Check It Out

Staff Pick: Undead by Kirsty McKay

Picture of ColleenUndead by Kirsty McKay is a fantastic read for anyone who is a fan of zombies! Filled with action and gore, it follows two teens that are stranded on a school ski trip in Scotland when their classmates are infected with a mysterious illness that leaves them craving flesh.

6 Books to Read About a Character Facing a Mental Illness

According to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), “1 in 5 Americans will be affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime and every American is affected or impacted through their friends and family.” To finish out May as mental health awareness month, try one of these fiction books below that follow a character facing a mental illness.

We Are Not Ourselves book coverWe Are Not Ourselves
by Matthew Thomas
Following the independent Eileen as she builds a life for herself in Queens during the later 20th century, a surprise diagnosis given to her husband at 51 disorients their life. The star reviews for this 2015 give special attention to the vibrant portrayal of Eileen and her strength.
The Art of Falling book coverThe Art of Falling
by Kathryn Craft
28-year-old Penelope Sparrow is a dancer on the rise, when she falls fourteen stories and is now in the hospital recovering. Was it suicide? Was it an accident? Penelope doesn’t even know. What she does know is she must come to terms with a new life and face her disordered eating head-on.

 

Hausfrau book cover Hausfrau
by Jill Alexander Essbaum
Anna is an American who has been living with her Swiss husband in Switzerland for nine years. With little knowledge of the language she has become isolated and is beginning to spiral out of control, when a tragic event causes the possibility that she might just tip over.
Regeneration book coverRegeneration
by Pat Barker
Dr. William Rivers is a psychiatrist helping shell-shocked British soldiers acclimate to coming home from World War I. However, the more he works with the soldiers the more he realizes there might be something bigger than “shell shock” going on.

 

Every Shallow Cut book coverEvery Shallow Cut
by Tom Piccirilli
Life has spiraled for Piccirilli’s unnamed narrator. He is leaving behind a once promising, now fizzled literary career, a foreclosed house, and a broken marriage to trek across America to see his estranged brother with only his bulldog for company.
This intimate story begins with 16-year-old Deborah heading to the hospital after self-harming herself. There, she is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and begins the slow journey of understanding herself.

 

New Arrivals: The Lives of Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre  has captured many a heart with its classic heroine’s journey from crushing past to independence and love. We ache with her trials, admire her resilience, and cheer when she defiantly stands up for herself. Jane’s voice has inspired countless new works over the generations, and this season sees the trend in full flourish.

Jane Steele book coverJane Steele: A Confession
by Lyndsay Faye

There are many eerie similarities between Jane Steele’s life and that of her favorite literary character, but her own choices embrace the macabre in this even darker take on the gothic tale: “Reader, I murdered him.”

Reader I Married Him book coverReader, I Married Him
edited by Tracy Chevalier

This collection of 20 original stories by today’s finest women writers — including Tracy Chevalier, Elizabeth McCracken, Audrey Niffenegger, and more — takes inspiration from one of the most famous lines in Charlotte Brontë’s beloved novel.

Madwoman Upstairs book coverThe Madwoman Upstairs
by Catherine Lowell

The last remaining descendant of the Brontës discovers a believed-to-be-destroyed copy of Jane Eyre and embarks on a scavenger hunt for her ancestors’ legacy, one which has ties to events in the authors’ lives and to their classic stories.

 

Still can’t quit Jane? Reach back and try one of last year’s entries into this literary homage trend.

Bronte Plot book coverThe Brontë Plot
by Katherine Reay

More tribute than re-telling, this story centers on a bookseller who, while visiting famous author sites in England, discovers new revelations of truth in the moral dilemmas and relationship wisdom represented in her favorite novels.

Re Jane book coverRe Jane
by Patricia Park

A half-Korean, half-American orphan takes a position as an au pair for two Brooklyn academics and their daughter, but a brief sojourn in Seoul, where she reconnects with family, causes her to wonder if the man she loves is really the man for her.

 

Looking for new nonfiction? Head here for new and forthcoming titles.

Staff Pick: Oscar

Cathleen staff picks photoA farcical comedy-of-errors with rhythms of a crackling stage play, Oscar is the screwball story of “Snaps” Provolone, a top-tier gangster who promises to go straight. Supporting cast Tim Curry, Chazz Palminteri, and Peter Riegert tickle with humor that bounces between droll dialogue and broad slapstick. Ridiculous fun.

Fiction: Romances Set During College

Bring a little romance to your final exams…

Upside Down book coverUpside Down
Lia Riley
For the next six months, 21-year-old Natalia Stolfi will be acting like a carefree exchange student in Australia, not a girl sinking under the weight of painful memories. Everything is going according to plan until she meets a brooding surfer with hypnotic green eyes and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.
Beautiful Oblivion book coverBeautiful Oblivion
Jamie McGuire
As the baby sister of four rowdy brothers, fiercely independent Cami believes she’ll have no problem keeping her new friendship with Trenton Maddox strictly platonic. But when a Maddox boy falls in love, he loves forever-even if she is the only reason their already broken family could fall apart.

