Young Adult Series: The Dreamer Trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater is a master of young adult fantasy. She writes a wide variety of novels with some of them bring New York Times Bestsellers. She plays musical instruments, makes art, and loves cars. If you don’t follow her on social media, I highly recommend.

I became aware of Maggie Stiefvater through The Raven Cycle series. She also has two older series that I haven’t read yet, plus other series/novels that are on my to-read list. Let’s talk about what drew me in. The Raven Cycle is a well-written series about discovering identity and magic, while finding your home. After the end of The Raven Cycle, Stiefvater remarked that she spent years thinking about continuing the story of the Lynch brothers. She wanted The Dreamer Trilogy to move past the themes of The Raven Cycle though, to be dark and weighty, specifically looking at the joys and burdens of creativity. The Dreamer Trilogy focuses on the Lynch brothers and their work to sharpen themselves.

“Belonging in more than one world means that you end up belonging in none of them.”
― Maggie Stiefvater, Call Down the Hawk

The Dreamer Trilogy dives more into the lives of the Lynch Brothers. The first book in The Dreamer Trilogy is Call Down the Hawk. This book is the story of dreamers, the dreamed, and the hunters.

Ronan Lynch is a dreamer. His father before him was also a dreamer, but he died before he could truly teach Ronan about his powers. Ronan was left to figure out the extent of his abilities on his own, but always felt like he was missing something. Even though he could pull items out of his dreams, Ronan’s reality continuously felt compromised.

Jordan Hennessy is a thief. For as long as she can remember, she has had the same dream. She brings back the same thing from each dream every time. Hennessy knows what she wants from her dream, but the closer she gets to it, the more tied to it she becomes. She is terrified that her dream will one day kill her and has no idea what to do in order to survive.

Carmen Farooq-Lane is a hunter. This was not the profession that she wanted. Instead her brother’s actions determined her fate. You see, Carmen’s brother was a dreamer and a killer. In order to prove her loyalty to the moderators, she must help hunt the dreamers. Carmen has firsthand experience of what dreaming can do to a person and has seen the horrifying damage that dreamers can do. If they don’t find the dreamers and get them to stop dreaming, unimaginable destruction will be unleashed upon the world.

This title is also available in the following formats:

The Dreamer Trilogy:

  1. Call Down the Hawk (2019)
  2. Mister Impossible (2021)
  3. Greywaren (2022)

We Are the Light by Matthew Quick

A terrible tragedy has struck Majestic, Pennsylvania, a quiet suburb that had once seemed safe from random horror. The residents of the town struggle to pick up the pieces and move past that terrible night in We Are the Light by Matthew Quick.

Lucas Goodgame, a resident of Majestic, is struggling. Everyone in Majestic sees him as a hero, but Lucas emphatically does not. He writes to his former analyst Karl, begging him to take him back on as a client even though Karl is no longer practicing. Lucas persists, as he feels Karl is the only one that will understand and be able to help him as grief threatens to consume him.

Through Lucas’ letters – heartfelt and funny – we learn that Lucas believes he is visited by his deceased wife Darcy every night in the form of an angel.  Although he tried to return to his job as a high school counsellor after the tragedy, he got no further than the parking lot before he had to turn around and go home. Lucas retreats further and further from daily life, waiting each night for Darcy to appear.

Things begin to change when Eli, an eighteen-year-old young man whom the community has ostracized, begins camping out in Lucas’s backyard. Lucas and Eli strike up an unlikely friendship and together they hatch a project to heal the community – and themselves.

Told with humor and optimism despite the terrible circumstances, We Are the Light offers insight into Lucas’ mental health and it’s deterioration. The reader learns about what exactly happened in bits and pieces and the extent of what Lucas saw and experienced isn’t fully revealed until toward the end. That he manages, somehow, to pull himself out of a spiral (with lots of help from friends and neighbors and the community itself) makes this a hopeful, fascinating read.

If you are taking part in the Online Reading Challenge this year, this book is a good choice for our December theme of coping with mental health issues.

Gilmore Girls Winter Reading List

Have you, like me, begun your seasonal rewatch of Gilmore Girls? If so, check out these Gilmore-approved titles—each of which is mentioned on the show! You might just find the perfect literary addition to your adventure into Rory and Lorelei’s little corner of the world.

Emma by Jane Austen

“Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.” So begins Jane Austen’s comic masterpiece Emma. In Emma, Austen’s prose brilliantly elevates, in the words of Virginia Woolf, “the trivialities of day-to-day existence, of parties, picnics, and country dances” of early-nineteenth-century life in the English countryside to an unrivaled level of pleasure for the reader. At the center of this world is the inimitable Emma Woodhouse, a self-proclaimed matchmaker who, by the novel’s conclusion, may just find herself the victim of her own best intentions. 

