Thursday, March 31, 2016

New Books We're Excited to Read in April

There are so many new books we are excited to come out in April that we thought we'd share some of the ones on our "to read" list with you. Click on the title to place a hold in the catalog.

Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave
From the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Little Bee, a spellbinding novel about three unforgettable individuals thrown together by war, love, and their search for belonging in the ever-changing landscape of WWII London.
A sweeping epic with the kind of unforgettable characters, cultural insights, and indelible scenes that made Little Bee so incredible, Chris Cleave’s latest novel explores the disenfranchised, the bereaved, the elite, the embattled. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven is a heartbreakingly beautiful story of love, loss, and incredible courage.

Lab Girl is a book about work, love, and the mountains that can be moved when those two things come together. It is told through Jahren’s remarkable stories: about her childhood in rural Minnesota with an uncompromising mother and a father who encouraged hours of play in his classroom’s labs; about how she found a sanctuary in science, and learned to perform lab work done “with both the heart and the hands”; and about the inevitable disappointments, but also the triumphs and exhilarating discoveries, of scientific work. 

Yet at the core of this book is the story of a relationship Jahren forged with a brilliant, wounded man named Bill, who becomes her lab partner and best friend. Their sometimes rogue adventures in science take them from the Midwest across the United States and back again, over the Atlantic to the ever-light skies of the North Pole and to tropical Hawaii, where she and her lab currently make their home. 

Welcome to SoHo at the onset of the eighties: a gritty, not-yet-gentrified playground for artists and writers looking to make it in the big city. Among them: James Bennett, a synesthetic art critic for The New York Times whose unlikely condition enables him to describe art in profound, magical ways, and Raul Engales, an exiled Argentinian painter running from his past and the Dirty War that has enveloped his country. As the two men ascend in the downtown arts scene, dual tragedies strike, and each is faced with a loss that acutely affects his relationship to life and to art. It is not until they are inadvertently brought together by Lucy Olliason—a small town beauty and Raul’s muse—and a young orphan boy sent mysteriously from Buenos Aires, that James and Raul are able to rediscover some semblance of what they’ve lost.

New York socialite Caroline has her hands full with her post at the French consulate and a new love on the horizon. But Caroline’s world is forever changed when Hitler’s army invades Poland in September 1939—and then sets its sights on France. An ocean away from Caroline, Kasia, a Polish teenager, senses her carefree youth disappearing as she is drawn deeper into her role as courier for the underground resistance movement. For the ambitious young German doctor, Herta, an ad for a government medical position seems her ticket out of a desolate life. Once hired, though, she finds herself trapped in a male-dominated realm of Nazi secrets and power. The lives of these three women are set on a collision course when the unthinkable happens and Kasia is sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious Nazi concentration camp for women. Their stories cross continents—from New York to Paris, Germany, and Poland—as Caroline and Kasia strive to bring justice to those whom history has forgotten.

Dodgers is a dark, unforgettable coming-of-age journey that recalls the very best of Richard Price, Denis Johnson, and J.D. Salinger. It is the story of a young LA gang member named East, who is sent by his uncle along with some other teenage boys—including East's hothead younger brother—to kill a key witness hiding out in Wisconsin. The journey takes East out of a city he's never left and into an America that is entirely alien to him, ultimately forcing him to grapple with his place in the world and decide what kind of man he wants to become.

The unmissable and highly anticipated new literary thriller from the author of the international phenomenon The Girl With All the Gifts. Fellside is a maximum security prison on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors. It's not the kind of place you'd want to end up. But it's where Jess Moulson could be spending the rest of her life. It's a place where even the walls whisper. And one voice belongs to a little boy with a message for Jess. Will she listen?

Monday, March 28, 2016

#RAMonday: Read-Alike Monday- James Patterson

Every Monday we will pick a popular book or author to highlight and make a list of books and authors 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 author is James Patterson.

About James Patterson
James Patterson writes fast-paced, violent novels of hard-edged suspense, with details of crimes and criminals, as well as police procedures. He is mostly known for these novels, but he does also write romance novels and children's stories, and nonfiction books. Patterson is most well known for his Alex Cross series, featuring a detective, Cross, who fights off threats to his family and Washington D.C. The novels shift between Cross' point of view and the criminals point of view. The Women's Murder Club series is also a popular series by Patterson, featuring a group of women with varying professions in criminal investigation, as they solve murders.

Alex Cross Series Read-Alikes: 

Lincoln Rhyme Mysteries by Jeffery Deaver
Ex-NYPD detective and quadriplegic, Lincoln Rhyme pairs with NYPD rookie Amelia Sachs to track down killers in these hard-edged mysteries. There are currently 12 books in this ongoing series. Start with The Bone Collector.

