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Asked at the Desk: Holiday Fiction

Picture of Fiction/AV/Teen desk

The year wraps up with a month of various festivities and celebrations. As we embrace past holiday traditions or forge ahead making new ones, sometimes we just want to pause in the midst of the bustle to curl up with a good book, finding comfort in a seasonal story. This month we have had several patrons asking for holiday book recommendations. These are just some of the titles we have in our collection.

Alaskan Holiday book coverAlaskan Holiday
Debbie Macomber
Lighting the Flames book coverLighting the Flames
Sarah Wendell
Holiday Cheer book coverHoliday Cheer
Rochelle Alers
my true love gave to me book coverMy True Love Gave to Me
Stephanie Perkins
Hiddensee book coverHiddensee
Gregory Maguire
One Day in December book coverOne Day in December
Josie Silver
Remembrance book coverRemembrance
Mary Monroe
Burning Bright
Megan Hart
Skipping Christmas book coverSkipping Christmas
John Grisham

Season of Wonder book coverSeason of Wonder
RaeAnne Thayne

Interested in more suggestions? Stop by Fiction/AV/Teen Services on the second floor to ask at the desk yourself, or ask online to visit our virtual desk.

DVD: Family Friendly Movies

Popcorn imageThe start of winter often brings a break to the hustle and bustle of life. If you are looking for a movie or show sure to please a wide range of ages at your house, try one of these!

 

 

Duck Soup DVD cover

Duck Soup, Starring the Marx Brothers (1933)

In this political satire, Groucho is Rufus T. Firefly, the hilarious dictator of mythical Freedonia, while Harpo and Chico are commissioned as spies by his political rival.

 

The Princess Bride DVD coverThe Princess Bride, Starring Peter Falk, Billy Crystal, Fred Savage, Robin Wright (1987)

When the beautiful maiden Buttercup hears that her true love Westley is dead, she reluctantly agrees to marry the loathsome Prince Humperdinck. After Westley returns to rescue Buttercup, the two begin an epic adventure filled with fencing, fighting, giants, monsters, miracles, true love and hilarity!

 

Hidden Figures DVD coverHidden Figures, Starring Taraji P. Henson, Dorothy Vaughn, Octavia Spencer (2017)

As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.

 

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon DVD coverCrouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Starring Chow Yun Fat, Michelle Yeoh (2000)

Unspoken affection binds Li Mu Bai (Yun Fat), who has vowed to avenge his master’s death, and Shu Lien (Yeoh), as they join forces to recover the master’s stolen sword, Green Destiny.

 

Mythbusters Season 1 DVD coverMythbusters, Television Series (2003 – present)

Watch as pop culture’s most baffling urban myths and legends are debunked, decoded and demystified in tests that separate the real from the really out there.

Chelsea’s Pick: This Is Just My Face by Gabourey Sidibe

This Is Just My Face: Try Not To StareChelsea Staff Pick Photo was incredibly funny. Gabourey Sidibe is so unusually honest in her memoir. She is able to tell you her life’s highlights and traumas in her extraordinarily sarcastic way. I was laughing out loud at things that I thought were maybe crossing the line at some points, but it didn’t matter—and that’s her point!

Book Discussion Questions: Behold the Dreamers

behold the dreamers book coverTitle: Behold the Dreamers
Author: Imbolo Mbue
Page Count: 382 pages
Genre: Mainstream Fiction
Tone: Fast-Paced, Compelling, Immigrant Experience

Summary: In 2007, Manhattan-based Cameroonian immigrant Jende Jonga gets a job chauffeuring for Lehman Brothers executive Clark Edwards, easing the financial strain on his family. At first, all goes well, but problems in the Edwards’ marriage lead to problems for the Jongas, and when Lehman falls, both families are caught up in the terrible aftermath. The Jongas — at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, fearing deportation — have much more to lose than the wealthy Edwards family, but together provide a perspective on the accessibility (or lack thereof) of the American Dream, as well as a poignant look at globalization and immigrant life.

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: 2018 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. Jende is trying to get a green card and stay in the U.S. We learn that that he is seeking asylum, using an invented excuse (his girlfriend’s father wants to kill him). What did you think about this?

