Check It Out Category: Book Culture

Are Helene Wecker Books for You?

 

If You Liked These, Try Helene Wecker book collageIf you’ve enjoyed one or more of these titles, Helene Wecker’s imaginative storytelling may be a great match for your reading moods. She blends folklore, adventure, historical fiction, romance, and fantasy with lush worldbuilding and contemporary style. Learn even more by listening firsthand to a virtual conversation Tuesday, June 22, at 7pm. It’s the perfect opportunity to be enchanted!

The Golem and the Jinni series is for you if you liked….

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Why? Irresistible tales of real life infused with magic told in rich, lyrical style

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon

Why? Expansive, character-driven stories incorporating both mastery of craft and golem lore

Circe by Madeline Miller

Why? Atmospheric historical fantasy drawing from mythology but translated to innovative frame

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Why? Fantastical epics with mystical soul mates that draw readers in to worlds beyond ours

Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman

Why? Supernatural characters navigate adventures while discovering their place in our world

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke

Why? Equal parts history and mind-bending fantasy presented in complex, rewarding style

The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman

Why? Full immersion in historical setting combined with thoughtful reimagining of Jewish folklore

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Why? Enchanted tales inspired by myth from parts of world other than Western Europe

Please join us for an inspiring book conversation:

Helene Wecker program

Stay tuned for more information on our Summer of Author Visits!

The Summer of Author Visits!

the summer of author visits

This summer is chock-full of virtually visiting authors. We have three different authors joining us and they are, in order of appearance: Helene Wecker, Talia Hibbert, and Megan Miranda. All the author visits will be presented on Zoom. To sign up and for more information, visit the library’s event calendar. Links to register for each program may be found below as well.

 

the golem and the jinni book cover

VIRTUAL Author Visit: An Evening with Helene Wecker will be held on Tues. June 22nd from 7-8pm. Register here!

We are delighted to join with The Book Stall and Evanston, Glencoe, Highland Park, and Wilmette Public Libraries to present Helene Wecker, author of the acclaimed novel The Golem and the Jinni, celebrating the long-awaited sequel, The Hidden Palace. Ms. Wecker will be in conversation with award-winning author Kat Howard.

the hidden palace book cover

 

About the Book: “A blend of romance, Mary Shelley-esque horror, and folklore…. Wecker skillfully combines the storylines of Chava the Golem and Ahmad the Jinni and numerous other players, good and evil, in an enchanting tale that pleases on every page.” –Kirkus Reviews

 

 

Get a Life, Chloe Brown book cover

VIRTUAL Meet the Author: Talia Hibbert will be held on Sat. July 17th from 11am-12pm. Register here!

Settle in for conversation and fun as Talia Hibbert, author of Get a Life, Chloe Brown, Take a Hint, Dani Brown, and Act Your Age, Eve Brown, is interviewed by booktuber, blogger, and avid reader Ashley from The Bookish Realm.

 

act your age, eve brown book coverUSA Today bestselling author Talia Hibbert is a Black British author who lives in a bedroom full of books. Supposedly, there is a world beyond that room, but she has yet to drum up enough interest to investigate. She writes sexy, diverse romance because she believes that people of marginalized identities need honest and positive representation. Her interests include beauty, junk food, and unnecessary sarcasm.

Attendees will be entered into a giveaway for a signed copy of one of her novels.

 

such a quiet place book cover

VIRTUAL Author Visit: An Evening with Megan Miranda and Shari Lapena will be held Thurs. August 12 from 7-8 pm. Register here!

Join us for an evening with bestselling domestic thriller authors Megan Miranda and Shari Lapena when they discuss their new books with bestselling author Mary Kubica. Kubica’s most recent title is Local Woman Missing.

Megan Miranda’s new book, Such A Quiet Place, is described as the perfect summer beach read, is set in a seemingly idyllic neighborhood. Scratch the surface though, and there is deceit and viciousness festering inside the households of this community. Such A Quiet Place strikes an unnerving chord and will leave you wondering – do you ever really know your neighbors?

not a happy family book cover

Shari Lapena’s Not A Happy Family has it all: rich people behaving badly, sibling rivalry, twists, turns, red herrings, and, of course, a few murders interspersed. When Fred and Sheila Merton are savagely killed, their adult kids are devastated. Or are they? Lapena’s new book brings to life the world of the rich and powerful with the dysfunctional Merton family. In this family, everyone is keeping secrets. Even the dead.

Presented in partnership with Algonquin Area Public Library, Arlington Heights Memorial Library, Deerfield Public Library, Glencoe Public Library, Highland Park Public Library, Lake Villa District Library, Mount Prospect Public Library, Niles-Maine District Library, Schaumburg Township District Library, Vernon Area Public Library, and Wilmette Public Library.

