Monday, February 29, 2016

#RAMonday: Read-Alike Monday- The Martian

Every Monday we will pick a popular book to highlight and make a list of books that are similar for you to enjoy. Click on the book's title to be linked to the catalog where you can see if the book is available or place a hold for it. This week's book is The Martian by Andy Weir.

The Martian by Andy Weir
Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney was one of the first people to walk on Mars. Now, he'll be the first person to die there. After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark is stranded alone with no way to even signal Earth. Even if he could, he wouldn't last until rescue arrived. Chances are, though, he won't starve -- so many other things are likely to kill him first. But Mark isn't ready to give up yet.


In the not-so-distant future--the world has turned into a very bleak place, but luckily there is OASIS, a virtual reality world that is a vast online utopia. People can plug into OASIS to play, go to school, earn money, and even meet other people, and for protagonist Wade Watts it certainly beats passing the time in his grim, poverty-stricken real life. Along with millions of other world-wide citizens, Wade dreams of finding three keys left behind by James Halliday, the now-deceased creator of OASIS and the richest man to have ever lived. The keys are rumored to be hidden inside OASIS, and whoever finds them will inherit Halliday's fortune. But Halliday has not made it easy, and the dangers are real.

An account of the decade-long conflict between humankind and hordes of the predatory undead is told from the perspective of dozens of survivors who describe in their own words the epic human battle for survival.

The American Southwest has been decimated by drought. Nevada and Arizona skirmish over dwindling shares of the Colorado River, while California watches, deciding if it should just take the whole river for itself. Into the fray steps Las Vegas water knife Angel Velasquez. Detective, assassin, and spy, Angel 'cuts' water for the Southern Nevada Water Authority and its boss, Catherine Case, ensuring that her lush, luxurious arcology developments can bloom in the desert and that anyone who challenges her is left in the gutted-suburban dust. When rumors of a game-changing water source surface in Phoenix, Angel is sent to investigate. With a wallet full of identities and a tricked-out Tesla, Angel arrows south, hunting for answers that seem to evaporate as the heat index soars and the landscape becomes more and more oppressive. There, Angel encounters Lucy Monroe, a hardened journalist, who knows far more about Phoenix's water secrets than she admits, and Maria Villarosa, a young Texas migrant, who dreams of escaping north to those places where water still falls from the sky. As bodies begin to pile up and bullets start flying, the three find themselves pawns in a game far bigger, more corrupt, and dirtier than any of them could have imagined.

In this dystopian, post-apocalyptic literary novel, Italy is on the brink of collapse: borders are closed, banks are refusing to distribute money to their clients, the postal service is shuttered, and food supplies are running short. Armed gangs of drug-fueled youth rampage through the countryside as the nation descends into chaos.Leonardo was once a famous writer and professor before a sex scandal ended his marriage and his career. With society collapsing around them, his ex-wife leaves their daughter and son in his care as she sets off in search of her new husband, who is missing. Ultimately, Leonardo is forced to evacuate and take his children to safety, but to do so he will have to summon a quality he has never exhibited before: courage.

When the rocket launching the Mars Transit Vehicle into orbit explodes on the launch pad, killing four crewmen, the President announces the U.S. will redirect its energies to near-Earth projects. The manned mission to Mars is officially dead. That is until billionaire John Axelrod steps in to fund the project. Although the risks are high, several young astronauts sign on. But these new pioneers are not alone -- a European-Asian airbus will be making a similar expedition. Now the race is on to get to the fourth planet first. Both teams reach the Red Planet, but with disastrous results. Now the problem isn't who will return to Earth first, but if any of them will return at all.

