Ages 18+.

Cool Summer Drinks

When you think of a cool, refreshing drink that you'd like to have on a hot, summer day you think of lemonade, right? Or maybe iced tea.

But there is a lesser known, fizzy drink great for summer known as kombucha. It sort of tastes like a cross between carbonated water and tea. You can even add juice to it. There is another side benefit to drinking kombucha: It's fermented! You make it be starting with some tea that has loads of sugar in it. After adding a probiotic yeast and bacterial colony (known as a SCOBY mother) and letting it sit for several days to weeks, the probiotics break down the sugar into acids so that by the time you drink it, it's very low in sugar. With every cup you get loads of healthy bacteria and B-complex vitamins. Talk about healthy! There is a book that shows you how to make it at home here and here.

It’s summer so a lot of Ann Arborites are growing a vegetable garden. I know I am! But what if your garden is doing so well that you have armfuls of veggies that you don't know what to do with? A great way to get some awesome nutrition or to use up extra veggies and dark leafy greens is to make smoothies or juices. For a great smoothie all you need is a blender and a knife to cut up the toughest pieces. "But won't that taste icky?" I can hear you say. Fear not! The sweet fruit you add makes the bitter taste of vegetables like kale hardly detectable. Try it and I bet you'll be a smoothie addict in no time.

Running Like a Girl and other great books for runners of all types

Finally, a book that deals honestly with both the gains AND the pains that being a runner entails! Running Like a Girl: notes on learning to run, by Alexandra Heminsley, is a refreshing take on starting to run later in life, and on a runner’s life in general. For many of us—even those who are dedicated runners—the perspectives that we were “born to run” or that “running is a wonderful way to reconnect with the world and our bodies” don’t always ring true. Sometimes it feels like, more often than not, running can be painful, boring, difficult, or lonely, and frequently a combination of all four. This is why Heminsley’s story of taking up running in her thirties is so great. It doesn’t come easily to her, and she doesn’t love it. She doesn’t experience immediate gratifcation from a “runners high,” nor does she immediately lose twenty pounds. Her relationship with running is complex, and only becomes ultimately positive over time, and in ways that she did not anticipate. This book is great for runners of all sorts: those who have been running for decades, those who have just taken up the sport, and those who don’t run at all and therefore don’t even know yet that they can be runners!

If you’re interested in other books about running, try What I Talk About When I Talk About Running: a memoir, Running Away and the famous Once a Runner, about one runner’s quest to run a sub-4:00 minute mile. Finally, if you’re looking for scenic local places to run, check out Five-star Trails, Ann Arbor and Detroit, where you can find suggestions for trails to check out nearby. Happy running!

Bletchley Circle

Do you love watching mysteries but feel like the genre is a little heavy handed with the male detective? If so, check out Bletchley Circle! With an extraordinary flair for code breaking and razor-sharp intelligence skills, four seemingly ordinary women become the unlikely investigators of a string of grisly murders in this original thriller, set against the backdrop of post-war London.

Season 1 introduces us to Susan. Her conventionality masks a sharp, inquisitive mind. She may appear every inch the typical 1950s wife and mother, but when she hears about a string of unsolved murders in London, Susan’s old Bletchley spirit is ignited. Secretly, Susan reconvenes the formidable foursome – bohemian and streetwise Millie; Lucy, with her brilliant photographic memory and Jean, the methodical no-nonsense organizer. A race against the clock ensues as the women work to outwit the culprit. Can they rekindle their singular expertise and discover the killer’s next move – before he strikes again?

Season 2 opens with the episode Blood on Their Hands. Former Bletchley Park girl Alice Merren is in prison awaiting trial for murder. Jean stands behind her innocence and tries to reunite the circle in an attempt to help one of their own. Lucy is now getting on well in a clerical job at Scotland Yard and keeping her head down, and Millie is working as a German translator. Susan is reluctant to get involved after the occurrences in season 1. The second episode Uncustomed Goods, Millie branches out into what she believes to be a harmless sideline of dealing in uncustomed goods. This endeavor leads to her being kidnapped and held in a seedy hotel by some gangsters. On discovering this, Alice goes to Jean and Lucy to help. The girls start to investigate in order to save their friend and, as they do so, uncover a much darker, hidden world of crime.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #466

"A suspenseful, gloriously atmospheric first novel, and a feast of gothic storytelling that is impossible to resist.” ~ Kate Atkinson.

"Ambitious, elegant, atmospheric, and often deeply poignant, The Quick is a seamless blend of Victorian London and rich imagination. This is a book to savor.” ~ Tana French.

"A sly and glittering addition to the literature of the macabre . . ." ~ Hilary Mantel.

