Oh wait, no, it’s Brad Pitt fighting zombies in World War Z, the summer blockbuster opening this weekend based on Max Brooks’ first novel. If you don’t want to go to the theater on opening weekend, let the Library fill your zombie needs.
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Imagine a place that is there when you most need it, welcoming you when you run out of hope. “Somewhere soft and loving, where the walls breathe, the garden hides your secrets, the inhabitants lift your spirits, and the kitchen soothes your soul.” The essences of the women who have previously stayed are also present, so you may find yourself talking with Daphne du Maurier, Greer Garson, or Dorothy Parker. However, you can stay only 99 days — time enough to heal and clear your vision before moving on. Fans of Garden Spells and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake will be enchanted by the magical refuge of The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna van Praag.
Celebrate June is Audiobook Month by turning a ready ear to the brand new winners of the 2013 Audie Awards. Whether on a sunny walk, a cross-country road trip, or even a daily commute, you will find the journey to be all the better in the company of an expert story. Audiobook listeners can also earn chances for prizes in MPPL’s summer reading program, Have Book, Will Travel, so why not start with one of these?
Science Fiction: The Age of Miracles (Walker) – read by Emily Rankin
Literary Fiction: Bring Up the Bodies (Mantel) – read by Simon Vance
Mystery: The Beautiful Mystery (Penny) – read by Ralph Cosham
Romance: The Witness (Roberts) – read by Julia Whelan
Solo Narration – Female: Katherine Kellgren for The Boy in the Suitcase (Kaaberbøl and Friis)
Solo Narration – Male: Edoardo Ballerini for Beautiful Ruins (Walter)
Teens: The Fault in Our Stars (Green) – read by Kate Rudd
Children’s Title for Ages 8-12: Same Sun Here – written and read by Silas House and Neela Vaswani
Children’s Titles for Ages Up to 8: The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe’s Very First Case (McCall Smith) – read by Adjoa Andoh
When you are ready to expand your horizons, why not start with stories that are celebrated by other authors? The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America have announced the winners of the Nebula Awards, and it is an earth-shaking year for the imagination:
Best Novel: 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson
Finalists: Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed, Ironskin by Tina Connolly, The Killing Moon by N.K. Jemisin, The Drowning Girl by Caitlín R. Kiernan, and Glamour in Glass by Mary Robinette Kowal
Best Novella: After the Fall, Before the Fall, During the Fall by Nancy Kress
Best Novellette: “Close Encounters” by Andy Duncan, soon to appear in The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirtieth Annual Collection
Best Short Story: “Immersion” by Aliette de Bodard, available online via Clarkesworld
Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation: Beasts of the Southern Wild, directed by Benh Zeitlin
Josef Horkai wakes up paralyzed after being frozen for 30 years and has no memories of his past or the “kollaps” that destroyed the world. Immobility by Brian Evenson is a postapocalyptic thriller about how to trust the motives of others when you can’t trust your own mind.
Barb F. of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson:
Author G. Willow Wilson creates a fast-paced story that combines modern hacker culture and ancient Muslim mysticism. Set in an unnamed Middle Eastern city, the story centers on computer hacker Alif. Alif writes a program that is able to secretly detect the online activity of the woman who broke his heart. The program catches the attention of government censors and the chief of state security, known as “The Hand of God”. A series of dangerous adventures involving an ancient manuscript dictated by the Jinn, religious leaders, and a plethora of supernatural creatures is set in motion. This fantasy thriller is an interesting look at the world of both the seen and unseen.
Vampire Academy, the first in a series, introduces us to a world where vampires exist. Rose is dhampir, half human – half vampire, and in training at St. Vladimir’s Academy to protect the vampire ruling class. This fast-paced, supernatural romance appeals to those of us who still love a good vampire novel.
Being a grown up can be a drag…but living in a world where a simple walk in the woods can turn magical, where beasts and mirrors can talk, and to-do lists include epic adventures, evil witches, and brothers named Grimm – now that is living.
