Reading By Theme: We're Just Wild About Jane


First published in 1847, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte continues to intrigue readers to this day.  Lucky for those readers that there are many writers who have had their imagination captured by Jane and her beloved Mr. Rochester.  Here are just a few books, which at their core, were inspired by Bronte's classic Gothic romance:

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

Description:
Margaret Lea, bookseller and biographer, receives a letter from the aging and ailing Vida Winter.  Ms. Winter is a best-selling English author who finally wishes to tell the true story of her strange life.  Margaret is skeptical; after all, Vida Winter has given at least nineteen different versions over the years to the press.   As she relates her story, Vida tells the tale of family secrets, abandoned children, forbidden love, and more.  If this book sounds at all like Rebecca or Jane Eyre, the similarities are deliberate. 
The House at Riverton by Kate Morton

Description:
Grace Bradley, now 98, holds the key to the details of a poet’s mysterious suicide at Riverton Manor in the summer of 1924. When a director decides to make a movie 75 years later about that summer at the estate, Grace’s memories take her back to those early days in the service of the Hartford family. She was 14 when she arrived at the manor; World War I was on the horizon, and the Edwardian era would soon start its decline.
Only two people – sisters Emmeline and Hannah – witnessed the suicide, and the truth is about to come out. With its setting on a large English estate and a plot involving an aristocratic family covering up long-held secrets, this book fits squarely in the genre of traditional Gothics.
Nine Coaches Waiting by Mary Stewart

Description:  
A governess in a French chateau encounters an apparent plot against her young charge's life in this unforgettably haunting and beautifully written suspense novel.
When lovely Linda Martin first arrives at Chateau Valmy as an English governess to the nine-year-old Count Philippe de Valmy, the opulence and history surrounding her seems like a wondrous, ecstatic dream. But a palpable terror is crouching in the shadows. Philippe's uncle, Leon de Valmy, is the epitome of charm, yet dynamic and arrogant—his paralysis little hindrance as he moves noiselessly in his wheelchair from room to room. Only his son Raoul, a handsome, sardonic man who drives himself and his car with equally reckless abandon, seems able to stand up to him. To Linda, Raoul is an enigma—though irresistibly attracted to him, she senses some dark twist in his nature. When an accident deep in the woods nearly kills Linda's innocent charge, she begins to wonder if someone has deadly plans for the young count.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Description:  
Great Britain circa 1985: time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously.
Baconians are trying to convince the world that Francis Bacon really wrote Shakespeare, there are riots between the Surrealists and Impressionists, and thousands of men are named John Milton, an homage to the real Milton and a very confusing situation for the police. Amidst all this, Acheron Hades, Third Most Wanted Man In the World, steals the original manuscript of Martin Chuzzlewit and kills a minor character, who then disappears from every volume of the novel ever printed! But that's just a prelude . . . Hades' real target is the beloved Jane Eyre, and it's not long before he plucks her from the pages of Bronte's novel.
Enter Thursday Next. She's the Special Operative's renowned literary detective, and she drives a Porsche. With the help of her uncle Mycroft's Prose Portal, Thursday enters the novel to rescue Jane Eyre from this heinous act of literary homicide. It's tricky business, all these interlopers running about Thornfield, and deceptions run rampant as their paths cross with Jane, Rochester, and Miss Fairfax. Can Thursday save Jane Eyre and Bronte's masterpiece? And what of the Crimean War? Will it ever end? And what about those annoying black holes that pop up now and again, sucking things into time-space voids . . . Suspenseful and outlandish, absorbing and fun, The Eyre Affair is a caper unlike any other and an introduction to the imagination of a most distinctive writer and his singular fictional universe.
The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