2. Why do you think Jende wanted to come to the United States?

3. Jende’s cousin Jende was helping Jende to come here. What do you think differentiated their experiences in the U.S.?

4. What was your initial impression of Jende’s lawyer, Bubaker?

5. While Jende is driving Clark, they are having a conversation wherein Jende extols the virtues of Limbe. Clark then asked him why he wants to stay in America:

Jende: “Because my country is no good…..I stay in my country I would have nothing. My son will grow up and be poor like me, just like I was poor like my father. But in America, Sir? I can become something.”

What do you think of Jende’s comments? Does his view change by the end of the story?

6. We are introduced to Lehman Brothers and right away, start seeing the cracks. Clark seemed to know what was happening with Lehman Brothers. Do you see any culpability on his part? What do you think he should have or could have done?

7. Did you feel empathy for Clark?

8. Jende and Neni get married at city hall. Jende told Clark that it wasn’t the marriage certificate that made him feel married; it was the bride price he paid. Your thoughts.

9. Let’s explore Jende and Neni’s relationship. What did you think about their marriage?

10. Can you compare Clark and Jende? What do you see as the differences between how their diverse cultures treat women.

11. What were your thoughts initially about Cindy? Were you surprised by how her character developed?

12. Jende’s brother called for him to send money because he couldn’t afford tuition for his kids. Cindy gives him $500. He sends $300 and pockets the rest. What should he have done with the money?

13. Let’s look at the children; we’ll start with Vince Edwards. He turned down a prestigious internship, wants to drop out of law school and move to India to “find his truth.” What did you think about that? Did Vince like the United States?

14. What did you think of Mighty? Do you think the Jongas genuinely liked him?

15. Let’s look at Neni’s character. What did you think of her as a mother? How do you think her parenting style compares with a typical American born mother? Jende as a father? The Clarks as parents?

16. When working for Cindy Edward at the vacation house, Neni finds Cindy passed out in her room and doesn’t know what to do. Jende tells her to pretend she sees nothing. What did you think about this?

17. Anna the housekeeper wants Neni to talk to Clark about Cindy’s drinking. Not knowing what is going to happen to Cindy, if you were in Neni’s position, what would you have done?

18. What did you think about Neni’s desire to join a church?

19. Jende was very upset that Neni told the church about their immigration status.

“For the first time in a long love affair she was afraid he would beat her…and if he had, she would have known that it was not her Jende who was beating her, but a grotesque being created by the sufferings of an American Immigrant life.”

What did you think about Jenda’s reaction? What about how Neni response to Jende’s anger?

20. Cindy approaches Jende and wants him to spy on Clark. What should Jende have done? What did you think of Winston’s’ suggestion that Jende blackmail Cindy, with her drug use, in order to get her to stop pushing him to spy on Clark?

21. Ripped from actual headlines, comes a scandal. An “escort” is interviewed by the paper and mentions Clark by title and said that her services were being paid for by bailout money. What were your thoughts?

22. After Lehman collapses, who was affected most by it? Victimless?

23. Clark fires Jende. How did you feel about that?

24. Neni went to Mrs. Edward to try to get Jende’s job back, let’s talk about that? Could you sympathize with Neni’s blackmail attempt because of her situation?

25. Do you think this was something Neni would have done when she was living in Limbe? Did America change her? What did you think of Jende’s reaction to the money Neni got from Mrs. Edwards?

26. Why do you think Neni was so desperate to stay in America? Was her experience so different from Jende’s?

27. What did you think of her idea of divorcing Jende and marrying her friend’s cousin? What were your thoughts at her idea to let her professor adopt Liomi?

28. Let’s talk about Neni’s conversation with Dean Flipkins. She wanted his help with a scholarship and he denied her. What did you think about that?

29. Let’s talk about Cindy’s death. Do you believe that Neni was complicit? Were you surprised at how guilty she felt?

30. Vince called Neni to step in as Mighty’s nanny. What did you think of Neni’s decision not to help?

31. Jende makes the decision to go back home. What did you think about that? Why did he make this decision? Do you think Neni had a choice about leaving the country?

