Tuesday, September 10, 2019

After IT: CHAPTER 2, Try...

The sequel to 2017's blockbuster horror IT has floated into theaters and to the top of the box office. Whether you're a fan of King's original novel, the 1990 miniseries, or the newer adaptation, these picks are a perfect double feature for this horror epic. 
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  • Die by Kieron Gillen: Several years after being trapped in a game of their own design, former childhood friends reunite to step back into their nightmarish creation. 
  • The Boy Who Drew Monsters by Keith Donohue: To cope with a near-death experience, ten-year-old Jack spends most of his time drawing monsters. Much like King's novel, the lines between fantasy and reality slowly begin to blur in this psychological horror novel. 
  • NOS4A2 by Joe Hill: Decades after escaping a crazed killer, a mother must use all of her abilities to get her son back after he is kidnapped by the same man. With supernatural abilities, alternate imaginative universes, and the magic of childhood and memory, this has more than a few things in common with IT. 
  • Stand by Me: A group of friends go on an adventure to find the body of a missing boy. If you like the idea of IT's focus on the bonding of a group of friends, but can't hack the scary stuff, this one's for you. Also check out the original novella
  • Escape Room: Six strangers accept a mysterious invitation to a brand new escape room, which turns out to much deadlier than they ever would have expected. If you like IT for the rollercoaster thrill-ride cycle of scares, you might like this recent horror flick too. If you do, be sure to check out our (much less lethal) Escape Room program on September 26th! 

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Dog Days of Summer - Tail Wagging Reads To Cuddle Up With

I always thought that the "Dog Days of Summer" were late August summer days so unbearably hot that even dogs had to lie down on the ground, panting. However, I found that it actually refers to the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens. To our early ancestors Sirius appeared to rise just before the sun, in late July/August, so it was associated with the hottest days that could bring fever, drought, sudden storms, mad dogs, bad luck, lethargy, just about any catastrophe. Nevertheless I still prefer to think of these "Dog Days" as those hot, sultry, winding down days of summer that are ripe for relaxing with a good book, especially one that features an adventurous romp with man's best friend! So, I'm barking out a list of favorite fiction/nonfiction dog reads to laze about with while escaping those last hazy, lazy days of summer:

A Dog's Purpose by Bruce Cameron
A Dog's Journey by Bruce Cameron
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
One Good Dog by Susan Wilson
The Call of the Wild by Jack London                       
White Fang by Jack London
Dog On It by Spencer Quinn
Until Tuesday by Luis Montalvan
Watchers by Dean Koontz
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate Dicamillo
Following Atticus by Tom Ryan
Suspect by Robert Crais
Marley and Me by John Grogan
Big Little Life by Dean Koontz

Watch for my future "Dogs Days of Winter" list which will refer to the winter days that are so unbearably cold that even dogs have to lie down in front of a roaring fire, shivering.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Telling Tales in School

A sudden cool breeze, an early dusk, and ads for backpacks, pens, and notebooks everywhere hint at  what's coming: a new school year. Whether this change evokes a resigned sigh or sheer joy, reading some academic-themed fiction might just help us get in the mood for it.

Old favorites:

Moo by Jane Smiley - In urgent need of funds, Moo University, a huge midwestern agricultural college, and its male-dominated hierarchy search for a solution to their economic woes.

Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon - Grady Tripp, an obese, aging writer who has lost his way, and debauched editor Terry Crabtree struggle to rekindle their friendship, a sense of adventure, and purpose in their lives.

Starting Out in the Evening by Brian Morton - When graduate student Heather Wolfe sets out to meet the elderly novelist whose works have changed her life, she meets someone very different from her expectations. 

Straight Man by Richard Russo - Within one single week, Hank Devereaux, head of the the English department at the state university, has his nose slashed by a feminist poet, finds his secretary is a better writer than he is, and suspects his wife is having an affair. 

Been around a while:

The Shakespeare Requirement by Julie Schumacher - Newly appointed English Department Chair Jason Fitger navigates his wife's affair with his boss, budget cuts, a formidable department secretary who writes better than he does, and a Shakespeare scholar who refuses to retire.

By the Book by Julia Sonneborn - An English professor struggling for tenure discovers that her ex-fiance has just become the president of her college--and her new boss.

The Devil and Webster by Jean Hanff Korelitz - The first woman president of an elite progressive college responds to student protests about a popular professor's tenure denial before the group's controversial leader emerges and  shocking acts of vandalism begin to destabilize the campus.

