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Homeschooling Fun at the Library!

Fri, 09/17/2021 - 3:40pm by mrajraspn08

Arctic and Antarctic Bagimals kit

Last year, many parents found themselves unexpectedly homeschooling. Over a year later, some of us still are, by choice or necessity. Whether you’re an experienced homeschooler or a complete novice, the library is here to help make lessons fun with our great tool collection!

My child’s favorite tool is the Bagimals. Even this simple tool can be used to inspire a lesson plan. Check out several Bagimals with your grade school kid and look at the animals and the environment they live in. Get one of the Early Learning Globes and figure out where each animal lives in the world. Talk about the environment in each place; for older children, you can talk about how each animal evolved to be suited to its environment. Could a polar bear live in the desert? Why or why not? How might the animal have evolved if they lived in another environment? How do they co-exist with other animals and even people living in this environment?Early Learning Globe

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #789, An Alternate Universe

Mon, 09/06/2021 - 2:20pm by muffy

master_of_djinnVoted one of the 50 Favorite Sci-Fi And Fantasy Books Of The Past Decade by NPR readers, A Master of Djinn * * * (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook), is Nebula, Locus, and Alex Award-winner P. Djeli Clark’s first full-length novel after a number of novellas, also set in an alternate Cairo universe. 

1912 Cairo is a bustling metropolis with commerce, intrigue, and steampunk technology. Fatma el-Sha’arawim, the youngest and only female agent of the Egyptian Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments, and Supernatural Entities is brought in to investigate multiple murders at the home of a wealthy British merchant. 

Ever since the mystic and inventor Al-Jahiz pierced the veil between realms decades ago, djinns, magical beings and humans have been living together in relative peace. Now someone claiming to be Al-Jahiz has murdered members of a secret brotherhood dedicated to his legacy at the eve of an international summit of major European powers that is likely to have global ramifications.  Together with her clever new partner, Agent Hadia Abdel Hafez, and her mercurial, half-djinn girlfriend, Siti, Fatma sets out to uncover the truth behind this self-professed prophet, and save the world from destruction. 

“The fantastical worldbuilding highlights the thematic issues of colonialism, spirituality, and race relations, while Clark's prose provides a cinematic lens to issues of gender and class viewed through Agent Fatma's investigations and relationships.” (Library Journal) 

“Give this to alternate history enthusiasts and mystery readers who enjoy a dose of the magical. Fans of S. A. Chakraborty, Martha Wells, and Zen Cho should be particularly pleased.” (Booklist) 

wisteria_societyThe Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook), the first in the Dangerous Damsels series, is “a treat for readers who enjoy supernatural historical romances, wordplay, and quirky situations.” (Booklist) 

Miss Cecilia Bassingwaite, a junior member of the Wisteria Society, a crime sorority of thieves, pirates and assassins is eagerly anticipating induction into the highest rank (and a place at the high tea table) now that she has robbed a bank, mastered the skills of piloting flying battlehouses, and foiled an assassination attempt on her life. 

Before she could claim her seat at the tea table, all the members of the Society were kidnapped by the dreaded Bronte-obsessed, self-proclaimed poet Captain Morvath,  Cecilia has no choice but to team up with her devilishly handsome would-be assassin Ned Lightbourne, who may be a pirate employed by Captain Morvath, or a royal agent assigned to protect her. 

“In this joyride of a debut, Holton draws us into a madcap world of courtly corsairs, murderous matrons, and pity-inspiring henchmen. Familiar romance tropes appear but as if in a fun-house mirror, with broad winks at their origins, while characters make sarcastic references to passionate novels in the Victorian canon… As if The Parasol Protectorate series met The Princess Bride and a corseted Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.(Kirkus Reviews) 

* * * = 3 starred reviews

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #788

Wed, 08/25/2021 - 6:56pm by muffy

 “Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ~ Charles W. Eliot 

“The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books.” ~ Katherine Mansfield 

reading_listThe Reading List * *  by Sara Nisha Adams (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook).  17 year-old Aleisha, a summer desk clerk, is the first to find the list between pages of a returned book at the Harrow Road Library.  It reads JUST IN CASE YOU NEED IT, followed by eight titles: To Kill a Mockingbird, Rebecca, The Kite Runner, The Life of Pi, Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Beloved, and A Suitable Boy. 

