Month: October 2015

Check It Out Blog

Spooks and Scares Available After Hours

spooky landscape imageThe wind is howling, the moon is glowing, and you crave something to make your skin crawl. Even if the Library building is closed for the night, you can still grab a chilling story to make the most of your mood. Hoopla, a digital service you access with your MPPL card, offers instant access to tales of all kinds, including those that terrify just the way you like. Here is a sample of the horrors on offer:

E-Audio Books:

We Have Always Lived in the Castle coverWe Have Always Lived in the Castle
by Shirley Jackson

Six years after four family members died suspiciously–of arsenic poisoning, the three remaining Blackwoods live together in pleasant isolation until threatened by a cousin’s arrival.

The Raven and Selected Short Stories coverThe Raven and Selected Short Stories
by Edgar Allan Poe

A collection of ten short stories and poems widely regarded as the most famous of Edgar Allan Poe’s writings.

The Library Policeman coverThe Library Policeman
by Stephen King

Overdue books may seem a minor offense, but not to Junction City’s malevolent monster of a librarian.


The Living Dead coverThe Living Dead
edited by John Joseph Adams

A collection of the best zombie literature of the last three decades from Stephen King, Harlan Ellison, George R. R. Martin, Clive Barker, Poppy Z. Brite, Neil Gaiman, and Joe Hill.

Classic Tales of the Supernatural coverClassic Tales of the Supernatural
compiled by Robin Brockman

Stories from the heyday of supernatural fiction, including authors such as Henry James, Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Thomas Hardy, Wilkie Collins, and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Warped: Tales of Horror and Rage coverWarped: Tales of Horror and Rage
by Rick Ochre

Fourteen stories that shine a light into the minds of disturbed individuals, explore otherworldly terror, and imagine unspeakable acts of vengeance.

New Books by Kevin Costner, Robert Galbraith, and More!

Almost everyday new books arrive at the Library to be processed and then placed on the shelf or in your hands. Take a look at some of the books that have arrived most recently at the Library. Want help getting matched with a book to fit your reading mood? Ask online or at the Fiction/AV/Teen services desk on the second floor.

Newly Arrived Books:

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms Book CoverA Knight of the Seven Kingdoms

by George R.R. Martin

A collection of three novellas set almost a century before A Game of Thrones, following the adventures of Ser Duncan the Tall and his squire, a boy called Egg.

A Passage to Shambahla Book CoverA Passage to Shambhala
by Jon Baird and Kevin Costner

Set against the backdrop of WWI, a covert group of elite adventurers sets off to find the golden city of Buddhist myth.

Bollywood Bride Book CoverThe Bollywood Bride
by Sonali Dev

Traveling home to Chicago to attend a family wedding and ride out a scandal, Bollywood star Ria Parkar reunites with Vikram Jathar, whose heart she broke to pursue her career.

Killing and Dying Book CoverKilling and Dying
by Adrian Tomine

In six interconnected, darkly funny stories, Tomine forms a quiet portrait of contemporary life, covering themes such as identity, parenthood, and varying art forms.

The Woman Who Walked in Sunshine Book CoverThe Woman Who Walked in
by Alexander McCall Smith

A latest entry in the best-selling series finds the Agency and Mma Ramotswe’s first-ever holiday thrown into unexpected turmoil by a case involving a Botswana war hero whose reputation is being called into question.

Bliss Book CoverBliss
by Shay Mitchell and Michaela Blaney

Set in the intoxicating worlds of Hollywood, Thailand, and London, Bliss paints a portrait of life in your early twenties with equal parts optimism and fear, hope and disappointment, expectation and reality.

Newly Arrived Audiobooks:

Career of Evil Book CoverCareer of Evil
by Robert Galbraith

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a severed leg, and Cormoran Strike must look to his past to determine who is behind the horrid parcel.

Lake House Book CoverThe Lake House
by Kate Morton

One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. Decades later, the truth starts to be unearthed.

Welcome to Night Vale Book CoverWelcome to Night Vale
by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

From the creators of the wildly popular podcast comes an imaginative mystery of appearances and disappearances that is also a poignant look at the ways in which we all struggle to find ourselves.

The Secret Chord Book CoverThe Secret Chord
by Geraldine Brooks

Brooks traces the arc of King David’s journey from obscurity to fame, from shepherd to soldier, from hero to traitor, from beloved king to murderous despot and into his remorseful and diminished dotage.

