12860573I read a lot of  YA dystopia. A lot. I’m huge fan of the genre, but after so many trilogies of teens fighting the system, rising to fame, falling into a forbidden love and/or making terrible decisions, I’d become a bit bored of it. So when I came across 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad and skimmed the book flap – in 2019 three teenagers are selected from a worldwide lottery to go to the moon in the hopes of making space travel more popular and, for the teens, to gain fame for a punk band, to forget an ex or to escape strict parents – it seemed like the same old thing. But, faced with a long stretch of being TV and Internet-less, I finally gave it a chance.

And, man oh man, was I wrong.

Forget about fighting the power, forget the love triangle. This book is one of the best straight-up no-blood horror books I’ve read in quite a while (no surprise the author is Norwegian, where some of the best stark horror novels come from.) Its classification as young adult is unfortunate, as many horror fans might turn their noses up at the genre.

The novel does begin with the usual teenage angst: Mia, from Norway is worried that her punk band will fall apart before they can reach fame; Midori feels suffocated by her life in Japan and Antoine is suffering from an exceptionally bad breakup. The trio is sped through three months of training and are soon launched to the moon, accompanied by three experienced crew, to spend a week living and conducting experiments in the previously abandoned moon base DARLAH 2. As soon as they arrive, of course, things start to go very, very wrong. Damage to key systems that appears to be sabotage, vague references to the ill-fated first moon base DARLAH 1 and its crew, and impossible sightings of spacesuit-clad others walking about the surface all combine to heighten the paranoia and terror of the group. Back on Earth, a former astronaut struggles against dementia to spread a dire warning to the world – that we should never have gone back to the moon, and – if the current crew survives – what we may bring back. Throughout the book, Harstad offers little pieces of memorabilia – blueprints of the DARLAH stations, heavily redacted mission reports and the text of strange transmissions received from an unknown source, lending an eerie reality to the story.

This is a novel that, after a bit of  slow beginning, grips you tightly with icy hands. The background of the three teens isn’t as developed as it could have been, but that only increases the feeling of watching something horrible happen from a great distance. The ending, while not an entirely happy one, left me desperate for a sequel.

da coverSeason 5 of Downton Abbey is over. Season 6 is in production, but doesn’t have a release date. What are we supposed to dooo?? If you’re wondering just what you should read next or watch next so you keep the Downton spirit, never fear! One of our librarians has created a guide to help you find something similar called “If You Like Downton Abbey…”. Click through to explore.

If you’re new to Downton Abbey, this guide lists all the seasons available within the library, as well as books about the show and music from the different seasons. Downton Abbey on TV lists the seasons and other related materials the library owns.

Maybe you’re interested in finding out more about the history of Downton Abbey and other English homes in general. Did you know that the Downton Abbey estate is an actual place called Highclere Castle? Lady Cora is also based upon the Lady Almina, the Countess of Carnarvon, who lived at Highclere Castle. Check out the Downton History and Castles portion of the guide to learn more!

This guide also features a nonfiction section about downstairs and upstairs lives, another section with novels similar to Downton Abbey(this page also lists parodies and a graphic novel version!), as well as other related television shows and movies. Stroll through this guide and find something to tide you over until Downton Abbey season 6 comes back on the air.

With the purchase of his newest CD, B.O.A.T.S II, #metime, southern rapper 2 Chainz is releasing a digital Instagram cookbook with some of his favorite recipes called #mealtime.  While 2 Chainz is not the first celebrity to offer up a cookbook, he might very well be the first to include a digital cookbook with a CD (I’m going to bet that he is.) You may not be able to borrow #mealtime from the library, but we would love it if you checked out one of these celebrity cookbooks:

kinddiet

The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet by Cher Horowitz Alicia Silverstone
Silverstone is best known for playing Cher Horowitz in Clueless, but also made a name for herself in recent years for demonstrating mouth-to-mouth feeding of children to many for the first time.  This book helps vegetarians and vegans ensure that they’re getting all of the nutrition needed, while still making tasty food.

tucci cookbookThe Tucci Cookbook by Stanley Tucci
Tucci has been in a number of fantastic films, including The Devil Wears Prada, Julie and Julia, Easy A, and of course, The Hunger Games.  As the grandson of Italian immigrants, Tucci has spent his life around food.  In this cookbook he shares a mixture of family recipes and stories.

