Category: Fiction

Book List: The 2015 Reading Challenge

By , January 17, 2015

2015 Reading Challenge

 

Since New Year’s is all about making resolutions, I think one of the best resolutions a reader can make is to diversify what they read throughout the year.

That being said, POPSUGAR has created a 2015 Reading Challenge, check out their post and see the POPSUGAR list. They even offer a handy printable version, which you can hang up on your desk or near your favorite reading spot to keep track of the books that you have already read.

Here are a few highlights of the list, plus a few suggestions (from my list) about what to read for them:

A book with more than 500 pages -

Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson

Words of Radiance

The second book in the Stormlight Archives, Words of Radiance by Brandon Sanderson, doubles this page count! I’m really hoping to getting around to reading it this year, before the third one comes out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A book your mom loves -

The Other Boleyn Girl, by Philippa Gregory

The Other Boleyn Girl

My mom is a huge fan of historical fiction, so for this one, I’ve picked The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory. I know this is one of her favorites!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A book that made you cry -

Imajica, by Clive Barker

Imajica

Clive Barker has always had such beautiful imagery in his works, and Imajica has several moments throughout that usually have me reaching for a tissue or three.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A memoir -

As You Wish, by Cary Elwes

As You Wish

I think this counts, right? It’s one of my favorite movies of all time, and Cary Elwes sits down to tell us behind-the-scenes stories you haven’t heard before in As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A book with antonyms in the title -

Memory and Dream, by Charles de Lint

Memory and Dream

Trying to figure out what to read for this one was a bit of a tough choice, but I’ve been putting off reading Charles de Lint for a while. For this one, I’m going with Memory and Dream. Don’t worry! There are a ton of possibilities for this challenge.

 

 

Check Out the List

If you want to find a more complete list of my suggestions, check out the list on the library website here: 2015 Reading Challenge

Book review: My sunshine away

By , January 16, 2015

My sunshine away
by M.O. Walsh

To every Read, there is a season. A time to sneak an hour beside an open window in early April, a time to risk sand filled pages in late July and a purpose to every plot conceived by any self-respecting author.

My sunshine away is such a read. It begs to be read in early summer. Do not, I repeat, do not succumb to the glowing reviews of this title set for release in February. If you worship at the altar of contemporary Southern fiction, and I mean the good stuff…not the whiny, cheap, “it’s a hoot” junk that tries to pass itself off as the real deal, this one is worth the wait.

Milton O’Neal Walsh has crafted a treasure. It has all the right bits and pieces that would fall into a pile of worthless clutter with a lesser author. Set in Baton Rouge 1989, featuring golden girl Lindy Simpson, a neighborhood crime, a cast of suspects….all the elements needed to create a new Southern classic. And you know the good stuff is worth waiting for.

-laurie

“It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.”            – Oscar Wilde

Book review: Breathless Trilogy

By , January 15, 2015

Rush by Maya BanksRush (Breathless Trilogy Volume 1)
by Maya Banks

Have you recently read certain romance novels and wondered what it would be like to read steamy romance that’s actually been edited and written for adults? If you answered, “Yes!” then Maya Banks is your woman!

Because the film version of 50 Shades of Grey will be upon us this Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to talk about other titles within the genre. I recommend the first novel in Ms. Banks’ Breathless trilogy, called Rush. This book is the most similar book to the 50 Shades books—yes, I’ve read them the 50 Shades trilogy. There’s a pretty young girl named Mia, who is chased by the rich and ravenous Gabe. Who happens to be her brother’s best friend, and one of the people who helped take care of her when she was younger…at least they know each other?

The book opens with Mia alone at a party hosted by her brother, and his two best friends. They have a prosperous consulting firm. Gabe walks in, and his heart immediately skips a beat because little Mia isn’t so little anymore – she’s about 22 years old. We know from the jump that Gabe’s been crushing on Mia for a while and feels angst ridden because of it. But why, one may ask? Well, Gabe and his friends are bad boys. How bad? Well, think Christian Grey without the mommy issues.

