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ages 11-18

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All Our Wrong Todays


Screenwriter [a:Mastai, Elan|Elan Mastai’s] debut novel is a delightful, insightful and wild ride that takes us on a winding path through time, space, and alternate realities, impelled by strong, witty dialogue and a looming sense of “what-if.”

[b:1504594|All Our Wrong Todays] is difficult to describe. It challenges your mind with a plot that twists through the space-time continuum with rapidity, but I highly recommend that you pick-up this witty, worthwhile book and take this incredible, zigzag of a journey with [a:Mastai, Elan|Mastai’s] affable narrator, Tom Barren, as he loops back and forth through time, space and consciousness. [a:Mastai, Elan|Mastai] has created in Tom a wonderfully readable narrative voice who keeps his story funny and artful even when describing frightening situations that reveal the darker forces that might be at play inside all of us. When we are introduced to Tom, he is living in a futuristic-like 2016 that could have been imagined in the 1950s and featured in [b:1384029|The Jetsons]; hover cars, clothes that are a second skin and regenerate every day, perfectly designed, person-specific meals. Everyone in this “future” has everything they could want or need. In a world where “oil was irrelevant, basic resources were plentiful, and everyone had access to all manner of technological enhancements...scientific discovery was the dominant social motivator.” And the scientific discoveries in this book are decidedly big and life-altering, sometimes literally. Tom’s father is hard at work developing the first time-travel machine, and Tom is employed as one of his back-up “chrononauts.” Tom’s failure in his father’s lab sets off a mad-capped series of events that have us boomeranging through various time periods, past and future, and altered versions of Tom himself, and of his friends and family.

[b:1504594|All Our Wrong Todays] is positively mind-bending in its whorls through these dimensions, as Tom introduces who he might have been, or still could be, in a parallel universe. Tom asks “What happens if the hard skin of reality punctures? What comes out?” His alter egos, John and Victor, show what might happen by demonstrating the success and failure, and the good and bad, that live inside each of us. Ultimately [b:1504594|All Our Wrong Todays] is about how we choose to live in the present we are given, and the way we reconcile all the dreams and voices we carry with us.

For fans of [b:1440697|The Martian] and [b:1416355|Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore]

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #627 “There are only two worlds - your world, which is the real world, and other worlds, the fantasy... these worlds provide an alternative." ~ Neil Gaiman


Set in an alternate modern-day England, [b:1503492|Gilded Cage *] by (Dr.) [a: James, Vic|Vic(toria) James] is first in the [|Dark Gifts] dystopian trilogy. It is one of the [|LibraryReads February picks], "where enticing drama and social unrest mix with aristocratic scandal and glamorous magic." (Kirkus Reviews)

Thanks to clever Abi(gail), the Hadleys believe they have a better deal than most, as they have arranged to serve their decade of servitude (being commoners without the magically power of the aristocratic rulers) together. They will work as slaves at Kyneston, the country estate of the Jardines, one of the most powerful families in the country.

At the last minute, 16-year-old Luke Hadley is separated from the family and sent to Millmoor, Manchester’s infamous slave town to toil in its horrific factories where he finds friendship among those with a dangerous agenda. Meanwhile, Abi, yearning for love and knowledge, stumbles into the middle of Jardine family intrigues and political scheming that could alter their world forever.

"Debut novelist James does an excellent job of creating a dark contemporary world in which magic is used to prop up a corrupt aristocracy at the expense of ordinary people. Hopefully the details of this realm's powers will be fleshed out in the next volume, which readers will eagerly anticipate after the cliff-hanger ending here. With solid YA crossover potential, this first novel should especially appeal to fans of [a:Collins, Suzanne.|Suzanne Collins's] [|The Hunger Games Trilogy.] (Library Journal)

Also for those who enjoyed [b:1442844|Red Rising] by [a: Brown, Pierce, 1988|Pierce Brown], and [b:1470453|Uprooted] by [a:Novik, Naomi|Naomi Novik].

