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Library Staff Favorites of 2014

With 2015 just around the corner bringing a whole new crop of to-be-read lists to tackle, shows to watch, and music to experience, Staff at Mount Prospect Public Library took time to pause and look at what brought us joy in 2014. Check out staff members’ favorite books, CDs, or DVDs they read, watched and/or listened to in 2014. Feel free to share what is on your list of favorites for the year!

 

Picture of AllisonAllison
South Branch:
The Magician’s Land
The Melancholy of Mechagirl

Picture of AmyAmy
Community Services:
Tell the Wolves I’m Home
The Fall

Picture of AmyAmy
Youth Services:
Never Say Die
Clink

Cover of Barb B.Barb
Fiction/AV/Teen:
Enough Said
I Must Say

Barbara
Fiction/AV/Teen:
Orphan Black S. 2
Ready Player One

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture of CarlaCarla
Administration:
The Round House
Omar

Picture of Carmel Shane
Carmel Shane

Circulation:
Once Upon a Time
18 Months

Picture of Carol
Carol

Community Services:
Little Failure
Hotel Florida

Picture of CathleenCathleen
Fiction/AV/Teen:
Station Eleven
Bron/Broen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colleen
Fiction/AV/Teen:
Steelheart
The 100

Picture of CynthiaCynthia
Research Services:
Ready Player One
The Returned

Picture of DaleDale
Research Services:

Hysterical
Transgender Dysphoria Blues

Picture of DianeDiane
Fiction/AV/Teen:
Among Others
Guardians of the Galaxy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture of DonnaDonna
Fiction/AV/Teen:
Winter Street
Duets II

Picture of ErinErin
Youth Services:
The Screaming Staircase
Hilda and the Bird Parade

Picture of Eva
Eva
Research Services:
Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Tell the Wolves I’m Home

Picture of JanineJanine
Circulation:

True Detective
Ready Player One


Jenny

Fiction/AV/Teen:

About Time
The Girl Who Fell From the Sky

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture of Joe
Joe
Research Services:
Lowball
Rick and Morty

Picture of KarenKaren
Registration:
Ancillary Justice
Neptune’s Inferno

Picture of LarryLarry
Fiction/AV/Teen:

The Martian
Redshirts

Picture of LindaLinda
IT Services:
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle
The Martian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture of MartaMarta
Fiction/AV/Teen:

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry
The Awakening of Miss Prim

Picture of Mary JaneMary Jane
Research Services:
Controlled Descent
How Dogs Love Us

Picture of MeganMegan
South Branch:
Red Rising
Saga

Picture of NancyNancy
Fiction/AV/Teen:
My Salinger Year
American Hustle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Picture of NicoleNicole
Circulation:
The Paying Guests
Life in Motion

Picture of PaulaPaula
Registration:
Rush
Dad is Fat

Picture of PennyPenny
Research Services:

Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
Leaving Time

Picture of RosemaryRosemary
Technical Services:
Natchez Burning
How the Light Gets In

Picture of StevenSteve
Research Services:
Death on the Nile
Cosmos

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on December 19, 2014 Categories: Audiobooks, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Humor, Literary, Movies and TV, Music, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Nonfiction, Romance

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

Audiobook: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven audiobook coverThe greatest books defy category, and the ambitious Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel is a shining example. With equal appeal to fans of post-apocalyptic settings and to readers of complex, thought-provoking novels, this National Book Award finalist is a sure bet for multiple Best of 2014 lists. The on-stage death of a celebrity actor portraying King Lear is the harbinger of a global pandemic that destroys life as we know it. The action seamlessly moves between the old and new worlds, and Kirsten Potter’s discerning narration allows the slow revelation of unexpected connections to take the spotlight. Is survival sufficient in a world wiped out by disease, or is there hope for more? When all the world’s a stage, we just may find out.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on December 1, 2014 Categories: Audiobooks, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Literary

List: November 2014 Indie Next List

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:

Cover of Being MortalCover of The Remedy for LoveCover of Just Mercy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
The Remedy for Love by Bill Roorbach
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Cover of Fire Shut Up in My BonesCover of Crooked RiverCover of Jerry Lee Lewis His Own Story

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fire Shut Up in My Bones by Charles M. Blow
Crooked River by Valerie Geary
Jerry Lee Lewis: His Own Story by Rick Bragg
Cover of The Laughing MonstersCover of The ForgersCover of The Birds of Pandemonium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Laughing Monsters by Denis Johnson
The Forgers by Bradford Morrow
The Birds of Pandemonium by Michele Raffin

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.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on November 21, 2014 Categories: Books, Lists, Literary, Mysteries/Thrillers/Suspense, Nonfiction

List: Booklist Online’s Top Ten Debut Novels

Booklist Online developed a list of the top 10 debut novels reviewed between October 15, 2013 and October 1, 2014. The titles are diverse, featuring everything from racial reassignment surgery to the decline of the newspaper. Check out some of the titles below, or you can go to Booklist Online to see the whole list.