The two main conflicts are: 1) Gabe is trying to hide his relationship with Mia from his besties, Jace (Mia’s brother) and Ash because he fears that they wouldn’t approve; 2) Gabe approaches relationships like Christian Grey—“Here, sign this contract!” He doesn’t want to admit that he’s in love with Mia, and he doesn’t think their relationship can work on a long-term basis.

Mia is Anastasia with some back bone. She has no problem telling off the man she loves when he does something she isn’t happy with. She also has a legitimate connection with Gabe due to the fact they’ve known each other for years. She is also of this world. She’s had enough life experience to understand in general terms what Gabe is into, and to make some demands of him. However, like her counterpart, there are moments where you want to go, “What!?” This reaction will probably happen to you, at least once, in every book in the Breathless trilogy. For instance, Gabe knows full well that Mia is only generally familiar with his proclivities, but just jumps right into it without much thought. Jace doesn’t think too hard about the people he associates with which almost gets his sister and several others hurt. Ash seems to be the only sane one, until he starts telling his girlfriend stuff that no partner should ever tell the other!

The books are explicit so if that is not your thing they are not for you. But if you are looking for a grown up romance that is better than 50 Shades but still easy to read and entertaining – Maya Banks’ Breathless trilogy is for you.

Fever by Maya Banks           Burn by Maya Banks           

- Sade

[Ed. note: This was originally a script for a YouTube video. Sade works in the Technical Service department at the Main Library.]

TV series review: Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries

By , January 9, 2015

Miss FisherMiss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.
Starring Essie Davis as Phryne Fisher.
Based on the novels of Kerry Greenwood.

I wasn’t looking for a new crime series to binge watch when I recently came across Miss Fisher, but hours later I found my chores undone, my book club book unread, and my cat staring longingly at her empty food bowlMiss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries has it all:  it’s cozy enough to appeal to fans of gentler mysteries, but it doesn’t shy away from serious issues like class, racial discrimination, and women’s rights. The tone of the series can be a little bit dark at times, with lots of funny, clever, and sexy bits in between.  By the end of each episode, Miss Fisher always solves her case, all while dressed impeccably I might add.

If you’re like me and aren’t familiar with Kerry Greenwood’s novels, her heroine Miss Phryne (pronounced Fry-Knee) Fisher is a thoroughly modern and independently wealthy woman living in 1920s Melbourne, Australia.  Phryne has quite a knack for solving mysteries and becomes a private detective.  She is dismissed by the local police leader Inspector Jack Robinson as a nosy pest, but sooner than later Robinson realizes how valuable her skills of deduction can be.  Phryne’s little sister was kidnapped and murdered when they were kids.  Her killer is in prison, but has never admitted to the crime, nor revealed where her body is buried.

I do feel guilty not having read any of the Miss Fisher novels before watching series one, but I plan to remedy that before moving to series two.  A third series has been commissioned so we have more episodes to look for in the future.  Essie Davis, whose name is gaining notoriety after starring in the 2014 horror film The Babadook, is absolutely superb as Miss Fisher.  The supporting cast is excellent as well.  And the historic setting of Melbourne is so much fun to experience.  There’s only one thing left to say – watch it and I guarantee you’ll be entertained!

Books Into Movies – 2015

By , January 8, 2015

This year there will be a number of good books being made into movies…..

 

Winter/Spring

 

Child 44

By Tom Rob Smith

“In a country ruled by fear, no one is innocent. Stalin’s Soviet Union is an official paradise, where citizens live free from crime and fear only one thing: the all-powerful state.”

Movie release date:April 17, 2015

 

Far from the Madding Crowd

By Thomas Hardy

“Hardy’s passionate tale of the beautiful, headstrong farmer Bathsheba Everdene and her three suitors.”

Movie release date:May 1, 2015

 

Fifty Shades of Grey

By E.L. James

“When literature student Anastasia Steele goes to interview young entrepreneur Christian Grey, she encounters a man who is beautiful, brilliant, and intimidating. The unworldly, innocent Ana is startled to realize she wants this man and, despite his enigmatic reserve, finds she is desperate to get close to him.”

Movie release date: February 14, 2015

 

Insurgent

By Veronica Roth

“As war surges in the factions of dystopian Chicago all around her, Tris attempts to save those she loves–and herself–while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.”