Darrow is a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he works all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of Mars livable for future generations. But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow—and Reds like him—are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class. Darrow sacrifices everything to infiltrate the legendary Institute, a proving ground for the dominant Gold caste, where the next generation of humanity's overlords struggle for power. 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Shakespeare on the Screen

In a eulogy appearing in the First Folio, Ben Jonson described fellow playwright and poet William Shakespeare as “not of an age, but for all time.”  Four hundred years after Shakespeare’s death, his stories still have the power to captivate modern audiences with their timeless themes and fully realized characters.  Here are five creatively adapted films, available for checkout at Lake Forest Library.

Blood Simple, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

Like the Bard, the Coen Brothers are famous for tackling comedy and tragedy with equal aplomb.  Those of us excited for their latest Hail, Caesar! might want to revisit their debut feature, a loose retelling of Macbeth.  The setting has been changed to modern Texas, but viewers will recognize the overly ambitious man, his scheming wife, and of course, a damned spot that just won’t come out. 

William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, directed by Baz Luhrmann

Director Baz Luhrmann updated Romeo and Juliet with a contemporary setting, but kept all the dialog.  The colorful and modern cinematography and performances from Leonardo DiCaprio and Caire Danes as the star-crossed lovers may ease teens and other Shakespeare novices into the dense Elizabethan wordplay.   

10 Things I Hate About You, directed by Gil Junger

If Romeo + Juliet is too much of a downer, this adaptation of The Taming of the Shrew is the antidote.  It has a fun soundtrack and made stars out of Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  For a high school comedy, it’s pretty good.        

Throne of Blood, directed by Akira Kurosawa

Master Japanese director Akira Kurosawa set his retelling of Macbeth in turbulent feudal Japan.  It’s a unique blend of western tragedy and traditional Noh Theater of medieval Japan.  Speeches and asides are exchanged for precise movements and exaggerated facial expressions meant to evoke the masks actors would have worn on stage. 

West Side Story, directed by Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins

It’s Romeo and Juliet, but instead of Montagues and Capulets, it’s Sharks and Jets, and instead of Fair Verona, it’s the Upper West Side of New York City.  This iconic musical won ten Academy Awards (including Best Picture) and has been honored by the American Film Institute with spots on their lists for best movies, romances, songs, and musicals.    

Thursday, February 25, 2016

How to Throw a Thrilling Downton Abbey Viewing Party

Since Downton Abbey is sadly coming to an end March 6, we thought we would put together a viewing party guide for the last episode that your friends will never forget.


Get out your candlesticks and China for a more upscale pre-viewing dinner party.  For an elegant look- the more candles the better.

For a more casual affair, decorate minimally, but use dessert       platters and other nice trays and plates for a refined look.


You can even make place cards for your guests with "Lady" or "Lord" as their titles.


Casual: Make tea sandwiches and other appetizers, as well as a few desserts.

This Smoked Salmon Pinwheel is surprisingly easy. A great Cucumber tea sandwich recipe can be found hereGoat Cheese and Fig Sandwiches on Raisin Bread also sound amazing!
Formal: Start with a soup and salad, then prepare a main course with a side dish.

Salad: Beet Salad with Goat Cheese is a great choice.

Soup: Perhaps a Cream of Barley soup.

Main Course: Roast Chicken is always delicious.

Side Dishes: Creamed Carrots will round out the meal nicely.

Dessert: You must make this Chocolate Biscuit Cake.  It's Prince William's favorite!


Alcoholic: Make Pimm's Cup in a punch bowl. This will be easy for guests to serve themselves and
it's a classic English drink.

Non-Alcoholic: Serve Downton Abbey tea, available here.


Play Downton Abbey Bingo! Or play some Downton Abbey Trivia!

Monday, February 22, 2016

#RAMonday: Read-Alike Monday- Me Before You

Every Monday we will pick a popular book to highlight and make a list of books that are similar for you to enjoy. Click on the book's title to be linked to the catalog where you can see if the book is available or place a hold for it. This week's book is Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose. Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life--steady boyfriend, close family--who has never been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for ex-Master of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after a motorcycle accident. Will has always lived a huge life--big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel--and now he's pretty sure he cannot live the way he is. Will is acerbic, moody, bossy--but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.


