March 2017 TBR

Hey guys! I’d love to share my “to-be-read” list for March. I am hoping to read 5 books this month.7218138

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The first book I’ll be reading is Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by brilliant Mark Twain.
This book was my absolute favorite growing up!
It will be my 3rd time reading it, so I am excited to see if I can pick up something new or catch something I may have missed previously. I will be reading this book with the Great Reads Book Club and I cannot wait to hear what they have to say about this American classic!

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I will be returning to the world of criminal procedure in Dublin. Last year I have been introduced to Tana French and her Dublin Murder Squad Series. In the Woods is the first book in that series and it’s absolutely brilliant! What made In the Woods  the-likeness-pbsuch an amazing debut novel was Tana’s beautiful, descriptive prose, great plot and three-dimensional characters. Oh, and did I mention that the narrator is unreliable? It’s so great! The Likeness is the 2nd book in the series and I am beyond excited for my comeback to Ireland and its criminal world.

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20559In the beginning of the year I made a promise to myself that 2017 will be the year of exploring new genres. Ubik, written by the master of science-fiction Phillip K. Dick, is that book. His works inspired Hollywood blockbusters such as Total Recall (1990),
The Adjustment Bureau (2011), Screamers (1995), Minority Report (2002), Next (2007), Paycheck (2003) and quintessential sci-fi classic Blade Runner (1982). For my first PKD read, I wanted to select a book that was not turned into a movie and Ubik was a perfect choice.

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The Refugees by Pulitzer Prize winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen is the fourth book on my March TBR list. This book presents tragic, emotionally devastating the-refugees-thanhstories of Vietnamese refugees in California. This book seemed to be a perfect read in our contemporary political environment.

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1105full-the-story-of-civilization,-vol-ii--the-life-of-greece-by-will-durant.-coverAnother one of my New Year’s resolutions was to read more
historical non-fiction. Here I want to step out of my comfort zone and read more works of ancient history instead of modern history. This is why I picked a giant tome The Life of Greece by Will Durant. Published in 1939, this work is still widely considered to be an authority text on the topic of Ancient Greece and Durant’s name is genuinely cherished in historical circles. I am excited to read this epic tome but I probably will not finish it in March.

by Ilya K

Great Reads Book Club – January’s Book

6606456Great Reads Book Club kicked off the New Year with Nancy Pickard’s The Scent of Rain and Lightning. Apart from one person, who did not like anything about the book, everyone enjoyed Pickard’s mystery. While the majority liked the book, there was a uniform consensus that the final 20 to 30 pages could have been better plotted and better written. Unfortunately, a poorly-written conclusion muddles an enjoyable reading experience.

The most impressive aspect about Nancy Pickard’s The Scent of Rain and Lightning is its setting. According to the author, an idea for the story was born from the landscape. Pickard saw a photograph of Monument Rocks in Gove County, Kansas and was, according to her own words, ‘blown away’.

A small, fictional town of Rose is unpredictable. There are tornadoes, ice storms, bad economy and unresolved mysteries. When Jody Linder was 3 her father was murdered and her mother disappeared. A local drunkard and suspected wife beater Billy Crosby is arrested and imprisoned for committing the crime. Billy tries to convince everyone that he did not kill Jody’s father, but it is a word of an unpredictable, self-destructing man versus an overwhelming majority of a ‘decent’ community. 23 years later Billy’s sentence is commuted and he is released from jail. Billy’s early release unleashes an erratic chain of events; an incident that changes lives of nearly everyone living in Rose.

The Scent of Rain and Lightning has a few plot holes but that should not stop potential readers from picking this book up. The story is engaging and, as I have mentioned previously, the small town setting is believable and engrossing. Rural Kansas comes alive through Pickard’s writing. If you prefer a great sense of place over mystery , I definitely recommend this book. A movie adaptation starring Justin Chatwin (Shameless, War of the Worlds) will be released in 2017.

-Ilya

 

Great Reads Book Club – September’s Book

omw0510Old Man’s War by John Scalzi was a step outside of what the Great Reads Book Club usually reads. Most people in our discussion group thought the book was “clever, engaging and filled with interesting concepts.” The book explores what happens when a 75-year old man decides to transfer his consciousness into a genetically enhanced, 25 year-old body and joins the Colonial Defense Force in a war effort against alien species. And, of course, what happens is not pretty.

