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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

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #767

Wed, 02/10/2021 - 12:36pm by muffy


Black Buck * * * (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) by Mateo Askaripour, a darkly comic novel, is “25.8% autobiographical”.  (Check out Scott Simon’s interview with the author on NPR) 

The title, derived from an old racial slur, is written as a sales manual, with hints and tips sprinkled throughout, intended to “help(ing) people…(b)lack and brown people that have been others, especially in the workplace. And this could be true for anyone that’s felt otherized, whether that’s due to sexual orientation, gender expression, religion, or race.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

Once the valedictorian of Bronx Science, 22 year-old Darren Vender is a barista at a Midtown Starbucks. Living with his mother in a Bed-Stuy brownstone, and hanging out with his girlfriend, Soraya, he knows his lack of ambition is a disappointment to his mother. An inexplicable impulse to suggest a different drink for a customer changes all that. 

Rhett Daniels, the silver-tongued CEO of Sumwun, NYC’s hottest tech startup, sees potential in Darren, and offers an invitation for Darren to join his elite sales team.  Before grasping the nature of the company (a platform for virtual therapy sessions), Darren recreates himself as (Star)Buck, a ruthless deal-closer, and a super-salesman. 

“While he tries to square his growing discomfort in his new role in this strange, morally dubious workplace with the expectations of his family and friends, tragedy strikes, and Darren secretly begins a rival start-up focusing not only on training people of color to enter the white world of elite sales but also to revolutionize the industry. Askaripour has created a skillfully written, biting, witty, and absurdist novel that sheds light on racism, start-up culture, corporate morality, media bias, gentrification, and many other timely, important themes. Askaripour is an author to watch.”  (Booklist)  

* * * = 3 starred reviews

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The Way of the Househusband

Wed, 02/10/2021 - 11:22am by samanthar

Book cover

The Way of the Househusband is an award winning manga that follows Tatsu, a former legendary Yakuza boss known as the “Immortal Dragon”, who is now focused on being the best domestic husband he can be. While his wife is a hard working career woman, Tatsu puts his energy into housework. Hilarity ensues as he applies the ways of the Yakuza to his domestic life, including wrestling with the vacuum and taking cooking lessons. This was a quick, lighthearted read that I really enjoyed, and I look forward to reading more volumes! (And, Netflix recently announced an original anime coming next year, based on the books!) 


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JUDEE SILL -- Live in London: The BBC Recordings 1972-1973

Mon, 02/08/2021 - 11:00am by fredbeldin

Judee Sill Live in London Judee Sill’s Live in London: The BBC Recordings 1972-1973 makes an excellent introduction to the haunting beauty of this once-obscure singer/songwriter’s unique work. Signed to Asylum Records in 1971, her two LPs enjoyed national publicity (including an early Rolling Stone cover) that didn’t lead to major sales, resulting in a brief but eventful career. Mostly ignored by radio stateside, she twice toured England to a warmer welcome, gaining glowing press, television appearances and the chance to perform live on the BBC, the source for the recordings on Live in London.

The music draws from classical, gospel and country/western styles, her clear, pure plaintive voice accompanied by her own deftly plucked guitar or stately piano. Weaving a gentle, ethereal veil around kaleidoscopic verse about bravery in the face of apocalypse, awe at witnessing the infinite and the longing for a righteous, romantic hero/messiah, her songs sound like prayers, like hymns, like someone yearning for eternity in the dark. Both studio LPs are exceptional, but Live in London’s advantage is a stripped-down, unadorned Judee, delivering her songs alone with a captivating intimacy upon which orchestral flourishes and background singers could only intrude.

Judee lived briefly and in tumult. After leaving Asylum her career faded, and she suffered ill health and poor choices before dying young in 1979. Reissues of her rare titles in the 21st century spawned a small cult of wide-eyed admirers, and the 2020s could be her biggest decade yet; the New York Times recently ran a belated obituary noting the 40th anniversary of her death, and a documentary is currently in post-production. In this digital age, her music is more accessible than ever before, and just in time.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #766

Sat, 02/06/2021 - 5:42pm by muffy

bad_muslim_discountThe Bad Muslim Discount * * by Syed Massod (also available in eBook and audiobook) is a well-observed and comic novel about two Muslim families from Pakistan and Iraq finding their way in contemporary America.

As Pakistan grows increasingly conservative and embraces Islamic fundamentalism, the Faris family moved from Karachi to Fremont (CA) looking for a fresh start. While his devout mother and model-Muslim older brother Aamir were quickly adopted by the local Muslim community, 14 year-old Anvar, rebellious and wisecracking was more interested in fitting in, even if it meant being a bad Muslim. In college, his irreverence made him an outcast with fellow Muslim students, including his (very secret) girlfriend Zuha. He transferred out East and eventually got a law degree. 

In alternating chapters, Safwa, a young girl living in war-torn Baghdad with her grief-stricken, conservative father will find a very different and far more dangerous path to America. Anvar and Safwa became neighbors in a SF apartment complex, at the largesse of a landlord who is happy to offer a “good Muslim discount” as long as you don’t mind the rundown, mold-infested units. Though Safwa, now called herself Azza, is engaged to a bully hand-picked by her abusive father, they fell into an easy relationship. When Zuha becomes engaged to Aamir, now a doctor;  and Safwa’s desperate and poorly-conceived plan to gain her freedom attracts the attention of Homeland Security, their lives and that of their families are irrevocably transformed. 

“A born storyteller, Masood has crafted a fast-paced page-turner with plenty of insightful commentary on religion, family, love, and national politics in this debut novel that is expertly written and a joy to read; highly recommended.” (Library Journal)

* *  = 2 starred reviews


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Recipe for Persuasion

Fri, 02/05/2021 - 8:20pm by eileenw


Cover art for Recipe for PersuasionRecipe for Persuasion by Sonali Dev (paperback, ebook, audiobook download) starts off seeming like a lighthearted romance novel, and becomes so much more.

Chef Ashna Raje joins a “cooking with celebrities” reality show to try and save her late father's struggling restaurant, and ends up paired with an international soccer star . . . who’s also her ex.

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Downtown Library closed 2/4; Reduced Hours starting 2/5

Wed, 02/03/2021 - 4:30pm by eli

Due to a positive COVID test among the staff in one of the Downtown Library staff teams, the Downtown Library will be closed Thursday February 4th.

Due to the staffing impact of quarantine, pickup hours at the Downtown library will be 2 PM - 8 PM daily, starting when we reopen on Friday February 5th. Stay tuned for the resumption of regular hours once quarantined staff are able to return to work.

If you had scheduled a pickup for Thursday, February 4th, it will be canceled and you can reschedule it. All items ready for pickup in the Downtown Lobby will stay right where they are until 2/15.