Holidays On Ice by David Sedaris

Holidays on Ice is a collection of three previously published stories matched with three newer ones, all, of course, on a Christmas theme. David Sedaris’s darkly playful humor is another common thread through the book, worming its way through “Seasons Greetings to Our Friends and Family!!!” a chipper suburban Christmas letter that spirals dizzily out of control, and “Front Row Center with Thaddeus Bristol,” a vicious theatrical review of children’s Christmas pageants. As always, Sedaris’s best work is his sharply observed nonfiction, notably in “Dinah, the Christmas Whore,” the tale of a memorable Christmas during which the young Sedaris learns to see his family in a new light. Worth the price of the book alone is the hilarious “SantaLand Diaries,” Sedaris’s chronicle of his time working as an elf at Macy’s, covering everything from the preliminary group lectures (“You are not a dancer. If you were a real dancer you wouldn’t be here. You’re an elf and you’re going to wear panties like an elf.”) to the perils of inter-elf flirtation. Along the way, he paints a funny and sad portrait of the way the countless parents who pass through SantaLand are too busy creating an Experience to really pay attention to their children. In a sly way, it carries a holiday message all its own. Read it aloud to the adults after the kids have gone to bed.

Misery by Stephen King

Misery Chastain was dead. Paul Sheldon had just killed her – with relief, with joy. Misery had made him rich; she was the heroine of a string of bestsellers. And now he wanted to get on to some real writing.

That’s when the car accident happened, and he woke up in pain in a strange bed. But it wasn’t the hospital. Annie Wilkes had pulled him from the wreck, brought him to her remote mountain home, splinted and set his mangled legs.

The good news was that Annie was a nurse and has pain-killing drugs. The bad news was that she was Paul’s Number One Fan. And when she found out what Paul had done to Misery, she didn’t like it. She didn’t like it at all. – Goodreads

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Read the cult-favorite coming-of-age story that takes a sometimes heartbreaking, often hysterical, and always honest look at high school in all its glory. Now a major motion picture starring Logan Lerman and Emma Watson, The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a funny, touching, and haunting modern classic.

The critically acclaimed debut novel from Stephen Chbosky, Perks follows observant “wallflower” Charlie as he charts a course through the strange world between adolescence and adulthood. First dates, family drama, and new friends. Sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Devastating loss, young love, and life on the fringes. Caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it, Charlie must learn to navigate those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

A years-long #1 New York Times bestseller, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and Best Book for Reluctant Readers, and with millions of copies in print, this novel for teen readers (or “wallflowers” of more-advanced age) will make you laugh, cry, and perhaps feel nostalgic for those moments when you, too, tiptoed onto the dance floor of life.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. . .”

With these words, the reader is ushered into an isolated gray stone mansion on the windswept Cornish coast, as the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter recalls the chilling the chilling events that transpired as she began her new life as the young bride of a husband she barely knew. For in every corner of every room were phantoms of a time dead but not forgotten—a past devotedly preserved by the sinister housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers: a suite immaculate and untouched, clothing laid out and ready to be worn, but not by any of the great house’s current occupants. With an eerie presentiment of evil tightening her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter walked in the shadow of her mysterious predecessor, determined to uncover the darkest secrets and shattering truths about Maxim’s first wife—the late and hauntingly beautiful Rebecca. – Goodreads

Now on Freegal: 2023 Grammy Nominees

The Grammy nominations are here and you can experience the contenders today on Freegal with your library card! The full list of nominees was posted on grammy.com November 15, with the 65th annual Grammy Awards scheduled to air February 5. This year new categories have been added: Songwriter of the Year, Best Video Game Soundtrack, Best Alternative Music Performance, Best Americana Performance, Best Spoken Word Poetry Album, and a special merit award for Best Song for Social Change.

Here’s a peek at the playlist on our digital music streaming platform, Freegal, with some artists you’ll probably recognize:

Unfortunately not everything is included as Freegal is a limited catalog, but if you (like me) haven’t managed to hear songs from Beyonce’s Renaissance, DJ Khaled’s God Did, or songs from Camila Cabello’s Familia, the 2023 Grammy Nominees playlist is a great place to start. The list includes all musical genres and offers a great snapshot of what’s hot in music today.

Luckily for you, if you’re looking to hear songs not included on this playlist, you can find most of them in our music CD collection, including Lizzo’s Special (About Damn Time is one of the nominees for Record of the Year), ABBA’s Voyage, Mary J. Blige’s Good Morning Gorgeous, Brandi Carlile’s In These Silent Days, and more.

Was your favorite artist or song included in this year’s Grammy’s? Let us know below!

