Unique New Adult Historical Fiction: The Miniaturist

Jessie Burton’s brand new The Miniaturist is a fascinating and unusual tale set in Amsterdam in the late 17th century. The story opens with the arrival in the city of Nella Oortman , who is prepared to begin her new life as the wife of wealthy merchant Johannes Brandt. She feels unwelcome in her new home; despite its beauty, Johannes is distant and she knows no one else in the city. Nella is fascinated, however, by the wedding gift that Johannes gives her: a miniature replica of their home that Nella may furnish as she chooses. When Nella hires a renowned miniaturist to construct and paint the furnishings of her tiny house, the small creations shockingly begin to mimic the pieces that they are based on in real life in amazing and unsettling ways.

As the miniaturist works to complete the replica of the Brandts’ home, Nella learns more and more about her husband and about the secretive world of their household. It seems as though the miniaturist can foresee the future, but as the book progresses, Nella begins to wonder if the unusual man is really there to help or… or to ruin her.

“Enchanting, beautifully written, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth,” reads the book jacket. The dramatic backdrop of pious 1680s Denmark only adds to the mystery and intrigue that Burton has created for readers in this book. The UK Observer calls The Miniaturist a “fabulously gripping read” and accurately recommends it to fans of Girl With a Pearl Earring and The Goldfinch. This fast-paced read is perfect to put as number one on your autumn reading list.

Alternative Fairy Tales

One reason why I love fairy tales so much is because I love the alternative ways that different authors choose to tell the familiar stories. Putting twists on famous fairy tales opens up whole new interpretations for readers and viewers, and can really change the way certain characters are portrayed. The AADL has a whole host of alternative fairy tale stories of all types. One of my favorite collections is a teen series, contributed to by various authors, that “retells” many different fairy tales. There are 15 total retellings in the series, including Midnight Pearls: A Retelling of The Little Mermaid, Before Midnight: A Retelling of Cinderella, The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of Rumpelstiltskin and Beauty Sleep: A Retelling of Sleeping Beauty along with retellings of Jack and the Beanstalk, The Magic Flute, and others.

In the adult book Boy, Snow, Bird, Helen Oyeyemi has reimagined the story of Snow White and the Deven Dwarfs as set in the United States in the 1950s and 60s. Maintaining the focus of the original fairy tale’s obsession with beauty, Oyeyemi turns her retelling into a story of race, vanity, and family, while also painting an enchanting picture of life in Massachusetts during the mid-twentieth century. Readers will find that Boy, Snow, Bird is a thought-provoking novel, described as “gloriously unsettling” by the New York Times Book Review.

For those who are eager to read a number of alternative fairy tales, we even have some collections of retold favorites. Try Swan Sister: Fairy Tales Retold, or The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold, both compilations of alternative fairy tales from many cultures written by famous authors.

Also in our collection are The Stepsister’s Tale, Snow White and Rose Red, and the movie Ever After: A Cinderella Story.

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!

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!

Parent’s Corner: What’s New

There are some new titles over on the Parent Shelf!

The Parent Shelf is located in the downtown youth area, and on this shelf you’ll find a variety of parent-child related books on a multitude of topics- including everything from language to potty training to safety to bullying. These books are available for checkout and can be found in the catalog when searching “parent shelf.”

Here are a few new titles to look for:

* Reading in the wild: The book whisperer's keys to cultivating lifelong reading habits

* Redefining girly: How parents can fight the stereotyping and sexualizing of girlhood, from birth to tween

* Parentology: Everything you wanted to know about the science of raising children but were too exhausted to ask

* Mothering & daughtering: Keeping your bond strong through the teen years

Author Reading: Photographing the Giant Squid

At Literati bookstore, 124 E. Washington St. in downtown Ann Arbor, they're preparing to host a reading by author Matthew Gavin Frank on Aug. 4 at 7 pm. Frank will read from his book Preparing the Ghost: An essay concerning the giant squid and its first photographer. The author teaches creative writing and lives in Marquette, Michigan.

Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good

Mark your calendars: Kathleen Flinn, author of Burnt Toast Makes You Sing Good: Recipes of love, loss, and adventure from an American Midwest family, is scheduled to visit Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor on Aug. 20 at 7 pm. The book, according to a description in the AADL catalog, "...Presents a recipe-augmented family history that traces the origins of the author's love affair with food to her Midwestern youth and her parents' San Francisco pizza parlor . . ."

Mystery Author Linwood Barclay Coming to Ann Arbor

Popular writer Linwood Barclay, whose latest book at AADL is No Safe House, will appear at Nicola's Books in Ann Arbor on Aug. 4, starting at 7 pm. Here is a description of the book from our AADL catalog: "Seven years ago, Terry Archer and his family experienced a horrific ordeal that nearly cost them their lives. Today, the echoes of that fateful night are still audible. Terry's wife, Cynthia, is living separate from her husband and daughter after her own personal demons threatened to ruin her relationship with them permanently. Their daughter, Grace, is rebelling against her parents' seemingly needless overprotection. Terry is just trying to keep his family together. And the entire town is reeling from the senseless murder of two elderly locals. But when Grace foolishly follows her delinquent boyfriend into a strange house, the Archers must do more than stay together. They must stay alive. Because now they have all been unwillingly drawn into the shadowy depths of their seemingly idyllic hometown. For there, they will be reconnected with the man who saved their lives seven years ago, but who still remains a ruthless, unrepentant criminal. They will encounter killers for hire working all sides. And they will learn that there are some things people value much more than money, and will do anything to get it. Caught in a labyrinth between family loyalty and ultimate betrayal, Terry must find a way to extricate his family from a lethal situation he still doesn't fully comprehend. All he knows is that to live, he may have to do the unthinkable..."

In-season cooking

Now is the perfect time to take advantage of all the fresh produce available from local grocery stores, farmers markets and maybe even from your own back yard! For many, the biggest question is how to prepare all your yummies once you get them home. At the Ann Arbor District Library you can find a bounty of fresh produce cookbooks that might give you new ideas on how to cook old favorites or help you find new favorites to add into your daily menu. In Susie Middleton’s cookbook Fast, Fresh & Green you’ll find simple recipes that will teach you how to turn out delicious vegetable side dishes in under 30 minutes. On a side note, don’t expect a vegetarian recipe book when checking this one out as the chef uses pork in a few dishes. Of course, you can almost always modify recipes to meet your dietary needs.

If it's vegetarian recipes you’re looking for you can check out issues of the magazine Vegetarian Times. Vegetarian Times is a monthly magazine published nine times a year (three double issues) that is chock-full of healthy recipes geared for cooking with in-season produce. In addition to the tantalizing recipes each issues offers product recommendations, as well as great tips for making your cooking experience easier.

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