Check It Out Category: Fiction

Fiction: Never Been Kissed by Molly O’Keefe

Never Been Kissed book coverNever Been Kissed by Molly O’Keefe is a steamy story of temptation. Ashley Montgomery’s plans to volunteer at a refugee camp in Africa are interrupted when she is captured by Somali pirates. Luckily for her, her family’s old bodyguard Brody Baxter comes to her rescue. To protect Ashley from the press and her family, they hole up in a small apartment above Brody’s brothers bar where Ashley learns Brody is in need of some rescuing too.

While your adventures will most likely be a lot different than Ashley Montgomery’s, you can help change someone’s life through volunteering! Come out to the Mount Prospect Public Library Volunteer Expo on September 23, 2017 to see a variety of volunteer opportunities available to you in or near Mount Prospect.

Book Discussion Questions: Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Crazy Rich Asians book coverTitle:  Crazy Rich Asians
Author:  Kevin Kwan
Page Count: 527 pages
Genre:  Satire, Mainstream Fiction
Tone:  Humorous, High Drama, Witty

Summary:
Envisioning a summer vacation in the humble Singapore home of a boy she hopes to marry, Chinese American Rachel Chu is unexpectedly introduced to a rich and scheming clan that strongly opposes their son’s relationship with an American girl.

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

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement: 2017 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. What are your thoughts on the title? Did you read it as “Crazy-Rich Asians” or as “Crazy, Rich Asians”?

2. There is an article entitled “A Whole New Wave of Stereotypes”, which discusses the way this book turns some old Asian stereotypes upside down. How do you react to the idea of this book stereotyping?

3. In the Prologue, Reginald Ormsby – GM of a posh London hotel – wouldn’t let Eleanor, Felicity, Alexandra and their families stay at the hotel. What did you think of this opening? This happened in the 80’s; were you surprised by racial implications?

4. What did you think of the characters in this book? Who was your favorite? Who drove you crazy?

5. Were you able to relate to any of the characters? The families? Why or why not?

6. Were you aware of the wealth in Asia before reading this book?

7. As Part Two begins there is a quote from Marco Polo “I did not tell half of what I saw, for no one would have believed me”. Kevin Kwan said in an interview that his editor had him “remove certain parts of Crazy Rich Asians because they were too unbelievable, even though they were grounded in reality”. What did you think of the descriptions of mega wealth in this book?

8. Given the opportunity would you want to live the super rich life style? Do you think it could be stressful?

9. What do you think of the “old money” versus the “new money” divide in this book?

10. Nicholas didn’t feel his money would change his relationship when Rachel found out. What are your thoughts?

11. What do you think of the role women play in this book?

12. Sophie told Rachel, “No matter how advanced we’ve become, there’s still tremendous pressure for girls to get married. Here, it doesn’t matter how successful a woman is professionally. She isn’t considered complete until she is married and has children”. What do you think of this statement and do you think it would ring true in the United States?

13. Do you think any couple in this book has a “good” marriage? Are the relationships different than the average marriage?

14. Rachel goes with Araminta’s friends to her super exclusive bachelorette party, but she does not seem to be accepted by the group. Why do you think that is?

15. What relationship do you think these women have with each other?

16. Was there anything from the bachelorette party that you were fascinated with?

17. What did you think about Colin’s bachelor party?

18. Both Nick and Astrid offered to leave their family for their respective partners. What do you think about this? Can family ever be left behind completely?

19. What did you think about the disclosure of Rachel’s father?

20. How would you characterize Astrid’s friendship with Charlie Wu?

21. Do you think Nick and Rachel get married? Should they?

22. In chapter 16, Dr. Gu, said that Rachel is “a fortunate girl, then, if she marries into this clan”. What do you think about that statement?

23. What did you think about Singapore? Were you curious to learn more?

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

OTHER RESOURCES:

website of author Kevin Kwan
Entertainment Weekly interview with Kevin Kwan
LitLovers discussion guide
Kevin Kwan: Americans Will Embrace ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ Movie” via The Washington Post
Singapore’s Multimillionaires: New Wealth Report Busts the Myths” via Forbes

READALIKES:

Rich Kids of Instagram book coverRich Kids of Instagram
by Maya Sloan

Great Gatsby book coverThe Great Gatsby
by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Nanny Diaries book coverThe Nanny Diaries
by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus

Staff Pick: Rise & Shine, Benedict Stone by Phaedra Patrick

Picture of DonnaBenedict owns a gem stone shop in England. His life is quite complacent; business is slow and he is estranged from his wife and brother. Everything changes when Gemma, his niece from America, arrives on his doorstep. As the story progresses, there are frequent references to gem stones, their meanings and how they influence the story, such as how rose quartz means love, peace and appreciation. Try Rise and Shine Benedict Stone by Paedra Patrick for a charming, uplifting story.

