This fall we invite you to pick up one or more of our Featured Titles, a handpicked selection of the new books you’ll find at the Waterloo Public Library. From new literary legal fiction to historical fiction, and memoir to family cooking, we think our line-up of Fall Featured Titles offers something for everyone.
Every once in awhile I go through a phase of wanting to read young adult books. Maybe its because they are predictable. Maybe its the innocence of young love. I don’t know. But, I’m going through one of those phases now . . .
The Fault in our Stars by John Green
Hazel and Augustus meet at a Cancer Kid’s support group meeting. Isn’t young love filled with enough anguish? Apparently not. Throw some cancer into the mix. The dialogue is smart and the characters believable. I might have cried a little.
The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Lucy and Owen meet in an elevator during a New York City blackout. They spend a magical night wandering around a darkened city. The next day the power is back on and they both return to the reality of their own worlds. But the pull of attraction compels them to keep in touch with one another as circumstances take them to different ends of the world. It is anyone’s guess whether they will reunite.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
1986 Omaha. Eleanor is the new girl in town. Her bright red hair and wardrobe choices scream misfit. Although Park is from town he too feels like a misfit. They sit beside each other on the bus every day with careful indifference. Until. They gradually bond over a shared love of music and comics. Soon they are inseparable. When Eleanor’s unstable home life gives way she must leave Park behind and move. Can their love last?
If I Stay by G. Forman
Mia is seventeen years old and an accomplished cello player. She has applied to Julliard and is reasonably sure she will get accepted. Her boyfriend is a musician as well and is lead vocalist in a band. Life is good. One snowy day she is in the car with her parents and younger brother going to visit friends when the car is in an accident. She has no memory of the accident but watches as her body is removed from the wreckage. She has a choice to make. Note: Have a box of Kleenex nearby as you read this!
- – Christine B.
Bird Box by Joshn Malerman
I’m not a big fan of horror, so I was a bit afraid to read this book. But I’d read a review somewhere and because it sounded interesting, I decided to try it. The novel opens with sisters Malorie and Shannon facing an uncertain future. Frightening things are happening around the world and getting geographically closer to where the sisters live. People are killing others and themselves in horrifically violent ways, with no apparent provocation. It seems related to something they’ve seen, but no one can say what that ‘something’ is. Those who remain alive start covering the windows of their homes and staying behind closed doors as much as possible. If they go out, they cover their eyes so as not to see anything provocative. When something happens to Shannon, the pregnant Malorie decides that she can’t go it alone. Led by an old advertisement, she seeks out a home that’s supposed to offer safety and sanctuary to any who want it. There she meets a small group of people trying to survive in this strange new world. They work and brainstorm together, but like any family, they have their issues. Don, in particular, has ideas that frequently clash with the others’.
Follow the characters as they face a terrifying new reality. Can anyone be trusted? Is it possible to be safe? Can people live a normal life again?
Although horrifying things happen in the book, my fear of reading a ‘horror’ was unfounded. I’d rather call this a novel of suspense, or an apocalyptic novel. There was certainly high tension on every page and you care about the characters and what happens to them. Very well written; an excellent read for anyone, but especially for those who enjoy horror and suspense.
- – Susan B.
A Hard Day’s Night (DVD) starring The Beatles
Wow, it’s been 50 years since the release of the first– and best– Beatle film (July, 1964).
The Fab Four could so easily have made a lousy film and it wouldn’t have mattered–the fans would have flocked to the movie theatres anyway.
Instead they made a film that stands up, one that is as fresh and captivating as the day it was released. I defy anyone, Beatle fan or not, to watch “A Hard Day’s Night” and NOT get swept up and carried away by its sheer joyfulness, high spirits and cheeky humour. Not to mention the incomparable music of the incomparable Beatles.
The movie is basically two days in the lives of The Beatles. A couple of scenes epitomize the whole movie for me. The first is the opening, in which the group are chased by screaming fans through the London streets as they struggle to catch a train (to the music of that great title song). The other unforgettable scene is where John, Paul, George and Ringo break out of the TV studio and run about and cavort in an empty field (to the song “Can’t Buy Me Love”). I also love the John-in-the-bathtub scene.