Prey Series by John Sandford
This series, starring Lieutenant Lucas Davenport, focuses on details about police work and insights into the criminals and the crimes. Davenport is also a war games designer. These books take place in Minneapolis, MN. This ongoing series currently has 26 books in it. The first book in the series is Rules of Prey.

Women's Murder Club Read-Alikes:

Rizzoli and Isles Series by Tess Gerritsen
These fast-paced, compelling thrillers feature two women who team up to take on serial killers. Jane Rizzoli is a detective and Maura Isles is a medical examiner with the Boston Police Department. A TV show is based on this series. This series currently has eleven books. Start with The Surgeon.

Alphabet Series by Sue Grafton
Loner and private invetigator, Kinsey Millhone investigates murders and searches for missing persons in this suspenseful series in a fictional town in California. The series starts with A is for Alibi and continues through the alphabet with the most current book being, X.

Other Authors to Check Out:

Jonathan Kellerman: Kellerman writes gritty, suspenseful novels that provide insights into the psyche of criminals and crime. His fast-paced stories are filled with compelling and twisted crimes. Kellerman is known for his Alex Delaware series.

Greg Iles: Iles' novels are full of plot twists and gritty suspense. Often times they have multiple points of view and graphic violence.

Patricia Cornwell: Cornwell writes both stand-alone titles and series books full of scientific and medical details, plot twists, and suspense.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Lake Forest Reads: Ragdale

We are so excited to announce our selection for this year's Lake Forest Reads: Ragdale program as Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff. Fates and Furies has been very popular, appearing on the New York Times Best Seller list many times since it's release. It has also been widely acclaimed by reviewers and critics. Fates and Furies was a 2015 National Book Award finalist, and Amazon's Book of the Year 2015. 

What is Lake Forest Reads: Ragdale?
This program reflects a partnership between Lake Forest Library and The Ragdale Foundation. The Ragdale Foundation is an artist residency in Lake Forest which has supported emerging and best selling authors in their creative process for over 35 years. 

Based on the "One City, One Book" program that over 70 communities nationwide participate in, every year a new book is chosen by an author affiliated with Ragdale for the community to read. This is intended to foster literacy, a culture of reading, and a sense of community.

An exciting feature of our program is that we actually get to have the author visit for a conversation style discussion that takes place at Lake Forest College. This year, Lauren Groff will be here for the event October 27, 2016 at 7pm, followed by a book signing with the Lake Forest Bookstore. The next morning Ragdale will host a Tea & Talk at 10:30am.

We encourage businesses, non-profit organizations, schools, and book clubs to read and discuss Fates and Furies before or during October, and also to offer related programs and activities. Books will be available for checkout at Lake Forest Library and for sale at Lake Forest Book Store. If you are interested in offering a related public program, please contact Kate Buckardt with your name, organization and phone number at

Fates and Furies: A Summary
Every story has two sides. Every relationship has two perspectives. And sometimes, it turns out, the key to a great marriage is not its truths but its secrets. At the core of this rich, expansive, layered novel, Lauren Groff presents the story of one such marriage over the course of twenty-four years.

At age twenty-two, Lotto and Mathilde are tall, glamorous, madly in love, and destined for greatness. A decade later, their marriage is still the envy of their friends, but with an electric thrill we understand that things are even more complicated and remarkable than they have seemed.

Fates and Furies: Reviews

New York Times Review:"The word “ambitious” is often used as code for “overly ambitious,” a signal that an author’s execution has fallen short. No such hidden message here. Lauren Groff is a writer of rare gifts, and “Fates and Furies” is an unabashedly ambitious novel that delivers — with comedy, tragedy, well-deployed erudition and unmistakable glimmers of brilliance throughout."
Washington Post Review: "Swelling with a contrapuntal symphony of passions, “Fates and Furies” is that daring novel that seems to reach too high — and then somehow, miraculously, exceeds its own ambitions."

NPR Book Review: "The book is a master class in best lines; a shining, rare example of that most unforgiving and brutal writer's advice: All you have to do is write the best sentence you've ever written. Then 10,000 more of the best. Then find a way to string them together into the story of something. Which is what Groff has done here." 

LA Times Review: "In "Fates and Furies," Lauren Groff has taken the struggles and pleasures of marriage and turned them into art, and in that artfulness she reminds us of the dangers and omissions that any storytelling requires."

