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.

Flights: 
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). google.com/flights

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. kayak.com or momondo.com. Apps available.

Lodging:
Booking.com, Hotels.com 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. booking.com, hotels.com, and tripadvisor.com. 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. airbnb.com or vrbo.com. 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. dayuse.com. 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. autoslash.com.

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. turo.com. 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. viatour.com. 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. tripadvisor.com. 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. rome2rio.com. App available.

Fodors: Use to find the best travel destinations, hotels and restaurants. fodors.com. 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. yelp.com. 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. translate.google.com. 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.


Monday, June 12, 2017

Read Alike Monday: A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow has been wildly popular since it came out almost eight months ago. We have over fifteen copies of the book and they are all almost always checked out. If you loved A Gentleman in Moscow, try one of these next.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
A Gentleman in Moscow immerses us in another elegantly drawn era with the story of Count Alexander Rostov. When, in 1922, he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, the count is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and must now live in an attic room while some of the most tumultuous decades in Russian history are unfolding outside the hotel’s doors. Unexpectedly, his reduced circumstances provide him a doorway into a much larger world of emotional discovery.






READ-ALIKES:
The Madonnas of Leningrad by Debra Dean
Bit by bit, the ravages of age are eroding Marina's grip on the everyday. And while the elderly Russian woman cannot hold on to fresh memories—the details of her grown children's lives, the approaching wedding of her grandchild—her distant past is preserved: vivid images that rise unbidden of her youth in war-torn Leningrad.

In the fall of 1941, the German army approached the outskirts of Leningrad, signaling the beginning of what would become a long and torturous siege. During the ensuing months, the city's inhabitants would brave starvation and the bitter cold, all while fending off the constant German onslaught. Marina, then a tour guide at the Hermitage Museum, along with other staff members, was instructed to take down the museum's priceless masterpieces for safekeeping, yet leave the frames hanging empty on the walls—a symbol of the artworks' eventual return. To hold on to sanity when the Luftwaffe's bombs began to fall, she burned to memory, brushstroke by brushstroke, these exquisite artworks: the nude figures of women, the angels, the serene Madonnas that had so shortly before gazed down upon her. She used them to furnish a "memory palace," a personal Hermitage in her mind to which she retreated to escape terror, hunger, and encroaching death. A refuge that would stay buried deep within her, until she needed it once more. . . .


Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
In an unnamed South American country, a world-renowned soprano sings at a birthday party in honor of a visiting Japanese industrial titan. Alas, in the opening sequence, a ragtag band of 18 terrorists enters the vice-presidential mansion through the air conditioning ducts. Their quarry is the president, who has unfortunately stayed home to watch a favorite soap opera. And thus, from the beginning, things go awry.

Among the hostages are Russian, Italian, and French diplomatic types. Swiss Red Cross negotiator oachim Messner comes and goes, wrangling over terms and demands. Days stretch into weeks, the weeks into months. Joined by no common language except music, the 58 international hostages and their captors forge unexpected bonds. Time stands still, priorities rearrange themselves. Ultimately, of course, something has to give.


Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
Pachinko follows one Korean family through the generations, beginning in early 1900s Korea with Sunja, the prized daughter of a poor yet proud family, whose unplanned pregnancy threatens to shame them all. Deserted by her lover, Sunja is saved when a young tubercular minister offers to marry and bring her to Japan. 

So begins a sweeping saga of an exceptional family in exile from its homeland and caught in the indifferent arc of history. Through desperate struggles and hard-won triumphs, its members are bound together by deep roots as they face enduring questions of faith, family, and identity.






The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert
Spanning much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the novel follows the fortunes of the extraordinary Whittaker family as led by the enterprising Henry Whittaker—a poor-born Englishman who makes a great fortune in the South American quinine trade, eventually becoming the richest man in Philadelphia. Born in 1800, Henry's brilliant daughter, Alma (who inherits both her father's money and his mind), ultimately becomes a botanist of considerable gifts herself. As Alma's research takes her deeper into the mysteries of evolution, she falls in love with a man named Ambrose Pike who makes incomparable paintings of orchids and who draws her in the exact opposite direction — into the realm of the spiritual, the divine, and the magical. Alma is a clear-minded scientist; Ambrose a utopian artist — but what unites this unlikely couple is a desperate need to understand the workings of this world and the mechanisms behind all life.