Why would our protagonist John Perry decide to join a war that is almost certainly going to kill him? Well, the love of his life Kathy passes away and, with an aged body, there is just not much left for John to live for on Earth anymore. After visiting his deceased wife’s grave, John’s leaves the planet and his adventure begins. Old Man’s War is packed with action, cool scientific concepts and different alien species.

There was one important problem with Old Man’s War. The majority of characters in the book are old people, and yet all of them, without exception, talk and act like teenagers. In short – this is a missed opportunity. Old people are interesting because they have years and years of experience, wisdom, memories and knowledge under their belt. Unfortunately, these characteristics are only mentioned passingly and don’t play a meaningful part in the story. Additionally, the story’s premise was so promising: “75 year old man transfers his consciousness into a genetically enhanced, 25 year-old body and joins the army.” Ideas on ethics and philosophy could have been explored in greater detail here. Instead, we have a military space shooter that’s primarily interested in entertaining the reader, not making her think.

When it’s all said and done, Old Man’s War is a decent book. It’s entertaining and, at times, very funny. If you enjoy fast-paced narrative and cool action scenes – read this book immediately. However, if you like reading science fiction and think about ethical themes and philosophy, I would not recommend reading this book. Check out The Three-Body Problem by Cixin Liu instead.

by Ilya Kabirov

Sue Monk Kidd Inspires Literary Vacation

s The Invention of Wings sparked a multi-generational adventure to Charleston, South Carolina.

After reading The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd I became obsessed with learning as much as I could about the sisters Grimke.  Although the book was historical fiction, Sarah and Angelina Grimke are more than just characters in a book, they were true abolitionists and suffragettes, and not surprising were daughters of true American patriots.  Their father was once jailed in Charleston by the British and the girls eventually had to leave Charleston in fear for their lives, never to return for the sake of their family.   After finishing my research I felt the need to visit Charleston and see some of the places that were so vividly described in the book.  Having also read the books, I invited two of my Aunts and one of my Daughters to go along with me on this pilgrimage.  Before our trip I contacted Carol Ezell-Gilson, part of the Charleston Preservation Society, who, along with a partner, leads the Original Grimke Sisters Tours.  We were not disappointed. Carol led us through Charleston, bringing us to the home that Sarah lived as a young girl, the home they moved to before Angelina was born, by the (most likely) home of Denmark Vecey, a free black carpenter and minister who led the opposition of Slavery in Charleston in 1822 and many other relevant landmarks.  She helped us discern the differences of fact and fiction in the book and helped us understand the city during the early 1800’s in such a special way. a

The book, written in two voices, the first being Sarah Grimke and the second being Hattie (Handful), her slave, gives life and breath to what it might feel like to live in the South during a turbulent time when people were so divided about right and wrong.  Having three generations of women following a path forged by the strength of two sisters was a powerful experience, building a bond I will cherish forever.

 

By Kathy Bennett
Children’s Services Associate

Great Reads Book Club – June’s Book

 

21853621In a video book trailer for The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah called it her personal favorite out of the books she had written. A veteran of romance genre, Hannah captivated her old readers and gained many new fans in the historical fiction genre after The Nightingale’s publication. The novel won many prestigious awards, such as the Goodreads Choice Award in 2015 and Library Journal’s Best Historical Fiction Award, but even more importantly, Kristin Hannah’s take on the Nazi-occupied France enthralled everyone in the Great Reads Book Club.

Hannah mentioned in one of her interviews that the idea for The Nightingale came to her several years ago while she was in a process of doing research for her other book, Winter Garden, which was set in Russia during World War II. While reading women’s war stories and diaries, Hannah came across the true story of a 19-year-old Belgian woman who created an escape route out of Nazi-occupied France. Her name was Andrée De Jongh and her story inspired The Nightingale.

When the Wehrmacht troops entered and occupied France in 1940, they broke the spirit of the French people with scare tactics, malnourishment, and at times, outright savagery. Albeit their cruel actions weakened the French population both physically and mentally, many fought back by joining together in what became known as the French Resistance. Our protagonists, sisters Isabelle and Vianne, fought back against the Nazi occupation in their own ways. The courage and sacrifice these sisters displayed in the novel honors the real French men and women, who experienced tremendous suffering during that time period.

