Saturday, June 27, 2020

Natalie recommends "The Pearl Sister"


​The fourth installment of Lucinda Riley's Seven Sisters series.  This time, we get to witness the story of the fourth sister, Celaeno, or Cece for short. 

Picking up from her departure in Shadow Sister (the third book), we see Cece traveling to Bangkok for a few days before flying off to Australia to look into the clue Pa Salt gave her about her past.  While in Thailand, she goes from a hotel where an old friends works to a brief stay with a man named Ace after the receptionist kicks her out before Christmas.   There, they get to know each other and a bit of a romance begins to blossom.  Ace decides to do some looking into Kitty McBride, the name Pa Salt gave her to look into when she goes to Australia.  As Cece travels to Australia, she learns more about Kitty McBride while dealing with the discovery that Ace was actually a wanted man and discovering that she had been photographed with him in the newspapers.  She keeps tabs on that for a while, while also looking into Kitty McBride with some help from a woman named Chrissie.  Along the way she will also meet an older gentleman tied to Camira and makes a visit to Ace after Cece's birthday party back at Atlantis (Pa Salt and the girls' home) before returning to Australia in the end.

For this books journey in the past, that's the character we get to follow.  Kitty McBride is the daughter of a clergyman from Scotland.  She is sent to live with an associate of her father, Mrs. McCrombie, not too long after finding out a secret about her father when she witnesses her father in town.  This arrangement brings her to Australia where she meets Mrs McCrombie's nephews, Andrew and Drummond.  Along the way, she is given the opportunity to wed one of them.  After marrying Andrew, she finds herself applaud by the treatment of the Aboriginal people there.  She later brings home a woman named Camira, who like her is pregnant.  We get to see their lives over the course of a few years along with a reappearance of Drummond and the tragedy and turmoil that follows Kitty.  The love and loss her son Charlie goes through and what happens to Camira's daughter.

This story is one about connections, and it was interesting to see the connections both Cece and Kitty made.  As well as how Cece is connected to Kitty and Camira.

This book is meant for an Adult audience and can be found in both regular and large print.

Sunday, June 14, 2020

Filippa recommends "Stamped: Racism, antiracism, and you"

I highly recommend this title by YA author Jason Reynolds and American historian Dr. Ibram Kendi.  This book is a YA remix of Dr. Kendi's book Stamped from the beginning. Reynolds insists this is not a history book, instead it's a book that contains both historical events and current ones in an easy to read and relatable style.   It traces racism to its roots and presents ways for us to defeat it in the present.

Recommended for middle school and high school ages.

Friday, June 12, 2020

Meghan Recommends, "Wow, No Thank You"

If ever you were an angsty teenager in the 90s, now a person who *definitely* used to be cool (right?), but in middle age has to Google memes to keep up with “the kids” – you should check out Samantha Irby’s “Wow, No Thank You.”

This collection of essays follows 2017’s “We Are Never Meeting in Real Life,” after her marriage and move to Michigan. She writes with candor and humor about dealing with new problems like the stress of making friends as a grown-up, the issues inherent in owning a home, and learning to write for a TV show. Also old problems, like bills, her IBS, and how to bail on your friends without making them too mad.

I highly recommend the audiobook, which she reads herself. It’s like she’s making up each story as she tells it, fresh. (l learned in this book she spent years performing and hosting open mics in her native Chicago.) However, the major problem with the audio version is that you can’t mark the pages with the lines that are so delightfully funny they demand to be repeated to whoever will listen to you talk about how funny the book you’re reading right now is. So it’s a hard call.

I am clearly not the only person who wishes we *could* meet in real life, (even though she has made it abundantly clear that she’s not really into that):

“An irreverent, hilarious, and vulnerable dive into the author’s brain.... For all of Irby’s wit, depression over debts, and social awkwardness, there is a deep resounding warmth in her essays, too. A hard-won empathy, a stubborn acceptance of self that invites us to join her and revel in the chaos.” 