Exquisitely researched and told at a galloping pace, The Signature of All Things soars across the globe—from London to Peru to Philadelphia to Tahiti to Amsterdam, and beyond. Along the way, the story is peopled with unforgettable characters: missionaries, abolitionists, adventurers, astronomers, sea captains, geniuses, and the quite mad. But most memorable of all, it is the story of Alma Whittaker, who — born in the Age of Enlightenment, but living well into the Industrial Revolution — bears witness to that extraordinary moment in human history when all the old assumptions about science, religion, commerce, and class were exploding into dangerous new ideas. Written in the bold, questing spirit of that singular time, Gilbert's wise, deep, and spellbinding tale is certain to capture the hearts and minds of readers.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Lake Forest Library Book Club Guide

We had a great time meeting and mingling with local book clubs at last week's Book Club Reception. We created a handy guide for running a book club, so we thought we'd share it here. A paper copy of this guide is also available at the Library.

How to Start A Group: 
  • Many book clubs are made up of people of similar ages and stages in life, but it's interesting to note that those groups that have a range of ages and/or a mix of men and women often say how much they value the different perspectives.
  • Decide how many people you want in your book club and keep it to that number. It is hard to have a meaningful discussion with 40 people. 8-15 people is a good amount to strive for to start.
  • Decide when you will meet and for how long. If meeting monthly is too much, meet every six weeks or every other month. 
  • Decide on a theme and tone for the club. Will you read mostly mysteries, literary fiction, inspirational, nonfiction?
  • Decide where you’ll have your meetings. Rotating members' houses? Panera? If you're holding meetings at members' houses, do they provide food and beverages? 
What Not to Do:

  • Don’t start the discussion by asking if people liked the book.
  • Don't pick War and Peace for your first meeting.
  • Don’t expect each member to buy a new, hardcover title each month. See what's available at local libraries, Overdrive and 3M ebook services, and paperback.
  • Don’t skip the meeting because you didn’t read the book. You can still come and contribute. Do not keep apologizing…and read the next book! 
 Choosing Titles: 
  • Have each member give an anonymous list of books they liked with a short summary. Drop into a bowl or bag and at the end of each meeting pull out a title for the next meeting or meetings. Or ask members to anonymously write down titles and summaries, then have the group vote on the ones they want to read.
  • Some clubs pick the next title at the end of the meeting, others like to plan several months out. Find what works best for your group.
  • When deciding on a book, make sure it offers topics for discussion. Books that will stimulate a good discussion may contain: complex plots or characters, complicated conflicts, inspiring storylines, hanging endings, controversial subject matter, periods of history, or social commentary.
  • If reading a book is too time consuming, try podcast or long form magazine articles for discussion.
  • If your group needs a break, try watching a movie based off of a book from time to time.
  • Set a page number limit for your group and stick to it. You want to make sure people have enough time to read the book. 350-400 pages is a good maximum amount. 





Meetings: 


  • Allow time for socializing in the beginning. It is going to happen either way, so just build it in to the schedule. Make a set time limit of 30-45 minutes so that it doesn’t consume the whole meeting.
  • If you’re hosting, begin with a brief summary of the book and the characters. It may have been a couple of weeks since some members have read the book.
  • Don't feel you have to talk about each question! If the group doesn't have a lot to say about a topic or doesn't seem interested in the question, move on to a question that gets them talking. Or better yet, see if any one in the group has a question they'd like to discuss.
  • Give everyone an opportunity to speak before moving on to the next question, but don't force everyone to answer every question. If someone continually dominates the discussion, consider discussing it later with them in private.
Some Fun Ideas:
  •  Fake it till you make it! Nail your literary buzzwords. Like wine-tasting, uttering a few literary buzzwords make you seem bookish. Talk about things like: symbolism, undertones, structure and, of course, the human condition.  
  • Plan a meeting at a park, beach, or restaurant for a change of pace.
  • If you’re hosting, make food that pairs with your book theme. For example, A Tale for the Time Being is set in British Columbia and Japan so maybe make an appetizer with fish or seaweed salad.
  • Find music to play that accompanies the theme of the book. Don’t play it so loud that it distracts the group.
  • As you read each novel, jot down page numbers and passages that moved you.
  • Share the work! The host for that month may select a number of questions, write each on an index card, and pass them out. Each member takes a card, then asks the group the question.
  • If you're leading the discussion and you have the time to do so, reasearch a little about the author, a subject in the book, the time period, etc. It will enhance the discussion and everyone's understanding of the book.  
Online Book Club Resources:
  • Lit Lovers: www.litlovers.com
  • Penguin Random House: www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books
  • ALA Book Discussion Groups: libguides.ala.org/bookdiscussiongroups
  • Reading Group Guides: www.readinggroupguides.com 
 

