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Archive for July, 2013

Looking for a Thrill?

Spilled Blood book cover

The winners of the 2013 Thriller Awards were announced this week, and readers who enjoy a pulse-pounding pace will want to experience the excitement for themselves!

Best Hardcover NovelSpilled Blood by Brian Freeman

Best Paperback Original Lake Country by Sean Doolittle

Best First NovelThe 500 by Matthew Quirk

Best Young Adult NovelFalse Memory by Dan Krokos

By Readers' Advisor on July 17, 2013 Categories: Audiobooks, Awards, Books, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense

Colleen’s Pick: George Harrison: Living in the Material World

Colleen staff picks photoMartin Scorsese directed George Harrison: Living in the Material World — a fascinating look at George Harrison’s life, focused on the period after he found success with the Fab Four. Displaying personal strife, finding his spiritual self, and the way he expertly created music, this is a must-see for any fan.

By Readers' Advisor on July 16, 2013 Categories: All Staff Picks, Movies and Television, Music, Nonfiction

Love and Cupcakes

Sweet Stuff book coverExchanging crowded Chicago for the island of Sugarberry wasn’t a hardship, especially when it meant broken-hearted Riley could have a fresh start. Now she enjoys a slower pace and a new career staging real estate. Quinn Brannigan, a bestselling author with leading man charisma, arrives early for an open house and is taken with both the property and the freckled, accident-prone hostess. Their flirtation heats up over decadent cupcakes and soon serves up a sexy courtship that will have you licking your lips in anticipation. Sample the delicious romance in Sweet Stuff by Donna Kauffman and tempt yourself further with recipes for the frosting-topped confections.

By Readers' Advisor on July 15, 2013 Categories: Books, Romance

LISTS: Solo Beatles Works

All Things Must Pass album coverThe final announcement that the Beatles had officially broken up came by a Paul McCartney press release on April 10, 1970. The break-up didn’t stop the music from spilling out of the Fab Four. George, Ringo, John, and Paul separately soldiered on.

Click here to see albums by each Beatle when they went solo.

By Readers' Advisor on July 12, 2013 Categories: Lists, Music

War Through the Eyes of Children

On Sal Mal Lane book coverThe Herath family moves to Sal Mal Lane, a quiet, diverse, kid-friendly street. Sri Lanka is calm yet, but not for long. On Sal Mal Lane examines the tensions as the island descends into civil war. The racial, economic, and political reasons behind the conflict are seen mainly through the Herath’s four intelligent children – Suren, Rashmi, Nihil, and Devi – making a weighty topic an accessible read. We watch the Heraths for five years until Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka, erupts into violence which Ru Freemantle handles with a graceful melancholy. If you like leisurely-paced, literary, political reads (like The Orphan Master’s Son or The Kite Runner), you’ll probably enjoy On Sal Mal Lane.

By Readers' Advisor on July 11, 2013 Categories: Books

Book Discussion Questions: 11/22/63 by Stephen King

11/22/63 book coverSPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.

Title: 11/22/63
Author: Stephen King
Page Count: 849
Genre: Alternate History
Tone: Nostalgic, Compelling, Gritty

 

1. What was the purpose of the Norman Mailer epigraph? Do you think it stated Stephen King’s personal politics?

2. Al Templeton, the owner of Al’s Diner, told Jake of a door that led back in time to 1958. He then showed Jake the door and told him to see for himself. Jake went through the door. Would you have? Why or why not?

3. It isn’t enough to step back in time, Al wants to change a watershed moment – he wants to stop the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Do you think this was a good idea or a bad idea?

4. What is the butterfly effect? Taking in consideration the positive and negative possibilities of the butterfly effect in regard to the JFK assassination, would you have gone back in the portal to change history?

5. Did Al corner Jake into going back in time? Did Jake have time to think about if he should act on the time portal?

6. If you had gone back in time from 1958 – 1963…what events would you have wanted to witness?

7. When Al and Jake both walk through the portal, the Yellow Card Man greets them. Who is he? Why is the Yellow Card Man there? What does the color of his card represent?

8. When people step through the portal are they going to the past they know or to something else?

9. Why does the Yellow Card Man/Green Card Man say it is bad to go through portals?

10. Early on, Jake said of Derry, “there was something wrong with that town, and I think I knew it from the first.” (p. 121) Jake says it was a town that kept secrets (p. 149) Can an entire town be “wrong”? How does a town keep secrets?

11. Stephen King has a tendency to subtly (or not) connect his novels and stories. Did anyone notice any settings or characters that were references from other works by Stephen King?

12. Were you surprised by how long it took for Jake/George to truly start tracking Lee Harvey Oswald? Why did it take him so long? How did Jake kill time in the past?

13. When did 11/22/63 start to grab you? Did it ever lose you?

14. Were there any moments that shocked you?

15. Why did Jake want to save the Dunning family from slaughter? Was it personal? How did it relate to him then saving the President?