32. At the end of the novel, there were several characters that seemed to change their opinions of living in the U.S.:
a. Winston said, “one day …there will be no more Mexicans crossing the border to come to America”
b. Fatou said, “after 26 years, she was ready to stop braiding hair for a living and go back home”, her children wanted nothing to do with West Africa and she wondered if they thought they were better than her.
c. Natasha said, “remember when we welcomed our visitors at Ellis Island with lunch boxes and free medical checkups. They (the Jongas) are returning home because we as a country have forgotten how to welcome strangers.”

What were your thoughts?

33. Jende went to see Clark at the end to thank him for all he did and told him he was a good man. Thoughts. Why do you think Jende never went to Clark for help?

24. Do you think the Jonga’s will be happy back in Limbe? Why/Why Not? Did America change Jende?

35. Is New York a good place for immigrants? Did this book give you any insight into immigration in the United States?

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

OTHER RESOURCES:

NPR’s Book Review
The New York Time’s Book Review
Imbolo Mbue’s official author website
LitLovers discussion guide
Lithub interview with Imbolo Mbue

READALIKES:

Cover of AmericanahAmericanah
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

little bee book coverLittle Bee
by Chris Cleave

Homegoing book coverHomegoing
by Yaa Gyasi

Donna C’s Pick: The Wingman by David Pepper

Donna C Staff Pick photoJack Sharpe is an investigative television news reporter. Congressman Anthony Bravo is a decorated Iraq War veteran and a Democratic candidate for president. In the fast-paced political thriller The Wingman by David Pepper, these two characters become embroiled in a high-stakes world entangled in dark money, deep pockets and scandal at every turn.

Books: Native American Heritage Month

In celebration of Native American Heritage month this November, treat yourself to one of these wonderful books written by Native American authors.

Murder on the Red River book coverMurder on the Red River by Marcie R. Rendon

Cash and Wheaton—a strange partnership. He pulled her from her mother’s wrecked car when she was three. Northern Minnesota, cold Indian Country. Wheaton kept an eye out. So there they are, staring at the unidentified dead Indian. Cash said he was Red Lake. Dreamed his cheap house on the reservation, mother and kids waiting. That’s the place to start looking.

There There book coverThere There by Tommy Orange

Urban Indians living in Oakland, California, who converge and collide on one fateful day. As we learn the reasons that each person is attending the Big Oakland Powwow—some generous, some fearful, some joyful, some violent—momentum builds toward a shocking yet inevitable conclusion that changes everything.

Trail of LightningTrail of Lightning book cover by Rebecca Roanhorse

While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters. Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last best hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much more terrifying than anything she could imagine.

The Man Who Heard the Land book coverThe Man Who Heard the Land by Diane Glancy

An unnamed man driving a lonely Minnesota highway hears the voice of the land–but he can’t make out what it has said. The man is a professor who teaches a ‘Literature and the Environment’ course, but he soon realizes that there is much he must still learn about the land, his past, and his home state. What follows is a kind of odyssey of self-discovery. He submerges himself into the history of the region, trying to piece together geology, Native folklore, and early explorer literature, all in an effort to decipher what the land has said.

Hearts Unbroken book coverHearts Unbroken by Cynthia Leitich Smith

When Louise’s first real boyfriend mocks and disrespects Native people in front of her, she breaks things off and dumps him over e-mail. It’s her senior year, anyway, and she’d rather spend her time with her family and friends and working on the school newspaper. The editors pair her up with Joey Kairouz, and in no time the paper’s staff find themselves with a major story to cover: the school musical director’s inclusive approach to casting The Wizard of Oz has been provoking backlash in their mostly white, middle-class Kansas town. Long-held prejudices are being laid bar. As tensions mount at school, so does a romance between Lou and Joey — but as she’s learned, “dating while Native” can be difficult.

Cathleen’s Pick: Listen to Me by Hannah Pittard

Cathleen's Staff Pick photoAs if road trips through difficult weather weren’t already minefields, the slim-but-potent Listen to Me employs the perceptions – and baggage – of an isolated couple to craft delicious strain in the narrative. Even more impressive is how author Hannah Pittard calls upon the reader’s preconceptions to coil additional tension in a masterpiece of character-driven suspense.

