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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.

Staff Pick: The Time by The Time (a side project by Prince)

Picture of JohnRumor has it that The Time’s eponymous debut album is effectively a Prince solo side project:  written, produced and performed by the legendarily prolific artist, with Morris Day’s vocals the only other contribution.  True or false, this slice of outstanding pop-funk can easily stand alongside the Purple One’s Dirty Mind/Controversy-era peak.

Eisner Award Nominees and Free Comic Book Day

Saturday is Free Comic Book Day, and it can be a thrilling way to discover new stories and artists. The titles below, finalists for the prestigious Eisner Awards, were represented among the offerings during last year’s celebration. While waiting to discover what this year will bring, excite your imagination with one of these potential winners.

Hip Hop Family Tree_volume 3 coverHip Hop Family Tree, Vol. 3
Best Reality-Based Work
Best Writer/Artist
Bandette coverBandette
Best Continuing Series
Best Painter/Multimedia Artist
Step Aside Pops cover

Step Aside, Pops
Best Humor Publication

 

Supermutant Magic Academy coverSuperMutant Magic Academy
Best Publication for Teens

March_Book Two coverMarch: Book Two
Best Reality-Based Work
Best Publication for Teens

Plants vs. Zombies_Timepocalypse coverPlants vs. Zombies
Best Lettering

 

Free Comic Book Day isn’t free for participating stores. When you pick up your new comic, please consider also making a purchase to support your local business. (Those offered at MPPL are generously supplied by Comix Revolution.) Not sure what to try? These Eisner nominees are among the most buzzed-about publications of the year.

Paper Girls coverPaper Girls
Best New Series
Best Penciller/Inker

Southern Bastards coverSouthern Bastards
Best Continuing Series
Best Writer

Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage cover

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage
Best Graphic Album – New
Best Writer/Artist

Descender_Tin Stars coverDescender: Tin Stars
Best Painter/Multimedia Artist

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl coverThe Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
Best New Series
Best Penciller/Inker

Bitch Planet coverBitch Planet
Best New Series

Star Wars References in Movies and TV

Happy Star Wars Day!

Whether you’re a fan of the movies and books or not, Star Wars has seeped into American media with references big and small. Check out a few of those references in movies and television here! Looking for more? Browse Wired for more Star Wars pop culture references in the 2012 article “35 Greatest Star Wars Tributes of All Time.”

Spaceballs DVD cover

 

The cult classic Spaceballs was made to be a parody of Star Wars. This 1987 film includes characters such as Darth Helm (modeled after Darth Vader), Princess Vespa (Princess Leia), Barf the Mawg (Chewbacca), Dot Matrix (C-3P0), and LoneStarr (Han Solo and Luke Skywalker).

 

 

 

Armageddon DVD cover

 

While the 1999 action film Armageddon only has a few minor mentions of Star Wars, it uses those moments as an opportunity for humor. One reference is between Ben Affleck’s character, A.J., and Owen Wilson’s character, Oscar, as they are working to save Earth from being destroyed by a meteor:

A.J.: “If anybody’s anybody, I’m Han and you’re… you’re Chewbacca.”
Oscar: “Chewie? Have you even seen Star Wars?”

 

30 Rock Season 3 TV cover

 

The Star Wars reference in the quirky TV comedy 30 Rock: Season 3 (episode 14) is quick, but it packs a punch. Tina Fey as Liz Lemon dressed up as Princess Leia to get out of jury duty? Yes, please!
 

 

 

May the 4th be with you!

Discussion Questions: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

Dark Places book coverTitle: Dark Places
Author:  Gillian Flynn
Page Count:  349 pages
Genre: Psychological suspense
Tone: Dark, Disturbing, Brooding

Summary:
Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas”. She escaped and survived to later testify that her 15-year-old brother Ben was the killer. Twenty-five years later she is contacted by “The Kill Club” and pumped for information they hope to use to free Ben. Libby hatches a plan to profit from her tragic past but ends up being chased by a killer.

 

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. What do you think dark places refers to?

2. Was it the murders that made Libby who she was? How about Ben?

3. Would the novel have worked if Libby was a kinder, gentler or more sympathetic character?

4. What did you think of Ben and Libby’s relationship as children? In the beginning of the book, Ben dies his hair and while they are all upset by this, Libby seems the most upset. She said, “He hates us” (pg. 26). Why? Later, Libby dies her hair. Is there a significance?

5. What did you think of young Ben?

6. Did you think Ben was guilty? Does the author intend for us to doubt him? Would Ben have ended up in jail regardless?

7. While in jail, Ben thought about his 15-year-old self almost as his son and sometimes he wanted to throttle the kid, the kid who just didn’t have it in him (pg 341). What didn’t he have in him?

