What we’re reading now….

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

The  Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

This novel begins in the summer of 1969. Four young siblings stumble upon information of a traveling fortune teller within their neighborhood, whom can tell anyone the day they will die.  Curious about such a power, the children seek out the fortune teller, and each are told the day of their death. The story is told in four separate parts, each part dedicated to each sibling.  The four children, straightforward Varya, bossy Daniel, magic obsessed Klara and dreamy Simon, must come to terms with the information imparted on them by the fortune teller.  This is also a story about family.  While each sibling has their own story, their relationship with each other is woven into their lives, and always a piece of them. What keeps the reader most engaged lies in which characters will meet their demise on said projected date and how will death take them, or better yet, can they somehow change their fated date? Mary

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

The Raven Tower by Ann Leckie

Long ago the Raven promised his protection to the lands of Iraden.  In return for his protection, the Lease must sacrifice himself upon the death of the Raven’s physical manifestation.  Mawat rides for the Raven’s Tower informed that this rite is imminent.  There he will take his rightful place on the throne as the Lease’s heir.  However, another now sits on the throne and claims the title Lease for himself.  Worse yet, he claims the previous Lease fled and the sacrifice to the Raven has not been made. Though The Raven Tower may be a fantasy novel, Leckie has retained some of the essence typical of a science fiction novel.  Large swaths of the novel are taken over by explaining the magical system and contemplating what are essentially logic puzzles. Everything is very precise, but as with the best science fiction, it remains lively and fascinating. Trent

If You See Me

If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi by Neel Patel

I was fascinated by and completely absorbed in this debut book of short stories by Neel Patel. I finished the book in a week, which is unheard of for me. Most of these stories have a refreshingly modern voice and are told from the perspective of a first-generation Indian American who stands at the intersection of cultures where traditional beliefs (such as arranged marriages) collide with modern rituals (such as Facebook stalking). The stories are deceptively casual in that the language is conversational, but each character contends with complicated questions about cultural and sexual identity, mental illness, and family dysfunction – and does so with charm, depth, and humor. Hand this book to any person who likes a thoughtful and entertaining story. Lindsey

Smoke and Summons by Charlie N. Holmberg

Smoke & Summons by Charlie N. Holmberg.

I also have Ms. Holmberg’s The Paper Magician series on my reading list so when an advanced copy of this Smoke & Summons became available I was excited to sample it. It is the beginning of a new trilogy called the Numina trilogy. It is set in a sort of post-apocalyptic steampunk world, but with outlawed magic talismans and spells secretly used by a select few. Or you could say it is a polluted, corrupt, “smokepunk” world with a big division between the haves and have-nots. Young adults Sandis and Rone are unlikely heroes at the center of the story. Sandis is a vessel for an ancient spirit, known as a Numin. She is a slave to an evil wizard who can summon a raging fire horse into her against her will. Rone is a street-smart thief who is willing to help her escape as long as he can fix his own family troubles first. So far the first half of this fantasy adventure with religious hypocrisy and dangerous occult forces sprinkled throughout is exciting. It has delivered several surprises that make me eager to find out what happens next. Byron

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White…

White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin DiAngelo

In this best-selling book, renowned anti-racism educator Dr. DiAngelo clearly and succinctly outlines how racism is not simply a “bad person” phenomenon, but a systematic construct. Her concept of white fragility refers to the defensive moves white people make when their notions of race are challenged. Beyond detailing the problem, DiAngelo also provides clear instructions on how white people can engage in cross-racial discussions more productively. This is an eye-opening, must-read for white people who are truly invested in having meaningful, live-changing conversations about race. Megan

The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop…

The Art of Asking , or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help by Amanda Palmer

Written by singer, songwriter, and performance artist, Amanda Palmer, this book straddles the line between biography and manifesto. This book’s creation was spurned by Palmer’s TED Talk  where she told of her time as a living statue and how it exemplified her belief in the act asking and the act’s power. This book gives a short biography of Palmer’s career and how it was influenced/driven by relationships she built. A great book that offers an alternative relationship than the producer/consumer of many artistic fields. I personally recommend the audio book as it includes songs from Palmer’s career  and creates a fuller picture of her creative output. Greg