So I would recommend you take a look at this film, whether you have seen it many times or not at all, whether you are a Beatle fan or not. A splendid time is guaranteed for all (Beatle allusion, see Sgt. Pepper LP).
Back in high school Stephen King and Dean Koontz were the cool guys to read. Something about the spine tingling horror novel was just very appealing. Lots of action and scares. Last month the WPL Book Club was reading Full Dark No Stars by Stephen King. I facilitate the book club, naturally I needed to read the book . . . oh my . . . Mr. King sure knows how to get minds and hearts racing.
Full Dark No Stars by Stephen King is made up of four short stories. Each of the stories contains a moral dilemma along with a fair amount of chills and thrills.
The story opens with the confession of Wilfred James to the murder of his wife, Arlette, following their move to Hemingford, Nebraska onto land willed to Arlette by her father.
A Good Marriage
Darcy Anderson learns more about her husband of over twenty years than she would have liked to know when she stumbles literally upon a box under a worktable in their garage. ** I will never look at my husband the same way again. You just can’t know what secrets people are keeping . . .
Mystery writer, Tess, has been supplementing her writing income for years by doing speaking engagements with no problems. But following a last-minute invitation to a book club 60 miles away, she takes a shortcut home with dire consequences.
Harry Streeter, who is suffering from cancer, decides to make a deal with the devil but, as always, there is a price to pay.
- – Christine B.
My parents loved to read. My dad preferred to read non-fiction but my mother, she had five kids to keep track of, probably needed guaranteed relaxation from her reading material and was more likely to have a mystery in hand while I was growing up. I loved the groovy 60s covers of her books – like The Hot Rock by Donald Westlake and she really liked Rabbi Small (by Harry Kemelman) – I really loved how she would talk about the stories she was reading. When I pick up a new mystery novel with a little gasp of happiness (we have so many good ones here at WPL – new ones every week!) I think this enthusiasm makes sense. I got this good feeling about reading mystery novels from her.
Where my mother was a fan of Rabbi Small my first sleuth crush was on Jim Qwilleran. In my opinion there was nothing more satisfying than reading about that little town in the Great Lakes area of the U.S. where Qwilleran writes a column for the local paper – The Daily Fluxion. He meanders through town, solving mysteries and caring for his friends, while making a home for two marvelous Siamese cats. I would read those ” The Cat Who…” mysteries over and over and save special ones to reward myself for a particularly hard exam time in high school. I still find it very hard to walk by a tall man with a mustache and not wonder if he just might be a billionaire philanthropist/journalist. Just maybe? On a rainy there is still a lot of comfort to be found in The Cat Who Knew Shakespeare or any one of Lillian Jackson Braun’s 25+ other novels and short stories.
Women solve mysteries also! I know this. I have many favourite female sleuths on my list. Nancy Drew was my original favourite, of course. She is still popular with junior readers in all of our locations (as is Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator, a great junior series by Jennifer Allison). We have Aunt Dimity, Miss Marple, Miss Julia, Agatha Raisin, Katherine Hall Page, Miss Marple, and many more lining the shelves here at WPL. So many good friends in that list but right now I am thinking about men who solve mysteries and have to mention the dashing Chief Inspector Armand Gamache. I was hooked from the first chapter of Louise Penny’s Bury Your Dead and I haven’t met a single WPL patron who doesn’t share the feeling of instant dedication to the man. He is everything we are looking for in an inspector – clever and patient while he sorts through his clues – but he is also unfailingly kind and respectful of the people he encounters during the investigation. And James Qwilleran has his small town in the U.S. but Gamache has the charming hamlet of Three Pines. You just can’t help but wish it really existed so you could go to that same bookstore he visits and eat those same delicious croissants. It’s not on the map. I have looked. Each time Louise Penny publishes a new book in Inspector Gamache series the interest among WPL patrons is steady and the chatter as the books are returned to the desk is full of satisfaction about how he solved another impossible crime while staying true to his personal code of ethics. For a real treat you can listen to these as audiobooks – they are just wonderful.