 

Caged in Winter book cover Caged in Winter
Brighton Walsh
Winter is exactly 76 days away from graduating college, and if she can hold it together that long, she’ll finally be able to rise above the crappy hand she was dealt. But now, every time she turns around, Cade is there, ready to push her, smile at her, distract her from her plans. Winter knows she can’t afford to open up–especially to a man she’s terrified to actually want.
My Sweetest Escape book coverMy Sweetest Escape
Chelsea M. Cameron
For reasons Jos can’t begin to fathom, the newly reformed campus bad boy seems determined to draw her out of her shell. If she’s not careful, his knowing green eyes and wicked smile will make her feel things she’s no longer sure she deserves.

 

 

Looking beyond college?

Follow these twenty-somethings navigating life on their own and romance.

Charlie Glass’s Slippers book coverCharlie Glass’s Slippers
Holly McQueen
When Charlie’s beloved father, iconic shoe designer Elroy Glass, dies he surprises everyone by leaving his fashion empire to Charlie, his youngest-and plumpest-daughter. Before she can run the company, Charlie decides she needs to make a few changes in her life but as she’ll soon discover there’s more to reinvention-and running a fashion empire-than meets the eye.
November 9 book cover November 9
Colleen Hoover
Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel.

 

 

For more suggestions, stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen desk, email us at readers@mppl.org, or tweet at us!
Summaries from publisher

Book Discussion Questions: A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

A Map of the World book coverTitle: A Map of the World
Author:  Jane Hamilton
Page Count: 389 pages
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Tone: Dark, melancholy, reflective

Summary:
A loner by nature, Alice is torn between a yearning for solitude coupled with a deep need to be at the center of a perfect family. On this particular day, Emma has started the morning with a violent tantrum, her little sister Claire is eating pennies, and it is Alice’s turn to watch her neighbor’s two small girls as well as her own. She absentmindedly steals a minute alone that quickly becomes ten: time enough for a devastating accident to occur. Her neighbor’s daughter Lizzy drowns in the farm’s pond, and Alice – whose own volatility and unmasked directness keep her on the outskirts of acceptance – becomes the perfect scapegoat.

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

Questions composed by MPPL Staff

1. Alice and Therese seem to be two very different woman; what do you think connected them?

2. Alice describes her mothering and her life one way, yelling at kids and trying to control herself, and Howard describes her in a very different way, as a navigator. Who did you think the real Alice was?

3. What did you think of Therese’s feelings toward Alice after Lizzie dies?

4. What did you think of Alice’s reaction at the funeral?

5. Alice wondered why Howard did not come after her when she ran out of the funeral. Should he have?

6. What did you think about Therese’s ability to forgive?

7. What do you think Alice wants? (Forgiveness? Could she accept it?)

8. Albert talked to Therese about the “quality of mercy” (pg. 223: mercy blesses the giver and receiver). What did you think about this? What do you think Mercy is?

9. Is it possible for the “average person” if there is such a thing to forgive, when the death of a child is involved?

10. Is all of the blame for accident one-sided? Therese did tell Lizzie she was going swimming and that she was a good swimmer…

11. Why do you think Therese received so much comfort from her visit to the former priest, Albert Satinga?

12. Albert asked Therese to tell him about Lizzie’s life. Why did it help her to tell him Lizzie’s life story?

13. What did you think about Robbie MacKessy? Was there anything in the book that led you to believe he wasn’t a normal six-year-old?

14. Why do you think the charges were brought against Alice?

15. In the beginning of the book Alice described Robbie as a disturbed boy that enraged her every time she saw him. Why did Alice dislike him so much?

16. At the end of the book during the trial, Robbie’s preschool teacher described him as a belligerent troubled child and that her staff had repeatedly suggested that the Mackessys have him evaluated. Alice thought to herself, “Oh, but Robbie wasn’t that bad. Truly he wasn’t so awful. They were drawing him as a budding psychopath based on his performance at preschool.” Why the change of heart?

17. Do you think Alice would have been accused of molestation if Lizzie hadn’t drowned?

18. What did you think of Alice’s confession to the police?

19. Therese was very upset over Alice’s incarceration and felt she was being railroaded. Did that surprise you? Why do you think she was so upset?

20. From Howard’s point of view in the story, he was mystified by Alice’s behavior: her calmness when she was taken into custody and how animated she was during his visits. What is your take on this? Howard was afraid Alice would withdraw more into herself when she was arrested, but once she was put in jail, she was communicating like her old self (pg 148). Why?

21. What do you think about Alice’s time in prison? What did you think of the other prisoners?

22. Why do you think Alice did so well in jail?

23. Do you think Howard believes in Alice’s innocence?

24. Do you think that once you are accused of abuse, there is anything you can do to save yourself?

25. Initially Alice insisted that Rafferty be her defense attorney and really seemed to “love” him, yet Howard seemed to detest him. What do you think was going on with that?

26. What did you think of Howard and Therese’s relationship?

27. Therese told Howard she loved him and he is “everything that’s good” (pg 259). This is in direct contrast to some of Alice’s statements, saying Howard had been betraying her, and “leeching from me what was my strength” (pg 286). Alice also said Howard was so methodical and even-tempered that in his shadow anyone would have been erratic and moody (pg 286). Who is the real Howard?

