Find
10 South Emerson, Mount Prospect, IL 60056 | 847/253-5675
Font:

Check It Out!

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

List: Booklist Online’s Top Ten Debut Novels

Booklist Online developed a list of the top 10 debut novels reviewed between October 15, 2013 and October 1, 2014. The titles are diverse, featuring everything from racial reassignment surgery to the decline of the newspaper. Check out some of the titles below, or you can go to Booklist Online to see the whole list.

 

Cover of Your Face in Mine Cover of Steal the NorthCover of Bedrock Faith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Face in Mine by Jess Row
Steal the North by Heather Brittain Bergstrom
Bedrock Faith by Eric Charles May

Cover of The Land of Steady HabitsCover of the TranscriptionistCover of Three Bargains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson
The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland
Three Bargains by Tania Malik

Fiction: Drone by Mike Maden

Cover of DroneThe President of the United States of America, Margaret Myers, has just learned her son along with a dozen other American civilians was murdered in Mexico. Having won her presidency on the platform of no new warfare, yet determined to seek justice, Myers must think outside of the box in this delicate and deadly situation. Just outside of the box is Troy Pearce, CEO of the private security firm Pearce Systems and a leader in drone technology. A former CIA SOG, Pearce has extensive training, but this job might be harder than even he can handle. Building in intensity, Drone by Mike Maden gives readers a sweeping look at military technology and the intricacies of politics in this suspenseful techno-thriller.

Book Discussion Questions: The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard

Cover of The Pale Blue EyeTitle: The Pale Blue Eye
Author: Louis Bayard
Page Count: 412 pages
Genre: Historical Mystery
Tone:  Plot-driven, literary, intricate

Summary from publisher:
At West Point Academy in 1830, the calm of an October evening is shattered by the discovery of a young cadet’s body swinging from a rope. The next morning, an even greater horror comes to light. Someone has removed the dead man’s heart. Augustus Landor—who acquired some renown in his years as a New York City police detective—is called in to discreetly investigate. It’s a baffling case Landor must pursue in secret, but he finds help from an unexpected ally—a moody, young cadet with a penchant for drink, two volumes of poetry to his name, and a murky past that changes from telling to telling named Edgar Allan Poe.

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

1. Was Poe what you expected? Did his character fit with what you already knew? Did Poe’s character surprise you at all?

2. Did you ever suspect or doubt Poe?

3.Did you trust Poe’s accounts? Did he embellish? Was he objective?

4.What would the story have been without Poe? Why include him? Is it a gimmick? A distraction? Is the narrative better for his inclusion? Is the story more about the mystery/investigation or more about Poe?

5. Are Landor and Poe well-matched? Do they complement each other? Are they good or bad for each other?

6. Why do you think Landor and Poe “clicked” so quickly and well?

7. Why did West Point bring Landor in?  What does this reveal about the culture of West Point and about Landor? What was his style as an investigator?

8. In the development of the story, were you curious about Landor’s backstory? His private life? Was this changed at the end? In retrospect, were the clues laid?

9. Turning our attention to other characters, what did you make of Mr. Allan?

10. What do you make of each one of the Marquis family?

11. What is the significance of “the pale blue eye”? To whom does it first refer to? How about later in the story?

12. What is the allusion to Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”?

13. Did the solution/revelation surprise you? Was this a satisfactory mystery?

14. What did you notice about the writing and the language? Were there times Poe/Bayard tried too hard, was too flowery, was too indirect, or did you appreciate the expressiveness, the images evoked?

15. Did the juxtaposition of language/poetry with the grisly mystery work or did it clash? Did the pacing seem uneven or not?

16. Did the historical details ring true? Were they well-chosen?

17. Is it believable that Poe would keep the secret? Do you believe he was behind Stoddard’s death?

18. Does Poe’s ordeal give him reason/foundation for rest of life’s writing?

19. Would Poe have approved of this story? Is it like him?

20. To what kind of reader would you recommend this book to?

Other Resources

Lit Lover’s Reading Guide
Biography of Edgar Allan Poe
West Point Military Academy history
Video of Louis Bayard describing his first two books

If you liked The Pale Blue Eye, try…

Cover of The Technologists Cover of Without Mercy Cover of Interpretation of Murder

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Technologists by Matthew Pearl
Without Mercy by Lisa Jackson
The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld

Staff Pick: Daily Rituals by Mason Currey

Photo of JennyDaily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey is filled with fascinating details on how famous creators scheduled their days, covering everything from how long they would work to their various quirks (Beethoven had a very unusual bathing routine). While the information may not be very useful, this little book is great for anyone interested in how people spend their time.

Music: Danse Macabre on Favorite French Spectaculars

Favorite French Spectaculars CD cover‘Tis the time when the days shorten and the nights chill, when trees put on their autumn costumes and each step crackles like bonfire. Whether or not you are one to celebrate All Hallows Eve, the change in season calls for a little mood music, and Camille Saint-Saens’ classic “Danse Macabre” will spook your imagination. Featured on the recording Favorite French Spectaculars, with Leonard Bernstein conducting the New York Philharmonic, the piece was inspired by folk legends about the revels of the dead. The sharp summons of a solo violin is answered with a swirling symphonic waltz, and the two themes ebb and flow in playful, haunting harmony punctuated by clattering xylophone. Lilting winds give way to frantic dance, and you’ll find yourself bewitched by a fantastical music experience.

More...