Imagine Your Story – Sympathetic Serial Killers

I admit it, I love a good serial killer story. And, no, the quarantine didn’t drive me to it; I just like the way that authors let us readers live inside of the mind of fictional characters, and some of those characters happen to be serial killers.

If we want to trace the beginnings, though, while I’m sure I was influenced by all the baddies that Stephen King had to offer back in the day, I first, truly fell for a serial killing character in The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. I admit to reading this one after seeing the flick starring Matt Damon and Jude Law. Reading it really made me fall for Ripley, though. So misunderstood, so handsome, so deadly.

Next up was when I met Dexter in the novels by Jeff Lindsay-and my friend tells me the series is great too. But here, too, I encountered an utterly handsome and charming guy, who is almost perfect– minuses for working as a blood spatter analyst (yuck!) and for regularly murdering people (but he only murders bad people!)? So, who wouldn’t fall for that kind of guy…am I right?

Oh, and then there is Patrick Bateman from Brett Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, who was, to be honest, fun reading about, but I wouldn’t want to run into personally. Ew, actually, he was pretty demented, Let’s just skip him.

Which brings me to today’s obsession–Villanelle. My latest serial killer obsession is the star of Killing Eve, a BBC show that just concluded its third season. This British black comedy-drama spy thriller television series follows Eve Polastri (the amazing Sandra Oh), as a British intelligence investigator who has been tasked with capturing the psychopathic assassin Villanelle (Jodie Comer). As the chase progresses, the two develop a mutual obsession. I’m with you, Eve. I can’t wait for season four either!

I get it if these murderous types aren’t your cup of tea, though. Just wait a week and I’ll likely be back to birds and kittens.

 

 

 

 

Your Library Staff at Home — Thanks, Universe?

It has been nice to be able to continue with exercise classes online during the quarantine, but it was not so nice when I overdid it a couple days ago during such a class and felt an ouch. Bummer! Nothing serious but my routine is thrown and now my body is insisting that I need a few days off. I’ve been icing the swelling, elevating and resting and feeling a bit better, but it’s hard not to be discouraged– I had a schedule and a plan and life instead told me to slow down.

Pretty sure many of us had to swallow a truth sandwich as a result of the pandemic and the need for sheltering in place. Vacations were cancelled and postponed; graduations are being held remotely; and some of our really big events have turned into intimate ones. None of this is by choice.

But as I was recouping over the weekend with a Downton Abbey marathon, I’m determined to focus for a silver lining. Perhaps though fictionalized, Downton Abbey provides an excellent example of how humans are capable of growth and change. Along with all the scandal and drama that make compelling television, the Crawley family of Downton face the real-life challenges of surviving first World War, the Spanish Flu, and changes to their Aristocratic way of life. Generations before us have learned to play by new rules. It’s not easy but humans are resilient. We rest, evaluate and then, adapt. We’ll get through this–it’s human nature.

And meanwhile, let’s look at the silver lining. For me, today, the windows are open, the birds are singing, Downton is on and a copy of Denise Mina’s latest mystery Conviction is available for me on Overdrive. It’s going to be a fine day. Thanks, Universe!

Your Library Staff at Home – A Book and Two Cats

This week I’ve not only made my way through a whole novel, I loved it! Oh, and I am currently reading and enjoying a second. I don’t want to jinx it, but maybe my “cold” stretch of picking duds of books to read (and/or not having enough staying-with-it-ness to, well, you know) is over…but I sure hope so!

The book I loved was Tuesday Mooney Talks To Ghosts by Kate Racculia. Tuesday is 33-year-old researcher who lives in Boston. To the outside world, Tuesday is an antisocial weirdo who got stuck in her goth chick days, but in her head she has ongoing conversations with the ghost of her best friend Abby, who disappeared when they were 16-year-olds in Salem. Tuesday breaks out from her solitude when a dead eccentric billionaire’s will is made public, inviting the citizens of Boston to participate in a macabre search around the city to compete for his hidden treasure.  She can’t resist going in and neither will you. This book has it all: mystery,  madcap adventure, Oujia board-wielding teenagers, mistaken identities, witty banter, intelligent writing–not to mention some heart-rending examinations of grief, guilt, friendships and romance.

tuesday

Are you convinced?  Place a hold in our catalog here

The book I’m reading now, All Adults Here by Emma Straub is brand new. I’ll keep you posted, but so far I can’t put down this novel about the flawed family of Astrid Strick and her adult children.

All this book reading has me sitting a bit more recently, much to the delight of our two cats, who I’ve decided are indeed the best of coworkers (no disrespect to my husband who is pretty good at sharing a workspace too). The cats, though, are excellent lap warmers and are the perfect partners in crime for when I’m looking for an excuse to stay seated and read just one more chapter. Thanks furballs!

Have a good week and if you’ve got one, give your own  furry coworker a head scratch for me.

Your Library Staff at Home – Watching Birds (& TV)

It’s been hard to concentrate lately. I know that many people also are feeling this way right now. I’m even (sniff sniff) having a hard time reading. So, for some escape this week, and for lots and lots and lots of laughs, I’ve been streaming NBC’s Superstore, starring America Ferrera. The quirky characters on this multi-season sitcom are coworkers at Cloud 9, a big box store, where hi-jinx ensue on the regular. This show just might help you stop missing your coworkers whileworking from home.