Anna Forster, in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease at only thirty-eight years old, knows that her family is doing what they believe to be best when they take her to Rosalind House, an assisted living facility. She also knows there's just one other resident her age, Luke. What she does not expect is the love that blossoms between her and Luke even as she resists her new life at Rosalind House. As her disease steals more and more of her memory, Anna fights to hold on to what she knows, including her relationship with Luke.

When Daisy is diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and told she may have as few as four months left to live, she realizes she is terrified of what will happen to her brilliant but otherwise charmingly helpless husband when she’s no longer there to take care of him. It’s this fear that keeps her up at night, until she stumbles on the solution: she has to find him another wife. With a singular determination, Daisy sets out to find Jack's perfect match. But the further she gets on her quest, the more she questions the sanity of her plan. What is more important in the time she has left--her husband’s happiness—or her own?
Bec is adrift. It's the summer before her junior year in college. She takes a job caring for Kate, a thirty-six-year-old woman who has been immobilized by ALS. As it turns out, before the disease Kate was a stylish and commanding woman, an advertising executive and an accomplished chef. Now, as she and Bec spend long days together, Bec begins to absorb Kate's sophistication and her sensuality, cooking for her, sharing her secrets, and gradually beginning to live her own life with a boldness informed by Kate's influence.  And when Kate's marriage veers into dangerous territory, Bec will have to choose between the values of her old life and the allure of an entirely new one.

They met at a party. It was hate at first sight. Ruth was far too beautiful, too flamboyant. Not at all Ann's kind of person. Until a chance encounter in the bathroom led to an alliance of souls. Soon they were sharing hankies during the late showing of "Sophie's Choice," wolfing down sundaes sodden with whipped cream, telling truths of marriage, mortality, and love, secure in a kind of intimacy no man could ever know. Only best friends understand devil's food cake for breakfast when nothing else will do. After years of shared secrets, guilty pleasures, family life and divorce, they face a crisis that redefines the meaning of friendship and unconditional love.

After losing virtually everything meaningful in his life, Benjamin trains to be a caregiver, but his first client, a fiercely independent teen with muscular dystrophy, gives him more than he bargained for and soon the two embark on a road trip to visit the boy's ailing father.

Elf and Yoli are sisters. While on the surface Elfrieda's is an enviable life (she's a world-renowned pianist, glamorous, wealthy, and happily married) and Yolandi's a mess (she's divorced and broke, with two teenagers growing up too quickly), they are fiercely close—raised in a Mennonite household and sharing the hardship of Elf's desire to end her own life. After Elf's latest attempt, Yoli must quickly determine how to keep her family from falling apart, how to keep her own heart from breaking, and what it means to love someone who wants to die.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Book Discussion Guide: H is for Hawk

Looking for great book club suggestions? As well as questions, author information, and what food to serve at your next book discussion? You've come to the right place. We will start posting these book discussion guides for you on the third Thursday of every month. If you have a title that you'd like to suggest we cover, leave it in the comments or email it to

This month's selection: H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald


When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer, Helen had never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk, but in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White's chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself "in the hawk's wild mind to tame her" tested the limits of Macdonald's humanity and changed her life.

Heart-wrenching and humorous, this book is an unflinching account of bereavement and a unique look at the magnetism of an extraordinary beast, with a parallel examination of a legendary writer's eccentric falconry. Obsession, madness, memory, myth, and history combine to achieve a distinctive blend of nature writing and memoir from an outstanding literary innovator.

What to Serve to Your Book Club Guests:

Since hawks prey upon ducks, we suggest this Duck Prosciutto recipe from Bon Appetit. You can make the prosciutto and serve with crackers and cheese.
Fish and Chips are another great option in sticking with the setting of the story in England. Here is a recipe we liked from Tyler Florence.

For drinks, serve a nice tea, perhaps an English Breakfast tea.

