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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.

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3 Fantastic Fairy Tale Collections

Wed, 09/30/2020 - 1:29pm by dempseyj

Fairy tales are often entrancing and strange, but aside from that, they have surprisingly little in common. They vary widely, from funny to tragic, and from comforting to alarming, sometimes within the span of a single story.

The cover of The Annotated Brothers Grimm. A blue background and a gold border with illustrations of several fairy tales.If you’re interested, a good place to start is The Annotated Brothers Grimm. Some of these tales you may have heard a hundred times before, and others you’ve probably never even heard of. The annotations are a big help, since many of the stories can be rather baffling on the first (and even the fifth!) read.

Another influential collection is The Fairy Tales of Charles Perrault. These stories were among the first literary fairy tales (which, to my understanding, differ from oral fairy tales in that they were told by aristocrats). Many of them have been adapted and retold countless times, but it’s fun to see them in the form that made them famous.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #754, “One is not born, but rather becomes, a woman.” ~ Simone de Beauvoir

Fri, 09/25/2020 - 8:27am by muffy


Fifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) opens in 1948, at Kyoto, Japan, when an 8 year-old Nori(ko) was abandoned by her mother at the doorstep of her grandparents’ imperial estate, with the parting words - “Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist.”  For the next 2 years, Nori was confined to an attic room, subjected to persistent beatings by her grandmother, and daily chemical baths to lighten her skin - a shameful reminder of the illicit affair between her mother, a married Japanese aristocrat and an African-American GI. Her only contact with the outside world was the rhythmic drumming of rain on the roof from season to season. 

That was, until the unexpected arrival of Akira, her 15 year-old half-brother, the legitimate heir to the Kamiza estate, and a violin prodigy. The siblings formed an unlikely but powerful bond, a bond that their formidable grandparents could not allow, thus setting the stage for profound and unexpected consequences, irrevocably changing the lives they were meant to lead.  

“(Debut novelist) Lemmie has a gift both for painting pictures with lush descriptions and for eliciting horror with the matter-of-fact way in which she recounts abhorrent acts. Lemmie intimately draws the readers into every aspect of Noriko's complex story, leading us through the decades and across the continents this adventure spans, bringing us to anger, tears, and small pockets of joy. A truly ambitious and remarkable debut.” (Booklist)


A New York Times Editors Choice Selection and longlisted for the 2020 The National Book Foundation’s Award for Translated Literature, Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 * (also available in downloadable eBook), Cho Nam-Joo’s semi-autobiographical debut novel, originally published in 2016 (and translated from the Korean by Jamie Chang), “is credited with launching Korea's own #MeToo moment. It effectively communicates the realities Korean women face, especially discrimination in the workplace, rampant sexual harassment, and the nearly impossible challenge of balancing motherhood with career aspirations.” (Library Journal)

The novel opens in August, 2015, when 33 year-old Kim Jiyoung, a new stay-at-home mother, at the outskirts of the frenzied metropolis of Seoul, begins to exhibit strange symptoms that alarm her family. Often without warning, she speaks as if possessed by other women, alive and even dead, both known and unknown to her.  Her worried husband Jung Daehyun sends her to a male psychiatrist, whose clinical reports form much of the novel. 

“Through four chronological milestones childhood, adolescence, early adulthood, and marriage Cho presents what happened in the prior 33 years that actuated Jiyoung's abnormal behavior; each period is marked by gross misogyny, from microaggressions to bullying to abuse to unrelenting dismissal. Cho's matter-of-fact delivery underscores the pervasive gender imbalance, while just containing the empathic rage.“ (Booklist) 

* = Starred review

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2020 Eisner Awards

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 9:02am by samanthar

Eisner awards logoThe Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards showcases some of the best work in the comic and graphic novel genre. Click here to see a full list of winners and nominees, and check out some of these great works from the catalog!


Best short story : Hot Comb by Ebony Flowers

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #753, A Necessary Conversation

Fri, 09/18/2020 - 7:57am by muffy


Members Only *  by Sameer Pandya (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) chronicles Raj Bhatt’s terrible, horrible, very bad week, triggered by one careless, unfortunate, regrettable remark made during a meeting at his members-only club. 

