Ree Drummond: The Pioneer Woman

Ree Drummond’s memoir of how she met, fell in love with, and married her rancher husband is hilarious, romantic, and charming. Titled The Pioneer Woman: Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, A Love Story and published back in 2011, the entirely true story definitely made me want to find my own cowboy out there somewhere! Ree was born in urban Oklahoma and went to college at USC, where she fell in love with the city life. After a few years in Los Angeles, she moves back home temporarily before she plans to move to Chicago. When she meets “Marlboro Man” one night in a smoky hometown bar and he begins to woo her, Ree’s plans change somewhat and before she knows it she finds herself the wife of a down-home Oklahoma rancher, living over an hour from the nearest grocery store and surrounded by cattle rather than skyscrapers. Ree’s stories of her new country life are completely heartwarming.

After publishing this lovely memoir, Ree was inspired to write more and has produced several fantastic cookbooks complete with delicious, easy recipes interspersed with more stories of family life at the ranch. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: recipes from an accidental country girl, The Pioneer Woman Cooks: food from my frontier, and The Pioneer Woman Cooks: a year of holidays, are all beautifully photographed, adorably written, and extremely handy to have in any kitchen!

Most recently, Ree has branched out into writing children’s books about Charlie the ranch basset hound, who is based off of the basset hound that she and her family own in real life. There’s Charlie the Ranch Dog, Charlie the Ranch Dog: where’s the bacon?, Charlie and the New Baby, and Charlie and the Christmas Kitty, as well as several other picture books about the lazy, mischievous dog.

For more information about Ree, and for additional recipes, stories, and photos, check out her awesome blog The Pioneer Woman.

Radiolab Reads

Some of you may be familiar with the Peabody-award winning radio show/podcast Radiolab, which airs on nearly 450 stations across the United States. Here in Ann Arbor, you can hear it on Michigan Public Radio on Friday and Sunday evenings. I love Radiolab for the vast array of topics that they cover in a fun, informative manner. There is a ton to learn in every episode and short that they do, and hosts Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad interview fascinating, knowledgeable people, turning their information into incredibly compelling stories.

I recently discovered the invaluable resource Radiolab Reads, a “virtual bookshelf” that compiles all of the books mentioned in their episodes, with links to the Amazon page for each book. Even if you’re not familiar with the show, this site is an amazing compilation of books on every topic imaginable. Most of the books are non-fiction, and this site might be particularly appealing to reluctant non-fiction readers since you’re sure to find something that catches your eye!

If you tend to—literally—judge books by their cover (hey, it’s okay, we all do it sometimes!), Radiolab has a cool tumblr with the covers of each of the books mentioned on their Radiolab Reads page. You can sort by genre, and find the link to the books’ Amazon pages after clicking on a given cover.

Nearly all of the books discussed on these Radiolab pages can be borrowed from the AADL. You can search our catalog for any that you're interested in. For more information about Radiolab, visit their website, and find specifics about how to listen to the show here.

2014 Young People's National Book Award Longlist Announced!

It's that time of year again - book award season! This year the National Book Award for Young People has listed ten youth and teen fiction and non-fiction titles in the running for the 2014 National Book Awards. The titles in contention are:
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
Girls Like Us by Gail Giles
Skink-No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Threatened by Eliot Schrefer
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights by Steve Sheinkin
100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
Noggin by John Corey Whaley
Revolution: The Sixties Trilogy, Book Two by Deborah Wiles
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
A few of these titles are on order and should appear in our catalog shortly so that holds may be placed.

Ghost Stories

If your kids are anything like mine they’re already planning for Halloween. It just can’t be helped with the feel of fall in the air and the local stores already stocking spooky decorations and treats. The Ann Arbor District Library has a plethora of books to help feed your ghostly appetite and really get the hairs on the back of your neck to stand on end. The books Ghosts of the Alamo, Ghosts of Alcatraz, Ghosts of Gettysburg, and Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery will send readers on trips through different parts of the United States that claim to have ghostly inhabitants. Each book has eerie pictures and real life accounts of ghostly sightings and spooky encounters. You'll visit the sights of haunted hotels, creepy caves, ghastly graveyards and more. The series isn't too scary for the timid, but eerie enough that ghost-lovers will want to read the whole set!

New Teen Fiction!

Strange and Ever After is the third and final book of the Something Strange and Deadly trilogy, by Susan Dennard. This fun and unique series blends together lots of great elements: fantasy, romance, steampunk, historical fiction…and zombies! In this final installment, main character Eleanor Fitt travels to Egypt to track down and battle the evil necromancer who kidnapped her mother, brother, and friends. The conclusion of this pursuit causes unexpected consequences that will change Eleanor, and the world, forever. Haven’t read the first two books in the trilogy? Start with Something Strange and Deadly and follow with A Darkness Strange and Lovely, before finding out how it all ends in Strange and Ever After.

