Monday, October 24, 2016

Read-Alike Monday: Inferno by Dan Brown

Before you go see Inferno, the movie based on the Dan Brown book, starring Tom Hanks, read the book! If you've already read the book and loved it, try some of these other suggestions.

In the heart of Italy, Harvard professor of symbology Robert Langdon is drawn into a harrowing world centered on one of history’s most enduring and mysterious literary masterpieces . . . Dante’s Inferno.
Against this backdrop, Langdon battles a chilling adversary and grapples with an ingenious riddle that pulls him into a landscape of classic art, secret passageways, and futuristic science. Drawing from Dante’s dark epic poem, Langdon races to find answers and decide whom to trust . . . before the world is irrevocably altered.


A series of grisly murders is rocking the streets of nineteenth-century Boston. But these are no ordinary killings. Each is inspired by the hellish visions of Dante's Inferno. To end the bizarre and bloody spree, no ordinary detective will suffice. Enter the unlikely sleuths of the Dante Club: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, and J. T. Fields --- renowned scholars with the skills to decipher the devilish clues. But can this band of bookish gentlemen outwit a crafty killer? A terror-stricken city --- and their own lives --- depend on it.

Dark secrets are revealed in Vatican City in this Gabriel Allon thriller from #1 New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva.

In Munich, a Jewish scholar is assassinated. In Venice, Mossad agent and art restorer Gabriel Allon receives the news, puts down his brushes, and leaves immediately. And at the Vatican, the new pope vows to uncover the truth about the church's response to the Holocaust-while a powerful cardinal plots his next move.

Now, as Allon follows a trail of secrets and unthinkable deeds, the lives of millions are changed forever-and the life of one man becomes expendable...

The ancient order of the Knights Templar possessed untold wealth and absolute power over kings and popes . . . until the Inquisition, when they were wiped from the face of the earth, their hidden riches lost. But now two forces vying for the treasure have learned that it is not at all what they thought it was–and its true nature could change the modern world.

Cotton Malone, one-time top operative for the U.S. Justice Department, is enjoying his quiet new life as an antiquarian book dealer in Copenhagen when an unexpected call to action reawakens his hair-trigger instincts–and plunges him back into the cloak-and-dagger world he thought he’d left behind.

It begins with a violent robbery attempt on Cotton’s former supervisor, Stephanie Nelle, who’s far from home on a mission that has nothing to do with national security. Armed with vital clues to a series of centuries-old puzzles scattered across Europe, she means to crack a mystery that has tantalized scholars and fortune-hunters through the ages by finding the legendary cache of wealth and forbidden knowledge thought to have been lost forever when the order of the Knights Templar was exterminated in the fourteenth century. But she’s not alone. Competing for the historic prize–and desperate for the crucial information Stephanie possesses–is Raymond de Roquefort, a shadowy zealot with an army of assassins at his command.

An Ivy League murder, a mysterious coded manuscript, and the secrets of a Renaissance prince collide memorably in The Rule of Four—a brilliant work of fiction that weaves together suspense and scholarship, high art and unimaginable treachery.

It's Easter at Princeton. Seniors are scrambling to finish their theses. And two students, Tom Sullivan and Paul Harris, are a hair's breadth from solving the mysteries of the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili—a renowned text attributed to an Italian nobleman, a work that has baffled scholars since its publication in 1499. For Tom, their research has been a link to his family's past—and an obstacle to the woman he loves. For Paul, it has become an obsession, the very reason for living. But as their deadline looms, research has stalled—until a long-lost diary surfaces with a vital clue. And when a fellow researcher is murdered just hours later, Tom and Paul realize that they are not the first to glimpse the Hypnerotomachia's secrets.

Suddenly the stakes are raised, and as the two friends sift through the codes and riddles at the heart of the text, they are beginnning to see the manuscript in a new light—not simply as a story of faith, eroticism and pedantry, but as a bizarre, coded mathematical maze. And as they come closer and closer to deciphering the final puzzle of a book that has shattered careers, friendships and families, they know that their own lives are in mortal danger. Because at least one person has been killed for knowing too much. And they know even more.

