The 2015 Reading List

While most of the country's households were glued to the Superbowl, and Chicago was slammed with a memorable snowstorm, the intrepid librarians at ALA Midwinter announced this past year's best of the best in genre fiction - the Reading List. The winner in each of the 8 categories are:

Adrenaline
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Detroit serves as the economically battered backdrop of this inventive, visceral suspense story about a series of bizarre murders that draws a group of memorable characters into a complex web of violence. Smart, stylish and addictive, this page-turner shows how the American Dream has failed many on a personal level.

Fantasy
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Following the sudden, suspicious deaths of his entire family, exiled half-goblin Maia becomes emperor, a role requiring diplomacy and adherence to strict protocols. Focusing on the intricacies of court life, this elegant novel unfolds at a pace that allows readers to savor the rich tapestry of character, setting and plot.

Historical Fiction
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Banished from the court of Versailles, spirited Charlotte-Rose de la Force meets a nun who weaves together the strands that form the Rapunzel fairy tale, revealing its surprising origins. A captivating marriage of history and folklore featuring characters true to their time periods, yet timeless in their dreams and desires.

Horror
The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman
Beneath the streets of 1970s New York, Joey meets the merry children, a gang of ancient child vampires, and discovers that immortality isn't all fun and games. Gritty, clever and gonzo, this fresh take on the vampire mythos gets darker and creepier as the pages turn.

Mystery
Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver
This classic English mystery follows Amory and her estranged husband, Milo, whose paths cross at a seaside resort, where suspicious deaths implicate Amory’s former fiance, Gil. A vivid mystery that sparkles with personality as Amory and Milo puzzle out the truth behind the murders and negotiate their own complicated relationship.

Romance
Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
Comic misunderstandings ensue when playboy Bollywood director Samir travels to America to secure an annulment for his brother, married at age four to Mili in a traditional arranged Indian wedding ceremony. Appealing protagonists, a diverse supporting cast and a colorful multicultural backdrop lend this charming story unexpected emotional depth.

Science Fiction
The Martian by Andy Weir
Stranded on Mars, wisecracking botanist Mark Watney proves that an astronaut has to be smart, resourceful and, perhaps, a little crazy to survive. Strong characterization, well-researched but accessible technical detail, and a deft blend of suspense and humor will please science enthusiasts and fans of survival stories on any planet.

Women's Fiction
My Real Children by Jo Walton
Patricia Cowan, an elderly woman suffering from dementia, remembers two different lives, two different careers, two different families and two different worlds. A striking novel of how tragedy turns to joy and heartbreak turns to love with a narrative twist that hooks the reader and never lets go.

Check out the shortlists and readalikes, in the complete list.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #510 - She waited for the train to pass. Then she said, "I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom..." ~ Haruki Murakami

Just adding my 2¢ to the well-deserved buzz on The Girl on the Train * * * by Paula Hawkins, a debut psychological thriller that will make you take a harder look at people you think you know.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning to London. As it flashes past suburban homes and stops at a signal, she watches the goings-on in the enviable lives of a prosperous young couple, just a few doors down from where she used to live. And then she saw something shocking. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in the unfolding nightmare. Film rights optioned to DreamWorks.

It's funny that this morning's New York Times interview with the author should mention that "Hawkins joins the ranks of a new generation of female suspense novelists — writers like Megan Abbott, Tana French, Harriet Lane and Gillian Flynn — who are redefining contemporary crime fiction with character-driven narratives that defy genre conventions. Their novels dig into social issues, feature complex women who aren’t purely victims or vixens, and create suspense with subtle psychological developments and shifts in relationships...", as I was just about to blog Harriet Lane's latest - Her * *.

When Nina Bremner recognizes Emma Nash on a London street, it sends a shockwave through her well-ordered life. She craftily engineers an incident with a lost wallet to strike up a conversation and a friendship with the unsuspecting Emma, who is overwhelmed with motherhood with a toddler and late pregnancy. Desperate for adult company, Emma is swept away by Nina's generosity and compassion. What draws Nina to Emma is murkier.

"With chilling precision, Lane narrates the re-entwining of these two women's lives through domestic details. Afternoon teas, disastrous shopping trips, cluttered homes and even well-populated playgrounds begin to seep with danger. And the net inexorably tightens. A domestic thriller of the first order."

