Monday, July 17, 2017

Read-Alike Monday: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel has made a resurgence in popularity since the Hulu TV show came out a couple of months ago. This dystopian novel that takes place in the Republic of Gilead centers around a handmaid, Offred. In this new age of declining birth, handmaids' sole purpose in life is to get pregnant. Women are no longer allowed to read or have any real freedom. 

Blindness by Jose Saramago
A city is hit by an epidemic of "white blindness" that spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and assaulting women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides her charges—among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears—through the barren streets, and their procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. As Blindnessreclaims the age-old story of a plague, it evokes the vivid and trembling horrors of the twentieth century, leaving readers with a powerful vision of the human spirit that's bound both by weakness and exhilarating strength. 

Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler
In 2025, with the world descending into madness and anarchy, one woman begins a fateful journey toward a better future

Lauren Olamina and her family live in one of the only safe neighborhoods remaining on the outskirts of Los Angeles. Behind the walls of their defended enclave, Lauren’s father, a preacher, and a handful of other citizens try to salvage what remains of a culture that has been destroyed by drugs, disease, war, and chronic water shortages. While her father tries to lead people on the righteous path, Lauren struggles with hyperempathy, a condition that makes her extraordinarily sensitive to the pain of others.

When fire destroys their compound, Lauren’s family is killed and she is forced out into a world that is fraught with danger. With a handful of other refugees, Lauren must make her way north to safety, along the way conceiving a revolutionary idea that may mean salvation for all mankind.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
Tally is about to turn sixteen, and she can't wait. In just a few weeks she'll have the operation that will turn her from a repellent ugly into a stunning pretty. And as a pretty, she'll be catapulted into a high-tech paradise where her only job is to have fun.

But Tally's new friend Shay isn't sure she wants to become a pretty. When Shay runs away, Tally learns about a whole new side of the pretty world-- and it isn't very pretty. The authorities offer Tally a choice: find her friend and turn her in, or never turn pretty at all. Tally's choice will change her world forever...

Unwind by Neal Shusterman
The Second Civil War was fought over reproductive rights. The chilling resolution: Life is inviolable from the moment of conception until age thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen, however, parents can have their child "unwound," whereby all of the child's organs are transplanted into different donors, so life doesn't technically end. Connor is too difficult for his parents to control. Risa, a ward of the state, is not enough to be kept alive. And Lev is a tithe, a child conceived and raised to be unwound. Together, they may have a chance to escape and to survive.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Light Summer Beach Reads

We are always being asked for recommendations for easy to read, light "beach reads". Here are a couple of suggestions of new beach reads to take down to the lake with you this summer. 

The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand
Nantucket is only two and a half hours away from Martha's Vineyard by ferry. But the two islands might as well be worlds apart for a set of identical twin sisters who have been at odds for years. Just because twins look exactly the same doesn't mean they're anything alike--and Tabitha and Harper Frost have spent their whole lives trying to prove this point. When a family crisis forces them to band together--or at least appear to--the twins come to realize that the special bond that they share is more important than the resentments that have driven them apart. A story of new loves, old battles, and a threat that gives a whole new meaning to the term sibling rivalry.

Secrets in Summer by Nancy Thayer
Memorial Day weekend means that seasonal visitors have descended on the glamorous island of Nantucket. For year-round resident Darcy Cotterill, it means late-night stargazing in the backyard of the beautiful house she grew up in and inherited from her beloved grandmother. It s also Darcy's chance to hit the beach and meet her new summertime neighbors. But the last person the thirty-year-old librarian expects to see staying next door is her ex-husband, Boyz, along with his wife, Autumn, and stepdaughter, Willow.

Darcy must also navigate the highs and lows of a new romantic relationship with local carpenter Nash Forester even as she becomes smitten with handsome vacationer Clive Rush, a musicologist in town to write a book and visit family. And she finds herself pulled into the concerns of Boyz, Autumn, a charming elderly neighbor, and an at-risk teen.

As the season nears its end, Darcy must decide her next move: retreating to the comforts of her steady and secure island life, or risking it all for a chance at true happiness.