Published recently: 

Talent: A Novel by Juliet Lapidas - An English graduate student struggling with her dissertation about the intellectual history of inspiration desperately searches for a case study to anchor her thesis, only to find it in the unlikeliest of places.

Trust Exercise: A Novel by Susan Choi - Falling in love while attending a competitive 1980s performing arts high school, David and Sarah rise through the ranks before the realities of their family dynamics and economic statuses trigger a spiral that impacts their adult lives.

The Study of Animal Languages by Lindsay Stern - a logic-driven professor of philosophy is forced by a series of crises to confront a growing estrangement in his marriage to his free-spirited, passionate biolinguistics pioneer wife.

Silver Girl: A Novel by Leslie Pietrzyk - Set against the backdrop of Chicago in the early 80s, the story follows a young college student who conceals her deeply troubled past and lives a new life that is not in any way her own.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Take a Trip to the Past

Looking for some good historical fiction?  Check out these titles!

England in the 1520s is a heartbeat from disaster. If the king dies without a male heir, the country could be destroyed by civil war. Henry VIII wants to annul his marriage of twenty years and marry Anne Boleyn. The pope and most of Europe opposes him. Into this impasse steps Thomas Cromwell: a wholly original man, a charmer and a bully, both idealist and opportunist, astute in reading people, and implacable in his ambition. But Henry is volatile: one day tender, one day murderous. Cromwell helps him break the opposition, but what will be the price of his triumph?

In the town of Kingsbridge during the middle of the twelfth century, the lives of those who are working to build the most amazing Gothic cathedral in the world become entwined through their ambitions, loves, and tribulations. At once, this is a sensuous and enduring love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age.

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the stunningly beautiful instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Female journalists are rare in 1879, but American-born Clara Endicott has finally made a name for herself with her provocative articles championing London's poor. When the backlash from her work forces a return home to Baltimore, Clara finds herself face-to-face with a childhood sweetheart who is no longer the impoverished factory worker she once knew. In her absence, Daniel Tremain has become a powerful industry giant and Clara finds him as enigmatic as ever. However, Daniel's success is fueled by resentment from past wounds and Clara's deeply-held beliefs about God's grace force Daniel to confront his own motives. When Clara's very life is endangered by one of Daniel's adversaries, they must face a reckoning neither of them ever could have foreseen.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Books With Bite

Looking for some great fiction AND nonfiction books to sink your teeth into to gear up for Shark Week? Look at these ocean gems!
Jaws by Peter Benchley

Book Jacket

When three people are killed by a great white shark in three different incidents, the police chief of a Long Island resort town is forced to take action.

The Second Sleep: A Novel by Robert Harris


A young priest, Christopher Fairfax, arrives in a remote Exmoor village to conduct the funeral of his predecessor. The land around is strewn with ancient artifacts--coins, fragments of glass, human bones--which the old parson used to collect. Did his obsession with the past lead to his death?

The Shark Club by Ann Kidd Taylor

Book Jacket

Nearly two decades after surviving a shark attack in the Gulf of Mexico, a world-traveling marine biologist and respected "shark whisperer" harbors private insecurities that compel her to return to her Florida coast home to explore old and new relationships.
Close to Shore: A True Story of Terror in an Age of Innocence by Mike Capuzzo

Book Jacket

Details the first documented cases in American history of sharks attacking swimmers, which occured along the Atlantic coast of New Jersey in 1916.

The Devil's Teeth:  A True Story of Obsession and Survival Among America's Great White Sharks by Susan Casey

Book Jacket

A journalist describes how her fascination with great white sharks led her to Southeast Farallon Island, a remote island off the California coast, and to a group of biologists who study these fearsome, frequently misunderstood predators of the sea.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Pitchfork Music Festival

Pitchfork Music Festival is this weekend at Union Park in Chicago and it sounds like it's going to be a HOT one! And we're not just talking about the music. IF you're planning on going and need a primer or you'd rather stay indoors with the AC blasting and just listen to some music, the CD collection in the AV ROOM has you covered. Stop by the Library today and pick up some tunes by some artists featured at Pitchfork this Friday, Saturday and Sunday:

Mavis Staples                               
Belle and Sebastian                       
Snail Mail     
Cate Le Bon
Amen Dunes
Earl Sweatshirt                                   

There's always more #goodsounds in the AV ROOM! Stay cool!