From the streets of fifteenth-century Rome to the rarified realm of the Ivy League, from a shocking 500 year-old murder scene to the drama of a young man's coming of age, The Rule of Fourtakes us on an entertaining, illuminating tour of history—as it builds to a pinnacle of nearly unbearable suspense.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Frighteningly Fun Family Read Alouds

Ghost Stories with Jacquelyn Mitchard
  A good ghost story around a campfire is a summer camp tradition, but can also be fun during Halloween.  On Sunday, October 16, we are celebrating the art of the storyteller here at Lake Forest Library by welcoming Jacqueline Mitchard to regale us with suitably scary tales for families with older children.  This event is sponsored by Ragdale’s Rags to Witches program October 23, a day of spooky family fun at Ragdale.

If you would like to try a seasonally appropriate read aloud for your family, how about…
  Starting with the classics, the stories of Edgar Allan Poe, or perhaps his poem The Raven.

Master sci fi fantasy writer Ray Bradbury has written the HalloweenTree, a story for all ages. Bradbury’s lyrical style evokes a time in the Midwest gone by, as a group of children and a "spirit" go back through time to discover the beginnings of Halloween.  
  For classic campfire legends, try Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, which includes stories of ghosts and witches, "jump" stories, scary songs, and modern-day scary stories.

   The  not-so-scary A Newbery Halloween features a collection of short stories with a Halloween theme, by such Newbery Award-winning authors as E.L. Konigsburg, Beverly Cleary, Virginia Hamilton, and Paul Fleischman.

  Jenny’s Moonlight Adventure, part of Jenny’s Cat Club, a classic children’s series . On Halloween night when Madame Butterfly slips down the drainpipe, hurts her paw, and loses her nose flute, Jenny the black cat bravely volunteers to return her friend's beloved flute even at the risk of being captured by dogs.


    Bunnicula . Though scoffed at by Harold the dog, Chester the cat tries to warn his human family that their foundling baby bunny must be a vampire.

Are you brave enough to read these spooky tales?

Monday, October 3, 2016

Read-Alike Monday: The Underground Railroad

Colson Whitehead's, The Underground Railroad is #3 on the New York Times Best Seller list this week and a popular choice for Lake Forest Library patrons. It tells the story of Cora, a slave in Georgia, who escapes slavery through the underground railroad. The underground railroad in the story though, is an actual railroad, that takes Cora from one hellish place to the next.


Henry Shackleford is a young slave living in the Kansas Territory in 1857, when the region is a battleground between anti- and pro-slavery forces. When John Brown, the legendary abolitionist, arrives in the area, an argument between Brown and Henry’s master quickly turns violent. Henry is forced to leave town—with Brown, who believes he’s a girl. Over the ensuing months, Henry—whom Brown nicknames Little Onion—conceals his true identity as he struggles to stay alive. Eventually Little Onion finds himself with Brown at the historic raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859—one of the great catalysts for the Civil War.

An absorbing mixture of history and imagination, and told with McBride’s meticulous eye for detail and character, The Good Lord Bird is both a rousing adventure and a moving exploration of identity and survival.

When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family. Orphaned while onboard ship from Ireland, seven-year-old Lavinia arrives on the steps of a tobacco plantation where she is to live and work with the slaves of the kitchen house. Under the care of Belle, the master's illegitimate daughter, Lavinia becomes deeply bonded to her adopted family, though she is set apart from them by her white skin. 

Eventually, Lavinia is accepted into the world of the big house, where the master is absent and the mistress battles opium addiction. Lavinia finds herself perilously straddling two very different worlds. When she is forced to make a choice, loyalties are brought into question, dangerous truths are laid bare, and lives are put at risk.