Just then, grieving widower Mukesh approaches the desk, intent to return a much-overdue copy of The Time Traveler’s Wife he found among his wife Naina’s things.  Never a reader, he nevertheless enjoyed the story and the opportunity to honor Naina's memory, he asked for Aleisha’s recommendations.  Caught unprepared, Aleisha remembered the list.  Intrigued, and a little bored, stuck at home, unable to reach her mentally-fragile mother,  she impulsively decides to read every book on the list as well. Slowly, the shared books create a connection between them. 

As it happens, the same list shows up at the shoe rack at the yoga studio, the bulletin board at the local supermarket, the bus stop,  and the community garden, drawing lonely strangers into the library and each other’s company. 

“Full of references to popular and classic novels, this debut focuses on reading as a means of processing and coping with challenging life events. The author deftly captures the quiet and listless vibe of ill-fated libraries everywhere. Told from the perspectives of both Aleisha and Mukesh, as well as a sampling of other characters, the story shows an insightful empathy for difficulties faced at divergent life stages. The author explores many difficult topics with grace, like mental illness, grief, abandonment, and self-doubt...A quiet and thoughtful look into loneliness, community, and the benefits of reading, suited for true bibliophiles.“ (Kirkus Reviews)

 * *  = 2 starred reviews

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #787, Fantasy Debuts

Tue, 08/17/2021 - 9:03pm by muffy

for_the_wolfFor the Wolf * * * *  by Hannah Whitten, the first in the Wilderwood series, (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) is “a dark, dazzling reimagining of the Brothers Grimm’s Little Red Riding Hood(Publishers Weekly) 

For centuries, the Kingdom of Valleyda kept a bargain : to hold the monsters of the Shadowlands at bay, the second daughter born to the queen would be sacrificed to the Wolf of the Wilderwood, a magical forest. Now, Red(arys), as she approaches her 20th birthday, is almost eager to embrace her fate, plagued by a secret power she could not control. 

The Wolf, as it turned out,  is a man - Eammon who offers to release her. But Red chooses to stay. As real danger lurks round them, Red’s magic makes her a powerful ally as Eammon struggles to repair the woods, keeping out the dark creatures from the Shadowlands. 

“Whitten weaves a captivating tale in this debut, in which even secondary characters come to feel like old friends. The novel seamlessly blends "Little Red Riding Hood" and "Beauty and the Beast" into an un-put-down-able fairy tale that traces the boundaries of duty, love, and loss. A masterful debut from a must-read new voice in fantasy.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

maliceMalice * by Heather Walter (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) is imaginative retelling of Sleeping Beauty with sly references to Cinderella.

Princess Aurora, the last in a long line of princesses cursed by a wicked Vila, an evil race of magical beings, is the last heir to the Briar’s throne. Now the Vilas have all died out, except of Alyce, called "Malyce" by the Graces she lives with at Lavender House. The Graces, gold-blooded and gifted with Fae magic, is part of an alliance between the humans of Briar and the Fae of Etheria, while Alyce, known as the Dark Grace, is rejected publicly, even as the rich and powerful solicit her dark magic in secret. 

Thus, it is assumed that the invitation to Princess Aurora's 20th birthday ball does not extend to Alyce, but she attends anyway. There she meets the princess, who is desperate to break the Vila curse that will kill her on her 21st birthday if she hasn't found true love. As their friendship grows, Alyce agrees to help Aurora lift the curse, even if it would destroy her own power.

"The story grows deliciously darker at every turn, though the youthful protagonists still ensure plenty of YA crossover appeal. Fairy tale lovers of all ages will be thrilled." (Publishers Weekly)

she_who_becomes_the _sunShe Who Became the Sun * * *  by Shelley Parker-Chan, the first in the Radiant Emperor duology, an epic high-fantasy series, gives the historical Red Turban Rebellion a grimdark twist (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook).  The author was awarded a Otherwise (Tiptree) Fellowship for a work of speculative narrative that expands our understanding of gender.

1345. In Mongol-ruled China, the Zhu family, starving peasants in the Central Plains , at great expense they could ill afford, consulted a local fortune teller who proclaimed that their eight-born son, Zhu Chongba was destined for greatness while second daughter - nothingness. Yet, when a bandit attack orphaned the two children, Zhu Chongba succumbed to despair and died while the girl assumed her brother's identity to enter a monastery as a young male novice. Propelled by a burning desire to survive, She learned she was capable of doing whatever it took. When her monastery was burned for supporting a rebellion against Mongol rule, Zhu threw herself into her brother's path for greatness.