Raj, a professor of Anthropology at a California university, married, and father of 2, is the only nonwhite member of a private tennis club. At a prospective new member interview, his effort to connect with an African American couple comes across as a racist joke. Immediately, those he considers his friends turn on him, nevermind for years, he has silently endured slights and snubs from the membership. 

The next day, a group of right-wing students at the University organizes a protest against him over objections to his lectures on the history of American slavery (labeling him as a reverse racist), threatening the safety of his family, his livelihood, and his integrity.  Growing up as a bicultural Indian American immigrant, Raj is often unsure of where he belongs, now he finds it increasingly difficult to navigate the complicated space between black and white America.

“This realistic, character-driven novel with multiple, exceptionally well developed, threads of suspense engages contemporary identity politics and what it means to belong - to a club, to a racial group, to a country, and to various cultures and subcultures.... Pandya's writing here is smooth, clear, funny, and often subtly beautiful. Members Only is the thoughtful page-turner we need right now.” (Booklist)

* = Starred review

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Disgusting Critters by Elise Gravel

Wed, 09/16/2020 - 11:54am by Staffsteph

The Fly by Elise GravelDo you like bugs and other “Disgusting Critters”? Are you looking to find more information about them in an easy to read book with great illustrations?! Look no further than Elise Gravel’s series called…. “Disgusting Critters”! You can learn about Lice, Flies, Slugs, Spiders, Bats, and more. Each book is loaded with fun illustrations, humor and most importantly actual factual information to help you be more informed about the disgusting critters in our world. Did you know that the female fly can lay more than 100 eggs at one time?! That fact and more are awaiting you in this fun and informative series. 

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Register to Vote!

Tue, 09/15/2020 - 12:22pm by samanthar

I voted sticker
Stick design by Marcela Passos, Pioneer High School

Did you know September 22 is National Voter Registration Day? It’s a day to celebrate our democracy, and make sure your voice will be counted in the November 3 election. It’s easy to register or check that you are registered at your current address. All you need is a Michigan driver’s license or state ID, and you can register or update your registration online by following the steps here:

It’s never too late to get registered to vote - You can register at any time up to 8 pm on Election Day at your county or city clerk’s office!

Not sure if you are registered? Check your registration status here:

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Finding Nature in Your Own Backyard

Mon, 09/14/2020 - 12:47pm by dempseyj

Spending time in nature can be a refreshing break from our day-to-day lives. But wouldn’t it be nice if we could bring some of that nature home with us? According to these two books, it’s been there all along, right in our backyards. We just have to look closely and we’ll see it.

The cover of The Urban Bestiary by Lyanda Lynn Haupt. Several animals in a field, and two houses in the background.The Urban Bestiary by Lyanda Lynn Haupt

How well do you know the creatures that live alongside you? From hawks to moles to coyotes, there are animals leading complex and varied lives just outside our homes. Whether they’re a welcome guest or a nuisance, they’ve been in our neighborhoods for as long as we have, so it’s only polite if we get to know them a little better.

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They Called Us Enemy

Fri, 09/11/2020 - 11:55am by samanthar

Book cover

Winner of the Eisner 2020 Best Reality Based Work, They Called Us Enemy is a powerful graphic novel documenting actor, author, and activist George Takei’s youth spent in US Japanese internment camps during WWII. In 1942, George and his father, mother, little brother, and baby sister were forced out of their Los Angeles home and imprisoned in US military camps. This was done to about 120,000 people, on the singular basis of being of Japanese descent. I knew about the internment camps and discrimination against Japanese Americans that took place at the time, but Takei’s telling brings out the nuances of what life was like for a child living through this devastating time. It is shocking to think that this happened in America, and less than 80 years ago. It hits home how this could happen again all too easily. I enjoyed the story being told in a graphic novel format. It helped keep it from getting pulled down by the heaviness of the subject, and I found myself more readily engaged by a graphic novel than if this was a traditional nonfiction book. I think it’s important for everyone to know about this deplorable time in United States history, and George Takei’s book is an excellent way to learn about it.

