Fabulous Fiction Firsts #476 - "There can be no keener revelation of a society's soul than the way in which it treats its children." ~ Nelson Mandela

Long-time NPR feature reporter Martha Woodroof's debut novel Small Blessings * is one of August 2014 Indie Next Great Reads.

Tom Putnum, an English professor at a small Virginia college is resigned to a quiet hollow life, filling his days teaching Shakespeare and caring for the emotionally fragile Marjory, his wife who is a virtual shut-in. Then within a matter of days, Tom's life is upended. Twice.

Marjory is killed in a car accident and Tom learns that he has a son, product of a brief affair with a visiting poet a decade ago. Now the boy, Henry is on a train heading to live with Tom. When young Henry arrives, it's immediately clear that Tom can't possibly be his biological father, never mind his name is on the birth certificate. Even more inexplicable is the half a million dollars stashed in Henry's backpack.

Amid funeral plans, Tom and Agnes, his feisty mother-in-law, begin to make a home for Henry, with help from Rose Callahan, a charming young woman and a newcomer in town whom Tom and Marjory have befriended.

"A heartwarming story with a charmingly imperfect cast of characters to cheer for, Small Blessings's wonderfully optimistic heart that reminds us that sometimes, when it feels like life has veered irrevocably off track, the track shifts in ways we never can have imagined."

Four distinct voices narrate the story in Laura McBride's debut novel We Are Called to Rise * (the title taken from a poem by Emily Dickinson) - 8 year old Bashkim, the son of Muslim immigrants from Albania ill prepared for American life; 50-something Avis whose troubled marriage is compounded by her son's abusive behavior after three tours of duty in Iraq; Roberta, a seasoned court-appointed advocate for children; and Specialist Luis Rodriguez-Reyes - injured and traumatized after losing his best friend in Afghanistan. In a single moment, these disparate lives intersect. Faced with seemingly insurmountable loss, each person must decide whether to give in to despair, or to find the courage and resilience to rise.

Set in a Las Vegas rarely experienced by tourists, it is a story about families - the ones we have and the ones we make. "It challenges us to think about our responsibilities to each other and reminds us that compassion and charity can rescue us, even in our darkest moment."

For those who enjoyed Blessings by Anna Quindlen; Rush Home Road by Lori Lansens; Made in the U.S.A. by Billie Letts; and The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin.

* = starred review

Best Picture Oscar Winners on DVD & Blu-Ray

If you've got the urge to see more (or all) Academy Award Best Picture Winners, then AADL can help. The library owns nearly every film on DVD (and some on Blu-Ray) from Wings, the first winner to 12 Years a Slave, the latest.

Sample all the winners in between: famous films such as It Happened One Night, Gone With the Wind, Casablanca, An American in Paris, On the Waterfront, Ben-Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, The Godfather, and Amadeus; lesser-known but deserving films like The Life of Emile Zola, The Best Years of Our Lives, Gentlemen's Agreement, All the King's Men, Marty, and The Apartment, or overrated movies like... insert your own list here.

You don't have to track down the films by yourself. Go to the Catalog and click on the Best Picture Oscar link in the Awards list. Or click on the link here.

New TV Shows @ AADL

The library is always acquiring additional TV shows, be they hot and new, or oldies but goodies. We also often get the new seasons of shows already available at AADL! Here are some new series on their way to AADL:

Resurrection, Season 1
What happens when a loved one, who was mourned and buried, suddenly appears at their family's front door as if not a single day has gone by? After the initial shock, would it be a blessing, or a curse? An astonishing story of mystery, relationships, and second chance.

Hinterland, Series 1,
A noir crime drama miniseries set in Aberystwyth, Wales, featuring DCI Tom Mathias against the backdrop of mountainous terrain, isolated farms and close-knit villages. BBC, in English and Welsh.

Masters of Sex, Season 1
Chronicles the lives of sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Masters, a successful OB/GYN, is conducting a secret study of human sexuality. Soon, he meets Virginia Johnson, a former nightclub singer who is now part of the hospital secretarial staff. He enlists her help with his study, and she quickly proves to be an asset to Masters' work. Together, they delve deeper than anyone before them into the science of sex and later become participants in their own research.

Vicious, Season 1
Tells the comedic story of aging partners Freddie and Stuart, two men who have lived together in their Covent Garden flat for nearly 50 years. Freddie was a budding actor and Stuart worked in a bar when they first met, but their careers are pretty much over and their lives now consist of entertaining their frequent guests, making sure that their aged dog Balthazar is still breathing, and hurling caustic insults at each other. (Starring Ian McKellan)

The Bridge, Season 1
When a murder victim is discovered on the bridge connecting El Paso and Juarez, detective Sonya Cross must work with her Mexican counterpart, Marco Ruiz, to catch a serial killer terrorizing both sides of the border. But their investigation will uncover shocking secrets and relentless danger that neither of them could possibly have imagined.

Fore more TV shows, be sure to check out AADL’s lists for HOT TV shows, as well as NEW TV shows.