In this Mulan meets The Song of Achilles, “The characters are bold and complex in this story of fealty, family, and self. Epic worldbuilding, high action, and ruthless shades of love and desire make the tale at turns tragic and inspiring. Parker-Chan's debut is forceful, immersive, and unforgettable. This inspired queer retelling of Chinese history is an exciting read.” (Library Journal)  For fans of The Poppy War.

* * * * =  4 starred reviews

* * * = 3 starred reviews

* = Starred review

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #786

Fri, 07/30/2021 - 4:45pm by muffy

song_in_urse_majorSongs in Ursa Major * by Emma Brodie (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) opens at the 1969 Bayleen Island Folk Festival. When headliner Jesse Reid was injured in a motorcycle crash, local band The Breakers, instead of being the opening act, took center stage. Led by Jane Quinn, a young singer/songwriter, they delivered the performance of a lifetime.

As Jesse recuperated on the island, nursed by Jane’s aunt Grace, the two met. Sensing Jane’s raw talent and naivete about the music industry,  Jesse mentored her through the production of her first record, and when The Breakers began touring with Jesse’s band, they became involved, a relationship that Jane insisted on keeping secret. “She feared that, if the world knew her as Jesse’s love interest before she’d ever opened her mouth on a national stage, that was all she’d ever be.” Then she made a shocking discovery on tour about Jesse, Jane took off for home.

“(T)his sprawling novel follows Jane and Jesse through the epic highs and lows of their careers. Moving from New York to Los Angeles to Greece to the Grammys, then always back home to the island, Brodie's debut is a furious page-turner, meditating on the glittering beast of fame.” (Booklist) 

“Inspired by the folk rock scene of the late '60s and early '70s, and reputedly by the relationship between James Taylor and Joni Mitchell, this superbly crafted debut novel immerses readers in a story of family, love, and music from the first page. Brodie makes a point about the destructive force of drug abuse, and bears witness to unsavory business practices in the music industry. (Library Journal) 

For fans of Daisy Jones & The Six.

* = Starred review

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #785, Women's Fiction Debuts

Fri, 07/23/2021 - 8:55pm by muffy

treausre_of_amy_ashtonThe Missing Treasures of Amy Ashton by Eleanor Ray (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook)

Once an aspiring artist, Amy Ashton now rescues and collects beautiful objects, online and from charity shops, ever since her boyfriend Tim and her best friend Chantel left her on the same day more than 10 years ago. These days, Amy is hardly able to move around under piles of trinkets and treasures, risking safety violation and eviction as she desperately try to keep the world at the door. But with the arrival of a young family next door, Amy’s carefully managed and guarded routine starts to unravel.

She finds herself charmed by the two young boys, one with a treasured collection of toy bulldozers (Amy could relate to THAT!) and their helpful sort-of single father. Then she discovers a ring hidden in a flower pot (the one Tim was going to propose with) and a sodden letter, thus throwing her into the role of amateur detective. 

“Heartwarming and tender… an ideal read for anyone looking for a good-humored and uplifting story, but especially for those who enjoyed Gail Honeyman’s Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Ruth Hogan’s The Keeper of Lost Things.(BookPage)

“Mystery lovers and fans of Liane Moriarty will also enjoy the quick-paced plot and perfectly timed reveals.” (Booklist) 

lizzie_&_danteLizzie & Dante * * (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook) by Mary Bly is a “poignant, character-driven novel about living, loving, and looking mortality in the eye...Fans of emotional tearjerkers, of romance, or of authors Kristin Hannah and Elin Hilderbrand will not be able to put this down.” (Library Journal) 

Shakespeare scholar Lizzie Delford is spending what would likely be her last summer, on the Island of Elba, at a luxurious seaside resort as a guest of her life-long friend Grey and his boyfriend, movie-star Rohan Das. Between catching sun and lavish parties, Lizzie is to help Rohan develop an unconventional script for Romeo and Juliet, his first movie as a director. 

At the public beach, Lizzie is befriended by a bedraggled dog named Lulu, and her cantankerous owner Dante, a celebrated chef and a single father to precocious 12 year-old Etta.