The Quick * by Lauren Owen has been named Top 10 Literary Fiction Books of the Season by Publishers Weekly. An early draft of the novel won the Curtis Brown Prize for the best fiction dissertation. Fans of Anne Rice; Elizabeth Kostova; and Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus) would not want to miss this.

1892: New Oxford grad. James Norbury finds lodging with a charming young aristocrat in London. Through this new friendship, he is introduced to the drawing-rooms of high society. Then, suddenly, he vanishes without a trace. Alarmed, his sister, Charlotte, sets out from their crumbling Yorkshire home determined to find him. After navigating alone in sinister, labyrinthine London, Charlotte discovers that her brother's disappearance can be traced to a secret organization of gentlemen - the terrifying and powerful inner circle of The Aegolius Club that include the most ambitious, and most bloodthirsty, men in England.

"(C)reepy . . . thrilling... This book will give you chills even on a hot day". **Spoiler Alert** Skip this one if you have issues with vampires.

Readalikes : "Owen's debut is an intriguing blend of historical, gothic, and supernatural fiction, this will appeal to devotees of the macabre and gothic set in the Victorian period, especially those who enjoy Charles Palliser's Rustication, and David Morrell's Murder as a Fine Art."

* = starred review

Girls In Charge - Sizzling Summer Reads #2 (and Fabulous Fiction Firsts #465)

Cure for the Common Breakup * by Beth Kendrick.
Suddenly-single flight attendant Summer Benson sees a new beginning in Black Dog Bay, a tiny seaside town in Delaware, known as the best place in America to bounce back from heartbreak. The locals are friendly. Even the oldest, richest, and meanest resident, likes her enough to give her a job. Well, all except for Dutch Jansen, the rugged, stoic mayor,

"Kendrick's impeccable sense of comic timing and flair for creating unforgettable characters make this effervescent novel a smart bet for romance readers everywhere while the novel's deft integration of the topics of family, friendship, and community ensure it can easily attract a broader readership, as well."

The From-Aways by C.J. Hauser, (a Fabulous Fiction Firsts) is "an irreverent story of family, love, friendship, and lobsters, in the tradition of J. Courtney Sullivan's Maine ".

Two 24 year-old transplants ("from-aways") become unlikely allies on a small-town newspaper. NYC reporter Leah leaps at the chance to marry down-to-earth Henry Lynch and moves into his family home in Menamon, a small fishing community in Maine, only to find she does not know a thing about Henry. Quinn Winters, wisecracking and tough, comes to town in search of a father who abandons her as a infant. When the two stumble onto a earth-shattering scandal that would affect the future of the community, these drinking buddies find themselves collaborators and trusted friends.

"Hauser's style is expressive, clever and compelling, and she offers readers a thoughtful and engaging debut. "

The Glass Kitchen by Linda Francis Lee
Broke and divorced, Portia Cuthcart leaves Texas for New York City and takes up residence at the dilapidated brownstone she and her two sisters inherited. Devastated by the loss of The Glass Kitchen, her grandmother's restaurant, she resolves never to cook again, that is, until she meets 12 year-old Ariel and her widowed father Gabriel Kane.

"(A) delicious novel, a tempestuous story of a woman... who discovers that a kitchen, like an island, can be a refuge, if only she has the courage to give in to the pull of love, the power of forgiveness, and accept the complications of what it means to be family."

"Sweet and intense, with delightful magical accents, a delectable romance—and yummy recipes."

The Vacationers * * by Emma Straub is an irresistible, deftly observed novel about the secrets, joys, and jealousies that rise to the surface over the course of an American family's two-week stay in Mallorca.

Franny and Jim Post are about to celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary, and their daughter, Sylvia is leaving for college. Their son Bobby, a Miami real estate broker will be joining them, girlfriend in tow. As will Franny's best friend Charles, and his husband, Lawrence. But all does not go according to plan: over the course of the vacation, secrets come to light, old and new humiliations are experienced, childhood rivalries resurface, and ancient wounds are exacerbated.

"With wry humor and tremendous heart, Emma Straub delivers a richly satisfying story of a family in the midst of a maelstrom of change, emerging irrevocably altered yet whole."

* = starred review
* * = 2 starred reviews

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.

Suggest a Title for Ann Arbor | Ypsilanti Reads

You know you've read a good book when after it is finished, you can't stop thinking about it. It could days later – when a feeling comes over you – and you know the author got to you some how. That is my idea of a good read.

Have you read any good books like that lately? Now is your chance to potentially share it with the community. Ann Arbor |Ypsilanti reads is a collaborative program where one book is selected to be read by the community, discussed, and then the capstone event is a visit by the author.