Description:
Fate has not been kind to Gemma Hardy. Orphaned by the age of ten, neglected by a bitter and cruel aunt, sent to a boarding school where she is both servant and student, young Gemma seems destined for a life of hardship and loneliness. Yet her bright spirit burns strong. Fiercely intelligent, singularly determined, Gemma overcomes each challenge and setback, growing stronger and more certain of her path. Now an independent young woman with dreams of the future, she accepts a position as an au pair on the remote and beautiful Orkney Islands.
But Gemma's biggest trial is about to begin . . . a journey of passion and betrayal that will lead her to a life she's never dreamed of.
The resonant story of a young woman's struggle to take charge of her own future, The Flight of Gemma Hardy is a modern take on a classic story-Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre-that will fascinate readers of the Gothic original and fans of modern literary fiction alike, with its lyrical prose, robust characters, and abundant compassion.
Becoming Jane Eyre by Sheila Kohler

Description:
A beautifully imagined tale of the Bronte sisters and the writing of Jane Eyre The year is 1846. In a cold parsonage on the gloomy Yorkshire moors, a family seems cursed with disaster. A mother and two children dead. A father sick, without fortune, and hardened by the loss of his two most beloved family members. A son destroyed by alcohol and opiates. And three strong, intelligent young women, reduced to poverty and spinsterhood, with nothing to save them from their fate.
Nothing, that is, except their remarkable literary talent. So unfolds the story of the Brontë sisters. At its center are Charlotte and the writing of Jane Eyre. Delicately unraveling the connections between one of fiction's most indelible heroines and the remarkable woman who created her, Sheila Kohler's Becoming Jane Eyre will appeal to fans of historical fiction and, of course, the millions of readers who adore Jane Eyre.



 

Dreamy Books and Movies


We are about to begin this year’s Summer Reading Program. The children’s theme is “Dream Big Read!” The teen program’s slogan is “Own the Night” and the Adult program’s slogan is “Between the Covers”.  I am finding the theme Dream Big to be particularly inspiring because it is open to so much interpretation. It can refer to literal dreams and sleep, but it can also be taken to mean reaching for personal dreams and goals. It can also refer to celebrating creativity and imagination.
The library is definitely a place to explore goals, creativity, and imagination. When it comes to books about exploring and imagination, my personal favorite children’s book is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. Though this is not a new book, it is a great book. The library also has tons of books featuring sleep.  My favorite sleep themed children’s book is Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems. It is so cute and funny and I love the illustrations.
Children aren’t the only ones who can find some great sleep, dream and night themed books. I have put together a brief list of books and movies adults might enjoy. All these titles fit the Dream Big theme and are available at the library!
Books

By: Raymond Chandler

By: Lisa See

By: Richard Matheson

By: Jon Krakauer

By: Fannie Flagg

By: James Joyce

By: Lewis Carroll

By: William Shakespeare


Movies
Sleepless in Seattle

The Wizard of Oz

The dreamy soundtrack I’d recommend as background music would be Under the Table and Dreaming by the Dave Matthews Band, which is also available at the library.  Add a comment if you have a dream themed book or movie you’d like to recommend!

 

Travel Mysteries


“Adventure is a path.  Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world.  The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it.” 
--Mark Jenkins

I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not the biggest mystery reader on this blog.  However, I’m always looking for new fiction authors who write about interesting places, so when I came across Hilary Davidson, I was happy to add her to my ever-growing "to-read" list.  Her heroine, Lily Moore, is a travel writer who finds herself with mysteries on her hands. 

In Davidson’s first novel, The Damage Done, Lily is called home to New York from Spain, where she is writing travel guides.  She is told that she must identify her sister’s body, but the body in the morgue is not her sister, Claudia.  The novel takes us on a hunt through New York to find out what happened to her.  Was she kidnapped by her rich, on-again, off-again boyfriend?  Did she get into trouble with her old drug dealer?  Or did Lily’s ex-fiance, who never liked Claudia anyway, finally take matters into his own hands? 

After finishing the book, I had to get the second in the series, The Next One to Fall.  Here, Lily and her friend, Jesse, go to Machu Picchu to get out of New York City for a while.  However, a few days into the trip, Lily witnesses a woman’s death and becomes involved in tracking down her murderer.  In the process, she finds herself tangled up with the insane Wolven family.  Each member is potentially dangerous and none of them are to be trusted.