“Bly, known best for the best-selling historical romances she writes as Eloisa James, deftly pivots to contemporary fiction with an emotional roller coaster of a novel that candidly explores such complicated subjects as sex and desire, love and loss, and family and friendship. Whether toothsomely describing Italian dishes, celebrating the natural beauty of Elba, or performing some literary dissection of Romeo and Juliet, Bly writes with a Prosecco-fizzy wit that is simply irresistible, but what will equally resonate with readers is her richly nuanced characters and their embrace of life in all its glorious messiness.”  (Booklist)

* * = 2 starred reviews

* = Starred review

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #784, New York, New York

Fri, 07/09/2021 - 4:15pm by muffy

angel_&_hannahAngel & Hannah: A Novel in Verse by Ishle Yi Park (also in downloadable eBook and audiobook, performed by the author, first woman named poet laureate of Queens) reimagines Romeo and Juliet as an interracial couple in 1990s New York City. 

Hannah, the daughter of Korean immigrants in Queens, meets Angel, a Puerto Rican boy in Brooklyn,  at a quinceañera in the spring of 1993 and their “forbidden love instantly and wildly blooms along the Jackie Robinson Expressway.”

Told in seasons as opposed to Acts, in hip-hop sonnets and poems, we follow the blossoming of their young love to its gradual withering under the realities of poverty, racism, addiction, and the impacts of the AIDS epidemic.  

“Park's intermingling of slang with fragments of Spanish and Korean electrify the free-verse lyrics that dance and slide across the pages. With an energy and attitude closer to Lin Manuel Miranda's In the Heights than West Side Story, the spoken-word style of Park's wildly creative rendition will entrance readers.” (Booklist) 

 

dead_dead_girlsDead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia is the first in a new historical mystery series set during the Harlem Renaissance.  

A 15 year-old Louise Lovie Lloyd was abducted on her way home. A new fountain pen and ingenuity allowed her to escape and saved three other girls held in captivity. Immediately, she  was hailed as Harlem's Hero by the press. Now a decade older, Louise waits tables at Maggie’s Cafe during the day and spends her nights drinking and dancing at the Zodiac, Harlem's hottest speakeasy, trying to put her notoriety and her preacher father’s disapproval behind her. 

Then dead girls, elaborately groomed and posed begin turning up outside Maggie’s in the early hours. After an altercation with the police, Detective Theodore Gilbert makes her an offer: help solve the case or go to jail. 

“Even as she has little choice, she doesn't know how dangerous a deal she has made until subsequent deaths bring the killer close. In this atmospheric debut mystery, with a sequel already planned, Afia ably tracks how Louise goes from reluctant hero to detective, infusing the transition with the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance.” (Booklist) 

 

chosen_and_the_beautifulThe Chosen and the Beautiful * *  by Nghi Vo is “a fantastical reimagining of the world of The Great Gatsby.” (also in eBook and audiobook) from the point of view of Jordan Baker, the supposedly jaded and hollow golf pro on the sidelines of Fitzgerald's original novel. This is the author’s first full-length novel after 2 well-received novellas

In Vo’s version, Jordan Baker, a Vietnamese adoptee brought up in the rarefied Louisville society, stays close friends with Daisy Buchanan. Though a constant fixture at some of the most exclusive parties in 1920s New York, she remains an accepted outsider, being queer and Asian.  When Daisy sets Jordan up with her cousin, Nick Carraway, Jordan takes little notice of him until Jay Gatsby sets his eyes on Nick as well. 

“Between magic-filled parties at Gatsby’s house and whispers of dark bargains, Jordan watches the relationship between Daisy and Gatsby unravel over the course of the summer, at the same time struggling with her own relationship to Daisy and eventually coming to question her place in their society. Vo has crafted a retelling that, in many ways, surpasses the original, adding logic and depth to characters’ motivations while still—uncannily—unspooling the familiar story. Astonishingly crafted, with luscious prose and appeal for both fans of the original and those who always felt The Great Gatsby missed the mark.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

Readers might also want to look out for Nick by Michael F. Smithwhich provides Nick Carraway with a fascinating backstory before his move to West Egg and into Gatsby’s periphery. 

* * = 2 starred reviews 

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #783

Fri, 06/25/2021 - 5:59pm by muffy

one_hundred_years_of_lenni_and_margotThe One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin (also available in downloadable eBook and audiobook) is “a joyous celebration of friendship, love, and life.” (Publishers Weekly) 

17 year-old Lenni Pettersson is a patient in the Glasgow Princess Royal Hospital. Though terminally ill, she is not ready to give up living, or asking questions. Curiosity leads her to the hospital’s almost-always empty chapel and she befriends the chaplain Father Arthur, but it is the 83-year-old purple-wearing, fruitcake-eating, dumpster-diving rebel Margot McCrea whom she meets at the hospital’s art class that sparks the recognition of a kindred spirit.

