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New: Historical Fiction and Romance

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

Cover of Driving the King Cover of The Marriage Game Cover of A Touch of Stardust

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Driving the King by Ravi Howard
The Marriage Game by Alison Weir
A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott
Cover of The Secrets of Midwives Cover of Mrs. Grant and Madame Julie Cover of The Nightingale

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Secrets of Midwives by Sally Hepworth
Mrs. Grant and Madame Julie by Jennifer Chiaverini
The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

New: Romance Books

Cover of The Unexpected Consequences of Love Cover of A Bad CharacterCover of Sweet Surprise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Unexpected Consequences of Love by Jill Mansell
A Bad Character by Deepti Kapoor
Sweet Surprise by Candis Terry

Cover of Earls Just Want to have FunCover of The Years Cover of You're So Fine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earls Just Want to Have Fun by Shana Galen
The Years by Nicholas Delbanco
You’re So Fine by Kieran Kramer

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on March 6, 2015 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, New Arrivals, Romance

Discussion Questions: Spring Moon by Bette Bao Lord

Cover of Spring MoonTitle: Spring Moon
Author: Bette Bao Lord
Page Count: 464 pages
Genre:  Historical Fiction, Family Saga
Tone: Lyrical, Poignant, Moving

Summary from publisher:
Behind the garden walls of the House of Chang, Spring Moon is born into an exclusive world of luxury and privilege. Her servant, Plum Blossom, attends to her every need and inadvertently alters the course of her life forever. Her uncle, Bold Talent, who has returned to China from the United States with radical new ideas, educates her against the wishes of the family, and intervenes at the moment when Spring Moon most needs his help. But the tempests of change sweep Spring Moon into a new world — one of hardship, turmoil, and heartbreak; one that threatens to destroy her husband, her family, and her darkest secret love.

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

1. What was Bette Bao Lord’s purpose in writing this novel?

2. One review (New York Times 12/1/81) felt that Lord covered too much history in her novel and that it overwhelmed her characters. Do you agree or disagree?

3. What was Lord’s reason for providing the stories in italics at the beginning of each chapter? Did it add or detract from the story?

4. What was Spring Moon’s role in this story? Was Spring Moon the main character of the novel?

5. How would you describe the relationship between Spring Moon and Lustrous Jade? How did that relationship change throughout the years?

6. On page 350, why did Spring Moon demand that Lustrous Jade kneel before her? Why was it so difficult for Lustrous Jade to kneel before her mother, yet she easily kneeled before shopkeepers and others to get them to join her cause?

7. Did you feel that August Winds and Lustrous Jade belonged together as man and wife?

8. How did the role of the family change or not change in China?  Consider the theme of devotion to family versus devotion to one’s principles. What characters were more devoted to family? What characters were devoted to their principles? Was it possible for them to be devoted to both?

9. What were the differences in the love Spring Moon had for her first husband, Glad Promise, and the love she had for her lover Bold Talent?

10. Do you think the clan suspected the love between Bold Talent and Spring Moon? Were they jealous of Spring Moon’s ability to read?

11. Did Bold Talent love his wife, Golden Virtue?

12. Do you think Bold Talent knew that Enduring Promise was his and Spring Moon’s son? What about Golden Virtue?

13. On page 248, Spring Moon was about to leave Bold Talent to return to her mother-in-law, and Bold Talent talked about what was wrong with the Chinese. He said, “Do you not see what is wrong. In the end, we always yield – to tradition, to foreigners, to family, to authority, to duty. To everything and everybody, living and dead-except our needs, our dreams, our passions! If we do live for ourselves, it is not for long. A moment here, a month there. As long as no one knows. As long as nothing is truly changed. Then, once more we yield. Once more we live as others would have us live.” Do you agree with this assessment?

14. How did you feel when Spring Moon took her son away from Dummy and her husband?

15. What was the relationship between Lustrous Jade and August Winds? How about between Lustrous Jade and Resolute Spirit? How were they similar and how were they different?

16. On page 383, in a letter to Bold Talent talking about parading elders in dunce caps across public squares, Noble Talents asks, “Is this what revolution means?” What did revolution mean to Lustrous Jade?

17. How did you feel when Bold Talent, Lustrous Jade and Resolute Spirit left Bold Talent’s body behind in order to smuggle Lustrous Jade and Resolute Spirit to safety?