Both books are hard to put down.  They take you through twists and turns and keep you guessing until the end.  I especially liked all the references to old movies and music.  Lily is a big Ava Gardner and Billie Holiday fan and has a crush on Tyrone Power.  She also admires Edgar Allen Poe.  The references help to show us a little more of Lily’s character.  (And many of the films she mentions are available in our catalog!)  Davidson is going to become a “must-read” on many mystery and travel literature lists.

 

Fun Job Working on a Canal Boat in the Canals of England


Life Skills by Katie Fforde

Julia Fairfax is suddenly out of work, tired of her boyfriend, and wants to start a new life. She reads a classified ad looking for a ship’s cook on an old seven-foot-wide, 70-foot-long hotel boat that cruises down the canals of England. Julia loves to cook and spending a summer on a canal boat sounds like a fun way to spend the summer, so she sublets her apartment and embarks on a new adventure.




[Cover]Julia will meet a lot of very interesting people, learn some new skills and find out what is important in her life. The book is an enjoyable read with lots of humor in it. Julia finds out the boat manager is a 24 year old wayward daughter of bluebloods. Suzy Boyd has been spoiled all her life and now wants to start her career as a canal boat owner. She has one season to prove to her Uncle that she can make a go of managing the boat before it is sold to someone else. The crew consists of Suzy, Julia and a crewman that has worked for her Uncle for some time. Before they get underway the crewman ups and quits and that’s when Suzy and Julia take off on their real adventure. The reader will meet lots of fun characters, read romance and learn how to run a hotel boat through the canals of England.


 

Alchemy 101

 

Teen literature is overflowing with dystopia, vampires and werewolves, so needless to say a book being touted as The Da Vinci Code read alike is a welcome change. The Book of Blood and Shadow by Robin Wasserman hooks the reader from the beginning with a dead body. Nora Kane finds her best friend murdered and his girlfriend unresponsive next to his body. As the story backtracks to what happened before the violent night we find out Nora, because of her Latin skills, is part of a team deciphering an old manuscript and letters that hold the code to the “secrets to the universe” with the help of a device called the Lumen Dei. She is given the lesser task of translating the letters of Elizabeth Weston, whose alchemist stepfather claimed to have broken the code. Chris, Nora’s best friend, and his roommate Max are also part of this team led by crabby old Professor Huffpauer. During this internship with the professor, Nora and Max fall in love and start a relationship. When Max disappears and is accused of murdering Chris, Nora is devastated. The story jumps back and forth between the 16th century, through Elizabeth’s letters, and present day, paralleling the lives of Nora and Elizabeth. Reading the letters helps Nora sort through some of her issues. The letters also send her to Prague to decode some of the hidden clues regarding the Lumen Dei and in the hopes of clearing Max of the murder. Along with Chris’ girlfriend Adriane and his cousin Eli, Nora heads to Prague to find the device and the murderer.
Elizabeth’s letters and the plot in general tend to be a bit long, but the excellent character development and writing keeps the reader engaged and wanting to know what happens next in the story and to the characters. It’s definitely not a quick read and the ending seems abrupt, but overall the book is a fascinating read. In our library system it can be found on the Older Teen shelves.

Insurgent


Insurgent, released in May 2012, is the much anticipated sequel to Veronica Roth’s best-selling novel Divergent. It’s an action-packed dystopian saga that takes place in a world where people are divided into five Factions. Each of the Factions has its own set of values and priorities that differ greatly from one another, setting the stage for the first novel.

Insurgent continues to follow Tris Prior as the tension between the Factions escalates to war and loyalties are tested. Her love interest Tobias, a.k.a. “Four”, still has a major role in this book, although I felt like his character was less intriguing than he was in the first book. In fact many of the other characters take a backseat to Tris, whose emotional and physical struggles dominate this book. She wrestles throughout the book with feelings of loss and guilt, but manages to find some peace near the end. I admit that I found her constant emotional break-downs a little irritating. After all, part of the reason I like Tris in the first book so much is because she’s tough!