The Victory Garden: A Novel by Rhys Bowen

The Victory Garden by Rhys Bowen

This is the story of Emily Bryce who wants to join the war effort. After the death of her only brother, Emily’s parents want her home. When Emily turns 21 she joins the Women’s Land Army where “land girls” are taught necessary farming skills while the young men are off fighting in WWI. Emily falls in love with an Australian pilot who is killed in action. Pregnant and alone she volunteers to tend the neglected gardens of a Devonshire estate. The “Woman’s Land Army” detail was an interesting addition to a great story from a very talented author.  Emma

Kabbalah by Gershon Scholem

Kabbalah by Gershom Scholem

  Scholem, as a scholar, pretty much brought the topic of Jewish mysticism into the consciousness of the 20th century.  Kabbalah is a book about Jewish mysticism – its historical development, ideas, and personalities.  Although at times somewhat dry, especially in the opening section on the historical development of Jewish mysticism, the book picks up much speed in the section where I am now, which discusses the really staggeringly original ideas involved with Kabbalah, including the sefirot, the Zohar, and ideas about how the world was created.  Recommended for people interested in mysticism and religion.     Andrew

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

I just finished the third book of the Bear and the Nightingale trilogy, and it was fabulous.  These stories are set in Russia of the 1400’s and are a seamless mix of truth and folklore.  Vasilisa Petrovna must once more save her beloved Moscow from the evil forces bent on destroying it.  As Christianity and old religion come face to face, things are not as simple as the parish priests would like the people to believe.  Vasya must come to terms with the accusation of being a witch and the shame it brings her family, and the reality that Rus needs someone to fight and believe in the “old ways” in order to battle forces of evil and destruction.  Sara

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming by Michelle Obama

This book is a beautiful testament to the importance of providing a nurturing and supportive environment for children to grow into their best possible selves.  The inside view of Michelle’s childhood is evidence that through the support and encouragement of her parents and extended family, she was able to focus on her education and become a successful female, African American lawyer before she was 30.  Her early career in law was only the beginning of her reluctant journey to become one of America’s most beloved first ladies. I walked away from this book with strong admiration for the very public figure that Mrs. Obama has become in our culture.  I’d recommend this book to anyone and everyone.  If you love the Obamas you should read this book. If you don’t like the Obamas, you should really read this book. Beth

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Watch a Movie Based on a Book

Below are some suggestions of movies based on a book to encourage you to check off that box on your Winter Reading Bingo card.

Ready Player One is a science fiction film based on the 2011 dystopian novel of the same title by Ernest Cline.

Beautiful Boy is a biographical drama based on the 2008 memoir Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff and the 2007 memoir Tweak: Growing Up On Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff

On Chesil Beach is a British drama film based on the 2007 Booker Prize nominated novella of the same title by Ian McEwan.

Juliet Naked is a romantic comedy/drama based on the 2009 novel of the same title by Nick Hornsby.

Crazy Rich Asians is a romantic comedy/drama based on the 2013 best selling novel of the same title by Kevin Kwan.

The Hate U Give is a crime drama based on the 2017 best selling young adult novel of the same title by Angie Thomas (released this month so place a hold or check out as a quick flick for 3 days)

A Wrinkle In Time is a science fantasy adventure film based on the 1962 juvenile novel of the same title by Madeleine L’Engle.

Black Panther is a super hero film based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name.

Red Sparrow is a spy thriller film based on the 2013 novel of the same title by Jason Matthews.

The Little Stranger is a gothic drama film based on the 2009 novel of the same title by Sarah Waters.

If you would like more suggestions stop by the Adult Reference desk and we are happy to help.