Excerpt from book


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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #752

Thu, 09/10/2020 - 3:24pm by muffy

love_after_loveLove After Love * *  is award-winning short story writer Ingrid Persaud’s debut novel, which Entertainment Weekly called “a window into Caribbean literature and a wider lens on immigration, race, and sexuality. Mostly, though, it’s just a great story; funny, tender, and true.” Set mostly on the island of Trinidad, it traces the lives of a makeshift family over 2 decades. 

After Betty Ramdin’s abusive alcoholic husband Sunil dies, she takes in Mr. Chetan, a math teacher at the school where she is an administrator as a lodger. Kind, polite and adept in the kitchen, Betty and her five-year old son Solo take to him immediately, and gradually they form an unconventional family, loving and supportive of each other. 

When Betty’s attempt to seduce Mr. Chetan fails, he comes out to her, trusting her with a secret that could mean jail or worse in Trinidad’s homophobic culture. Then by chance, Solo overhears Betty confiding in Mr. Chetan a secret so powerful that it drives him to leave Trinidad, vowing never to return. Living in New York with Sunil’s brother Hari and his family, he works menial jobs, available to the undocumented, lonely and an easy prey to grifters. Estranged from each other, Betty and Solo are buoyed by the continuing love and friendship of Mr. Chetan, until his own secret is uncovered with heartbreaking repercussions.

“Beautifully written, the novel is told in Trinidadian dialect ("You here bazodee over a man you ain't seen since he was in short pants"). The skilled treatment of the characters brings them to vivid life, as it does the richly realized Trinidadian setting. “ (Booklist)

Read-alike suggestion: The New York Times review of Love After Love by Gabriel Bump reminds me of Everywhere You Don't Belong, (2020) his debut novel, set in Chicago, which Tommy Orange called "(a) comically dark coming-of-age story, .... (a) meditation on belonging and not belonging, where or with whom, how love is a way home no matter where you are.”

 * * = 2 starred reviews


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The Who, The What, and the When

Wed, 09/09/2020 - 2:52pm by Lucy S

CoverRoald Dahl called her “undoubtedly the absolute primary influence on my own life,” and Sofie Magdalene (Hesselberg) Dahl, his mother, was an indeed a master storyteller who wove the folklore of her Norwegian heritage into tales to entertain her 5 children. When Sofie enrolled him in boarding school, Roald repaid this kindness to her by writing her letters, telling her stories of his life for her amusement. He wrote her at least once a week for 32 years, and these letters that his mother kept are just a small part of what Roald Dahl gave the world through his words.

Louis Armstrong was employed by Louis Karnofsky from a young age and helped this coal merchant/junk dealer on his daily rounds. But Karnofsky was more than a boss to young Armstrong, he was a surrogate father and the man who bought him his first horn. Even as he became a famous jazz musician, Armstrong remembered the generosity and warmth of the Karnofsky family and to honor their Jewish heritage, wore a Star of David around his neck for most of his life. Armstrong was also fluent in Yiddish due to his time spent with this generous family.

These are just two of the 65 “secret sidekicks” in The Who, The What, and the When: 65 Artists Illustrate The Secret Sidekicks of History. Editors, Jenny Volvovski, Julia Rothman,and Matt Lamothe have put together a collection “highlighting some of history’s ‘unknowns’ along with their famed counterparts.” Not everyone written about here would be considered heroic today, but certainly influential, and the many writers and illustrators who write about them illuminate the idea that behind every influential person exists someone who helped them ascend. The unique illustrations befitt their subjects and help to create a collection that is fascinating for the mind and the eye.

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Cooking with Scraps

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 4:48pm by ncurtis

Cooking with Scraps cover imageIn her cookbook, Cooking with Scraps, author Lindsay-Jean Hard shows readers how to reduce waste by using food products they may have previously discarded. Have a recipe that calls for egg whites? No need to break eggs and throw away the yolks, when you can substitute the liquid from a can of beans. The recipes can save time in the kitchen, money at the store, and offer ways to to meet dietary restrictions.

Even readers who do not feel like lifting a whisk can enjoy flipping through the pages. High resolution photographs complement the text, and the layout is clean and modern. The about the author reveals that Hard attended the University of Michigan and works at Zingerman’s Bakehouse, so there are touches of local Ann Arbor pride.

