Ages 18+.

Award Winning Audiobook: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society 2008. 8 hours.

Awards: Audiofile Magazine's Earphones Award for excellence in narrative voice and style and vocal characterization; in print, the book reached #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list for paperback trade fiction in 2009.

Authors: Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Narrators: Paul Boehmer, Susan Duerden, Rosalyn Landor, John Lee, Juliet Mills

Synopsis:
The Society is a book club formed during World War II when the Nazi regime occupied Guernsey. Their story is told through a series of letters exchanged between the islanders and an English newspaper columnist in 1946. This correspondence reveals the members’ quirky personalities, as well as their joy and heartache during the occupation. The variety of characters - from a pig farmer to a phrenologist to a French concentration camp survivor - and the wonderful voice acting by five talented narrators make this audiobook truly outstanding.

For other multi-voice audiobooks, including some of the talented narrators mentioned above, try these titles:

The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova
Silent House by Orhan Pamuk
Hyperion by Dan Simmons
The 19th Wife: a novel by David Ebershoff

Join us for Kundalini Yoga on Saturday morning!

This Saturday, February 7th, at the Downtown AADL location from 10-11:30AM, local yoga instructor Victoria Duranona will lead a kundalini yoga class geared towards reducing stress and improving sleep. Victoria will teach participants how to become aware of stressors and how they influence communication, relationships, and performance. She will then lead yoga and meditation exercises intended to help release stress.

"Kundalini" is a term that refers to a "spiritual energy or life force located at the base of the spine." Kundalini yoga aims to activate this force through yogic breathing exercises.

This event is intended for teens and adults. It is advised to bring a bottle of water, not eat for two hours before you come, and dress comfortably. Also, please bring your own mat.

The End of Always deals beautifully with timeless issues

The setting of the new book The End of Always, by Randi Davenport, is unexpectedly haunting: turn-of-the-century Waukesha, Wisconsin, provides a stark backdrop to the chilling story that Davenport unveils slowly to readers. Seventeen-year-old Marie Reehs is consumed with memories of her mother, who died in a mysterious accident to which her father was the only witness. In her heart, Marie knows that her violent, abusive father murdered her mother, but her older sister is desperate to keep what remains of the family together and begs Marie to forget what she has seen. As Marie toils away every day at the local laundry, she vows that she will not marry a violent man, as seems to be the legacy for the women in her family. When she starts a love affair with a handsome and charismatic young man, she thinks that he may be the answer to her prayers for freedom, but readers must press on until the end of this luminescent book to find out if Marie will be able to break free from the Reehs women’s dark family curse.

Reading about domestic violence in a historical context was interesting and eye-opening. Although difficult to read at times, The End of Always is ultimately an uplifting and powerful story of a courageous woman trying to take charge of her own life.

The 2015 Notable Books (Literary Fiction)

Being announced at the same time as the Reading List is one of the grand dame of ALA awards. "Since 1944, the goal of the Notable Books Council has been to make available to the nation’s readers a list of 25 very good, very readable, and at times very important fiction, nonfiction, and poetry books for the adult reader." Here is the current fiction list:

All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews
How much sacrifice does the love of a sister require?

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
Navigating the dark of World War II a German boy and a French girl survive using senses other than sight.

The Bone Clocks: A Novel by David Mitchell
The human condition: bleak but not without moments of redemption.

The Children Act by Ian McEwan
A deceptively simple story reveals complexities of life choices.

The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness
A thoughtful exposition of love, in all its endless varieties.

The Enchanted: A Novel by Rene Denfield
Death row inmates await escape through execution in this weirdly gorgeous tale.

Narrow Road to the Deep North: A Novel by Richard Flanagan
Australian beaches, Burmese jungles, love and death permeate a story of World War II POWs.

On Such a Full Sea by Chang-Rae Lee
From fish farm to big pharma, 100 years later it’s all the same.

Orfeo: A Novel by Richard Powers
On the run from Homeland Security, Peter Els reflects on a life of attempted creation and immortality through music and chemistry.

Something Rich and Strange: Selected Stories by Ron Rash
A brutal and beautiful collection of human tales set in the Carolinas.

Station Eleven: A Novel by Emily St. John Mandel
Love, music, and Shakespeare sustain survivors of a global pandemic.

Tigerman by Nick Harkaway
Funny, strange, and dangerous, the island of Mancreu may be beyond saving, but perhaps a superhero can bring redemption. “Full of win.”

Consult the full list for Poetry and Nonfiction picks.

The 2015 Reading List

While most of the country's households were glued to the Superbowl, and Chicago was slammed with a memorable snowstorm, the intrepid librarians at ALA Midwinter announced this past year's best of the best in genre fiction - the Reading List. The winner in each of the 8 categories are:

Adrenaline
Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
Detroit serves as the economically battered backdrop of this inventive, visceral suspense story about a series of bizarre murders that draws a group of memorable characters into a complex web of violence. Smart, stylish and addictive, this page-turner shows how the American Dream has failed many on a personal level.

