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Staff Pick: The Price of Salt by Patricia Highsmith

Emily staff picks photoHighsmith, famous for mystery classics like Strangers on a Train, tells a story of two women in love. Trying to escape mundane 1950s lives, they’re trailed and blackmailed by a shadowy private investigator. Thought to have inspired Nabokov’s Lolita, The Price of Salt imbues a pulpy plot with unexpected hopefulness.

By MPPL on June 3, 2014 Categories: Books, Staff Picks

Staff Pick: The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian book coverLarry of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends The Martian by Andy Weir:

Mark Watney is stranded on Mars after a mishap during a storm prevents him from escaping the planet with the rest of his crew. Alone, with a small supply of food and damaged equipment, the only thoughts on his mind are survival and the hope that a rescue party will come for him. With his optimism and engineering skills, he is determined to live, yet at every turn, there are obstacles that threaten his survival. While this is a story of attempting to overcome long odds in a harsh environment, it is also filled with just enough wit and humor to lighten the story without diminishing its seriousness. The plot takes the reader on a “what more can go wrong” roller coaster ride with a steady progression of the story leading to a climactic, edge-of-your-seat ending. The Martian is a suspenseful, fun, and rewarding read.

By MPPL on June 2, 2014 Categories: Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Picks by Larry, Staff Picks

New: Fiction and Nonfiction

Every Friday the Library will bring you two 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: Fiction Books

The Hollow Ground book cover The Possibilities book coverDebbie Doesn't Do It Anymore book cover

     -  The Hollow Ground by Natalie S. Harnett

     -  The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings

     -  Debbie Doesn’t Do It Anymore by Walter Mosley

     -  Bittersweet by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

     -  Terms & Conditions by Robert Glancy

     -  Heart of Gold by Beverly Jenkins

     -  To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris

     -  The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison

New: Nonfiction Books

Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie book coverCreativity, Inc. book cover Little Demon in the City of Light book cover

     Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie by Ranya Tabari Idliby

     - Creativity, Inc. by Ed Catmull

     -  Little Demon in the City of Light by Steven Levingston

     -  Cattitudes by Victoria Roberts

     -  Young Widower by John W. Evans

     -  The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman

     -  Allergic Girl by Sloane Miller

     -  Extra Virgin: Recipes & Love from Our Tuscan Kitchen by Gabriele Corcos and Debi Mazar

By MPPL on May 30, 2014 Categories: Books, New Arrivals, Nonfiction

Book Discussion Questions: The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio by Terry Ryan

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio book cover

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

 

Title: The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
Author: Terry Ryan
Page Count: 351
Genre: Nonfiction, Biography, Family stories
Tone: Humorous, Heartwarming, Inspirational

 

1.  Much of The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio takes place in the 1950s. What in particular demonstrates how people and/or attitudes were different during that time?

2.  There’s a popular saying: “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Was there anything you read that you can relate to life today?

3.  If this book were written today, what would be different?

4.  How would you describe Evelyn as a “character”? What was her most admirable trait? What about her was not so admirable?

5.  Evelyn very much believed in destiny. How do you see this belief playing out in her life?

6.  What do you think of Kelly, Evelyn’s husband? Did you feel any sympathy for him?

7.  Why do you think Kelly started drinking?

8.  Would you label Kelly as abusive? Why or why not?

9.  The concept of domestic violence didn’t exist in the 1950s (though the act certainly did). How might Evelyn and Kelly’s relationship be received today, in light of our modern understanding of domestic violence?

10.  Why did Evelyn never leave Kelly? Should she have? Would she today?

11.  At one point in the book, Evelyn tells daughter Tuffy it would be a waste of time to stand up to Kelly. What does she mean by this? Do you agree?

12.  Do you think the author – Terry Ryan – was too tough in her portrayal of her father?

13.  This is a work of nonfiction. Do you think the author took any creative license when telling her family’s story?

14.  What do you think Ryan’s motivation was for writing this book?

15.  What might be different about the book if it were an autobiography written by Evelyn herself?

16.  How would you describe the tone of this book? Do you think the tone was appropriate for the topics discussed in the book?

17.  Evelyn was a religious woman, and she respected clergy as representatives of God. Do you think the clergy in her story deserved such high regard?

18.  There are several integral supporting characters in this story – particularly Aunt Lucy. What was her role in Evelyn’s life?

19.  What do you think would have happened to Evelyn and her family if she hadn’t discovered contests and used her writing talents?