Fiction: Comfort Reads

We wouldn’t be readers if we didn’t find respite in our books. Though stories may be opened in the hope of thrills, experiences, or discoveries, often a well-chosen book is claimed as a port in the storm of tough times. The next time your spirit hungers for cozy and reassuring, try (or revisit) one of these comfort reads:

I Capture the Castle book coverI Capture the Castle
by Dodie Smith
Story of a bright 17 year old girl living in semi-poverty in an old English castle, told through her journal entries. By the time she pens her final entry, she has “captured the castle”– and the heart of the reader– in one of literature’s most enchanting entertainments.
Little Prince book coverThe Little Prince
by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
An aviator whose plane is forced down in the Sahara Desert encounters a little prince from a small planet who relates his adventures in seeking the secret of what is important in life.
Cranford book coverCranford
by Elizabeth Gaskell
A comic portrait of early Victorian life in a country town which describes with poignant wit the uneventful lives of its lady-like inhabitants, offering an ironic commentary on the separate spheres and diverse experiences of men and women.

 

Jonathan Livingston Seagull book coverJonathan Livingston Seagull
by Richard Bach
More concerned with the dynamics of his flight than with gathering food, Jonathan is scorned by the other seagulls in this story perfect for those who follow their hearts and who make their own rules.
The Princess Bride
by William Goldman
A classic swashbuckling romance retells the tale of a drunken swordsman and a gentle giant who come to the aid of Westley, a handsome farm boy, and Buttercup, a princess in dire need of rescue from the evil schemers surrounding her.
Pride and Prejudice book coverPride & Prejudice
by Jane Austen
Human foibles and early nineteenth-century manners are satirized in this romantic tale of English country family life as Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters are encouraged to marry well in order to keep the Bennet estate in their family.

 

At Home in Mitford book coverAt Home in Mitford
by Jan Karon
Longing for change in the face of burnout, Episcopal rector Father Tim finds his lonely bachelor existence enriched by a stray dog, a lonely boy, and a pretty neighbor.
Hobbit book coverThe Hobbit
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Bilbo Baggins, a respectable, well-to-do hobbit, lives comfortably in his hobbit-hole until the day the wandering wizard Gandalf chooses him to take part in an adventure from which he may never return.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
by Alan Bradley
Eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, an aspiring chemist with a passion for poison, begins her adventure when a dead bird is found on the doorstep of her family’s mansion in the summer of 1950, thus propelling her into a mystery that involves an investigation into a man’s murder where her father is the main suspect.

 

 

Book Discussion Questions: The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

The Boston Girl book cvoerTitle: The Boston Girl
Author: Anita Diamant
Page Count: 322 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Tone: Dramatic, Reflective

Summary:
Recounting the story of her life to her granddaughter, octogenarian Addie describes how she was raised in early-twentieth-century America by Jewish immigrant parents in a teeming multicultural neighborhood.

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

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement: 2017 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1) When Aaron courts Addie, he says he’s going to turn her into a real Boston girl by taking her to the symphony, Red Sox game, and Harvard Yard. Where would you take someone to turn them into a real Chicago girl?

2) One definition of historical fiction says that the goal of historical fiction is to bring history to life in novel form. Did Diamant succeed?

3)Did you learn something from The Boston Girl?

4) What impression do you think would you get of the United States if you were from another country and reading this book?

5) Where the characters beliefs and mannerisms appropriate for the time?

6) Diamant titled the book The Boston Girl. With what you know about Boston, do you think her life would have played out the same way in another city? How important is location to the story line?

7) How would you describe it the tone and style of The Boston Girl? Did that work for you as a reader?

8) Addie’s granddaughter asks her what made her the woman she is today. Addie’s answer is a monologue. Would The Boston Girl have been as effective told in a different way?