However, that being said, this book is definitely a worthwhile read. There is still a ton of action and plenty of gun fighting, followed by several very narrow escapes. We learn much more about the mind-controlling simulations being developed as well as the Factionless population. And just like the first book, the cliff-hanger at the end will have you eagerly awaiting the final installment in this series.

 

My Summer of Suspense

 
Two of my favorite female thriller authors have new books coming out this summer, so I am clearing some space on my nightstand!  If you haven’t read either author, there’s still some time to catch up on these women to watch: 


 
Tana French has been writing the kind of loosely-related series that follows a different lead character in each book, while maintaining connections throughout. Her debut, In the Woods, introduces a fictional Dublin murder squad along with Detective Rob Ryan and his dark past.  As Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, investigate a murder in Ryan’s own boyhood neighborhood, parallels are drawn to the creepy story that he’s kept hidden for more than 20 years. I love the writing, and fans of Dennis LeHane and Alice Sebold will find something here, with an Irish twist.

In the follow-up, Cassie Maddox takes center stage in The Likeness, a psychological roller coaster reminiscent of Donna Tartt’s Secret History.  Then, Cassie’s mentor Frank Mackey finds that you can’t go home again in Faithful Place, where a cold case and hot family dynamics collide.

This July, French brings us Broken Harbor, where yet another detective, Mick Kennedy, a character from Faithful Place, investigates a crime that hits all too close to home.

                     
           
On its way to me this very minute is Gillian Flynn’s new stand-alone thriller, Gone Girl. The Girl is Amy, all set to celebrate 5 years of wedded bliss with husband Nick, and the morning of that anniversary, Amy is Gone - disappeared without a trace. Alternating between Amy’s and Nick’s point of view, readers dig below the perfect veneer of their life together to the twisted truth below.  I see I’m not the only one interested – there is a bit of a wait list for this one, so place a hold on Gone Girl and read these two while you wait:
In Sharp Objects, Camille Preaker is struggling to make it at a small newspaper in Chicago when her editor sends her home to investigate a possible serial killer in her home town, plunging Camille back into the steamy, dysfunctional home she had tried to escape 8 years before.

Finally, Flynn takes us to Dark Places with Libby Day, the sole survivor of her brother’s family massacre. Libby’s miserable existence is turned upside down when she gets involved with a group that investigates old murders for fun and finds out that Ben may not be as guilty as she always thought. Libby is mean, greedy, and completely unlovable, but, in a way, that’s her charm.
Try Flynn if you like Jennifer McMahon’s twisty murder mysteries (or, if you already like Flynn, give McMahon a try!).

Take a listen:
Download here:
Faithful Place  for your eReader
Dark Places for your eReader
Dark Places as a WMA audiobook
Sharp Objects as a WMA audiobook

 

Check Out These Books for a Greener Tomorrow


One thing I love about summer, besides the Summer Reading Program, is spending time outdoors. I especially enjoy warm spring and summer evenings filled with barbequing in my own backyard. But before I can get fully interested in spending time in my backyard I need to make my backyard an inviting place. Flipping through gardening and landscaping books is a great place to get ideas for updating and maintaining a yard; and the library is the perfect place to pick up these books for free! Here are a few highlights from the OC Public Libraries’ collection of garden design books.

By: Carol Bornstein


Concrete Garden Projects: Easy & InexpensiveContainers, Furniture, Water Features & More
By: Malin Nilsson







The Revolutionary Yardscape: Ideas for Repurposing LocalMaterials to Create Containers, Pathways, Lighting, and More
By: Matthew Levesque



Twilight Garden: A Guide to Enjoying your Garden in the EveningHours
By: Lia Leendert


Beautiful No-Mow Yards : 50 Amazing Lawn Alternatives
By: Evelyn J.Hadden


Another great source for gardening, landscaping and home design ideas is Sunset magazine. This beautiful magazine is geared towards people living in the Western portion of the United States. That’s us! Several OC Public Libraries branches subscribe to Sunset magazine. Check our catalog to find it at a library near you.