A newer favourite of mine is Cormoran Strike, created by Robert Galbraith. Poor J. K. Rowling tried to get out there and publish something different following the success of Harry Potter and didn’t receive kind treatment with The Casual Vacancy so who could blame her for trying again under a pseudonym? Maybe that little removal from public interest in her writing allowed Rowling/Galbraith to unleash her creative gift enough to give us this winning private investigator in Cormoran Strike. Named after a Cornish giant, he lives and works in Central London, following his return from Afghanistan where he served in the SIB. He has that tough ex-army feel but this is blended with a better than average sense of humour and an inner monologue that gives you clues to the investigation and his personal life. It is fantastic. The first book in the series – The Cuckoo’s Calling – had Strike investigating the murder of a famous supermodel and in the second book, The Silkworm, (so creepy and delicious that I had to stay up late to finish it and then wished I wasn’t awake in the dark late at night) the murder is of an unpopular novelist. In both books we have an opportunity to meet some colourful characters and this adds to the layers of detail she creates in her writing. The streets of London come alive just as Hogwarts did. Rowling/Galbraith delivers fascinating twists and turns in the first two books of this series so they are very satisfying mysteries. I hope that I’ve added Cormoran Strike to the list of sleuths I’ll be following for years to come.
- – Penny M.
July 24th marks the Caped Crusaders 75th birthday. So, celebrate it this year with some of these selections. Whether you love the Nolan or Burton films, the campy tv show with Adam West, or follow the latest comic books there is something for everyone in this list.
Batman. Volume 1, The court of owls by Scott Snyder
With 75 years worth of stories, you would think there isn’t anything new to be written about Batman. However, Scott Snyder proves that there are still plenty of stories left to be told with this modern take on Batman. Snyder explores the complex relationship between Bruce Wayne and his alter ego and has only begun to scratch the surface on what it means to be Batman.
Batman. The Dark Knight returns by Frank Miller
This was written during a time when many comic books were taking a more mature road, The Dark Knight became a lot darker with this story that sees a retired Batman return to fight crime in his old age. Considered one of the best Batman stories, and arguably the best comic book story ever, The Dark Knight Returns challenged audiences with its thought provoking story and brutal art.
The art and making of the Dark knight trilogy by Jody Duncan Jesser & Janine Pourroy
Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy changed how audiences perceived the world of superheroes, proving that comic books could be a type of literature to take seriously. This book takes you behind the scenes with photos and stories on the start of the trilogy with Batman Begins, Heath Ledger’s Academy Award winning performance in The Dark Knight, and the epic conclusion in The Dark Knight Rises cementing the trilogy in film history as one of the best.
After 75 years of striking fear into criminals, saving Gotham City countless times, and inspiring people all over the world, Batman isn’t showing his age. Happy Birthday!
- – Albert P.
It’s summer. The sun is shining and the flowers are perfect. I couldn’t settle on a theme this month other than some of my favourite books.
Where’d you go, Bernadette by Maria Sempleis about fifteen-year old Bee and her beloved mother Bernadette. When Bernadette disappears out of fear for an upcoming family vacation to Antarctica, Bee searches endlessly through emails and letters, anything to find her mother and hopefully understand her eccentricities and her genius. This is a very difficult book to put down.
We are completely beside ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler. I don’t know what to say about this book except that I loved it, you should read it, and it deserved every bit of the PEN/Faulkner award it won earlier this year. I promise.
Heroic Measures by Jill Ciment is amazing, and most likely one you’ve never heard of. It’s a short read about an elderly couple living in New York. They are hours away from putting their home up for sale, when their beloved dog gets sick and a tracker trailer stops dead on the interstate throwing the city into panic at the thought of possible terrorist attack. It’s a love story, for each other, for their dog. It’s wonderful and the author is from London, Ontario.
Frog Music by Emma Donaghueis her newest since Room. It is based on the true story of Blanche Beunon, a French burlesque dancer, in 1876 San Francisco. It is the summer of record breaking heat waves and the small pox epidemic. Blanche’s friend Jenny is shot through a window will Blanche leans over just enough to miss the shot herself. Who was the bullet meant for? This book is gorgeous and such a ride with Donaghue’s incredible attention to detail bringing this true, never solved mystery to life once again.