“Samantha Irby has an ideal comic voice for this particular moment in time: a little casual, fairly raunchy and always hilarious. Her musings on everything from marriage to bodily functions are eminently digestible even when the food she chooses to eat is not.”
Wall Street Journal

“No one utilizes hyperbole quite like three-time author Samantha Irby, who can make the most microscopic of indignities feel like atrocities and turn the smallest of details about her favorite show or song into resonant revelations.... To laugh at Irby’s retelling of her move to Michigan or a middle-aged girls’ night out is to laugh off our own fears of change; to worry about her place in a blue town in a red state is to consider a larger clash of cultures. You might never meet her in real life, but reading Wow, No Thank You. provides the most extensive look at Irby’s life yet.”
—A.V. Club, *New Books to Read in March*

Available as a book, eBook and eAudio.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Kate Brown recommends "Dog Songs"

Do you love dogs? If so, you'll probably love poet Mary Oliver's book, Dog Songs. Through poems and a brief essay, Oliver introduces some of the many dogs who have been a part of her life. The deep connection to nature that is evident in all of the poet's work comes alive here, as she describes daily life with these special companions. Most of the poems in this volume are light-hearted and sweet, some are funny, some are sad, and some remind us of the beautiful lessons we learn from our dearest non-human family members.

Dog Songs was published in 2013 and is now available as an eBook through Overdrive.

You're like a little wild thing
that was never sent to school.
Sit, I say, and you jump up.
Come, I say, and you go galloping down the sand
to the nearest dead fish
with which you perfume your sweet neck.
It is summer.
How many summers does a little dog have?

Run, run, Percy.
This is our school.

If you enjoy poetry visit the Tomlinson Arboretum (west of the Main library) and look for the seventeen poems placed throughout the natural setting of the park. Contemporary and classic works are mounted on stands at a height that makes them easy to read. Explore with or without your favorite four-legged friend and see if you can find the poem by Mary Oliver. If you'd like to take a more systematic approach there are maps and lists of the poems at both entrances to the Arboretum or print one out here:

Dog songs.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Kate M recommends "The Station Agent"

This independent comedy/drama from 2003 included a breakout role for Peter Dinklage, later known for his unforgettable performance as Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones.  In The Station Agent, he plays a reclusive train enthusiast working in a hobby store who prefers a solitary life, or so he thinks.  When he inherits a residence in a small train station, his outlook begins to change.  Although he is at first annoyed by his new neighbors, including a talkative food truck operator and the local librarian, he begins to realize that maybe life can be better with some friends.  Also starring Bobby Cannavale, Michelle Williams, and Patricia Clarkson.  Recommended for Adults and Young Adults.  Available on Hoopla.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Uma recommends " The Last Lecture"

At Carnegie Mellon University, "The Last Lecture" series was a tradition for professors to present their philosophy of life to their students. For Randy Pausch, who only had months to live, it actually was a last chance. Truly, as an ode to the 3 young children he would leave behind, Pausch captures his life through a legacy of fulfilling childhood dreams. For adults.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Natalie recommends "A Dance with Dragons"

Finally got to the most recent book (as of this recommendation).   Following up after A Storm of Swords, this book does bring back characters who were otherwise absent in Feast of Crows (Jon, Danaerys, Bron and Tyrion) and fills in the gaps after a Storm of Swords as well as continuing on from A Feast of Crows.  It has quite a bit of action, a solid story, and of course, dragons.

This is primarily for adult audiences.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Meghan recommends Audie Award honorees

Did you know that there’s a special award to honor high-quality audiobooks? The Audie Award “seeks the very best in spoken-word entertainment, selecting winners worthy of what is known as the ‘Oscar’ of audiobooks, displaying excellence in narration, production, and content” (Booklist, 2020).  Last week’s ceremony marked the 25th anniversary of the Audies, given out by the Audio Publishers Association. You can find a list of honored audiobooks from our collection here.

The top honor, Audiobook of the Year, went to The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 by Garrett M. Graff, which we have in both CD and downloadable versions (CloudLibrary). The  New York Times Book Review said of this audio, “The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11 is a book exquisitely suited to audio format, a detailed cataloging of hundreds of personal stories, read by actors and culled from 5,000 oral histories conducted and archived around the country.”

One of my recent favorite listens is also on this list, Daisy Jones and the Six, which was nominated in the Best Multi-Voiced Performance category. It is a novel, but the structure is also an oral-history style, a behind-the-music documentary of a fictional band. It features a star-studded cast, including Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Judy Greer, Pablo Schreiber, and many veteran audiobook narrators such as Ari Fliakos, January LaVoy, Robinne Lee and Julia Whelan. The book’s structure was well-suited to audio format, and the multiple narrators brought their characters to life so well, I had to remind myself that it wasn’t about a real band!

