Check It Out!

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

Top 5 Reasons Hamilton Lovers Should Use Hoopla

Hoopla is a website and app that you can use to instantly borrow books, movies, music, ebooks, television episodes, and comics with no added cost. Luckily for Hamilton lovers, there is a wealth of material to fully invest into your current (or new) Hamilton obsession!

This season Hoopla has in store for you…

Simply Christmas album cover#1: The sweet holiday sounds of Aaron Burr

You may not have realized you wanted a Leslie Odom Jr. Christmas album until you listen to his 2016 release, Simply Christmas and you realize the season wouldn’t be complete without it. Odom’s silky jazz voice has a calming effect, setting the for curling up in a Library chair as you watch the snow fall and the cars drive past. For Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson lovers, it includes a cover of “Winter Song.”

 

 

hamilton-mixtape album cover

#2: A mashup of the 18th and 21st century

The Hamilton Mixtape has an all-star mashup of recording artists coming from all different genres, including Sia, Usher, Alicia Keys, K’NAAN, and Kelly Clarkson. There’s a healthy mix of keeping some of the songs close to the original Broadway recording and completely re-imagining them. Plus, there are demos of Valley Forge and Cabinet Battle No. 3 by Lin Manuel-Miranda included.

 

 

the-federalist-papers book cover#3: Original work by Alexander Hamilton

Has your interest in American history been peaked? Take advantage and start with The Federalist Papers which was rapped about in “Non-Stop.”

“Alexander joins forces with James Madison and John Jay to write a series of essays defending the new United States Constitution, entitled The Federalist Papers. The plan was to write a total of twenty-five essays, the work divided evenly among the three men. In the end, they wrote eighty-five essays, in the span of six months. John Jay got sick after writing five. James Madison wrote twenty-nine. Hamilton wrote the other fifty-one!”
“Non-Stop” by Lin Manuel-Miranda

 

aristotle-and-dante-discover-the-secrets-of-the-universe book cover

#4: 7.5 hours of Lin Manuel-Miranda reading to you

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe is story of two boys and how their friendship helps them to discover more about themselves and where they fit in the world. The combination of this award-winning story by Bejamin Alire Sâenz and Lin Manuel-Miranda’s voice is an incredible duet.

 

 

And last but definitely not least…

Hamilton#5: The Original Broadway Cast Recording

For the person who still hasn’t gotten a copy of the cast album or listened to it entirely, we’re here for you. Hamilton: An American Musical is available 24/7 to download and listen to at you’re leisure!

 

 

 

For more suggestions to feed your Hamilton obsession no matter how big or small it is, email us at readers@mppl.org or stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen Services desk!

Book Discussion Questions: Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather

Death Comes for the Archbishop book coverTitle:  Death Comes for the Archbishop
Author:  Willa Cather
Page Count: 297 pages
Genre: Historical FictionClassic, Inspirational Fiction
Tone:  Contemplative, Unassuming, Strong Sense of Place

Summary:
In 1851 French Bishop Latour is dispatched to New Mexico to reawaken its slumbering Catholicism. Moving along the endless prairies, he spreads his faith the only way he knows—gently, although he must contend with the unforgiving landscape, derelict and sometimes openly rebellious priests, and his own loneliness.

 

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

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement:  2016 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. How would you describe the mood of this book? Did you like it?

2. How does the Prologue set the scene for the story? What attitudes and themes does it foreshadow?

3. Describe the friendship between Jean Latour and Joseph Valliant. How essential is their relationship to the book as a whole?

4. Magdalena’s story is one of the more memorable in their early travels, and she then recurs throughout the book. What impact does her character have on the priests? On the reader?

5. Is this a Catholic book? What does it have to say about the greater theme of faith?

6. Are there aspects of religion (or those who profess to be religious) that are portrayed in a negative light?

7. Was the mission of the priests one of service, conversion, or something else? Did they make a difference?

8. What does Latour have in common with the ideal of the Western hero? What is different?

9. Some readers have trouble with Latour due to his lack of passion and sometimes even coldness. Is this how he struck you?

10. When deciding whom to appoint, it is said

The new vicar must be a young man, of strong constitution, full of zeal, and above all, intelligent. He will have to deal with savagery and ignorance, with dissolute priests and political intrigue. He must be a man to whom order is necessary – as dear as life.

      What do you think of these qualities? Were the Cardinals right? Are there others that proved to be necessary in the position?

11. How would you characterize the ways in which the priests interacted with their communities? With individuals? Was there anything that you think they should have done differently?

12. Did you respond to the vivid descriptions of settings, of landscape, of nature? Were there any that stood out especially?

13. In what ways are art and architecture a theme in the book?

14. What was the prevailing attitude toward Americans? Was this justified?

15. What did you think of Cather’s decision to use several historical names and figures in her story? Does this add credibility? Distract?

16. What instances of humor did you find in the book?

17. How satisfied are you with the title? Why do you think it was chosen?

18. Would you say this is an easy book to read? How difficult is it to describe or summarize?

19. Cather considered this book to be her best and most important. Do you agree? Even if you haven’t read other works, do you see significance?

