Check It Out Category: Fiction

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…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelda’s Pick: Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter

Kelda Staff Pick photoI appreciated the audiobook Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter because it served as a jumping off point for further reading, viewing, and listening. I became interested in reading books about the Golden Age of Hollywood, viewing movies of that era, particularly Cleopatra, and listening to more books read by the actor Edoardo Ballerini.

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.

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

Road-Trip Audiobooks about Road Trips

road trip view photoSpring is here, and we can’t help but think of travel. Whether that travel takes the form of an actual vacation or is only a mental getaway between home and work, a great audiobook can make the experience all the more vivid. As long as you are on the move, why not choose one of these tales of road trip adventure to double the experience? Among true-life narratives and stories of imagination, many with companions both human and animal, we guarantee you’ll find a kindred spirit of exploration.

 

Driving with the Top Down book coverDriving with the Top Down
by Beth Harbison
In an attempt to rediscover joy in her life, Colleen Bradley takes an antiquing road trip down the East Coast with her old friend Bitty and teenager Tamara, where the three women learn about true friendship.
Assassination Vacation book coverAssassination Vacation
by Sarah Vowell
In this highly unusual travelogue, a journalist explores the history of American presidential assassinations by visiting assassination sites, museums, prisons, monuments, and even a religious commune from the Florida Keys all the way to Alaska.
Carrying Albert Home book coverCarrying Albert Home
by Homer Hickam
The funny, sweet, and sometimes tragic tale of a young couple and a special alligator on a crazy 1000-mile adventure undertaken to return the pet alligator given to them by the wife’s former paramour, dancer Buddy Ebsen.

 

Longest Road book coverThe Longest Road
by Philip Caputo
In a journey of over four months and seventeen thousand miles, the author and his wife haul an Airstream camper from Key West, Florida to Deadhorse, Alaska, interviewing Americans from all walks of life along the way.
Boomer's Bucket List book coverBoomer’s Bucket List
by Sue Pethick
When her cuddly canine companion Boomer is diagnosed with a rare heart condition, Jennifer Westbrook decides to take a leave of absence from her busy PR job—and take Boomer on the greatest road trip of his life.
Lost and Found book coverLost & Found
by Brooke Davis
A shared encounter between an abandoned seven-year-old, a widowed shut-in, and a nursing home escapee results in the three embarking on a road trip across Western Australia to find the child’s mother.

 

Turn in the Road book coverA Turn in the Road
by Debbie Macomber
Bethanne Hamlin, her daughter Annie, and her former mother-in-law Ruth go on a road trip across the country in an adventure that changes all of their lives as they each contemplate taking different paths in their romantic lives.
Heroes of the Frontier book coverHeroes of the Frontier
by Dave Eggers
Struggling through a painful separation, the loss of her dental practice and the senseless death of a young man, Josie embarks on an RV road trip to Alaska with her kids that is marked by both national wonders and the shadows of past regrets.
Loop Group book coverLoop Group
by Larry McMurtry
Best friends Maggie and Connie are getting past their prime, which is why they plan to have one last great adventure. Packing a .38 Special, they blaze their trail across the Southwest, bumping into one zany character after another.

 

Travels with Charley book coverTravels with Charley
by John Steinbeck
With his elderly French poodle, Charley, author John Steinbeck embarked on a quest to rediscover the America he’d been writing about for so many years, from the northermost tip of Maine to California’s Monterey Peninsula.
One Plus One book coverOne Plus One
by Jojo Moyes
A single mom, her math genius daughter, her eye-shadow-wearing stepson, a wealthy computer geek and a smelly dog all get into a car to drive to the Math Olympiad. What could go wrong? What could go right?
On the Road book coverOn the Road
by Jack Kerouac
A penniless writer named Sal Paradise becomes inspired to hitchhike across America. Joining up with fellow vagabonds who are in love with life and open to adventure, they explore jazz, sex, drugs, and mysticism on the fringes of society.

 
 

Donna C’s Pick: Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Donna C. from Fiction/AV/Teen suggests Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Life leads you down strange and winding roads as you begin your adventures into adulthood. In Sourdough by Robin Sloan, Lois Clary is on just such a journey, open to the unknown as she ambles purposefully from the Midwest to San Francisco. Initially she heads to the Bay Area to take a job as a computer programmer at a startup company that makes robotic arms to perform delicate repetitive motions such as cracking eggs. Undeterred by a culture that forgoes food for semi-liquid nutrient supplement packets called “Slurry”, Lois embraces the high tech way of life. But when she finds herself craving a rich, flavorful meal that doesn’t come in a pouch, she begins a relationship with an ancient culture, an enigmatic duo of brothers and a bread recipe that takes on a life of its own.

