NPR’s Books to Read, Books to Give

It’s that time of year when all the “best of” lists start popping up. NPR always puts together a nice, categorized list of recommended books called the Book Concierge. This year is no exception.

The site features NPR staff and critics guide to 2014’s great reads, and is easily filtered into categories for easy browsing, and you can choose more than one category. Want adult fiction AND a love story AND a short read – you can easily pluck it out using the filters! The lists include adult, young adult and children’s books. Give it a whirl and see what books you missed this year. Choosing new books was never so easy!

Audiobook for Kids: The Fourteenth Goldfish

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm offers a fresh, funny, and surprisingly thoughtful take on a classic science fiction premise: a potion to make you young again.

Sixth-grader Ellie’s life with her colorful drama-teacher mom is turned upside-down when her old-fashioned, opinionated grandfather moves in with them. The twist? Her grandfather is a scientist who has uncovered the secret to anti-aging and is now a thirteen-year-old boy! While trying to help her grandfather recover the anti-aging potion from his lab, Ellie finds new friends, develops a growing love for science and a greater understanding of her unconventional family.

I found the audiobook to be a particular treat, with a narrator who not only sounds like a middle-school girl but also delivers lines with such perfect comic timing that I found myself laughing out loud again and again.

Fans of The Water Castle or other science-centered books for girls will definitely want to check it out.

New Teen Fiction at the AADL!

Wow! A fresh crop of exciting new teen books is on order at the AADL. Here’s a preview of just a few of the upcoming new arrivals:

Anatomy of a Misfit is Andrea Portes’ very first novel. It’s already gaining notoriety for being “hilarious, devastating, and ultimately triumphant” and is based loosely on real events from the author’s life. Anika is the third most popular girl in school and works hard to maintain her social position even though on the inside her thoughts are dark and diabolical AND she has a crush on the nerdiest guy in school (although, in her defense, he has come back from summer vacation way better looking than he was last spring). Readers will love Anika’s witty commentary and the high school setting is portrayed poignantly. The book rockets towards its final, wrenching tragedy, but readers should stick it out to the ultimate, victorious ending.

The Jewel, by Amy Ewing, is the first book in the new Lone City series. Violet is purchased at auction by the Duchess of the Lake to serve as a surrogate mother for future royal children. As Violet fights to stay alive through the struggles of her daily existence it begins to seem as though her fate might be a hopeless one. Then, she meets the gentleman hired to be a companion to the Duchesses’ niece and everything changes. Suddenly, her life seems worth living again as the two begin an illicit romance. The consequences of this romance, however, are more than either of them had bargained for.

Split Second, by Kasie West, is the sequel to the popular Pivot Point, which was published in early 2013. In Pivot Point, readers were introduced to Addie, who has the remarkable ability of being able to see the future of both potential outcomes when she is faced with a choice. Split Second continues with the story of Addie, who has recently realized that she also has the ability to manipulate time… but not without a price. In order to mitigate the effects of her time manipulation, Addie must enlist the help of her best friend Laila as well as that of a handsome new boy at school who seems immune to her charms.

Other teen books recently added to the collection include Deliverance, the third book in the Defiance series, Sway, the story of a boy who woos a girl for his best friend… but then develops feelings for her himself, and Magnolia, the story of two Southern teenagers who realize that their hatred for one another might actually be love after a devastating storm sweeps through their town.

If you’re browsing for these or any other teen titles, don’t forget that our teen collection at the Downtown library is now located on the third floor!

The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner (2014) film began showing in theaters in September, but The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, has been thrilling readers since 2009. A post-apocalyptic science fiction book written for young adults, The Maze Runner will especially appeal to readers of dystopian literature like The Hunger Games and Divergent.

The Maze Runner audiobook, read by Mark Deakins, offers a captivating experience of Dashner’s novel. The narration is well-characterized and Deakins voice is clear and articulate. As the plot builds, Deakins' rendition of the characters brings their struggle to life, drawing his listeners further into the story.

The adventure begins with Thomas, a teenage boy who doesn’t remember anything about his life before the moment he arrives in The Glade. He quickly learns that, though he is welcomed by the other boys and The Glade is safe, the maze surrounding it is inhabited by dangerous creatures. Thomas is plagued by the thought that he has been sent to The Glade for a reason and is desperate to explore the maze in search of an exit. The Gladers have only one connection to the outside world: a lift, operated by The Creators, that offers supplies and a new boy every thirty days. The day after Thomas arrives, everyone is shocked when the lift delivers another member to their group. This time, it includes a message: “She’s the last one.”