 

Those Who Feel Invisible


Out of My Mind grabs the reader with the opening pages. Melody has severe cerebral palsy and although she is a gifted prodigy in her mind, few know because she cannot walk, talk or even use the bathroom without assistance.  So in her special education classes she is treated as if she is mentally handicapped as well.

The story is a running stream of consciousness inside her wonderful brain.  And we see that besides having a mind like a sponge, Melody longs for the same things that any pre-teen wants -- to share music and humor, frustration and gossip, to be pretty, to be included. But this is almost impossible when all most people can see is a girl in a wheelchair with spastic movements who might drool or make startling noises and motions when excited.

With the support of the family and a few caretakers who can see the person inside her, and finally the arrival of a new Medi-Talker device, Melody finally has the voice for real communication.  And despite prejudiced and non-welcoming attitudes, she takes on the opportunity to try out for the school Whiz Kids state championships, a showcase for the brightest students.  If the team wins they go on to a televised final and a trip to Washington D.C.  Melody wants more than anything to help the team win and to participate without being an embarrassment.

And so this a book difficult to put down until the finish. The way to the finish is never easy nor predictable. This is a memorable novel which reminds us to always look beyond the surface of those who are visible only as a wheelchair or person with any other number of differences which we may not see, or care to see.  This book would make excellent family or reading circle discussion material for young adults up to any age.  Sharon Draper is a two time Coretta Scott King Award winner, as well as the author other of other award winning books of note.  She is a voice for insight into other cultures, as well a fine novelist at any level. To learn more about this the author look here.


 

Avoid the "Summer Slide." Dream Big—READ!

 

We know that children who read more, read better. They also write better, spell better and have better vocabularies. The foundation for future academic success is critically tied to reading habits developed while young.


We know that kids who don’t read during the summer often lose proficiency gained over the school year; experts say they can lose from one to three months of instruction. Researchers call this the “Summer Slide.”  

It makes sense that kids who learn to enjoy reading will read more. And where’s one place they can get this enjoyment of reading? THE LIBRARY, of course!


Not only does your local OC Public Library have books and incentive prizes for reading, we have lots of literacy related activities, storytime, arts, crafts and other events geared toward increased summer reading. Oh, and know what helps most? Let your kids see you reading. We’ve got an Adult Summer Reading Program as well. So, help your child to DREAM BIG--READ!

SOME RECOMMENDED BOOKS FOR INTERMEDIATE READERS

A Dream Come True  (Magic Pony Series) by Elizabeth Lindsay (2007)
Annie has always wanted a pony. Her dream comes true when she buys a poster from a magic shop. The poster is magic and the pony on it comes to life! Playing with Ned the pony is a lot of fun, but keeping him a secret is a lot of work. Annie has to figure out what to do, or risk losing her new best friend-- forever!


Sumi's Book (Fairy Godmother Academy Series) by by Jan Bozarth  (2011)
When thirteen-year-old Sumi Hara finds her family's magical hand-mirror talisman, she dreams her way to the enchanted land of Aventurine where, as a fairy-godmother-in-training, she discovers her individual power with the help of her handsome guide, Kano.


Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott (2011)
In the fall of 2004, twelve-year-old Oscar Egg is sent to live with his father in a strange netherworld under Boston's Fenway Park, where he joins the fairies, pooka, banshee, and other beings that are trapped there, waiting for someone to break the eighty-six-year-old curse that has prevented the Boston Red Sox from winning a World Series.


Willa Bean’s Cloud Dreams (Little Wings Series) by Cecilia Galante (2011)
Willa Bean, who wants to master flying before starting school at Cupid Academy, celebrates her unconventional looks and unique personality, but struggles to accept that cupids learn how to fly at different times.


The Wish Stealers by Tracy Trivas, (2010)
Sixth-grader Griffin Penshine has always believed wishes can come true, and so when a strange woman curses her with a box of pennies, Griffin fears her evil desires will come true until she returns each penny to the person who first wished upon it.


Wish Works by Stephanie S. Tolan
When he is granted his wish for a dog from Wishworks, Inc., third-grader Max is disappointed to find that his new pet is nothing like the dog of his imagination.