 

 

For other offbeat adventures in the realm of culinary arts or the computer tech scene, try these…

Startup
by Doree Shafrir
Mack McAllister has a $600 million dollar idea, but before the ink on Mack’s latest round of funding is dry, an errant text message helps his startup company go viral for all the wrong reasons.
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
by Aimee Bender
On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the slice.

 

Where’d You Go, Bernadette
by Maria Semple
Bernadette Fox is notorious: a fearlessly opinionated partner , a revolutionary architect, a best friend and, simply, Mom. Then Bernadette disappears…
The Lemon Jell-O Syndrome
by Man Martin
Bone King has no physical impairment, but at times his brain and muscles simply can’t recall how to walk him through doors and is not sure why, until renowned neurologist Arthur Limongello offers a diagnosis as peculiar as the ailment…
Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Bookstore
by Robin Sloan
After a few days on the job, Clay Jannon discovers that Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest.

Fiction: Irish Authors to Read for St. Paddy’s Day

Ireland has a history of cultivating great poets and authors – William Butler Yeats, James Joyce, and Oscar Wilde, to name a few. Modern-day Irish authors successfully carry on this rich tradition. In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, here are newer books from contemporary authors who hail from the Emerald Isle.

Anne Enright, The Green Road
A darkly glinting novel set mainly in a small town on Ireland’s Atlantic coast.The children of Rosaleen Madigan grow up in the West of Ireland in a world that is about to change. Three of the children leave home for lives they could never have imagined – Dan, for the frenzy of New York under the shadow of AIDS; Emmet, for the backlands of Mali where he learns the fragility of love and order; and actress Hanna, for modern day Dublin and the trials of motherhood. In her early old age their difficult, wonderful mother Rosaleen decides to sell the family home. Her adult children visit for Christmas carrying with them the complications of their present lives and the old needs of childhood as they are brought face to face with their mother’s aging and the effects her decision will have on them all.

 

Colum McCann, Thirteen Ways of Looking
In the exuberant title novella, a retired judge reflects on his life’s work, unaware as he goes about his daily routines that this particular morning will be his last. In “Sh’khol,” a mother spending Christmas alone with her son confronts the unthinkable when he disappears while swimming off the coast near their home in Ireland. In “Treaty,” an elderly nun catches a snippet of a news report in which it is revealed that the man who once kidnapped and brutalized her is alive, masquerading as an agent of peace. And in “What Time Is It Now, Where You Are?” a writer constructs a story about a Marine in Afghanistan calling home on New Year’s Eve.

 

 

Emma Donoghue, The Wonder
An English nurse is brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl said to have survived without food for months-soon finds herself fighting to save the child’s life.Tourists flock to the cabin of eleven-year-old Anna O’Donnell, who believes herself to be living off manna from heaven, and a journalist is sent to cover the sensation. Lib Wright, a veteran of Florence Nightingale’s Crimean campaign, is hired to keep watch over the girl.

 

 

 

Colm Toibin, House of Names
“I have been acquainted with the smell of death.” So begins Clytemnestra’s tale of her own life in ancient Mycenae, the legendary Greek city from which her husband King Agamemnon left when he set sail with his army for Troy. Clytemnestra rules Mycenae now, along with her new lover Aegisthus, and together they plot the bloody murder of Agamemnon.. Clytemnestra reveals the tragic saga that led to these bloody actions: how her husband deceived her eldest daughter with a promise of marriage to Achilles, only to sacrifice her; how she seduced and collaborated with the prisoner Aegisthus; how Agamemnon came back with a lover himself; and how Clytemnestra finally achieved her vengeance for his stunning betrayal—his quest for victory, greater than his love for his child.

 

Lisa McInerney, The Glorious Heresies
When grandmother Maureen Phelan is surprised in her home by a stranger, she clubs the intruder with a Holy Stone. The consequences of this unplanned murder connect four misfits struggling against their meager circumstances. Ryan is a fifteen-year-old drug dealer desperate not to turn out like his alcoholic father, Tony, whose feud with his next-door neighbor threatens to ruin his family. Georgie is a sex worker who half-heartedly joins a born-again movement to escape her profession and drug habit. And Jimmy Phelan, the most fearsome gangster in the city and Maureen’s estranged son, finds that his mother’s bizarre attempts at redemption threaten his entire organization.