Lauren Groff: Bio
Lauren Groff is the author of the novel The Monsters of Templeton, shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers, Delicate Edible Birds, a collection of stories, and Arcadia, a New York Times Notable Book, winner of the Medici Book Club Prize, and finalist for the L.A. Times Book Award.
Her third novel, Fates and Furies was released in September of 2015.

Her work has appeared in journals including the New Yorker, the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s, Tin House,One Story, McSweeney’s, and Ploughshares, and in the anthologies 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories, The Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses, PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, and three editions of the Best American Short Stories. She lives in Gainesville, Florida with her husband and two sons.

Lauren Groff: Interviews  

Fates and Furies Discussion Questions:
LitLovers Questions

Monday, March 21, 2016

#RAMonday: Read-Alike Monday- The Swans of Fifth Avenue

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 Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin.

The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin
Centered on two dynamic, complicated, and compelling protagonists—Truman Capote and Babe Paley—this book is steeped in the glamour and perfumed and smoky atmosphere of New York’s high society. Babe Paley—known for her high-profile marriage to CBS founder William Paley and her ranking in the International Best-Dressed Hall of Fame—was one of the reigning monarchs of New York’s high society in the 1950s. Replete with gossip, scandal, betrayal, and a vibrant cast of real-life supporting characters, readers will be seduced by this startling new look at the infamous society swans.


London, 1711. As the rich, young offspring of the city's most fashionable families ll their days with masquerade balls and clandestine court-ships, Arabella Fermor and Robert, Lord Petre, lead the pursuit of pleasure. Beautiful and vain, Arabella is a clever coquette with a large circle of beaus. Lord Petre, seventh Baron of Ingatestone, is a man-about-town with his choice of mistresses. Drawn together by an overpowering attraction, the two begin an illicit affair. As the forbidden passion between Arabella and Lord Petre deepens, an intrigue of a darker nature threatens to overtake them. Fortunes change and reputations -- even lives -- are imperiled. 

Goes behind-the-scenes of the filming of "Gone with the wind", while turning the spotlight on the passionate romance between its dashing leading man, Clark Gable, and the blithe, free-spirited actress, Carole Lombard.

Meeting through mutual friends in Chicago, Hadley is intrigued by brash "beautiful boy" Ernest Hemingway, and after a brief courtship and small wedding, they take off for Paris, where Hadley makes a convincing transformation from an overprotected child to a game and brave young woman who puts up with impoverished living conditions and shattering loneliness to prop up her husband's career.

Crazy rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.

I have been standing on the side of life, watching it float by. I want to swim in the river. I want to feel the current. So writes Mamah Borthwick Cheney in her diary as she struggles to justify her clandestine love affair with Frank Lloyd Wright. Four years earlier, in 1903, Mamah and her husband, Edwin, had commissioned the renowned architect to design a new home for them. During the construction of the house, a powerful attraction developed between Mamah and Frank, and in time the lovers, each married with children, embarked on a course that would shock Chicago society and forever change their lives. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Book Discussion Guide: The Wind is Not a River

Looking for great book club suggestions? As well as discussion 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: The Wind is Not a River by Brian Payton


Following the death of his younger brother in Europe, journalist John Easley is determined to find meaning in his loss, to document some part of the growing war that claimed his own flesh and blood. Leaving behind his beloved wife, Helen, after an argument they both regret, he heads north from Seattle to investigate the Japanese invasion of Alaska's Aleutian Islands, a story censored by the U.S. government.

While John is accompanying a crew on a bombing run, his plane is shot down over the island of Attu. He survives only to find himself exposed to a harsh and unforgiving wilderness, known as "the Birthplace of Winds." There, John must battle the elements, starvation, and his own remorse while evading discovery by the Japanese.

Alone in their home three thousand miles to the south, Helen struggles with the burden of her husband's disappearance. Caught in extraordinary circumstances, in this new world of the missing, she is forced to reimagine who she is—and what she is capable of doing. Somehow, she must find John and bring him home, a quest that takes her into the farthest reaches of the war, beyond the safety of everything she knows.

What to Serve Your Book Club Guests:

Since a lot of this story takes place in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, we thought this fun Alaskan salmon dish would be a great choice for food.

If you are looking to make something a little easier and less expensive, try making a Seattle Style Hot Dog. These hot dogs, served with cream cheese, have become very popular in Seattle over the years. 

In sticking with the seafood that both Seattle and Alaska are known for, you can also opt to make this Warm Crab Parmesan Dip for an appetizer if you don't want to make a whole meal of it. 