 

Winter Book BINGO: Spotlight on LGBTQIA

The Merry Spinster

by Daniel Mallory Ortberg
Confessions of the Fox

by Jordy Rosenberg
RubyFruit Jungle

by Rita Mae Brown
Clariel

by Garth Nix
Less: a novel

by Andrew Sean Greer
So Lucky

by Nicola Griffith
Witchmark

by C.L. Polk

Lists of books with an LGBTQIA authors or character:

BookTalk for Adults

Friday, January 25th, 10:00 – 11:00, Community Room

This month we will be talking about Young Adult novels.  Young adult literature typically centers on teenagers.  The publishing industry markets these books primarily to young adults, however, that’s not always who reads them.  Did you know that approximately 55% of today’s young adult readers are adults?  At BookTalk this month we will be discussing YA fiction in fantasy and fiction genres.  We will also be talking about best selling YA author John Green, and current best seller novel, Children of Blood and Bone by Tome Adeyemi.  Come join us for coffee and good discussion.

2018 Great Reads

Hello! Here is my list of great reads from 2018. The novels here encompass a range of storytelling techniques, viewpoints, and voices.  The nonfiction titles include a books which transports us into the life of one of our most brilliant 19th century  thinkers and an intimate view from Michelle Obama of her life and here experience as our first African American First Lady,  I hope that  you will make time to read and enjoy these books. 

Best, Cal Zunt, Librarian

Fredrick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W. Blight 

Florida by Lauren Groff

An American Marriage: a Novel by Tayari Jones

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

Becoming by Michelle Obama

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

The Overstory: a Novel by Richard PowersJ

Educated: a Memoir by Tara Westover

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Sara’s Top Ten of 2018

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The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

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Four girls attending boarding school participate in a sinister game which involves lying to everyone except each other.  However, years later when a body is found, it becomes obvious that someone broke the only rule of the game.

 

 

The Day She Disappeared by Christobel Kent

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When Beth disappears, everyone says she’s run off with another man.  But her best friend Natalie, doesn’t believe that at all, and proving it just might get her killed. A perfectly paced psychological thriller that keeps you wondering until the end.

 

Where I Lost Her by T. Greenwood

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After heartbreaking infertility and failed adoption attempts, Tess sees a young, half-dressed little girl in the road who disappears into the woods.  But with no other sightings, missing child reports or  witnesses, Tess begins to be doubted by the townspeople and herself.

 

The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor

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Young Eddie and his friends develop a game using chalk figure codes which leads them to a dismembered body and to the end of their game.  Years later chalk figures are showing up again, and one old friend turns up dead.  Eddie must figure out what happened years ago in order to save himself and the others.

 

Self-Portrait With Boy by Rachel Lyon

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A young female artist accidentally photographs a boy falling to his death—a breathtaking image that could jumpstart her career, but would also devastate her most intimate friendship.

 

 

 

The Book of Essie by Meghan MacLean Weir

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Essie is the youngest child on Six for Hicks, a hit reality TV show about her family’s life and fire-and-brimstone religious beliefs.  When Essie winds up pregnant, will she be forced into an arranged-blockbuster-marriage episode? Or will she escape her strange, always-on-display life?

 

 

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

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Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy, small-town life is torn apart by a horrifying attack which leaves their mother dead, and their family forever shattered.  Twenty-eight years later, another violent act forces them back together, and brings up long lost secrets and questions.

 

 

The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld

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Five-year-old Madison disappeared while chopping down her family’s Christmas tree.  Three years later, her parents are still desperate to find her and hire a private investigator known as “the Child Finder,” who is their last hope.

 

 

The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

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Tarot card reader, Hal, discovers she has been left an inheritance.  She is certain it is a mistake, but is desperate for cash and decides to play along. But once at the family estate with the brooding, mysterious heirs, she wonders if she has made a terrible mistake.

 

 

The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell

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Adrian Wolfe has been divorced twice and recently lost his newest wife to suicide or so it seems.  As Adrian searches for answers, he discovers his perfect modern life with two amicable divorces and 5 step children who love each other seamlessly may not be as perfect as it appears.

