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Staff Picks: A Bit of Romantasy

by lucroe

For readers craving that overlap between romance and fantasy, check out these titles that have it all: magic, creatures, and love! 

Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu Mandanna | Request Now
The cover of Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches by Sangu MandannaA cozy romantasy about Mika Moon, who happens to be a witch but no one knows except her coven, who don't understand how lonely she has felt throughout the years. When a mysterious message arrives asking her to come to Nowhere House to train three young witches how to control their magic, she knows it's a bad idea to go. Who knows, maybe there she'll find something worth taking a chance on like the house librarian Jamie Kelly who she is immediately attracted to but who gives her the cold shoulder. Could she melt that icy heart of his?

 

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Staff Picks: Fabulous Fiction from U-M Alum

by emjane

The Helen Zell Writers Program, University of Michigan’s MFA program, has an impressive alumni list, who—would you believe it—have written some impressively good books! Here are a few of my favorites.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett | Request Now

The cover of The Vanishing Half, by Brit BennettTwin sisters Desiree and Stella both leave home at 16 and their lives, which up until that point had been lived in tandem, dramatically diverge. Told from shifting perspectives between Desiree, Stella, and their daughters, The Vanishing Half spans generations to tell an engaging story of identity, family, and connection.

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Staff Picks: Teen Books on TV

by nicole

Several Teen books have been adapted into shows in the past few years. If you like to read the book before you see it on TV, check out these YA stories that have been recreated for the small screen.

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman | Request Now

The cover of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil GaimanAccording to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, the world will end on a Saturday. Next Saturday, in fact. Just after tea. Which means that Armageddon will happen on Saturday night. So the armies of Good and Evil are gathering, the Four Bikers of the Apocalypse are revving up their mighty hogs and hitting the road, and the world's last two remaining witch-finders are getting ready to fight the good fight, awkwardly armed with antiquated instructions and stick pins. Armageddon is in the air. Which is a major problem for Crowley, a fast-living demon, and his opposite and old friend Aziraphale, a fussy angel. They like it down here, and they're not particularly looking forward to the end of it all. So they've got no choice but to defeat the marching ranks of the Witchfinder's army and - somehow - stop the Rapture from happening. Above all, they've got to find and kill the most powerful being on earth, the Antichrist (which is a shame, as he's a really nice kid). There's just one glitch: someone seems to have misplaced him. This over-the-top story is equal parts humor and fantasy, and the TV series is also available in our catalog.

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Staff Picks: Breakfast Bonanza: Cookbooks for the Start of Your Day

by eapearce

Whether or not you believe that the most important meal of the day is breakfast, as the old adage goes, there is something to be said about having a delicious beginning to your morning. In the following cookbooks, you’ll get ideas for how to make breakfast unique, yummy, easy, and all three!

Breakfast: The Cookbook, by Emily Miller | Request Now

The cover of Breakfast: The Cookbook, by Emily MillerThis delightful and comprehensive book shares recipes for home-cooking breakfasts from all over the world. Hundreds of recipes are compiled here with straightforward and simple instructions, so that you can prepare a dish that you’ve perhaps never even heard of before (a good thing, if you’re cooking at 7am!). Culinary notes and backgrounds on the origins of the recipes add a nice touch and provide the reader with interesting insight as to where the recipe they are preparing comes from and how people in that region might enjoy it. Conveniently, the index is organized by both food and country, so you can search for what you’re looking for by either categorization. Recipes are divided by food type as well as dietary restriction, such as gluten-free, vegetarian or vegan, quick and easy, under five ingredients and more. Lovely photographs accompany the recipes. This is a great book for any breakfast-lover, or even for anyone who is breakfast-curious and looking to up their morning meal routine.

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Staff Picks: Motown Turns 65

by lucroe

Berry Gordy founded Tamla Records on January 12, 1959, later adding the Motown Records label. We celebrate the immense contribution to music with some books, CDs, and a movie. To learn more about Motown go to Detroit’s own Motown Museum.

Where Did Our Love Go? : the Rise and Fall of the Motown Sound by Nelson George | Request Now
Where did our Love go?Originally written in the 1980s, this is a well-researched and straightforward account of Motown’s history. George traces Berry Gordy’s career as well as the vocalists, songwriters and musicians who made the Motown sound synonymous with the 1960’s. In the end, according to accounts, Gordy lost touch with his artists and Motown became “…just another record company…”. George has written a book that shows great appreciation for the Motown that was once a powerhouse of the music industry.

 

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Staff Picks: New Music by Black Artists in Celebration of Black History Month

by eapearce

AADL is always adding new music to our collection in the form of both CDs and LP records! This month we’ve got a feature on newly added titles by Black artists, in celebration of February being Black History Month. Enjoy!

Afro Futuristic Dreams, by Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids | Request Now

Afro Futuristic DreamsThis new jazz album, the first by Idris Ackamoore since 2020, draws influences from a wide variety of artists: you’ll hear elements of Parliament Funkadelic, Sun Ra and Fela Kuti along with more traditional jazz sounds and combinations. The smoothness of Afro Futuristic Dreams doesn’t take away from its politically charged message, aided by Ackamoor delivering straightforward lyrics about current events. Ackamoor, who came of age in the 1960s, has always felt that making music is about “making change happen,” and it’s clear on this new record that he’s pushing for change in the United States in lots of ways. The Pyramids were founded in the early 1970s in Ohio, and became known for combining African rhythms with the psychedelic jazz that was particularly popular in the U.S. at the time. Known for being one of the few bands who actually spent time traveling and playing in Africa to best capture the authentic sounds they were seeking, they’re just as strong as ever accompanying Ackamoor on this record (he was a founding member of the band back in the day). This record is well worth a listen.