The Devil Wins Book CoverThe Devil Wins
by Reed Farrel Coleman

Investigating the discovery of three bodies in an abandoned factory after a huge storm, Jesse Stone learns that two of the victims were teen friends, who went missing twenty-five years earlier.

The Theory of Death Book CoverThe Theory of Death
by Faye Kellerman

Investigating a suspicious suicide in the woods, former LAPD detective Peter Decker, and Tyler McAdams infiltrate a college’s elite mathematics circle to uncover an operation that transforms bright students into criminals.


Summaries from Novelist and Publishers.
Looking for new nonfiction? Head here for new and forthcoming titles.

Asked at the Desk: Debbie Macomber for Book Groups

Looking for a book that will transport you to a different era? Wondering if all Australian TV series are as much fun as Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries? How about a new audiobook that will help keep you sane on a long commute?

These are just a few examples of questions we hear daily at the Fiction/AV/Teen Services desk! Recently, we’ve been asked:

Are Debbie Macomber books good for discussion?

Our answer? They certainly can be!

Almost any book can provide spark for good dialogue, and much will depend on the people doing the discussing. Some groups enjoy thoughtful debate about serious issues; others are simply looking for a shared reading experience that offers a chance to bond.

Why might Debbie Macomber author picMacomber make a right choice? Her characters are contemporary, ordinary women caught in difficult situations but who remain optimistic nonetheless. The writing is straightforward and steadily paced, so you won’t find extended descriptions, symbolism, or pretention. These books are gentle and upbeat, and even groups who prefer to challenge themselves may be interested in a more mainsTwenty Wishes book covertream, heart-warming story as a break from usual fare.

However, keep in mind that most libraries don’t have full sets of Macomber titles.  If your group likes to take advantage of library holdings, be sure you check on availability before you pick a title.  MPPL does offer one Debbie Macomber book, Twenty Wishes, as a Books-to-Go discussion kit.  In it, you’ll receive ten copies and a binder of questions and other information.  The kit can be reserved up to a year in advance, and it checks out for six weeks to allow plenty of time between meetings. For other titles offered as ready-made kits, click here.

October is Reading Group Month, and book kits are only one way the Library can help your book club. We’re happy to help you select your next title, connect you to other resources, and offer questions for your chosen book.

Have a question yourself? Ask online or stop by the Fiction/AV/Teen desk on the second floor, and we will connect you with something to fit your mood!

Fiction: Diversify Your Reading

“The human condition is complex and contradictory, layered like an ice-cream parfait, with flavors blending among the layers. A great novel reflects that complexity. We may read it several times, as we do with our favorites, and each time it is like finding an old friend and gaining new insights from that friend.”
Why Read Fiction” – Forbes 2015

One of the benefits we gain from reading fiction is gaining insights on how people view and experience the world differently. In order to do so, we have to challenge ourselves to seek out stories written from voices less heard or perspectives we haven’t read before. In support of reading widely, here are a few recent additions to the MPPL fiction collection that pull from a variety of experiences:

Balm Book CoverBalm
by Dolen Perkins-Valdez

Exploring the the end of slavery, this story of love and healing is about three people who struggle to overcome the pain of the past and define their own future.

Love Love Book Cover

by Sung J. Woo

In alternating chapters, siblings Judy and Kevin share their lives as they figure out how to live, how to love, and how to be their best selves amidst the chaos of their lives.

Stand Your Ground Book Cover

by Victoria Christopher Murray

A black teenage boy is dead. A white man shot him. Was he standing his ground or was it murder?

A Bad Character Book Cover

by Deepti Kapoor

Set in New Delhi, a twenty-year-old girl yearning to break free of tradition casts aside her fears and throws herself headlong into a love affair.

The Sellout Book Cover

by Paul Beatty

A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court.

A Little Life Book Cover

by Hanya Yanagihara

Moving to New York to pursue creative ambitions, four former classmates share decades marked by love, loss, addiction, and haunting elements from a brutal childhood.

Book Discussion Questions: The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult

The Storyteller Book CoverTitle: The Storyteller
Author: Jodi Picoult
Page Count: 460 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Tone:  Somber, Multiple Perspectives

Becoming friends with Josef Weber, an old man who’s particularly loved in her community, Sage Singer is shocked when one day he asks her to kill him and reveals why he deserves to die, causing her question her beliefs–and to wonder if his request would be murder or justice.