Mary’s Top Ten of 2018

Mary’s Top 10 for 2018

My Top 5 Books:

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai

There is so much to like about this book. The two main characters are flawed, however, you will yearn for them to rise up & come to terms with their lives.  I learned about Chicago (my home away from home), Paris, both present day and in the 1910’s, inspirational artists who were sowing their seeds in Paris in the early 1900’s, and last, but certainly not least, the AIDS epidemic at its height in  1980’s Chicago and its tragic aftermath.

 

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

This is a fantastic piece of historical fiction.  Sunja, the main character, is an unconventional matriarch, whom we follow throughout the entire story.  It begins in the early 1900’s with her birth, and culminates in 1989.  This story is about 4 generations of a Korean family coming terms with what it is like to be Korean in a Japanese society.  There is  much to learn here about the  perils and struggles of the Korean community.

 

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

This is another superb historical fiction book.  I learned a lot about tea… so much tea.  Again, the main character, Li-Yan, is unconventional, yet so strong in her own quiet ways.  The reader learns about farming tea, life in a small Chinese village, adapting to an ever-changing world, adoption and the impact, not only on the child, but the entire community.

 

Educated A Memoir by Tara Westover

I love good narrative nonfiction, and this certainly fit the bill.  It never ceases to amaze me when I read about the resilience of children growing up in a very chaotic environment, raised by a parent lacking in nearly all conventional parenting skills … and yet these children survive, and in this case, achieve great academic success despite the odds.  These type of books are great for book clubs because, trust me, you will want to talk about it.

 

Evicted by Matthew Desmond

This title was also the Library Community read.  Unlike, the book above, not everyone is a survivor in this one.  This book is about residents in low income neighborhoods in the city of Milwaukee, desperately trying to make ends meet, despite the unjust housing system in which they live in.  This is a very engaging, readable piece of nonfiction.

 

 

My Top 5 Movies:

Juliet Naked

I didn’t know that I liked Ethan Hawke so much. I have not watched a movie this year that he has starred in that I didn’t love ( Maudie and Maggie’s Plan both wonderful too).  This is a moving, yet feel-good kind of movie. It’s all about choices, second chances and moving forward.

 

Tully

I will admit that I nearly turned this movie off about 45 minutes in, and then everything changed, so hang in there.  Tully is such a simple yet complex woman struggling with “the baby blues”.  If you are like me, you will have compassion for Tully, you will understand Tully, in the end, you will love Tully.

I Am Not Your Negro

This film is a heartfelt & sweeping documentary of Alec Baldwin’s experiences in the tumultuous 60’s. You will be thinking about this one long after you hit the eject button. There is so much to learn about the great African American leaders, and the american experience of the African American community. We have so much to learn from our history, we simply need to take the time to listen.

Faces Places

I tried to stay away from Academy Award nominees & winners because they must be good, right?  Not always the case for me, but with this film, they hit the nail on the head.  Another feel-good film that follows a couple of artists pursuing…well, their art.  Their relationship is so charming, their travels are interesting, and their art is wonderful. What more do you need?

Amelie

Okay, I will admit I watched this one because I want to look like Amelie.  Who doesn’t want to look like an adorable French woman?  After watching this film, I want to be Amelie.  I want to be a free spirited, unique, adventurous, kind & beautiful young french woman…oh, and live in France.  For now I will live vicariously through this charming movie. By the way, it is in French, and watching foreign films makes me feel smart… another bonus!

Little Men

I eyed this film on the shelf FOREVER, and it did not disappoint. This is a wonderful coming of age story about a 13 year old boy, but so much more.  The film is about relationships, gentrification in Brooklyn, self discovery for the young and the old.  Don’t judge these characters to hastily, they may surprise you.

 

I hope you can make time for, at the least, one of my choices in 2019. I would LOVE to hear about your choices too.  Stop by at the Adult Reference desk & we’ll chat. Meanwhile, my best for a happy new year!