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Remembering Aretha Franklin: Queen of Soul

Tue, 09/08/2020 - 12:29am by copelands

The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin was a legendary singer/songwriter and activist. The diva, who passed away in 2018, had a voice steeped in soul. An 18-time Grammy winner, she was known worldwide for her passionate and emotive singing. AADL offers many materials to help remember, celebrate, and educate readers on her life and career. In A Voice Named Aretha, written by Katheryn Russell-Brown, Franklin’s biography is told in a style suitable for young readers. Laura Freeman is the illustrator and her beautiful images tell Franklin’s story as wonderfully as the text. Young readers will learn how Franklin started singing and used her voice to inspire generations.

Another good choice for YA readers is Who is Aretha Franklin. The popular series examines Franklin and follows her career; from singing in church as a child, to recording certain hits like Respect, Chain of Fools, and (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman. The book also takes a look into her family life and relationships; one of her most notable being with her father, Rev. C.L. Franklin.

Additionally, The Queen Next Door by Linda Solomon, is a photography book that can be enjoyed by all ages. Solomon was Franklin’s longtime photographer and personal friend. The book features wonderful photographs of Franklin’s intimate moments. Social events like birthday parties, live concerts, music video sets, and more are captured. Also, the book honors the deep connection Franklin had with her hometown Detroit, as it is published by Wayne State University Press. For more info on this book, click here. If you’re interested in the legendary career of Aretha Franklin, be sure to take a look at one of these titles. Long live the Queen!

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #751, Summer’s Last Hurrah

Thu, 09/03/2020 - 2:12pm by muffy


The Second Home : A Novel by Christina Clancy (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook), a debut novel set on Cape Cod. 

After the death of their parents, sisters Ann and Poppy Gordon are preparing to sell the family’s beloved Wellfleet summer home, but the inheritance dispute with their estranged adopted brother Michael brings back long-buried memories; and secrets of that fateful summer 15 years ago that fractured their family, and forever changed the trajectories of their lives. 

“A riveting family saga that fans of J. Courtney Sullivan, Cristina Alger, and Marisa De Los Santos will devour. Clancy's debut novel is a delight. She flips between decades, immersing the reader in sun-soaked Wellfleet summers before traveling to the present day and back again. With nostalgia as thick as the scent of coconut-scented sunscreen, The Second Home explores the consequences of emotional decisions and the strength needed to set things right.” (Booklist)



East Coast Girls,* the first adult title by teen author Kerry Kletter, follows four women who return to Montauk where they spent childhood vacations. More than just best friends, Hannah, Maya, Blue, and Renee filled in the gaps for one another left by their inattentive, neglectful, or toxic families. But the summer of their high school graduation,  a terrible trauma flung their lives in different directions and caused them each to deal with the fallout in their own less-than-optimal way.

Now twelve years later, as their idyllic summer cottage is about to be sold, Maya convinces the women to come together for one last chance of restoring their friendship.

“Alternating narrators divulge masterfully drawn characters who feel like family, causing feelings of both sympathy and frustration. Pitch-perfect pacing and language reveals all the right pieces at just the right moments and the idyllic Montauk setting is skillfully depicted. Kletter will be an author to watch for fans of Elin Hilderbrand and Emily Giffin.” (Booklist)

* = Starred review

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3 Outstanding SFF Novellas

Thu, 09/03/2020 - 1:21pm by dempseyj

The cover of Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh. A person's face, made from tree branches and leaves.Science fiction and fantasy (SFF) books can be inventive, immersive, and inspiring. They also tend to be quite heavy. Sometimes you want to read a book that has all those qualities, but that you can also carry around without spraining anything. These three novellas offer exactly that.

Silver in the Wood by Emily Tesh

Tobias lives alone in the heart of a forest, and has for hundreds of years. Then he meets a young man who has heard tales about an ancient being who tends the woods. This is a story about the power of fairy tales, friendship, and--most importantly--trees. (I am very enthusiastic about trees.)