Rich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

When Nicholas Young hears that his grandmother, Su Yi, is on her deathbed, he rushes to be by her bedside--but he's not alone. It seems the entire Shang-Young clan has convened from all corners of the globe, ostensibly to care for their matriarch but truly to stake claim on the massive fortune that Su Yi controls. With each family member secretly fantasizing about getting the keys to Tyersall Park--a trophy estate on 64 prime acres in the heart of Singapore--the place becomes a hotbed of intrigue and Nicholas finds himself blocked from entering the premises. As relatives claw over heirlooms, Astrid Leong is at the center of her own storm, desperately in love with her old sweetheart Charlie Wu, but tormented by his ex-wife--a woman hell bent on destroying Astrid's reputation and relationship. Meanwhile Kitty Pong, married to billionaire Jack Bing, finds a formidable opponent in his fashionista daughter, Colette. A sweeping novel that takes us from the elegantly appointed mansions of Manila to the secluded private islands in the Sulu Sea, from a schoolyard kidnapping to a gold-leaf dancefloor spattered with blood, Kevin Kwan's gloriously wicked new novel reveals the long-buried secrets and rich people problems of Asia's most privileged families.

The Hideaway by Lauren K. Denton
When her grandmother’s will wrenches Sara back home from New Orleans, she learns more about Margaret Van Buren in the wake of her death than she ever did in life.

After her last remaining family member dies, Sara Jenkins goes home to The Hideaway, her grandmother Mags's ramshackle B&B in Sweet Bay, Alabama. She intends to quickly tie up loose ends then return to her busy life and thriving antique shop in New Orleans. Instead, she learns Mags has willed her The Hideaway and charged her with renovating it—no small task considering Mags’s best friends, a motley crew of senior citizens, still live there.

Rather than hurrying back to New Orleans, Sara stays in Sweet Bay and begins the biggest house-rehabbing project of her career. Amid Sheetrock dust, old memories, and a charming contractor, she discovers that slipping back into life at The Hideaway is easier than she expected.

Then she discovers a box Mags left in the attic with clues to a life Sara never imagined for her grandmother. With help from Mags’s friends, Sara begins to piece together the mysterious life of bravery, passion, and choices that changed Mags’s destiny in both marvelous and devastating ways.

When an opportunistic land developer threatens to seize The Hideaway, Sara is forced to make a choice—stay in Sweet Bay and fight for the house and the people she’s grown to love or leave again and return to her successful but solitary life in New Orleans.

Same Beach, Next Year by Dorothea Benton Frank
One enchanted summer, two couples begin a friendship that will last more than twenty years and transform their lives.

A chance meeting on the Isle of Palms, one of Charleston’s most stunning barrier islands, brings former sweethearts, Adam Stanley and Eve Landers together again. Their respective spouses, Eliza and Carl, fight sparks of jealousy flaring from their imagined rekindling of old flames. As Adam and Eve get caught up on their lives, their partners strike up a deep friendship—and flirt with an unexpected attraction—of their own.

Year after year, Adam, Eliza, Eve, and Carl eagerly await their reunion at Wild Dunes, a condominium complex at the island’s tip end, where they grow closer with each passing day, building a friendship that will withstand financial catastrophe, family tragedy, and devastating heartbreak. The devotion and love they share will help them weather the vagaries of time and enrich their lives as circumstances change, their children grow up and leave home, and their twilight years approach.

Any Day Now by Robyn Carr
The rustic campground at the crossroads of the Colorado and Continental Divide trails welcomes everyone—whether you're looking for a relaxing weekend getaway or a whole new lease on life.

For Sierra Jones, Sullivan's Crossing is meant to be a brief stopover. She's put her troubled past behind her but the path forward isn't yet clear. A visit with her big brother Cal and his new bride, Maggie, seems to be the best option to help her get back on her feet. 

Not wanting to burden or depend on anyone, Sierra is surprised to find the Crossing offers so much more than a place to rest her head. Cal and Maggie welcome her into their busy lives and she quickly finds herself bonding with Sully, the quirky campground owner who is the father figure she's always wanted. But when her past catches up with her, it's a special man and an adorable puppy who give her the strength to face the truth and fight for a brighter future. In Sullivan's Crossing Sierra learns to cherish the family you are given and the family you choose.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Read-Alike Monday: John Grisham

John Grisham's latest, Camino Island, is another smash hit, coming in at #1 on the New York Times Best Seller list and very popular with Lake Forest Library patrons. If you like John Grisham, try one of these authors next.

Brad Meltzer: Brad Meltzer's novels portray young, vulnerable lawyers caught in difficult situations, pitted against powerful but corrupt enemies. Fast pacing, provocative storylines, suspense and danger, along with sympathetic characters make Meltzer a good choice for Grisham fans. Start with The Tenth Justice.