ifitmakesyou healthyIf it Makes You Healthy by Sheryl Crow
Crow’s cookbook is comprised of healthy recipes created by her personal chef, Chuck White.  As breast cancer survivor, Crow is more concerned with the health benefits of certain foods and focusing on local and organic than with calorie counts.  The title is a pun on Crow’s hit, “If it Makes You Happy” off of her 1996 eponymous album.

cookinwithcoolioCookin’ With Coolio: 5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price by Coolio
So, apparently Coolio had a “Cookin’ with Coolio” webseries (that no one told me about!) and as a result, he had a cookbook published. The “Gangsta’s Paradise” and “Fantastic Voyage” rapper (and “Rollin’ with My Homies” featured in the aforementioned Clueless) mixes tongue-in-cheek humor, slang, vulgarity, and a plethora of drug references with simple recipes in this R-rated cookbook.

georgia cooking         tangytart         evaskitchen          my father's daughter

You can also find cookbooks from Gwyneth Paltrow, Trisha Yearwood, Padma Lakshmi, and Eva Longoria at the library!

 

Margo Lanagan is an artist, and Tender Morsels is a potent story, rich in magic and full of feeling. Liga, with a babe in arms and another on the way – both forced on her in the most unpleasant ways you care to imagine – is rescued from her miserable life by an elemental creature, removed to her Heart’s Desire: her personal heaven, a world that narrowly overlaps her real pre-industrial, vaguely-historical, sort-of-European one. The boundary is firm for a while and Liga raises her daughters in peace and safety, but eventually people start poking their way through – in both directions. What follows is a meditative, surprising, totally unique tale of self discovery, familial and romantic love, magic, fear, and growing up. It’s slow paced and knotted with complex, beautiful language. It’s brilliant and mature and devastating, but uplifting at the same time. Tender Morsels is based on the fairy tale Snow White and Rose Red. It fills in the bones of that story, adding motivation to the characters and a reason to the movements of the plot, which always bends to fit the whims of the magic, and never the other way around.

 “You are a living creature, born to make a real life, however it cracks your heart.”

This book isn’t for everyone: the plot hinges on violence and sexual abuse, so those who are uncomfortable with those topics will be unhappy with this book. It’s written for a teenage audience, but the complexity of the writing and some mature content mean that it’s better suited for older teens or adults who read YA.

Some more novels based on fairy tales:

For more than 15 years, Amish romance novels have been gaining popularity.  Publishers are eager to publish these quick sellers, and their popularity has yielded at least one academic book (Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels by Valerie Weaver-Zercher) and a slew of articles from online newspapers and magazines about the phenomena.  The LA Times coined the term “Bonnet Rippers” to describe them, although the books are too modest for much ripping to occur.  In the age of Fifty Shades of Grey these books seem to be the demure alternative for ladies (and gentlemen!) looking for a little romance.

If you’re looking to start reading this expanding genre, you may want to start with a series by prolific authors Beverly LewisCindy Woodsmall, and Wanda Brunstetter.

storekeeper'sdaughterThe Storekeeper’s Daughter is the first book in the Daughters of Lancaster County series by Wanda Brunstetter.  After the death of her mother, Naomi Fisher takes over all of the responsibilities of managing a household of seven children and helping her father at his store at 20-years-old.  She longs to gain the attention of a young man in her community, but with her new responsibilities and after making a horrible mistake while watching her baby brother, Naomi feels like it will be impossible to start her own family.

thesecretBeverly Lewis’ The Secret is the first book in the Seasons of Grace series, and introduces readers to Amish Grace Byler and “Englisher” Heather Nelson.  After family issues make her reassess her future, Grace breaks off her betrothal and plans a future as a single woman, until she begins receiving attention from another man.  Heather comes to Amish country to reconnect to memories of her mother, following a somber medical prognosis.  Although they are from different worlds, the two women develop a quick friendship and help each other find what they’re looking for.

whentheheartcriesIn the first book, When the Heart Cries, of Cindy Woodsmall’s Sisters of the Quilt series, we meet 17-year-old Hannah Lapp.  Hannah was raised Old Order Amish, but wants to break tradition to be with the Mennonite man that she loves, Paul.  He is a modern man, attending college and driving cars, which is unacceptable to her traditional father. She knows that marrying Paul would change the relationship she has with her family, but she also wants to spend her life with him.  When tragedy strikes, she finds herself having to seek answers outside of her family’s traditions.