* = starred review

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The Human Heart of Immigration


[b:1503116|Lucky Boy]

Ignacio is a boy with two mothers and two names. He is “Nacho,” to his birth mother, Soli, and “Iggy” to his foster mother, Kavya. In her touching and timely new novel, [b:1503116|Lucky Boy], [a:Sekaran, Shanthi|Shanthi Sekaran] tells the story of Ignacio’s two mothers; one, an 18 year-old undocumented immigrant who arrives in this country only to discover she is pregnant, and the other, a young married woman of Indian-American descent, wanting very much, but struggling, to have a child of her own. These parallel plot lines underscore the strong desire that comes with wanting motherhood and the deep sadness that comes with losing it. [a:Sekaran, Shanthi|Sekaran] does an admirable job at presenting both viewpoints of this story without legitimizing one over the other. She tells her tale with humor and compassion and we know Ignacio is loved by many, but we are never told which mother is best for him. Ignacio is a “lucky boy” because of all this love, but also a boy in a complicated situation made more tangled by love.
The true-to-life and somewhat flawed characters keep us from aligning too closely with either mother and [a:Sekaran, Shanthi|Sekaran] does not try to mollify us by showing one side in a more favorable light. What she does highlight is the deep complexity of immigrant situations and the question of what it means to be an American and to enjoy the privileges that this country has to offer, or suffer from a lack of advantages.

Read-alikes: [b:1451696|The Book of Unknown Americans] by [a:Henriquez, Christina|Christina Henriquez] or [b:1100252|The Tortilla Curtain] by [a:Boyle, T. Coraghessan|T. Coraghessan Boyle]

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Printz Awards Announced!

[img_assist|nid=353544|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=100|height=101]This morning many awards were given for excellence in books, video and audio books for children and young adults at the American Library Association’s [|Youth Media Awards]. One the biggies given annually is the [|Michael L. Printz Award], which is given for excellence in literature written for young adults. This year four Printz Honors were named in addition to the winner.


[b:1497910|March: Book Three] by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
The stunning conclusion of the award-winning and best-selling MARCH trilogy. In this graphic novel, congressman John Lewis, an American icon and one of the key figures of the civil rights movement, joins co-writer Andrew Aydin and artist Nate Powell to bring the lessons of history to vivid life for a new generation, urgently relevant for today's world. (This book also won the Non-fiction, Sibert, and Coretta Scott King Author Awards)


[b:1494581|Asking for It] by Louise O’Neill
It's the beginning of the summer in a small town in Ireland. Emma O'Donovan is eighteen years old, beautiful, happy, confident. One night, there's a party. Everyone is there. All eyes are on Emma. The next morning, she wakes on the front porch of her house. She can't remember what happened, she doesn't know how she got there. She doesn't know why she's in pain. But everyone else does.

[b:1491817|The Passion of Dolssa] by Julie Berry
In mid-thirteenth century Provence, Dolssa de Stigata is a fervently religious girl who feels the call to preach, condemned by the Inquisition as an "unnatural woman," and hunted by the Dominican Friar Lucien who fears a resurgence of the Albigensian heresy; Botille is a matchmaker trying to protect her sisters from being branded as gypsies or witches--but when she finds the hunted Dolssa dying on a hillside, she feels compelled to protect her, a decision that may cost her everything.

[b:1502497|Scythe] by Neal Shusterman
In a world where disease has been eliminated, the only way to die is to be randomly killed ('gleaned') by professional reapers ('scythes'). Two teens must compete with each other to become a scythe--a position neither of them wants. The one who becomes a scythe must kill the one who doesn't.

[b:1500371|The Sun is Also a Star] by Nicola Yoon
Natasha is a girl who believes in science and facts. Daniel has always been a good son and good student. But when he sees Natasha he forgets all that and believes there is something extraordinary in store for both of them.

Looking for more [|Printz] winners? Here’s a list of the [|winners] and the [|honors] that have been awarded since 2000.

