As 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.
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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:
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.
This 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 Unbored, this 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!
Every other Friday the Library will bring you short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.
For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.
New: Historical Fiction Books
New: Romance Books
A chance encounter in the late 1970s between lonely misfit Gafitas, gang leader El Zarco, and the beautiful Tere looks to be the beginning of a life of crime for Gafitas. However, the drugs, hookers, and thieveries don’t last long as a job eventually turns south and Zarco is thrown into jail. Flash forward twenty-five years. Gafitas is now a successful defense lawyer, Zarco is famously considered a Robin Hood of his day, and Tere has shown up in Gafitas’ office looking for help, pulling Gafitas into their world once again. Told entirely in dialogue between an interviewer and primarily Gafitas, Outlaws by Javier Cercas is an engrossing study of the blurry lines between fact and fiction, human motivation, and one unknowable man.
In Ernessa T. Carter’s spirited 32 Candles, Davidia Jones endures a tough childhood and then reinvents herself as a singer in Los Angeles. When she runs into her high school crush, her attraction is back in an instant, but so is her memory of a hurtful prank. When he pursues a romance, sparks fly. Will she get the “happy Molly Ringwald ending” she’s always wanted?
Like most young teachers, Laura Freedman wanted to make a difference. She teased her students’ creativity with assignments such as “write a one-page story in which your favorite mystical creature resolves the greatest sociopolitical problem of our time.” Alas, she had her own demons to battle, and after a dramatic breakdown is committed to a mental health facility. Winner of the John Simmons Short Fiction Award, When Mystical Creatures Attack! is a sparkling debut from Kathleen Founds. Each of the twenty-five linked mini-stories contains a magic of its own, and the sum total burns bright and true. Presented in letters, journal entries, assignments, and e-mails, the commentary may be humorous — even absurd — but the struggles are achingly real.
It is 1978; hippies are out, punks are in, and art school dropout Mimi Pond has a new love: The Imperial Café. The staff is wild, the food is to die for, the customers are beautiful, and Pond wants in. Once hired, the reality of dishes, drugs, and social hierarchies rudely interrupts Pond’s romantic vision, and while she might not be playing the beautiful snarky waitress in this graphic novel memoir like she wants to, her eagerness and dirty jokes earn her a place in the crew. Using tones of green, Pond vividly watercolors a realistic snapshot of a west coast breakfast café filled with eclectic characters in Over Easy.
Title: The Dive From Clausen’s Pier
Author: Ann Packer
Page Count: 432 pages
Genre: Coming of Age
Tone: Moving, bittersweet
Summary from publisher:
At the age of twenty-three Carrie Bell has spent her entire life in Wisconsin, with the same best friend and the same dependable, easygoing, high school sweetheart. Now to her dismay she has begun to find this life suffocating and is considering leaving it–and Mike–behind. But when Mike is paralyzed in a diving accident, leaving seems unforgivable and yet more necessary than ever. The Dive from Clausen’s Pier animates this dilemma–and Carrie’s startling response to it–with the narrative assurance, exacting realism, and moral complexity we expect from the very best fiction.
These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points if you have not read the book.
1. This is Packer’s first novel. Why do you think it has become so popular? What is the appeal?
2. Packer originally wrote this in the 3rd person, but then rewrote it in the first person. Would you have felt differently about the book had she left it in the 3rd person? How and why?
3. What contrasts did you find in the book, whether in personalities or in other areas?
4. What was the major theme or themes of the story?
5. Carrie asks the question on page 133, “How much do we owe the people we love?” How much do we owe them? How does she answer this question thru her actions in the book? Does her answer change throughout the book? How?
6. What are the different perceptions people have of Carrie’s going to New York? What are her perceptions?
7. Carrie is feeling guilty about leaving and she asks her mother, What kind of person does that make me? Her mother replies, the kind of person you are. You could just have easily have stayed. But that wouldn’t make you a good person any more than leaving makes you a bad one. You’re already made, honey. That’s what I mean. Are people defined by what they do, or by how others perceive them, or by neither?
8. Compare or contrast Mike and Kilroy’s characters. What attracted Carrie to both of them? Were you surprised to find out that Kilroy was forty?
9. What was Carrie’s relationship to Mike based on? What about your relationship to Kilroy?
10. Jamie and Lane are both Carrie’s friends but they are very different also. On page 254 Packer describes their relationships. Do you see a relation between the two female friend characters and the two lovers of Carrie? How?
11. What part does sewing play in the story? How does it change throughout the book?
12. How far can we escape our upbringing? How does that question relate to Carrie? How about to Kilroy?
13. Does finding out the mystery of his family, both meeting his parents, and finding out about his brother’s death explain who Kilroy is? Why or why not?
14. What makes Carrie finally return home? Does guilt or obligation make her decide to stay or is it something else – what? Is she settling, giving up or being true to herself?
15. At the end of the book Mike asks,
“We never would have gotten married would we?”
“I don’t know,” I said, “It was beginning to seem like not the best idea.”
“I think I know why,” he said. “It was like we already were married – we’d gone too far.” What does Mike mean by saying that? What went wrong or changed in Carrie’s and Mike’s relationship? Did Carrie or Mike change, or did their circumstances change, or both?
16. Envision an inverted version of the book written from Mike’s point of view in which Carrie had the accident. How might their lives have played out differently? What does this exercise reveal about their relationship and Carrie’s character?
If you liked The Dive From Clausen’s Pier, try…
If you could change the course of your life or even the fate of the world – would you? This is the dilemma the main character in Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life faces as she is born and reborn throughout her life. This darkly humorous, alternate history grabs you from the beginning and every beginning after.