Whether you listen to audiobooks all the time, or you’ve been waiting for the right book for your first listen, you’re sure to find something great on the list of Audie Award honorees!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Natalie recommends "A Feast for Crows"


The fourth book in the Fire and Ice series and a good read at that. Picking up after the events of A Storm of Swords, this story, like it's predecessors, follows several characters. This time, however, we have some new faces and this is the first book where Jon, Tyrion, and Daenerys, are not characters whose perspective we get to see from. However, unlike some (i.e. Ned, Cateylyn, and Robb), they will show up in the next book.  the new faces include Aeron Greyjoy (the Prophet/Drowned Man),  Asha Greyjoy (the Kraken's Daughter), Victarion Greyjoy (The Iron Captain/Reaver), Aero Hotah (the Captain of the Guards),  Arys Oakheart (The Soiled Knight), and Arianne Martell (The Queenmaker/Princess in the ​Tower). Arya and Sansa also go through an alias/name change to Cat of the Canals and Alayne respectively on account of Arya's training and Sansa being in hiding after the conclusion of A Storm of Swords.  

It's a bit of a change up, but it's not a bad one. Personally, Brienne, Arya, and Jamie's are my favorite parts. Cersei's was interesting too. It may be lacking with some of the characters you've come to like, but I would still recommend reading this book. It also covers season 4 as well as 5 and 6. This is for Adult audiences.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Natalie recommends "A Storm of Swords"

This is the third book in George R.R. Martin's acclaimed series Of Fire an Ice.  This one is longer than the previous to.  Not only in terms of action and story, but pages as well.  This is the longest book thus far, if not the longest book in the series.  That shouldn't detour you from reading this, however, as it is still pretty enjoyable.  And much like the previous two books, we get to see differing perspectives from different characters, including Jamie, Daenarys, Tyrion, Jon, Sansa, Arya, Catelyn, and Davos.  We get to see Brienne and Jamie get closer to Casterly Rock, what becomes of Sansa around the time of Joffrey's wedding, and Daenerys building up and army with her three dragons having grown more just to name a few things.

If you're wondering , and have seen the show, the book does outline all of season 3 of the show, part of the fourth, and the remaining possible sprinkled into the fifth.  This is a great book if you're looking for some good fantasy and is primarily for adult audiences.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Phil recommends "The Cold Dish" by Craig Johnson

North Branch’s Mystery Book Discussion selection for February is The Cold Dish by Craig Johnson, the first in the Walt Longmire Mystery series.  The popular Netflix series Longmire is based on these books.  Walt Longmire is the snarky but loveable sheriff of the fictional Absaroka County in Wyoming and is on the verge of retirement.  As you might expect, things don’t go as planned and he soon finds himself in charge of a murder investigation.  The victim is one of a group of four young men charged with a heinous crime - but let off easy - two years earlier and it appears that the lives of the remaining three boys are at risk.  Johnson populates his story with memorable characters, writes with humor and vivid detail, and his love for the American west and Wyoming shines through.  Fans of Clint Eastwood films would particularly enjoy this book and series.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Ann recommends "The Crossover" by Kwame Alexander

This book is written in verse and is a story about 2 twin teens and their passion for basketball which they share with their father. The teens are accomplished players on their middle school basketball team. Their father was also a very talented basketball player in his youth. He was all set to go pro, but an injury put a stop to those aspirations. However, he shares his love and knowledge of the game by coaching his sons and giving them “basketball rules”. Each rule is a tip to help make them a better player, but are also life lessons to help them navigate complex family relationships, as well as, the joys and tragedies of life.

Appropriate for upper elementary school age children, grades 4-6.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Kate recommends "Love Poems for People with Children"

Love Poems for People with Children

These short, funny poems explore the joys of family life and the challenges of keeping romance alive while raising children. Many parents will relate to author John Kenney’s topics, from flying with a baby to the grocery demands of a 26-year-old who seems to have no intention of ever leaving the family home.

This book is best for adults, as alcohol, marijuana, sex and disgusting baby diapers are all mentioned at some point.

Family Vacation

This is relaxing
I think to myself
on the first day of our vacation
as I hide
in the men’s room
of a Roy Rogers
at a rest stop
just off bumper-to-bumper I-95
while the kids
continue fighting
with tennis racquets
in the back seat.
And only five more hours to go.
I don’t want to leave this place
I whisper aloud.
Neither do I
says the man in the next stall.