Books: Timely Horror

As the leaves fall and the air chills, All Hallows’ Eve brings with it a turn toward the sinister and dark. For those looking for a spine-tingling, hair-raising accompaniment to your Halloween weekend, look no further than these recent tales…

if you dare.

The Devil Crept In book coverThe Devil Crept In by Ania Ahlborn

Young Jude Brighton has been missing for three days, and while the search for him is in full swing in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, the locals are aware that after the first 48 hours the odds usually point to a worst-case scenario. Despite Stevie Clark’s youth, he knows that, too. He knows what each ticking moment may mean for his cousin and best friend. And there was that boy, Max Larsen…found dead after also disappearing under mysterious circumstances. And then there were the animals: pets gone missing out of yards. The awful truth may be too horrifying to imagine.

Strange Weather book coverStrange Weather by Joe Hill

A collection of four short, chilling novels.”Snapshot” is the disturbing story of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid Instant Camera that erases memories. In “rain” a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado erupts with a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. In “Aloft” s young man takes to the skies to experience his first parachute jump. . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud. In “Loaded,” a mall security guard in a coastal Florida town courageously stops a mass shooting, but under the glare of the spotlights, his story begins to unravel.

Universale Harvester book coverUniversal Harvester by John Darnielle

Jeremy works at the Video Hut. It’s good enough for Jeremy: it’s a job, and it gets him out of the house, where he lives with his dad and where they both try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a car wreck. But when a local schoolteacher comes in to return a tape, she has an odd complaint: “There’s something on it.” Two days later, a different customer returns a tape and says “There’s another movie on this tape.” Jeremy brings the movies home to take a look. The middle of each movie is replaced by a few minutes of jagged, poorly lit home video. The scenes are odd and sometimes violent, dark, and deeply disquieting and have been shot just outside of town.

Sleeping BeautiesSleeping Beauties book cover by Stephen King and Owen King

In this spectacular father-son collaboration, Stephen King and Owen King tell the highest of high-stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men? In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place.

The Dark Net book coverThe Dark Net by Benjamin Percy

The Dark Net is real. An anonymous and often criminal arena that exists in the secret far reaches of the Web, some use it to manage Bitcoins, pirate movies and music, or traffic in drugs and stolen goods. And now, an ancient darkness is gathering there. This force is threatening to spread virally into the real world unless it can be stopped by members of a ragtag crew, including a twelve-year-old who has been fitted with a high-tech visual prosthetic to combat her blindness; a technophobic journalist; a one-time child evangelist with an arsenal in his basement; and a hacker who believes himself a soldier of the Internet. Set in present-day Portland, this is a cracked-mirror version of the digital nightmare we already live in.

Book Discussion Questions: The Woman in Cabin 10

The Woman in Cabin 10 book coverTitle: The Woman in Cabin Ten
Author: Ruth Ware
Page Count: 340 pages
Genre: Psychological Suspense
Tone: Menacing, Uncertain, Tense

Summary: An intruder in the middle of the night leaves Lo Blacklock feeling vulnerable. Trying to shake off her fears, she hopes her big break of covering the maiden voyage of the luxury cruise ship, the Aurora, will help. The first night of the voyage changes everything. What did she really see in the water and who was the woman in the cabin next door? The claustrophobic feeling of being on a ship and the twists and turns of who, and what, makes it difficult to know what to believe.

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: 2018 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

1. The book starts with a prologue, “In my dream, the girl was drifting, far, far below the crashing waves and the cries of the gulls in the cold, sunless depth of the North Sea. Her laughing eyes were white and bloated with salt water; her pale skin was wrinkled; her clothes ripped by jagged rocks and disintegrating into rags.” How did this set the tone of the book for you?

    1. 2. The story dives right in. Chapter 1, as we are introduced to the books’ protagonist, Lo Blacklock; we are immediately thrust into a home invasion. It was a short chapter but a lot happens. How did this opening feel to you?

3. Did you have any initial opinions of Lo?

4. We go from Lo’s apartment being broken into, to the scene in Jude’s flat where Lo accidentally knocks out Jude’s tooth. Let’s talk about this and their relationship?