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Staff Picks: A Library Card: Your Ticket to Free Streaming!

by emjane

Peeved that your streaming service is adding commercials? Luckily there is a whole slew of commercial-free streaming content available to you via your aadl.org catalog. You can browse the whole collection of more than 10,000 videos, or check out some recommended picks below:

Travel Documentaries

Seven Worlds One PlanetTravel the world without leaving your couch! BBC’s Emmy-winning Seven Worlds One Planet is a beautiful look at all of the continents. Don’t Forget Your Passport is more causal viewing, but its charming host and highlight of tours across the world is a great way to add future trips to your bucket list. And, of course, you can’t forget the King of Travel, Rick Steves – we have quite a few titles from his Rick Steves’ Europe series!

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Staff Picks: Into The Woods - Middle-Grade Wilderness Comics

by nicole

Looking for adventure, but stuck at home in the snow? Travel to magical jungles and frontier forests with these wild wilderness graphic novels.
 

Mighty Jack, Book 1 by Ben Hatke | Request Now

Mighty JackJack might be the only kid in the world dreading summer. But he's got a good reason: summer is when his single mom takes a second job and leaves him at home to watch his autistic kid sister, Maddy. It's a lot of responsibility. And it's boring, too, because Maddy never talks. Not ever. But then, one day at the flea market, Maddy does talk: she tells Jack to trade their mom's car for a box of mysterious seeds. It's the best mistake Jack has ever made. Soon Jack finds himself planting a very unusual garden, one that produces a crop of strange and bizarre creatures. What starts as a normal little garden out back behind the house quickly grows up into a wild, magical jungle with tiny onion babies running amok, huge, pink pumpkins that bite, and, on one moonlit night that changes everything…a dragon. If you love Ben Hatke's great storytelling or want more Mighty Jack, check out the rest of his books in the AADL Catalog.

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #833, She investigates...

by muffy

murder_by_degreesMurder by Degrees * * * by Ritu Mukerji

Philadelphia, 1875. Dr. Lydia Weston teaches at the Woman's Medical College and attends to working-class patients at the city's Spruce Street Clinic where she first meets Anna Ward.  Hardworking, highly motivated and an eager learner, Anna works as a chambermaid for the wealthy Curtis family but shares Lydia’s love of literature.  During an appointment with Lydia, Anna is visibly troubled by something she won't explain, and abruptly disappears.  Soon her body is dredged out of the Schuylkill River, bloated beyond recognition, she is identified by her diary and clothes neatly folded by the river.

When the police rules Anna’s death as suicide, Lydia is suspicious, especially when her autopsy confirms otherwise. “Mukerji, like Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs, pulls the reader into fascinating and richly detailed forensic autopsies and blesses Weston with the instincts and determination to carry out a murder investigation as effectively as--or even better than--the police.” (Kirkus Reviews) 

“This well-researched, historical-mystery debut by a practicing physician will appeal to readers who enjoy strong female characters and graphic clinical details.” (Booklist)   For fans of Jacqueline Winspear and Charles Todd

dexpectant_detectivesThe Expectant Detectivesby Kat Ailes is the first in a new cozy mystery series, set in the sleepy village of Penton. Finding themselves unexpectedly expecting, Alice and her partner Joe move out of pricy London to embrace country life in the Cotswolds. With the baby coming in 2 weeks, they sign up for a prenatal class. When one of the women goes into labor during class, frenzy ensues until someone notices Mr. Oliver, owner of the herb shop downstairs, keels over dead, and they find themselves all suspects in the murder investigation. 

Together with her band of pregnant sleuths, Alice manages to suss out Mr. Oliver's many secrets, his connection to the hippie commune in the woods and the mysterious death in the village some years ago.  What’s most disturbing for Alice is how Joe has been acting strangely and someone tries to poison her goofy canine companion Helen.

In this The Thursday Murder Club meets Midsomer Murders, “readers of Darci Hannah will enjoy Helen’s spotlight in this series. The humor is akin to Elle Cosimano’s Finlay Donovan series, and the relationship between Joe and Alice is reminiscent of Jules Capshaw’s romantic endeavors in Ellie Alexander’s “Bakeshop Mysteries.(Publishers Weekly) 

* * * = 3 starred reviews

* = Starred review

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Staff Picks: Imagining the Future

by lucroe

Cli-Fi or Climate-focused fiction is a subgenre that is concerned with what might become of our world and our future if climate change continues. These authors have imagined what might be in store for us in the decades to come. Some spell doom and gloom while others take a more moderate approach. These stories offer a lot to think about and appreciate.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood | Request Now

Failure to halt climate change has created an out of control weather system where fierce storms and tornadoes are all too common. The coastlines are flooded, and there’s no seasons anymore: just one long, sticky, miserable summer. Those few who survived the plague scrounge for food while dodging genetically modified creatures gone feral, like “wolvogs” and “pigoons”.Bottom of Form Potentially the last human on earth, "Snowman" tours the remnants of his destroyed world, reminiscing and mourning the loss of his best friend, Crake; the woman they both loved, Oryx; and the rise of genetic experimentation that destroyed the world.