Monday, May 15, 2017

Read-Alike Monday: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett is one of the great novelists of our time, and her latest, Commonwealth, lives up to the quality of writing we've come to expect from her. If you liked Commonwealth and want to read a similar book now, try one of these next.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.


READ-ALIKES:

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy
The Turners live on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house sees thirteen children get grown and gone—and some return; it sees the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit's East Side, and the loss of a father. Despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs, the house still stands. But now, as their powerful mother falls ill and loses her independence, the Turners might lose their family home. Beset by time and a national crisis, the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called back to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts might haunt—and shape—their family's future.





The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Two brothers bound by tragedy; a fiercely brilliant woman haunted by her past; a country torn by revolution. A powerful new novel--set in both India and America--that explores the price of idealism and a love that can last long past death.

Growing up in Calcutta, born just fifteen months apart, Subhash and Udayan Mitra are inseparable brothers, one often mistaken for the other. But they are also opposites, with gravely different futures ahead of them. It is the 1960s, and Udayan--charismatic and impulsive--finds himself drawn to the Naxalite movement, a rebellion waged to eradicate inequity and poverty: he will give everything, risk all, for what he believes. Subhash, the dutiful son, does not share his brother's political passion; he leaves home to pursue a life of scientific research in a quiet, coastal corner of America.

But when Subhash learns what happened to his brother in the lowland outside their family's home, he comes back to India, hoping to pick up the pieces of a shattered family, and to heal the wounds Udayan left behind--including those seared in the heart of his brother's wife.


 Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique
In the early 1900s, the Virgin Islands are transferred from Danish to American rule, and an important ship sinks into the Caribbean Sea. Orphaned by the shipwreck are two sisters and their half brother, now faced with an uncertain identity and future. Each of them is unusually beautiful, and each is in possession of a particular magic that will either sink or save them.

Chronicling three generations of an island family from 1916 to the 1970s, Land of Love and Drowning is a novel of love and magic, set against the emergence of Saint Thomas into the modern world. Uniquely imagined, with echoes of Toni Morrison, Gabriel García Márquez, and the author’s own Caribbean family history, the story is told in a language and rhythm that evoke an entire world and way of life and love. Following the Bradshaw family through sixty years of fathers and daughters, mothers and sons, love affairs, curses, magical gifts, loyalties, births, deaths, and triumphs, Land of Love and Drowning is a gorgeous, vibrant debut by an exciting, prizewinning young writer.


Shining Sea by Anne Korkeakivi
A novel about the complicated world of a family in California over years to come, after the sudden death of the father. Opening in 1962 with the fatal heart attack of forty-three-year-old Michael Gannon, a WWII veteran and former POW in the Pacific, SHINING SEA plunges into the turbulent lives of his widow and kids over subsequent decades, crisscrossing from the beaches of southern California to the Woodstock rock festival, London’s gritty nightlife in the eighties to Scotland’s remote Inner Hebrides islands, the dry heat of Arizona desert to the fertile farmland of Massachusetts. Beautifully rendered and profoundly moving, SHINING SEA by Anne Korkeakivi is a family story, about the ripple effects of war, the passing down of memory, and the power of the ideal of heroism to lead us astray but also to keep us afloat.