Author Program: Carl Hiaasen Interviews John Sandford

 

Enjoy sitting in on a virtual chat with bestselling thriller author John Sandford on Wednesday, April 14 from the comfort of your own home. Whether you are an established fan, looking for a new series, or simply interested in hearing first-hand about life as an author, you’ll be treated to a lively conversation. This program will be presented via Zoom, and you may register HERE.

As the reader resource tool NoveList describes, “John Sandford stands out for his consistent delivery of riveting characters and intense, richly layered plots in his Prey series, Kidd series, and his stand-alone novels. Crime drives his stories, whether his heroes are the ones solving or the ones committing the crime. Intricate details and graphic violence lend a gritty realism to the tone of these books, while maintaining a fast, suspenseful pace. Quirky characters and witty dialogue relieve the tension. Sandford’s good guys and bad guys alike are intriguing, complex, and realistically flawed.”

If you are interested in giving his books a try but uncertain how to begin with such a long series, here are entry points you might use:

Golden Prey book cover

Golden Prey (2017)
Prey series, #27

A series of audacious robberies compels newly appointed U.S. marshal Lucas Davenport to investigate the possible return of a gang leader who once killed two FBI agents.

Why start here? Series protagonist Lucas Davenport has a fresh start with a new job, and you don’t have to know the backstory to enjoy the thrilling chase that unfolds.

 

Invisible Prey book coverInvisible Prey (2007)
Prey series, # 17

Investigating the seemingly open-and-shut double homicide case involving a pair of wealthy elderly women, Lucas Davenport begins to suspect that the handful of small items that were stolen from the crime scene may have had more significant values.

Why start here? If your taste in crime fiction favors intriguing procedural, this entry offers all the Davenport flavor with heightened emphasis on the puzzles. Bonus: This is recurring character Virgil Flowers’ first appearance with Davenport, and he’ll even go on to have his own series.

 

Mad River book coverMad River (2012)
Virgil Flowers series, #6

When three teenagers with dead-end prospects begin a killing and robbery spree through rural Minnesota, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers joins a growing number of cops trying to stop them.

Why start here? New release Ocean Prey is the first to pair Davenport and Flowers in equal parts, and this entry shows Virgil’s distinct personality and approach.

 

Certain Prey book coverCertain Prey (1999)
Prey series, #10

Clara Rinker is the best hit woman in the business. She’s been hired by an attorney in Minnesota who wants a rival eliminated. But the witness survives, the attorney starts acting strangely and a big cop named Lucas Davenport gets on her case. There are loose ends popping up everywhere and Lucas is in for the run of his life.

Why start here? For those fascinated by the interplay between hero and villain, such as in TV series Luther, The Fall, or Hannibal, the same dark, titillating satisfaction can be found in this pairing.

 

Rules of Prey book coverRules of Prey (1989)
Prey series, #1

Lieutenant Lucas Davenport is determined to track down a diabolically clever serial killer who leads a double life, carefully picks out his female victims, and taunts the police with notes signed Maddog.

Why start here? For those who cannot bear to jump in mid-series, here’s where it all began!

 

 

Best Young Adult Books of 2020

best young adult books of 2020

Get ready to add to your TBR list! At the end of 2020, we looked at various “best of” lists and considered the buzziest books at MPPL and–ta dah!–brought you some great reads from a not-so-great year. We’ve selected a little something for all types of readers, whether you’re in the mood for a page-turner or a slow-burner.

Looking for personalized book recommendations? Email teenmail@mppl.org or readers@mppl.org to connect with our book match specialists. Keep reading for a few of our favorite titles, or visit the full Best of YA 2020 list to check out your next read!

These Violent Delights book cover

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong

In 1926 Shanghai, eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, heir of the Scarlet Gang, and her first love-turned-rival Roma Montagov, leader of the White Flowers, must work together when mysterious deaths threaten their city

Historical Fantasy; World-building

 

Furia book cover

 

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez

Seventeen-year-old Camila Hassan, a rising soccer star in Rosario, Argentina, dreams of playing professionally, in defiance of her fathers’ wishes and at the risk of her budding romance with Diego.

Relatable; Inspiring

 

Stamped: Racism, antiracism, and you book cover

 

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi

“Reynolds lends his signature flair to remixing Kendi’s award-winning Stamped from the Beginning into a powerful “not a history book ” primer on the historical roots and present-day manifestations of antiblack racism in America.” (from Publishers Weekly)

Issue-oriented; Conversational

 

Enigma Game book cover

 

The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein

Told in multiple voices, fifteen-year-old Jamaican Louisa Adair uncovers an Enigma machine in the small Scottish village where she cares for an elderly German woman, and helps solve a puzzle that could turn the tide of World War II.