5. What were your initial impressions of Jude?

6. Lo goes on the cruise. Do you think she should have gone? What did you think of the ship?

7. Lo wakes up at 3am. “Something had woken me up. Something that left me jumpy and strung out as a meth addict. Why did I keep thinking of a scream?” She picked up her book and then heard something else, “something that barely registered above the sound of the engine and the slap of the waves, a sound so soft that the scrap of a paper against paper almost drowned it out. It was the noise of the veranda door in the next cabin sliding gently open.” She believed that she heard the splash made by a body hitting water. What did you think?

8. What did you think about Lo’s interaction with the ships security Johann Nilsson?

9. We start to see emails/texts from Jude wondering if anyone has heard from Lo. How did this affect the story for you?

10. The morning after “the murder,” Lo checks out the entire staff of the ship looking for the woman she saw in Cabin 10. She told the staff that she heard a scream and then felt the mention of the scream had been a mistake; she felt “the staff had closed ranks.” What do you think of that? Did you think the staff was hiding something?

11. No staff seemed to be missing, no passengers were missing, and Lo’s career could be on the line.  Why do you think she pursued her line of inquiry? Would you?

12. As the story continues, it is clear that Nillsen seemed to doubt Lo’s suspicions of foul play.  Thoughts?

13. Lo approached Lord Richard Bullmer about her belief of a possible murder. Did you think this was a good idea? Let’s talk about their interaction.

14. Ben Howard, Lo’s ex-boyfriend, becomes an important character in the book. What did you think about him?

15. In the middle of the book, the prologue comes into play. Lo goes to the spa and gets a mud wrap, as she goes into the shower, she sees written across the steam mirror the words “stop digging” and on the very next page, we read that Lo’s body was found by a Danish Fisherman. Where did the story go for you at this point?

16. Lo asked Karla (her cabin attendant) if she knew anything. Karla said she felt sorry for Lo and that Nillson thinks she is paranoid. Karla proceeds to tell Lo that the staff all needed their jobs and that she (Karla) has a son. “Just because perhaps someone let a friend use an empty cabin, that doesn’t mean she was killed, you know” and Lo shouldn’t “make trouble if nothing happened.” What did you think about this conversation?

17. Ernst Solberg was an investor who was supposed to be in Cabin 10, we find out that he was not on the cruise because his home was burglarized & his passport was stolen. Was this related to Lo’s break in?

18. There is an online “Whodunit” thread discussing Lo’s disappearance. What did you think about that?

19. Lo sees the girl from Cabin 10 outside her door and goes after her. Lo is then “kidnapped.” By this time, did you have your list of suspects? Who did you think was the Woman in Cabin 10?

20. Lo starts pumping her kidnapper for information. The kidnapper said, “You’re digging your grave, do you get that?” What did you think of Lo at this point?

21. What was your opinion of Carrie?

22. By the end of the book, what did you think of Lo?

23. Lo is home with Judah. They are in bed and she starts crying. Lo says “I can’t stop thinking of her, I can’t accept it, it’s all wrong.” Let’s talk about this.

24. Why do you think Lo had such a hard time accepting what happened to Lord Bullmer?

25. Why do you think Lo had a change of heart at the end of the novel and decided to move to New York?

  1. 26. What did you think of the last page of the novel, a deposit of 40,000 Swiss Franc went into Lo’s account with the reference “Tigger’s Bounce?”
  1. 27. Were there unanswered questions in the plot? If so, what wasn’t covered or finalized in the ending?
  1. 28. How effective were the email messages and articles in moving the story forward?

29. What did you think of Ruth Ware’s writing style? Were there any passages that struck you?

  1. 30. How would you describe the book?
  1. 31. What do you think of the following statement?: “We mostly don’t believe women, especially angry women.” (A 2015 study from Arizona State University that focused on jury reactions showed how angry men gain influence while angry women lose it.)

32. Would this have been a different read if it had been a male protagonist?

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

OTHER RESOURCES:

YouTube Book Trailer
Book of the Month
Ruth Ware’s official author website
LitLovers discussion guide
Culturefly interview with Ruth Ware “Interview with Ruth Ware”

READALIKES:

I See You book coverI See You
by Clare Mackintosh

The Couple Next Door book coverThe Couple Next Door
by Shari Lapena

Every Last Lie book coverEvery Last Lie
by Mary Kubica