The Maze of Bones: The 39 Clues (39 Clues Series) by Rick Riordan (2008)
At the reading of their grandmother's will, Dan and Amy Cahill are given the choice of receiving a million dollars or uncovering the 39 clues hidden around the world that will lead to the source of the family's power, but by taking on the clues, they end up in a dangerous race against their own family members.


 

Get in Bed with Frank and Scarlett


Summer Reading Programs are no longer just for kids.  Adults (age 18+) are invited to stop by the El Toro Branch Library to pick up a reading log for a chance to win some great prizes.  This year’s theme is Between the Covers in which two iconic literary characters encourage you to read: Scarlett O’Hara and Frankenstein.  Here are some of their recommendations.



First published in 1936, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind was an instant bestseller, and has enjoyed continued success ever since.  The tale is well-known: a spoiled headstrong heroine comes of age just as the Civil War sweeps away her privileged lifestyle.  The 1991 sequel authorized by the Mitchell estate, Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley, is set during Reconstruction and continues the story as Scarlett chases Rhett to Charleston.  The 2001 novel The Wind Done Gone by Alice Randall reinterprets GWTW from the perspective of the slaves, and provides critical insight into the inherent racism found in the original book.

People familiar with Frankenstein as portrayed by Boris Karloff may not recognize the character in the 1817 book written by Mary Shelley.  In the movie, Frankenstein has an abnormal brain and doesn’t speak.  In the book, he has a normal brain, and not only does he speak, he's prone to philosophical diatribes about the fate of mankind.  The 2009 novel The Case Book of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd is a literate recasting of Mary Shelley’s classic in which medical student Victor Frankenstein imbibes fellow student Percy Shelley’s belief in the perfectibility of mankind.  For those not in the mood for serious themes, you might try Dean Koontz’s revision Frankenstein: Prodigal Son a grisly thriller updating the mad scientist plot.  

 

Book Bomb! Girls You Don't Want To Mess With.


One of the things I look for in a book is interesting, independent female protagonists who really know how to throw down the gauntlet (in their own various unique ways).  There's a flurry of great books featuring strong-hearted girls (and women, ‘cause women are girls, too) who are intelligent, beautiful (in all the ways that you can be beautiful excluding superficialities like straight teeth, nice hair, tame eyebrows, orange tans… can’t talk), and tough enough to kick some major you-know-what.  Here are a few you might enjoy.

Bitterblue (Graceling Realm, #3)Bitterblue, by New York Times best-selling author Kristin Cashore, continues the story which began with Cashore’s first novel, Graceling, and was set up in part by a prequel, Fire. Bitterblue, introduced as a child in Graceling, is now a young woman who must deal with ruling a kingdom that still hasn’t healed from the deep, psychological scars left by a sadistic father who was a hidden graceling (someone “graced” with supernatural abilities) with the power to make people believe anything he told them. Bitterblue is much more complex than its predecessors, definitely darker, but just as intriguing.  Available now (but don't forget to catch up with the first two installments).

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (The Inheritance Trilogy, #1)The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by Hugo Award-nominee N.K. Jemisin, is a fantastic, original fantasy set in a city called Sky where gods have been enslaved by mortals to be used as servants, playthings, and instruments of pain and destruction. Yeine, a girl from a far-off barbarian kingdom, is summoned to Sky to face a heritage she never expected to claim, and to meet gods who seem to know more about Yeine than she does herself.  The Broken Kingdoms and The Kingdom of Gods are related novels set in the same world, but not direct sequels (but still great reads with strong, unique female characters).


Cast in Shadow (Chronicles of Elantra, #1)Cast in Shadow, by Michelle Sagara, is the first book in an exciting, fast-paced fantasy series that follows the exploits of Kaylin, a member of the law-enforcing Hawks in the city of Elantra. Kaylin investigates a series of child-murders echoing events from her own rough past as a street orphan, events that might bear some connection to the mysterious tattoos inscribed on Kaylin’s skin that grant her abilities no human should have. Don't let the cover scare you off, the book is definitely not an urban-fantasy-romance run amok; sometimes I don't know what publishers are thinking, who doesn't judge a book by its cover? There are currently seven books in the series that progressively just get better and better!