Touted as a combination of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park, Cammie McGovern’s new book Say What You Will is a heartfelt and honest story. Amy, who was born with cerebral palsy, has struggled her whole life to move, communicate and even control her facial expressions. When she finally decides to hire student aides to assist her during her senior year of high school, Matthew, who suffers from severe obsessive-compulsive disorder and crippling fears, is thrust into her life. Despite their physical, psychological and emotional differences, a friendship blossoms between the two. Readers will fly through this book eager to find out if the teens’ unique connection may grow into something more.

The Ring and the Crown, by prolific teen author Melissa de la Cruz, is set in an alternate 19th century world in which the Franco-British empire controls the only source of magic. Told from the perspective of five different characters related to the royal court, the story is a light and fun historical fantasy/romance. In order to protect the empire, Princess Marie-Victoria must enter into a loveless marriage with the heir to the Prussian throne. With the aid of her childhood friend Aelwyn, Marie conspires to escaper her fate… and potentially changes the fate of the entire world while she’s at it!

A Princess and a Pig Switch Places...

What would happen if a princess and a pig switched places? If you guessed a lot of laughs, you’re right! Check out Jonathan Emmett’s hilarious picture book The Princess and the Pig to find out exactly what happens when a princess is raised by pig farmers and a pig is raised… as a princess! Perfect for fans of Robert Munsch’s classic picture book The Paper Bag Princess, and my favorite picture book discovery this year.

Fantastic New Picture Books

If you have little ones that are searching for great new reads, look no further than our New Picture Book section! We have a wonderful array of books for you to enjoy, but here are my current favorites:

In the hilarious Weasels, by Elys Dolan, the weasels’ plot to take over the world is thwarted by a machine malfunction. With incredibly detailed drawings and funny side plots, this book is perfect for both kids and grownups.

If your little one can’t read yet, but loves to pour over books anyway, then The World of Mamoko in the Year 3000, by Aleksandra Mizielińska and Daniel Mizieliński, is the perfect choice This book boasts gorgeous illustrations that will keep little minds captivated as they search for different objects and make up their own stories to go along. If your child likes this book, you should also look at their beautiful book of illustrated world maps, Maps.

Barnes & Noble: Nonfiction Book Club

The Nonfiction Book Club at Barnes & Noble in Ann Arbor will discuss the book The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball on Monday Sept. 15 at 7 pm. The book is the author's memoir about working with her husband to set up a CSA (community supported agriculture) cooperative farm on Lake Champlain in New York. Barnes & Noble is located in Huron Village, 3235 Washtenaw Avenue in Ann Arbor, near the intersection of Huron Parkway and Washtenaw Avenue. Library Journal compares this book with other titles including Ree Drummond's book The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl. All are welcome at the upcoming meeting of the Barnes & Noble Nonfiction Book Club.

Fairies in the Library!

Wow! Have you seen the new display in the downtown youth department? It was created by FAIRIES! As many of you know, the fairies have a special house here at the downtown library. Lots of fairy-lovers come and leave little notes and gifts at this house for the fairies—which they love! To say thank you for all these beautiful presents, the fairies have displayed some of them next to the youth desk along with a special thank-you note!

Of course, fairies don’t just live at the library: there are fairies all over Ann Arbor! There is even an urban fairy village near the library and another fairy village in Nichols Arboretum. It’s clear that we in Ann Arbor love fairies… and that fairies love us! Are you interested in creating your own fairies? The library has lots of resources that might be of help to you. Try Drawing Faeries: A Believer’s Guide, How to Draw and Paint Fairies, or Forest Fairy Crafts: enchanting fairies and felt friends from simple supplies.

If you’d rather just read and learn more about fairies, of course there are tons of great fairy stories at the library too. We have The complete book of the flower fairies: poems and pictures, which has beautiful illustrations accompanied by memorable and detailed poems about fairy life. There’s also My Treasury of Fairies and Elves: a collection of 20 magical stories, the beautiful The Little People: stories of fairies, pixies and other small folk and The Hidden Folk: stories of fairies, gnomes, selkies and other hidden folk.

Are fairy movies your thing? There’s the classic Ferngully, in which fairies help to save a rainforest from being cut down, and the enchanting Fairy Tale: a True Story, which tells of how two little girls discover real fairies and get swept up in the ensuing controversy in post-World War I England.

Happy fairy-seeking!

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.

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