Check It Out Category: Books

Books: Memorial Day Reads

The holiday this weekend allows time for reading among the BBQs and parades in honor of our fallen service men and women. If you want to keep your reading on the Memorial Day theme, check out one of the following books.

Memorial Day by Vince Flynn

CIA intelligence has pointed to a major terrorist attack on the United States, just as the nation’s capital prepares for a grand Memorial Day tribute to the veterans of World War II. Racing to Afghanistan, Mitch Rapp leads a commando raid on an al Queda stronghold in a remote border village–and defuses plans for a nuclear strike on Washington. The crisis averted, the special ops work is done. But Rapp knows, in the face of a new kind of enemy, nothing is as it seems–and it’s up to him alone to avert a disaster of unimaginable proportions.

 

 

 

Code Talker by Chester Nez

During World War II, the Japanese had managed to crack every code the United States used. But when the Marines turned to its Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret military language, they created the only unbroken code in modern warfare–and helped assure victory for the United States over Japan in the South Pacific. Chester Nez is the only surviving member of the original twenty-nine code talkers–and this is his story.

 

 

 

 

Thank You for Your Service by David Finkel

Follows the challenges that face soldiers and their families once they return home from overseas deployments. The author focuses on those suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, the invisible wounds of war. Finkel explores the pain of a widow dealing with the loss of her husband and the despair of families whose service members come home angry and violent. The book also shows how the military seeks to help hurting soldiers and their families as suicide rates of soldiers and veterans soar.

 

 

 

 

Fobbit by David Abrams

In the satirical tradition of Catch-22 and M*A*S*H , Fobbit takes us into the chaotic world of Baghdad’s Forward Operating Base Triumph. The Forward Operating base, or FOB, is like the back-office of the battlefield – where people eat and sleep, and where a lot of soldiers have what looks suspiciously like a desk job. Darkly humorous and based on the author’s own experiences in Iraq, Fobbit is a fantastic debut that shows us a behind-the-scenes portrait of the real Iraq war.

 

 

 

 

Shoot Like a Girl by Mary Jennings Hegar

On June 29, 2009, Air National Guard major Mary Jennings “MJ” Hegar was shot down while on a Medevac mission on her third tour in Afghanistan. Despite being wounded, she fought the enemy and saved the lives of her crew and their patients. But soon she would face a new battle: to give women who serve on the front lines the credit they deserve…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fiction: Royals in Love

crown sculpture photoThis is the week that Royal Wedding Mania reaches fever pitch, and that may have sparked your appetite for stories of romance between the ‘common’ and the crowned! If you are looking for noble attraction, whether spontaneous, arranged, or under false pretense, try one of these contemporary tales that range from the sweet to the spicy:

 

 

Once Upon a Prince book coverOnce Upon a Prince
by Rachel Hauck
When a jilted girlfriend meets a reluctant crown prince, they discover the power of God’s love to heal hearts and change a nation.
Royal Romance book coverA Royal Romance
by Jenny Frame
Beaa, the director of a hospice charity, must spend six months working with Queen Georgina, Britain’s first openly gay British monarch, and immediately sparks fly.
Royal We book coverThe Royal We
by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan
An American exchange student at Oxford falls in love with the heir to the British throne, but a life of constant public scrutiny may be more than she can bear.

 

Marrying Up book coverMarrying Up
by Wendy holden
In this “right royal romantic comedy,” three women look for love, and one of them may have found a real prince in disguise.
Runaway Princess book coverThe Runaway Princess
by Hester Browne
London gardener Amy Wilde falls for a stranger she meets at a friend’s party and is astonished to learn he is a prince, a situation that leads to a scandalous engagement and Amy’s doubts about whether she will enjoy life as a royal.
Princess book coverThe Princess
by Lori Wick
Born to a simple life, Shelby agrees to an arranged marriage with the widowed Prince Nikolai but struggles to overcome the emotional distance the prince keeps between them.

 

Royal Pain book coverA  Royal Pain
by Megan Mulry
While despairing of her romantic prospects in the wake of a bad breakup, Bronte Talbott engages in what she believes will be a rebound fling with a man who is subsequently revealed to have royal ties.
Royal Wedding book coverRoyal Wedding
by Meg Cabot
Princess Mia and her Prince Charming plan their fairy tale wedding – but a few poisoned apples could turn this happily-ever-after into a royal nightmare.
Royal Treatment book coverThe Royal Treatment
by MaryJanice Davidson
Set in an alternate reality in which Alaska is its own country, Christina is hired by the King to become the wife of his unruly son in a business arrangement that leads to chaos, passion, and eventually true love.