It may seem counter-intuitive to give new readers, students with disabilities, or ELL students books without words to help build vocabulary, but that is exactly what I’m going to suggest.  They can help all readers develop a more descriptive vocabulary, help teach visual decoding, assist readers in understand multiple viewpoints, and teach readers to interpret meaning from visual objects.  According to a 2011 Utah State University study, parents use more complex language when discussing wordless picture books than they do with books with text and pictures.  Not to mention the fact that they can be less intimidating than traditional books and they can be exceptionally entertaining. The last few years some fantastic wordless books have been added to the collection at the Davenport Public Library, so pick these books up for an emerging reader or for yourself!

floraandtheflamingoFlora and the Flamingo by Molly Schaar Idle

The newest wordless addition to the library collection, Flora and the Flamingo tells the story of a girl named Flora and a flamingo as they learn to dance together.  The beautiful illustrations are full of humor and call back to the mimicking game many played as children.

aballfordaisyA Ball for Daisy by Christopher Raschka

Daisy, a dog, has a great time with her ball, until it is lost.  Her story is told through bright, primary colored illustrations.  The story is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, but would delight all children (and adults!) that love dogs.

unspokenUnspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole

The detailed pencil drawings set the scene in this story of a southern girl helping a runaway slave.  The format is perfect in setting the quiet, but intense mood of this story.

whereswalrusWhere’s Walrus by Stephen Savage

After escaping from the zoo, a clever Walrus disguises himself to outsmart the zookeeper that is pursuing him.  With vintage style illustrations, this humorous picture book will appeal to kids and adults.

waterloo&trafalgarWaterloo and Trafalgar by Oliver Tallec

This anti-war tale, with tri-colored die-cut illustrations is a perfect example of using a wordless book to facilitate conversation.  While the subject matter is somber, the book has expertly used humor throughout.

beardespairBear Despair by Gaëtan Dorémus

Never, ever, under any circumstance steal a bear’s teddy bear.  This humorous story follows the plight of a bear after his closest pal is snatched by a mischievous wolf.

The Boys by Jeff Newman

A book about being the shy new kid, Newman’s The Boys employs subtle humor and a sense of nostalgia that shapes this water colored wonder into an instant classic.

If you’re looking to start reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn today, you might be out of luck (make sure you place a hold!), but that doesn’t mean you have to leave the library empty handed.  Feel free to visit us at the Reference/Information desk, and we can help you find books that read similarly to Gone Girl (or any title that you’re looking to read.)  If you’re looking from home, the catalog can provide read-alike suggestions.  You just need to search for the book, and select “details” to the right of the title and book cover.  Once you are looking at the details about the book, you can scroll down to “Suggestions and More” where you will find similar titles and similar authors.  Here are some suggestions for Gone Girl read-alikes.

silentwife beforeigotosleep defendingjacob thedinnerdieforyou

 

 

 

 

The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison
How is it like Gone Girl?  Both books are suspenseful, the story alternates between the husband’s and wife’s voices, and highlight marital woes.

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
How is it like Gone Girl?  Both books are suspenseful, have complicated plots, and feature discrepancies between what is being said and what is actually happening.

Defending Jacob by William Landay
How is it like Gone Girl?  Both books focus on crime and family, with nimble and smart writing.

The Dinner by Herman Koch
How is it like Gone Girl?  Both books are suspenseful, darkly funny, and feature unlikable and unreliable narrators.

Die for You by Lisa Unger
How is it like Gone Girl?  Both books are psychological suspense novels that evolve from different perspectives.

I have recently been hearing parents mention how their kids are no longer being taught cursive handwriting in school. GASP! ::fainting spell:: Although this educational shift horrified me at first, I had to admit that cursive’s practical benefit of speedy textual communication had long been eclipsed by the QWERTY keyboard. Luckily, as things often do, handwriting’s decreasing efficiency seems to correspond to a rising swagger for the beauty of calligraphy. I have collected a few items as evidence (available at your local library, of course) to support my case:

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming is perfect example of calligraphy swagger. I read A LOT of books about Amelia Earhart as a kid, but this recent kids’ nonfiction is so amazing that I cannot walk past it on the shelf without stopping and giving it a little hug. Part of my love is due to the fantastic, thrilling writing of Candace Fleming, but it is the book’s design, specifically the hand-lettered chapter titles, that really makes me go weak in the knees. I would like to frame and hang on my wall one page in particular– the opening page for the chapter titled “Vagabonding, Record Breaking and Romance: 1928 to 1935.” Glorious.