18. How did the women of the Chang family change throughout the years?

Other Resources

Lit Lovers’ Discussion Questions
Interview with Bette Bao Lord
Video interview with Bette Bao Lord

If you liked Spring Moon, try…

Cover of Twentieth WifeCover of Snowflower and the Secret Fan Cover of The Bathing Women

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Twentieth Wife by Indu Sundaresan
Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See
The Bathing Women by Tie Ning

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on February 25, 2015 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Historical Fiction

Fiction: To Please a Lady by Susan Johnson

To Please a Lady book coverRoxane Forrestor, twice-widowed Scottish beauty and Countess of Kilmarnock, has succeeded in keeping several powerful suitors at bay, but her defenses are tested when a wanted rebel earl surprises her in her bedchamber. No matter how her heart feels, she must keep her head. The safety of her children may depend on it. Author Susan Johnson is celebrated for scenes of sizzling seduction, and To Please a Lady lives up to that promise. Balancing rich historical detail and dramatic turns of story, this early novel doesn’t shy from exploring heated encounters while maintaining brisk pacing. The partnering of an older woman with a persistent younger man isn’t often represented in historical romances, but breaking with convention only adds to the intensity of Robbie and Roxane’s love story.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on February 9, 2015 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, Romance

Movies and TV: The Wind Rises

The Wind RisesWind Rises DVD cover is a flight of fancy worthy to be the swan song of master animator Hayao Miyazaki. All of his hallmarks are on display: sweet yet dramatic storytelling, artful scenes, and an underlying whimsy that bubbles with imagination. It is the history of Jirô, a young man with a genius for designing aircraft, who often takes inspiration from imagined jaunts with an Italian aviation pioneer. A recurring line of poetry, “The wind is rising!  We must try to live!” quivers with thematic resonance not only against the backdrop of war, illness, and natural disaster, but also in the tentative steps toward selfless love. Both ambitious and intimate, this Academy Award nominee is at its brightest when celebrating the small moments that lead to epiphanies.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on February 2, 2015 Categories: Historical Fiction, Movies and TV, Romance

Book Discussion Questions: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Cover of The Orphan TrainTitle: Orphan Train
Author: Christina Baker Kline
Page Count: 278 pages
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Tone: Thoughtful, Poignant, Sobering

Summary from publisher:
Penobscot Indian Molly Ayer is close to “aging out” out of the foster care system. A community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping Molly out of juvie and worse…

As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly learns that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life – answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

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

1. Were the orphan trains a good thing? Why or why not? What, if any, better options were available at the time?

2. What did you notice about the style of writing and how this story was put together?

3. Thinking back on the children that were highlighted in the book, Carmine, Dutchy and Niamh, what were the motivations of the families who took in these orphans? How did these differing motivations affect the children’s lives?

4. What similarities or differences are there between the past as shown in the story and our present foster care system?

5. In what ways are Molly and Vivian similar? How are they different?

6. Do you have things that you don’t use or are stored away but you can’t part with? What are those things and why do you keep them?

7. What would a timeline of Vivian’s life look like? Use a white board to diagram this or just do it verbally. What characterizes each segment of her life?

8. What would a timeline of Molly’s life look like? What characterizes each segment of her life?

9. “You can’t find peace till you find all the pieces.” How is this true in Vivian’s life? How is it true in Molly’s life?

10. Molly’s charms on her necklace are mentioned throughout the story. What is their significance? What did Vivian’s Claddagh cross and Molly’s charms mean to them?

11. How has Molly changed Vivian’s life? How has Vivian changed Molly’s life?

12.  Read the prologue aloud to the group. Having read the book and rereading the prologue what does this tell you about Vivian’s view of the people in her past? What does this show about her character?

13. How did you feel about the way the author ended the story? Is Vivian’s happy ending enough?

14. If you were to write additional chapters to the book what would happen to Vivian, to Molly?

15. The American Experience, a PBS show, has a program on the orphan trains. There was also a movie made in 1979 called The Orphan Train. Do you think this book will come to the big screen? Would you want to see it?

Other Resources

Lit Lovers’ Discussion Questions
Video interview with Christina Baker Kline
History of orphan trains from The Children’s Aid Society
Huffington Post interview with Christina Baker Kline

If you liked The Orphan Train, try...

Cover of The Forgotten SeamstressCover of Austerlitz Cover of The Language of Flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Forgotten Seamstress by Liz Trenow
Austerlitz by W.G. Sebald
The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on January 21, 2015 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Historical Fiction

New: Historical Fiction and Romance

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

Cover of Faint Promise of Rain Cover of The Empty Throne Cover of The May Bride

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Faint Promise of Rain by Anjali Mitter Duva
The Empty Throne by Bernard Cornwell
The May Bride by Suzannah Dunn

Cover of The LodgerCover of The Ambassadors Cover of Vanessa and Her Sister

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lodger by Louisa Treger
The Ambassadors by George Lerner
Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar

New: Romance Books

Cover of The Kraken KingCover of Only Enchanting Cover of Caged in Winter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Kraken King by Meljean Brook
Only Enchanting by Mary Balogh
Caged in Winter by Brighton Walsh

Cover of Rogue SpyCover of The Wishing SeasonCover of In the Cards

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rogue Spy by Joanna Bourne
The Wishing Season by Denise Hunter
In the Cards by Jamie Beck

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on January 9, 2015 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, New Arrivals, Romance

Book Discussion Questions: The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman

Cover of The Light Between OceansTitle: The Light Between Oceans
Author: M.L. Stedman
Page Count:  345 pages
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Tone:  Haunting, Melancholy

Excerpted summary from publisher:

After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.

