Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Slow Start, Fantastic Finish

There are many books on my nightstand waiting for me to open. My “To Read” list is so long, and over my long reading life I have started many books I put down after 20 pages because it didn’t hook me. Sometimes I’d pick it up again awhile later – sometimes years later – and have the same experience. However, if a friend recommends a particular after I have attempted to read it, I’ll try it again just based on their good recommendation. Because I’m not one to give up on a book easily, my last resort is to listen to the audio version. This third tactic often works and I get hooked to the point of sitting in my car at my destination and not be able to go into where I was headed. I just can’t “put it down” or “turn it off.”

Here are my recommendations for books that start slow but have fantastic finishes. I hope you enjoy them as much as I eventually did.

The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
The stirring saga of a man's journey to free his sister—and himself—from a tragic family history. Tom Wingo has lost his job, and is on the verge of losing his marriage, when he learns that his twin sister, Savannah, has attempted suicide again. At the behest of Savannah's psychiatrist, Tom reluctantly leaves his home in South Carolina to travel to New York City and aid in his sister's therapy. As Tom's relationship with her psychiatrist deepens, he reveals to her the turbulent history of the Wingo family, and exposes the truth behind the fateful day that changed their lives forever.

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Poisonwood Bible is a story told by the wife and four daughters of Nathan Price, a fierce, evangelical Baptist who takes his family and mission to the Belgian Congo in 1959. They carry with them everything they believe they will need from home, but soon find that all of it--from garden seeds to Scripture--is calamitously transformed on African soil. What follows is a suspenseful epic of one family's tragic undoing and remarkable reconstruction over the course of three decades in postcolonial Africa. 

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns
One thing you could depend on in Cold Sassy, Georgia, was that word got around—fast. If the preacher's wife's petticoat showed, the ladies would make the talk last a week. But on July 5, 1906, things took a scandalous turn. That was the day E. Rucker Blakeslee, proprietor of the general store and barely three weeks a widower, eloped with Miss Love Simpson—a woman half his age and, worse yet, a Yankee. On that day, fourteen-year-old Will Tweedy's adventures began, and an unimpeachably pious town came to life.

The Last Time They Met by Anita Shreve
A dazzling story about marriage, forgiveness, and chances not taken, by the bestselling author of Body Surfing and A Wedding in December. At a literary festival a poet named Linda Fallon meets for the first time in years a fellow poet, Thomas Janes, whose fame has grown during a decade of seclusion. This is no chance meeting. Thomas saw that Linda was scheduled to appear, and chose this moment to re-establish contact with a woman he had passionately pursued years earlier. Their affair was disastrous for them both, a turning point in their lives, and the damage they did in those years still haunts them both.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

PEN Literary Awards Shortlist

The PEN Literary Awards finalists were announced on February 2.
Below is the shortlist for Debut Fiction:

Cover image for The Turner house : a novel In the Country:Stories  by Mia Alvar

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy

The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness by Jennifer Tseng
(Available soon)

Mr. and Mrs. Doctor by Julie Iromanuya
(Available soon)

Many other PEN shortlists for both fiction and non-fiction can be found at:  http://www.pen.org/2016-pen-literary-awards-shortlists.

Winners for most of the awards will be announced on March 1, 2016.

Winners for Debut Fiction, Art of the Essay, Open Book, Literary Science Writing, and the PEN/Fusion Prize will be announced on April 11, 2016.

For more good reading, see the longlists for each category at:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

If You're Waiting to Read The Witches by Stacy Schiff...

A new nonfiction book has come out recently covering the fascinating period of history in the early United States history the Salem witch trials.  If you're waiting to read it or more interested in a fictional take on this time period, here are a few historical fiction titles set during and inspired by the events.

The Heretics Daughter: A Novel
Kathleen Kent
A fictional tale of Martha Carrier, the first woman accused of witchcraft to be tried and hanged in Salem.  Her story is told by her daughter, a survivor of the period.
The author is a descendant of Carrier.

The Shape of Mercy
Susan Meissner

A present day college student traces the story of one of her ancestors Mercy Hayworth who was an accused witch and victim during the Salem witch trails. She takes a part time job from a librarian transcribing Mercy's journal.
Daughters of the Witching Hill
Mary Sharratt

A story of another witch-hunt, this one set in England rather than Salem, covering the 1612 Pendle witch-hunt.  Bess, a poor widow, is a known healer, and has passed her skill set on to her granddaughter.  When a peddler has words with her granddaughter and suffers a stroke soon after the family becomes the target of magistrate eager to be know for finding witches.
Deliverance from Evil
Frances Hill

A realistic, gripping fictional account of the Salem witch trials.
Focuses on the hysteria of the trials and the period.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Katherine Howe

The discovery of a 17th century Bible in her grandmother's home near Salem draws a Harvard graduate student into the past as she becomes haunted with visions of the era and the witch trials.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

"Love your Library" has begun

Our 2016 Winter Reading Program has officially begun!