Wonderful Youth Poetry Books

The summer may be starting to wind down, but there's still plenty of time to read! One often-forgotten genre in the world of kid's books is poetry. There is a ton of great youth poetry out there beyond Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky (beloved as they are) and it's often short, sweet, and funny. Poetry can sometimes seem intimidating to get into, but the books below are anything but! With the summertime left to us, why not try out some of this awesome genre?

Mirror Mirror: A book of reversible verse and Follow Follow: a book of reverso verse, both by Marilyn Singer, are retellings of fairy tales with a twist: they tell one point of view read top to bottom, and another point of view when read bottom to top. Figuring out which fairy tale each story is telling is a lot of fun, plus the illustrations are gorgeous.

Following up the fairy tale theme, Forgive Me, I Meant to Do It: false apology poems by Gail Carson Levine is full of fairy tale characters who aren't REALLY sorry for their misbehavior and use poems to falsely apologize a la William Carlo William's poem "This is Just to Say."

Last, but not least, we have This Is Just to Say: poems of apology and forgiveness by Joyce Sidman. This book features a (fictional) class of sixth graders writing poems asking for forgiveness for various infractions, both serious and less so, with a corresponding second half in which the poem recipients write their own poems in response. If you like your poetry to have a little narrative to it, this one is for you.

Go forth and explore poetry!

Observing a Meteor Shower

The Perseid Meteor Shower is peaking right now and although the weather in Ann Arbor isn't exactly cooperating tonight, it looks like it may clear up in the next couple days. So prepare yourself for a shower of comet debris by grabbing one of our new binoculars, part of our collection of Science Tools. Even if the moon outshines the shower, at least you'll have the perfect tool for gazing at the mountains and craters of the moon.

Badge Drop #9: Comments & MORE to EXPLORE!

Oh, hi there! Did we totally OVERWHELM YOU with the SERIOUS AMOUNT OF BADGE-NESS we dropped last week? Or are you taking it all in stride? From what we've seen, we're guessing Option #2, since we can see you've been out and about to EXPLORE terrariums, branches and parks GALORE!

So, just to keep the spirit of exploration going, we've got MORE EXPLORER badges for you this time around — badges that might help you get to know the WONDERS of the U-M LIBRARIES (yep, you can go there, even if you're not a student or staff member): two for in-person hunting, and another that takes you deeper into Detroit history via some of U-M's online collections. Cool, huh? We hope you like 'em!

This week's badges reward you for commenting, so help out other players in each thread, ask questions, and join in on conversation about library events. And so far, we've seen you getting (out in the) WILD, as well as SNAPPING SHELFIES, which — we admit — are our favorite kind of selfies. Keep those coming!

2014 Badge Drop #9



We've still got a few more weeks of SUPER SUMMER FUN, so keep up the AWESOME GAME-PLAY, chime in to let us know which badges you LOVE THE MOST, and as always...

THANKS FOR PLAYING!

AADL's Summer Game Geocache for 2014!

Lets end the summer with a BANG! The Ann Arbor District Library is pleased to announce that its Summer Game Geocache has returned for a second year! Use a GPS-enabled device to visit coordinates around town for FOUR virtual caches and ONE physical real-life cache! A game code (POINTS!) and a small treasure (COOL!) is all yours if you chose to find it. You can sign up for a free account at http://www.geocaching.com and learn more with their Geocaching 101 guide. You can also check out geocaching resources here in our own collection.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #475 - “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~ Rumi

It seems to the world that 27 year-old Holly Jefferson is finally getting back on her feet, running her bakery, Cake after losing her husband in a tragic accident almost 2 years ago, never mind that she has trouble sleeping and has no social life to speak of. The commission of a bizarre cake brings Holly into the path of Ciaran Argyll - charming, privilege, incredibly handsome, and totally out of her league. But she has to admit - sparks fly.

Since You've Been Gone British author Anouska Knight's debut, "offers up a poignant look at grief and how it can serve to inspire or cripple us in equal measure."

"The perfect summer read: warm, sexy and addictive. " ~ Jenny Colgan

In Kim Wright's The Unexpected Waltz,, Kelly, a 52-year-old wealthy widow accidentally stumbles into a dance studio where she impulsively signs up for introductory ballroom-dancing lessons, and quickly becomes drawn to the studio's colorful students and instructors. Meanwhile, her volunteer work brings her into contact with a young cancer patient who challenges Kelly to embrace her new experiences.

"(Wright) expertly guides us through a moving, layered, and lyrical exploration of transformation."

A Year After Henry by Cathie Pelletier. Approaching the one-year anniversary of Henry Munroe's death, his family is still struggling to adjust. His wife Jeannie mourns their failed marriage more than she does his death. Henry's buxom mistress Evie Cooper has taken up with his brother Larry - divorced, under-employed and unhappily living with his elderly parents. Meanwhile, Henry's teenage son, Chad, is adrift in his grief, turning to drink.

"Sensitive yet witty, Pelletier's wise examination of one of life's most tragic episodes brims with hopeful understanding."

The Mountaintop School for Dogs and Other Second Chances by Ellen Cooney. This is the story of two women and a whole pack of dogs who, having lost their way in the world, find a place at the Sanctuary.