More titles! Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling). The sequel to last summer’s Cuckoo’s Calling. Always wonderful.
The upcoming Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman is the third in a trilogy about young magicians. It’s like Harry Potter meets C.S. Lewis, for adults! Lots of fun and it comes out the beginning of August.
Enjoy your summer reads, whether short and sweet or grand sweeping epics! Please comment and tell us what you’ll be reading by the campfire or the pool!
- – Sarah C.
Modern villains are a diverse bunch. They’re no longer the clichéd moustache twisting ‘bad guy’ cackling an evil ‘bwa-ha-ha’ in the shadows. Authors are now tapping into the fact that villains can be sinister but still gain their own fan base and occasionally garner sympathy from readers. Here are some of the scoundrels, rapscallions and down-right creepy characters who have given me many a goose bump:
Sarren from The Blood of Eden series by Julie Kagawa – Sarren is a sadistic and powerful vampire and those qualities make for a terrifically terrifying ‘bad guy’. He has a disquieting calm about him that gives me the creeps especially when he refers to Allie as “little bird” when he toys with her. *shiver* Included in series: The Immortal Rules, The Eternity Cure, The Forever Song
Hannibal Lector from Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon and Hannibal Rising by Thomas Harris - He uses his vast intellect and charm to disarm his opponents but you can never forget how ruthless and utterly chilling this man can be. I will always associate the words ‘fava beans’ with Hannibal and I’d decline any dinner invitation from him.
Annie Wilks from Misery by Stephen King – Annie takes the typically innocent action of being a fan to the extreme. In her own mind, she’s not a villain but to those reading Misery, we see her in a very different light.
King Joffrey from A Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin – There’s bad guys and then there’s the kind of villain who is vicious and vile through and through with no redeeming qualities. It’s evil characters like these that I eagerly hope to witness their downfall. Included in series: A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, A Dance with Dragons, The Winds of Winter
Dolores Umbridge AND Bellatrix Lestrange from the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling – Don’t let her pink dresses and affinity for fluffy kittens fool you. Professor Umbridge’s abuse of power and cruel, abusive punishments for her students definitely put her in the sadistic villain category. Included in series: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Here are some other villains who also made my cut of favourite evil doers:
Sauron from The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R Tolkien
Prof. Moriarty - Sherlock Holmes’ nemesis from The Final Problem (included in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes) by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Whether they’re calm and sadistic, undoubtedly evil or criminal masterminds, villains come in many forms and without them literature would be pretty dull. So, who are your favourite villains?
- – Laurie P.
As an armchair traveler and history buff I’m always on the lookout for captivating DVDs. The following four do just that.
Ghost of Murdered Kings provides a unique look into Ireland’s history and demystifies some previously discovered facts about the ‘bog bodies’ found across Ireland and Europe. Both scientists and historians gather to examine the latest finds and suggest something unique that will make you look differently at this country’s already tumultuous past.
The story of Ireland provides viewers with the most comprehensive history of Ireland that I’ve seen to date. Fergal Keane’s presentation is a pleasure to watch, as is the content from the beginnings of Ireland’s history to present day. This one keeps you interested from start to finish making the viewer come away with a better understanding of Ireland’s tragic and complex history.
The Grand Tour of Italy and its commentator present a colourful look at Italy like you’ve never seen before. Following the footsteps of young 18th century British aristocrats undertaking a Grand Tour through Italy, exploring art, architecture, and manners the presenter’s witty dialogue makes you chuckle while at the same time giving insight to things you probably thought you never knew about Italy and makes you want to board the plane now.
Israel: The Royal Tour delivers a look at a country from a proud politician’s and American commenter’s eyes. Follow along with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Peter Greenberg as they explore this tiny but remarkable land you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
For those of you who don’t have travel plans this summer, pull up a comfy chair, grab your favorite snack and beverage, relax and enjoy your journey as you watch these fantastic films.
- – Teresa NP