 

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

1. Who was wronged in the book? Whose story would you say this is?

2. Are any of the characters “bad?” If so, who? What makes a person warrant the description “bad?”

3. How would you describe Tom? Why does he enjoy his lightkeeper duties?

4. Why does Isabel want to marry Tom? Why does he agree? What are his hesitations?

5. Did you find Tom and Isabel’s courtship convincing? Do you understand their attraction to one another and their decision to marry?

6. What are some of the signs and hints of Isabel’s manipulative nature early on in the book?

7. Which character were you rooting for more than the others?

8. Was there a character you identified with more? If so, did this change as you read the book?

9. Was there any one character that frustrated you more than others?

10. How does Tom’s quietness play a role in the story? What about Isabel’s quietness?

11. Are Tom and Isabel a mystery to each other?

12. As the reader, are Tom and Isabel mysteries to you as well? Do you feel you know Tom better or Isabel better?

13. How does Tom’s experience in the war affect his relationship with Isabel, being a lightkeeper, and response to the baby arriving?

14. Do you think the pregnancy and childbirth losses they went through affect the right or wrong of keeping the baby? Does knowing what they went through affect your judgment of their choices?

15. Tom and Isabel live a solitary life. How would their response to baby arriving been different if they weren’t isolated on island? How would their marriage have been different?

16. How did you respond to the focus on various characters in town in Part 3? Do you like the variety or is the book better when focused on Tom and Isabel?

17. What does it mean to be an “outsider” and how does that affect one’s perception?

Other Resources

An interview with M.L. Stedman
The Light Between Oceans Reading Group Guide
One Book One City Resources
Lit Lovers’ Discussion Questions
Reflection on a Light Between Oceans book discussion

If you liked The Light Between Oceans, try...

Cover of The OrchardistCover of The Lightkeeper's WifeCover of Latitudes of Melt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
The Lightkeeper’s Wife by Karen Viggers
Latitudes of Melt by Joan Clark

 

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on December 31, 2014 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Historical Fiction

Fiction: Six-Guns and Slay Bells: A Creepy Cowboy Christmas

Six Guns and Slay Bells book coverMost holiday stories seek to warm your heart, but those who would rather have their blood chilled needn’t feel left out. For merry-making that is somewhat off the beaten path, try a mix of seasonal paranormal stories set in the Old West. Six-Guns and Slay Bells: A Creepy Cowboy Christmas, presented by Western Fictioneers, plays with yuletide fear in selections such as “Christmas Wraiths” by Douglas Hirt and L. J. Washburn’s “A Creature Was Stirring”. Well-known authors Robert Randisi and James Reasoner raise the stakes with “Sheriff Santa and the Ghost of Two Gun Jim” and “Presents for One and All”. Hauntings, shootouts, monsters, and snake-oil salesmen combine to make this Christmas gathering one you won’t easily forget.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on December 15, 2014 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, Horror

2014 Goodreads Choice Award Winners

Goodreads is a social media website readers can use to keep track of what they have read or want to read and interact with friends. Every year Goodreads hosts the Goodreads Choice Awards in which readers vote for what they consider the best books in different categories are. This year, there were over 3 million votes cast! Check out some of the winners below.

 

Cover of Landline Cover of The Opposite of Loneliness Cover of We Were Liars

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction: Landline by Rainbow Rowell
Nonfiction: The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan
Young Adult: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Cover of The Martian Cover of Written in My Own Heart's BloodCover of The Book of Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Science Fiction: The Martian by Andy Weir
Romance:
Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon
Fantasy:
The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness

Cover of The Romanov Sisters Cover of This Star Won't Go Out Cover of Red Rising

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

History and Biography: The Romanov Sisters by Helen Rappaport
Memoir and Autobiography: This Star Won’t Go Out by Esther Earl
Debut Goodreads Author: Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Cover of Yes Please #Girlboss Cover of Make it Ahead

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Humor: Yes Please by Amy Poehler
Business: #Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso
Food and Cookbooks: Make it Ahead by Ina Garten

 

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on December 5, 2014 Categories: Awards, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Historical Fiction, Horror, Humor, Literary, Romance

Fiction: Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas by Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas book coverAs 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.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on November 24, 2014 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense