Month: April 2014

Check It Out Blog

Music: All People by Michael Franti and Spearhead

All People album coverSongs of longing, songs for the socially active mind, songs of joy – Michael Franti and Spearhead bring them all on their latest album, All People. Franti began his music career as an angry punk, but through the years, the anger has turned to even deeper attention to lyrical detail, giving hope against – rather than only railing at – the wrongs of the world. Is it reggae? Is it rap? Is it pop? Whatever it is, All People’s celebratory, optimistic songs want to make you smile. Most people know Michael Franti and Spearhead through their last album’s smash hit “Say Hey (I Love You)”, but there is much, much more to explore in this upbeat, empowering band.

Staff Pick: Big Brother by Lionel Shriver

Cynthia staff picks photoLionel Shriver’s Big Brother deftly challenges ideas about food, success, and loyalty. Pandora puts a lot on the line when her older brother, an NYC jazz musician, shows up in Iowa having gained a shocking amount of weight. His large presence shakes her status quo and leads to a spur of the moment decision.

Nonfiction: Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel

Thank you for Your Service book coverDavid Finkel follows his bestselling The Good Soldiers, in which he reported from the frontlines of Baghdad while embedded with the US 2-16 Infantry Battalion, with the ironically titled Thank You for Your Service. In Thank You for Your Service, Finkel once again follows the 2-16, but this time they’re stateside. Finkel compassionately looks at what we ask of soldiers when we send them to war and the consequences that war has on soldiers, their loved ones, and their communities. This candid, somber book is brilliant war-time journalism where Finkel does not put himself in the narrative. This is the story of the remaining 2-16 outlined by Finkel, but also told through their own diaries, emails, text messages, and medical reports.

New: Mystery, Thriller, and Suspense

Every Friday the Library will bring you short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.

For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.

New: Mystery Books

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line book coverThe Rich and the Dead book coverDead People book cover

The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
The Rich and the Dead by Liv Spector
Dead People by Ewart Hutton
Spirits Revived by Alice Duncan
Social Death by Tatiana Boncampagni
Baudelaire’s Revenge by Bob van Laerhoven
Dead of Summer by Mari Jungstedt
Murder at the Breakers by Alyssa Maxwell
Deal Killer by Vicki Doudera
The Color of Light by Wendy Hornsby

New: Thriller and Suspense

The Intern's Handbook book coverEverything to Lose book coverThe Troop book cover

The Intern’s Handbook by Shane Kuhn
Everything to Lose by Andrew Gross
The Troop by Nick Cutter
She Can Hide by Melinda Leigh
The Cold Nowhere by Brian Freeman
Warriors by Ted Bell
Ruin Falls by Jenny Milchman
Wanted Woman by Eric Jerome Dickey
No Way Back by Matthew Klein
The Deepest Secret by Carla Buckley

Fiction: Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Annihilation book coverFans of sci-fi and horror mixed in equal measure will revel in the foreboding tone, the ever-present dread of Annihilation, the first title in Jeff VanderMeer’s new Southern Reach trilogy. An all-female expedition of four unnamed scientists explores the mysterious “Area X,” a place once home to a peaceful fishing village and adjacent to a military base (or so the women have been told), but that now hosts unfamiliar and dangerous creatures that stalk, write cryptic messages on tower walls, and elicit madness. The novel is scary, and reminds one of doomed-mission flicks like the Alien franchise or the puzzle-piece structure of the TV series Lost. It leaves the story (and the reader) unsettled, begging for the next installment.

Book Discussion Questions: Claude and Camille by Stephanie Cowell

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

Title: Claude and Camille
Author: Stephanie Cowell
Page Count: 338
Genre: Historical, biographical fiction
Tone: Lush, leisurely

Questions composed by MPPL Staff


1. In the beginning of Claude and Camille, Monet’s mentor Boudin said “The only thing I see you lack Claude, is humility. When you learn that, you will do your best.” Do you believe that Claude ever learned humility? Was it necessary for him to succeed? Would Monet have been as successful if Boudin hadn’t challenged him?