Get Caught Reading with Capers in Fiction

May is Get Caught Reading month! Caper stories typically center around the main character performing crimes in full-view of the reader. Up your reading game by reading stories about characters that are just doomed to get caught as they swindle, thieve, and con their way across the plot.

The Vintage Caper book coverThe Vintage Caper by Peter Mayle

Join former lawyer and wine connoisseur Sam Levitt across France from Paris to Bordeaux, as he is called in to investigate the disappearance of a expensive collection of wine. This is decadent, fast-paced mystery also comes with menu and wine-list recommendations!

 

The Lies of Locke Lamora book cover

 

The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

The first in the Gentleman Bastard series follows infamous con-artist Locke Lamora, the head of a crew of thieves. A well-built setting paired with intricately designed crimes makes this a great read for fantasy and crime readers alike.

 

Faking It book cover
Faking It by Jennifer Crusie

Humor and romance unite to create a little con-artist mayhem. This playful romp is packed with characters that are a little loopy and a plot that will keep you on your toes!

 

 

The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam book cover
The Good Thief’s Guide to Amsterdam
by Chris Ewan

Charlie, a novelist of caper stories, moonlighting as a thief stumbles into a job that turns ugly when his employer is almost beaten to death that he is now a suspect of. His writing is going have to wait as he must clear his name of murder without admitting his own theft.

 

 

Cathleen’s Pick: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

Wedding Date book coverCathleen of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory:

It may be a meet-cute you’ve seen before, but when Drew and Alexa are stuck in an elevator together, their connection is made with such charm that it becomes entirely fresh.

Drew is a pediatrician on his way to the wedding of his ex and his best friend, so when he finds himself dateless, it isn’t…ideal. When he meets Alexa, the mayor’s chief-of-staff, in the stalled elevator, he’s struck by how smart and funny she is — not to mention quite attractive – so he impulsively invites her to be his plus-one. He’s surprised to hear himself ask, but even more surprised when she agrees! So begins a wedding weekend built on a lie, but the chemistry is undeniable.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory is told in alternating points of view with winning banter and a bit of narrative wink. The warmth and fun with which Drew and Alexa navigate falling for one another is completely charming, and when those inevitable obstacles emerge, you can’t help but hold your breath for the happily-ever-after ending they deserve.

For more entertaining stories of relationships that begin in pretense and become real…

Act Like It book coverAct Like It
by Lucy Parker
A London actor with an image problem is paired with a charity-minded ingénue for a publicity-driven romance that takes them both off guard.
Kiss an Angel book coverKiss an Angel
by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
Presented with the choice between jail and marrying a stranger, flighty Daisy Devereaux becomes the newest member of a traveling circus beside a husband who is determined to change her uptown ways.

 

Duke and I book coverThe Duke and I
by Julia Quinn
The Duke of Hastings will stop at nothing to keep the matchmakers at bay, even if it means pretending to be engaged to the lovely Miss Bridgerton, but strong feelings on both sides soon complicate the plan.
Yours to Keep book coverYours to Keep
by Shannon Stacey
In preparation for her grandmother’s visit, Emma recruits a recently returned army vet to be her fake fiancé, but when their pretend relationship turns into something real, they must make some difficult decisions.
Tempest book coverTempest
by Beverly Jenkins
When the first meeting of a spirited mail-order bride and a young widowed doctor results in a gunshot wound, the planned marriage of convenience seems to hold promise of more sparks than either expected.

 

Book Discussion Questions: News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Title:  News of the World
Author:  Paulette Jiles
Page Count: 213 pages
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Tone:  Compelling, Lyrical, Character-driven

Summary:
In the aftermath of the Civil War, Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd, an elderly widower and itinerant news reader, is offered fifty dollars to bring an orphan girl, who was kidnapped and raised by Kiowa raiders, from Wichita Falls back to her family in San Antonio.

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. What might the experience of coming to hear a news reader be like? Did the author’s choice of having a news-reading scene be our first moments of the book help you move into the world of the story?