Lisa Scottoline: Lisa Scottoline's novels share the legal focus, sympathetic characters, fast pacing, and unexpected plot twists found in John Grisham's work. There's more humor and sarcasm in Scottoline's stories, but they offer a similarly suspenseful tone. Start with Everywhere that Mary Went, the first in Scottoline's Rosato and Associates series. Rosato & Associates, an all-women law firm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

William Bernhardt: The potential drama of the courtroom fuels the work of William Bernhardt. Bernhardt is known for his suspenseful, fast-paced legal thrillers with intricate plots and underdog protagonists. Like Grisham, he paints the often dry world of jurisprudence in bright, exciting colors. Start with Primary Justice, the first in Bernhardt's Ben Kincaid series. Ben Kincaid is a criminal defense attorney in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Steve Martini: Steve Martini's cinematic and page-turning legal thrillers may appeal to fans of John Grisham. Sympathetic protagonists people the stories - his novels often feature lawyers as underdogs, fighting for justice. Investigation plays an important role, with actual courtroom drama often taking second place. Start with Compelling Evidence, the first in Martini's Paul Madriani series. Paul Madriani is a defense attorney in California.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Travel Apps and Tips

In case you had to miss our presentation about travel tips and apps, we compiled the list of our favorite apps and travel sites below.

Google Flights: Use this aggregator to search for the best airfare to your destination. You can also see which specific dates are cheapest to fly in and out of your destination. Search the cheapest place to fly for specific dates or use the filters to choose an amount of time and a general region to see the best deals (ex. ticket to Europe for one week in October).

Kayak and Momondo: Search for flights, hotel rooms, apartment rentals, packages and inspiration. These aggregators pull from all over the internet to find you great deals. Use the filters to narrow your searches. or Apps available.

Lodging:, and TripAdvisor: Use these aggregator sites to find some of the best hotel deals on the web. Filter your search based on ratings, location, price, property type, and more to get exactly what you're looking for.,, and Apps available.

Airbnb and VRBO: Try renting an apartment or a house instead of a hotel room. Often times you can find a cheaper place with more space and in a unique location. These services are especially great for larger groups. Check both sites as they often times have different listings. or Apps available.

Dayuse: This is great for when you need a hotel room for just a few hours during the day. Take a nap or a shower or use the hotel's spa and services. Get up to 75% off the price of an overnight rate. App available.

Car Rentals: 
Autoslash: Get great deals on rental cars. You can enter your discount memberships before you get quotes to be sure you're getting the best deal. Autoslash will track rental price changes right up until the pickup date, and re-books users into these savings automatically.

Turo: Use regular people's cars while they're not driving them. You can get unique cars that you may not be able to find at the rental counter. Some owners will drop off the car to you. Prices are comparable to most rental agencies. App available for iPhone only.

Planning for Your Trip:
Viatour: Use to find things to do, sightseeing tours, day trips and more. Find and book city tours, helicopter tours, day trips, show tickets, and more. App available.

TripAdvisor: Find the best rated "things to do" in almost any city, ranked in a list. Read reviews and see reviewers pictures. You can also use to find hotel ratings, restaurants, and vacation rentals close to your destination. App available.

GeoSure: GeoSure rates nearly every city in the world with a population of over 100,000 and will soon rate every neighborhood of every city, covering six critical safety categories: overall security; physical harm; theft; basic freedoms; disease and specific threats to women's safety. App available.

PackPoint Premium: PackPoint will organize what you need to pack based on length of travel, weather at your destination and any activities planned during your trip. App available, $2.99.

Rome2Rio: shows all your travel options including: plane, train, bus, car, ferry, bike share, driving, and walking directions all in one search. App available.

Fodors: Use to find the best travel destinations, hotels and restaurants. App available.

Yuggler: Use this app to find curated ideas, opinions, and photos and about activities, places and happenings for great family fun when you're traveling. App available.

On Site Apps:
SAS Survival Guide: For the more adventurous traveler- in case you need to know how to start a fire, send a morse code signal, hunt, or use first aid. App available, $6.99.

RunGo: Explore new running routes with turn-by-turn voice directions. App available for iPhone only.

Sidekix: With the Sidekix app, you can see the highly rated places around you, including curated listings specially chosen by local bloggers. Want to go on a shopping spree, pub crawl, gallery hop? Sidekix chooses routes based on what you want to see and do along the way. App available for iPhone only.

Yelp: Looking for a nearby bar, restaurant or laundromat? Use the yelp app's GPS to help you find nearby services and get reviews. App available.

Google Translate: In a foreign country and can't speak the language? Use Google Translate to figure out how to speak with locals. You can also use the camera to capture the text on a menu or sign and have it will instantly translate. The microphone option allows you to speak into microphone and the app will translate and speak the translation out loud. App available.

Uber: Use to get rides in most cities in America and many cities globally. App available.

XE Currency: Get real time currency exchange rates to help you determine how much money you're really spending. App available.

Email Newsletter:
TravelZoo: Sign up to get weekly emails of the top 20 best travel deals that week, and occasional deals on local events. App available.