Flying somewhat under the media radar is yet another British psychological thriller - A Pleasure and a Calling * * by Phil Hogan, his first major US release.

William Heming is your well-mannered neighborhood real-estate agent in a small English town. But unbeknownst to his clients, Heming keeps the keys to every property he has ever listed, and snoops on all the occupants at will, and often brazenly makes himself at home. This secret "pleasure" turns sinister when a rude dog walker offends Heming, who takes it upon himself to serve justice, thus setting off a dramatic and deadly chain of events.

"Hogan's Mr. Heming is a monumentally diabolical character, the fact that he narrates the story further ups both the stakes and the tension. Readers won't soon forget this first-rate, white-knuckle suspense novel."

* * * = 3 starred reviews
* * = 2 starred reviews

The French House: An American Family, A Ruined Maison, and the Village That Restored Them All

Off the coast of Brittany, on the tiny island of Belle Ile, in the tiny village of Kerbordardoue, was a tiny, ruined house. There was no bathroom, no running water, not even a sink, but plenty of dry rot and mold. New Yorkers Don and Mindy Wallace were enchanted. They had visited the island years before and were taken with its wildness and beauty, its very Frenchness, and its link to Breton agrarian tradition. In spite of its many drawbacks, it was the oldest house on the village green and the Wallaces could not resist the allure of living in the place they had loved years ago. They bought it.

There followed years of sketchy renovations, financial stresses and run-ins with antagonistic neighbors. The French House, in the tradition of many expats who have found home in the byways of European villages, is a memoir of the whole experience and a love-song to Belle Ile, its beaches and villages and the eccentric and lovable villagers, with whom they eventually cease to be at odds, many becoming dear friends.

Twenty-nine years later the house is still not completely finished. Oh my. But Don Wallace still conveys the deep attachment and contentment of finding home in such an unlikely place. Told with humor and heart, and meant to be savored slowly, The French House goes beyond being the history of a house and becomes a testament to living your dreams, overcoming all obstacles to follow your deepest longings, bonding with family, neighbors and place to create home.

Blind Date with a Book at your library!

Looking for a good book to read?

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, why not go on a blind date with a book?! Over the next three weeks, you’ll see displays at all the AADL locations (usually near the NEW teen and adult books) featuring unknown books wrapped in butcher paper, with a short hint description written on each one.

You won’t know the ‘identity’ of your date until you get home: it could be fiction or non-fiction, funny, informative, a mystery… but all of these books were recommended by one or more AADL staff members who personally enjoyed them. We hope we’ll introduce you to a book you’ll love!

Happy Valentine’s Day, and enjoy your “date!”

(And, if a book is too much “commitment” for you, we have blind date movies too!)

We also have “surprise” books and movies for kids, located where you find NEW kids books!

Stop by your nearest AADL location and check out these fun displays!

Emerging Writers: Writing & Review Meetup

Thursday April 16, 2015: 7:00 pm to 8:45 pm -- Traverwood Branch: Program Room

This event is intended for adults and teens grade 6 and up.

This is a monthly meetup that welcomes all writers to ask questions, connect with other writers, or simply have a dedicated time and place to work on their projects. Local authors Lara Zielin and Margaret Alex Kourvo will be on hand to offer encouragement, answer questions, and point writers to resources. These open houses complement the Emerging Writers Workshops. These events feature perspectives from both traditional publishing and indie publishing and considerations of fiction and non-fiction writing.

Freddie Fernortner Series by Jonathan Rand

Local author Jonathan Rand of the popular American Chillers and Michigan Chillers series for children, has a series for younger readers called Freddie Fernortner: Fearless First Grader. The twelve book series can now be found at AADL!

The Freddie books feature a mix of spooky and silly aimed at early chapter book readers. Take a look if you’re looking for a new chapter book series by a very likeable Michigan author.

The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend

Every so often, you find a book that is so brilliant that you can't help but immediately pass it on. When I first read The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, I knew that I had found something special.