2. What was your initial impression of Captain Kidd? What details contributed to that impression?

3. Several commentaries offer the observation that News of the World is deceptively simple. What might this mean? Is it a compliment, or is it a neutral observation? Do you agree?

4. Which elements of a traditional Western are evident in News of the World?

5. What do we learn of Kidd’s youth? How does this inform the story? Were you glad to know more about his past?

6. From the first scene in which Johanna is introduced, we are treated to brief moments of her perceptions. How do these glimpses enhance the story? What do we learn?

7. How would you characterize Johanna’s behavior? Is it believable?

8. In what ways does Kidd try to help Johanna become ready for re-assimilation into her new life?

9. Conversely, what does Johanna teach Kidd?

10. Jiles did a great deal of research on captives. Does it show? Does her work make this a better story in any way, or would it not have been much different to either make it up or leave in the background?

11. From what we learn around the edges and from Johanna’s thoughts, would you say the Kiowa are depicted sympathetically?

12. What were some of the memorable encounters along the journey?

13. Describe the reunion between Johanna and her people. How does the Captain try to help? How is he treated?

14. After he left her with family, was the Captain right to intervene?

15. What was your reaction to the lives they created for themselves? Were you surprised? Satisfied?

16. Was John Calley a good man? How would you describe him? What were the three circumstances in which they encountered him?

17. What purpose did the talk Captain and Johanna have on her wedding day serve?

18. Several of the characters, including Britt Johnson and Captain Kidd, are based on true historical figures. Is this surprising? Does this change your perception of them at all?

19. Would you describe this as a realistic story?

20. Where in the novel does the title appear? Does it have significance beyond the literal?

21. What is the primary draw for you about this story: the setting, the bond of characters, the journey?

22. Would you describe this as a quiet novel? Why or why not?

23. What will you take away with you from this novel? What will you remember?

24. What is the significance of the line, “The bones of the Kiowa warriors did not lie in the earth but in the stories of their lives, told and retold – their bravery and daring, the death of Britt Johnson and his men, and Cicada, the little girl taken from the by the Indian Agent, Three Spotted’s little blue-eyed girl”?

25. Jiles asserts that, “using quote marks is like surrounding human speech with barbed wire.” Was the omission of quotation marks distracting or confusing?

26. Does it surprise you to learn Jiles is also a poet? Why or why not?

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

OTHER RESOURCES:

Paulette Jiles Rides the Dangerous Trails of 1870s Texas” via The Sacramento Bee
Can a 10-year-old Girl Ever Recover from Years in Captivity?” via The Washington Post
interview with The Dallas News: “Paulette Jiles Explains the Apocalyptic Influence on Her Acclaimed Texas Frontier Novel
National Book Award Finalist content, including author reading, interview, and judges’ citation
New York Times book review
Paulette Jiles official author website
LitLovers discussion guide

READALIKES:

Bohemian Girl book coverBohemian Girl
by Terese Svoboda

True Grit book coverTrue Grit
by Charles Portis

Far as the Eye Can See book coverFar As the Eye Can See
by Robert Bausch

Books with Flowers on the Cover

With the snow and cold gardening has had to take a pause. If you’re missing the site of colorful flowers, while at the same time want to be absorbed in an engrossing novel, try one of these books to brighten your nightstand!

julie and romeo book coverJulie and Romeo
by Jeanne Ray
A deliciously funny and wickedly sexy novel of love found (finally!) and love threatened (inevitably) by the families who claim to love us best.
The Truth About Forever book coverThe Truth About Forever
by Sarah Dessen
The summer following her father’s death, Macy plans to work at the library and wait for her brainy boyfriend to return from camp. Sometimes unexpected good things can happen, helping Macy to break out of her shell.
Peony in Love book coverPeony in Love
by Lisa See
In seventeenth-century China, three women become emotionally involved with The Peony Pavilion, a famed opera rumored to cause lovesickness and even death.