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Postcolonial Love Poem

Mon, 08/31/2020 - 1:05pm by samanthar

In her second published work, Postcolonial Love Poem, Mojave American poet Natalie Diaz lyrically tells readers what was stolen - bodies, land, love, rivers, language - by colonialism. While her work features heavily the themes of loss and othering, she does not dwell in wishing for a pre-colonial world. Her prose pushes readers to her present day brothers and sisters, how they walk with living wounds across polluted land. Diaz’s work is powerful and unlike any other I have read, juxtaposing facts 

Postcolonial Love Poem cover“Native Americans make up less than

1 percent of the population of America.

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LeJuan James Brings Humor and Gratitude through Reflection in “Definitely Hispanic”

Fri, 08/28/2020 - 10:54pm by copelands

LeJuan James Definitely HispanicDefinitely Hispanic is the first book from social media star LeJuan James. James is a bicultural and bilingual YouTuber who found viral success through making comedic videos of his experiences as a first-generation Hispanic-American. James uses both English and Spanish in his videos where he often parodies his parents in various scenarios from his childhood.

In addition, Definitely Hispanic is a collection of essays, each dealing with topics close to James’ heart. Written in an intimate way, he engages with readers and gives a direct visualization of life in a vibrant Hispanic family. A recurring theme throughout much of the book is gratitude, mostly to his parents. They were strict but caring and James quickly found that his house rules were very different from his American friends’. Even though he was frustrated at times with the many rules and guidelines he had to follow, James realized as he got older that he is incredibly proud of his heritage. He later understood that his parents’ strict actions were out of unconditional love. Although both of his parents often worked multiple jobs to make ends meet, James recalled never wanting for anything when growing up.

In the opening chapter #Home, James reflects on his upbringing in Central Florida. During this time he moved frequently between Puerto Rico and the U.S. and began to understand his identity as a Hispanic American. He longed for acceptance in American circles but also thoroughly enjoyed his summers in Puerto Rico. He played with his cousins and enjoyed foods like quesitos and drinking limber (fruit juice). In #LaPela, he hilariously explains the spanking his parents used on him when he misbehaved and how in many cases, he deserved to be punished. #HispanicFamilyGatherings, one of my favorite chapters, offers a look into various family celebrations. This includes telling of how competitive his family is regarding sports; celebrating the winter holidays with much fanfare; and embracing any outsiders who visit as family. In the chapter #DatingHispanicWomen, he offers his advice on dating Hispanic women and the unique situations that might arise. He advises bowing gracefully out of arguments he feels he’ll never win to embracing the loyalty and impassioned love they give.

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Blog Post

Craving Live Music?

Wed, 08/26/2020 - 5:01pm by mbt

Have you been missing live performances as much as I have? I miss live music so much that I've started asking around for ideas to fill this craving. A friend told me about Encore Theater in Dexter. They’re  producing shows that are held in the parking lot. Social distancing and wearing a mask are required. It may not be your typical live theater experience but it sure is welcome about now.

Another option is The Blue Llama. They are back to live jazz, although it is inside. I was on the patio the other evening and enjoyed the sound of the band over the outdoor speaker system.

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Blog Post

5-Minute Mug Cakes

Mon, 08/24/2020 - 11:52am by samanthar

5 Minute Mug Cakes coverDo you want to eat some cake, but don’t have time for the whole, long baking process? Fret no more! With 5 Minute Mug Cakes, you can have your cake and eat it from a mug, too. Recipes like Lemon Dream, Strawberry Cream, and my personal favorite, S’mores - yum! These recipes are quick, easy, and quite delicious. Some require only 4 ingredients or less, making it so easy to have fun trying a variety of cake flavors. All you need is a mug and a microwave, and you, too, can have cake! 

If you’re feeling adventurous, try Mug Meals! The clean up is a breeze.


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Blog Post

Loose Parts: Inspiring Play in Young Children

Fri, 08/21/2020 - 11:30am by samanthar

Loose Parts cover

Have you and your child ever attended a Sensation Stations program at AADL? In a Montessori style approach to hands-on learning, everyday objects are placed in bins for your little one to explore! They are a great opportunity to encourage your child to learn through using the five senses, and creating these play learning opportunities at home can be easier than you think! Loose Parts: Inspiring Play in Young Children shows how to upcycle everyday items, like egg cartons, acorns, and aluminum foil, and use them in ways that inspire your little one to explore, learn, and create!

