The library just added 20 new kits to our Bookclub in a Box collection!  These kits include a minimum of 10 copies of a book along with a folder of discussion questions and book reviews.  Some of them even come with the book on CD.  Here’s a list of our newest kits:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Blood and Thunder by Hampton Sides

Hearts of Horses by Molly Gloss

 

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown

Dear American Airlines by Jonathan Miles

Sing Them Home by Stephanie Kallos

Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Stranger Among Us

Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos

The Condition by Jennifer Haigh

Beautiful Boy by David Sheff

Time is a River by Mary Alice Monroe

The Girls by Lori Lansens

Long Gone, the new thriller from Alafair Burke, is a suspenseful roller coaster of a novel where everything appears one way but, in reality, is completely the opposite.  Recently fired from her job at a prestigious art museum in New York, Alice Humphrey is thrilled to be approached by a complete stranger, Drew Campbell, during an art gallery opening.  Drew offers her a fabulous proposition – a dream job of managing an up-and-coming art gallery funded by an anonymous, wealthy patron.  After a few initial doubts, Alice accepts the offer and begins to make her mark on the art world.

After the initial flurry of a successful opening, Alice begins to enjoy her new career until one morning a few weeks later.  She opens the gallery and discovers the space is completely empty and the body of Drew Campbell is on the gallery floor.  Quickly, the evidence begins to mount against her and the police believe that she killed the man who she thought to be Drew Campbell, but has been identified as someone else.  Knowing that she has been set up, Alice desperately sets out on a quest to clear her name and find out the truth.  While searching for answers along the way, Alice discovers even more hidden secrets involving her own family’s past.

Long Gone is a page-turning mystery with an intense and intricately woven storyline.   Highly recommended!

At the start of A Quiet Death, Hannah Ives is riding the Washington D.C. metro when her train crashes. Though injured herself, she tries to help a fellow passenger who is very badly hurt. In the confusion, she ends up with a shopping bag he was carrying. Eventually she reads the letters it contains in order to return the bag to him.

I picked up the book because I was interested in the Washington D.C. setting and that promise was fulfilled. Marcia Talley does well in portraying a city that revolves around the government – for example, the subtleties of how prestigious a restaurant is  – based on the level of the bureaucrats who frequent it.

The mystery itself, however, seemed a bit contrived. Instead of checking with transit or police officials who may be able to locate the mystery passenger, Hannah decides to find him herself, relying on simple google searches. Nothing very intriguing there. Security is also lax at Fox, I mean Lynx, News where Hannah drops in to interview their news anchor, whom she’s never met.

A pleasant read, but not a real page turner.

On February 7, 1964 the Beatles arrived at New York’s Kennedy Airport to thousands of screaming fans. It was awesome. Or so I’ve heard.

Luckily, for those of us who were too young to experience Beatlemania first-hand (and have yet to be invited by a certain Time Lord to accompany him in his TARDIS), the Beatles continue to be hot topics for books and film. Here are a couple of recent items that celebrate two people who didn’t live to see Beatlemania and yet had a distinct effect on the Beatles becoming The Beatles: original bass player, Stuart Sutcliffe, and John Lennon’s mother, Julia.

Baby's in Black Baby’s in black : the story of Astrid Kirchherr & Stuart Sutcliffe by Arne Bellstorf tells the epic love story between Stuart and Astrid during the era of the Beatles early Hamburg gigs. Although the names were all familiar to me, as was the tragic ending, I knew very little about Astrid and Stu’s life together nor Stuart’s passion for painting. The heavy, stark drawings by Bellstroff manage to evoke and complement both the mod existentialist world of Astrid and the moody rock & roll environment of the Beatles and Stu.

Nowhere BoyNowhere Boy, a film directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, takes place before John Lennon formed the Beatles, before Stuart met Astrid and before John had even met Stuart. Nowhere Boy takes place in the mid 1950’s when John Lennon was in his early teens and struggling to maintain relationships with both his strict and caring guardian, his Aunt Mimi, and his musically-talented, free-spirited mother, Julia, who had just recently reappeared in his life. This story also ends sadly, but there is some fun along the way as we get to see John form his first group, The Quarrymen, and invite Paul McCartney and then George Harrison to join him. Actor Aaron Johnson (the star of two of my favorite films, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging and Kick-Ass) is absolutely amazing as a cheeky & insecure young John Lennon.

And, just to throw in a book with happier vibes, here is one of my all-time favorite Beatles-related books:

Postcards from the Boys by Ringo Starr showcases some of the cards Ringo has received from John, Paul, and George (and their families) from the 1960’s to now. Each card is shown both front and back and includes a bit of commentary from Ringo. No other way to describe this book, but absolutely DELIGHTFUL.

