ages 11-18

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #470 - All That Jazz

Spectacular debuts, heartbreaking stories and two unforgettable young heroines to cheer for.

Last Night at the Blue Angel * * * by Rebecca Rotert. 10 yr. old Sophia takes up her usual spot behind the curtain as she watches her mother Naomi Hill performs for the last time at Chicago's Blue Angel Jazz Club. After a decade at the past-its-prime night spot, Naomi is finally about to catch her big break after her photo appears on the cover of Look Magazine. But success has come at enormous personal cost. Beautiful and magnetic, irresistible and dangerous for those around her, Naomi is fiercely ambitious yet extremely self-destructive, and no one knows this better than Sophia, whose fear dictates that she keeps a watchful eye and a running list of practical objects that must be reinvented in the event of a nuclear catastrophe. The one constant in Sophia's life is Jim, the photographer who is hopelessly in love with the mercurial Naomi, and is about to make her famous.

Set against the backdrop of the early 1960s vibrant Chicago jazz scene, and told from the alternating perspectives of Sophia and Naomi, "Last Night at the Blue Angel is an unforgettable tale about what happens when our passion for the life we want is at sharp odds with the life we have."

"(A) highly ambitious and stylish literary debut." Singer and songwriter Rotert's musical background informs Naomi's passion for performance, but it is her heartbreaking portrait of Sophia that will stay with us.

2 A.M. at the Cat's Pajamas * by Marie-Helene Bertino - an enchanting debut novel about one day in the lives of three unforgettable characters.

Aspiring jazz singer Madeleine Altimari is a jerk (Don't judge me until you've read the book) - smart-mouthed, lice-headed, quick-fisted and a loner by choice. On Christmas Eve Eve, this 9 year old has just been expelled from school and cruel circumstances have denied her one chance to perform at school Mass. Still mourning the recent death of her mother, and caring for her grief-stricken, drug-addled father, Madeleine doesn't realize that she is about to have the most extraordinary day and night of her life. On the same day, Sarina Greene, Madeleine's 5th grade teacher is having anxiety picking up the pieces after her divorce, and nervously looking forward to a dinner party with her high school chums (and an old crush).

Across town at The Cat's Pajamas, unless he could raise $30,000 in a flash, owner Lorca is about to lose his jazz club, and breaks his promise to let his musically talented, teenage (i.e. underage) son play in the house band. "As these three lost souls search for love, music and hope on the snow-covered streets of Philadelphia, together they will discover life's endless possibilities over the course of one magical night."

Pushcart Prize and Iowa Short Fiction Award winner "Bertino's characters are spot-on, and her special brand of humor brings each one to life in this fresh and charming tale."

* = starred review
* * * = 3 starred reviews

Fabulous Prizes Galore! Here's the Scoop!

Have you been reading intently, studiously filling out your paper Summer Game (SG) Reading Log, eagerly anticipating FAME, FORTUNE and PRIZES when you turn that lovely card in to AADL staff?

Well, we can't promise you the FAME and FORTUNE part of things — though that coupon for fine forgiveness might help you with your budget — but we CAN deliver you some FABULOUS prizes!

Coupons from our AMAZING, GENEROUS SUMMER GAME SPONSORS are arriving at the Downtown Library and Branches — and everyone (adults, teens and kids) gets to choose one when they turn in their game card!

This year we've been working to give you CHOICES GALORE! After completing the your SG Reading Log, you can claim one coupon.

Choices are:

1. AADL Fine Forgiveness
2. Zoom Lends DVD rental
3. A coupon from one of many local businesses, on a first-come-first-serve basis

Currently the Downtown Library and branches have coupons from Barry Bagels, Bivouac, Moosejaw ,Neopapalis, Nicola's Books and Zingerman's.

WATCH THIS SPACE — We will keep you posted on any new donors!

NEW!! There is now a code at Great Harvest Bread Co.!!!

And of course, any kid or teen who completes their Reading Log still gets a FANTASTIC, NEW BOOK thanks to the support of The Friends of the AADL and the Scott and Mary Westerman Fund.

Be sure to stop in to those six local shops who've donated prizes and look for a Summer Game code to earn more points... and May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor!

THANKS FOR PLAYING!

Exciting new summer releases for adults and teens!

Summer is far from over, and the next few weeks will offer up a release of lots of exciting new summer reads for teens and adults, perfect to bring along on August vacations!

The Queen of the Tearling is the debut novel in a new fantasy series by Erika Johansen. This first book introduces the main character, a princess raised in exile, who begins a perilous journey back to her homeland to attempt to claim the throne that is rightly hers. Although the story brings to mind medieval times, it actually takes place in the 24th century, and the world is as easy to get lost in as Westeros or Panem. Additionally, Warner Brothers has already bought rights to make a movie of the book, and Emma Watson will star in the film!