Gretchen recommends "What Rose Forgot"

Nevada Barr, author of the popular Anna Pigeon series, has written an engaging standalone mystery called “What Rose Forgot.”  Rose Dennis finds herself drugged and trapped in an Alzheimer’s unit in a nursing home which no recollection of how she got there.  She manages to escape and enlist help from her 13 year-old granddaughter Mel, Mel’s friend Royal, and her hacker sister Marion to find out why nursing home residents are mysteriously dying.  Barr writes laugh-out-loud moments in the book as the idiosyncratic Rose wildly outwits the villains while the plot of the book underscores the vulnerability of the growing population of seniors.  A great read for adults.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Filippa recommends "Lucky Broken Girl"

This book takes place in the 1960’s and it centers around Ruthie, a young Jewish, Cuban born immigrant to the United States. She is just adjusting to her new surroundings in NY when her family gets into a car crash that leaves her in a body cast for almost a year. While in this full body cast, Ruthie discovers what true friendship is and that she is stronger than she thinks. It’s a beautifully written story that shows the kindness of strangers in a strange world.

Ruth Behar lives in Ann Arbor so is a local writer too! She was born in Havana, Cuba and raised in New York.

Appropriate for school age children.

Connie recommends "The Lightkeeper's Daughter"

The lightkeeper's daughters : a novel

I really enjoyed the audio version of this book - available digitally via the CMPL Overdrive app.  For those of you with newer automobiles that do not have CD players in them, or for those who like to listen in general to audio books, CMPL offers many great (and free!) digital options.  Call us for more details!  

The narration in this audio book was excellent!  Although it is fiction, the book was inspired by those who served on the Great Lakes, tending lighthouses during the early 1900's.  The story is complex and moving and will keep you paying close attention throughout the book.


"Though her mind is still sharp, Elizabeth's eyes have failed. No longer able to linger over her beloved books or gaze at the paintings that move her spirit, she fills the void with music and memories of her family—a past that suddenly becomes all too present when her late father's journals are found amid the ruins of an old shipwreck.

With the help of Morgan, a delinquent teenager performing community service, Elizabeth goes through the diaries, a journey through time that brings the two women closer together. Entry by entry, these unlikely friends are drawn deep into a world far removed from their own—to Porphyry Island on Lake Superior, where Elizabeth’s father manned the lighthouse seventy years before.

As the words on these musty pages come alive, Elizabeth and Morgan begin to realize that their fates are connected to the isolated island in ways they never dreamed. While the discovery of Morgan's connection sheds light onto her own family mysteries, the faded pages of the journals hold more questions than answers for Elizabeth, and threaten the very core of who she is."

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Lisa recommends "Stomp"


I love books that encourage movement and action as they make reading a fun experience for kids.  Stomp by Ian Aurora is a new book that fits this category.  The listeners are encouraged to stomp and move throughout the book, whether you are stomping and wiggling your fingers or stomping and touching your nose.  For early child educators, this title is a great title for a crossing the midline activity.

Pair this title with From Head to Toe by Eric Carle and Clap Your Hands by Lorinda Cauley and you will have an entire room moving and grooving through story time.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Meghan recommends "Dora and the Lost City of Gold"

If you’ve been on the fence about watching Dora and the Lost City of Gold, I’m here to say “Go for it!’

This recent movie is a live-action reboot of the animated series Dora the Explorer, which ran on Nickelodeon from 2000 – 2009. In it, Dora lives in the jungle with her parents, who are explorers (and professors) searching for Parapata, a lost Incan city of gold. But when her parents get a lead on its location, they go off to find it while Dora is sent to stay with her Tia and Tio (and cousin Diego) in ‘the city’. First, Dora has some trouble assimilating in high school. Next, she stops hearing from her parents on her satellite phone. Then, she’s kidnapped by villains who are hoping she’ll lead them to her parents and Parapata. Unfortunately, Diego and two of her classmates are also kidnapped!

We watched this as a family and my 5-year old enjoyed the action and fart jokes. My 14-year old thought the representation of high school was spot-on, and got all the inside jokes about Dora, including Boots, songs about her backpack and little asides for the camera. I even enjoyed the self-aware humor and light-hearted fun.