We want your input! Suggest a title on our website in the comment section, or stop into one of the libraries before Monday, July 7. Committees are meeting over the summer to discuss the hundreds of possible titles and narrow it down to two. In the Fall, a distinguished panel of judges will decide on the title.

This year’s theme is ‘A Very Good Read’ and the book selected can be a work of fiction or nonfiction. Also:
• 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.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #464 - The Best Crime Fiction Debuts (2014 Sizzling Summer Reads #1)

You knew about The Abomination and The Curiosity already. The following join Booklist's Best Mystery/Thriller Debuts of the year. Great chillers for the summer heat. Don't forget Summer Game 2104 starts today.

Decoded * by Jia Mai
This riveting tale of cryptographic warfare and a bestseller in China, takes us deep into the world of code breaking, and the mysterious world of Unit 701, a top-secret Chinese intelligence agency. Rong Jinzhen, an autistic math genius discovers that the mastermind behind the maddeningly difficult Purple Code is his former teacher and best friend, who is now working for China's enemy. The author's experience working in the Chinese intelligence service may have contributed to the story's realism.

The Deliverance of Evil * by Roberto Costantini
Haunted by a 24-years unsolved murder case from his early career, brash Commissario Michele Balistreri is overcome with remorse and renewed determination when the victim's mother commits suicide, in a first installment in a best-selling trilogy from Italy.

North of Boston * * by Elizabeth Elo
Surviving a fishing boat collision that ends her friend's life, Boston girl Pirio Kasparov, convinced that the incident was not an accident, is tapped to participate in a research project at the side of a journalist who helps her unravel a plot involving the frigid whaling grounds off Baffin Island.

Precious Thing * by Colette McBeth
Astonished to discover that a police press conference assignment is about her best friend from high school, television journalist Rachel endeavors to learn the fate of her missing friend before making a discovery that brings everything they once shared into question.

Shovel Ready * * by Adam Sternbergh (One of Booklist's Top 10 Crime Fiction as well as Best Crime Fiction Debuts of the year)
In this futuristic hard-boiled noir, working as a hit man on the ravaged streets of New York City after a dirty bomb is unleashed on Times Square, Spademan takes an assignment to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist only to discover that his mark holds a shocking secret and that his client hides a more sinister agenda.

The Word Exchange * * by Alena Graedon
A dystopian novel for the digital age, when the "death of print" has become a near reality, Anana Johnson, an employee at the North American Dictionary of the English Language (NADEL), searches for her missing father and stumbles upon the spiritual home of the written world and a pandemic "word flu."

BTW...a personal favorite and a cautionary tale that is at once a technological thriller and a meditation on the high cultural costs of digital technology.

* = starred review
* * = 2 starred reviews

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #463 - "The books that help you most are those which make you think the most." ~ Pablo Neruda

As one reviewer puts it so aptly, Ruby * * "is difficult to read for its graphic and uncomfortable portrayal of racism, sexual violence, and religious intolerance", but debut author Cynthia Bond had me in the palm of her hand right from the start, opening with "Ruby Bell was a constant reminder of what could befall a woman whose shoe heels were too high".

Liberty Township, East Texas. Once so pretty that "it hurt to look at", Ruby is now "buck-crazy, ...(h)owling, half-naked mad". As a child, she suffered abuse beyond imagination, so as soon as she could, she fled to New York. When a telegram from her cousin forced her to return home, 30 year-old Ruby found herself reliving the devastating violence of her girlhood. Once sharply dressed and coiffed, "she wore gray like rain clouds and wandered the red road in bared feet", and folks walked a curve path to avoid her door. Except for Ephram Jennings, who has never forgotten the beautiful girl with the long braids. And on one end-of-summer day, 45 year-old Ephram asked his sister Celia to make up her white lay angel cake, thus began a long, sweet courtship that would anger the church folks in town. Eventually, Ephram must choose between loyalty to the sister who raised him and the chance for a life with the woman he has loved since he was a boy.

"(E)xquisitely written, and suffused with the pastoral beauty of the rural South, Ruby is a transcendent novel of passion and courage."

"Definitely not for the faint of heart or for those who prefer lighter reads, this book exhibits a dark and redemptive beauty. Bond's prose is evocative of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, paying homage to the greats of Southern Gothic literature. "

A graduate of Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, and American Academy of Dramatics Arts, PEN/Rosenthal Fellow Cynthia Bond founded the Blackbird Writing Collective. Currently, she teaches therapeutic writing at Paradigm Malibu Adolescent Treatment Center.

* * = 2 starred reviews

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!

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