Check It Out

Check It Out Blog

Staff Picks: Liz’s Selections of the Day

We asked Fiction Librarian Liz which books she’s recommending today.

She chose a combination of evocative stories that touch upon the mysterious and tragic, while searching for a measure of hope in complex situations.

 

 

 

The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers

When Major Gryffth Hockaday is called to the front lines of the Civil War, his new bride is left to care for her husband’s three-hundred-acre farm and infant son. Placidia, a mere teenager herself living far from her family and completely unprepared to run a farm or raise a child, must endure the darkest days of the war on her own. By the time Major Hockaday returns two years later, Placidia is bound for jail, accused of having borne a child in his absence and murdering it. What really transpired in the two years he was away?

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

Now that the ley lines around Cabeswater are awake, magic is swirling around Blue and The Raven boys and Ronan Lynch’s ability to pull objects from his dreams is almost out of control but worst of all, the mysterious Gray Man is stalking the Lynch family, looking for something called the Greywaren.

 
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom. When their paths converge in route to the ship that promises salvation, Joana, Emilia, and Florian find their strength, courage, and trust in one another tested with each step closer toward safety. When tragedy strikes the Wilhelm Gustloff, they must fight for the same thing: survival.

Book Discussion Questions: Killers of the Flower Moon

TCover of Killers of the Flower Moonitle: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Author: David Grann
Page Count: 338 pages
Genre: Nonfiction
Tone: Disturbing, Richly detailed

Summary: Presents a true account of the early twentieth-century murders of dozens of wealthy Osage and law-enforcement officials, citing the contributions and missteps of a fledgling FBI that eventually uncovered one of the most chilling conspiracies in American history.

 

 

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: 2019 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

    1. 1. Before reading this book had you ever heard of the Osage Native Americans? If not, why do you think it would be that many of us never heard of a tribe of Native Americans who were among the wealthiest people in the world? “The world’s richest people per capita were becoming the world’s most murdered.  The press later described the killings as being as ‘dark and sordid as any murder story of the century’ and ‘the bloodiest chapter in American crime history’.” (p. 103)  So why isn’t it better known?

 

    1. 2. How did the Osage come to be so wealthy? What tactics did the government employ to inhibit the Osage from freely using their money?

 

    1. 3. The subtitle is “The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI”  – obviously they are intertwined, but are these topics given equal weight?  Were you more involved with one than the other?

 

    1. 4. Mollie is quickly established as the central character.  How would you describe her?  Did your opinion change during the story?  Why did Grann use her as a focus?

 

    1. 5. Is it difficult to believe such an intricate web of deeds and people went undetected for so long?  How do we explain this?

 

    1. 6. Did you like the inclusion of photos throughout the story?  How did that add to your understanding?  Was there anything in particular that made an impression?

 

    1. 7. I’m supposing we have some veteran mystery and history readers in here.  Did any of you guess who was responsible for many of the deaths?

 

    1. 8. Can you recall your first impression of William Hale?  How does the author bring to life his strengths and appeal, as well as the darker side of his nature?

 

    1. 9. How did you respond to the description of law enforcement in America during the 1920s?  Did anything shock or surprise you?  What made the situation in Osage Co. particularly chaotic?

 

    1. 10. In what ways does Tom White combine the qualities of the Old West and of the modern bureaucratic system Hoover is trying to create?  Would you define him as the hero of the book?  What about his post-investigative life?

 

    1. 11. Perhaps the most chilling aspect of KotFM is the marital and familial connections between murderers and their victims..  What explains EB’s actions even as he remained married to and had children with Mollie?  How does Grann bring to life the particular horror of crimes committed within a family and a close-knit community?

 

    1. 12. Part two seems to draw the story to a close, but then we’re teased for part three.  Did this surprise you?  Were you glad?  What do we learn in Part 3?

 

    1. 13. In Part three the story was told differently, in that the author inserted himself.  Was this the right technique to use?  Did it enhance the story?

 

    1. 14. Were you satisfied with how the book ended?

 

    1. 15. How might you describe the experience of reading this book?  Was it easy to delve into?  Fast-paced?  Dull?

 

    1. 16. Did anything in the book make you angry?

 

    1. 17. Would you recommend this book to a friend?

 

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

 

    1. OTHER RESOURCES:
    2. The New York Time’s February Book Club Pick
      LitLovers Guide to Killers of the Flower Moon
      David Grann’s Official Website
      PBS Newshour Interview with Author David Grann

 

  1. READALIKES:
  2. Unquiet Grave: The FBI and the Struggle for the Soul of Indian Country book coverUnquiet Grave
    by Steve Hendricks

    Rez Life book coverRez Life
    by David Treuer

    by David Grann

Nonfiction: The British Royal Family

The British royal family welcomed a new heir to the throne, with the arrival of the first child of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Harry and Meghan. If you are looking for true stories about England’s current royalty, you may be interested in some of these biographies.