Discussion Questions:

1. How does the taming of Mabel mirror Helen’s own journey of healing and self-discovery?
2. In what way does H is for Hawk differentiate itself from other noted memoirs about grief, works of nature writing and biographies?
3. What new passions or obsessions have you delved into after experiencing a great loss?
To see a whole lot more discussion questions, check out Grove Atlantic's list of questions here.

Author Interviews:

Monday, February 15, 2016

#RAMonday: Read-Alike Monday- Why Not Me?

Every Monday we will pick a popular book to highlight and make a list of books that are similar for you to enjoy. Click on the book's title to be linked to the catalog where you can see if the book is available or place a hold for it. This week's book is Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling.
In Why Not Me?, Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.


Before Liz Lemon, before "Weekend Update," before "Sarah Palin," Tina Fey was just a young girl with a dream: a recurring stress dream that she was being chased through a local airport by her middle-school gym teacher. She also had a dream that one day she would be a comedian on TV. She has seen both these dreams come true.

Like Why Not Me, Bossypants is a hilarious account of a strong woman making her way in the world of comedy.

Jenny Lawson realized that the most mortifying moments of our lives—the ones we’d like to pretend never happened—are in fact the ones that define us. Lawson takes readers on a hilarious journey recalling her bizarre upbringing in rural Texas, her devastatingly awkward high school years, and her relationship with her long-suffering husband, Victor.

Similar to Mindy Kaling, Jenny Lawson shows us the funny and sometimes painfully awkward side of life in her work.

Aisha Tyler serves up a spectacular collection of her own self-inflicted wounds. From almost setting herself on fire to going into crushing debt to pay for college and then throwing away her degree to become a comedian, Aisha's life has been a series of spectacularly epic fails. And she's got the scars to prove it. Literally.

Aisha's laugh out loud memoir shows us how you have to fail sometimes in order to succeed. 

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
David Sedaris' move to Paris from New York inspired these hilarious pieces, including the title essay, about his attempts to learn French from a sadistic teacher who declares that "every day spent with you is like having a cesarean section". 

This book differs from Why Not Me in that it is not so much about making your way in Hollywood as it is a book about growing up and making your way in the world. However, the humor and tone of the stories will remind you of Kaling's memoir.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler
In Amy Poehler’s highly anticipated first book, Yes Please, she offers up a big juicy stew of personal stories, funny bits on sex and love and friendship and parenthood and real life advice (some useful, some not so much), like when to be funny and when to be serious. Powered by Amy’s charming and hilarious, biting yet wise voice, Yes Please is a book full of words to live by.

Like Kaling, Poheler is another powerful and awesome woman in comedy. Her memoir describes how she got into comedy and how she's succeeded in it.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


Mystery lovers start early.  Beginning with Nate the Great, Cam Jansen & Encyclopedia Brown through Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, young readers  sleuth along with their favorite detectives or solve the case in stand-alone stories.  Both the Mystery Writers Association and Malice Domestic recognize that juvenile mysteries represent a valid category and award prizes in Children’s and Young Adult every year.  This year’s nominees for books published in 2015 offer cozy and gritty, sleuths from today and yesteryear (even one dog) and puzzles most ingenious. 

Edgar Award nominees – sponsored by the Mystery Writers’ Association
Best Juvenile

Well-known children’s author Avi, who is known for his award-winning historical fiction and animal adventures, also writes mysteries.  This time it's 1951, and twelve-year-old Pete Collison is a regular kid in Brooklyn, New York, who loves Sam Spade detective books and radio crime dramas. But when an FBI agent shows up at Pete's doorstep, accusing Pete's father of being a Communist, Pete is caught in a real-life mystery. Could there really be Commies in Pete's family?

If You Find This by Matthew Baker
When the grandfather he never knew is released from prison suffering from dementia, eleven-year-old Nicholas, a mathematical and musical genius, tries to save the family's home by helping search for heirlooms Grandpa claims to have buried.

