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MPPL's staff blog about books, movies, music and the talent behind them.

Fiction: Wish You Were Here by Graham Swift

Wish You Were Here book cover“Our dead are never dead to us until we have forgotten them,” George Eliot wrote. “They know all our penitence, all our aching sense that their place is empty.”

The truth of these words scalds the characters of Man Booker Prize winner Graham Swift’s Wish You Were Here. When Jack receives word from the Ministry of Defence that his younger brother Tom was killed in Iraq, he must make arrangements to bring his remains back home to the Isle of Wight. This task forces Jack to confront complicated feelings toward not only his brother’s death but also his father’s, and the weight takes a toll on his relationships with the living as well. Evocative, slow-burning, and complex, this deceptively quiet novel depicts with graceful melancholy the relationships that haunt and enrich us.

2015 Audie Award Finalists

The Audie Awards: 150 finalists and only 30 winners. On Thursday, May 28th the Audio Publishers Association will declare which exceptional audiobooks will be crowned Audie Winners for 2015. Enjoy a taste of the finalists below, and stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen desk on the second floor to let us know who you think should win this year’s Audie Awards! The categories and finalists below only scratch the surface, so make sure to peruse the other categories. The Awards Gala hosted by Jack Gantos will be Livestreamed on Thursday, starting at 6:30pm.

Fiction

Cover of Us
Us

by David Nicholls

Cover of Written in My Own Heart's Blood
Written in My Own Hearts Blood

by Diana Gabaldon

Cover of The Invention of Wings
The Invention of Wings

by Sue Monk Kidd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nonfiction

Cover of Furious Cool
Furious Cool

by David Henry and Joe Henry

Cover of Being Mortal
Being Mortal

by Atul Gawande

Cover of Deep Down Dark
Deep Down Dark

by Hector Tobar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantasy

Cover of The Queen of the Tearling
The Queen of Tearling

by Erika Johansen

Cover of Cress
Cress

by Marissa Meyer

Cover of The Emperor's Blades
The Emperor’s Blades

by Brian Staveley

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History

Cover of Enduring Courage
Enduring Courage

by John F. Ross

Cover of In the Kingdom of Ice
In the Kingdom of Ice

by Hampton Sides

Cover of A Spy Among Friends
A Spy Among Friends

by Ben Macintyre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humor

Cover of You Can Date Boys When You're Forty
You Can Date Boys When
You’re Forty

by Dave Barry

Cover of The Disaster Artist

The Disaster Artist

by Greg Sestero and Tom Bissell

Cover of Food: A Love Story
Food: A Love Story

by Jim Gaffigan

Movies and TV: The Paradise

Cover of The ParadiseIt’s 1890. Britain’s first department store, The Paradise, has opened up on the streets of Newcastle led by the ambitious Mr. John Moray. Coming from poverty with big dreams and bigger ideas, Denise has begun work as a shopgirl in the dress department at the store. While her innovative ideas make a splash, drawing attention from Moray himself, the road isn’t easy for Denise as she navigates a jealous peer, a fearful boss, and divided loyalties. The Paradise is a Victorian drama filled with swirling secrets, majestic dresses, matters of the heart and fierce competition where nothing is too grandiose.

Discussion Questions: The Ritual Bath by Faye Kellerman

Cover of The Ritual BathTitle: The Ritual Bath
Author: Faye Kellerman
Page Count: 374 pages
Genre:  Mystery
Tone: Atmospheric, Suspenseful

Summary:
Detective Peter Decker is stunned when he learns one of the women in a remote yeshiva community in the California hills was brutally raped as she returned from the mikvah, the bathhouse where the cleansing ritual is performed and Rina Lazarus is also the only one in the sheltered community willing to speak of this unspeakable violation. As Rina tries to steer Decker through the maze of religious laws the two grow closer. Before they get to the bottom of this horrendous crime, revelations come to light that are so shocking that they threaten to come between the hard-nosed cop and the deeply religious woman with whom he has become irrevocably linked.

SPOILER WARNING:
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.

1. Did the author do a good job describing the yeshiva and the mikvah? Did you learn something about the Orthodox Jewish faith that you didn’t know before?

2. What was it about Rina Lazarus that Detective Decker was attracted to? What did you think of him when he fantasized about her being out of yeshiva context?

3. Did the author do a good job of describing the feelings of attraction that both Rina and Detective Decker had toward each other?

4. How did Rina try to discourage Detective Decker from being involved with her? Were there any ways she encouraged him?

5. Were you surprised at how open Rina was with Decker about her religion and why it wouldn’t be a good idea for them to go out with each other?

6. How do Rina and Detective Decker’s decisions affect their own lives and the lives of other characters in the book?

7. Was it believable that Decker’s biological parents were Jewish? Or does it seem too contrived?

8. Did you suspect that Moshe was the rapist/murderer? Were the Jewish people in the Yeshiva blinded by their faith while searching for clues/suspects?

9. Did the author do a good job of planting clues and developing the suspects?

10. Did you guess who the rapist was? Was the rapist a surprise?

11. Was it necessary to have Mrs. Marley, the security guard, murdered?

12. What was the author trying to accomplish with this mystery novel? (Begin a series? Provide entertainment? Send a message?)

13. Is the novel believable?

14. This is classified as a mystery novel. Do you think the mystery was the main point of the novel, or was it the relationship between Rina and Detective Decker?

15. What was the books greatest strength or most serious flaw?

16. How has the author set the book up to continue the series? Have any of you read further in the series? Do you plan on reading other books in this series?

Other Resources

What is a ritual bath?
Article: Reclaiming and re-imagining the ritual bath in 2015
Book discussion resources
Detective Decker and Rina Lazarus series order

If you liked The Ritual Bath, try

Cover of In the Bleak Midwinter Cover of Friday the Rabbi Slept Late Cover of When the Bough Breaks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming
Friday the Rabbi Slept Late by Harry Kemelman
When the Bough Breaks by Jonathan Kellerman

Staff Pick: Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

Picture of DonnaLittle Beach Street Bakery is a delightful novel by Jenny Colgan. Two people decide to totally change the course of their busy lives and end-up in a remote area of Cornwall, England. One takes up baking bread and the other to tending to bees. Fishermen and townspeople add side stories to this new book. I kept reading to find what what happens next.

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