Ages 18+.

The new graphic novel Here is the coolest thing ever!

Richard McGuire’s Here is graphic novelization at its best! The focus of the book is a single space and the events that take place in and around it over millennia. For much of the book, this space is a living room in a large house on the East Coast, but it is also a swamp, a city, a future archaeological dig, and much more. McGuire’s uses multiple panels on each page to show the overlapping and intertwining years. A dinosaur wanders by while a child plays with a similar plastic dinosaur in a panel on the opposite page. A question posed between people in the 18th century seems related to a question or answer between different people in the 21st century. The natural world changes and interweaves throughout the book too. A tree grows for several hundred years, and then is depicted on the forest floor. Swamps give way to glaciers, which then give way to forest and farmland. I loved how the unique perspectives that Here provides beautifully represent the transient nature of all things. “Meanwhile,” states the book jacket appropriately, “the attention is focused on the most ordinary moments and appreciating them as the most transcendent.”

Dept. of Speculation is a work of art!

When Jenny Offill’s newest novel Dept. of Speculation appeared on the hold shelf for me, I was surprised by the slim volume with the simple cover. “Dept. of Speculation is a portrait of a marriage. It is also a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all,” opens the book jacket description, and this immediately intrigued me. I started the book right away and finished it in one sitting. Offill writes with an amazing blend of poetry and prose and evokes imagery and emotions unlike most other authors I have read. Although Dept. of Speculation lacks some of the typical details given to readers—we never learn the narrator’s name, for example—I felt that this dispensation of traditional information allowed me to better appreciate the true intention of the book. “There are enough bracing emotional insights in these pages to fill a much longer novel” says the jacket, and I couldn’t agree more. Time is another detail that is left to interpretation; the narrator describes incidents that take place over several decades—past, present, and future—while still managing to move the novel ultimately forward in time. Dept. of Speculation is truly a work of art, and a perfect read for these cold, hide-inside February days.

Offill has also written Last Things and several books for children, including While You Were Napping and 17 Things I Am Not Allowed To Do Anymore.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #512 -“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul and makes us reach for more, that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds." ~ Nicholas Sparks

Sonali Dev won the 2015 Reading List Awards for Romance with A Bollywood Affair, her first novel.

The first thing you will notice is that this romance is set in the unlikely locale of Ypsilanti, Michigan. Then this "charming contemporary Indian fairytale…(v)ibrant and exuberantly romantic" (NPR) will take over and never let go.

Mili Rathod, bound by marriage since she was four years old to a man she has not seen in 20 years, has nevertheless dutifully cared for his family in their village. Preparing herself to be the perfect Indian wife, she attends college (for sparklingly witty and intelligent conversations) while she waits for her husband Virat to come and claim her. In the meantime, she accepts the one-year scholarship in America, unaware that Virat, now married to Rima, plans to annul the marriage before the arrival of their first child.

Tasked with tracking down Mili to sign the annulment papers is Virat's playboy brother Samir, a big-time Bollywood director/filmmaker. Arriving on the Eastern Michigan University campus in a bright yellow convertible, their first meet is anything but "cute" - it is downright disastrous. Mistaken identity, conditioned expectations, personal history and family loyalty complicate matters as they fight their mutual attraction.

"Dev's heartfelt debut novel is rich in scenes and images illuminating Indian culture, leaving readers with a greater understanding and appreciation of Indian traditions while beautifully capturing the struggle between familial duty and self-discovery."