20.  After Evelyn won the Dr. Pepper contest, the children knew “From then on . . . there could never be a problem bigger than Mom’s ability to solve it” (p. 334). What would it have felt like, growing up as a child in the Ryan household? How did Evelyn’s children view her?

21.  Evelyn wrote a letter to college admissions, intimately discussing her family’s troubles. Why did she do this? What does it reveal about the kind of woman she was?

22.  After Evelyn died, her children discovered she “had” to get married. How do you think a lack of options affected Evelyn, her marriage, and how she raised her children?

23.  What are your thoughts on Kelly’s “legacy of atonement” (i.e., $60,000)? Why didn’t Evelyn spend it?

24.  On her deathbed, Evelyn said of Defiance: “It was a nice place to be. A saving place” (p. 341). What do you think she meant by that? How do you see the town of Defiance, Ohio?

 

Other Resources
Q&A with author Terry “Tuffy” Ryan
Lit Lovers’ book discussion questions
Website dedicated to Evelyn’s life (includes photos and Evelyn’s notebooks)
Roger Ebert’s film review for The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio
Washington Post obituary for Terry Ryan

 

If you liked the Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, try…
Losing Mum and Pup by Christopher Buckley
The Longest Trip Home by John Grogan
Half Broke Horses: A True-Life Novel by Jeannette Walls

Losing Mum and Pup book cover    The Longest Trip Home book coverHalf Broke Horses book cover

 

 

 

 

 

By MPPL on May 28, 2014 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Nonfiction

Staff Pick: The Gamal by Ciarán Collins

Barb F. Staff picks photoCharlie McCarthy is known in Ballyronan village as a simpleton or gamal. In therapy for PTSD, he tells of star-crossed lovers Sinead and James, his lifelong best friends. Throughout Ciarán Collins’ The Gamal, Charlie’s unique voice weaves haunting flashbacks, insightful commentary, witty Irish dialect, and memorable characters to present a tragic storyline at an engaging pace.

By MPPL on May 27, 2014 Categories: Books, Picks by Barbara F., Staff Picks

Fiction: Revolutionary by Alex Myers

Revolutionary book coverThe year was 1782, and Deborah Samson had escaped her indentured servitude. The only way to do this was to cut her hair, wrap her chest, and dress herself in the clothes and mannerisms of men. After doing this, she became a soldier in the Continental Army. Samson – newly known as Robert Shurtliff – excelled as a soldier. Revolutionary is Alex Myers’ historical fiction debut, recounting the life of Deborah Samson, a real woman (one of many) that secretly fought in the Revolutionary War. Colonial history is given a whole new shine when seen through the eyes of this remarkable woman. If you like your historical fiction gritty, detailed, and focusing on lesser-knowns, try Revolutionary.

By Readers' Advisor on May 26, 2014 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction

Fiction: Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Burial Rites book coverIn Burial Rites, a sensual, quiet novel based on true events from early 19th-century Iceland, a housemaid is convicted of brutally murdering her master. Agnes is a sympathetic if mysterious character; abandoned in childhood and forced to fend for herself in progressively impoverished conditions, she has known only struggle. While awaiting execution, she’s sent to live with a humble country family and counseled by a young priest. Slowly, she reveals the sad path of her life leading up to her master’s death. Kent weaves together rich imagery and evocative period detail, ensuring readers feel the cold of the Icelandic winter, the pain and fear in Agnes’ heart, and the bitingly unfair treatment of the poor and condemned.

By MPPL on May 22, 2014 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction

Staff Pick: The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene

Nancy staff picks photoWhy is the respected headmaster of a boarding school wandering naked in Central Park?  More questions — and some surprises — are in store in The Headmaster’s Wife by Thomas Christopher Greene.  This stunning novel is an enigmatic tale of love, loss, and regret that will keep you guessing until the very end.

By MPPL on May 20, 2014 Categories: Books, Picks by Nancy, Staff Picks

New: Audiobooks, Fantasy, and Sci-fi

Every 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: Audiobooks

The Everything Store book cover

Autobiography book cover

The Humans book cover

  — The Everything Store by Brad Stone

  — Autobiography by Morrissey

  — The Humans by Matt Haig

  — Stronger by Jeff Bauman

  — Jump the Gun by Zoe Burke

  — Second-Chance Dog by Jon Katz

  — A Wanted Woman by Eric Jerome Dickey

  — Five Star Billionaire by Tash Aw

New: Fantasy and Sci-fi

Irenicon book cover

Heaven's Queen book cover

Archetype book cover 

  — Irenicon by Aidan Harte

  — Heaven’s Queen by Rachel Bach

  — Archetype by M.D. Waters

  — Steadfast by Jack Campbell

  — Authority by Jeff VanderMeer

  — City of Lost Dreams by Magnus Flyte

  — The Wicked by Douglas Nicholas

  — Angelopolis by Danielle Trussoni

By MPPL on May 16, 2014 Categories: Audiobooks, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, New Arrivals