Fantasy
The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison
Following the sudden, suspicious deaths of his entire family, exiled half-goblin Maia becomes emperor, a role requiring diplomacy and adherence to strict protocols. Focusing on the intricacies of court life, this elegant novel unfolds at a pace that allows readers to savor the rich tapestry of character, setting and plot.

Historical Fiction
Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Banished from the court of Versailles, spirited Charlotte-Rose de la Force meets a nun who weaves together the strands that form the Rapunzel fairy tale, revealing its surprising origins. A captivating marriage of history and folklore featuring characters true to their time periods, yet timeless in their dreams and desires.

Horror
The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman
Beneath the streets of 1970s New York, Joey meets the merry children, a gang of ancient child vampires, and discovers that immortality isn't all fun and games. Gritty, clever and gonzo, this fresh take on the vampire mythos gets darker and creepier as the pages turn.

Mystery
Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver
This classic English mystery follows Amory and her estranged husband, Milo, whose paths cross at a seaside resort, where suspicious deaths implicate Amory’s former fiance, Gil. A vivid mystery that sparkles with personality as Amory and Milo puzzle out the truth behind the murders and negotiate their own complicated relationship.

Romance
Bollywood Affair by Sonali Dev
Comic misunderstandings ensue when playboy Bollywood director Samir travels to America to secure an annulment for his brother, married at age four to Mili in a traditional arranged Indian wedding ceremony. Appealing protagonists, a diverse supporting cast and a colorful multicultural backdrop lend this charming story unexpected emotional depth.

Science Fiction
The Martian by Andy Weir
Stranded on Mars, wisecracking botanist Mark Watney proves that an astronaut has to be smart, resourceful and, perhaps, a little crazy to survive. Strong characterization, well-researched but accessible technical detail, and a deft blend of suspense and humor will please science enthusiasts and fans of survival stories on any planet.

Women's Fiction
My Real Children by Jo Walton
Patricia Cowan, an elderly woman suffering from dementia, remembers two different lives, two different careers, two different families and two different worlds. A striking novel of how tragedy turns to joy and heartbreak turns to love with a narrative twist that hooks the reader and never lets go.

Check out the shortlists and readalikes, in the complete list.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #510 - She waited for the train to pass. Then she said, "I sometimes think that people’s hearts are like deep wells. Nobody knows what’s at the bottom..." ~ Haruki Murakami

Just adding my 2¢ to the well-deserved buzz on The Girl on the Train * * * by Paula Hawkins, a debut psychological thriller that will make you take a harder look at people you think you know.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning to London. As it flashes past suburban homes and stops at a signal, she watches the goings-on in the enviable lives of a prosperous young couple, just a few doors down from where she used to live. And then she saw something shocking. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in the unfolding nightmare. Film rights optioned to DreamWorks.

It's funny that this morning's New York Times interview with the author should mention that "Hawkins joins the ranks of a new generation of female suspense novelists — writers like Megan Abbott, Tana French, Harriet Lane and Gillian Flynn — who are redefining contemporary crime fiction with character-driven narratives that defy genre conventions. Their novels dig into social issues, feature complex women who aren’t purely victims or vixens, and create suspense with subtle psychological developments and shifts in relationships...", as I was just about to blog Harriet Lane's latest - Her * *.

When Nina Bremner recognizes Emma Nash on a London street, it sends a shockwave through her well-ordered life. She craftily engineers an incident with a lost wallet to strike up a conversation and a friendship with the unsuspecting Emma, who is overwhelmed with motherhood with a toddler and late pregnancy. Desperate for adult company, Emma is swept away by Nina's generosity and compassion. What draws Nina to Emma is murkier.

"With chilling precision, Lane narrates the re-entwining of these two women's lives through domestic details. Afternoon teas, disastrous shopping trips, cluttered homes and even well-populated playgrounds begin to seep with danger. And the net inexorably tightens. A domestic thriller of the first order."

Flying somewhat under the media radar is yet another British psychological thriller - A Pleasure and a Calling * * by Phil Hogan, his first major US release.

William Heming is your well-mannered neighborhood real-estate agent in a small English town. But unbeknownst to his clients, Heming keeps the keys to every property he has ever listed, and snoops on all the occupants at will, and often brazenly makes himself at home. This secret "pleasure" turns sinister when a rude dog walker offends Heming, who takes it upon himself to serve justice, thus setting off a dramatic and deadly chain of events.

"Hogan's Mr. Heming is a monumentally diabolical character, the fact that he narrates the story further ups both the stakes and the tension. Readers won't soon forget this first-rate, white-knuckle suspense novel."

* * * = 3 starred reviews
* * = 2 starred reviews

Find Out How to Cut Costs & $ave!