24 year-old Evie is clever, evasive, defiant and rebellious. Just out of rehab and utterly alone, she is determined to make a fresh start. So she lies her way to the mountaintop lodge which is home to a canine rescue and rehab center run by a handful of nuns. Never mind that Evie knows nothing about animals, she is a quick and keen learner. Drawn to the challenge, she finally finds the second chance she so desperately craves. In time, she also comes to know Mrs. Auberchon, the stern and defensive caretaker of the inn at the base of the mountain whose icy reserve masks painful secrets.

"Cooney has crafted an uncomplicated, feel-good, canine-filled tale of cross-generational friendship, healing, and solidarity."

No waiting for most of these readalikes:
Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen; Return to the Beach House by Georgia Bockoven (a FFF); The Lemon Orchard by Luanne Rice; and The Beginner's Goodbye by Anne Tyler.

Ypsilanti Heritage Festival: "A solemn stately Camel walked majestically . . . "

The Ypsilanti Heritage Festival is coming up Aug. 15-17 in Riverside Park. At AADL we have plenty of resources about this popular festival, including articles from Ypsilanti Gleanings, official publication of the Ypsilanti Historical Society. Here is an excerpt from a Review of the 1985 Heritage Parade: . . . "The parade was again excellent with many magnificent horses. The Franzen Circus brought their Elephant which seemed pleased with the crowd and two very young Elephants didn't seem to care for the human admirers. A solemn stately Camel walked majestically, indifferent to the crowd, followed by a Llama and a long cage of 12 or more Tigers in it. Then was a King of the Beasts, a lion, but we missed him. Many beautiful floats and stirring Marching Bands. We think Lincoln High School has the handsomest uniforms. The rain held over during the hour parade but at high noon it really poured. The noise of the rain in the tent of the Kiwanis Chicken Broil was so great it drowned out the many voices." This year's parade is 10:00 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 16. See you there!

I Can't Stop Watching YouTubers: Books and Media for YouTuber Fans

2014 is the Year of the YouTuber.

That's right, guys. Internet fame is now as easy as turning on your camera and doing whatever you do best, whether that's applying makeup with extra finesse, doing dance covers of K-Pop songs, or just generally being weird...and there's A LOT of weird out there on the internet. "YouTubers," as the famous video bloggers of YouTube are so cleverly called, have been around for years and years, but THIS year a number of them are putting down their cameras and throwing themselves into other media endeavors. Hence: The Year of the YouTuber. Catchy, right? If you're a YouTuber addict, here are a few dates (and titles!) to mark down on your calendars:

Hannah Hart, expert pun-maker, intrepid explorer of all the world's liquor cabinets, and creator of the YouTube show "My Drunk Kitchen," is putting out her first book on August 12, 2014. Aptly titled My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with Your Gut, this book will contain pages, pictures....possibly even words! And of course, recipes, wisdom, and cooking tips from the Tipsy Chef herself. This book is sure to be a blast to read and use, both for those who drink and those who don't!

Next, we'll take a stroll outside the world of books. You don't mind, right? Libraries aren't just about books, you know! If any library has proven that, I'm pretty sure we have. Troye Sivan, 19-year-old Australian YouTuber, actor, and now singer-songwriter, will be releasing a new EP titled TRXYE on August 15, 2014. Troye officially announced his new endeavor at VidCon 2014 (causing the entire fandom to go insane and crash his website...typical) and released his first single "Happy Little Pill" on July 25, 2014. For those who are a big fan of Troye or of snyth-pop music, this'll be one to keep your eye out for.

Next up we have Grace Helbig. Comedian. Actress. Youtuber. Generally awkward person. Grace, has basically got it all. And she's willing to share "it all" with you! Formerly of "DailyGrace" and currently of the "ItsGrace" YouTube channel, Grace has been kind enough to share her infinite fake wisdom with the world in her upcoming book Grace's Guide: The Art of Pretending to Be a Grown-up. This one is set to be released on October 21st and if you're a young adult looking for uncomfortable anecdotes or advice on doing a really good impression of a grown-up (mortgages and filing your taxes and....oil changes...look, I don't know how adults live) then this is the book for you! This is following Grace's debut into film-making earlier this year with the comedy film Camp Takota, made alongside fellow YouTubers Mamrie Hart and Hannah Hart (remember her? From two paragraphs ago?).

Last, but certainly not least, Zoe Sugg (a.k.a. Zoella), British beauty vlogger and blogger, announced in June that she, too, would be taking the dive into the world of books with her fictional novel Girl Online. The novel follows Penny, who is known in the real world as a school-going, drama-having, normal girl with a crazy family. But to the internet she's "GirlOnline," a famous blogger and internet-personality. Over the course of the story Penny is dragged off to New York by her parents, struggles to maintain her online cover, and falls a little bit in love with a boy who has a secret of his own. Girl Online is set to be released on November 25, 2014, so it'll be a bit of a wait, but surely worth it to see what sort of writer Zoella will be off the screen. A blogger writing about a blogger? How meta is that?

The library has some of these but not all, so keep checking back as those release dates get closer! And remember, if there's something we don't have, The Michigan eLibrary is always a good back-up plan!

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