2. Where did Claude Monet first see Camille? What was his reaction to her? Is Camille Claude’s muse?

3. What did  you think of the sexuality displayed in Claude and Camille? Did it surprise you?

4. Do you think Camille ever actually intend to marry her fiancé? What would lead you to that conclusion?

5. Claude and Camille ran off together and spent a week in Sevres (which, by the way, is Mt. Prospects Sister City). Claude had painted a picture of Camille (Women in the Garden) and as it was time to go back, he packed the picture away. He said, “My love is inside there now, my love is rolled away in darkness.” What do you think he meant by that? Was he talking about Camille or was the painting his love?

6. Camille is from a wealthy family and had a life of privilege. Do you think Camille realized how much her life would change when she defied her parents to live with Monet? If she had realized do you think she would have made the same choices?

7. What did Camille see in Claude? Why do you think they lived together and didn’t immediately get married?

8. What did you think of Camille’s parents’ attitude towards Claude? How would you feel if she were your daughter?

9. A recurring theme throughout Monet’s life is his refusal to take a job and his insistence on pursuing his art fulltime. What did Camille think about this? What do you think of this? Did you ever admire or agree with Claude’s choice to remain solely an artist? As an artist, do you think he could have achieved the success he did without solely concentrating on his art?

10. Do you think Claude’s father should have helped him more financially? What would you do if you had a budding Monet?

11. Did you wonder if Camille was mentally unstable?

12. When Camille thinks she is pregnant, Claude is clearly not happy, why is that? Why didn’t Claude and Camille marry when she discovered she was pregnant?

13. Claude goes to Le Havre to ask his father for more money after they learned of the pregnancy but he stayed there for quite some time. Why? What did you think of Camille’s reaction?

14. Camille’s first lover was Frédéric Bazille. He lets the cat out of the bag on the day Claude and Camille get married. Why then? Were you surprised to learn who Camille’s 1st lover was? Does Claude have a reason to be upset? Do you think Camille would have had a “better” life had she married Bazille?

15. There is a suggestion that Bazille was in love with Monet and Monet accepts this. What are your thoughts?

16. Was there any way that Claude could have prevented Bazille from going to war? If Frédéric had not died in the war would they have resumed their friendship?

17. Camille tells Claude that she gave up the Theatre for him. Is this a true statement? Why or why not?

18. After Claude and Camille’s argument at the house in Le Havre, Claude goes off to paint and Camille leaves the baby and goes to the shack where they made love. Claude comes home to find the baby crying and cold and angrily goes in search of Camille. What are your thoughts on both of their actions? Who do you sympathize more with?

19. After his suicide attempt, Claude writes Camille the most passionate letter of his life and then he leaves her to go to Le Havre. Why did he leave her? Why doesn’t he take Camille with him?

20. Camille’s uncle suffered a heart attack and she takes over the book store. She and Jean move into the rooms above it. Claude has been writing her sporadically. He writes her passionately and she is silent for three days and then her letter, when it comes, is “cautious.” How does Claude react to this? What does his reaction say about him?

21. How did you feel about Claude taking his family to London to wait out the war? Pissarro said, “…Our friends are safe and so are we….living our lives with the sole justification to paint…” What did you think of the artists? Do you think they were more important than common workers?

22. Monet and Camille were happy when Monet gets a lucrative commission from Ernest Hoschedé to paint some panels on the wall of the gazebo at his wife’s chateau. While there he becomes attracted to Alice Hoschedé. What do you think attracted him to her? Was she attracted to him?

23. Claude claimed to love Camille deeply. He had the example his father set of what happens to a relationship when there is infidelity and yet Claude had a tryst with Alice? Your thoughts?

24. Claude seemed very upset at the idea of Alice’s husband mismanaging her fortune and losing all those things she held dear. How is this different from how Claude took Camille away from her life of privilege and why does he feel so badly for Alice?

25. Claude eventually married Alice. Why? How was Claude and Alice’s relationship different than Claude and Camille’s?

26. Claude seemed genuinely upset over the death of Camille. He was an artist and he painted her on her deathbed as a way to keep her with him. Why was Camille’s sister Annette so horrified to see the picture Claude painted?