Want to learn how to save money on your energy and water bills? Join us Wednesday, February 4th at 7:00 PM @ Malletts Creek Branch! If you're a DTE customer, you can receive a free, in-home assessment from them that provides you with items that can start saving you money on your utility bills pronto. In fact, you can borrow one of our energy meters to find out exactly which of your appliances or electronics are the energy-suckers. What sorts of items are provided by DTE, you ask? A whole bunch of new compact fluorescent light bulbs in a variety of styles; water-saving faucet aerators & shower heads. Learn all about the complimentary DTE Home Energy consultation and sign up for one for your home.

Center for Japanese Studies Special Event

Each year, approximately 30,000 Japanese die by suicide, a rate nearly double that of the U.S. The Center for Japanese Studies is hosting a local effort to educate the public about this problem by sponsoring a series of three free events over three days that combines film, lecture and discussion. It begins Thursday, February 5th, 12-1:30 at the School of Social Work with four brief presentations by Japanese Studies experts and U of M faculty, under the theme "Beyond Seppuku: A multidisciplinary Context to Suicide in Japan". On Friday, February 6th from 6:00-8:00 PM will be the screening of the award winning documentary Saving 10,000: Winning a War on Suicide in Japan at Palmer Commons. A discussion on suicide issues in the Japanese population will be led by a diverse panel after the screening.On Saturday, February 7th from 10:00 AM-Noon at the Holiday Inn, Livonia this film will be screened and the discussion afterword will be in Japanese. For more information email: umcjs@umich.edu

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #509 - “You can't fly if your wings are holding the baggage of yesterday...” ~ Steve Maraboli

The weather outside is frightful. All the more reason to curl up with Dictatorship of the Dress * * by ex-librarian Jessica Topper.

It looks like everyone loves a bride-to-be. Former Marvel Comics illustrator Laney Hudson, recipient of unexpected kindness and first-class upgrade is not about to tell anyone that the 10-lb. pearl & lace confection inside the blue-and-silver-satin garment bag does not belong to her. She has been asked to deliver it to Hawaii for her mother's fairytale nuptial and to prove, once and for all that she is capable of doing something right.

At a Chicago layover, a massive snowstorm cancels all flights out, stranding Laney and her first class seatmate "tech-boy" (on account of his endless parade of gadgets) whom, the airline crew has mistaken to be her groom. This is when Laney's little white lie turns into a hot mess.

En route to his Vegas bachelor party, the last thing software designer Noah Ridgewood needs is some dress-obsessed, shoeless (due to a little mishap at LaGuardia) bridezilla landing in his first-class row. But being stuck in the honeymoon suite of a Chicago hotel with Laney overnight turns out to be more than either one of them bargains and could hope for.

In this riveting and pitch-perfect contemporary, first in the Much "I Do" About Nothing series, "Topper develops Laney and Noah as individuals through their recollections of significant events in their lives; Laney's struggles with the baggage of her past and Noah's battles to make the right decisions in his are chronicled with an honesty and charm that is heartwarming and spellbinding. Topper's tale of loss and love is a winner."

Readalikes:
The Man You'll Marry by Debbie Macomber, and The Dream Dress by Janice Thompson, in her Wedding by Design series. Readers might also want to check out in our collection, her Wedding by Bella series.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Lydia Loveless' amazing album Somewhere Else

Wow! I can’t get enough of Lydia Loveless’ newest album, Somewhere Else. I’m almost to the point where I want to stop listening to it… but I just can’t. I’d come close to saying that it might be my favorite album of all time… but that award is still firmly and deservedly in the hands of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours (shameless Fleetwood pitch). Somewhere Else is an amazing mix of rock, pop, folk and country that quite a few critics have actually called “a little Fleetwood Mac-y,” so I guess that explains why I like it so much. In all seriousness though, this album is awesome!

Somewhere Else is actually Loveless’ third studio album, and she scrapped an entire album’s worth of songs before finding the 10 tracks that suited her that appear on the album. Many of the songs are about love and relationships found and lost, but the lyrics are far from cookie-cutter. In fact, they’re some of the most poignant and poetic lyrics I’ve ever heard, filled with unexpected analogies and amazing imagery. She has said, in fact, that many of her songs are adapted from poetry that she has written over the years. Paste magazine describes the album in this way: "an album of blood and guts and emotions—anger and yearning and lust—that are so honest and immediate that they beg to be shared. The strength in Loveless’ vocals is how deftly she moves between tough and vulnerable, the emotions in both realms sincere and familiar."

Loveless grew up in rural Ohio on an 80-acre farm and was homeschooled. She started learning to play the guitar when she was 12, but didn’t become passionate about it until she began learning Hank Williams songs at age 15. Loveless, her father, and her two older sisters were briefly in a band together, but after they disbanded, Loveless released her first album, The Only Man, in 2010, followed by Indestructible Machine in 2011, and finally, the wonderful Somewhere Else in 2014.

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