Check out Loose Parts 2 and Loose Parts 3 for even more ideas!

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Blog Post

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #750, Young, Black and Female

Fri, 08/21/2020 - 7:32am by muffy


Luster * * by Raven Leilani (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) is one of Entertainment Weekly’s 20 late-summer must-reads; Vogue’s 7 Books We Can’t Wait to Read in August; and New York Times called it “perhaps the summer’s most touted debut.”

23 year-old Edie is stumbling her way through her twenties. An art school dropout with crushing student loans, she now works as an assistant at a children’s book publisher, hardly able to afford sharing a rat-infested apartment in Bushwick. She meets Eric Walker online, a married white digital archivist twice her age who professes to have an open marriage. When Edie crashes the couple’s anniversary party, she meets Rebecca, a VA medical examiner, and Akila, their adopted daughter.

When Edie is fired from her job, in part due to  office-hours promiscuity, and is evicted from her apartment, Rebecca invites Edie to stay in their New Jersey home while Eric is away. As Edie earnestly tries to make herself useful with Akila who is having a tough time adjusting to the all-white community; and to find work (clown school?),  “all the while, the dynamics among the four of them keep shifting, an unstable ballet of race, sex, and power.” 

“Edie's ability to navigate the complicated relationships with the Walkers exhibits Leilani's mastery of nuance, and the narration is perceptive, funny, and emotionally charged. Edie's frank, self-possessed voice will keep a firm grip on readers all the way to the bitter end.” (Publishers Weekly) 

“Edie’s defeated, I-can’t-even tone has become something of an institutional voice for millennial writers, especially women: Jia Tolentino, Patricia Lockwood, Catherine Lacey, and Ottessa Moshfegh have all merged humor with anger about the gender and economic inequities their generation faces.

Luster is distinguished by its focus on race, which raises the stakes for the story. The climax emphasizes that for all of her wit and flexibility, Edie is ultimately a Black woman in a white neighborhood. She’s treated as an assistant, then an interloper and finally an invader.” (USA Today, ★★★½ out of 4)

* * = 2 starred reviews

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Blog Post

The Stars and the Blackness Between Them

Wed, 08/19/2020 - 5:40pm by PhoebeH

Book cover for "The Stars and the Blackness Between Them." Two teenage Black girls lay next to the ocean, under a black, starry sky.The Stars and the Blackness Between Them by Junauda Petrus is a YA novel told from the alternating perspectives of two young Black women, Audre from Trinidad, and Mabel from Minnesota. A cosmic thread links the two on their parallel and then interwoven journeys of love, sexuality, and self acceptance. The book does a beautiful job of illustrating the characters’ explorations into spirituality, and what it means to be human in connection to the earth and the universe that we live in. It grapples with confronting death, and what it means to live in the present while having the knowledge of one’s limited time. Even though the author presents us with these large themes, she is still able to keep the book down to earth through portrayals of family, life navigating high school, and Mabel’s relatable obsession with Whitney Houston. This book is a great read with refreshing depth.


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Blog Post

From 8-bit to Infinity

Tue, 08/18/2020 - 12:31pm by garlandz

For over forty years friends and families have been huddling in front of televisions to guide varying pixelated heroes to victory. Pac-Man, Mario, Link, and the like! But why? When dissected into code these heroes are not much more than blocks put together and programmed into motion. What has kept these retro games alive and popular over the years?

To answer, we need to ask ourselves: What was my first video game? What made it so fun? Who was I with? What was I going through at the time? These questions may very well draw out the answer. Sometimes we cling to a character we can relate to or one we can cheer for. Other times we need a place we can escape to from the affairs of life. Whether the game helped us burn through a boring afternoon or helped us make friends or helped us feel strong against a bully! Anyone who has picked up a gaming controller undoubtedly has their own story to tell. Let's keep these nostalgic memories alive by appreciating the little moments, or the pixels of life we can call them. Don't stop making memories. Here are some wonderful materials the library has to kindle such memories and experiences:

Playing With Super Power : : Super NES Classics