Book Discussion Questions: Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult

Lone Wolf book cover

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

 

Title: Lone Wolf
Author: Jodi Picoult
Page Count: 421
Genre: Contemporary, Issue-driven, Relational
Tone: Bittersweet, Thought-provoking, Moving

 

1.  At the core of Lone Wolf is Luke, a character who is revealed solely through flashbacks and others’ recollections. How would you describe him? Are we as readers supposed to admire him? Did your opinion of him change throughout the story?

2.  One reviewer stated that “understanding [Luke] is the key to accepting the story.” Do you agree this is true? Was the author successful in helping you understand Luke?

3.  What would motivate a man to live in the wild with a wolf pack for a year? Do you know of any true-life examples of this?

4.  What did you learn about wolves from the book? How did this enhance the story? Were there any experiences that you found especially fascinating?

5.  What is the distinction between a lone wolf and pack wolves? Why is this important?

6.  In what ways do the lessons about wolf life mirror the circumstances and issues of the human family?

7.  Early in the book, Luke complains that some people tend to attribute human emotions and motivations to animals. How is his explanation of wolf behavior different?

8.  Picoult’s trademark style involves multiple first-person narrators contending with a difficult ethical issue. What are the advantages of this approach? Do all sides receive fair play, or do you think one or more viewpoints weren’t given as much weight? Is the author’s personal bias evident?

9. With which of the characters did you most easily empathize? Is this different from the character(s) you liked best?

10.  Are there characters with whom you had trouble empathizing, even when you were hearing their own thoughts and feelings?

11.  Were there any twists or developments that took you by surprise?

12. Throughout the book we’re given hints that more happened at the accident than we know. When the truth is revealed, does this help explain Cara’s actions? Would you have wanted to know this earlier in the story?

13.  Is Edward’s sexuality important to the story? For much of the book, the reader (and most of the characters) believe that his coming out to his father was the reason he left the family. Does using this as a red herring undermine the importance of the topic?

14.  The issue of medical advocacy is examined in several facets. Even though she was only 17, should Cara have been named her father’s proxy? How much weight should the handwritten document from years ago have carried?

15. What was your prediction when Luke opened his eyes and watched Cara move around the bed? How might this have impacted the story?

16.  In your opinion, who really had Luke’s best interests at heart? Is it possible to make these decisions without our own baggage getting in the way?

17.  What do you think Luke would have wanted?

18.  What other issues related to quality of life were raised? Should more time have been taken before a decision was made? Should the fact that his organs were candidates for donation affect the decision?

19.  How well did Picoult depict a family struggling with loss?

20.  During the debate, contrasting arguments were made based first on Luke’s animal activism and later on the secret abortion. Do these actions have relevance to the decisions being made about his life? How might you weight them?

21.  Georgie’s loyalties seem to change from one point in the story to another. Is this believable? Did you agree with her actions?

22.  Were you surprised by Joe’s involvement? What did you think of his role?

23.  How does Picoult portray her male characters as opposed to her female characters? Is this intentional? Have you noticed this in her other work?

24.  Often Picoult’s books are described as page-turners, ones that are hard to put down and that are accessible due to the short chapters and different perspectives. Would you say this is true for Lone Wolf?

25. Are animals portrayed as equal to–or even superior to—people? In this story or in general?

26.  Regardless of whether you had a strong reaction one way or the other, did it make you think? Is that a goal for which writers should strive?

 

Other Resources
Simon & Schuster reading group guide
author website resource page for Lone Wolf
The Huffington Post interview with Jodi Picoult
video interview with author
Discovery Channel documentary
NPR:  “Why Are Wolf Scientists Howling at Jodi Picoult?”
The Washington Post review

 

If you liked Lone Wolf, try…
The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley
The Man Who Lives with Wolves by Shaun Ellis
While My Sister Sleeps by Barbara Delinsky

Promise of Stardust book cover    Man Who Lives with Wolves book coverWhile My Sister Sleeps book cover

 

 

 

 

 

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on May 14, 2014 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books