Diamant says that she was concerned that Addie’s story leading to a happy marriage might be too small and mundane to keep readers turning the pages. From Diamant: “But once I made Addie the narrator, I realized- or remembered- that we don’t experience history in the abstract; we live inside of it. Addie experiences the momentous events of the early 20th century at eye level. A girl bobs her hair. A veteran of the Great War collapses on the beach. A friend dies because she ignores the warnings about the flu epimic and goes dancing. In Addie’s life, the geopolitical is personal, the immigrant success sage is hantued by loss and despair: war and disease are tests of reliance, even for those on the sidelines. Even for those who survive.”

9) What national or global events happened during Addie’s lifetime?

10) Which ones does she mention? Do you feel she was deeply affected by them?

11) If you were retelling your life story, what weight would you give large scale events?

12) Some critics unfavorably compared this to The Red Tent, which has a more serious mood and is told in the third person. Do you think literary fiction is as effective when the tone is cheerful? Why or why not?

13) Describe Addie’s mom. Are Addie and her sisters equally affected by her?

14) Celia was the most loved by Mameh and had her whole family’s love. She married Levine, a kind man. Why do you think Celia found life so very difficult?

15) Her other sister, Betty, is described by Addie as the most like her mom. What made Addie say that? Do you agree? Did your feelings for Betty change as the story progressed?

16) How would you describe Addie? What do you think made her able to stand up to her mom?

17) This is how Addie describes her father: “I didn’t know my father very well. It wasn’t like today, where fathers change diapers and read books to their children. When I was growing up, men worked all day, and when they came home we were supposed to be quiet and leave them alone.” It seems as if Addie absolves her father of responsibility to his family because of the times. Do you agree? Was he at all to blame for the home dynamic?

18) How does Addie’s world begin to expand beyond her home?

19) Who were some of the people who gave her a chance? Do you have a favorite, or one character that you think made the biggest difference in her life?

20) She had a lot of good fortune with the people she met- people willing to give her friendship, learning opportunities, vacation destinations, and jobs. Was this a realistic portrayal of life for a young female, Jewish daughter of immigrants? Is it within the realm of possibility?

21) Some people Addie mentions were definitely not friends, but she included them in her answer to Ava about how she became the woman she is today. One of them was her first romantic interest, Harold, “the wolf.” Why do you think she told her granddaughter about him? Why do you think she continued to see Harold?

22)Addie says, “I’m still embarrassed and mad at myself. But after seventy years, I also feel sorry for the girl I used to be. She was awfully hard on herself.” What does she mean?

23) It’s actually Harold who calls her, “My favorite Boston girl.” (p 82) If you were going to call yourself _______boy/girl, how would you fill in the blank?

24) Addie’s next boyfriend is Ernie. She doesn’t seem too emotional about him, and decided to let him go, so why do you think he is included in her story about what shaped her? What did she learn from him?

25) Addie says that many young women were focused on getting married. What do you believe she was focused on?

26) The chapter where Addie meets her future husband, Aaron Metsky, is entitled “Never apologize for being smart.” What connections do you make between the title and Addie and Aaron’s relationship?

27) Addie spends more time talking about her jobs along the way: cleaning for the summer, working for her brother in law, the newspaper office than she does about her current job. How were these experiences important enough to relay to her granddaughter?

28) Addie tries on pants for the first time (p.108) when she and Filomena visit Leslie and Morelli. Addie says, “It makes me want to try riding a bicycle and ice skating and all kinds of things.” Leslie asks what other kinds of things and Addie answers, “I’d go to college.” Do you believe that clothes so powerfully affect what a person feels capable of doing?

29) Would you say Addie had a blessed life, or a difficult one?

30) Based on Ava’s question at the beginning of the book, “What made you the woman you are today?”, how would you speculate Ava saw her grandmother?

31) Addie answers through a book’s worth of stories. If you were to sum it up, what made Addie the woman she is today?