Effia and Esi are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana. Effia is married off to an Englishman and lives in comfort in the palatial rooms of Cape Coast Castle. Unbeknownst to Effia, her sister, Esi, is imprisoned beneath her in the castle’s dungeons, sold with thousands of others into the Gold Coast’s booming slave trade, and shipped off to America, where her children and grandchildren will be raised in slavery. One thread of Homegoing follows Effia’s descendants through centuries of warfare in Ghana, as the Fante and Asante nations wrestle with the slave trade and British colonization. The other thread follows Esi and her children into America. From the plantations of the South to the Civil War and the Great Migration, from the coal mines of Pratt City, Alabama, to the jazz clubs and dope houses of twentieth-century Harlem, right up through the present day, Homegoing makes history visceral, and captures, with singular and stunning immediacy, how the memory of captivity came to be inscribed in the soul of a nation.

Virginia, 1852. Seventeen-year-old Josephine Bell decides to run from the failing tobacco farm where she is a slave and nurse to her ailing mistress, the aspiring artist Lu Anne Bell. New York City, 2004. Lina Sparrow, an ambitious first-year associate in an elite law firm, is given a difficult, highly sensitive assignment that could make her career: she must find the “perfect plaintiff” to lead a historic class-action lawsuit worth trillions of dollars in reparations for descendants of American slaves.

It is through her father, the renowned artist Oscar Sparrow, that Lina discovers Josephine Bell and a controversy roiling the art world: are the iconic paintings long ascribed to Lu Anne Bell really the work of her house slave, Josephine? A descendant of Josephine’s would be the perfect face for the reparations lawsuit—if Lina can find one. 

Thursday, September 29, 2016

October Books We're Excited To Read

Small Great Things by Jodi PicoultPicoult's newest novel comes out October 11th. The story revolves around Ruth Jefferson, a labor and delivery nurse, who is caring for a newborn when she is suddenly transferred to another patient, because the parents of the newborn are white supremacists and Ruth is African-American. The next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. She hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. A legal battle ensues. Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn't offer easy answers. 

Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple
From the author of Where'd You Go Bernadette, Semple's newest book comes out October 4th.  The story follows Eleanor Flood, a married mother, who knows she's a mess. On the same day her son decides to fake sick in order to stay home and spend time with his mother, Eleanor discovers that her husband is on vacation, and hasn't told her. Just when it seems like things can't go more awry, an encounter with a former colleague produces a graphic memoir whose dramatic tale threatens to reveal a buried family secret. 

The Trespasser by Tana French
Book #6 in the Dublin Murder Squad series comes out October 4th. Detective Antoinette Conway is new to the Murder Squad when she gets the case of Aislinn Murray, a blond, pretty woman, dead in her catalogue-perfect living room, next to a table set for a romantic dinner. Antoinette has seen her somewhere before, but she can't quite say where. The more Antionette and her partner dig into the case, the more they learn that Aislinn is not the perfect doll she appeared to be. 

The Mothers by Brit Bennett
Coming out October 11th, Bennett's debut novel is a surprising story about young love. When senior in high school Nadia Turner, who is mourning the suicide of her mother, gets pregnant by Luke Sheppard, the local pastor's son, the cover up that takes place will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth. As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently? 

News of the World by Paulette Jiles
This historical fiction novel hits the shelves October 4th. In the aftermath of the Civil War, an aging news reader agrees to transport a young captive of the Kiowa back to her people. A band of Kiowa raiders killed Johanna's parents and sister, but spared the girl and raised her as one of their own. When the U.S. army rescues the ten year old, they commission Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd to take her to her aunt and uncle from Wichita to San Antonio. The two strangers begin to trust one another eventually on the 400 mile journey.  Arriving in San Antonio, the reunion is neither happy nor welcome. The captain must hand Johanna over to an aunt and uncle she does not remember—strangers who regard her as an unwanted burden. A respectable man, Captain Kidd is faced with a terrible choice: abandon the girl to her fate or become—in the eyes of the law—a kidnapper himself.