February is the perfect month to open your heart to warmth and happiness — by entering our winter reading program. The more you read, the greater your chances to win weekly prizes or the grand prize gift basket.

Adults and teens can stop by the Reader Services Desk to fill out an entry slip for each book read in February and rate it on a scale from hot to cold. You may also enter online:

Parents - it's not just for adults and teens this year! Bring your children to the Youth Services Desk to pick up a Winter Reading starter pack to get started.

Special thanks to ArcLight Cinemas –Glenview, the Glenview Grind, Pie Five® Pizza Co. and Zoup! for their generous support of this year's Winter Reading Program.

Adults and Teens - be sure to stop in this month to check out our Blind Date with a Book displays. These books are just waiting for the perfect reader to check them out. Maybe you'll find your perfect book match. Why not take a chance?

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Rock legends we've lost

We're barely through the first month of 2016 and we've already lost some MAJOR rock icons. First David Bowie, then Glenn Frey and now Jefferson Airplane's Paul Kantner has passed. The good news: we have plenty of CDs by these amazing artists in AV ROOM to help ease the pain. Stop by and grab some music by these lasting musical legends this week. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Foreign Film Challenge continues

Here's how it works. If you like foreign films, you may want to review this list. I am sorting through the newly-arranged (by language) foreign films and highlighting those that received a rating of 7 or better on imdb.com. So here I am continuing with the Chinese films. If you do have a chance to view any of them and you love them, please leave a comment and start a dialogue. Enjoy!

Good Bye, Dragon Inn (2003) Mandarin & Taiwanese

Bu san (original title)
In Taipei, a movie theater is closing, but not before one final film is shown -- "Dragon Inn," a 1967 action film that is the source of nostalgia for the moviegoers and employees in the old, decrepit and possibly haunted building. The eccentric projectionist and a crippled cashier along with two ghostly actors from the original film come to mourn the passing of an era.

Fallen Angels (1995) Cantonese
Do lok tin si (original title)
Set in contemporary Hong Kong, a disillusioned killer embarks on his last hit. He tries to overcome his affection for his cool, detached partner and sets out to find a surrogate. He crosses paths with a strange drifter and an amusing mute trying to get the world's attention in his own unconventional ways.

Jin ling shi san chai (original title)
A Westerner finds refuge with a group of women in a church during Japan's rape of Nanking in 1937. Posing as a priest, he attempts to lead the women to safety.

Chun gwong cha sit (original title)
Yiu-Fai and Po-Wing arrive in Argentina from Hong Kong and take to the road for a holiday. Something is wrong and their relationship goes adrift. A disillusioned Yiu-Fai starts working at a tango bar to save up for his trip home. When a beaten and bruised Po-Wing reappears, Yiu-Fai is empathetic but is unable to enter a more intimate relationship.

Ying xiong (original title)
In this visually arresting martial arts epic set in ancient China, an unnamed fighter is being honored for defeating three of the king's most dangerous enemies. When he recounts his battles with the assassins, the king begins to question some of the details. The king challenges the tales, interjecting his own take on these events.

House of Flying Daggers (2004) Mandarin
Shi mian mai fu (original title)
The Tang Dynasty is fighting to keep control over China, a battle they are losing to several rebel groups. One such group is the House of Flying Daggers, who steal from the wealthy and give to the poor. Two police deputies working with the government are ordered to investigate a young dancer who is rumored to be working with the House of Flying Daggers. But both men fall under her charms and decide to help her escape instead.

Ilo Ilo (2013) Mandarin
Set in Singapore during the 1997 financial crisis, this film chronicles the Lim family as they adjust to their newly arrived domestic helper, Teresa, who has come, like many others in search of a better life.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Edgar Awards Have Been Announced

Each spring, Mystery Writers of America present the Edgar Awards, widely acknowledged to be the most prestigious awards in the genre. This year's award ceremony will take place on April 28, 2016.

The MWA announce the nominees each year on Edgar Allen Poe's birthday January 19th.

Here are the titles for Best Novel.

The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter (Penguin Random House – G.P. Putnam's Sons)
The Lady From Zagreb by Philip Kerr (Penguin Random House – A Marian Wood Book)
Life or Death by Michael Robotham (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books)
Let Me Die in His Footsteps by Lori Roy (Penguin Random House - Dutton)
Canary by Duane Swierczynski (Hachette Book Group – Mulholland Books)
Night Life by David C. Taylor (Forge Books)

For more nominees in all the different categories go here.