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

Other Resources:

Reading Group Guide from publisher
Washington Post book review
Q&A with Anita Diamant
Anita Diamant interview with Jewish Book Council
Biography of Anita Diamant

Readalikes:

Someone book coverSomeone
by Alice McDermott

Florence Gordon book coverFlorence Gordon
by Brian Morton

Triangle book coverTriangle
by Katharine Weber

Staff Pick: The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

Jenny from Fiction/AV/Teen suggests The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

The Hopefuls book coverBeth’s husband Matt accepts a job with President Barack Obama’s staff, relocating the couple from Wisconsin to Washington D.C. While this head-first plunge into politics has ignited a new dream and passion for Matt, Beth is left adrift and skeptical of this move. She has no job ambition, no friends, and despises the political scene. Plus, now they live close to her in-laws who she does not get along with. However, there is hope as Matt and Beth get close to another White House staffer, Jimmy Dillon, and his wife Ashleigh. The couples hit it off and become inseparable. But as Jimmy progressively moves up in his career, their friendship must start weathering new tensions of jealousy, competitiveness, and resentment.

If you have in-laws you’re less than happy about, if you have interest in the social side of politics, if the tension of compromising to pursue dreams in relationships draws you, and/or you just want to read a solid contemporary piece of fiction where the characters are very much human with all of their error and grace, The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close is for you! Try it in audio! The audiobook, narrated by Jorjeana Marie, makes for an incredible reading experience.

For more books of new beginnings and the drama of political social life, try…

Eighteen Acres book coverEighteen Acres by Nicolle Wallace
Three women–White House chief of staff Melanie Kingston, White House correspondent Dale Smith, and president Charlotte Kramer–struggle through a year filled with lies, tragedies, and difficult decisions.
Trudy Hopedale book coverTrudy Hopedale by Jeffrey Frank
The follies and foibles of the nation’s capital are seen from the perspective of quintessential Washington hostess Trudy Hopedale and her social-climbing friend, Donald Frizzâe, during the summer and fall of 2000.

 

Piece of Mind book coverPiece of Mind by Michelle Adelman
Unable to relate to people or hold a job after suffering a head injury in early childhood, talented artist Lucy is forced out of her protective Jewish home and into a New York City studio apartment with her college-age brother, where she struggles to adapt to life without a safety net.
American Wife book coverAmerican Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld
When her husband is elected president of the United States, Alice Blackwell finds her new life as first lady increasingly tumultuous as she reflects on the privileges and difficulties of her position as her private beliefs conflict with her public responsibilities.
The Senator's Wife book coverThe Senator’s Wife by Sue Miller
Two unconventional women, neighbors in adjacent New England townhouses–Meri Fowler, pregnant, newly married, and discovering the gap between reality and expectation, and Delia Naughton, wife of a notoriously unfaithful liberal senator–confront the costs and challenges of love.

 

List: Solar Eclipses in Fiction

While you wait down the days to August 21, check out a novel that counts a solar eclipse as a major plot point. Choose from classic, thriller, science fiction, general fiction, historical mystery, or a whole lot of horror. Maybe it’s the dark? 

Strength of the Sun book coverThe Strength of the Sun
Catherine Chidgey
Dolores Claiborne book cover

Dolores Claiborne
Stephen King

He Said_She Said book coverHe Said / She Said
Erin Kelly

 
 

Geralds Game book coverGerald’s Game
Stephen King

Eclipse book coverEclipse
John Banville

Nightfall book cover

Nightfall
Isaac Asimov & Robert Silverberg

Book Discussion Questions: Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt

Tell the Wolves I'm Home book coverTitle: Tell the Wolves I’m Home
Author: Carol Rifka Brunt
Page Count: 360 pages
Genre: Coming-of-age
Tone: Moving, Atmospheric

Summary:
Her world upended by the death of a beloved artist uncle who was the only person who understood her, fourteen-year-old June is mailed a teapot by her uncle’s grieving friend, with whom June forges a poignant relationship.

 

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

The Library is happy to share these original questions for your use. If reproducing, please credit with the following statement: 2017 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1) June is sensitive, self-aware, and imaginative. How do these qualities affect her skills as a narrator? How does first-person narration in this book help you feel connected to June?

2) How do you feel about books told from the perspective of a child or teen? Does this perspective work well in Tell the Wolves I’m Home? (Is a story limited or enhanced when told from child’s p.o.v.?)

3) How do the characters’ actions reflect the attitudes toward HIV/AIDS in the mid-1980s? Has this element of fear and stigma changed with increased public knowledge?

4) This book won an ALA Alex Award in 2013, which is an award for adult books with special appeal to teens, and was given Adult Book for Teen/YA distinction from at least two major book reviews (Booklist and School Library Journal). What is it about this book that would be of interest to teens?

5) Why is Finn so special to June? How does he understand her in ways that others don’t?