Thank You for Listening by Julia Whelan

“Of course there should be an HEA. I’m so sick of this question. It’s a Romance! That’s the deal we make with our readers. It’s misogyny, plain and simple. You don’t see anyone telling Mystery readers they’re silly and unserious for wanting to know by the end of the book who the murderer was. Fuck off.
–June French in Cosmopolitan”
― Julia Whelan, Thank You for Listening

Julia Whelan is one of my favorite audiobook narrators with over 450 audiobook narrations under her belt (she’s probably much closer to 500 by the time of this posting). She is also an author! In 2018, Whelan debuted My Oxford Year and then followed up with Thank You for Listening in August 2022. Her latest book, Thank You for Listening, caught my interest as soon as I read the premise: an audiobook narrator has a one-night stand in Vegas with a stranger and then embarks upon recording a romance novel by a late author who picked her specifically for the project.

Sewanee Chester never thought she would end up being an audiobook narrator, but after a disastrous accident ended her career as an actress, she somehow found herself narrating. Sewanee found satisfaction working in a sound booth. This job also allows her time to care for her grandmother who is ailing. When her boss falls ill, Sewanee flies to Las Vegas to fill in for him at a book convention where she meets a charming stranger and spends a dizzying night with him.

Once back home, Sewanee learns that a late beloved romance novelist wanted her to perform her last book alongside another audiobook narrator, Brock McNight, considered the industry’s hottest voice. He is also incredibly secretive – no one knows who Brock McNight really is. While Sewanee doesn’t necessarily believe in what romance novels are selling, she owes her audiobook career to her initial success as an audiobook narrator. After much debate, Sewanee decides to take on this project.

The more Sewanee and Brock work on the book, the closer they become. Granted they are hiding behind anonymity as both are operating under their pseudonyms. They make a real connection. The longer they work together, Sewanee finds herself dreaming and hoping again. Reality crashes down yet again when secrets are revealed, leaving Sewanee and Brock left standing unsure in their truths. The two must take their own journeys of acceptance as they work together.

Online Reading Challenge – December

Greetings Challenge Readers!

Welcome to the final month of our 2022 Online Reading Challenge. This month we’re reading books that talk about coping with mental illness and the isolation and stigma that surrounds it.

Our main title this month is Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. In this book, the author explores her lifelong battle with mental illness. A hysterical, ridiculous book about crippling depression and anxiety? That sounds like a terrible idea. But terrible ideas are what Jenny does best. It’s about “taking those moments when things are fine and making them amazing, because those moments are what make us who we are, and they’re the same moments we take into battle with us when our brains declare war on our very existence. This is a book about embracing everything that makes us who we are – the beautiful and the flawed – and then using it to find joy in fantastic and outrageous ways.

Our alternate titles are: Turtles All the Way Down by John Green. This is about lifelong friendship, the intimacy of an unexpected reunion, Star Wars fan fiction, and tuatara. But at its heart is Aza Holmes, a young woman navigating daily existence within the ever-tightening spiral of her own thoughts.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Beautiful and gifted, with a bright future, Esther Greenwood descends into depression, suicidal thoughts, and madness while interning at a New York City magazine.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.  Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy. But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living.

Be sure to check the displays at each of our buildings for copies of these titles and many more!

Online Reading Challenge – November Wrap-Up

Hello Fellow Book Lovers!

How did your reading go this month? Did you find something to read that fits in this month’s theme of the lives of contemporary Native Americans? If so, what did you think about what (if anything) the book showed you?

I read our main title, There, There by Tommy Orange although I admit that I struggled to finish. It is, in short, devastating. Relentless prejudice, addiction and crushing poverty haunt the characters in this book as they struggle to find a balance between the history of their people and the present day. The recounting of the past, told from the point-of-view of Native people tells a very different story from the whitewashed stories of colonists and pioneers that invaded their land. It is both eye-opening and horrifying.

From the publisher:

“Here is a story of several people, each of whom has private reasons for traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow. Jacquie Red Feather is newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind in shame. Dene Oxendene is pulling his life together after his uncle’s death and has come to work at the powwow to honour his uncle’s memory. Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield has come to watch her nephew Orvil Red Feather, who has taught himself traditional Indian dance through YouTube videos and has come to the powwow to dance in public for the very first time. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and unspeakable loss.”

A difficult book that is well worth reading.

If you are interested in learning more about the Native American people and their stories, check out the following links.

Learn about the Land You’re Living On.  Find out what Native peoples lived here.

What We Say Matters: the Power of Words in American and Indigenous Histories. This was also explored in There, There.

Native Hope. This blog “exists to address the injustice done to Native Americans. We dismantle barriers through storytelling and impactful programs to bring healing and inspire hope.” Lots of interesting posts of current issues.

Project 562 is “a multi-year national photography project dedicated to photographing over 562 federally recognized Tribes, urban Native communities, Tribes fighting for federal recognition and Indigenous role models in what is currently-known-as the United States.” Stunning photography and stories.