28. What did you think of the nebulous character, Dan?

29. Why did Howard sell the farm? Why was Alice so adamant that he not sell it?

30. Do you agree with Howard that they had to leave Prairie Water because they would be guilty even if proven innocent?

31. Should Howard have told Alice about the state interviewing the girls to see if they were abused? What do you think Alice would have said had she known Therese encouraged him not to?

32. Do you think the setting mattered for the storyline? Why do you think Hamilton used this setting in particular?

33. What did you think of the ending. Did everything work out?

OTHER RESOURCES:

Breakfast Club book discussion questions
Reading Group Guide
BookBrowse interview with Jane Hamilton
Video of Jane Hamilton talking about her work

Want help with your book discussion group? Check out tips, advice, and all the ways the Library can help support your group!

readalikes:

Half a Life book cover The First Desire book cover Nineteen minutes book cover
 

 

 

 

 

 

Half a Life by Darin Strauss
First Desire by Nancy Reisman
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult

Staff Pick: The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts

Picture of JoyceThe Hardest Peace is the heart-wrenching, grace-filled journey of Kara Tippetts. This intimate view into her life follows her through a painful childhood, falling in love with her husband, treatment for stage-IV cancer, and finally to her sickbed with young children cuddled alongside. Through it all Kara shows us the story God has been writing: one of forgiveness, grace, trust, and beauty even in the midst of life’s hard times.

2016 Audie Award Winners

Audies award headerThe winners of one of the most buzzed about Audiobook awards of the year were just announced! Experience one of these notable books on your commute, while washing the dishes, or relaxing by the beach this summer. For a full list of award winners and nominees, check out AudioFile.

Audiobook of the Year
Girl on the Train book coverThe Girl on the Train
by Paula Hawkins
Read by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher
Fiction
The Nightingale book coverThe Nightingale
by Kristin Hannah
Read by Polly Stone
Non-Fiction
Ghettoside book coverGhettoside
by Jill Leovy
Read by Rebecca Lowman

 

Original WorkThe Starling Project book coverThe Starling Project
by Jeffery Deaver
Read by Alfred Molina and a Full Cast
Humor
Furiously Happy
by Jenny Lawson
Read by Jenny Lawson

Young Adult
Lair of Dreams book coverLair of Dreams
by Libba Bray
Read by January LaVoy

Multi-Voiced Performance
Illuminae book coverIlluminae
by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Read by Lincoln Hoppe, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Jonathan McClain
and a Full Cast

Narration by the Author
Born With Teeth book coverBorn with Teeth
by Kate Mulgrew
Read by Kate Mulgrew

Best Male NarratorThe English Spy book coverThe English Spy
by Dave Silva
Read by George Guidall

Thriller/Suspense
The Patriot Threat book coverThe Patriot Threat
by Scott Berry
Read by Scott Brick

Science Fiction
Jurassic Park book coverJurassic Park
by Michael Crichton
Read by Scott Brick
MysteryCareer of Evil Book CoverCareer of Evil
by Robert Galbraith
Read by Robert Glenister

Romance: Nerd in Shining Armor by Vicki Lewis Thompson

Nerd in Shining Armor book coverBeing stranded on a desert island would be just fine with Genevieve Terrence, as long as her sexy boss, Nick Brogan, is marooned along with her. If only life played out according to fantasy! When her plane actually does go down over the Pacific, her fellow castaway is not the man of her dreams but geeky computer programmer Jack Farley. To be fair, Jack did save their lives, and Gen begins to see him in a new light. Who knew that a pocket protector could hide such a sexy body, especially one with a chivalrous heart?

Nerd in Shining Armor by Vicki Lewis Thompson is a snappy romantic comedy that doesn’t skimp on the steam. Try this first book or one of the others in the series the next time you want to feel the temperature rise.

 

Nerd Gone Wild book cover Talk Nerdy to Me book cover Nerds Like It Hot book coverMy Nerdy Valentine book cover

New Book Spotlight: Historical Fiction Thrillers

Looking for a page-turner that will bring you back in time? Check out one of the newer releases below!


City of Secrets book coverCity of Secrets
by Stewart O’Nan

A moral thriller about the Jewish underground resistance in Jerusalem after World War II follows the experiences of Brand, a hunted refugee, who assumes a different identity and commits himself to the revolution while accepting increasingly dangerous missions.

The Letter Writer book coverThe Letter Writer
by Dan Fesperman

Taking a job with the NYPD four months after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a former small-town cop investigates the discovery of a body in the Hudson with the assistance of a mysterious, well-educated man who has uncanny knowledge of the city and its denizens.

High Dive book coverHigh Dive
by Jonathan Lee

A tale inspired by the 1984 Brighton Hotel bombing assassination attempt on the lives of Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet is told from the perspectives of an IRA bomb maker, a former star athlete-turned-hotel manager and the manager’s teenage daughter.

 

Email us as readers@mppl.org for more suggestions.
Head here for new and forthcoming nonfiction titles.
Summaries from Novelist.