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. Did you find any humor in The Storyteller? If yes—do think that’s okay?

2. How did the multiple narrators work for you? Why did Picoult choose to write the story this way?

3. When did you realize the story about Ania was Minka’s story? How did adding this fictional story add or subtract to the overall narrative?

4. Sage’s story starts in therapy in which the attendees are comparing the amount of loss (loss of dog vs. loss of husband). Why do you think Picoult started the book like that? How does that set the tone?

5. Why does Picoult wait so long to tell us how Sage’s mom died?

6. What do you think about Adam?

7. “The reason it’s important to believe in something is because you can.” How do you agree or disagree? Does Sage have more pressure to pursue the Jewish faith because of her grandmother?

8. Why do you think Sage destroyed the Jesus loaf and baked all the challah?
9. When Sage learns about Weber she starts wanting more out of Adam. Why? (pg. 99)

10. If Sage kills Weber, she’s no better than him. (pg. 165) Do you think that’s true? Does Weber asking her to kill him change anything?

11. Does Sage have the right to forgive Weber?

12. The whole time Josef is telling his story, he is pretending to be his brother. Does this change how you see the real Reinner? As a result, does Reinner seem more or less sympathetic? More sympathetic? What about Franz?

13. When did you realize Weber was pretending to be Reinner? Why would he pretend?
14. Franz gives Reinner forgiveness for the mouse. Why?

15. Does Reiner trying to commit suicide change how you see his character? (pg. 166)

16. Why does Minka decide to tell her story to Leo? (pg.191)

17. How was Minka able to survive?

18. “The bigger the hole inside you, the more desperate you become to fill it.” (pg. 230) Is this true for any of the characters? Minka? Her family?

19. Herr Fassbender was a part of the system. Was he any better than Franz?

20. In the end was Minka’s nephew’s death more tragic? Less?

21. How did Franz save Minka?

22. What do you think Minka would have done/how would she have reacted to reuniting with Franz?

23. “If my grandmother could reinvent herself, why not Joseph Weber?” (pp. 67)Is there a difference? Does Josef have the right to reinvent himself?

24. Why did Sage decide to kill Weber?

25. Was it right for Sage to lie to Leo about killing Weber?
26. How do the last few sentences of The Storyteller represent the book?

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


Discussion Questions from Jewish Book Council
Lit Lovers’ Discussion Questions
German Auschwitz radio operator charged with accessory to murder
The story behind The Storyteller
USA Today 


The Nightingale Book Cover The Sandcastle Girls Book Cover The Joy Luck Club Book Cover







The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
The Sandcastle Girls by Chris Bohjalian
The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

Staff Pick: Barbara the Slut and Other People by Lauren Holmes

Barbara the Slut and Other“I was thinking I might want to study public health, but I was also thinking I might want to move to the forest and eat berries and mushrooms and hibernate with the bears in the winter.”

Through the ten stories in Barbara the Slut and Other People, Lauren Holmes is able to echo emotional truths you aren’t aware you have (why yes, I do just want to hibernate with bears) and provide ridiculous, often hilarious, story lines.

Fiction: Which Book is Which?

Chances are we have all either heard and/or asked a question similar to, “Do you have the book with the blue cover and the silhouette of a woman’s face on it?” Sometimes the memory only latches onto the image of the cover and fails to remember anything about plot or title, but what happens when the book you’re remembering looks like something else? You’re going to be getting a story a lot different than what you thought would be getting!

Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders by Julianna Baggott and Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase by Louise Walters

Cover of Harriet Wolf's Seventh Book of WondersMrs. Sinclair's Suitcase

Like your books to have stacks of other books on the cover? You are in luck with these two!

Both novels deal with one or more characters digging into the mysterious life of an elusive woman no longer alive.


Baggott’s novel delves deeper into the family surrounding famous author Harriet Wolf to uncover the mystery behind her, exploring the relationships between family members and the tension between truth and fiction, while Mrs. Sinclair’s Suitcase features a parallel narrative between a lonely bookseller and a suitcase filled with letters from WW2 unearthing the dramatic life of her grandmother.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff and Find Me by Laura Van Den Berg

Fates and Furies Book CoverFind Me Book Cover

Looking for a lot of blue and white with a splash of text? Try one of these!

Both are psychologically complex reads centering around weightier and darker topics with more abrasive characters.


Fate and Furies is a contemporary look beyond what appears to be a sparkling marriage into the hard-to-swallow truths at its core, whereas Find Me is a post-apocalyptic novel filled with dark humor following a young woman as she makes her way across a decimated America.