In the story, we meet little Beekle: an imaginary friend. In Beekle's world, all imaginary friends are born on a far away island where they wait to be imagined by a real child. One by one, all of his fellow imaginary friends are chosen by their child-- except Beekle. He waits and waits for his perfect partner, dreaming of all the fun activities they will do together... but no one comes for him. One day, tired of being the only little friend left on the island, Beekle does the unimaginable: he sets out in search of his new perfect partner on his own! Beekle travels to the real world where he experiences a bit of culture shock: the big city is nothing like the imaginary island he left behind. Beekle faces many challenges and set backs, all with the hope that he will one day find his new best friend.

What really stood out the first time I read this story were the beautiful and vibrant illustrations. These brightly-colored and delightful illustrations perfectly tell the story of Beekle's struggle to find his new best friend, and includes many small details within the bigger picture. Beekle's journey emphasizes going after what you want, being brave and taking risks. This is a heart-warming story about finding love and happiness. For other fun stories written or illustrated by Dan Santat, check out The Guild of Geniuses, The Three Ninja Pigs, and Oh No! or How My Science Project Destroyed the World

PreK Bits - "S" is for Snow

Ms Rachel played with "S" words and "Snow Stories" in Preschool Storytime.

TEN On The SLED by Kimberly Norman. A counting, singing, action-packed story of animals on a sled.
"Five Fat Snow People All In A Row" is a rhythm and counting rhyme of snowpeople melting into puddles.
If you like to sing along with songs, try John McCutcheon's CD WINTERSONGS or sing along with fingerplays in Gari Stein's CD WINTER FUN.
A PERFECT DAY by Carin Berger, reviews all the things the kids did in the snow one day.

If you like SNOW and you like STORIES then try some more of Ms. Rachel's favorite titles:
YOU MAKE ME SMILE by Layn Marlow.
RED SLED by Lita Judge.
IF IT'S SNOWY And YOU KNOW IT CLAP YOUR HANDS by Kim Norman.
The MISSING MITTEN MYSTERY by Steven Kellogg.
OVER And UNDER The SNOW by Kate Messner. Who lives over and who lives under the snow line?
SUPER SNOW DAY SEEK And FIND by Michael Garland, a picture puzzle book.
KATY And The BIG SNOW, a classic by Virginia Lee Burton. See the traffic lined up on the town road behind Katy the Snow Plow.
"Little Snowflake"is a favorite little video of mine.
And my favorite "Snowtime" DVD of all time is The SNOWMAN based on the book by Raymond Briggs.

Now ... where DO the missing mittens go?

The "It's All Write!" Contest Is Now Accepting Submissions!

The 23rd "It's All Write!" Teen Short Story Contest has officially begun! Writers in grades 6-12 may enter their short story today through Friday, March 13.

Whether you are new to the contest or are a returning writer, you may find these Frequently Asked Questions helpful:

Q: Can I use a story that I've already written in class?
A: Yes, as long as it is not already published in print or online.

Q: Do I have to write about a certain topic or theme?
A: You can write about whatever you would like!

Q: How do I start writing a story?
A: The writing resources guide features several websites to help you get started.

Q: Is this contest just for Ann Arbor students?
A: The "It's All Write" contest is for any teen writer who wishes to enter, even if they live in another state or country!

Q: Who are the contest judges?
A: The judges change every year, so keep an eye on our website to find out who is on this year's panel.

For more information, please visit the contest website! Happy writing!

Taco Tuesday!

It’s taco Tuesday! What are you making for dinner? Taco Tuesday has been around for a while, but it seemed to pick up steam with families after last spring’s Lego Movie. What’s taco Tuesday? It’s pretty much just making it a point to dine on tacos on a Tuesday. Pretty genius, if you ask me. Because tacos are awesome!

Tacos can be simple or elaborate. Nachos? They count. Walking tacos? They totally count. Burritos? Get on it!

Looking for some ways to spice up taco night at your house? Check out some of the cookbooks with oodles of taco recipes available at the library! So many tacos! And hey, tacos are good any day of the week!

Dos Caminos Tacos: Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Mexican Street Food

Tacos: 75 Authentic and Inspired Recipes

Vegan Tacos: Authentic & Inspired Recipes for Mexico's Favorite Street Food

Amor y Tacos: Modern Mexican Tacos, Margaritas, and Antojitos

Tacos, Tortas, and Tamales: Flavors From the Griddles, Pots, and Streetside Kitchens of Mexico

Here’s a quick list of additional taco-tastic titles.

Syndicate content