Check It Out Category: Picks by Cathleen

Cathleen’s Pick: Listen to Me by Hannah Pittard

Cathleen's Staff Pick photoAs if road trips through difficult weather weren’t already minefields, the slim-but-potent Listen to Me employs the perceptions – and baggage – of an isolated couple to craft delicious strain in the narrative. Even more impressive is how author Hannah Pittard calls upon the reader’s preconceptions to coil additional tension in a masterpiece of character-driven suspense.

Cathleen’s Pick: It’s Not Me, It’s You by Mhairi McFarlane

Cathleen Staff Pick photoPopping the question to her boyfriend of ten years was part of Delia’s plan; seeing his panicked text to another woman that same night was…not. It’s Not Me, It’s You is a darkly comic journey of self-discovery through misadventure. Witty, sometimes wacky, but also pointedly real, Mhairi McFarlane’s story is one to cheer.

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

A. Read a book written by a new-to-you author.
C. Read a book set in a different country. (England)
G. Read a romance. (of sorts)

Cathleen’s Pick: Skin Game by Jim Butcher

Cathleen Staff Pick photoAn ideal gateway into fantasy for crime story fans, Skin Game by Jim Butcher is a thrilling heist adventure with Chicago’s only professional wizard leading the gang. Narrator James Marsters is nothing short of spellbinding in telling the smart, twisty, and witty tale of a motley crew under duress breaking into the vault of Hades for the literal Holy Grail.

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

A. Read a book written by a new-to-you author.
D. Read or listen to a digital book.
L. Read a book set in the Chicagoland area.
Q. Read a book of fantasy or magical realism.

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.

 

Cathleen’s Pick: Dunbar by Edward St. Aubyn

Cathleen staff picks photoIt’s a hard fall from corporate mogul to sanitorium resident, but Henry Dunbar brought this on himself. In a play for adoration, he gave up control of his company, and now those he rewarded have left him with nothing. Both clever re-imagining of King Lear and contemporary morality tale, Edward St. Aubyn’s Dunbar exposes the heart of a once-heartless man.

Cathleen’s Pick: Something Rotten!

Cathleen Staff Pick photoIn a hilariously meta production, Something Rotten! imagines the birth of musical theater as the only recourse left to brother playwrights trying to compete with bad-boy superstar Will Shakespeare. The Broadway cast recording shows off the talent, the fun, the puns, and Easter eggs aplenty to tickle the fancy of any drama geek.

Cathleen’s Pick: Roughneck by Jeff Lemire

Cathleen's Pick - RoughneckThe embattled, soulful Roughneck by Jeff Lemire is a winter noir story that is both gritty and beautiful. Expert brushwork teases out different flavors of night sky, and the landscapes reflect the characters’ shifting degrees of serenity, menace, bleakness, and volatility. A harsh tale of family dynamic and of recovery, and one that has lived under my skin for months.

Cathleen’s Pick: Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Cathleen from Fiction/AV/Teen Services suggests Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

Hag-Seed book coverIf you know anything at all about William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, you likely know that it takes place on a remote island buffeted by supernatural storm. So, the idea of translating this story to a literacy program in a present-day county prison may not be an obvious one.

In Margaret Atwood’s brilliantly envisioned Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold, a very specific play is staged both as class project and as personal vendetta for a director once ousted from a prestigious festival. Watching the action unfold in a clever remix of showmanship, we the audience are treated to parallel dramas that are equally riveting in their creativity, humor, and compassion. To paraphrase a line from the original play, “O brave new world, that has such stories in it!”

For more contemporary tales infused with Shakespearean theatricality…

Calibans Hour book coverCaliban’s Hour
by Tad Williams
In a fantasy sequel to The Tempest, one that also echoes Beauty and the Beast, the hag-seed Caliban takes Prospero’s daughter Miranda captive and insists she listen to his story.
Station Eleven book coverStation Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel
Because they believe that “survival is insufficient,” a traveling Shakespearean troupe brings art to those who remain after a global pandemic destroys civilization as it was once known.

 

Gap of Time book coverThe Gap of Time
by Jeanette Winterson
In the first of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, A Winter’s Tale is contemporized as the aftermath of the 2008 recession, following flawed but driven characters from London to the American New Bohemia.
Dead Fathers Club book coverThe Dead Fathers Club
by Matt Haig
An eleven-year old boy is charged with avenging his father’s death, possibly by his own uncle, in a clever and poignant re-imagining of Hamlet.
Slings and Arrows dvdSlings & Arrows
(DVD) Each season of this brilliant Canadian television series showcases the staging of a Shakespeare play that finds its themes oddly paralleled in the current cast’s shenanigans.

Cathleen’s Pick: Embassytown by China Miéville

Picture of CathleenThe world-building in Embassytown is meticulous yet subtle, and it is a fascinating backdrop for a narrative in which an indecipherable language plays a central role in the dynamic between human colonists and the complicated beings on a distant planet. Complex, graceful, and perhaps perfect for any Arrival fans eager for next-level storytelling.