Man Booker Prize 2014 Shortlist Announced!

The shortlist of books under consideration for the prestigious Man Booker Prize for fiction was released today.

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris (US)
Boring, contradictory dentist Paul watches as his identity is stolen online, and is horrified to observe that fake Paul may be better than actual Paul. This is a brilliant send up of the absurdity of modern life and cleverly calls into question the reality of identity in a virtual world.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan (Australia)
This is the epic tale of an Australian in a Japanese POW camp, tormented daily by his surroundings but also by the memory of an illicit affair, who receives life-changing news as he struggles to care for his fellow soldiers imprisoned on the Thai-Burma death railway.

We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler (US)
Fowler's 22-year old narrator steals the show in this novel about a family in which the scientist parents raised their two children alongside Fern, a chimpanzee that they treat as one of their own human children, and the repercussions that occur when they are separated.

J by Howard Jacobson (UK)
Previous Booker winner Jacobson has written a dystopian tale on par with 1984 and A Brave New World, where brutality rules, the past is off limits, and even the act of falling in love is regarded with suspicion.

The Lives of Others by Neel Mukherjee (UK)
The saga of a Calcutta family in 1967, The Lives of Others explores the family dynamic through issues as dramatic as political extremism and as mundane as feuding in-laws, capturing within it the differences between generations and the changes in society through the lens of the Ghosh family.

How to be Both by Ali Smith (UK)
How To Be Both is a pair of intertwined novellas featuring protagonists living centuries apart, connected by the fluidity of creativity and time.

This is the first year that all authors are eligible for consideration. Previously, the prize was only given to authors within the British commonwealth, so it's pretty exciting to see two Americans make it to the shortlist in their first year of eligibility.

A longlist of contenders was released in July; the final winner will be announced on October 14th.

Ann Arbor | Ypsilanti Reads

It's that time again! The communities of Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti join literary forces to read and discuss one book. The 2015 theme is A Very Good Read .

We are down to two finalists, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo and A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.

The judges want your feedback, which book should be the one that Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti reads? Read them and share your opinion by visiting the Finalist page, then click on the link that takes you to the book's page, and tell us what you think. Both titles are available for AADL cardholders to borrow. The Finalist will be selected in October.

You can listen to an interview with Ruta Sepetys the author of last year's Read winner, Between Shades of Gray, when she visited AADL. You can also visit the Ann Arbor Ypsilanti Reads website to find out more about the program.

Green Is a Chile Pepper

Green Is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors is a new picture book with beautiful illustrations. The book features a little girl who discovers and learns about all the colors found around her Spanish-American neighborhood and wonderfully depicts the culture. Green is cilantro, red is a ribbon, purple are the rides, pink are piñatas. Each page of the book has rhyming text, Spanish words, and Spanish color words. It also contains a mini glossary of the Spanish words found throughout the story. The book is a real treat for many reasons. Bueno!

A Southern Charmer for Children

You’ve heard of Bigfoot, but have your heard of his cousin, the Sugar Man? Well, in Kathi Appelt’s The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, you can learn all about the illusive Sugar Man and the creatures who call his Texas swamp their home.

As the story opens, raccoon brothers Bingo and J’miah have been charged with waking the Sugar Man if the swamp comes under danger. And of course, danger arrives right on schedule. But before it does, readers are treated to two richly interwoven stories – one about a pair of young raccoons trying to prove their merit as Swamp Scouts and another about a twelve-year-old boy trying to save his family’s restaurant after his grandfather’s death. Filled with fantastic turns-of-phrase, if you enjoy books with a strong Southern voice, then you’ll love this one. Plus, the audiobook is narrated by native Texan Lyle Lovett who adds a wonderful Southern charm to this story.

For older teen and adult fantasy fans: The Black Jewels Trilogy

Fantasy fans may be excited to learn about the Black Jewels Trilogy that was recently added to the AADL collection. Written in the late 1990s and early 2000s by Anne Bishop, this is one of only a few fantasy series that I have read that maintains a strong lead female character. The world that Bishop introduces readers to in the first installment of the series, Daughter of the Blood, is unlike any other, real or imagined. Comprised of various “realms” and controlled by female witch-queens, each creature in this world has a particular level of magical power based on the darkness and value of their “birthright jewel.”