Dollbaby, by Laura Lane McNeal is a coming-of-age story set in New Orleans in the 1960s and 70s. Upon her father’s death, 12-year-old Ibby is dropped off at the home of her eccentric grandmother Fannie, whom she has never met. Taken under the wing of the housekeeper, Queenie, and her daughter ‘Dollbaby,’ Ibby grows up with a backdrop of the Vietnam War and events surrounding the passing of the Civil Rights Act. As she gets older, she learns more and more about the life of Fannie, and about the events that have shaped her into who she is today. Reviewers of this book have called it “heart-warming” and “beautiful” and it is certainly a must-read for historical fiction fans.

Landline is the latest novel by favorite author Rainbow Rowell. Fans of hers will be excited to read work by her more geared towards adults, but with the same wonderful character development and believability that she is known for in her YA novels. Landline tells the story of Georgie’s crumbling marriage, and through flashbacks (and some tinges of the paranormal) readers see the circumstances that have lead Georgie to where she is today. Readers experience through Georgie her own struggles in making choices about the decisions that many of us make in our lives surrounding career, family, and home. Despite the magical element to the story, Landline is a relatable and realistic read.

Get Twiggy With It

Are you pumped for this weekend’s big program Wooly Woods Crafting With Anna Hrachovec (of Mochimochi Land)?! Teens & adults will wrap twigs with yarn to make beautiful sculptures, as well as knit tiny creatures to live on them. Yes, twigs! Let me tell you, I know from experience that wrapping sticks with yarn is addicting, and the talented Anna takes it up a notch.

If you’re inspired to find more twig action, I recommend the book Super Simple Twig Projects: Fun and Easy Crafts Inspired By Nature. It's just that. A small youth-oriented book with some easy projects made of collected sticks and twigs. It goes over what supplies you’ll need to make things like trivets, dream catchers, baskets, vases, tiny rafts, and more. The question is: What if you wrap the twigs with yarn before you craft with them?

Brainfuse: Live Tutoring & Homework Help

Have you forgotten everything you learned in school already? Don't despair! You can log on to Brainfuse. Their live Homework Help is available from 2:00PM-11:00PM every day, even in summer! The interactive Study Suite is accessible anytime with your AADL account log in information. For more details about the amazing facets of Brainfuse read these FAQs. Using Brainfuse can make learning fun for parents & kids! College students and adult learners can benefit from it, too! Give it a try and you can re-learn the stuff you thought you forgot.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #467: "And, too ignorant to be scared, too young to be awed, ...” ~ Neil Gaiman, Stardust

Three fable-like tales of awesome, irrepressible young protagonists from far-flung corners of the world - they will make you laugh, move you to tears, and inspire you to “Do one thing every day that scares you.” (~ Eleanor Roosevelt)

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden * by Jonas Jonasson, a "funny and completely implausible farce about a woman, a bomb and a man's frustrated ambition to overthrow the King of Sweden."

14-year-old latrine cleaner Nombeko Mayeki is exceptionally good at her job but she has grander plans. Cunning and fearless, she blackmails a sleazy criminal into teaching her how to read and write, and gets herself out of apartheid-era Soweto as a housemaid to a nuclear engineer, an incompetent fool who intends to send the Israeli Mossad a 1,700-pound atomic bomb. After a series of mishaps, Nombeko is forced to cart the bomb around Sweden, trying to prevent an idiot anarchist from blowing up the king.

"In this wild romp, Jonasson tackles issues ranging from the pervasiveness of racism to the dangers of absolute power while telling a charming and hilarious story along the way. In the satiriical voice that has earned him legions of fans the world over, Jonasson gives us another rollicking tale of how even the smallest of decisions can have sweeping, even global consequences."

"Beautifully written, filled with detailed prose meant to be savored," The Patron Saint of Ugly by Marie Manilla, is "a captivating reminder of the blurred line between myth and reality. "

Born in Sweetwater, West Virginia with a mop of flaming red hair and port-wine stains on every surface of her body, Garnet Ferrari's sharp tongue serves her well against bullies and aggressors but powerless against legions of pilgrims camping outside her hilltop home, convinced she is a healer and maker of miracles.

Now the Vatican has sent Father Archibald Gormley, an emissary to investigate. "With its irresistible and irreverent blend of Southern Gothic and Sicilian "malocchio," a lush, exuberant tale of a reluctant saint, her unforgettable family, and the myriad difficulties (some real, some imagined) we all face when it comes to loving and being loved."

"(C)lever, funny, heartbreaking, and heartwarming, all at once."

Chaplin & Company by Mave Fellowes - a FFF for this UK author who herself had lived along the London canals.

18 yr.-old Odeline Milk packs up her worldly goods and heads for London, to pursue her single-minded dream of becoming, of all things, a great mime. With the small inheritance left by her mother, she buys sight-unseen, Chaplin and Company, a longboat moored at the canal neighborhood of Little Venice.

There she stumbles upon a peculiar underbelly of the city, full of marginalized, eccentric figures with whom she begins to form unpredictable alliances. Little by little she finds herself an essential part of this community of outsiders, discovers the value of companionship and, more important, the depths of her own courage.

"An endearing and surprisingly steely debut that paints the bizarre and the ordinary with equal sincerity, Chaplin & Company is a novel that reveals beauty in the most unlikely of places."

* = starred review

Scary Murder Mystery – With Ghosts!

In the mood for something spooky this summer? Then give The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud a try.

