Check It Out Category: Fantasy & Sci-Fi

Winter Reading: If You Are a Fan of Outlander

Our Winter Reading Program runs the month of February, and we want to help you Find Your Story. Throughout the month, both in the library and on our blog, we’ll be highlighting some of the various reader fandoms.

If your fandom is Outlander, check out the following books to see if they match your interest in the popular series.

The Outcasts of Time book coverThe Outcasts of Time by Ian Mortimer

With the country in the grip of the Black Death, brothers John and William fear that they will shortly die and suffer in the afterlife. But as the end draws near, they are given an unexpected choice: either to go home and spend their last six days in their familiar world, or to search for salvation across the forthcoming centuries – living each one of their remaining days ninety-nine years after the last.

Themes:Time Slip, Historical Fiction

 

 

Outlander Cookbook book coverOutlander Kitchen by Theresa Carle-Sanders

Featuring more than one hundred recipes, “Outlander Kitchen” retells Claire and Jamie’s incredible story through the flavors of the Scottish Highlands, the French Revolution, and beyond. Following the high standards for prodigious research and boundless creativity set by Diana Gabaldon herself, Carle-Sanders draws on the events and characters of the novels to deliver inventive dishes that highlight local ingredients and traditional cooking techniques.

Themes: Cookbook

 

The Midnight Witch book coverThe Midnight Witch by Paula Brackston

When the sixth Duke of Radnor dies, his hapless son, Freddie, takes on his title, but it is his daughter, Lilith, who inherits his role as Head Witch of the Lazarus Coven. Raised as a witch, instructed in the art of necromancy, Lilith faces a daunting future, for the coven is threatened by a powerful group of sorcerers, the Sentinels. Nicholas Stricklend, a powerful force in the British government, is the Sentinel charged with wresting the Elixir from Lilith, and he cares not who he must crush in order to succeed. As a society beauty, engaged to another titled witch, and with a grieving mother and an unstable brother to look after, Lilith struggles to maintain her two very different existences.

Themes: Dramatic, Romantic, Magic, Witches

 

Into the WildernessInto the Wilderness book cover by Sara Donati

A judge’s daughter elopes with a white adventurer in Colonial America. Elizabeth arrived from England to marry a doctor, but is smitten by Nathaniel, a man raised by the Mohawks. The doctor, however, refuses to give her up and pursues them.

Themes: Dramatic, Moving, Romantic

 

 

The House on the Strand book ocverThe House on the Strand by Daphne Du Maurier

When Dick samples Magnus’s potion, he finds himself doing the impossible: traveling through time while staying in place, thrown all the way back into Medieval Cornwall. The concoction wear off after several hours, but its effects are intoxicating and Dick cannot resist his newfound powers. As his journeys increase, Dick begins to resent the days he must spend in the modern world, longing ever more fervently to get back into his world of centuries before, and the home of the beautiful Lady Isolda…

Themes: Time Travel, Fixing History, Romance, Suspense

Winter Reading: If You Are a Fan of Stranger Things

Our Winter Reading Program runs the month of February, and we want to help you Find Your Story. Throughout the month, both in the library and on our blog, we’ll be highlighting some of the various reader fandoms.

If your fandom is Stranger Things, check out the following books to see if they match your interest in the popular television series.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children book coverMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

Themes:Time Loop, Atmospheric, Creepy, Fantasy Fiction

 

 

beasts of extraordinary circustance book coverBeasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang

Orphaned, raised by wolves, and the proud owner of a horned pig named Merlin, Weylyn Grey knew he wasn’t like other people. But when he single-handedly stopped that tornado on a stormy Christmas day in Oklahoma, he realized just how different he actually was. That tornado was the first of many strange events that seem to follow Weylyn from town to town, although he doesn’t like to take credit.

Themes: Mystical, Romantic, Contemporary Fantasy

 

 

Paper Girls book coverPaper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan

In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this critically acclaimed story about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.

Themes: Science Fiction comics, 80’s, Alien Invasions, Likeable

 

 

 

FirestarterFirestarter book cover by Stephen King

Andy McGee and Vicky Tomlinson were once college students looking to make some extra cash, volunteering as test subjects for an experiment orchestrated by the clandestine government organization known as The Shop. But the outcome unlocked exceptional latent psychic talents for the two of them—manifesting in even more terrifying ways when they fell in love and had a child. Their daughter, Charlie, has been gifted with the most extraordinary and uncontrollable power ever seen—pyrokinesis, the ability to create fire with her mind. Now the merciless agents of The Shop are in hot pursuit to apprehend this unexpected genetic anomaly for their own diabolical ends by any means necessary.

Themes: Childhood Trauma, Creepy, Dramatic, Horror

 

 

Book Discussion Questions: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

The Handmaid's Tale book coverTitle: The Handmaid’s Tale
Author: Margaret Atwood
Page Count: 311 pages
Genre: Dystopian Fiction, Literary Fiction
Tone: Complex, Introspective, Disturbing, Reflective

Summary:
Offred, a Handmaid, describes life in what was once the United States, now the Republic of Gilead, a shockingly repressive and intolerant monotheocracy. It is set in the near future in which women are no longer allowed to read and are valued only as long as they are viable for reproduction.

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. Did you find this book relatable and believable, or did you find it far-fetched as Mary McCarthy did in her 1986 New York Times’ book review? What triggered the rise of this theonomy in the pre-Gilead United States? What part did infertility and declining birthrates play? Is this a realistic premise?

2. Let’s talk about taking away the credit cards and freezing the bank assets. Did you understand Offred and her husband Luke’s reaction to the situation? Did you understand Luke’s reasoning that he would be able to help her in spite of the government restrictions? In times of sudden conflict, do people generally try to rationalize rather than react swiftly? Could Offred and Luke have done anything to stop what happened after the coup? As the U. S. government was collapsing, why didn’t Luke and Offred do more to escape?