8. What do you think would have happened to Diondra and the baby if she and Ben had run off together?

9. What did you think of the Kill Club?

10. What did you think about Lyle Wirth? What was Libby and Lyles relationship?

11. What is the difference between the Free Day Society and the Kill Club? Is one more “palatable than the other?

12. Does Runner have any redeeming characteristics?

13. When Libby got in touch with Runner to ask about the night of the murders Runner wrote her a letter telling her he has cancer and that he doesn’t have long to live (pg 210). He says he was excited to hear from her. What did you think of this letter? Do you think her really knew the real killer

14. What do you think was going on with Diondra and Trey? How about Diondra and Runner?

15. Why is Diondra sleeping with Ben? Why is Ben sleeping with Diondra?

16. Why did Chrissi accuse Ben of molestation? Did you feel sorry for her?

17. Chrissi and Libby seemed to have some common ground, both accused Ben of doing horrific crimes that he didn’t do. In your opinion, which accusation was worse?

18. Chrissi said “No one ever forgives me for anything.” Do you think forgiveness plays a role in in Dark Places? Which characters do you find to be more forgivable? Which characters do you find the least forgivable?

19. Throughout the novel Libby, Patty, and Ben unknowingly echo each other’s dialogue and thoughts. What do you think the author was trying to do with this technique?

20. As you were reading the book did you find yourself finding one theory about the killer more believable? Who did you believe was the real killer?

21. What did you think of Diane’s character? Do you feel you got to know her? Were you curious about her perspective?

22. At the end of the book, Patty starts thinking she’d never have to worry again about commodity prices, operating costs, or interest rates and that she’d never have to see the Cates family again. What did you think she was going to do?

23. In the end it turns out that Patty hired the angel of debt to murder her. What did you think of this? (Was it noble? Or stupid?)

24. What was the Angel of Debts motivation for assisting/murdering 32 people?

25. What did you think of Crystal? Is she a “bad” seed? Is there even such a thing as bad genes?

26. Ben eventually got released from prison. Will Libby ever be able to get out of her prison?

27. Were you happy with the way the ending tied things up?

28. Have you read anything else by Gillian Flynn? How do her books compare? If you have not read anything else by her, would you read her next one?

OTHER RESOURCES:

Discussion questions from author’s website
Gillian Flynn interview article on Dark Places
Discussion questions and answers from the blog Seriously Sarah
USA Today article on the differences between the movie and book

readalikes:
Adobe Photoshop PDF The Accursed book cover In the Woods book cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 9th Girl by Tami Hoag
The Accursed by Joyce Carol Oates
In the Woods by Tana French

Staff Pick: Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna Van Praag

Cathleen of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag:

The Dress Shop of Dreams book coverOn a winding cobblestone street in Cambridge, there sits an unassuming boutique called A Stitch in Time.  It is destined for one special kind of shopper:  the woman looking for a lost piece of herself.  Whether the customer seeks confidence, courage, beauty, or magnificence, proprietor Etta has a gift for introducing the unique and extraordinary garment to spark the transformation.  The one person resistant to this possibility is her granddaughter Cora, a young scientist whose past tragedy has narrowed her gaze only to the potential found in her work.

Menna van Praag’s The Dress Shop of Dreams is an embrace of expectant promise.  The gentle spell of interlacing characters, secret attractions, and magic found in simple pleasures will inspire faith in what is truly meant to be.

 

For more books that blend fantasy indulgences with the promise of personal revelations:

A Vintage Affair book cover

 

A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff tells the exquisite story of Phoebe Swift, who fulfills a long-cherished dream to open a vintage clothing shop that treasures the history behind each unique garment.

 

The Sugar Queen book cover

 

Books appearing just when you need them is only one of the magical realities of Sarah Addison Allen’s The Sugar Queen, a bewitching and lightly humorous exploration of the courage it takes to change one’s life.

 

Chocolat book cover

 

In Chocolat by Joanne Harris, the truth that others may see us more clearly than we see ourselves is flavored with the rewards of taking bold steps forward and lush descriptions of tantalizing delights.

Lucia, Lucia book cover

 

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani celebrates a young seamstress’s passion for beautiful things and her willingness to break with convention to follow her dreams in glitzy 1950s New York.

Sweetshop of Dreams book cover

 

In the hopeful Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan, Londoner Rosie Hopkins’ impulsive decision to re-open her elderly relative’s old-fashioned village candy store stirs surprising possibilities in both life and love.

Winner of Both the Pulitzer Prize and the Edgar Award: The Sympathizer

Sympathizer book cover“So it was that we soaped ourselves in sadness and we rinsed ourselves with hope, and for all that we believed almost every rumor we heard, almost all of us refused to believe that our nation was dead.”

In other media, award winners are often easily predicted.  Not so in literature. More often than not, even insiders are surprised by those given top honors in any given year, and rarely does it reflect sales or popularity. That changes upon announcement, as the winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, debut novel The Sympathizerleapt in Amazon overall sales rankings from 27,587 to 88 overnight, even enjoying temporary status as #1 in Spies and Political Thrillers.

Viet Thanh Nguyen has penned a fascinating book of intrigue that examines the Vietnam War and its aftermath from the perspective of a double agent, and the author himself has said “my book has something to offend everyone.” It is a meaty, uncompromising story with moments of tenderness and even hilarity, and its new status as a Pulitzer winner may help earn the attention and audience it deserves.

Edited to add:  This week The Sympathizer was announced as winner of Best First Novel from the Edgar Awards, one of the top mystery and suspense honors. Few books can boast this crossover!