As the series opens, the realms of this magical world have fallen into ruin due to rampant corruption and extreme distrust among their leaders. Everyone is poised, waiting for the all powerful witch-queen that has been prophesied to come and make everything right again. Daughter of the Blood introduces readers to this long-awaited heroine, Jaenelle, a girl who is a mere 8 years old at the beginning of the story. Three different, powerful men take it upon themselves to protect her from those who hope to ruin her until she comes of age, but her own powers make controlling her and keeping her safe nearly impossible.

Admittedly, the complexity of the fantasy world in this series makes the story a bit difficult to comprehend at first, but readers who battle through the first hundred pages of the trilogy will be glad they did. The trilogy packs in all the elements of a great fantasy tale: magic, love and hate, good and evil, epic battles, kings and queens, ancient castles… the works. After Daughter of the Blood, the story continues with Heir to the Shadows and concludes with Queen of the Darkness.

Parent’s Corner: Back to School

Summer’s over. The backpacks and lunch boxes have been dusted off. The yellow bus is full of kids. Yep, school’s back in session for most. Which means homework, reports, projects, new friends, new schools, and so much more. Whether the kids are preschoolers or seniors in high school, a new school year means new challenges for both the parent and the child.

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 4th grade math to potty training to language to bullying. These books are available for checkout and can be found in the catalog when searching “parent shelf.”

Here are a few back to school related titles to look for:

* The parent backpack for kindergarten through grade 5: How to support your child's education, end homework meltdowns, and build parent-teacher connections

* How to tutor your own child: Boost grades and instill a lifelong love of learning, without paying for a professional tutor

* Help your kids with math: A unique step-by-step visual guide

* School success for kids with ADHD

* Cracking the 4th grade: A parent's guide to helping your child excel in school Reading & math

For additional resources on homework help, don’t forget to check out our Homework Help page! You’ll find information on free tutoring, research resources, and lists of books by reading level!

Help! We Need A Title!

Any fans of the fabulous interactive picture book Press Here by Hervé Tullet? Help! We Need A Title! is his newest. It’s a clever and sweet book that has half drawn “characters” that speak to the reader, because the book is not finished! There are no characters, story or plot. Until they knock on the author’s door! He then supplies a short little story that doesn’t quite satisfy the characters looking for a story. My favorite part is the nod to Press Here, where the reader is asked to “press here” to turn off the author’s desk lamp. A bit quirky, but indeed fun.

For another fun book where the author "speaks" in the book, check out Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett. The book comes to a halt when the writer and the illustrator disagree. It's a great read and super funny.

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.

An Amazing Assembly of Alphabet Books

I love alphabet books, and am always on the lookout for ones I haven't read. Thankfully, new and interesting alphabet books are being published all the time. Check out some of our new arrivals that will delight adults and kids alike.

The ABC of Fabulous Princesses by Willy Puchner presents readers with twenty-six fabulous bird princesses, one for each letter of the alphabet, along with their interests, favorite foods, and gifts for the prince. Readers are invited to decide which princess is best for the prince. Apart from being a delightful read aloud, this book invites audience participation!

S is For Salmon- A Pacific Northwest Alphabet by Hannah Viano gives each letter an emblem of the Pacific Northwest. The illustrations, made using a papercut technique, are breathtaking, and one gets a sense of the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest. One wonders what alphabet we would have for Michigan- S is for Sleeping Bear Dunes, perhaps?

Last, but certainly not least, we have the noisiest of the new alphabet books. Adam Watkins' R is for Robot follows a colorful cast of robots as they assemble the alphabet, accompanied by beeps, clangs, and whirrs. If you like robots and making silly noises, this one's for you!

The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

If you are looking for an Alice in Wonderland or Wizard of Oz read alike with a fairy twist you should certainly give Catherynne Valente's The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making a try.

The story begins with a 12 year old girl named September. September is an ordinary girl from Omaha, Nebraska who longs to play a special part in an adventure. After a character from Fairyland called The Green Wind steals her away one night, she finally gets her chance to experience some excitement. She meets many fantastical characters and makes some good friends along the way, including A-Through-L, a wyvern who believes his father to have been a library and therefore considers himself a "Wyverary."

The writing is superb and Valente does an excellent job of painting vivid pictures of fantastical scenes and situations with her words. If you enjoy The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making don't miss the sequel The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There where September returns to Fairyland for a brand new adventure.

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