Not Just for Teens! Ripper by Amy Carol Reeves

RipperFirst Impressions
I am obsessed with tales of Jack the Ripper because no one really knows who he was. [Editor’s note: It looks like they might have?!]  This book, the first in a series, offers an alternate history of Jack’s reign of terror.

Drive-by Summary
Arabella Sharpe, orphaned and at the mercy of her grandmother, is finding life within the stifling cage of social propriety boring and unfulfilling. Her grandmother has decided to “toughen” Arabella’s character by sending her to Whitechapel to volunteer at a woman’s hospital. Life there is rough and dark, but Arabella has resolved to stay and help no matter what the cost. She is soon a first-hand witness to the dilemma of the poor and unwanted when things take an even worse turn.  Aided by her “visions”, Arabella gets deeply involved with a secret society bent on catching a monster. She quickly becomes instrumental in solving the gruesome clues left by a deadly serial killer as she follows “him” through London’s East End.  This book is definitely a page-turner with a twist on a story that has been told and retold.  You will not be disappointed with this series.

My Favorite Character
I love Arabella’s character and the strength it takes for her not to turn and run away.  She does not settle into a life of comfort and makes her own decisions to be an active member of a society that sees her as a mere object.

Words to Live By
At the beginning of each chapter, there are quotes from Jane Eyre which remind us of how women were regarded during the Victorian era:

“I was weary of an existence all passive.”

“Women are supposed to be very calm generally; but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow minded… to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to play on the piano and embroidering bags.”

Recommended For
This is a young adult book, however, the story kept my adult-self intrigued to the last page and have now moved on to the next book in the series.  Also, this series is the author’s debut novel.  She has a PhD in Nineteenth Century British Literature which gives this series the realistic edge that conveys the social conformities and how, during that time, things had to change.

Final Say
It is not often that I come across a well-written and pragmatic mediation on the purpose of life in a novel.  This series will teach and leave the reader with a sense of curiosity about the indignations of how people regard one another according to the social norms of the time.

You can check out Ripper today!

-Keyla

Short, Scary Reads

Scary Short Stories

Who remembers this inexplicably terrifying read?

How do you get prepared for Halloween?  Design costumes?  Decorate?  Watch a million scary movies?

I prefer, not surprisingly, to read – because there is nothing like a really scary book to keep you up all night with the lights on.  But it is sometimes hard to devote yourself to a full-length Stephen King thriller when you are working, partaking in Doctober or Fire Drink with Me,  and working on your way-rad Halloween costume.  This is why story stories are the bomb.  They give you a quick, powerful punch of horror that will keep you thinking (and worrying!) for days.

So, I was totally going to make my own list of favorite scary short stories for you, but Flavorwire has beaten me to the punch.  They have a list of the 50 Scariest Short Stories that includes some classic favorites (Lovecraft, Bradbury) and some new talent (Russell, Gaitskill) that are sure to get your blood pumping.  It is a comprehensive, frightening list despite the fact that my two all-time favorites, All Summer in a Day and The End of the Party, were not included.

What is your favorite scary story?  Leave a comment below!

Night Film By: Marisha Pessl

Night Film Book CoverFirst Impressions
When I started reading Night Film, by Marisha Pessl, it seemed to be a mystery including elements of suspense.  I recommend sitting in an armchair while reading this, you will need something to clutch during this thrill ride.  I also love the fact that there are photos, personal notes, and even pages resembling websites within the pages of this book.  I felt I was right in the midst of the action, and experienced everything the characters did first hand.  Journalist, Scott McGrath, is our guide, as well as partner, through the dark world of Night Film.

Drive-By Summary
McGrath is investigating the apparent suicide of Ashley Cordova, famous pianist prodigy, and daughter of famous horror film director, Stanislas Cordova.  After being pummeled, career-wise, by Cordova for reporting seemingly false testimony against the director, Scott McGrath is trying to get his life back–mainly his career.  Ashley Cordova’s suicide opened the window for him to dive back in to Cordova’s world of horror.  Desperate, he will stop at nothing to find the truth, even if it means risking his life and delicate relationship with his daughter.  With the help of Nora, wannabe actress, and Hopper, a drug dealer who knows more about Ashley than he’s letting on; Scott will find much more than just the truth about Ashley, he will find the truth about himself.

My Favorite Character
My favorite character is Nora.  She is smart, observant, and is more of a partner to McGrath, than an assistant.  I love the banter she has with protagonist McGrath, and secondary character, Hopper, who is just as equal in skills as McGrath; making this trio a real joy to travel with.  All three characters are so fun and relatable, but I feel Nora, is the glue that holds the three of them together.  She is a special person.

Words to Live By
“I was following in their footsteps, sending myself to the outer reaches of the world.  Was I fleeing something or had I been set free?” ~ Scott McGrath

Recommended For
Mystery, suspense, with a dollop of horror, and a dash of romance.  If these sound like your kind of ingredients, then this story is for you.  Character development and relationship growth is also demonstrated beautifully.

Final Say
Pessl explore the idea of movies being more than just pieces of fiction we can escape into for our enjoyment.  They reflect our own inner psyches, the good and the bad.  Join Scott, Nora, and Hopper as they explore the labyrinth of Night FilmWith all the twists and turns, horror and relief, you may never look at horror films the same way again.

Uncover Night Film today at the Bellingham Public Library!

— Laura

Not Just for Teens: All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry

All the Truth That's In Me book coverFirst Impressions
I can’t remember exactly why I put this book on hold, but I seem to recall reading a review that intrigued me. The cover is startling, and I liked the premise of two girls going missing but only one coming back alive, shrouded in mystery, so when I found it waiting for me on the hold shelf, I delved right in.