16. Was Harry Dunning’s sister grateful that Jake saved her family from slaughter (the first time)? (p. 240)

17. Jakes usually paints the past as better – better prices, nicer people, even the root beer tasted fuller. Are there ever any instances Jake points out to show how the past is not better than the present? (Ex: race issues, women’s equality, pollution, medical technology)

18. Jake/George falls in love with Sadie. Was this a good idea? Would you have allowed yourself to do this?

19. How does Jake’s mission to stop JFK’s assassination interfere with his relationship? (pg. 408)

20. How do Jake and Sadie get back together? (p. 523)

21. Jake/George invites Sadie to the future (p.620). How did Sadie answer? How would you have answered if you were her? If you were Jake, would you have offered?

22. What is Sadie’s reaction to learning that Jake was attempting to save President Kennedy from assassination?

23. Do you think people today would still react as strongly to a United States president being assassinated as they did when Kennedy was shot? Why or why not?

24. What was your first impression of Lee Harvey Oswald? Did your view of him ever change?

25. As Jake spies on Oswald, he is witness to Oswald beating his wife. Does he ever step in to help her? Why or why not? What would you have done?

26. Jake states that the past is obdurate. Give some examples of the past not wanting to change.

27. Was there a reason for the past not wanting to change?

28. Jake is constantly seeing parallels of people and settings on his quest. What are some examples of parallels or connections he sees? (Ex: The bookies were alike, the pharmacists were alike, Sadie was a Dunning, etc.)

29. Why did Jake hold back from Sadie that he was regaining his memory? Was this a good idea?

30. Did Jake end up saving the president? Did he do it alone or with help?

31. What happened to Sadie?

32. What happened to Oswald?

33. Would you describe Jake as a hero? How would you describe him?

34. Did saving Kennedy make Jake’s original world a better place?

35. Who alerted Jake to the history of the future that he created? (Harry Dunning)

36. Why were there so many earthquakes?

37. Does Jake end up ever getting to see Sadie again?

38. Did you read Stephen King’s afterword? What did you think of the opinions you found there? Are you going to read any of the books he mentioned on the Kennedy conspiracy?

39. Have you read other books by Stephen King? Is this the kind of book you expected out of the author? Will you read more by him?

40. Are there any events that you would be tempted to go back in time to change?

 

Other Resources

11/22/63 website
Lit Lovers book discussion questions
Q interview with Stephen King
Tom Perotta interviews Stephen King
Errol Morris interviews Stephen King
Lee Harvey Oswald’s boarding house
Texas Book Depository
JFK Library facts on assassination

 

If you liked 11/22/63, try…

Underworld by Don DeLillo
Fatherland by Robert Harris
The Third Bullet by Stephen Hunter

Underworld book cover     Fatherland book coverThird Bullet book cover

By Readers' Advisor on July 10, 2013 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi

Cathleen’s Pick: Peace, Love & BBQ

Cathleen staff picks pictureSummertime begs a soundtrack that can back both active afternoons and sultry evenings. For a fun, bluesy, energizing mix, try Marcia Ball’s Peace, Love & BBQ. The influence of her Texas/Louisiana upbringing gleams in the pep of her piano and in her soulful singing. Just try to sit still!

By Readers' Advisor on July 9, 2013 Categories: All Staff Picks, Music, Picks by Cathleen

Star Trekkin’

Redshirts audiobook coverAll action stories need minor characters who are somewhat expendable. When bad things happen to them, it makes the danger feel more real and raises the stakes for the heroes. In science fiction the label redshirts has become shorthand for these doomed roles, and John Scalzi has imagined a world where they refuse to play along with the script. Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas is both a hilarious adventure in space exploration and a playful tribute to the quirks of serial storytelling. Fans of the films Galaxy Quest and Stranger Than Fiction will find this an appealing mix of affectionate nitpicking and fun reinvention, especially as performed by veteran sci-fi actor and author Wil Wheaton.

By Readers' Advisor on July 8, 2013 Categories: Audiobooks, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Humor

LISTS: Con Artist Films

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels DVD coverRobert Redford and Paul Newman are charming grifters in the Oscar-winning movie The Sting. Then there’s Steven Martin and Michael Caine as the most obnoxious con men ever in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. Whatever swindling style you want to see, there’s a movie on it.

For films on grifters, con men, and scams, click here.

By Readers' Advisor on July 5, 2013 Categories: Lists, Movies and Television

An Unorthodox Documentary

Tatsumi DVD coverIf you like the dark, psychologically deep art of Will Eisner, try the work of Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Tatsumi is a Japanese manga artist. Don’t stop reading! Manga is not only for kids. Just like in America where serious comics want to be acknowledged as graphic novels, in Japan, serious manga is called gekiga – a term Tatsumi originated in 1957 that means “dramatic pictures”. For an introduction to Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s work, watch Tatsumi, an animated documentary about his celebrated career based on his autobiographical manga A Drifting Life. Intertwined with the biographical details are 5 short story segments by Tatsumi that detail not only his life, but post-WWII Japan.

By Readers' Advisor on July 4, 2013 Categories: Art, Books, Movies and Television, Nonfiction