Discussion Questions (from

1. THE WIND IS NOT A RIVER is a novel set against the backdrop of an actual WWII battle most people are unfamiliar with. Had you heard of the battle for the Aleutians before reading this book? What surprised you the most about the war in Alaska?
2. THE WIND IS NOT A RIVER, the Aleutian landscape plays a critical role in the novel, almost becoming a character unto itself. At the beginning of the story, John Easley is hurled into this little-known wilderness. How does the Aleutian landscape affect the lives and destinies of the novel’s main characters, John and Helen? How does it affect the U.S. and Japanese forces? How is it reflected in the style and themes of the book?
3. John Easley believes that North Americans have a right to know about the war on their own west coast. He goes to great lengths to get and bring home the story of the war in the Aleutians. He also says, “the sacrifices made on our behalf must be known before they can be remembered” (pg. 34). Was he justified in the actions he took to witness and report these events?
4. THE WIND IS NOT A RIVER is a story of survival as well as a story about the power of love. Helen Easley is driven to find her beloved husband and bring him home. Helen also loves her father, but is forced to leave him behind. John loves Helen, but feels duty-bound to return to the Aleutians. John loves his deceased brother Warren; he loves Karl and Tatiana. Which relationship affected you the most? Which surprised you the most?
5. The displacement and mistreatment of the Aleut people is explored in this novel. The evacuation of the Aleut people was done for expedience, as well as their own protection. Discuss this protective/paternalistic impulse. Was it justified? Would this kind of treatment have happened to nonnative Americans?
6. The photograph and possessions of a young Aleut woman, Tatiana, is discovered by John Easley in his most dire time of need. For him, these found objects take on almost mystical proportions. The urge to idealize others through their images, words or possessions seems almost innate. Can you think of other examples from our culture or personal experience? Discuss.
7. Helen finds strength in her religious beliefs and traditions. When things seem hopeless, her faith sees her through. John finds himself facing some of the darkest parts of human nature and the nature of existence itself. He comes away with a conviction that this life is all we have. Which character’s beliefs come closest to your own? Did you find insight into the mind (soul?) of the character of the opposing point of view? Discuss the role of “faith” in the story.
8. THE WIND IS NOT A RIVER explores the role of censorship and our understanding of history. Was censorship understandable in the context of this battle and war? What about more recent wars and conflicts?

9. The novel ends with Helen and Tatiana coming together in the same place at the end of the WWII. Helen feels protective of this young woman and her fiancé. She leaves without speaking to her. Was it the right decision? Are we sometimes justified in protecting others from knowledge we possess?  

Author Interviews:

Book Reviews:

Chicago Tribune Review
New York Times Review
USA Today Review

Thursday, March 10, 2016

MARCH MADNESS at the Children's Library

March's scorecard is a full one for sports fans. Every major team sport except football is going strong: spring training in baseball (will this be the year for the Cubs?), soccer season begins, the drive toward the playoffs for hockey and basketball, and of course, the college basketball tournaments.  Sports fiction is an ever popular subject for young readers.  Matt Christopher is the classic children's sports writer many of us grew up with, setting moral dilemmas  and personal challenges against a baseball backstop.  Older readers can enjoy a  mystery with sports writerJohn  Feinstein at the NCAA tournament, the US Open, and the Olympics.  Legendary sports figures such as Derek  Jeter, Tiki and Rondel Barber, Tim Green,  Alexandra Morgan and Kareem Abdul Jabbar have lent their names and personal life experiences  in upbeat stories.  Title IX enthusiasts, don’t fret, girls and young women get their time on the field or court, too.   In addition to the titles highlighted below, we have bookmarks at the circulation desk  and online.   So come out to the old ball game with us here at the Children’s Library!

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander.  Multiple award winning novel in verse expresses  the joy and thrill of shooting hoops by fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan as they wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court even as their ex-professional star father ignores his declining health.

Soar by Joan Bauer.   Twelve year old Jeremiah is nothing if not resilient.  Loving all things baseball, he decides to become a coach when a heart operation prevents him from playing.   Moving to Hillcrest, Ohio, when his adoptive father accepts a temporary job, he revitalizes the local school team with his spirit and drive.  Great for fans of Wonder.

Diamond in the Desert by Kathryn Fitzmaurice.  After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, thirteen-year-old Tetsu and his family are sent to the Gila River Relocation Center in Arizona where a fellow prisoner starts a baseball team, but when Tetsu's sister becomes ill and he feels responsible, he stops playing.

Girl Who ThrewButterflies by Mick Cochrane.  Eighth-grader Molly's ability to throw a knuckleball earns her a spot on the baseball team, which not only helps her feel connected to her recently deceased father, who loved baseball, but helps in other aspects of her life as well.