Did you know that 6 of this year’s 9 Oscar nominees for Best Picture are based on books?  In addition to those, several films nominated in other categories were also books before they were movies.  Check them out at the library before the big night!

Moneyball – nominee for Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor.  Based on the book by Michael Lewis.  If you haven’t seen the movie yet, place a hold here.

The Descendents – nominee for Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director.  Based on the novel by Kaui Hart Hemmings.

Hugo – nominee for Best Picture and Best Director.  Based on the novel The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

War Horse – nominee for Best Picture.  Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – nominee for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor.  Based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – nominee for Best Actor.  Based on the novel by John le Carré.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – nominee for Best Actress.  Based on the novel by Steig Larsson.

The Help – nominee for Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Supporting Actress.  Based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett.  If you haven’t seen the movie yet, place a hold here.

Though first published in 1996, A Game of Thrones and its four sequels (collectively known as A Song of Ice and Fire) have become a phenomenon in library hold queues of late thanks to HBO’s serial adaptation (season 2 premieres on April 1) and the summer ’11 release of the bestselling A Dance With Dragons. If you’re interested in the series but were turned off by the verbose visuals and relentless attention to detail, you are not alone. Try these titles for an alternative jaunt into gritty, political, and subtly-fantastical realms.

If you are intrigued by the era of Martin’s inspiration, England’s Wars of the Roses, try The White Queen by Philippa Gregory, or any of her rich historical novels set in a similar time period, including The Red Queen (a direct sequel), The Other Boleyn Girl, and The Other Queen. For a factual (but nonetheless exciting) version of the story, try Alison Weir’s The Wars of the Roses.

Part of the appeal of Martin’s work is the very small part that magic and fantasy play in the narrative. If you appreciate that ratio, consider The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, in which a modern woman is embroiled in the continuing high-stakes mystery of Vlad the Impaler (aka Dracula). Another tale of subtle magic is Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen, which explores the lives a Southern family with a unique talent for growing (and using) magical plants in a successful catering business.

If the gripping political drama of a royal family pulls you in, but the fantasy elements are off putting, you’ll love Bernard Cornwell, whose Arthur books (beginning with The Winter King) make the mythic saga fresh, exciting, and utterly believable.

If you enjoy gritty fantasy but not a lot of length, consider The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch or The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie. Both are #1 in their respective serials, but can be enjoyed individually. Additionally, they each still come in very far below the page count Martin sets. In hardcover, A Song of Ice and Fire numbers 4,223 pages in total – a truly intimidating figure. By contrast, Abercrombie’s entire trilogy numbers only 1,810, and Lynch’s tale wraps up in a snappy 752.

February 11

Twilight Saga – Breaking Dawn – Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson

In the highly anticipated fourth installment of the Twilight Saga, a marriage, a honeymoon, and the birth of a child bring unforeseen and shocking developments for Bella and Edward and those they love, including new complications with young werewolf Jacob Black

Paranormal Activity 3 – Katie Featherston,  Molly Ephriam

In 1988, young sisters Katie and Kristi befriend an invisible entity who resides in their home.

Rum Diary – Johnny Depp, Aaron Eckart

Tired of the noise and madness of New York, journalist Paul Kemp moves to Puerto Rico to write for a local newspaper. Adopting the rum-soaked life of the island, Kemp becomes obsessed with the fiancee of Sanderson, a businessman involved in shady property development deals. When he is recruited by Sanderson to write favorably about his latest unsavory scheme, Kemp is presented with the choice to use his words for the corrupt businessman’s financial benefit, or use them to take him down.

Take Shelter – Michael Shannon, Jessia Chastain

Curtis LaForche lives in a small town in Ohio with his wife, Samantha, and daughter, Hannah, a six-year-old deaf girl. When Curtis begins to have terrifying dreams, he keeps the visions to himself, channeling his anxiety into obsessively building a storm shelter in his backyard. His inexplicable behavior concerns those closest to him, but the resulting strain on his marriage and tension within his community can’t compare with Curtis’s privately held fear of what his dreams may truly signify.

February 21

Tower Heist – Eddie Murphy, Ben Stiller

Queens native Josh Kovacs has managed one of the most luxurious and well-secured residences in New York City for more than a decade. Under his watchful eye, nothing goes undetected. In the swankiest unit atop Josh’s building, Wall Street titan Arthur Shaw is under house arrest after being caught stealing two billion from his investors. The hardest hit among those he defrauded? The tower staffers whose pensions he was entrusted to manage.