The Glade community has survived with teamwork and commitment to their common goals - survival and escape. The appearance of Thomas and the girl changes everything, and Thomas must convince The Gladers to accept him before they can work together, and before time runs out.

If you've seen the movie or read the book, the AADL has the other audiobooks in The Maze Runner series, too! The Scorch Trials, The Death Cure, and the prequel The Kill Order are all read by Mark Deakins and promise to be as exciting and engaging as book one. Still want more? Mark your calendar, because James Dasher has announced his plan to release another prequel to The Maze Runner, called The Fever Code, in 2016.

Star Wars Reads!

On Saturday, October 11 libraries and book stores across the country will be celebrating the 3rd annual Star Wars Reads Day! It’s a day to celebrate reading and all things Star Wars. Last year over 2,000 Star Wars Reads Day events took place! Do you geek Star Wars? Do you geek books?

Hey kids, maybe you’re into Star Wars graphic novels, chapter books, easy readers, or informational books. Or maybe you dig all things LEGO Star Wars! Adults, maybe you’re into Star Wars graphic novels, science fiction books, or informational books. There are also plenty of Star Wars graphic novels and novels for teens too. AADL has many books to choose from for all ages.

Don’t forget about the Star Wars television shows and movies also available for consumption!

This Saturday at noon at Malletts Creek we are hosting a craft program featuring Star Wars themed crafts for children in Grades K-5. Join us! May the Force be with you no matter how you choose to celebrate or what books you choose to read.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #461 - “Human reason can excuse any evil; that is why it's so important that we don't rely on it.” ~ Veronica Roth

The Library Journal April Debut of the Month was The Bees * by Laline Paull.

Narrator Flora 717 is a lowly sanitation bee, born to "accept, obey, and serve" the Queen, and to abide by the strict hierarchies of the hive. Early on, Flora shows herself unique in many ways, some prove useful in a time when the hive is at risk. But when Flora discovers she is fertile, her desire to protect her egg will cast her in a totally new light, emboldening her to even challenge the Queen's role as mother to all.

"A powerful story reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale in which one original and independent thinker can change the course of a whole society."

Readers of the dystopia genre might also enjoy:

Shades of Grey: the road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde. Welcome to Chromatacia, where for as long as anyone can remember society has been ruled by a Colortocracy. Social hierarchy is based upon one's limited color perception. In this world, you are what you can see, and Eddie Russett, a better-than-average red perception wants to move up.

The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist. A gripping exploration of a society in the throes of an experiment, in which the "dispensable" ones are convinced under gentle coercion of the importance of sacrificing for the "necessary" ones.

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan. In the future United States, one woman wakes up to discover that her skin color has been changed to red as punishment for an abortion which has been outlawed. Now she must embark on a dangerous journey in order to find refuge from a hostile and threatening society.

* = starred review

Nerd Nite Ann Arbor: June 19, presented by AADL at LIVE 102 S First St.

Thursday June 19, 2014: 7:00 pm to 9:30 pm -- LIVE (102 S 1st Street)

This event is intended for Adults
This event will be recorded

For the last year, crowds have gathered each month in the early evening - in bars and venues around Ann Arbor. Around 7pm, it begins: three boisterous speakers geek out up front. What is this? Some secret club?

Nope! It's Nerd Nite Ann Arbor! And it's open to anyone and everyone who loves to learn or share what they love.

For the uninitiated, Nerd Nite (NN) has been described as “...like the Discovery Channel™…with beer!” Sounds fun, right? It is! NN is held monthly in 70+ cities, giving several folks the opportunity to give 18-21minute fun-yet-informative presentations across all disciplines. Imagine learning about everything from the science of the Simpsons to the genealogy of Godzilla. Fun stuff!

The next Nerd Nite will be Thursday, June 19 at LIVE (102 S 1st St.). Doors open at 6:30, and speakers start at 7pm.

This month, we'll consider the ethical system that governs the United Federation of Plants, the Prime Directive; hear some interesting/weird stories a researcher found while writing a book on Ann Arbor architectural history, and learn about a parasite that can literally manipulate the behavior of its human host!

Marcus Dillon - Prime Directive: The Ethics of Star Trek
Patrick McCauley - Obsessively Researching Historic Buildings, and the Weird Things You Find
Aric J Schultz - Meet your Puppet Master: Toxoplasma gondii

So show up, have a drink, meet other nerds, and learn a bunch of awesome new junk!

