewer is treated to a poster that gives the impression of words coalescing out of the chaos of life.  

Anusree Sattaluri perfectly captures the coziness of quiet moments. The focus on the simple details, the small things in life that make a moment special, lend her works a calming, comforting presence. Sattaluri creates worlds you just want to step into for a relaxing day. There's no stress in these works, they're suffused with a delightful sense of warmth and home.

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Natural Hospital Birth by Cynthia Gabriel

Wed, 12/16/2020 - 2:44pm by mrajraspn08

When you're pregnant, there's pressure to create a birth plan. One of the options when creating your plan is whether you want a natural or hospital birth. Not many people stop to consider that they could have both.

Written by a Washtenaw County doula (who I worked with preparing for my own birth), Natural Hospital Birth discusses how to create a birth plan step by step and what issues are important to address when planning a natural hospital birth. There is information on how the birth process works and why it is important to have your needs met, as well as tips on advocating to make sure they are.

What's extra special about this book is that there is no judgment. When it comes to natural vs. medicalized birth, the debate can be heated as to which is best. Gabriel makes the answer clear: Whatever YOU want.

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Ghosts of Christmas Past

Mon, 12/14/2020 - 11:49am by majean

Ghosts of Christmas Past Cover Image: a lone house in the snow surrounded by holly“A sad tale's best for winter: I have one of sprites and goblins.”
― William Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale

Many of our European ancestors spent the cold, dark nights of winter huddled together around a fire, cozy in the warmth and light, sharing stories. And everyone knows the best fireside stories are ghost stories.

Charles Dickens was far from the only 19th century author penning spectral tales. M.R. James is perhaps best remembered for his ghost stories, and his "Dinner for One" is included in the modern collection Ghosts of Christmas Past. Other Progressive Era authors included in the anthology are E. Nesbit ("This Beautiful House") and Jerome K. Jerome ("The Ghost of the Blue Chamber"). 

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Best of 2020: Cookbooks

Wed, 12/09/2020 - 3:02pm by eapearce

Many of us delved deeper into the world of home cooking than ever before in 2020. Although I didn’t ever jump on the bread-baking wagon, I did enjoy trying out dozens of new recipes from all over the world this past year. And now that it looks like we’ll be spending another winter cooking at home, I’m looking for new cookbooks to peruse and get inspiration from! Cookbooks also make lovely holiday presents, so what better time to check out some of the best releases of the past year and place some on hold for yourself or purchase one for a loved one? Here are some of the best cookbooks of 2020:

cover of In Bibi's Kitchen

In Bibi’s Kitchen is a beautifully photographed cookbook of recipes from eight different eastern African countries. Chef Hawa Hassan, who was born in Somalia and immigrated to Seattle when she was a child, interviewed a variety of African women (“bibi” means “grandmother”) to hear about the recipes that they’ve cooked throughout their lives. Hassan says that her intention in creating the cookbook was to “sustain a cultural legacy,” and now cooks can honor these African food traditions at home, with the help of In Bibi’s Kitchen. 

cover of East

East, by Meera Sodha, is a colorful new cookbook featuring vegan and vegetarian recipes from Asia. The recipes are delightfully accessible and feature easy-to-find ingredients that still allow you to create dishes packed with delicious and unique flavors. The book has recipes of all types: sides, main dishes, salads, noodles, curries, tofu, desserts… all inspired by or directly from East Asian countries. I bought this book for my sister for her birthday and I hope she’ll let me borrow it!

cover of Modern Comfort Food

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #760, “A friend may be waiting behind a stranger's face.” ~ Maya Angelou, Letter to My Daughter

Tue, 12/08/2020 - 2:44pm by muffy

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Translated (by Alison Watts) into English for the first time, Sweet Bean Paste, by former journalist/essayist Durian Sukegawa is a contemporary tale about the burden of the past and the redemptive power of friendship.

Once Sentaro Tsujii dreamed of being a writer but now, released from prison, estranged from his family, he fills his day making and selling dorayaki, a type of pancake filled with sweet bean paste and his nights drinking to oblivion.  But everything changes on a spring day during cherry blossom season. Into the tiny confectionery shop walks 76-year-old Tokue Yoshii, offering to work for pittance. As the two work together, a friendship develops though Tokue is evasive about herself and where she lives. Despite her disfigured hands, she teaches Sentaro the fine points in making the best sweet bean paste, and business flourishes. 

Among the many customers who flock to the shop is Wakana, a lonely schoolgirl who befriends Tokue. But then, social pressures become impossible to escape and Tokue’s dark secret is revealed, with devastating consequences.