Check out these readalikes/watchalikes selected for this title by the Reading List Council:

Bride and Prejudice (2004)
The Newlyweds by Nell Freudenberger (2012)
The Malhotra Bride by Sundari Venkatraman (2009), in kindle format

The World of PostSecret

The wildly popular community mail art project PostSecret, in which individuals decorate and mail a postcard with a secret on it to creator Frank Warren, was first established in 2005. Since then, the secrets that Frank has received have been displayed around the world in museums and galleries, and are posted on the PostSecret website, as well as published in PostSecret books. It had been a few years since a PostSecret book was published, but now fans can be excited about The World of PostSecret, the sixth book displaying some of the thousands of postcards that Frank receives. The book also features images and secrets from the short-lived PostSecret app. The range of emotions that one experiences while reading a PostSecret book is vast. The secrets will make you cringe, laugh, cry, and shake your head in disbelief and appreciation. I especially enjoyed The World of PostSecret because it contains follow-up stories to some of the secrets that readers might be most curious about.

Other PostSecret books in the AADL collection include The Secret Lives of Men and Woman, My Secret, Extraordinary Confessions from Ordinary Lives, and A Lifetime of Secrets.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #511 - “Nothing looks so like innocence as an indiscretion.” ~ Oscar Wilde

A Small Indiscretion, a debut novel by O. Henry Award-winner Jan Ellison is a gripping and ultimately redemptive novel of love and its dangers, marriage and its secrets, youth and its treacherous mistakes, earning praises from fellow writers with: "engrossing, believable, gracefully written family drama that reveals our past's bare-knuckle grip on our present" (Emma Donoghue); and "... Absorbing, chilling, and moving..." (Robin Black).

The novel opens with a nineteen-year old Annie Black arriving in London and landing a temporary secretarial job working for structural engineer Malcolm Church. While Malcolm is besotted with her, it is Malcolm's wife's much younger lover, a charismatic photographer named Patrick that Annie falls for. During the Christmas holidays, the foursome travel to Paris where a small indiscretion will eventually come back years later to destroy two families an ocean apart.

Moving back and forth across time between that distant winter in Paris and Annie's life two decades later as a lighting designer in San Francisco with a picture-perfect family, the author teases out interlocking facet's of Annie's story that will pull the reader forward, until a photograph arrives in Annie's mailbox, igniting an old longing and setting off a chain of events that rock the foundations of her marriage and endanger her business as well as her family.

"Part romance novel, part coming-of-age story, and part family drama, this somber book about a perpetually flawed woman is a challenging and thought-provoking read." For readers of Amy Bloom, Meg Wolitzer, and Lorrie Moore.

Waiting (not so) patiently for The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins?

Everyone’s going nuts for The Girl on the Train - they’re calling it the next Gone Girl, and a major studio has already snapped up the movie rights.

The Girl on the Train is Rachel, who is at rock bottom after her divorce, she’s lost her job and is rapidly boozing her way through her savings account. Each day she takes the train into the city and passes her former home - where her ex-husband lives with his new family. She blocks this out by daydreaming about a couple whose house is also visible from the train, imagining their perfect life and solid marriage. It’s a pleasant distraction from her unhappy reality, until the woman from her dream couple goes missing and Rachel finds herself embroiled in the fallout. It’s a great read, a psychological thriller in which the narrator is so unreliable, even she doesn’t know what she’s seen or done.

Here are a few titles that should help tide you over, for even more, check out this list.

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson - An amnesiac tries to piece together her identity and her past, while determining who she can and can’t trust.

Defending Jacob by William Landay - This story of a family whose high school age son is accused of murdering a classmate heavily features the theme of the how well one can know another person - even a family member.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emme Healey - An elderly woman struggling with dementia is convinced that her friend Elizabeth is missing and in need of help, but in her search for Elizabeth, she begins to discover clues of her own sister’s disappearance many years earlier.

The Killer Next Door or Wicked Girls by Alex Marwood - In Alex Marwood’s thrillers, everyone has something to hide and things are not what they seem, but everyone in these seedy settings would rather mind their own business than look to closely at their neighbors, until mounting violence leaves them no other choice.

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson - This dark thriller stirs together infidelity, a devious woman with a dangerous past and a swapped murder, ala Strangers on a Train.

Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight - A mother attempts to reconcile the truth behind her over-achieving daughter’s apparent suicide at her tony private school.

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.

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