As they exchange stories, Lenni realizes that together, they have been alive for 100 yeas, and comes up with the idea of creating 100 paintings, a painting for every year of their lives. Moving back and forth in time, the narrative beautifully renders Margot's much-longer life of a lost baby, a missing husband, a complicated lifelong friendship with a woman and second chance at love with an astronomer while we learn about Lenni’s childhood in Sweden, and her mother’s mental illness. 

“Holding all the pieces together are Lenni's exquisite honesty, humor, and curiosity at the life she won't live. Readers will know by page two that sharp-tongued, funny, brave Lenni will break their heart, and that they'll be all in for the ride. Rich for its cast of characters unique in their messiness, humanity, and kindness, debut author Cronin's masterpiece won't let go, long after the last page.” (Library Journal, reviewed by Beth Andersen, formerly with Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

Already optioned for film adaptation. 

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #782, Thrillers Out of Africa

Thu, 06/17/2021 - 4:53pm by muffy

in_the_company_of_killersIn the Company of Killers, * * * * is “an exceptional adventure thriller” (Publishers Weekly) by Bryan Christy (Law, UMich, and National Geographic's founder of Special Investigations) where elephants and humans alike are pawns in a global game of espionage.

In Samburu County, Kenya, American journalist Tom Klay’s latest counter-poaching assignment went terribly wrong. In an ambush, he was wounded while his trusted friend and guide Bernard Lolosoli was killed, and they had failed to document local crime kingpin Ras Botha killing a world-famous elephant for its massive tusks. Back at his DC office of The Sovereign, Tom finds that the magazine has been sold to Perseus Group, the largest supplier of paramilitary forces in the world, and that his CIA handler/mentor is retiring, unraveling his carefully constructed double life. 

To settle the score and to take down Botha's smuggling empire, the CIA offers to send Tom to Johannesburg to team up with his one-time lover - South African prosecutor Hungry Khoza. But Tom soon discovers that he and Hungry are part of a larger, more lethal game, one that involves a ruthless mercenary and a global superpower. And everything he thought he knew about his work and his friends might have been a lie. 

“Fans of both espionage and global crime thrillers will find a gem here: Klay is an introspective, flawed survivor who bends operative stereotypes, and the intersection of corporate greed, media, technology, and crime is chillingly current.” (Booklist) 

“A riveting plot, complex characters, deep backstory, and an engrossing setting enhance this finely written novel about justice, personal responsibility, and saving the environment.” (Publishers Weekly) 

lightseekersLightseekers *  by Femi Kayode

Nigerian investigative psychologist Dr. Philip Taiwo, recently returned from the US to his hometown of Lagos, is called on by a prominent banker, whose son was one of three undergraduates "beaten, broken, and burnt alive" by an angry mob in the university town of Okriki, to investigate. The case known as the Okriki Three is highly controversial. Footage of the crime is widely shared on social media, and a number of people are arrested and tried, but no reasonable motive emerges. 

With the help of his of loyal and streetwise driver, Chika,” Taiwo slowly, and cleverly, pulls the veil back on violent, secret societies of college-age men. “With alluring characters, including a chillingly psychotic villain; an original, many-faceted plot; and blazing psychological and social insights, Kayode's commanding and thought-provoking first crime novel launches a profoundly promising series.” (Booklist) 

 

* * * * = 4 starred reviews

* = Starred review

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June Almeida, Virus Detective!

Mon, 06/14/2021 - 5:09pm by samanthar

 

Book cover One of the latest children's books from Sleeping Bear Press is June Almeida, Virus Detective! The Woman Who Discovered the First Human Coronavirus. The clean illustrations and flowing biography of June, a timely yet little-known female virologist, make this a fascinating read.

June loved photography, especially taking photos of nature. She also loved reading - science fiction books were her favorite. When she was older, June found a job that combined two of her favorite things, science and photography, by working with electron microscopes. Through this work, June was able to photograph antibodies and viruses on a microscopic level, which helped scientists find and identify viruses. In 1964, scientists around the world found a new and unique virus that no one had seen before. It was through June’s photographs that a clear picture emerged of the dots surrounding the virus, which looked like a crown - or corona in Latin! They decided to name it coronavirus

Excerpt from book