SPOILER WARNING: These book discussion questions are highly detailed and will ruin plot points, if you have not read the book.
Title: Never Let Me Go
Author: Kazuo Ishiguro
Page Count: 288
Genre: Science Fiction
Tone: Complex, suspenseful, thoughtful
1. In one interview, Ishiguro observes that in many reviews of Never Let Me Go, the words “strange” or “sinister” keep coming up. Do these words reflect your experience with the book? What other words would you use?
2. Ishiguro, on the other hand, claims he thinks of this as his “most cheerful book”. Why do you think that is?
Ishiguro: “In the past, I had written about characters’ failings…With NLMG I felt that for the first time I had given myself permission to focus on the positive aspects of human beings. OK, they might be flawed. They might be prone to the usual human emotions like jealousy and pettiness and so on. But I wanted to show three people who were essentially decent. When they finally realize their time is limited, I wanted them…to care most about each other and setting things right. So for me, it was saying positive things about human beings against the rather bleak fact of our mortality.” (The Paris Review)
3. At what point in the story did you realize the full meaning of “donor” and “complete”?
4. One of the most common criticisms of the story is that the students never take action to change their fate. Did this bother you? How do you respond to the author’s explanation of his choice:
“It’s something I do instinctively in my writing,” says Ishiguro “and with this book it was a very important feature that escape was not an option. It’s about how we’re all aware of our fate, in that we have a limited time in life. Escape isn’t an issue in the book, because it’s never really an option in our own lives. Characters like Stevens and the kids in Never Let Me Go do what we all do; try to give meaning to our lives by fulfilling some sort of duty.”
5. Kathy’s narration is a key to the novel’s disquieting effect. Was the choice of Kathy’s perspective a wise one? How would the novel be different if narrated from Tommy’s point of view, or Ruth’s, or even Miss Emily’s?
6. What are some of Ruth’s most striking character traits? How might her social behavior, at Hailsham and later at the Cottages, be explained? Why does she seek her “possible” so earnestly?
7. Art is a recurring motif throughout Never Let Me Go. In which scenes is art a topic? What is the importance to the students as children? As adults? To the story’s themes?
8. Speaking of love, what is the importance of the myth of deferral – both to the students and to the narrative? As you read, did you have hope that this was a real possibility for them?
9. Why do you think there was so much attention given to sexual urges and relationships? Is it simply because the story focuses on adolescents and young adults, or is there another explanation?
10. How is the students’ inability to have children significant?
11. What is the significance of the title?
12. What were your reactions to the meeting with Miss Emily and Madame?
13. Is it surprising that Miss Emily admits feeling revulsion for the children at Hailsham?
14. What is the book saying about childhood? Think about this, too, in the context of Miss Lucy, who wanted to make the children more aware of the future that awaited them. In contrast, Miss Emily claims they were able to give them something precious – “we gave you your childhoods” (p. 268). In the context of the story as a whole, is this a valid argument?
15. One the distinguishing features of Ishiguro’s novels is his prose style. How would you characterize his writing? How did you respond to it?
16. If you have seen the recent movie adaptation, what impressed you? What disappointed you? Which did you find more poignant?
17. Did this novel surprise you? Would you be open to reading another like it? Are there similar books you might suggest?
Abe Books discussion questions
Lit Lovers discussion questions
Kazuo Ishiguro interviewed by Allan Gregg
Book review by The Guardian
Book review by The New York Times
Ethics of cloning Wikipedia page
Trailer for movie adaptation
If you liked Never Let Me Go, try…
Miriam Black knows when and how you’re going to die. She’s a beautifully scummy woman resigned to edge-living and stealing from the dead…until she meets a trucker named Louis. For a gutter punk Dead Zone with a strong, but not infallible female lead, try Chuck Wendig’s Blackbirds.