The Shrunken Head by Lauren Oliver
The author of popular paranormal suspense for teens and adults throws in a mystery in her new series The Curiosity House. Orphans Philippa, Sam, Thomas, and Max  must find out who stole a valuable artifact in order to save to save their home, Dumfrey's Dime Museum of Freaks, Oddities, and Wonders.

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands
In 1665 London, fourteen-year-old Christopher Rowe, apprentice to an apothecary, and his best friend, Tom, try to uncover the truth behind a mysterious cult, following a trail of puzzles, codes, pranks, and danger toward an unearthly secret with the power to tear the world apart.

Eleven-year-old Footer and her friends investigate when a nearby farm is burned, the farmer murdered, and his children disappear, but as they follow the clues, Footer starts having flashbacks and wonders if she is going crazy like her mother, who is back in a mental institution near their Mississippi home.

Best Young Adult
Endangered by L.R. Giles
When Lauren (Panda), a teen photoblogger, gets involved in a deadly game, she has to protect the classmates she despises.

A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Near the turn of the nineteenth century, Dr. Thornhollow helps teenaged Grace Mae escape from the Boston asylum where she was sent after becoming pregnant by rape, and takes her to Ohio, where they put her intelligence and remarkable memory to use in trying to catch murderers.

The Sin Eater’s Daughter by Melinda Salisbury
For four years sixteen-year-old Twylla has lived in the castle of Lormere, as the Goddess embodied, whose touch can poison and kill, and hence the Queen's executioner--but when Prince Merek, her betrothed, who is immune to her touch returns to the kingdom she finds herself caught up in palace intrigues, unsure if she can trust him or the bodyguard who claims to love her.

The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
Orianna and Violet are ballet dancers and best friends, but when the ballerinas who have been harassing Violet are murdered, Orianna is accused of the crime and sent to a juvenile detention center where she meets Amber and they experience supernatural events linking the girls together.

Ask the Dark by Henry Turner
To keep his family in their home, fourteen-year-old juvenile delinquent Billy Zeets does odd jobs to raise money, but when he tries to locate a missing schoolmate for the reward, Billy inadvertently makes himself the target of a serial killer.

Agatha Award Nominees – sponsored by Malice Domestic
Best Children’s /Young Adult
Pieces and Players by Blue Balliett
This series of  Chicago based, art themed mysteries continues when thirteen high-value pieces of art are stolen from a secret museum, Calder, Petra, and Tommy are grouped with two new companions to solve puzzles that are complicated by the clever Mrs. Sharpe.

Need by Joelle Charbonneau
In this exploration of the dark side of social media, and government control and manipulation, the teenagers in a small town are drawn deeper and deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need--regardless of the consequences.  Be careful what you wish for – you might just get it.

Andi Unstoppable by Amanda Flower
Andi Boggs and her best friend Colin Carter return to solve another mystery in her adopted small town home.   School has begun for the two Killdeer middle-schoolers, and their science teacher has a great idea. He is a birder and wants his class to share in the fun. In a birding group with Colin and her biggest school rival, Ava, Andi sets out to be the first student in class to spot the elusive Kirtland's Wrabler...but end up spotting the town's resident ghost instead! Good clean fun harking back to Nancy Drew type mysteries.

Bowser is a mutt, just adopted by eleven-year-old Birdie Gaux and her grandmother, but when they all get home to Grammy's bait and tackle shop in the bayou they discover that their prize stuffed marlin has been stolen--so Bowser decides to investigate, and things quickly become complicated and dangerous. Spencer Quinn has also written the bestselling Chet and Bernie  mysteries for adult dog lovers and, as PeterAbrahams, the award-winning Echo Falls mysteries

Fighting Chance by B.K. Stevens
When his coach and mentor is killed at a tae kwon do tournament, seventeen-year-old Matt Foley suspects that it was not a tragic accident, but deliberate murder, and investigates himself.