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AADL Writing Contests Begin Today!


We want to see it in writing! Starting today, AADL's two writing contests are accepting entries and offer the chance to win fabulous prizes! Read on for more information:

KIDS in grades 3-5 can enter the [|"Write On!" Short Story Contest] by email or in person at the Downtown branch. View the [|official guidelines] for more details. Please send questions to

TEENS in grades 6-12 can send works of flash fiction and short stories to the [|"It's All Write!" Teen Writing Contest] through our [|online submission forms]. View the [|official guidelines] for more details. Please send questions to

If you're stuck wondering what the judges are looking for, try structuring your story to include these elements:
*A creative and original plot with a solid resolution
*Well-developed and detailed characters
*A clear story sequence from beginning to end

Happy writing!

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #625, Part 2


First, you need to know that as one trusted Library Journal reviewer puts it in no uncertain terms: "(t)his bleak, potent picture will scare the pants off readers".

According to debut novelist [a:Johnson, Lindsey Lee|Lindsey Lee Johnson] (herself a former tutor/teen mentor), [b:1503074|The Most Dangerous Place on Earth * *] is your local high school - where we send our precious ones as a matter of course.

Alternately narrating is a group of privileged [,_California|Mill Valley] juniors, linked by the parts they played in the suicide of a middle school classmate. Among them are the classic high school archetypes: the jock, the A-student, the bully, the stoner, the outcast - all in the throes of a time of tumult and confusion, amplified by the seduction and tyranny of social media.

Caught up in the daily drama of these teens is Molly Nicoll, a mid-year replacement teacher from scrubbier Fresno. First time away from home, and barely out of her teens, she too, is navigating faculty-lounge cliques; the vigor of teaching; demands of entitled and indulgent parents; and trying to connect with her students. Lonely and naive, she strikes up a relationship with a fellow teacher who turns out to be a predator.

"(Johnson) keeps the action brisk and deepens readers’ investment, culminating in a high school party that goes wrong. Readers may find themselves so swept up in this enthralling novel that they finish it in a single sitting." (Publishers Weekly)

Suggested for fans of [a:Ng, Celeste.|Celeste Ng's] [b:1446471|Everything I Never Told You] and [b:1420981|The Interestings] by [a:Wolitzer, Meg|Meg Wolitzer].

* * = 2 starred reviews

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Fabulous Fiction Firsts #625, Part 1


I don't know any significance to January 17, but three of the most buzzed spring debut novels will be officially released on that date.

[b:1503474|The Bear and the Nightingale * * * *] by [a:Arden, Katherine|Katherine Arden] is set in medieval Russia, steeped in history and myth.

At the edge of the wilderness where winters last forever, Princess Marina risked it all to bring Vasilisa “Vasya” Petrovna into the world, certain that she would inherit her royal grandmother’s gift of magic and knowledge of the spirit world. A stranger with piercing blue eyes presented the grieving father with a precious jewel meant for the child. Growing up wild and fearless, Vasya roamed the woods befriending sprites and household spirits until Konstantin, an exiled priest with golden hair, and Anna, her pious, and troubled stepmother became obsessed with Vasya’s salvation.

As two supernatural beings, Morozko and Medved, sought to harness Vasya’s powerful gifts by threatening the survival of their village, Vasya discovered that, armed only with the necklace and embracing the magic within, she might be the only one who could save them all.

"In a lush narrative with the cadence of a fairy tale, Arden weaves an immersive, earthy story of folk magic, faith, and hubris, peopled with vivid, dynamic characters, particularly clever, brave Vasya, who outsmarts men and demons alike to save her family. This beautifully written, auspicious first novel is utterly bewitching." (Booklist)

"Fleet and gorgeous as the firebird, a highly recommended exemplar of literary fantasy." (Library Journal)

Will appeal to fans of [a:Novik, Naomi.|Naomi Novik]; [a:Gaiman, Neil.|Neil Gaiman]; and [a:Ivey, Eowyn.|Eowyn Ivey].