What else am I watching? Birds! We are an advanced-beginner bird-watching household. We have our dog-eared guide book and hurry each other to the window to see something new.

Ducks. Hummingbirds (Yes, they are back even with this snow!). Orioles. Nuthatches. I know these birds have always been in (or migrating through) my yard, but it feels like I am seeing them with new eyes. This shutdown has provided me with an opportunity to be present, it slows me down when I feel restless and uncertain and helps me appreciate what is around me– my backyard, my pets, my family. To be comforted by the familiar, and to be open to viewing the familiar in a new light are starting to feel like gifts.

I see more birds because I am looking more, which takes time. I know that eventually everything will bounce back and return to a new version of normal, but I aim to hold on a bit to the good stuff I’ve learned from this. When life picks its pace back up, I plan to keep taking the time to take time.

Your Library Staff at Home – Spending Time at Court

No, I wasn’t on jury duty, but I’ve recently been to court–Henry VIII’s court, that is! I’ve just read The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel, a novel I’ve waited eight years for. This novel closes Mantel’s historical fiction trilogy, depicting the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII, ultimately leading to Cromwell’s execution. (Now, now, don’t be mad. It’s not a spoiler, that’s an actual fact!) Mantel’s Cromwell is a dynamic, believable and sympathetic character. Readers will love him as he commits despicable acts, root for him even as he is doomed. She won Man Booker Awards for her first two in the series (Wolf Hall, 2009 and Bring Up the Bodies, 2012) and her latest is a satisfying and poignant conclusion. Oh, but it is 754 pages. Beyond worth reading for this fan, but if you wanted the DVD or streaming version, you’ve lucked out. It (sort of) exists.

Wolf Hall is the British television of the first two books in the trilogy and was broadcast on PBS Masterpiece in April 2015, winning a Golden Globe for Best Miniseries or Television Film. Starring Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, Damian Lewis as Henry VIII, and Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn, this six part series is beautifully acted, darkly lit, and filmed with incredible attention to period detail and faithfulness to the books. I’m hoping they’ll adapt book three!

Politics, murder, backstabbing and family drama–Cromwell’s life was full of it and his story provides a fascinating escape. Sure the history is dark, the characters are doomed, and we know how it will end, but I dare you to look away.

Your Library Staff at Home – When things seem dark, seek out the light!

I’ve had a tough time this past week finding joy in my recent book and TV choices. I only have myself to blame for watching Hunters–an Amazon series that actually landed on my radar because it is controversial. Al Pacino stars as a Holocaust survivor with many secrets–among them is that he heads up a group of New Yorkers in the 1970s, who run around murdering Nazis, Tarantino-style. Though slick, violent and action-packed, the usual recipe for a winning hit, I found that this show, which is in hot water after being accused of revising history and exploitation, was just not for me. Have you seen it? Agree? Disagree?

I read The Regrets by Amy Bonnaffons, a first novel that is touted as a “love affair between the living and the dead,” and I wanted to love it. The premise: Thomas is a recently dead man who is sent back to live for an extra three months because of an angel’s clerical error. He begins a relationship with Rachel, a living woman who feels unable to make fulfilling connections with others. It was quirky, sexy and original and I rushed to the end, but I ultimately found the star-crossed lovers’ relationship to be codependent and toxic. I’ll try Bonnaffons again, but no, for me, this one wasn’t true love. the regrets

Maybe these bold and unusual choices would have dazzled me in different circumstances, but right now I’m craving light. This morning I looked for new visitors at our bird feeder, noticing a smaller woodpecker I’ve never seen before, the mallard duck couple who visit here early in the mornings, and the many new flowers springing up around the yard. I am restored.

Take care of yourself, wash hands, read and repeat.

Your Library Staff at Home – A (Nostalgic) Walk to the Mailbox

I got actual mail, not a bill or political ad, twice last week! Both the sweet card from a dear friend on the West Coast and a postcard from a nearby friend lifted my spirits in a way that our texts to one another never do. Don’t get me wrong-technology is great, but even now, when we can facetime, houseparty and zoom with our loved ones, sending a handwritten something shows someone selected that card, blank or otherwise, for you. Words were considered, the address was double-checked. It’s thoughtful, traditional, nostalgic.

When I was little, because she loved to send cards, herself, my Mom took me to the old Bedford, Ohio post office all the time. Imagine a historic building, smelling of soap and paper (not unlike a library), with it’s high wood counters and walls of brass public boxes filled with secrets covered by stamps. It’s easy to see how I fell in love. As an adult, I have used my post office as much as possible. I am reluctant to pay bills online; I want an excuse to use the John Lennon stamp or the Love stamp, to make the walk to the mailbox.

But now, stuck at home, and inspired by the best of friends, I’ve started to write one note or card to mail to a loved one each day. Bonus, I’ve just had to order a few new books of stamps from the U.S. Postal Service

The real bonus is supporting the Postal Service. I mean, my mail carrier has been out there there every day, showing her worth. I want to thank her. I want her to keep her job. I want my goodies from Etsy to arrive and I want to see the surprise in the box at the end of my driveway every day.

And, really, how amazing is it that the structure to deliver a hand-written note exists?  Now more than ever, we should celebrate the United States Postal Service.  The mail matters. Show some love. Send a card!