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#FDL: Getting Started With Margaret Atwood

Getting Started With Margaret Atwood

Maybe you all saw the Emmy’s this weekend and noticed that the television adaptation of The Handmaid’s Tale cleaned up. Or maybe you didn’t see the awards show but have watched The Handmaid’s Tale and really liked it. Maybe neither of those statements are true but you’ve heard of Margaret Atwood and wanted to read something by her. Or maybe you’re just between books right now and in the mood for something that will twist up your brain. Margaret Atwood is one of those unique and awesome writers where you can’t really pin down what type of fiction she writes and so she appeals to a wide variety of readers. Her books are a little bit mystery, a little bit contemporary fiction, a little sci-fi, and a little bit women’s lit. If any of that appeals to you, here are a few good selections on where to start.

  1. The Handmaid’s Tale – This pick is a little obvious, but it’s an amazing and unfortunately timely book that has been adapted into an incredibly popular television show. Published in 1985, the narrative follows Offred, a Handmaid in the near future Republic of Gilead. The story alternates between Offred’s current role in a wold where women are only valued for their ability to produce children, and her past where she had her own life and her own name.
  2. Oryx and Crake – This book will suit the sci-fi fan and is my own personal favorite novel by Atwood. It starts with a disjointed account of life by the weirdly named narrator, the Snowman. Gradually, the book takes into Snowman’s past and our future, telling of a world where genetic engineering is a part of every day life and cities and colleges are owned and funded by corporations. Snowman’s personal story involves his best friend Crake and a mysterious woman tied to both of them named Oryx.
  3. The Year of the Flood – Some people have a difficult time with Oryx and Crake because it gets off to a confusing start. The Year of the Flood tells a story set in the same universe and at the same time as Oryx and Crake but featuring different characters. It’s a more traditional beginning to the MaddAddam trilogy and you can read either book first. Atwood is a fan of time jumping narratives and The Year of the Flood goes between the childhood lives of Ren and Toby as disciples of Adam One and his eco-religious group God’s Gardeners, and their current predicaments hiding in their respective strongholds from what remains of humanity after a mass-extinction event.
  4. Hag-Seed – Hag-Seed is Margaret Atwood’s take on The Tempest in a contemporary setting with a psychological twist. After Felix is fired from his artistic director position at the Makeshiweg Theatre Festival, he exiles himself to rural Ontario with his imaginary daughter, Miranda. He takes a job teaching Literacy Through Theatre to the prisoners at the nearby Burgess Correctional Institution, where his class stages their own bizarre production of The Tempest.
  5. Stone Mattress: Nine Tales – Short story collections are always a great way to introduce yourself to a new author. Each story in this collection is classic Atwood – a total genre mash-up. And with short stories, you can figure out a lot faster whether this author is right for you.

About #FDL

Welcome to #FDL! #FDL is a twice weekly update on all things Fondulac District Library and East Peoria. Twice a week, library staff will make posts that highlight some aspect of library life and relate it to you – our readers. Have you ever wanted to know which Dewey number represented a certain topic? Are you looking for book recommendations based on your favorite television show or television recommendations based on your favorite book? Have you ever wondered about the secret details of librarian life? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then #FDL is for you. We look forward to writing posts that are informative and entertaining and hope that you enjoy getting better acquainted with Fondulac District Library.

FDL Reads: River of Teeth

Cover image for River of teethRiver of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

Reviewed by: Sylvia Shults, Circulation

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: In the early 20th century, the United States government actually had a plan to release hippos into the swamps and bayous of Louisiana as an alternative meat source. (It’s a good thing this never historically happened, because hippos are a whole lot meaner and nastier than most people realize.) This book is set in the late 1890s, in an America that DOES have feral hippos wandering southern Louisiana. Hippo wrangler Winslow Houndstooth has a mission to deal with these hippos. He’s also out for revenge.

My Review:  Wow, what a fun, FUN book! This book has the action and careless disregard for personal safety of a really well-written western. (Probably because of the time period and the action.) It’s a believable piece of alternative history, and oh my goodness, it has teeth. The characters are completely original and completely unexpected. And the author leaves the ending wide open for a sequel. (In fact, that’s my only beef with the book: it’s very short, and it has the feel of an unfinished longer novel.)

Three Words That Describe This Book: Bloody exciting adventure!

Give This a Try if You Like… Westerns, adventure

Rating: 4/5

Find it at the library!