 

My Husband and I book coverMy Husband & I
by Ingrid Seward
Elizabeth the Queen book coverElizabeth the Queen
by Sally Bedell Smith
by Philip Eade

 

Prince Charles book coverPrince Charles
by Sally Bedell Smith
Charles and Diana book coverCharles and Diana
by Penny Junor
by Christopher Andersen

 

Prince William book coverPrince WIlliam
by Penny Junor
Kate the Future Queen book coverKate: The Future Queen
by Katie Nicholl
by Andrew Morton

 

Harry: A Biography of a Prince book coverHarry
by Angela Levin
Meghan: A Hollywood Princess book coverMeghan
by Andrew Morton
by Katie Nicholl

Book Discussion Questions: The Paris Architect

Tthe paris architect book coveritle: The Paris Architect
Author: Charles Belfoure
Page Count: 388 pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
Tone: Suspenseful

Summary: A Parisian architect is paid handsomely to devise secret hiding spaces for Jews in his Nazi-occupied country but struggles with risking his life for a cause he is ambivalent towards, until a personal failure brings home their suffering.

 

 

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: 2019 Mount Prospect Public Library. All rights reserved. Used with Permission.

  1. 1. The story begins with Lucien Bernard rounding a corner at the Rue La Boetie and a man almost collides with him. The man is almost immediately shot down by the German soldiers.  What did you think of Lucien’s reaction to this and did it set a tone for his character?
  2. 2. Lucien is an out of work architect, desperate for work. He meets with Auguste Manet who asks him to build a hiding space for a Jewish man being hunted by the Gestapo.  Let’s talk about this interaction.
  3. 3. What did you think about Celeste and Lucien’s relationship?
  4. 4. Collaboration was a very sensitive topic for the French. Let’s talk about this
  5. 5. Let’s talk about Adele, Lucien’s mistress.
  6. 6. “The Occupation hadn’t just bred hatred of Jews; it had brought out the very worst in human beings, neighbor against neighbor and even friend against friend. People would screw over each other for a lump of butter”.  Let’s discuss.
  7. 7. It was dangerous to hide Jewish people. What did you think of anyone hiding a Jewish person? Would you?
  8. 8. What did you think about Celeste’s reaction when Lucien admitted that he had saved two Jewish people?
  9. 9. Let’s talk about some of the German characters, did any stand out? If so why?
  10. 10. Most WW2 fiction, including this book, seems to portray most Germans in a less than pleasant light. What do you think of this?
  11. 11. The book is a series of vignettes describing the plight of Jewish people that were hiding. Did any of the stories particularly strike you?
  12. 12. Did you imagine yourself in any of the situations the Jewish people found themselves in? What would you have done if Captain Bruckner lined up the people in your neighborhood or you were forced to hide under a set of stairs?
  13. 13. We meet Adele’s right-hand “man”, Bette Tullard. Let’s talk about her.
  14. 14. Why do you think it was so important to Schlegel to find any hidden Jews?
  15. 15. Let’s talk about Father Jacques, the priest that took in Pierre.
  16. 16. Lucien ended up loving Pierre like a son. Why do you think Lucien took Pierre in?
  17. 17. Pierre realizes that there is something “off” about Alain and follows him. Let’s talk about this chapter.
  18. 18. Lucien’s attitude about helping Jewish people has an abrupt change, let’s talk about this
  19. 19. Lucien is approached by the Resistance. What is/was your opinion of France’s Resistance?
  20. 20. “The Resistance does its best under extremely difficult conditions.  But we must fight back.  To live defeated is to die every day”.  Do you agree, or do you think it is better to choose your battles?  Which side do you believe you would end up in, Resistance or Collaborator?
  21. 21. What did you think of Lucien helping the Resistance to sacrifice his factory?
  22. 22. Let’s talk about the ending.
  23. 23. “When all this Madness if over, I hope we meet again,” said Lucien to Herzog. Do you think they will?  If so, what do you think would happen if they did meet after the war?
  24. 24. Did you have a favorite character?
  25. 25. Do you think history could repeat itself in today’s world?

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

OTHER RESOURCES:

New York Journal of Books The Paris Architect: A Novel
Reading Group Guides Guide to The Paris Architect
Charles Belfoure’s Official Website
Lit Lovers Guide to The Paris Architect

READALIKES:

Sarah's Key book coverSarah’s Key
by Tatiana de Rosnay

Schindler's List book coverSchindler’s List
by Thomas Keneally

by Monica Hesse