 

Cover of Your Face in Mine Cover of Steal the NorthCover of Bedrock Faith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Face in Mine by Jess Row
Steal the North by Heather Brittain Bergstrom
Bedrock Faith by Eric Charles May

Cover of The Land of Steady HabitsCover of the TranscriptionistCover of Three Bargains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Land of Steady Habits by Ted Thompson
The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland
Three Bargains by Tania Malik

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on October 24, 2014 Categories: Books, Historical Fiction, Lists, Literary

Fiction: Dear Committee Members by Julie Schumacher

Cover of Dear Committee MembersTold through a series of letters, Julie Schumacher’s Dear Committee Members takes readers into the world of Jason Fitger, a wry English professor at Payne University, sending out letters of recommendation on behalf of his students and colleagues. Fitger’s recommendations mix bluntness with heart, ranging anywhere from: “His approach to problem solving is characterized by sullenness punctuated by occasional brief bouts of good judgment” to “He can read and write; he’s not unsightly; and he doesn’t appear to be addicted to illegal substances prior to 3:00 p.m.” Often passive-aggressive yet always eloquent, Fitger constantly overshares. His letters end up diving into past disagreements, the disintegration of Payne University’s English program, and his rocky writing career, all resulting in a hilarious window into one cynical academic’s mind.

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on October 16, 2014 Categories: Books, Literary

Audiobook: The End of the Affair by Graham Greene

End of the Affair audiobook coverActor Colin Firth reads the dreamy, reflective prose of Graham Greene in the 2013 Audiobook of the Year, The End of the Affair. A modern classic in its own right, the story examines the complexities of jagged emotions against the backdrop of a turbulent time. What happens when a seemingly passionate relationship is brought to an abrupt end? We experience it all through Maurice’s first-person narration, and his testimonial proves to be a one-man theatre showcase for Firth’s expert performance. As his character grapples with desire, jealousy, religion, and death, listeners realize that this is a story about so much more than two separated lovers.

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on October 13, 2014 Categories: Audiobooks, Literary

Book Discussion Questions: The Tiger’s Wife by Téa Obreht

Cover of The Tiger's WifeTitle: The Tiger’s Wife
Author: Téa Obreht
Page Count: 338 pages
Genre: Literary fiction
Tone:  Mystical, Haunting, Lyrical

Summary from publisher:
In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her–the legend of the tiger’s wife.

 

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

1. Did it bother you that there were no actual geographical or time period references?

2. How did the time-shifting aspects of the book affect your experience of the story?

3. Natalia and Zora were together on a mission trip when she finds out that her grandfather had died. Why doesn’t she tell Zora?

4. Zora is in a predicament. There is a malpractice case brought up against a man who is well connected in the medical community. Her dilemma is whether to “stick it to the man she despised for years and risking a career and reputation she was just beginning to build.” She tells Natalia that she wants to ask her grandfathers’ opinion. What advice do you think he would have given her? What would you do?

5. “Swear to me on your life that you didn’t know.” Why didn’t Natalia admit to her grandmother that she knew her grandfather was sick?

6. As Natalia and her grandfather are watching the elephant walk down the street in the middle of the night, Natalia said, “None of my friends will ever believe this.” Her grandfather replied, “The story of the war that belongs to everyone, but something like this, this is yours and belongs only to us.” What do you think he means by this?

7. There are so many references to The Jungle Book and Shere Khan in this novel. Do you see any parallels between Shere Khan of The Jungle Book and the tiger?

8. Why was Barba Ivan’s dog Bis painted by everyone?

9. Leandro understood that part of the tiger was Shere Khan but he has always felt some compassion for Shere Khan. Why do you think that is?

10. How did you feel reading the story from the tiger’s perspective?

11. There are many other animals in this story (parrot, dog, owl, bear). Does their presence have a deeper meaning?

12. Was Dure a good father?

13. Luko, Jovo and the blacksmith go out to kill the tiger after it was seen in the smokehouse. Why did Luko and Jovo tell everyone that the tiger killed the blacksmith and not admit that the gun backfired?

14. Natalia lived most of her life under either the threat of oncoming war or war itself. Would this state have an effect on the decisions one makes for them? How does the lack of a war then affect her?

15. Why do you think “Riki Tiki Tavi” is the deathless man’s favorite story in The Jungle Book?

16. The author said she intended to write the deathless man as more of a menacing character; instead, she felt, he ended up being almost comforting. Had she written that character in a different way, how do you think it would change the tone of the story?

17. Who is the deathless man? Does he exist?

18. Do you think Dr. Leandro, Natalia’s grandfather, is an honorable man? Why or why not?

19. Dr. Leandro placed a wager with the deathless man. Who do you think won? Should Dr. Leandro have paid his debt? If you think he lost the wager does his refusal to honor it change your opinion of him?

20. The second time Dr. Leandro saw the deathless man, there was a miracle by a waterfall. Dr. Leandro was by the waterfall to take care of the sick people that made their pilgrimage there. Gavran Gaile, a.k.a. the deathless man, was by the waterfall as well, and he was letting people know that their time was coming. “But that is what I do; that is my work to give Peace,” the deathless man had said. Do you think that knowing their time is coming gave the sick people peace?