About FDL Reads

FDL ReadsWelcome to FDL Reads, weekly book reviews from Fondulac District Library.  Librarians (and possibly some other guest reviewers) review all types of books, from children’s picture books, young adult favorites, to the latest adult thriller, and share their thoughts each week at fondulaclibrary.org. If the book is owned by Fondulac District Library (or another local library), you’ll see a direct link to the catalog entry and whether or not it is available.  If it is checked out or at another local library, you will be able to place a hold as long as you have your library card and PIN numbers. As with any book review, these are our opinions…we disagree amongst ourselves about books frequently.  We all have different likes and dislikes, which is what makes the world an interesting place. Please enjoy, and keep on reading!

FDL Reads: Strange the Dreamer

Cover image for Strange the dreamerStrange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Reviewed by: Dave Gibbons, Volunteer

Genre: Fantasy

Suggested Age: Teens, Adults

What is the book about?: Moths that invade dreams, a nameless city, trapped ghosts and blue skinned gods all await Lazlo Strange as his legend unfolds. Seemingly trapped at the bottom rung of the world’s social ladder in a dull grey library monastery, the orphaned boy’s world erupts into color as mystical barbarians from ancient stories march into town looking for people to go on a long journey to a place besieged by the magic. Sarai’s people have been brutally wiped out. She and a few traumatized survivors are living atop a tower that looms above the very home of the man who perpetuated this violence. These characters’ stories intertwine to create an interesting narrative.

My Review:  The world that Laini Taylor has created is lush and vibrant, full of original and relatable people and creatures. It is truly a well thought out world that is not only filled with vibrant color but also several shades of grey morality. Her world-building and character are unparalleled. The pacing and plot however are not. While absolutely gorgeous the prose is also very slow. A quarter of the book passes before anything starts to happen, and when it does the flow is either racing or crawling with little in-between. The plot does rely on tropes and clichés at times. From star crossed instant romance to the blatant hero’s journey set up – while interesting, these plots are still predictable.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Exotic, Beautiful, Epic

Give This a Try if You Like… Stardust by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, Seraphina by Rachael Hartman, The Mighty Thor by Walt Simonson

Rating: 4/5

Find it at the library!

About FDL Reads

FDL ReadsWelcome to FDL Reads, weekly book reviews from Fondulac District Library.  Librarians (and possibly some other guest reviewers) review all types of books, from children’s picture books, young adult favorites, to the latest adult thriller, and share their thoughts each week at fondulaclibrary.org. If the book is owned by Fondulac District Library (or another local library), you’ll see a direct link to the catalog entry and whether or not it is available.  If it is checked out or at another local library, you will be able to place a hold as long as you have your library card and PIN numbers. As with any book review, these are our opinions…we disagree amongst ourselves about books frequently.  We all have different likes and dislikes, which is what makes the world an interesting place. Please enjoy, and keep on reading!

New & Upcoming Titles for Autumn 2017

An updated list of New & Upcoming Titles at Fondulac District Library has been added to the website! The books on this list are available to check out or place on hold.

Here is a sampling of a few of the latest titles:

Download this file. (PDF, Unknown)

#FDL: Stephen King is Having a Heck of a Year

Photo used with permission by photographer Tyler Liston, Assistant Store Manager of the Peoria Barnes & Noble.

Stephen King is Having a Heck of a Year

2017 appears to be a banner year for Stephen King and his fans. The author is going through a bit of a rediscovery process in Hollywood, which multiple works of his either having been adapted or slated to be adapted to television or film in the next year or so.  He also has new written material coming out soon. Here’s a quick rundown of all 2017 things King for new and seasoned fans alike.

Television/Movies

The Mist. This SpikeTV series is based on King’s novella of the same name and is its second film adaptation. This series focuses on the individuals trapped by a deadly mist and how they live out their lives from one moment to the next, not knowing if anything remains of the outside world. The series just wrapped up on television so is not yet available on DVD.

The Dark Tower. This is a complicated adaptation. It’s named after the entirety of King’s magnum opus, starting with book 1 – The Gunslinger. But, this film adaptation isn’t a true re-creation of the series or a prequel. It’s a sort of sequel, following Roland of Gilead and Jake Chambers as they fight to stop the Man in Black from destroying the eponymous tower and the universe. A dvd release date is set for October of this year.

It. This movie that adapts of one of King’s most popular works opens tomorrow in movie theaters. Like The Mist, it is based on a book by the same name and is a second film adaptation after a two-part television mini-series from 1990. It follows a group of bullied teens taking action after they discover that a monster is hunting them one by one.