* * * * = 4 starred reviews

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Participate in this year's Washtenaw Reads!


[:|$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America] is this year’s [:|Washtenaw Reads] book selection. Researched and written by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, the book details the lives of six different families who barely survive on less than $2.00 a day in various parts of the country. Eye-opening and alarming, the book also explains the laws behind the reasons that some people are forced to live on so little. The [| authors will speak at Rackham Auditorium] on Tuesday, February 7 at 7:00p.m. The event includes time for questions and book signing.

The AADL is also hosting several more intimate discussions of the book. The first of these takes place on Wednesday, January 25 at 7:00 p.m. in the Downtown Library multipurpose room. The second will occur on Sunday, February 12 at 3:00 p.m. at Westgate Branch in the Westside Room. All are welcome to attend these guided discussions, with no registration required. Participants may want to bring a copy of the book—available at all AADL locations—to reference during the discussion.

For more events surrounding this year’s Washtenaw Reads selection, follow the link [:|here].

Looking for resources about $2.00 a Day, including interviews with the authors and related reading? Visit the link [:|here].

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ESL Personal Tutoring Available!


[|Washtenaw Literacy] has announced that they are offering an ESL Personal Tutoring option. With this service, an ESL tutor will meet with 3-4 learners every week to work on reading, writing, speaking and listening. Learners will decide together when & where to meet and will do so as a cluster for 6 months to work on the groups' goals.Tutoring is free and confidential.

If you are interested in Personal Tutoring, please email Alison ( or call 734-879-1320 to register for a Learner Orientation.

Learner Orientation is the first step in Personal Tutoring. The learner will meet with a staff member to learn about Personal Tutoring. They will talk about the learner's goals and interests. Participants will need to provide contact information. Washtenaw Literacy will assess the learner's English level. The Learner Orientation lasts approximately 90 minutes. This is a great opportunity for English language learners from age 16-adult to get more consistent help to learn and better understand English.

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Love in one day


[b:1500371|The Sun is Also A Star]

[|National Book Award Finalist]

In her second novel for young adults, [t:The Sun is Also A Star], [a:Yoon, Nicola|Nicola Yoon] ([b:1478788|Everything, Everything]) takes an intricate and varied look at the immigrant experience in America as seen through the eyes of several different characters. The two main players in this story are Natasha, whose parents have lived in New York as undocumented immigrants for 8 years, and Daniel, who was born in America to parents who immigrated from Korea. At the start of the book, Natasha’s family is on the brink of deportation and Daniel is facing pressure from his parents and “perfect” older brother as he is applying to top colleges. These two experiences, one of trying to stay in the United States, and one of trying to fit in, circle around each other to bring Natasha and Daniel together. Interspersed throughout Daniel’s and Natasha’s chapters are stories and vignettes from background players, including the universe, that round out the diversity of the immigrant experience, of faith and religion, fate, family and the search for one’s place in the world.
Many events that occur on the day that Natasha and Daniel meet seem fated, but could just be coincidence? This is one of the of the larger questions [a:Yoon, Nicola|Yoon] conveys. Do things happen for a reason or does it just seem that they do because of what we chose to notice? Natasha and Daniel first approach this puzzle from very different viewpoints but learn that they are not so disparate in their thinking after all. And they discover together that whether or not people change, their eyes can be opened to new ways of seeing. Though these existential questions might generally contribute to teenage angst, Daniel and Natasha are not typically angsty. Worried, yes, but grounded as well. They have the same concerns as most teenagers, as well as larger concerns imposed by culture, family, and citizenship. “For most immigrants, moving to the new country is an act of faith. Even if you’ve heard stories of safety, opportunity, and prosperity, it’s still a leap to remove yourself from your own language, people, and country. Your own history.” Their love story is the best kind, romantic and awkward and thrilling all at once. Their chronicles of immigration and of belonging provide relevance to this romantic tale and show us that much can be accomplished through brave acts.