21. Téa Obreht seems to present a character in a certain light, and then she offers background information. Did you find that the background information made you change your initial opinion of any of the characters? If so, which ones and why?

22. Luka takes the tiger’s wife to the smokehouse, ties her up, and leaves her there in hopes that the tiger will devour her. Two weeks later she shows up in town “with a fresh bright face and a smile that suggested something new about her.” What happened to Luka?

23. Why did the villagers hate the tiger’s wife? Why did mother Vera help the tiger’s wife?

24. What was your opinion of the apothecary?

25. Why did Natalia volunteer to take the “heart” to the crossroads and wait for the Mora?

26. What do you think happened to Dr. Leandro’s copy of The Jungle Book?

27. Was there any story or part of the book that particularly struck you?

Other Resources

Lit Lovers’ book discussion questions
Q&A video with Obreht Part One and Part Two
Video of PBS News Hour interview
Vanity Fair interview
Information on the breakup of Yugoslavia

If you liked The Tiger’s Wife, try…

Cover of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Cover of Bel Canto Cover of The Red Garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman

By Jenny, Readers' Advisor on October 8, 2014 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Literary

Fiction: The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow

Cover image of The Girl Who Fell from the SkyEleven- year-old Rachel is the sole survivor of a horrific tragedy claiming the lives of her mother, brother, and sister. With a father too grief-stricken to take care of her, Rachel is sent to live with her grandmother in Portland, Oregon. For the first time Rachel, who is biracial, deals with racism from all different members of her community. Woven in with Rachel’s coming-of-age tale is the story of the emotional events leading to the family’s tragedy and the rippling effect of decisions big and small. Peppered with heartbreaking insights and vivid imagery, The Girl Who Fell from the Sky by Heidi Durrow is an absorbing story about survival, the mistakes humans make, family, and the role race has in identity.

By MPPL on August 28, 2014 Categories: Books, Literary

Book Discussion Questions: The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier

House on the Strand 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 House on the Strand
Author: Daphne du Maurier
Page Count: 298
Genre: Literary fantasy, Gothic fiction, Time travel
Tone: Mysterious, Atmospheric, Suspenseful

 

1.  Were you caught up in the book right away? Did you find it hard to follow?

2.  How did you feel about the narrative moving back and forth between time periods? Several critics have commented on the immense skill with which du Maurier keeps tension on both levels. Would you agree?

3.  Which time period /storyline did you find more interesting?

4.  What was your opinion of Richard, the narrator?

5.  Being the straight-laced man that he was, why did Richard try Magnus’ drug in the first place?

6.  How would you characterize the relationship between Magnus and Richard?

7.  What differences were there in the ways Magnus and Richard approached the experiments?

8.  Why do you think Roger was used as the link/guide/alter ego?

9.  Why did John Willis corroborate Richard’s testimony at the inquest?

10.  How important to the story is Vita? Why so?

•  Did you like her? Feel sorry for her? Were you increasingly annoyed by/with her as Dick was?
•  How would you characterize Richard and Vita’s relationship? Why is this so?
•  Why didn’t Richard tell Vita about the drug, especially after she became suspicious of him having an affair and acting so erratically?
•  In Latin, “Vita” translates as “life”. Do you think this was an intentional choice for du Maurier? What might this understanding add?

11.  Did you trust Dr. Powell? Was he right to release Richard when he did?

12.  What was the allure for Richard to keep going back to the past?

13.  Would you agree that this is a “story of addiction”? If so, was he addicted to the drug itself or to the stories he witnessed?

14. Was Richard actually time-traveling or merely hallucinating?

•  Were you satisfied with Dr. Powell’s theories at the end of the book?
•  If it were the drug, why did Magnus and Richard travel back to same period?

15.  Would you say the tone of the story is approving? marveling? objective?

16.  What did you think of the end of the book? Was it satisfying to you?

•  What really happened to Richard?
•  Du Maurier once wrote, “What about the hero of The House on the Strand? What did it mean when he dropped the telephone at the end of the book? I don’t really know, but I rather think he was going to be paralysed for life. Don’t you?” Does her statement surprise you?

17.  This book was written in 1969. Is the subject still topical? Would you recommend this book to others?

18.  How do du Maurier’s descriptions deepen and reinforce the themes in the novel?

19.  Growing up, du Maurier disliked the expectations and limitations of being a girl. How well does she write the male perspective? What other attitudes toward society are revealed in her story and characters?

20.  Du Maurier’s only disappointment with The House on the Strand was that a film version was not made. It was her favorite of all her books, and she had written it almost as a film script. Do you think it a story that could be successfully adapted as a movie or miniseries?

 

Other Resources

Daphne du Maurier author site
author interview from Kilmarth, a central location in The House on the Strand
BBC article:  “Walking in du Maurier’s Footsteps”
“The Cornwall of Daphne du Maurier”, originally published in British Heritage magazine

 

If you liked The House on the Strand, try…

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

Distant Hours book coverThirteenth Tale book coverOutlander book cover

 

By Cathleen, Readers' Advisor on August 27, 2014 Categories: Book Discussion Questions, Books, Fantasy & Sci-Fi, Literary