Monday, February 25, 2013

Book review and similar titles: "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl is a thriller that runs classic themes (marriage, career, family) through a modern wringer that casts them in a terribly familiar light (I hope, for your sake, not too familiar).

Nick and Amy, married for five years and struggling with recent lay-offs, return to Nick’s Missouri hometown from New York City to care for his ailing mother. Amy – the inspiration for Amazing Amy, a popular children's book series written by her child-psychologist parents – goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary, and pretty soon, Nick is the prime suspect.

Flynn’s book is smart and savage, a thriller that’s relatively low on action but high on games and twists. Gone Girl is written from both Nick and Amy’s perspective, in diary-style entries leading up to and past the day of Amy’s disappearance. It’s guaranteed to make you look at your husband, wife, spouse, partner, whoever a little askance for a while after you’ve read it.

There’s a lot of holds on this title right now, but luckily the library has plenty of similar (read: nerve-wracking, page-turning, keep-you-awake-at-night) titles. Click on the title link to go directly to this title in RockCat, the library's online catalog.

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. This title, also by Flynn, delves into the mind of a crime survivor and those suspected of committing it. Compelling characters and a tight, engaging plot make this a splendid precursor to Gone Girl. (F Flynn)

Broken Harbor by Tana French. A family tragedy brings Irish cop Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy to Broken Harbor, a place littered with clues and curiosities that slowly reveal secrets and lies from Scorcher’s childhood. (LT French)

Catch Me by Lisa Gardner. Charlie’s two childhood best friends were both murdered at 8 p.m. on January 21 the previous two years (a mere four days away), and Charlie is sure that she’s next on the list. She enlists the help of Sgt. D.D. Warren, though it slowly becomes clear that Charlie is harboring some dark secrets of her own. (F Gardner)

Mystic River by Dennis LeHane. The story of four childhood friends grown up and living in Boston. They are reunited by a crime that forces them to face the reality of long-past childhood horrors. (M Lehane)

In the Lake of the Woods by Tim O’Brien. After suffering a brutal electoral defeat after a devastating revelation about his past, John Wade and his wife, Kathy, retreat to a small cabin on an isolated Minnesota lake. Kathy goes missing along with the couple’s boat – and John finds himself the investigation’s prime suspect. (F O'Brien)

Other thrillers and mysteries to keep you awake in the wee hours:

The Birthday Present by Barbara Vine (F Vine)
A Simple Plan by Scott Smith (F Smith)
Land of the Living by Nicci French (M French)
What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman (F Lippman)

These are great fiction titles, but how about some true crime stories? Author Ann Rule distills the facts behind some of history’s most terrifying criminals.

Titles by Ann Rule at Eager Free:

Remember, you can sign in to RockCat with your library card to put any of these books on hold, or give us a call and we'd be happy to do it for you: 608-882-2260.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Gearing up for: Game of Thrones Season 3

Over the weekend I had a hankering to reread the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R. R. Martin. At this point, with many unfinished books slowly stacking up on my nightstand, reading all five titles (even one or two) in the series will definitely last me until - and probably well in to - the third season of the TV show, Game of Thrones, airs on HBO on March 31.

Fans of high fantasy titles like the books in the Lord of the Rings series, the Mists of Avalon series or The Once and Future King will gobble up the Song of Ice and Fire, which is set on the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos - the backstory and mythology of the series rivals Tolkein's for in-depth history and social and ethnic landscapes. The plotlines are plentiful and interweave political intrigue, family and other interpersonal drama, magic and religion, relationships and sexuality, and even climate change (I'm not kidding - "Winter is coming" is one family's motto!).

The HBO series, the first season of which aired in April 2011, sparked new interest in the books, which were published starting in 1996 with A Game of Thrones. The TV show is positively lavish, shot on locations that include Northern Ireland, Iceland, and Morocco. The show has a stellar cast, including Emmy and Golden Globe winner Peter Dinklage.

Check out Eager Free Public Library for the following titles related to Game of Thrones (links take you to RockCat, the online library catalog):
Don't want to wait to get your fantasy fix? Check out this blog post from 2012, which has a lot of recommended titles for fantasy fans.

Monday, February 11, 2013

A Batch of Baking Books

Winter is a fabulous time for baking, isn't it? It's cold and dreary outside, the sky is gray...who isn't in the mood for some sweet homemade treats (preferably with colorful frosting to offset the steel gray of February...)?

I personally love checking out cookbooks from the library. Cookbooks are expensive, plus how do you really know that any of the recipes will work for you? Borrowing them is a great way to give a cookbook a test run to see if you'll really use it.

We've pulled together a bunch of our baking books into a book display that makes use of our library's lovely bay window. In it you'll find everything from Who Made This Cake, a picture book in which a cake is "built" using construction equipment; to Pop Bakery: 25 cakes on sticks and other tempting delights, a volume chock full of mini desserts that you can carry with you.

All of the titles in the display are available for you to check out.

We also have some charming fiction titles about baking, like Eat Cake by Jeanne Ray and the popular Hannah Swensen mystery + recipe series by Joanne Fluke.

Craving baked goods but no time to make them yourself? We have at least two programs this week that directly involve bakery goodness:

  • Abraham Lincoln's Birthday Party (Tuesday, February 12 at 5:30 p.m.) - come to this annual program to hear a speaker about President Lincoln, and celebrate with birthday cake!
  • Love Our Patrons Day (Thursday, February 14 all day long) - stop in to browse for books, DVDs, or pick up your holds today and you'll get a treat! It's our way of saying "thanks for loving your library"!
Special thanks to Tyler O., our student volunteer, and Caitlyn S., our student worker, for their work on this display!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Book Review: "Flight Behavior" by Barbara Kingsolver

My mother handed me Barbara Kingsolver’s new book, Flight Behavior, as we were packing up at the end of a long and difficult weekend that included a family member’s funeral. I’ll admit right off the bat that it’s been a while since I opted for a work of literary fiction (lately I’ve been inhaling mysteries, young adult novels, and anything with a pink or pastel cover) but I’ve read many of Kingsolver’s books over the years, and have always loved her storytelling style.

Flight Behavior (HarperCollins, 2012) did not disappoint. The book chronicles a winter in a small mountain town in Tennessee, where a young wife and mother named Dellarobia has discovered something strange and beautiful: a mountainside full, coated with orange butterflies. Butterflies that should not be there. Kingsolver tackles big, relevant issues in Flight Behavior: climate change, the economic realities of twenty-first century rural life, faith, family, marriage.

The writing in Flight Behavior is lyrical, beautiful, but straightforward and clean - Kingsolver’s expressive literary style infused with her background as a science journalist. She writes easily between the worlds that collide in this story, from the plain-spoken intelligence of Dellarobia and her family and friends to the learned academics who visit the mountain from research universities.

As with her other books, Kingsolver does a remarkable job of capturing real people in real situations - reminding the reader how high-stakes everyday life can be. Fans of Kingsolver are in for a familiar treat with Flight Behavior, which is her first novel since 2009’s Lacuna (considered by some to be the author’s masterpiece). Readers of Alice Munro, Anita Shreve, and Margaret Atwood will find echoes these authors in the strong women characters and excellent writing in this and other Kingsolver novels.