This unusual murder mystery is set in an alternative England where ghosts have grown more and more active in the last few decades and Psychic Detection Agencies like Lockwood & Co. employ talented young agents to track down and destroy the sources of these hauntings. When Lucy and her fellow Lockwood & Co. agents uncover an unsolved murder while searching for the source of a haunting, they decide to solve the mystery with the help of the victim’s locket…but someone is out to make sure they never solve this case.

Full of adventure and genuinely scary encounters with ghosts, this story may be written for children but it is not for the faint of heart. Recommended for fans of Alvin Schwartz’s scary stories or older readers who enjoyed Libba Bray’s The Diviners.

Audiobook fans may also wish to check out the audiobook of The Screaming Staircase, which was named one of ALA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults 2014.

The Fault in Our Stars Readalikes!

As we all know, the movie adaptation of John Green’s insanely popular The Fault in Our Stars was released earlier this month. If you’ve already read the book and seen the movie, you might be looking for new books to read that will satisfy your craving for stories similar to Fault. Here are some good suggestions to start with:

Eleanor and Park and Fangirl, both by Rainbow Rowell, deal with similar themes: falling in love for the first time, finding your place in the world when you feel as though you don’t always fit in, and coping with familial issues. These are great for adult readers too!

The Perks of Being a Wall Flower, by Stephen Chbosky is an “oldie but a goodie.” The book is told through the letters of 15-year-old Charlie to an anonymous friend and details the struggles of his freshman year of high school. If you missed reading this poignant, emotional novel the first time around, now is a great time to give it a shot! And, there’s a movie adaptation of this one too!

13 Reasons Why, by Jay Asher, opens with Clay Jensen coming home from school to find a package for him on his porch from his former classmate and crush, Hannah, who committed suicde two weeks prior. The contents of the package are 13 cassette tapes, each with Hannah’s recorded voice explaining a reason why she killed herself. If Clay listens to all of them, he will not only find out why she chose to do so, but he will also learn some fundamental truths about himself.

The Spectacular Now, by Tim Tharp, tells the story of the unexpected love between to very different teenagers: smart, quiet and somewhat clueless Aimee, and party-boy Sutter. When the two meet unexpectedly one day, they forge an immediate bond and help each other through the turmoils of their senior year of high school. Although the book is largely a love story, other tough subjects like alcoholism, familial abuse, and poverty wind their way through the story as well. In the movie version, The Fault in Ours Stars heroine Shailene Woodley stars as Aimee!

John Green also has quite a few other books in our collection, including Will Grayson, Will Grayson, An Abudance of Catherines, Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska that are all wonderful reads.

Bittersweet: an enthralling, suspenseful summer read

Bittersweet, the brand new novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore, had me in its suspenseful grips until the very last page! The book begins innocently enough with the introduction of the main character, shy and plain Mabel, who lives in awe of her college roommate Ev Winslow. Wealthy, beautiful and mysterious, Ev seems to barely notice Mabel until they connect one evening in their dorm room and become fast friends. Mabel is overjoyed when Ev invites her to her family’s stunning summer property on Lake Champlain, and prepares for what will surely be the best summer of her life. Readers can’t help but feel a sense of foreboding, however, even as Mabel makes new friends, lounges on the beach and flirts with Ev’s brother. How exactly does Ev’s family have so much money when none of them seem to have jobs? And why does Ev’s aging, senile aunt keep begging Mabel to “find the manila folder” in the old family archives? As Mabel becomes more and more immersed in present and past family drama, it seems as though not only her presence at the summer estate but her very life may be in danger.

Maggie Shipstead, popular author of Seating Arrangements and Astonish Me, writes of Bittersweet: “a wild New England gothic full of family secrets, mysteriously locked doors, sailboats, suntans, forbidden lust, and a few priceless works of art. An engrossing summer blast.” Indeed, Bittersweet is the kind of book you want to bring with you this summer, whether you’re laying on the beach or just curled up on the front porch.

You can read more about Bittersweet and about Beverly-Whittemore on the author’s website. She also wrote The Effects of Light, which you will find in our collection!

Suggest a Title

Suggest A Title For This Year's A Very Good Read

Read a good book lately? Suggest a book to the Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads planning committees and your suggestion just might be the pick for the upcoming Reads (which will take place in January & February 2015).

This year’s theme is "A Very Good Read" and the book selected can be a work of fiction or non fiction.

Committees will be meeting over the summer to consider hundreds of possible titles – and they want your help!

You can suggest a title by commenting below, or by stopping by any Ann Arbor District Library or Ypsilanti District Library location. Suggest a title by July 7 and it will be considered for selection!

Book Selection

• The writing should be engaging and thought-provoking.
• The subjects discussed should be accessible to readers throughout the community, high-school age and above.
• The length, price, and availability of the book should be suited to involvement by the general public.
• The book should be by a living author.
• Its treatment of issues should encourage readers to discuss the issues further with others, at home, work, reading clubs, and community events.
• Ideally, the subject should lead to constructive dialogues across our diverse communities.

Don't forget to submit your book suggestion in one of the libraries or as a comment below before July 7th!

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