My favorite aspect of The Nightingale was the gradual transformation of Isabelle and Vianne. In the beginning of the novel, we find out that they were driven apart by unhealed childhood wounds and divergent personalities. Isabelle is rebellious and not afraid to express her true feelings, even in the face of certain harm and danger. Vianne’s main source of anxiety is the safety of her daughter in the face of German occupation and, therefore, she tries to follow the rules. The Great War transforms the sisters and, while driving them apart initially, ultimately brings them closer together. If you enjoy courageous, dynamic, three-dimensional characters and seeing what actions they would take when facing tremendous ordeals, The Nightingale is the book for you. Hannah writes in a compelling and emotionally-moving way and it’s truly hard to put this one down.

Ilya Kabirov

Great Reads Book Club – May’s Book

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The term “Easy Read” is subjective to the individual reader. What one reader might define as an “easy read”, another might mark as a “hard read”. It was agreed by everyone in the Great Reads Book Club that What She Left Behind by Ellen Marie Wiseman was not an easy read. Despite the fact that Wiseman possesses an undisputed talent for narrating a good story, the topic under examination is not an easy one.

Wiseman wanted to tell a story of what happens to different people admitted to mental institutions. She accomplished this through two storylines. The first is of Izzy Stone, who grew up without a mother because she was in prison for shooting Izzy’s father ten years prior. Traveling from one foster home to another, Izzy was forced to become self-reliant from her early years. Now, Izzy is seventeen and her new foster parents have asked for Izzy’s help in cataloguing abandoned belongings in a local, deserted mental asylum. While working, Izzy discovers Clara Cartwright’s personal journal, which gives Izzy a new purpose in life.

The second plot line tells us a story of Clara Cartwright’s appalling experiences in a mental asylum. Clara was 18 in 1929, when her conservative father arranged a marriage for Clara with a man she did not love. Clara rejects the proposal and her furious parent sends her to a public asylum, in order to convince Clara to change her mind. Clara’s experiences in the asylum are truly awful and some readers might find those parts hard to read. One of the biggest points that sparked up an excellent conversation in the book club was doctor’s authority over patient’s body. Is it ok for a doctor to make any sort of changes to his patient’s body just because he is considered to be a professional or can a patient reject doctor’s orders?

What She Left Behind can be considered a historical novel, for a large portion of the story is unveiled in the past through the eyes of Clara Cartwright. However, the novel can appeal to readers of fiction set in present times. There is a plethora of topics in the book, relevant to today’s world and its problems, like abusive relationships, motherly interference in child’s growth, bullying, women’s rights, professional authority, and birth control. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys leisurely-paced, character-driven, thought-provoking literary fiction and schemes of parallel narratives.

Ilya Kabirov

The POP Cult-ure CLASH is coming soon!

pop_logoFans of the most famous, influential and revered pop phenomena team up and compete in a fun and exciting trivia contest to see which group can claim the title of “Greatest Pop Culture Fan Club.”

Teams will be grouped in a bracket-tiered system and answer trivia questions about their favorite pop culture sub-genre.

***Individuals may also register, and will be assigned to teams of like interest.***

For example, “Star Wars” fans will answer questions about “Star Wars”, while “Star Trek” fans do the same about “Star Trek”.

The team with the most correct answers advances to the next round. Each member of the last team standing will win a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card!

Are you a real Fan? Here’s your chance to prove it! Register your team by 5 p.m. Sunday, February 1, 2015.

The POP Cult-ure CLASH will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at the Joliet Barnes and Noble (across from Louis Joliet Mall.)

Who will win?

Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?

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Star Trek or Star Wars?

star trek            star wars

  Sherlock Holmes or Dr. Who?

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Game of Thrones or Dungeons and Dragons?

GAME-OF-THRONES

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DC or Marvel?

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Which group will be crowned “Greatest Pop Culture Fan Club?”

 

 

 

All are welcome to participate! To sign up, visit us at http://ww2.psd202.org/greatread/