Want to see past topics and a little more info? Check NNA2's site.

AADL is sponsoring this month's event, so there will be NO COVER (usually $5)!

Mark your calendars and spread the word! Any and all nerds (and non-nerds!) who love learning and having a great time are welcome to join us for the AADL + NNA2 Mashup!

Hugo Awards


Hugo award finalists have been announced. The awards will be officially given at this year’s World Science Fiction Convention called Loncon 3 since it is the third time to be held in London, England. If you love scifi or fantasy, this is one of the largest and oldest annually held convention for fans (the first one was held in 1939 in NYC, and it has been held continuously since 1946). This year marks the 75th anniversary of the convention so in addition to the Hugo Awards, there are Retro-Hugo Awards honoring the best of scifi/fantasy from 1938. The following are this year's best novel nominees:

Ancillary justice by Ann Leckie: story focuses on the AI soldier, Breq, previously a starship now in a fragile human body; a space opera that will make you think what it is to be human vs AI; 1st part of the Imperial Radch series

Neptune's Brood by Charles Stross: multiple award winner Stross continues delving into the Freyaverse and our post-human descendants started in Saturn’s Children, followed by a short story called ‘Bit Rot’

Parasite by Mira Grant: a genetically engineered parasite that lives inside all humans delivering meds, protecting us from illness, and boosting our immune system? Sounds good until they start thinking on their own…1st in the Parasitology series. Mira Grant also writes award winning urban fantasy under the name Seanan McGuire , and has been nominated for Hugo awards for Feed and Deadline

Warbound, Book III of the Grimnoir Chronicles by Larry Correia: the series is available, and you can read a short prequel to it for free online called the Grimnoir Chronicles: Detroit Christmas

Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson: anyone who knows scifi/fantasy has heard of this epic series that spans some 14 volumes with prequels; some J R R Tolkien influence, some Asian mythology…there was a computer game and a roleplaying game, even a soundtrack album Jordan died in 2007 and Sanderson picked up his notes for the final book and turned it into 3 books. Fans launched an online campaign to get the entire series nominated so it should be interesting to see if it wins!

Mystery Science Theater 3000

If you enjoy watching bad movies and are unaware of Mystery Science Theater 3000 you are missing out. But don’t worry, AADL has a large number of MST3K films to keep you busy for a while. Along with his robot friends Joel (or Mike depending on the season) is shot into space and forced to watch terrible movies. They cope and retain their sanity by jesting throughout these terrible, terrible films. Here are just a couple of the nuggets that exist in the amazing history of this television show.

Volume 18, Disc 4: Jack Frost: In this unique Russian fairy tale, two lovers must conquer the most bizarre ordeals of the supernatural.

Volume 10.2, Disc 2: Swamp Diamonds: With an undercover cop in tow, a gang of female prison escapees hunts for hidden diamonds in a Louisiana swamp, kidnapping a geologist along the way. Includes short: "What to do on a date."

Volume 26, disc 2: Alien from L.A.: This is perhaps the bad movie to end all bad movies. In this 1980's twist on Journey to the Center of The Earth, Kathy Ireland plays an awkward teen in search of her missing archaeologist father, only to stumble into a deeply underground civilization unaware of life on the surface. Adventure ensues.

Creepy, Brilliant Teen Science Fiction: "Unwind," by Neal Shusterman

Unwind by Neal Shusterman is a wildly imaginative dystopic tale published in 2007, yes, even before Hunger Games burst on the scene. Shusterman's believable, terrifying science-fiction thriller is based on a fictional future law which allows parents of children age 13 to 18 to have their teens "unwound," with al their organs transplanted into different people. Oh my. As a result of this law, the main characters in the novel -- Connor, Risa and Lev -- are running for their lives in a world gone mad. The story contains several nightmarish medical scenes that may keep you up at night, worrying about the future of the characters and/or of America. But overall, I found this to be an entirely engaging, exciting book that once begun, could not be put down. When it was published, the novel was well received and earned this starred review from Publishers Weekly: "...Gripping, brilliantly imagined futuristic thriller . . . could hardly be more engrossing or better aimed to teens." The [www.ala.org|American Library Association] named the novel a Best Book for Young Adults and a Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers. After reading this book, I'm eager to read the next two books in the Unwind dystology -- UnWholly, published in 2012, and UnSouled, which came out last year.

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