Movie release date: March 20, 2015

 

Fall/Winter

 

Frankenstein

By Mary Shelley

“Written in 1816 when she was only nineteen, Mary Shelley’s novel of “The Modern Prometheus” chillingly dramatized the dangerous potential of life begotten upon a laboratory table. A frightening creation myth for our own time, Frankenstein remains one of the greatest horror stories ever written and is an undisputed classic of its kind.”

Movie release date: October 2015

 

 

Inferno

By Dan Brown

“In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.”

Movie release date: December 18, 2015

 

The Jungle Book

By Rudyard Kipling

“Shere Khan the tiger is the fiercest, most terrifying beast in the jungle. His enemy is man, but he especially hates Mowgli, the abandoned baby adopted by a kindly family of wolves, and swears to kill him.”

Movie release date: October 9, 2015

 

Mockingjay (Part Two)

By Suzanne Collins

“The third book in Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy. The success of the rebellion hinges on Katniss’s willingness to be a pawn, to accept responsibility for countless lives, and to change the course of the future of Panem.”

Movie release date: November 20, 2015

 

 

-Karen

 

 

 

Book review: Further Joy

By , January 5, 2015

Further Joy: StoriFurther Joyes

by John Brandon

John Brandon reminds me a lot of Wells Tower, and that’s high praise.  He often uses Florida settings, but it’s definitely not the Florida of Disney World and sunny beaches.

Here’s an excerpt, to give you a sense of Brandon’s style:

“Bet had come up with the idea of doing all the worst things they could think of in a single day, once–they’d had breakfast in an Arby’s and attended a boat show, listened to right-wing radio and read about Jessica Simpson online for a full hour.  In the evening, they’d gone to see whatever Vin Diesel car-chase movie had been playing, filing in with packs of teenagers.”

 

Everything Ravaged, Everything BurnedWells Tower wrote Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned, a short story collection for fans of Raymond Carver, Jean Thompson, or George Singleton. He’s also a regular contributor to GQ.

 

Book review: Southern Reach Trilogy

By , December 24, 2014

Area X (The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VandermeerArea X (The Southern Reach Trilogy)
by Jeff Vandermeer

Earlier this year everyone was talking about HBO’s True Detective. The thing that really caught me about the show was that it seemed to take a gritty, hard-boiled noir landscape and mix in a Weird horror-fantasy element. In the end that was all just atmosphere and the whole thing ended like an episode of CSI Miami – so disappointing. I wanted the Yellow King that was promised to me.

I’m not trying to denigrate True Detective. I really enjoyed it, but I wanted to draw a comparison to my favorite book of 2014 because it comes from a similar place and gave me more of what I wanted. I’m talking about Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, a series published in it’s entirety in 2014. Its three volumes Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance where recently released in one hardbound edition titled Area X. The library has the omnibus and all the individual volumes too. I should say that I haven’t finished the last book of the series, so you should probably question my advice after I bashed the ending of True Detective, but the Annihilation and Authority are so good that the third book would have to be pretty awful to diminish my enjoyment of the other books.

So why my comparison to True Detective? These aren’t crime novels, but similarly they take the form of other genres that have Lovecraftian, Weird science horror imposed upon them. The great thing is that both of these novels are coming from different places. The first book, Annihilation is written as the journal of a biologist, and it has the feel, almost, of a quaint meditation on nature and conservation, but it is quickly superimposed with environmental terror. Authority is like John Le Carré except the normal paranoia of spycraft is tainted by the horror of literal monsters. These books are as much about atmosphere and mood as plot, which was also the highpoint of True Detective, but here the uncanny atmosphere actually delivers with glimpse at the uncanny. I mean, how much cooler would it have been if Matthew McConaughey found an interdimensional portal to the yellow king rather than a dumb, inbred serial killer?

Vandermeer wrote an article in the LA Times about how sci-fi and fantasy writers use real environments to craft their worlds as much as writers of realistic fiction. It struck a chord because it’s definitely something I’ve noticed — some of the best descriptions of Charleston, SC’s marshes and rivers are in Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. In The Southern Reach Trilogy, the world is based on the wilderness areas outside of Tallahassee, FL, a place I once called home, and I see North Florida all over this series.