20. Cather once wrote, “When people ask me if it has been a hard or easy road, I always answer with the quotation, ‘The end is nothing, the road is all.'” What do you think of that statement in general? Is this sentiment effectively illustrated by Death Comes for the Archbishop?

Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!

OTHER RESOURCES:

Death Comes for the Archbishop as one of All-TIME 100 Novels
Willa Cather biography
The Protestant Who Wrote the Greatest Book About American Catholicism
Cather draws attention to New Mexico history
Footsteps: Entering the World of Willa Cather’s Archbishop (via The New York Times)
Discussion questions from the Classics Reading Group of Algonquin Area Public Library

READALIKES:

Crossing Purgatory book coverCrossing Purgatory
by Gary Schanbacher

Lila
by Marilynne Robinson

Staff Pick: Time and Again by Jack Finney

Joe from Research Services suggests Time and Again by Jack Finney

Time and Again book coverSimon “Si” Morley is an illustrator in 1970s New York, not quite unhappy but wondering if there could be more to his satisfactory, if mundane, life. Then Si is recruited by a shadowy, unofficial government group secretly working on a project to send agents back in time to observe—and possibly alter—history. In 1882 New York, Si tries to discover the circumstances behind the curious suicide of a prominent businessman, while falling in love with fellow boarder Julia. This meticulously researched novel straddles fantasy and historical fiction, using an uncomplicated time-travel plot device to stage detailed historical descriptions. The author’s use of illustrations, paintings and photographs is cleverly incorporated into the plot, adding an unusual but interesting twist on the first-person narrative. While the book takes its time establishing the context and method for time travel, the leisurely pace picks up as romantic and other mystery-related developments begin to drive the plot. Ideal for readers who enjoy love stories with a historical and or fantasy bent, with a particular interest in historical New York.

Interested in reading more unique takes on history and/or time travel? Try one of these!

 

the-time-travelers-wife book coverThe Time Traveler’s Wife
by Audrey Niffenegger

 

kindred book coverKindred
by Octavia Butler
outlander book coverOutlander
by Diana Gabaldon
the-alienist book coverThe Alienist
by Caleb Carr

List: Fantastical Holiday Reads

Now that it’s December, you may be in the mood for a tale trimmed with tinsel. Mystery fans, romance readers, and humor devotees don’t lack for brightly-wrapped packages, but those who enjoy wondering about life in other worlds or pushing the boundaries of what-if won’t need to settle for coal. Fill your stocking with science fiction and fantasy stories that embrace the Christmas spirit!

Christmas Stars book coverChristmas Stars
ed. by David C. Hartwell
A collection of holiday miracle stories by top fantasy and science fiction writers includes the tales of a father’s gift that opens up the universe for all humanity and the original fantasy that inspired the film It’s a Wonderful Life.
Season of Wonder book coverSeason of Wonder
ed. by Paula Guran
Yuletide brings marvels and miracles both fantastic and scientific. The best stories from many realms of fantasy and a multitude of future universes, gift-wrapped in this spectacular treasury of wintertime wonder.
Yuletide Universe book coverA Yuletide Universe: Sixteen Fantastical Tales
ed. by Brian M. Thomsen
A compilation of holiday tales by a range of science fiction and fantasy authors includes contributions by such notables as Neil Gaiman, Clive Barker, Anne McCaffrey, and Harlan Ellison.

 

War of Gifts book coverA War of Gifts: An Ender Story
by Orson Scott Card
Chaos erupts at Battle School when a student places a gift in another student’s shoe on Sinterklaaus Day, an act of rebellion that forces everyone to make a choice during the War over Santa Claus.
Miracle and Other Christmas Stories book coverMiracle and Other Christmas Stories
by Connie Willis
Multiple Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author Willis captures the timeless essence of generosity and goodwill in stories that transport readers to fascinating realms filled with wonder and joy.
Krampus the Yule Lord book coverKrampus, the Yule Lord
by Brom
When he stumbles upon a magical bag that belongs to Krampus, the Lord of Yule and the dark enemy of Santa Claus, struggling songwriter Jesse gets an unexpected chance to save his daughter and his own broken dreams–and return wild magic to Boone County, West Virginia.

Audiobook: Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mue

Behold The Dreamers book coverLife is brimming with potential for Cameroonian immigrant Jende Jonga and his family. Set in New York in 2007, Jende has just gotten a new job chauffeuring for the rich, white Edwards family and his wife Neni is on her way to becoming a pharmacist. Their journeys are about to get harder however, as they face the realities of living in a new country on the brink of recession and the Edwards family’s own hardships start to bleed into their lives.

Prentice Onayemi is the versatile narrator of this 2016 debut, changing tones and cadences to take on the different characters’ accents and genders to fully bring the characters alive. A story simultaneously of hope and heartbreak,  Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue is all about the turbulence of trying to achieve your dreams no matter where you reside in life.

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