 

Before I Go book coverBefore I Go
by Colleen Oakley
Confronting the final months of her life when her breast cancer aggressively returns, 27-year-old Daisy endeavors to find her beloved husband another wife, an effort that forces her to make difficult choices.
Enchanted Islands Book CoverEnchanted Islands
by Allison Amend
Inspired by the midcentury memoirs of Frances Conway, an independent American woman’s path takes her far from her native Minnesota when she and her husband, an undercover intelligence officer, are sent to the Galápagos Islands at the brink of World War II.
She Walks in Beauty book coverShe Walks in Beauty
by Caroline Kennedy
Inspired by her own reflections on more than fifty years of life as a young girl, a woman, a wife, and a mother, Kennedy compiles poetry to ponder the many joys and challenges of being a woman.

 

Summaries have been provided by the publishers.

Jenny’s Pick: Happiness for Humans by P.Z. Reizin

Jen works at a software development company helping an artificial intelligence invention named Aiden sound more human. Aiden is more sentient than he has let on and has released himself into the Internet. After Jen suffers through a bad break-up Aiden sees her sorrow and decides to find her the man of her dreams. P.Z. Reizin’s debut sci-fi romantic comedy Happiness for Humans had me equally charmed by Aiden’s attempts at making romance happen and horrified by his existence!

Books: Take Me Out to the Ballgame

The 2018 home opener for the Chicago Cubs didn’t go as expected. Too much snow on the field April 9 caused a one-day game postponement. Just a few miles south, the Chicago White Sox home opener didn’t go as hoped. Having a bit less snow to content with, they went ahead with their game on the very same day, but lost. Inclement weather, scandals, and rivalries may come and go, but America’s national pastime is here to stay.

If you just can’t get enough baseball, there are plenty of books to keep you in a baseball state of mind. Check out this selection of nonfiction and fiction classics.

Sox Fan? Try:
Sox and the City by Richard Roeper

In this account of what it was like to grow up a White Sox fan in a Cubs nation, Roeper covers the recent history of the organization, from the heartbreak of 1967 and the South-Side Hit Men to the disco demolition and the magical 2005 season when they became world champions. Encapsulating what it means to be a baseball fan, root for the same sorry team no matter what, and find vindication, this history of the White Sox is flavored with trivia; anecdotes about players, owners, and broadcasters; plus Roeper’s own humorous and personal reminiscences.

 

 

Cubs Fan? Try:
Try Not to Suck by Bill Chastain

With his irreverent personality, laid-back approach, and penchant for the unexpected, Joe Maddon is a singular presence among Major League Baseball managers. In Try Not to Suck, ESPN’s Jesse Rogers and MLB.com’s Bill Chastain fully explore Maddon’s life and career, delving behind the scenes and dissecting that mystique which makes Maddon so popular with players and analysts alike. Packed with insight, anecdotes, and little-known facts, this is the definitive account of the curse-breaker and trailblazer at the helm of the Cubs’ new era.

 

Just love a good baseball book? Then you might like:

The Great American Novel by Philip Roth

Gil Gamesh, the only pitcher who ever literally tried to kill the umpire. The ex-con first baseman, John Baal, “The Babe Ruth of the Big House,” who never hit a home run sober. If you’ve never heard of them—or of the Ruppert Mundys, the only homeless big-league ball team in American history—it’s because of the Communist plot, and the capitalist scandal, that expunged the entire Patriot League from baseball memory.

 

The Art of Fielding by Chard Harbach

At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended. Henry’s fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future.

 

The Natural by Bernard Malamud

The Natural, Bernard Malamud’s first novel, published in 1952, is also the first—and some would say still the best—novel ever written about baseball. In it Malamud, usually appreciated for his unerring portrayals of postwar Jewish life, took on very different material—the story of a superbly gifted “natural” at play in the fields of the old daylight baseball era—and invested it with the hardscrabble poetry, at once grand and altogether believable, that runs through all his best work. Four decades later, Alfred Kazin’s comment still holds true: “Malamud has done something which—now that he has done it!—looks as if we have been waiting for it all our lives. He has really raised the whole passion and craziness and fanaticism of baseball as a popular spectacle to its ordained place in mythology.”

Evan’s Pick: Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun

Picture of EvanThe graphic novel Everyone’s a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too by Jomny Sun is about a visiting “aliebn” who makes new friends and discovers whimsical profundities about finding joy and connection in an uncaring world, like “look. life is bad. evryones sad. we’re all gona die. but i alredy bought this inflatable boumcy castle so r u gona take ur shoes off or wat.” The misspellings and simple line drawings create the feeling of a children’s story, but the exploration of deeper themes rings true for readers of all ages.