Mr. Mercedes. This adaptation is a television show currently in the middle of its first season and available through local cable providers. It’s based on King’s novel by the same name and follows retired detective Bill Hodges as he tries to find a murderer who uses a Mercedes as his weapon of choice.

Gerald’s Game. This movie adaptation of King’s book also comes out in theaters this month – on September 29th. Jessie and her husband Gerald try to add a little something extra to their marriage, and Jessie unexpectedly finds herself fighting for survival.

Books

Gwendy’s Button Box. King released this title in May of this year, co-authored by Richard T. Chizmar. This short novel takes place in Castle Rock, in the summer of 1974, when Gwendy’s daily routine is interrupted by a man dressed all in black.

Sleeping Beauties. To be released on September 26th, King has authored this book with his son, Owen King. Women all over the world are falling asleep and not waking up. With the exception of a lone woman, men are left to their own devices in this strange, new world.

The Outsider. This title will be released sometime in 2018, and very little is known about it. King was quoted by USA Today as saying, “There’s a lot of things I want to say about [this book], but I can’t. It’s too cool to talk about right now. All I can say is it won’t be out in 2017 because I’ve got enough going on.” No kidding.

Post by Carey Gibbons, Reference Specialist

About #FDL

Welcome to #FDL! #FDL is a twice weekly update on all things Fondulac District Library and East Peoria. Twice a week, library staff will make posts that highlight some aspect of library life and relate it to you – our readers. Have you ever wanted to know which Dewey number represented a certain topic? Are you looking for book recommendations based on your favorite television show or television recommendations based on your favorite book? Have you ever wondered about the secret details of librarian life? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then #FDL is for you. We look forward to writing posts that are informative and entertaining and hope that you enjoy getting better acquainted with Fondulac District Library.

FDL Reads: The Ninth Wife

Cover image for The ninth wife : a novelThe Ninth Wife by Amy Stolls

Reviewed by: Dawn Dickey, Reference Specialist

Genre: Romantic Contemporary Fiction

Suggested Age: Adult

What is the book about?: Rory and Bess have known each other only a few months before Rory proposes. Bess wants to know more about the man she is deeply in love with. She knows that his wife died and encourages Rory, on the day he proposes marriage, to tell her more about his wife:

“Wives,” [Rory] mumbles.

Bess takes a moment. “Wives?” she cries. “Plural?”. . .  “And what does that mean, anyway? Two? Two wives?”

Rory doesn’t answer.

“Rory? How many?”

“Eight.” . . .

“You’ve been married eight times?” . . . Now she’s hyperventilating. The room is spinning. She has to sit down. . . . “I just want to be sure I get this right: I’d be your ninth wife.”  

What is she supposed to do now? Run out? Wouldn’t any sane woman do that?

My Review:  I was intrigued by the title and premise of this book, and author Amy Stolls delivered an intriguing read. Stolls deftly and realistically changes voices from Irish-born Rory to folklorist Bess, with Rory explaining the history of his multiple marriages to Bess and the fact that he is, at heart, a romantic:  “I dream of everlasting love. I dream of that with you.” Stolls also deftly brings out Bess’s pragmatism and caution, which are balanced against the not-so-harmonious 65-year-long marriage of Bess’s grandparents. This caution leads her to contact some of Rory’s ex-wives. The book is an interesting and amusing look at the ups and downs of relationships and how relationships both mirror who we are and force us to grow. I loved the story and the characters!

Three Words That Describe This Book: quirky, out-of-the-ordinary, romance

Give This a Try if You Like… romantic fiction / chick lit

Rating: 5/5

Find it at the library!

About FDL Reads

FDL ReadsWelcome to FDL Reads, weekly book reviews from Fondulac District Library.  Librarians (and possibly some other guest reviewers) review all types of books, from children’s picture books, young adult favorites, to the latest adult thriller, and share their thoughts each week at fondulaclibrary.org. If the book is owned by Fondulac District Library (or another local library), you’ll see a direct link to the catalog entry and whether or not it is available.  If it is checked out or at another local library, you will be able to place a hold as long as you have your library card and PIN numbers. As with any book review, these are our opinions…we disagree amongst ourselves about books frequently.  We all have different likes and dislikes, which is what makes the world an interesting place. Please enjoy, and keep on reading!

Story Times at the Library

Fondulac District Library’s Story Times feature a different theme every week and include songs, flannel board stories, and crafts, in addition to great books! Story Time is a great way to introduce your child to new friends and encourage early literacy. View the details below or click here to see the Story Time Calendar.