I’ve managed to say a lot without talking much about the actual book. The Southern Reach is a government agency managing the secrets of Area X, spun to the public as an environmental disaster, though it’s more likely a localized invasion of extraterrestrial origin. The first book is about an investigative expedition into Area X, the second about the inner workings (and failings) of the agency managing the area, and the third, at least as much of it as I’ve read so far, is pulling together loose ends and revealing more about the secrets of Area X.

One last thing I’ll say about True Detective, which may or may not apply to this series as well — I don’t care about endings. Sometimes great books or films have bad endings. A lot of my favorite books fizzle out at the end. Endings are hard. If you enjoy 95% of something and the end is lacking, who cares? Let’s stop caring about endings.

Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer           Authority by Jeff Vandermeer           Acceptance by Jeff Vandermeer

[Ed. note: This was originally a script for a YouTube video. I thought it was so good it needed to be shared.]

Book Review: Stone Mattress

By , December 21, 2014

Stone Mattress by Margaret AtwoodStone Mattress
by Margaret Atwood

I’ve had a very long and wonderful journey with Margaret Atwood’s works. It started in high school, when a teacher assigned The Handmaid’s Tale as a complementary novel to 1984 and A Brave New World.  Every year since then, I have attempted to read it at least once. After high school, I practically devoured every fiction work she had ever done, including her poetry.

Stone Mattress is compromised of nine tales (tales, not stories) written by Atwood over the years. The themes they explore include aging, loss, and reality (even the reality of others).

I think my favorite story out of all of this was the one about Constance and Alphinland. Constance is a prolific fantasy writer, whose stories have a cult following. Yet, she lives alone after the death of her husband, a doddering old woman who listens to his voice in her head telling her what to do to take care of herself. It isn’t about the fact that she is old and perhaps a little crazy. It is about an old woman who made two things very important in her life – her husband and her writing. She couldn’t share her writing with her husband in this world – so she imagines him waiting for her in her fantasy world, along with former lovers who have hurt her.

These stories are not light and airy. Margaret Atwood explores the darker side of human nature – the grotesque, the murderous, the hatred – from a perspective of some of the more interesting characters experiencing those things.

This was a very fast read for me, because it was a collection of short stories. Highly recommended for your personal wish list!

Sharra

Book review: The Diary of a Provincial Lady

By , December 14, 2014

The Diary of a ProvinDiary of a Provincial Ladycial Lady

by E.M. Delafield

So, so hilarious. Written in the style of Bridget Jones’s Diary, but first published in 1931. For example, a discussion with her husband about a recent visit to their child’s school:

“Discover strong tendency to exchange with fellow-parents exactly the same remarks as last year, and the year before that.  Speak of this to Robert, who returns no answer.  Perhaps he is afraid of repeating himself?  This suggests Query: Does Robert, perhaps, take in what I say even when he makes no reply?”

This is my very favorite brand of humor, wry and biting about the trials of everyday life. I see myself reading this over and over again.

This was only available through Interlibrary Loan a few months ago, but the library has just acquired a single volume that also incorporates The Provincial Lady Goes Further, The Provincial Lady in America, and The Provincial Lady in Wartime.

Happy holiday reading!

-Beth

Book review: A Christmas Memory

By , December 11, 2014

capoteA Christmas Memory

By Truman Capote

 

 

When writer Truman Capote was a little boy, he lived for some years with his eccentric aunt, Miss Sook in rural Alabama. Truman considered Miss Sook to be his very best friend and this book was inspired by their time together. A Christmas Memory centers around one of Miss Sook’s favorite Christmas activities, making fruitcakes. High jinks ensue when Truman and Miss Sook set out to make 30 cakes in time for Christmas. A Christmas Memory is a warmhearted and charming tale that celebrates love and simple blessings.

 

 

-Karen

 

 

P.S.       A Christmas Memory is available as a short story for adults, as a picture book for children and on DVD. You can read more about the adventures of Truman and Miss Sook in Capote’s short story collection entitled A Christmas Memory, One Christmas and The Thanksgiving Visitor.

 

 

 

 

 

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