Ducks : Two Years in the Oil Sands by Kate Beaton

Kate Beaton is one of my favorite graphic novel authors and illustrators. Her latest, Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands, was an eye-opening graphic memoir about her time working as part of Alberta’s oil rush.

Kate Beaton grew up as Katie Beaton in Mabou, Cape Breton, a tiny tight-knit seaside community in Canada. After she finished university, Katie was at a loss of what to do. Having moved back home, Katie’s immediate concern was her mounting student loan debt. Desperate to pay it off as soon as she could, she decided to head west and spend time working in the oil sands with the goal of paying off her debt as quickly as possible.

Once she arrived in Fort McMurray, Katie finds work in one of the camps that is owned and operated by the world’s largest oil companies. A culture shock she didn’t expect was being one of only a few women working amongst thousands of men. When Katie moves to a more isolated worksite for higher pay, her actions really hit home. Some of the men’s attitudes put her on edge. She is constantly on alert, seeking friends where she can find them. Sadly the harsh reality of life in the oil sands pushes into her day-to-day life when she experiences trauma that she discovers occurs everyday, but is seldom and/or never discussed.

I have been a long-time fan of Kate Beaton’s artistic style. It has only seemed to mature in Ducks. There are certain pages where Beaton draws the massive machinery and vehicles used at the oil sands up against the barren backdrop of the Rocky Mountains and the Northern Lights that articulated the juxtaposition of exploitation and natural beauty expertly. Highly recommend Beaton’s latest work.

Side-note: if you’re like me and you have trouble getting through nonfiction, I highly recommend you try graphic novels! The visual format makes it easier for me to focus on nonfiction. (This also works when I want to read a classic.)

Cult Classic by Sloane Crosley

Sloane Crosley’s Cult Classic is witty, self-aware, and eloquently rendered. The novel follows Lola, a woman in her late thirties, as she maneuvers her half-hearted engagement, eccentric collection of colleagues from a psychology magazine, and the seemingly endless slew of ex-flames that she keeps running into. Lola’s smart–too smart to consider these run-ins with old boyfriends a coincidence. What she failed to predict, however, was who was behind these interactions and why they placed so much weight (and currency) in her past romantic escapades. 

The plot gains more and more momentum the farther we delve into the cultish endeavors of Clive, the self-appointed psychology guru that Lola cannot help but be entranced by. Like all cult-leaders, Clive denies that his group, the Golconda, the abundance of infatuated followers, or the synagogue-disguised secret headquarters are attributes of a full-on cult. But the true nature of his secret society resides somewhere between meditative groupthink and the layers of social media that petrify the what-ifs of our expired relationships.

 I, unfortunately, found the ending to leave a little to be desired. The majority of the narrative was incredibly engrossing and ultimately deserved a better finale. The plot plunges into the mysterious cosmic alignments between Lola and her exes, which we discover is a product of Clive and his followers’ mind-control. In the end, though, the climax flat lines. 

Crosley’s originality in story conception almost makes up for some of the gaps in narrative substance. The story especially shines in its focus on our main character and the mental aerobics she performs to work through her underdeveloped emotional tendencies. Crosley’s underlining commentary on social media and how it has altered modern dating is sharp but forgivingly nuanced. Her contribution to the overarching conversation about human connection in the age of online relationships alone makes Cult Classic worth a read.

Also available as a CD audiobook.

A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers

The sequel to A Psalm for the Wild-Built is here, and it’s just as tender and pleasant as its predecessor. A Prayer for the Crown-Shy takes Sibling Dex and the robot Mosscap on travels through towns, villages, and beautiful scenery, all to ask Mosscap’s essential question: what do humans need?

These books are the ultimate gentle read for me; it’s all calm atmosphere and descriptive detail, focused on everyday tasks mixed with meditative questions about purpose and fulfillment. We see lots of hospitality and manners, painting society as a cooperative, curious, and practical enterprise that has room for many types of people. Sibling Dex’s career as a traveling tea monk contributed to this in the last book – where tea and small comforts help all kinds of ailments – and in this book Mosscap’s tour of human society serves the same purpose, but with a focus on making connections and friendships, and the way helping others in society makes a positive atmosphere. Through Mosscap’s eyes we also see the wonder of everyday life, as the robot takes great delight in every beautiful tree and the personal possessions and trappings of everyday life. At the same time, the story makes room for weariness, rest, and feeling lost; Dex wrestles with feelings of emptiness and disconnection from their tea service, and neither Mosscap or anyone else shames them for it, choosing instead to be supportive of them whatever their emotional state.

Other scenes to warm the heart include Dex’s romance with a blue-bearded craftsman and a visit to Dex’s family farm filled with a huge number and range of loving, bickering relatives, again with positivity, inclusion, respect and acceptance as themes. If you’re looking for a utopian read where things go well and everyone works together to take care of each other – with a heaping helping of inclusion, love, and responsibility – definitely give the Monk & Robot books a read.

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