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

Staff Pick: Are You Serious? by Van Duren

Photo of JohnVan Duren came out of the same 70’s Memphis music scene as the cultishly adored band Big Star, so it isn’t too surprising that his 1977 debut album Are You Serious? draws heavily from shared influences like Badfinger and Todd Rundgren.  Melodic almost to a fault, Are You Serious? is an overlooked gem of 70’s power-pop.

Fiction: Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas book coverAs much as we enjoy our modern luxuries, there’s something about Jane Austen’s era that keeps us coming back for more. It seems a simpler, less harried, and more genteel time, and especially around the holidays that may truly appeal. What would the Christmas season have been like for the author herself? Stephanie Barron imagines exactly that in Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, but she also throws in a dead body or two. No need to worry that our heroine will swoon; the very qualities that make her a keen observer of character also lend themselves to identifying motive, and she is no stranger to inquests, this being her twelfth mystery. Exquisite historical detail and hints of characters that will come to be make this a gift-wrapped read for any self-respecting Janeite.

List: November 2014 Indie Next List

What does a spy thriller set in Africa have in common with a book about the conservation of endangered birds? The recommendation of a bookseller working at an American independent bookstore! Every month IndieBound releases the Indie Next list. This list is made up of new books from all different genres recommended by an independent bookseller. As a result, the list is an eclectic mix of titles for readers to check out.

Recently, the November 2014 list was released. Check some of the titles out below:

Cover of Being MortalCover of The Remedy for LoveCover of Just Mercy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Cover of Fire Shut Up in My BonesCover of Crooked RiverCover of Jerry Lee Lewis His Own Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M. Blow
Crooked River by Valerie Geary
Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story by Rick Bragg
Cover of The Laughing MonstersCover of The ForgersCover of The Birds of Pandemonium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson
The Forgers by Bradford Morrow
The Birds of Pandemonium by Michele Raffin

Not interested in the titles above? Check out the entire list here and ask a Readers’ Advisor at the Fiction/AV/Teen desk on the second floor to find new and old titles tailored to your taste.

Nonfiction: Unbored Games by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen

Cover of Unbored GamesThis winter season arm yourself with ideas to liven up the grey and bitter days with Unbored Games by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen. From the creators of Unboredthis small colorful book is bursting with variety, featuring over 70 games that range from online to offline and indoors to outdoors. Glenn and Larsen encourage creativity in their readers and follow suit, offering imaginative ideas such as Meditation Flowers to reduce stress, new takes on Rock Paper Scissors, a combination of competition and doughnuts in Doughnut on a String, and Cruel 2 B Kind which involves random acts of kindness. With little tweaking the games can be enjoyed by all ages, giving everyone the chance for a more fun winter!

Book Discussion Questions: The Lobster Chronicles by Linda Greenlaw

Cover of The Lobster ChroniclesTitle: The Lobster Chronicles
Author: Linda Greenlaw
Page Count:  238 pages
Genre: Travel writing
Tone:  Richly detailed, Character driven, Nostalgic

Excerpted summary from publisher:
After 17 years at sea, Linda Greenlaw decided it was time to take a break and move back home to a tiny island off the Maine coast to pursue a simpler life as a lobsterman and find a husband. But all doesn’t go as planned. The lobsters refuse to crawl out, fellow islanders draw her into bizarre intrigues, and the eligible bachelors prove elusive. But just when she thinks things can’t get worse, something happens forcing her to reevaluate everything she thought she knew about life, luck, and lobsters. Filled with nautical detail and the dramas of small-town life, The Lobster Chronicles is a celebration of family and community.

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

1. What did the author hope to accomplish by writing this novel? Was this strictly a story of a typical season of lobstering as the author mentioned in “The Note From the Author?”

2. Do you feel you learned a lot about the lobstering business from reading this book?

3. Does the life of lobstering appeal to you?

4. How would you describe a typical small-island lobsterman? What personality traits do lobstermen share? Why do they choose this profession?

5. What are the pros and cons of living on a small island like Isle au Haut?

6. Did you like the author’s writing style?

7. Did you find this story funny? If so, what parts stand out as humorous?

8. Linda Greenlaw has a college degree. Why did she decide to fish and then lobster rather than get a “real job” like her parents wished she would do?

9. Why do you think her parents said they wished she would get a “real job”? Do you think they really meant it? Did you find it ironic that her dad quit his “real job” and joined her in lobstering?

10. On page 207, did Linda waste her education fishing and/or lobstering? Do you agree that whatever path a person takes, “education is always being used?”

11. Was Linda a good business person?

12. How did you feel about the way Linda handled her gay helper Stern-Fabio?

13. Describe Linda’s relationship with her father.

14. Were you surprised (on page 106) how strongly Linda felt about removing the mainlanders’ gear from the islanders’ protected area – when the rest of the islands gave up so easily? Why was she so passionate about this compared to how laid back she was when Stern-Fabio stole her truck?

15. On page 221, why did the author include the chapter on Dorothea “Dotty” Dodge, the lady that she didn’t know very well?

16. After reading the book, did you believe the author when she said, “As proud as I am to say I’m an islander, nothing makes me prouder than to say, ‘I’m a fisherman.’ And that is not apt to change.”?

17. What were your thoughts when Linda told us that she is building a year-round home, but is undecided about how much of the year she will stay?

Other Resources

Linda Greenlaw’s writing process
Greenlaw on BookTV (starts at 8:20)
Guide to Lobstering in Maine

If you liked The Lobster Chronicles, try…

Cover of Four Wings and a Prayer Cover of The Perfect Storm Cover of The Secret Life of Lobsters

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Wings and a Prayer by Sue Halpern
The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger
The Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson

More...