Snowboarding on Monster Mountain  by Eve Bunting.  Callie tries to hide her extreme fear of heights on a snowboarding trip to Mammoth Mountain with best friend Jen, who Callie fears may prefer the friendship of new girl and skilled snowboarder Izzy.
Tennis Ace by Matt Christopher.  Steve and Ginny are frustrated because their father ignores her talent as a tennis player while pushing him harder and harder to win at the sport. 

Gym Candy by Carl Deuker.  Groomed by his father to be a star player, football is the only thing that has ever really mattered to Mick Johnson, who works hard for a spot on the varsity team his freshman year, then tries to hold onto his edge by using steroids, despite the consequences to his health and social life.  

Under the Baseball Moon by John Ritter.  Andy and Glory, two fifteen-year-olds from Ocean Beach, California, pursue their respective dreams of becoming a famous musician and a professional softball player.

 The Extra Yard by Mike Lupica.  Taking up where Matt Christopher left off, Lupica writes emotionally deep stories with exciting action set among  various sports.  In his latest, "Teddy has been training all summer with his new friends Jack and Gus to make the new travel football team in Walton, but when his long-absent dad comes back to town and into his life he is faced with a much bigger challenge"(Publisher).  780Lexile  Gr 4+

Monday, March 7, 2016

#RAMonday: Read-Alike Monday- My Name is Lucy Barton

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: My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout.

My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout
Lucy Barton is recovering slowly from what should have been a simple operation. Her mother, to whom she hasn't spoken for many years, comes to see her. Gentle gossip about people from Lucy's childhood in Amgash, Illinois, seems to reconnect them, but just below the surface lay the tension and longing that have informed every aspect of Lucy's life: her escape from her troubled family, her desire to become a writer, her marriage, her love for her two daughters. Knitting this powerful narrative together is the brilliant storytelling voice of Lucy herself: keenly observant, deeply human, and truly unforgettable.


Laura Bartone anticipates her annual family reunion in Minnesota with a mixture of excitement and wariness. Yet this year’s gathering will prove to be much more trying than either she or her siblings imagined. As soon as she arrives, Laura realizes that something is not right with her sister. Forever wrapped up in events of long ago, Caroline is the family’s restless black sheep. When Caroline confronts Laura and their brother, Steve, with devastating allegations about their mother, the three have a difficult time reconciling their varying experiences in the same house. But a sudden misfortune will lead them all to face the past, their own culpability, and their common need for love and forgiveness.

An unforgettable tale of unconditional love, and of a family's desperate search for normalcy in the midst of mental illness. It is a novel of rare poignancy, wit, and evocative power -- the story of the relationship between Hattie Barnes and her emotionally elusive mother, Maggie, known by their neighbors as "that Barnes woman with all the problems."

Wallace Stegner's Pultizer Prize-winning novel is a story of discovery—personal, historical, and geographical. Confined to a wheelchair, retired historian Lyman Ward sets out to write his grandparents' remarkable story, chronicling their days spent carving civilization into the surface of America's western frontier. But his research reveals even more about his own life than he's willing to admit. What emerges is an enthralling portrait of four generations in the life of an American family.

Bill Blair buys property south of San Francisco in 1954, long before Silicon Valley exists. In Penny Greenway he finds a suitable wife, they marry and have four children. Yet Penny is a mercurial housewife, overwhelmed and undersatisfied at a time when women chafed at the conventions imposed on them. Thirty years later, the three oldest Blair children, adults now and still living near the family home, are disrupted by the return of the youngest, whose sudden presence and all-too-familiar troubles force a reckoning with who they are, separately and together, and set off a struggle over the family's future. One by one, the siblings take turns telling the story, their narratives interwoven with portraits of the family at crucial points in their history.

The incomparable Alice Munro's bestselling and rapturously acclaimed Runaway is a book of extraordinary stories about love and its infinite betrayals and surprises, from the title story about a young woman who, though she thinks she wants to, is incapable of leaving her husband, to three stories about a woman named Juliet and the emotions that complicate the luster of her intimate relationships. In Munro's hands, the people she writes about women of all ages and circumstances, and their friends, lovers, parents, and children become as vivid as our own neighbors.

The Glass Castle is a remarkable memoir of resilience and redemption, and a revelatory look into a family at once deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant. When sober, Jeannette's brilliant and charismatic father captured his children's imagination, teaching them physics, geology, and how to embrace life fearlessly. But when he drank, he was dishonest and destructive. Her mother was a free spirit who abhorred the idea of domesticity and didn't want the responsibility of raising a family. The Walls children learned to take care of themselves. They fed, clothed, and protected one another, and eventually found their way to New York. Their parents followed them, choosing to be homeless even as their children prospered.