WEEKDAY STORY TIMES
September 11-November 17

Little Listeners • 4-6 years old • Mondays at 10 a.m.
Together Time • 2-3 years old & adult • Tuesdays at 10 a.m.
Family Story Time • 2+ years old & adult • Tuesdays at 1 p.m.
Tiny Tot Time • 1-2 years old & adult • Thursdays at 10 a.m.
Baby Lapsit • Birth-1 year old & adult • Fridays at 10 a.m.

OTHER STORY TIMES
Sensory Story Time • 2-7 years old • Saturday, Sept.16, at 11 a.m.
Prince and Princess Story Time • 2-7 years old • Oct. 14 & Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.
Saturday Morning Story Time • 2-7 years old • Oct. 28 & Nov. 25 at 11 a.m.

FDL Reads: The Radium Girls

Cover image for The Radium GirlsThe Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore

Reviewed by: Genna Buhr, Library Director

Genre: History, Non-Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults, Teens

What is the book about?: In the early years of the last century, young women in locations across the nation took to the working world by becoming painters of clock and gauge faces. Using paint designed to glow by the addition of recently discovered radium, the women skillfully hand-painted dials in factories using materials and techniques provided to them by the management. The women enjoyed the independence and friendships the work provided. However, many eventually started having extreme medical issues and suspected it was due to the working conditions that they were told were safe. The Radium Girls tells the stories of some of these women, the distress they experienced, and the fight they led to ensure that justice would be upheld.

My Review: The story of the radium girls wasn’t new to me. I grew up near Ottawa, Illinois, where a good portion of this book is set and also grew up hearing decades old gossip and whispers about the glowing ladies. The courthouse still stands directly across from my favorite pizza place, and as I read the book, I wondered how the lives of these women many have intertwined with my family members that came before me. One of the women was from my hometown, and my great-grandmother worked at a clock factory where many of the dials were shipped. The stories of these women have been told in bits and pieces, and I was really excited to learn that Moore was writing their story cohesively and in a way that it could be shared and consumed by a larger audience. Moore doesn’t disappoint and works hard to show the strength and resilience of these women and the depths of their struggles in fighting for their health, for their places in their communities, for their futures, and for justice. The Radium Girls presents a well-paced, personal look at those everyday women whose lives strengthened the movement for safety in the workplace and whose experiences led to labor legislation still in effect today. 

Three Words That Describe This Book: Empowering, Enlightening, Inspiring

Give This a Try if You Like… Erin Brockovich, Hidden Figures, Erik Larson’s books

Rating: 5/5

Find it at the library!

About FDL Reads

FDL ReadsWelcome to FDL Reads, weekly book reviews from Fondulac District Library.  Librarians (and possibly some other guest reviewers) review all types of books, from children’s picture books, young adult favorites, to the latest adult thriller, and share their thoughts each week at fondulaclibrary.org. If the book is owned by Fondulac District Library (or another local library), you’ll see a direct link to the catalog entry and whether or not it is available.  If it is checked out or at another local library, you will be able to place a hold as long as you have your library card and PIN numbers. As with any book review, these are our opinions…we disagree amongst ourselves about books frequently.  We all have different likes and dislikes, which is what makes the world an interesting place. Please enjoy, and keep on reading!

#FDL: Better Know a Dewey Number: 364.1523

I know that this is a picture from a fictional crime scene on a post about true crime, but just roll with it.

Better Know a Dewey Number: 364.1523: True Crime

Once while I was working at the reference desk, someone asked me, “Where are the murder books?” After asking a couple of questions, I figured out that what this patron wanted was the true crime books. While not everyone asks for them by calling them “true crime books,” they’re pretty popular at FDL. However, not everyone knows we have a section of books devoted to true crime, or they know we do but don’t know that true crime covers a number of different scenarios. So, here is a sample of what FDL has in its true crime section. As always, if you have any questions, please ask our awesome reference librarians. If there’s a true crime book you would like but don’t see, we can always try to find it for you from a different library!

The Esperanza Fire: Arson, Murder and the Agony of Engine 57 by John N. MacLean. This book tells the story of Raymond Lee Oyler, the man accused of setting the Esperanza Fire in 2006 – a wildfire in the San Jacinto Mountains in California. This fire ended up killing five men on a U.S. Forest Service engine crew, causing Oyler to also be accused of murder.

