Susan Hill is the author of The Woman in Black, which was adapted into a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe. Her latest collection of haunting and dread is The Small Hand and Dolly. In The Small Hand, Adam gets lost on the way home from work and finds himself at a dilapidated Edwardian home. While wandering the garden, a cold, invisible hand reaches to hold his, and his life is never the same. In Dolly, Edward is sent to live with his aunt at her summer home. He finds that Leonora, his cousin, can throw furious, terrifying rages when she doesn’t get her way. If you like foreboding fiction with quieter rather than bloodier scares, try Susan Hill’s macabre novels.
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Alice Buckle is a busy working mom. Right after her husband has an unexpected melt down at his advertising company, Alice has been asked to participate in the Netherfeld Center’s Marriage Studies Survey. This begins her identity as Wife 22. As Alice answers questions about her hope and dreams, the times she has loved her husband the most and loved him the least, she is forced to look at the bigger issues in her own life. In the meantime, the sparks are sizzling between Alice and Researcher 101. Wife 22 asks the question: Is it possible to have romance and passion in mid-life? One way or another Alice is going to find the answer to her own happily ever after.
Eddie and Adele sell French fries at Palisades Park not far from the Cyclone roller coaster. The Stopka’s food stall becomes a family business when their children, Toni and Jack, come along. It’s easy to dream big when you’re surrounded by the beauty and continuous fun of Palisades…but eventually reality causes cracks in the Stopka’s wonderland. Palisades Park by Alan Brennert – author of Moloka’I – follows the Stopka family as the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, fire, race riots, and the rest of the 20th century unfold around them. If you like richly-detailed historical fiction, nostalgic Americana, or deep family stories, try Palisades Park.
SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.
Title: Outcasts United
Author: Warren St. John
Page Count: 307
Tone: Uplifting, educational
1. Has the book Outcasts United given you a better understanding of the lives of refugees? Did it change your opinions on refugees? If so, how?
2. Does Outcasts United fall into your normal reading patterns? How is this book similar or different to what you normally read?
3. Do you normally read on a local or a global scale? What is the worth of reading of local topics? What is the worth of reading of global topics? Is one type of reading better than the other?
4. What were some of the hardships that refugees faced before coming to America? What about after they got here?
5. What preconceptions do you think refugees brought with them about America? How was the reality of their new country different than their expectations?
6. How did the members of the Fugees build community after coming to Clarkston?
7. Talk about Clarkston, Georgia before the refugee settlement. How did it change after the refugee settlement was established?
8. Why was Clarkston chosen for the refugee settlement?
9. What were the different reactions from residents about the settlement? Did anyone’s opinions of the refugee settlement change over time?
10. Were the refugees all one ethnicity and religion? How did varied ethnic and religious backgrounds affect the refugee community as a whole?
11. Who were the Somali Bantu? Why were residents wary of the Somali Bantu settling in Clarkston?
12. What are some of the struggles with identity that the refugees faced in Outcasts United? What are some of the struggles with identity that long-term Clarkston faced in Outcasts United?
13. Who is Luma? Why did she help the students and their families? What can we learn by her example?
14. Is Luma’s refugee experience similar to that of her players? How? How is it different?
15. Why do you think Luma’s younger players were able to better connect than her older players?
16. Did the educational policies in Clarkston help or hinder the members of the Fugees? What, if any, reforms would you suggest?
17. What kind of coach was Luma? Did her gender affect her coaching style? Is there a right or a wrong way to coach?
18. Was soccer “just a game” in Outcasts United?
19. What examples of “paying it forward” did you notice in Outcasts United?
20. What does diversity mean to you? Is it something you actively encourage in your reading, watching, listening, and living patterns?
21. Can one person make a significant difference in the world?
If you liked Outcasts United, try…
Keeping readers interested in a single character for twenty-three books is no small feat, but Sue Grafton has led mystery fans through the alphabet to great success. From A is for Alibi (1982) to this month’s W is for Wasted, Grafton keeps fans coming back with fresh takes on new themes, varied structure, and intriguing stories. None of that would matter without a well-developed main character, one we feel we know well but who can still surprise us. Between letter releases, review the fascinating world of Kinsey Millhone in G is for Grafton by Natalie Hevener Kaufman and Carol McGinnis Kay. Investigate for yourself Kinsey’s history, habits, dilemmas, and cases, and deduce how Grafton’s skill with characterization and subtle world-building contribute to a groundbreaking and beloved series.
Space flights into the distant unknown. Walking on the moon – maybe not even our moon. Colonizing planets after decades of sleep in a cryo-pod. Battling with angry, self-aware robots. If you pine for these scenarios, technical details, deep scientific thought, and other-worldly adventures, try reading hard sci-fi.
To fire your engines up on a beginner’s list of hard sci-fi, click here.
Conrad shocked his liberal parents – a therapist and a law teacher – when he enlisted in the marines after college. It was even more staggering when, four years later, their son came home from Iraq an entirely different person. Conrad had no physical injuries and was determined to restart his civilian life…but it wasn’t that simple. He was hyper-vigilant, suffered insomnia and debilitating headaches, he was afraid of his own room, and had growing issues with rage and associating with not only loved ones, but everyone. Sparta is a tense, bleak, extremely detailed novel on post-traumatic stress told through the first person point of view of a young soldier home from an unpopular war.
The 2013 Hugo Awards, the leading honor in the field of science fiction and fantasy, were announced earlier this month. Which worlds will you explore?
Best Novel: Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi
Best Novella: The Emperor’s Soul by Brandon Sanderson
Best Graphic Story: Saga, Volume One by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: The Avengers, written and directed by Joss Whedon
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Game of Thrones, “Blackwater”, written by George R.R. Martin, directed by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Best Professional Artist: John Picacio (check out the Elric series!)
The Emotionally Healthy Church by Peter Scazzero invites you to embark on a journey in your own emotional and spiritual life. Scazzero explores transformative issues such as knowing your own heart, dealing with pain in your past, being vulnerable, and embracing loss and your own limits. Try it!
Harold and Lucille have already known heartbreak. Their son Jacob died in a tragic accident at his eighth birthday party. When he arrives on their doorstep fifty years later, but still only eight years old, they don’t know if this is a miracle or a sign of the end. Even more worrisome is that this isn’t an isolated incident. A massive population of the formerly dead have returned around the globe, and the living have to decide if it’s possible – or desirable – to reintegrate them into their lives. The Returned by Jason Mott is one of the season’s most buzzed-about releases, and narrator Tom Stechschulte creates a deeply resonant storytelling experience.