The Criterion Collection is dedicated to gathering the greatest films from around the world and publishing them in editions of the highest technical quality, with supplemental features that enhance the appreciation of the art of film.

If you enjoy the bonus features which accompany your movie, where you can see interviews with the director and actors and fun details about how your movie was made, you can thank the Criterion Collection. They invented the concept. They also pioneered the use of letterbox format for widescreen films and have been at the forefront of restoring old and classic films. They are all about promoting and preserving the pleasure of film as entertainment and as art, with social and cultural significance. Their website is a huge source of unique lists of films not to miss and salient information about all kinds of film experiences. You can fall down several wormholes of intrigue exploring this site.

We own hundreds of films in the Criterion Collection here at AADL. Using the “Sort By” feature in the catalog, you can find new and newly re-released films in the collection here, while if you sort your search for the oldest films first you find this listing.

How to describe the collection? Quirky, highbrow, trendy, classic, artistic, unique, nostalgic, contemporary, darkly dramatic. All, and more, are true. Let’s face it, the most popular movies are not always the greatest. Let the Criterion Collection be your guide to finding the essential canon of film.

New Adult Fiction: Viper Wine

Viper Wine, the debut by Hermione Eyre, is far from your typical historical fiction novel. Considered a great beauty of her day, Venetia Stanley is popular at the 17th century court of Whitehall palace, adored by her husband, and revered by painters and poets who all wish to pay homage to her looks. After years of marriage and motherhood, however, Venetia feels that her looks are beginning to fade, and asks her husband, Sir Kenelm Digby, a charismatic inventor who dabbles in alchemy, to assist her in finding a potion or elixir that will preserve her youth. He refuses, claiming that she is perfect just the way she is. Forced to look elsewhere for help, Venetia is eventually given a potion that contains viper’s blood and opium, and that works…. for awhile. As other women at the court follow in Venetia’s footsteps, the elixir becomes all the rage, with disastrous consequences.

Eyre draws obvious parallels between Venetia’s desire for physical perfection and today’s obsession with beauty and looks. She even deftly weaves into Viper Wine cameo appearances by today’s celebrities, including Naomi Campbell and Groucho Marx, thus creating a truly unique reworking of the idea of the historical novel. Venetia Stanley, her husband, and several other characters are actual people from the era of Charles I, and it’s clear that Eyre devoted extensive time to the research of this book. This fascinating exploration into how far we have gone… and continue to go, to achieve beauty will appeal to even those who typically avoid historical fiction.

Download of the Day: March 31


Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

Anne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her.

Looking for more great things to download? Try going to our Downloads page for music, books, videos, podcasts, even patterns! And check out the Download of the Day every day for more great recommendations from AADL!

Want to find out about next week's Download of the Day TODAY? And get a whole heap of bonus DotD points in the process? Start playing the Lowdown of the Day! Follow the clues to figure out the item ahead of time. And the first find gets the most points, so move fast!

Get to Know the Judges: Erin McCahan


Leading up to the It's All Write Teen Short Story Contest celebration on June 7 (mark that on your calendar!), we'll be posting information about the judges who have the difficult task of narrowing down our contestants. Our next judge is Erin McCahan, an author born in our own beloved Michigan (East Grand Rapids)!

McCahan grew up in Ohio and is very proud of her Irish heritage. She's particularly interested in Victorian and Colonial history. Her published works include I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU SOMEONE ELSE (2010) and LOVE AND OTHER FOREIGN WORDS (2014). LOVE is a comedic coming-of-age story in which gifted teenager Josie must contend with the upcoming nuptials of her sister to an insufferable fiance and the mixed emotions involving her boyfriend, her crush, and her best friend Stu. Josie's genius-level IQ can't help her out when it comes to mastering the languages of familial, romantic, or platonic relationships, but one way or another, she has to figure it out.

Download of the Day: March 30


Dive - Tycho

Sometimes subtle, dreamy sparkling soundscapes from San Francisco. Recommended for Boards of Canada fans.

Looking for more great things to download? Try going to our Downloads page for music, books, videos, podcasts, even patterns! And check out the Download of the Day every day for more great recommendations from AADL!

Want to find out about next week's Download of the Day TODAY? And get a whole heap of bonus DotD points in the process? Start playing the Lowdown of the Day! Follow the clues to figure out the item ahead of time. And the first find gets the most points, so move fast!

The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones

The new season of Game of Thrones is almost here and for many fans April 12th cannot come soon enough! If you're as excited as I am about the return of the new season, you may be on the lookout for any small sliver of (non-spoiler!) Game of Thrones news or for more content to devour before the start of the 5th season.

A recent addition to our collection is The World of Ice and Fire: The Untold History of Westeros and the Game of Thrones, a comprehensive history of the Game of Thrones universe. As many of George R. R. Martin's fans know, one of his many strengths is the complex worldbuilding within the Game of Thrones novels. The World of Fire and Ice does an amazing job of simplifying the plethora of information offered throughout the series into a (relatively) concise history of the Game of Thrones world.