“Inspired by the 1996 repeal of Japanese legislation that for more than a century inhumanely confined patients with Hansen's Disease (leprosy), and their families, Sukegawa-enabled by Watts's lucid translation-tells an endearing, thoughtful tale about relationships and the everyday meaning of life.”(Library Journal)

A bittersweet confection about prejudice and friendship.” (The Guardian)

brilliant_life_of_eudora_honeysettThe Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyons (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) is a moving and joyous novel about an elderly woman ready to embrace death and the little girl who reminds her what it means to live. 

85 year-old Eudora Honeysett is done enduring the pains, weakness, and indignities of old age. She becomes aware of an alternative from a chance meeting at the local hospital. After a life of grief, disappointments and missed opportunities, her end will be on her terms, with the help of a clinic in Switzerland. 

Then she meets ten-year-old Rose Trewidney, her new neighbor - “a whirling, pint-sized rainbow of sparkling cheer” who, despite Eudora’s resistance, gamely insinuates herself into Eudora's daily routine, and soon, their twosome is joined by recently widowed Stanley Marcham in a series of adventures. 

“British author Lyons builds a certain and compassionate case for why her protagonist wants to go through vibrant flashbacks that reveal the depth of Eudora's character and sources of despair. Teeming with curmudgeonly elders and precocious youngsters, Lyons' touching tale of intergenerational friendship is reminiscent of Frederik Backman's A Man Called Ove (2014). Despite the somber underlying subject, this is a thoroughly enchanting feel-good read.” (Booklist)

 

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When Survivors Give Birth by Penny Simkin

Mon, 12/07/2020 - 2:40pm by mrajraspn08

I work in a library. I'm kind of a book person. So when I was pregnant and preparing to give birth, I looked for books to help me get ready. One unexpected resource was When Survivors Give Birth. The reach of this book goes far beyond its intended audience. Penny Simkin wrote this guide to help people who are pregnant and giving birth after having experienced sexual assault, but it is very informative to anyone who is looking at a birth who might face challenges.

This book speaks to both those preparing for birth and providers helping those who have experienced sexual assault to give birth. It addresses mental barriers as well as physical triggers, with suggestions on finding a provider that will be beneficial, screening patients for past trauma, and working together on solutions like using appropriate language and managing stressful reactions.

Though I have never experienced assault, as a trans and disabled person, this book was one of the most helpful and enlightening ones I found, and I used several suggestions in discussions with my midwives and doulas. It is a necessary resource for providers, and useful for birthing people.

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Escape to Faerie

Fri, 12/04/2020 - 8:25pm by scarbroughc

In this crazy, mixed up world we’re living in, escapism is a must. And you can’t do any better than Holly Black’s The Folk of the Air trilogy, made up of The Cruel Prince, Wicked King, and The Queen of Nothing. The books, the first of which was published in 2018, follow the character of Jude Duarte, a human girl, as she navigates the beautiful and cut-throat world of Faerie. Over the course of the series, 17 year old Jude deals with court politics, power struggles, and her own feelings. Along the way, she comes into contact with a colorful cast of characters that really give these books a distinctive flavor.

The Trilogy

With her signature dark, quirky style, Holly Black presents a story full of magic, romance, and swordplay. Whereas many authors shy away from   true enemies to lovers style romantic tension, Black leans into it, making these books and characters completely unforgettable. Despite the fantastical setting, Jude’s struggles are relatable and readers are bound to root for her. With a new novella related to the series just released at the end of November, now is the perfect time to dig into this rich world! These books can’t be missed.

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Books Outside the Binary

Wed, 12/02/2020 - 2:33pm by mrajraspn08

Most people have heard of transgender people, and transitioning to male and female. But what about when you're “other”? That's an option! Here are some books to present these identities to others, and to familiarize yourself with the options.

They/Them/Their is a handy guide to those just learning about nonbinary identities. It discusses some of the options and how gender isn't necessarily an either/or option.

While Born Both is about intersex people, it also is a great read for anyone who doesn't feel exactly male or female. Hida Viloria walks through her journey upon finding out she's intersex as she begins exploring all sides to this identity and becomes an advocate for those outside the binary.

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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

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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.

BONUS FEATURE:

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

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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) 

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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

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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)

mexican_gothic

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)

BONUS FEATURE

haunted_houses

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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Novellas

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

Ohayō!

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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THE CURSE OF THE CAT PEOPLE (1944)

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.