Except the QueenExcept the Queen, by Jane Yolen, is a fairytale-esque story that follows two fey sisters, Serena and Meteora, who are banished from the definitely-not-human world of Faerie for witnessing something they believe might destroy the tenuous balance between their Queen and her fierce courts. Or so they think. Lyrical, surprising, and thoughtful, at first glance the novel may appear to be just another teen kissy-face romance (again with the misleading book cover) but keep reading and you’ll be surprised (enjoyably so) by how unlike a teen kissy-face romance this is. Nothing teen about it!


The Uncommon ReaderThe Uncommon Reader, by Alan Bennet, author of the fabulous The History Boys, is absolutely British, absolutely hilarious, and absolutely delightful. It’s more of a novella (at around a hundred and twenty pages, give or take), but it more than makes up for its brevity with emotional and cerebral stimulation. The novel follows the Queen (of England) as she discovers a love for reading that many around her begin to consider, as it expands her view of the world and herself, to be decidedly not queen-like. Funny, heart-warming, and affirming for the rest of us bibliophiles, it's a must-read! Please do.


The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (Flavia de Luce, #1)The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley, is the introductory entry to the wickedly clever Flavia de Luce series. A throwback to some of our favorite mystery and crime novels, Bradley's writing brings back memories of classics by Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, and maybe, just a little bit, of Edgar Allen Poe. Eleven-year-old Flavia, youngest daughter of an increasingly impoverished English family of fairly good descent, is a brilliant self-taught chemist and expert poisoner. Fearless, observant, and unrelentingly precocious, Flavia's crime-solving tendencies will keep you bound with suspense, humor, and skillful manipulation. Bradley has written several more excellent novels starring his recalcitrant heroine, all recommended additions to required-reading lists.

Click on any of the titles or book covers to visit the OC Public Libraries website to reserve a copy today.

 

Read-Alikes: The Hunger Games


Have you read all three books in Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games trilogy?  Were you sorry to see the adventure end?  Hungry for more dystopian fiction?  Well, look no further!  Here are just a few suggestions to keep both teens, and adults, reading:

Legend by Marie Lu 

Description:
What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths-—until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.

The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch

Description 

In an America devastated by war and plague, the only way to survive is to keep moving.

In the aftermath of a war, America’s landscape has been ravaged and two-thirds of the population left dead from a vicious strain of influenza. Fifteen-year-old Stephen Quinn and his family were among the few that survived and became salvagers, roaming the country in search of material to trade. But when Stephen’s grandfather dies and his father falls into a coma after an accident, Stephen finds his way to Settler’s Landing, a community that seems too good to be true. Then Stephen meets strong, defiant, mischievous Jenny, who refuses to accept things as they are. And when they play a prank that goes horribly wrong, chaos erupts, and they find themselves in the midst of a battle that will change Settler’s Landing--and their lives--forever.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Description:

Some race to win. Others race to survive.

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.  Some riders live.  Others die.


 At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them.  Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn't given her much of a choice. So she enters the competition - the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen. 

As she did in her bestselling Shiver trilogy, author Maggie Stiefvater takes us to the breaking point, where both love and life meet their greatest obstacles, and only the strong of heart can survive. The Scorpio Races is an unforgettable reading experience.

Matched by Ally Condie

Description:

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it's a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she's destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can't stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society's infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Description: 

When Ellie and her friends go camping, they have no idea they're leaving their old lives behind forever. Despite a less-than-tragic food shortage and a secret crush or two, everything goes as planned. But a week later, they return home to find their houses empty and their pets starving. Something has gone wrong--horribly wrong. Before long, they realize the country has been invaded, and the entire town has been captured--including their families and all their friends.

Ellie and the other survivors face an impossible decision: They can flee for the mountains or surrender. Or they can fight.

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Description:

New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20s.

When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.