As one of the most star-reviewed graphic novels of 2011, Craig Thompson’s Habibi is an epic tale about relationships with people, religion, and text. The story, in addition to the printed pages, drips with intricate lettering:

“The healer wrote out magic squares and sacred texts on a wooden board. A mirrored bowl was filled with water, and the ink was washed into the bowl. I was asked to make a wish in the mirror, and drink the inky water.
Drink each of the letters
The closest one can get to the text
The body absorbs the message
The word becomes flesh”

The Illuminator and a Bible for the 21st Century is a fascinating documentary about the creation of the Saint John’s Bible–yup, the very Bible project displayed at our Davenport Public Library last summer (which I absolutely GEEKED out about). I originally saw this documentary about five years ago as a graduate student in the University of Iowa Center for the Book and it has stayed on the fringes of consciousness ever since. While hearing about the development and production of a such a massive cultural project happening during our time is in itself fully worth the viewing of this documentary, it is watching the brilliant artistry and craftsmenship of the head calligrapher, Donald Jackson, and his staff, which makes me want to dedicate my entire life to improving my handwriting.

Adam Newman’s destiny has been predetermined as far back as he can remember in Francesca Segal’s debut novel, The Innocents.

In his close knit Jewish community of North London, Adam has known everyone since birth, including Rachel Gilbert, to whom he is now engaged.  Adam and Rachel have been a couple since their were 16 years old and their wedding is fast approaching.  The couple has a seemingly perfect life – Adam has been embraced by Rachel’s family, especially her father, who has become a father figure to Adam after he lost his own father at a young age.

Their life is moving ahead rapidly when Rachel’s cousin, Ellie, surprisingly appears in town and everything Adam has every known is thrown into upheveval.  As his attraction to Ellie is growing, he is torn between the life that has been scripted for him and a life that he never could have imagined with a person he has not seen for years. This love triangle is coupled with another scandal that could tear his new family apart.

Segal takes her inspiration from Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, but spins a story that is fresh and modern.  I am eagerly waiting for Segal’s next novel.

 

Thank goodness authors and actors and artists keep using Jane Austen as a muse to keep us Janeites busy. Here is a list of a few recent Austen-related items I’ve enjoyed:

From Prada or Nada: I have been a fan of actress Camilla Belle since her Disney Channel days, so I checked out this movie for some fun and silliness. My first shock was that despite the girly title and DVD image, this film has more drama than comedy. Then my second shock came at the end of the movie when I realized I had been watching a pretty direct retelling of Sense and Sensibility! (The girls are even named Nora and Mary–I was so embarrassed it took me so long to register the plot.) The movie follows two sisters as they deal with their father’s death and moving from his wealthy home to live with their Mexican Grandmother and extended family in a poor neighborhood in East LA. The film did a fantastic job of keeping true to Austen’s story while also staying accurate to today’s society and the lives of Mexican-Americans.

Austenland by Shannon Hale: Although I tend to love films that do an Austen retelling, I am always hesitant of books that attempt the same. The exception to the rule is those self-aware books where a modern Janeite finds herself living as an Austenian Heroine in her own life. In Austenland, Jane Hayes has been given a trip to stay at Pembrook Park, one of England’s Regency Era resorts that caters to those with Jane Austen fantasies. Although at first she is hesitant to play along with the staff and actors, Jane eventually convinces herself that she will never let go of her Mr. Darcy obsession unless she fully allows herself to participate in the romantic experience. Unfortunately, her love life just gets more complicated as she begins to confuse reality and Austen fantasy. Shannon Hale just wrote a companion book called Midnight in Austenland that sets a murder mystery in Pembrook Park.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: This popular youtube series is one of my favorite new things! As you may have gathered from this post (and my other Jane Austen posts), I love Jane Austen with a modern twist, and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries add a twist that I have never seen before: they are telling the story of Pride and Prejudice in real-time! Yup, Jane started her web diaries back in April when she first found out that a young doctor, Bing Lee, bought the mansion near her parents’ home and her mother was becoming insane about it. Her and her bf, Charlotte, (along with occasional help from her sisters, Jane and Lydia, and Bing’s sister, Caroline) produce two videos a week that are usually about 3-5 minutes each. Right now, Lizzie and Jane are staying over with Bing while their mother is remodeling their home (in case they have to sell it). The actors are fantastic, the scripts are fresh, and the whole shebang is produced by youtube superstars Bernie Su and Hank Green. You can catch up on the videos directly from the LBD youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/LizzieBennet/ or find out more about the whole project at: http://www.lizziebennet.com/