3. If you read this in 1986 when it was written, would anything resonate differently for you? Did anyone read this long ago? Is history repeating itself, or why has this story made a comeback?

4. What accounts for the Commander’s interest in Offred? Is it genuine? Is genuine possible in Gilead?

5. What do you think of Moira’s placement at the brothel? Why was she not simply killed or made to work in the radioactive fields? What happens to strong women who don’t follow the crowd? Is it different than what happens to strong men who don’t follow the crowd?

6. In this novel handmaids no longer have unique names, but are given the name of the male head of the household, e.g. Of-Fred, Offred. How is that effective in eliminating these women’s identity? Is there any modern day custom in our culture that is similar? What are your thoughts about that?

7. Author Margaret Atwood said, “I didn’t put in anything that we haven’t already done, we’re not already doing, we’re seriously trying to do, coupled with trends that are already in progress… So all of those things are real, and therefore the amount of pure invention is close to nil.” What means of effective oppression previously used in history did the rulers of Gilead use to keep their system in place?

8. Why, if many of the novel’s plot points were literally true, would people have difficulty finding them believable or relatable?

9. Let’s talk about Serena Joy, the commander’s wife. How did you feel about her? What made her who she was? Talk about her life before Gilead? Was this what she wanted, did she “buy into” the premise of Gilead? Did she have more of voice that the handmaids? Did she have a better position?

10. Ofglen is the first character Offred meets who is a part of the resistance. How does she know Offred would be a potential member of the resistance? Why would any handmaid not be a part of the resistance?

11. How did you feel religion was handled in this book? It is a missive against religion? Atwood said the people running Gilead are “”not really interested in religion; they’re interested in power.” Do you agree?

12. How would you classify this book?

13. As Anna Sheffer writes in “The Epilogue of the Handmaid’s Tale Changes Everything You Thought You Knew About the Book,” “Pieixoto himself describes the process of naming the transcribed document, saying that “all puns were intentional, particularly that having to do with the archaic vulgar signification of the word tail; that being, to some extent, the bone, as it were, of Gileadean society.” The two male researchers take full advantage of their ability to title the manuscript and bestow on it a cheeky name that alludes to and, by making a pun, mocks Offred’s sexual servitude.” How does that make you feel?

14. Offred’s true identity was never discovered, but the commander was believed to have been one of two men, both of whom were glorified for their services to Gilead. How does that resonate with the way in which history is communicated? Does that weaken Offred’s story?

15. This book was written in a way that was less polished and more disjointed than other Atwood books. Why might that be? What is the book supposed to be? How did Offred communicate her story?

16. There was not much written about the powerful people at the top of the government who ran Gilead? Why would that be? In this story we are looking back a couple hundred years in the past. How does that vantage point affect what we’ve learned? How is history illuminated or distorted by the way it is told? Who usually writes history?

17. Are you glad you read this story? 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:

Why The Handmaid’s Tale Is So Relevant Today” via The BBC
“The Epilogue of The Handmaid’s Tale Changes Everything You Thought You Knew About the Book” via Electric Lit
interview with Forbes: “Author Margaret Atwood On Why ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Resonates in 2018
New York Times 1986 book review
SparkNotes literary guide
Margaret Atwood’s official author website
LitLovers discussion guide
Literary Hub interview with Margaret Atwood

READALIKES:

When She Woke book coverWhen She Woke
by Hillary Jordan

1984 book cover1984
by George Orwell

The Silence of the Girls book coverThe Silence of the Girls
by Pat Barker

The Swallows of Kabul book coverThe Swallows of Kabul
by Yasmina Khadra

Future Home of the Living God book coverFuture Home of the Living God
by Louise Erdrich

Brave New World book coverBrave New World
by Aldous Huxley

Andrea’s Pick: Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

Andrea Staff Pick photoThe Civil War… with zombies? Dread Nation by Justina Ireland combines fantasy storytelling and the dark history of racial oppression in the U.S. in this genre-blending YA novel that’s a little bit historical fiction, a little bit steampunk, and only sort of about zombies.

When the dead walked at Gettysburg, all thoughts of rebuilding the nation fell away. A new law declared that young people of color must attend combat school to learn how to defeat the dead. Fresh from combat school, Jane finds herself in the clutches of powerful enemies who see her as less than human. In the war against the dead, she never expected that the living might turn out to be her biggest danger.

Have you taken up this summer’s challenge of Reading Takes You Everywhere? Enjoy this book for either of the following categories:

Q. Read a book of fantasy or magical realism.
Y. Read a book from the Young Adult collections.

Summer Reading: Destination Q – Read a Fantasy or Magical Realism

Have you taken up this summer’s challenge of Reading Takes You Everywhere? If Destination Q: Read a Fantasy or Magical Realism is a stop on your journey, perhaps one of these books will get you there! Check out the first lines of these five books to see if any pique your interest.

All the Names They Used for God book cover

“Sadie was sixteen when her parents died, and the gravedigger told her we would charge her less if she’d help him.”

All the Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva

The Pisces book cover

“I was no longer lonely but I was.”

The Pisces by Melissa Broder

From Unseen Fire book cover

“Lucious Quinctilius was not, by nature, a reflective man, so perhaps it was just as well that the Dictator’s men gave him little time to contemplate his fate.”

From Unseen Fire by Cass Morris

The Half-Drowned King book cover

“Ragnvald danced on the oars, leaping from one to the next as the crew rowed.”

The Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker

“At first, nothing was unusual.”

Rainbirds by Clarissa Goenawan