This 326 page mega-book contains detailed maps of the Game of Thrones world, color illustrations, full family trees for each of the major Houses, and an extended history with cultural information spanning the entire Game of Thrones universe. It also includes all-new material that George R. R. Martin wrote specifically for this collection. This incredibly informative companion novel is a must read for fans searching for an in-depth look at the history of Essos, Westeros, and everywhere in between.

Looking for a quicker way to get reacquainted with your favorite Game of Thrones characters and their backgrounds? Give the Game of Thrones graphic novels a try! For more information about the HBO television series specifically, be sure to take a look at Inside HBO's Game of Thrones for a cool sneak peek at what happens behind the scenes of one of the most popular shows on television.

New Music at the AADL!

The AADL has tons of brand new CDs for fans of all musical genres. Top 40 pop, country, indie, Motown, classical… you name it, and we’ve got it! Here are some of the newest additions to the AADL collection:

Sweet Talker is Jessie J’s latest album, featuring collaborations with stars like Ariana Grande, Nicki Minaj and 2 Chainz. The hit song Bang Bang, which Jessie J first performed at the MTV VMA awards last year, is on this album, along with “Burnin’ Up,” “Seal Me With a Kiss” and “Loud,” all songs that radio listeners will recognize.

Strangers to Ourselves is the sixth album by alternative rock band Modest Mouse. Modest Mouse had been on somewhat of a hiatus before this album’s release; their last album before this was released back in 2007. Strangers to Ourselves has received mixed reviews from critics but has been touted by some as a great example of the band’s growth and evolution over the years. Fans of the band will certainly want to give it a shot.

The Basement Tapes Raw contains thirty-eight highlights from sessions that Bob Dylan recorded with The Band in 1967. These were all restored from the original tapes.

Country fans won’t want to miss Luke Bryan’s Spring Break… Checkin’ Out album, the seventh and last entry in his Spring Break collection, featuring 5 new tracks. Most of the songs focus on the fun Bryan has had performing at spring break locations over the past years, and the album is lighthearted and fun, despite receiving only average reviews from many critics.

Love The Hunger Games? Don’t miss the soundtrack for Mockingjay: Part 1!

The AADL has also recently purchased new copies of older favorites, including albums by the Staple Singers, Marvin Gaye, and Electric Light Orchestra.

Find all these and more new additions to our music collection by browsing the "New CDs" category under "New Items" on the catalog page of our website.

Fire & Ice Series

Michael Ridpath is an English author with a banking background who has written a few different series, including a financial series. His latest is the Fire & Ice series. With four novels so far, the mystery books are set in Iceland and follow a main detective named Magnus Jonson and his colleagues as they investigate crimes and murder in Reykjavík and beyond.

Magnus was born in Iceland, but due to family problems he moved to Boston with his father and brother at a young. After working homicides for the Boston Police Department, he moved back to Iceland to work as a homicide detective there. He immediately delves into cases, explores family history, Icelandic sagas, and the death of his father.

It’s a good readalike for Arnaldur Indriðason’s wonderful Reykjavík Murder Mystery series as well as Yrsa Sigurðardóttir’s. Thora Gudmundsdóttir series.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #520

Plague Land * * by S.D. Sykes. Dispatched to a monastery at the age of seven, now at seventeen Oswald de Lacy assumes the title Lord of Somershill Manor when his father and two older brothers too, succumb to the Plague that has decimated the countryside. Left at home are his overbearing mother and his dangerous and unmarried sister Clemence.

In quick succession, local villagers Alison Starvecrow and her sister are found murdered, which the ambitious village priest blames on a band of demonic dog-headed man. It is now Oswald's responsibility to solve the crimes. But every step Oswald takes seems to lead him deeper into a dark maze of political intrigue, family secrets and violent strife.

"Sykes adds an intricate and intriguing debut (the first of a planned series) to the ever-widening pool of medieval-era mysteries. Thrilling plot twists and layered characters abound in this rich tale of murder and mystery in 14th-century Kent."

Readers might enjoy watching the Brother Cadfael series, based on mysteries by Ellis Peters; and Hugh De Singleton series by Melvin R. Starr.

Sadly, this brings to mind The Siege Winter, a stand-alone by the late Ariana Franklin (and completed upon her death by her daughter Samantha Norman), whose award-winning series based on the character of Adelia Aguilar, a medieval woman forensic pathologist will be fondly remembered by historical mystery fans.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Download of the Day: March 29


Midwestern Gothic: Spring 2011 - Issue 1

Midwestern Gothic aims to collect the very best in Midwestern fiction writing, cataloging the oeuvre of an often-overlooked region of the United States ripe with its own mythologies and tall tales.

Looking for more great things to download? Try going to our Downloads page for music, books, videos, podcasts, even patterns! And check out the Download of the Day every day for more great recommendations from AADL!

Want to find out about next week's Download of the Day TODAY? And get a whole heap of bonus DotD points in the process? Start playing the Lowdown of the Day! Follow the clues to figure out the item ahead of time. And the first find gets the most points, so move fast!

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