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra and Signal to Noise by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

The Tsar of Love and Techno Signal to Noise

A book with a cassette tape on it… there aren’t too many newer releases with a cover like that, right? Wrong! We have some for you!

Each book plays with time: Marra’s collection of short stories spanning from the 1930s to the present, and Moreno-Garcia’s jumping from 1988 to 2009.


Moreno-Garcia’s coming-of-age tale uses magical realism to share a story of love facing your past, while Marra’s title is driven by exploring thoughts and ideas spending time with characters connected throughout history.

Bella Italia: Andrea Camilleri’s Inspector Montalbano Mysteries

Ragusa Ibla“The novels of Andrea Camilleri breathe out the sense of place, the sense of humor, and the sense of despair that fill the air of Sicily.” – Donna Leon

October is Cultural Month at MPPL, and we are celebrating the rich beauties of Italy. If your globetrotting takes the form of novels rather than travel brochures, then you must make the acquaintance of Andrea Camilleri, Italy’s most successful author and one of the world’s great crime writers. 

 Lose yourself in thMontalbano book coverse depictions of lush Italia, but be warned that darkness dwells within. Inspector Montalbano, a character who has become a phenomenon, is a skilled detective who indulges biting humor, sincere compassion, and a love of good food.  This internationally bestselling series boasts not only intriguing mysteries but also insight into how Italy has changed in the last two decades. Start with the original, The Shape of Water: A Novel of Food, Wine, and Homicide in Small-Town Sicily, or sample the nineteenth, A Beam of Light, which was just released in September. Divertiti!

New Fiction: Mysterious Deaths, Unexpected Reunions, and More!

picture of new releasesAlmost everyday new books arrive at the Library to be processed and then placed on the shelf or in your hands. Take a look at some of the books that have arrived most recently at the Library. Want help getting matched with a book to fit your reading mood? Ask online or at the Fiction/AV/Teen services desk on the second floor.

Newly Arrived Books:

City on Fire Book Cover

by Garth Risk Hallberg

When the infamous NYC blackout of July 13, 1977, plunges the world into darkness, each of the characters’ lives will be changed, irrevocably.

Thirteen Ways of Looking Book Cover

by Colum McCann

McCann charts the territory of chance, and the profound and intimate consequences of even our smallest moments in this collection of short stories.

Early One Morning Book Cover

by Virginia Baily

On the verge of fleeing Rome during WWII, Chiara rescues Daniele, a child about to be herded onto a truck with his family. Decades later Daniele’s daughter contacts her.

Buffalo Trail Book Cover

by Jeff Guinn

Fleeing from his nemesis, Killer Boots, Cash McLendon seeks refuge in Dodge City with a band of buffalo hunters who head south to the Texas panhandle into forbidden Indian Territory.

All I Want Book Cover

by Jill Shalvis

As danger surrounds them, Pilot Zoe Stone finds herself attracted to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent who hired her to fly him around to collect evidence on a suspected smuggler.

And West Is West Book Cover

by Ron Childress

Showing the devastating power of new technology, a young Air Force drone pilot and an innovative young Wall Street giant are cast out of their respective careers for decisions they did not make.

The Adventuress Book Cover

by Tasha Alexander

The merrymaking of an engagement party in the French Riviera is cut short with the shocking death of one of the party in an apparent suicide.

Mystics of Mile End Book Cover

by Sigal Samuel

Long-held family secrets square off against faith and secularity in this debut novel, written with extraordinary heart and intelligence.

The Dead Student Book Cover

by John Katzenbach

Refusing to believe his uncle killed himself, Timothy “Moth” Warner calls on the only person he can trust, an ex-girlfriend, to find out the truth.

The Clasp Book Cover

by Sloane Crosley

A story of friends struggling to fit together now that their lives haven’t gone as planned, Victor, Nathaniel and Kezia begin a hunt for a necklace lost during the Nazi occupation of France.

A. D. 33 Book Cover

by Ted Dekker

When Maviah, the Queen of Outcasts’, growing power threatens the rulers around her, they set out to crush all she loves, leaving her reeling as a slave once more.

The Monet Murders Book Cover

by Terry Mort

Set in 1930s Hollywood, private investigator Riley Fitzhugh investigates the disappearance of a producer’s girlfriend, while trying to recover a stolen Monet.