Life After Murder: Five Men in Search of Redemption by Nancy Mullane. Mullane details her interviews with five men in San Quentin prison over the course of four years. Each of these men committed murder, and Mullane’s discussions with them ask the question: Can murderers redeem themselves and live again in the regular world?

The Valley of the Shadow of Death: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption by Kermit Alexander. This book is written by a surviving victim of true crime. Kermit Alexander, former 49ers cornerback, recounts the murder of his mother, sister, and two nephews and his attempts to find answers and justice for their deaths.

The Year of Fear: Machine Gun Kelly and the Manhunt that Changed the Nation by Joe Urschel. This book is both true crime and history. It takes place in 1933 at the height of Prohibition and follows Machine Gun Kelly’s attempt at kidnapping, in addition to J. Edgar Hoover’s quest to find him and boost his career into what would be the director of the FBI.

The Ultimate Jack the Ripper Companion by Stewart P. Evans and Keith Skinner. No list or sampling of a true crime collection would be complete without Jack the Ripper. This book claims to be the most extensive work on the Ripper case ever to be published and runs at 758 pages.

Post by Carey Gibbons, Reference Specialist

About #FDL

Welcome to #FDL! #FDL is a twice weekly update on all things Fondulac District Library and East Peoria. Twice a week, library staff will make posts that highlight some aspect of library life and relate it to you – our readers. Have you ever wanted to know which Dewey number represented a certain topic? Are you looking for book recommendations based on your favorite television show or television recommendations based on your favorite book? Have you ever wondered about the secret details of librarian life? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then #FDL is for you. We look forward to writing posts that are informative and entertaining and hope that you enjoy getting better acquainted with Fondulac District Library.

FDL Reads: Ripper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert

Cover image for Ripper : the secret life of Walter SickertRipper: The Secret Life of Walter Sickert by Patricia Cornwell

Reviewed by: Sarah Baker, Circulation Assistant

Genre: True Crime, Non-Fiction

Suggested Age: Adults

What is the book about?: We all know about Jack the Ripper.  Or rather, we know of​ him.  Being that he was never caught and no confession​ accepted as truth, he remains a fascinating subject to this day.  And author Patricia Cornwell knows that.  She has released 2 other books about Saucy Jack, and her research keeps bringing her back to one man: English artist Walter Sickert.  This volume fleshes out her theory on Jack’s true identity, and backs it up with forensic evidence.  The rapid development of technology has allowed for new testing of letters that were supposedly from Jack – handwriting, paper watermarks and composition, even the blood stains are put to the test with surprising results.

My Review: I read the first of Cornwell’s Ripper books when I was in college.  (Fun note there: I read it in one sitting while working an overnight shift in a haunted building.  I was the only one in said building, but I kept hearing voices and things moving around.  Needless to say, I didn’t sleep easy the next day.)  I found her theories about Sickert to be fascinating.  I’d never heard of him before that, but her evidence was compelling.  This book expands on that.  In the 15 years since that first book (Portrait of a Killer: Jack the Ripper – Case Closed), Cornwell has been doing deeper research.  Thorough detective methods weren’t applied at the time, and there is little to no physical evidence remaining, but modern forensics can still put pieces together.

Cornwell’s experience as a novelist keeps this book moving at rapid, entertaining pace.  You won’t need to have read her previous books to fall head-long into this one.  I burned through the first quarter of the book in a little under three hours (with repeated interruptions from my son and cats).  Chapters are relatively short and focused, and are interspersed with photos and documents, making reference easy.  The sympathy that she gives to all concerned, excepting Sickert himself, is tangible.  This is a woman who wants to see justice for those that the Ripper killed, as well as those who were falsely accused.

Three Words That Describe This Book: Insightful, Approachable, Fascinatingly-Morbid

Give This a Try if You Like… CSI, To Catch A Murderer, Serial, Jack the Ripper

Rating: 5/5

Find it at the library!

About FDL Reads

FDL ReadsWelcome to FDL Reads, weekly book reviews from Fondulac District Library.  Librarians (and possibly some other guest reviewers) review all types of books, from children’s picture books, young adult favorites, to the latest adult thriller, and share their thoughts each week at fondulaclibrary.org. If the book is owned by Fondulac District Library (or another local library), you’ll see a direct link to the catalog entry and whether or not it is available.  If it is checked out or at another local library, you will be able to place a hold as long as you have your library card and PIN numbers. As with any book review, these are our opinions…we disagree amongst ourselves about books frequently.  We all have different likes and dislikes, which is what makes the world an interesting place. Please enjoy, and keep on reading!

imagine, inform, inspire