Suspenseful; Atmospheric

 

Cemetery Boys book cover

 

Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas

Two sisters–Eri, a fashion model sleeping her way to oblivion, and Mari, a young student–form the center of a novel that documents a series of encounters in Tokyo during the witching hours between midnight and dawn.

Fast-paced; Enchanting

 

Super Fake Love Song book cover

 

Super Fake Love Song by David Yoon

When new-girl Cirrus mistakes self-described nerd Sunny Dae as the lead in a rock band, Sunny rolls with it forming a fake band with his friends, but as the lies continue he risks losing both Cirrus and his friends.

Funny; Romantic

 

Dragon Hoops book cover

 

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

“The trials of a high school basketball team trying to clinch the state title and the graphic novelist chronicling them.” (from Kirkus Reviews)

Candid; Triumphant

 

Not So Pure and Simple book cover

 

Not So Pure and Simple by Lamar Giles

High school junior Del Rainey unwittingly joins a Purity Pledge class at church, hoping to get closer to his long-term crush, Kiera.

Authentic; Thought-provoking

 

Favorite Reads of 2020 from Let’s Talk Books!

Favorite Reads in 2020 from Let's Talk Books

Let’s Talk Books participants share their favorite discoveries of 2020! Let’s Talk Books happens every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month at 7pm on Zoom (registration required). It’s a bookish hour full of listening to what your neighbors are raving about and sharing your own discoveries! You are welcome to come to every session or just drop in for one. And now, drumroll please, for the favorite reads of 2020 from Let’s Talk Books participants!

Empty Mansions book cover

 

Julia highly recommends Empty Mansions: the Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr.

A cousin of Huguette Clark and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist trace the life of the reclusive American heiress against a backdrop of the now-infamous W. A. Clark family and include coverage of the internet sensation and elder-abuse investigation that occurred at the end of her life.

Would Like to Meet book cover

 

Another favorite of Julias as well as Cathleens this year was Would Like To Meet by Rachel Winters

Ordered by her film agency to acquire a romantic-comedy screenplay by a jaded writer, Evie relies on the assistance of her friends during a haphazard summer spent trying to prove that true love is real.

 

Vanishing Half book cover

 

Nicole enjoyed The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Twin sisters, inseparable as children, ultimately choose to live in two very different worlds, one black and one white.

 

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents book cover

 

Nicole also recommends Caste: The Origin of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns identifies the qualifying characteristics of historical caste systems to reveal how a rigid hierarchy of human rankings, enforced by religious views, heritage and stigma, impact everyday American lives.

 

Alexander Hamilton book cover

 

Howard relished Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

The personal life of Alexander Hamilton, an illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean who rose to become George Washington’s aide-de-camp and the first Treasury Secretary of the United States, is captured in a definitive biography.

 

the turn of the key book cover

 

Gail thoroughly enjoyed The Turn Of The Key by Ruth Ware.

When a high-paying nanny job at a luxurious Scottish Highlands home ends with her imprisonment for a child’s murder, a young woman struggles to explain to her lawyer the unravelling events that led to her incarceration.

 

Memorial book cover

 

Janine and Jenny recommend Memorial by Bryan Washington

A Japanese-American chef and a Black daycare teacher begin reevaluating their stale relationship in the wake of a father’s death and the arrival of an acerbic mother-in-law who becomes an unconventional roommate.

 

The Flatshare book cover

 

Another favorite of Janine‘s was The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

Entering a flatshare arrangement with a man on an opposite work shift, a heartbroken woman begins exchanging notes with the roommate she has never met and becomes his best friend, and possibly soulmate, through their correspondence.

 

House in the Cerulean Sea book cover

 

Denise highly recommends The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J Klune

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret. An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place-and realizing that family is yours.

 

The Sellout Book Cover

 

Chelsea enjoyed The Sellout by Paul Beatty

A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court.

 

 

Boy the Mole the Fox and the Horse book cover

 

Chelsea and Janine recommend The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by Charlie Mackesy

Charlie Mackesy offers inspiration and hope in uncertain times in this book based on his famous quartet of characters, as they explore their unlikely friendship and learn poignant, universal lessons together.

 

New Waves book cover

 

Jenny thoroughly enjoyed New Waves by Kevin Nguyen

Fed up with discriminating bosses, an Asian-American customer service representative and a talented African-American programmer conspire to steal their employer’s user database before an unexpected setback exposes a secret double life.

 

 

Cathleen delighted in listening to The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

Recovering from a heart transplant while mourning a best friend who did not make it, Ailsa begins a search for her long-absent father that is marked by personal estrangements and questions about starting over.

 

 

Cheers to us all finding more reading gems in 2021!