27. In the first  interlude Monet  is an old man working on his famous Water Lillies. He is having a difficult time and says, “What can these paintings of water lilies which are such a struggle for me have to do with my long lost love?” What do you think the lillies had to do with Camille? And why were they such a struggle for him?

28. Monet is writing to Camille’s sister Annette asking if she knows about Camille’s old love letters.  Why does he want to see letters written to another man? Why did Annette hate Claude? Why did Annette blame Claude for Camille’s death?

29. Did reading this novel affect how you regard Claude Monet? How?

30. Do you think it is necessary to understand art to love it? Can learning too much about an artist ruin your art appreciation? Explain.


Other Resources
Stephanie Cowell’s official book discussion questions
Lit Lovers‘ book discussion questions
Chocolate and Croissants interview
Huffington Post interview
Passages to the Past interview
Monet documentary

Be sure to stop at the second floor Reference Desk to ask about Claude Monet art history and coffee table books.


If you liked Claude and Camille, try…

The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan
Hidden in the Shadow of the Master: The Model-wives of Cézanne, Monet, and Rodin by Ruth Butler
The Art Forger by B.A. Shapiro

The Painted Girls book cover     Hidden in the Shadow of the Master book cover

Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project

Warming Up book coverThe first of its kind, the Soon to Be Famous Illinois Author Project seeks to promote talented self-published authors and to celebrate the importance and influence of libraries. Mary Hutchings Reed, the nominee of Mount Prospect Public Library, earned high praise as a finalist for Warming Up, a novel that sparks from an incident in which a creative runaway teen cons sixty dollars from a depressed musical actress. One hundred and three books were submitted for consideration, and a panel of over twenty librarians served as judges through a series of eliminations. The chosen winner was Joanne Zienty of Wheaton for The Things We Save.

Visit the Soon to Be Famous page for more information on the finalists, and watch the video below to hear each speak about the importance of story.


Fiction and Nonfiction: Awards Spotlight

Every Friday the Library will bring you short lists of buzz-worthy books in a rotating series of popular genres.  This week we invite you to check out a winner!

Are you drawn to the adventure and panorama of the West?  Try one or more of the Spur Awards honorees:

Light of the World book cover

Crossing Purgatory book cover

Spider Woman's Daughter book cover

Best Western Contemporary NovelLight of the World by James Lee Burke

Best Western Traditional NovelCrossing Purgatory by Gary Schanbacher

Best First NovelSpider Woman’s Daughter by Anne Hillerman


Have a taste for distinguished American writing?  Read a newly minted Pulitzer Prize winner:

Goldfinch book cover

Toms River book cover

Margaret Fuller book cover

FictionThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

General NonfictionToms River: A Story of Science and Salvation by Dan Fagin

Biography or AutobiographyMargaret Fuller: A New American Life by Megan Marshall


Which titles have the respect of their peers?  The Los Angeles Times Book Awards are chosen by working writers to celebrate how reading is an essential way of connecting with and understanding the world in which we live:

Tale for the Time Being book cover

Cuckoo's Calling book cover

We Need New Names book cover

FictionA Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Mystery/ThrillerThe Cuckoo’s Calling by Robert Galbraith

Art Seidenbaum Award for First FictionWe Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo


For these and other fresh reads, stop by the second floor Fiction/AV/Teen desk. While there, talk to a Readers’ Advisor about new and old titles tailored to your taste.

Fiction: Before I Burn by Gaute Heivoll

Before I Burn book coverIn 1978 an arsonist started a fire spree in a small town in southern Norway. Ten buildings were sent to cinders – some empty, some not, though luckily no one died. The arsonist’s last fire was set the day after a baby boy was christened in a local church. Thirty-years later, this boy, narrator Gaute Heivoll, seeks to find who the arsonist was through interviewing remaining townspeople. Before I Burn is an atmospheric autobiographical mystery where the question of who is somewhat simply solved, but the question of why creates compelling reading. Somewhat bleak and strangely energetic, Before I Burn is a mystery for people who don’t normally read mysteries.