6) What do you think of June’s feelings for Finn? Do you think it is unusual for a teenager to develop a strong attachment to a relative?

7) What are June’s initial motives for meeting with Toby? How does she move beyond her initial feelings of hate and distrust? As their friendship develops, how would you describe their connection?

8) As June gets to know Toby, she discovers things she hadn’t known about Finn before and questions how well she actually knew him. What do you think — Should she doubt her closeness to Finn? How much information do you believe is necessary to fully know a person?

9) Do you find it believable that Finn would hide his partner Toby from the family? Why did he do this? If this book was set in 2017, do you think this would have been different?

10) Do you think Toby was a good friend for June? Did their relationship end up being what Finn had hoped would occur after his passing?

11) How did you respond to the portrayal of June’s relationship with Greta? Do you believe one was more to blame than the other for their drifting apart? Beyond their sibling rivalry, what are their similarities and differences? What is the outlook for their relationship at the end of the book?

12) Think about the title of the book, and painting; what does the wolf symbolize for June? For Finn? And other characters?

13) What is it about the medieval era that appeals to June? What other types of escapism does she pursue? Think about the other characters – are they also in their own little world one way or another?

14) In an interview with BookTalk podcast (10/7/15), Brunt said she’s not a fan of villains being in a story. Do you believe there are any villains in Tell the Wolves I’m Home?

15) How did the 1980s references contribute to the book’s setting? (news stories, popular culture, consumer goods)

16) June writes of her self-doubt many times. She is afraid of appearing stupid and is highly aware of the limitations of her knowledge. She struggles with identifying what it is that people see in her (what she means to others). How has June changed by the end of the book? Is she a stronger person? Is she more sure of her place in the world?

17) In her interview with BookPage, Brunt said “the gift of the novel lies in the emotional connection it can provide” (vs. nonfiction). “A novel has the ability to put the reader right inside a character, to let the reader understand the way another person thinks and feels. So, that’s my mission as a novelist—to use the novel to emotionally connect with readers.” Did she succeed? Did you connect with June and perhaps with other characters too? Who did you connect with the most and why?

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

Other Resources:

Reader’s Guide for Tell the Wolves I’m Home
Author website, includes an inspiration gallery
Bookpage interview with Carol Rifka Brunt
NY Daily News interview with Carol Rifka Brunt
Carol Rifka Brunt discusses her work (video)

Readalikes:

Cruel Beautiful World book coverCruel Beautiful World
by Caroline Leavitt

The Sea of Tranquility book coverThe Sea of Tranquility
by Katja Millay

faithful book coverFaithful
by Alice Hoffman

Fiction: Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? by Kathleen Collins

Picture ofNancyKathleen Collins was an African-American playwright, filmmaker, educator, and civil rights activist who died at the age of 46 in 1988. Whatever Happened to Interracial Love? is a newly published collection of short stories she wrote in the 1970s. There are breathtaking as well as quieter stories, many with a focus on race and gender that feel just as relevant today.

Fiction: Sometimes I Lie and Sometimes I Don’t by Nadja Spiegel

Picture of Summer Reading House headerThere are 5 more days until the end of Summer Reading! Every day during our countdown we will be featuring slices of library life, books, and topics designed to help you out as you work through 2017 Summer Reading at Mount Prospect. Read more about how you can join in on this celebration of reading and enter to win prizes!

sometimes i lie and sometimes i don't book cover

“It’s like that feeling in church when you accidentally drop the car keys you’ve been fidgeting away with. It feels like breathing in and trembling and waiting and waiting until someone says you can breathe out. And that’s how it should be.”

In the vein of Miranda July and Lauren Holmes, Nadja Spiegel curiously pokes at the emotional side of living in her debut collection of stories, Sometimes I Lie and Sometimes I Don’t. Most of the stories in this collection don’t have much of a plot, rather choosing to spend it’s time weaving in and out of sharing observations and exploring relationships between family, friends, lovers, and acquaintances. If you were drawn to the experimental style of Jenny Offil’s Dept. of Speculation, Spiegel’s suave ability of playing with structure and narration will be an extra treat.

Read this for summer reading!

For the DIY Designers…
This book may be counted as a book of short stories or a book under 150 pages.

For the Master Class Designers…
This may count as a book that has been translated from another language, a book of short stories or as a book highlighted on the MPPL website.