Drive-By Summary
When two girls go missing, one is found floating in the river after a few days and, four years later, the second walks back into town, maimed and mute. No one uses her name anymore and Judith (for that is what they used to call her) lives like a ghost, unable and unwilling to detail where she has been and what she has seen. She watches her neighbor boy (now a man) – her love – and her narration is directed towards him. When an enemy attack causes her to take action that has ramifications she could never have predicted, it throws them both into a quagmire of lies, secrets, love and death.

My Favorite Character
Judith is such an fascinating character, whom we see from an interesting angle with her narration towards her neighbor and childhood crush, Lucas.  Through the course of the book she finds her strength, sense of self and, ultimately, her voice.

Words to Live By
“I feel my sadness float away, my regret and humiliation. I can forgive myself for the fool I’ve made myself before you. The awkwardness is over. My body is empty, and empty is a great relief.”  – Judith

Recommended For
Teens and adults who are looking for an original voice and a story rich with language and strong, memorable characters.

Final Say
Unwinding like a puzzle, in a setting that is not defined but feels historically familiar, this story is a lyrical, mysterious, chilling and romantic exploration of human nature.

You can delve into the mystery of All the Truth That’s In Me at the Bellingham Public Library.

— Jennifer

If you liked Gone Girl

If you loved Gone Girl as much as we here at BPL did and are counting down the days to the movie release day, then we have the perfect reading list for you!  This list, If You Liked Gone Girl, is chock-full of great reads that will satisfy your hunger for dark, psychological fiction.  Here are some highlights:

Cover of Snow by Jenny MilchmanCover of Snow
Waking up one wintry morning in her old farmhouse nestled in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, Nora Hamilton instantly knows that something is wrong. When her fog of sleep clears, she finds her world is suddenly, irretrievably shattered: Her husband, Brendan, has committed suicide.

 

Dark Places by Gillian FlinnDark Places Book Cover
When Libby Day’s mother and two older sisters were slaughtered in the family’s Kansas farmhouse, it was seven-year-old Libby’s testimony that sent her 15-year-old brother, Ben, to prison for life. Desperate for cash 24 years later, Libby reluctantly agrees to meet members of the Kill Club, true crime enthusiasts who bicker over famous cases. She’s shocked to learn most of them believe Ben is innocent and the real killer is still on the loose.

Defending Jacob by William LandayDefending Jacob book cover
Andy Barber has been an ADA in his suburban Massachusetts county for more than 20 years. He is respected in his community and happy at home with his wife, Laurie, and son, Jacob. But after a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His 14-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.

 

Heartbroken by Lisa UngerHeartbroken book cover
While Kate pens an evocative historical novel based on family journals, her neighbor, Emily, flees a volatile relationship to an island in the Adirondacks where she, Kate, and Kate’s mother, Birdie, face the consequences of their pasts.

 

Never Look Away by Linwood BarclayNever Look Away book cover
A warm summer Saturday. An amusement park. David Harwood is glad to be spending some quality time with his wife, Jan, and their four-year-old son. But what begins as a pleasant family outing turns into a nightmare after an inexplicable disappearance. A frantic search only leads to an even more shocking and harrowing turn of events.

Gone Girl Heads to the Silver Screen

Entertainment Weekly Cover

Anyone that has read  and enjoyed the twisty dark novel, Gone Girl, will rejoice at the news that it is being adapted into a motion picture.  (And if you haven’t read the book, check out our review and book trailer!)  The movie, which is being release this fall, is being directed by David Fincher (The Social Network, Zodiac, Fight Club) and stars Rosamund Pike as the devious Amy Dunne and Ben Affleck as the not-so-easily-duped Nick Dunne.

But the best news?  Author Gillian Flynn, who adapted the screenplay for her best-selling book, has completely changed the ending for movie-going audiences:

“There was something thrilling about taking this piece of work that I’d spent about two years painstakingly putting together with all its eight million Lego pieces and take a hammer to it and bash it apart and reassemble it into a movie,” she told Entertainment Weekly.

I think Gone Girl just became my most highly-anticipated movie of 2014.

Staff Picks of 2013: Fiction

It has been a great reading year and the Bellingham Public Library staff has had a lot of fun coming up with their favorite titles of 2013.  15 members of our staff came up with a veritable bounty of selections that are sure to please readers of all ages.

Each day this week here at Read More! we will share our thoughts on the best items in each category: Fiction, Non-Fiction, Teen, Children, and Miscellaneous.

So, with our further ado, here are our picks for the best adult fiction of 2013:

Shining Girls book coverThe Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
The story involves a time-traveling serial killer who always gets away until one of his victims manages to survive. The killer and the victim then hunt each other throughout time. I like the book because it was such a strange assortment of genres all mixed into one.  – Madeline

 

Night Film

Night Film by Marisha Pessl
Different from what I usually read but I really liked it.  – Stacy

 

The Ocean at the End of the Lane book cover

Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
This haunting fairy tale is Gaiman’s most personal and powerful work to date.  It grabbed my attention immediately and I couldn’t put it down until I was finished.  Beautiful, creepy, and lingering, Ocean at the End of the Lane is not to be missed. – Katie

 

Doctor Sleep Book Cover

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King
This sequel to The Shining is like a beautiful nightmare . . . I loved it.
– Danielle

Stick around this week – we have more great picks coming your way!

 

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Shining Girls book coverFirst Impressions
I am a horror fan.  I love dark, twisty books that leave me a bit sweaty and unsettled when I put them down.  And well-done horror fiction says something pertinent and truthful about the society it portrays.  Often the scariest thing in a horror book is not the monster, but the actions and reactions of the people that allow the monster to thrive.

Lauren Beukes, with The Shining Girls, has created a horrifying tale of a time traveling serial murder that speaks to our society’s darkest thoughts about bright, shining women and how those women, ultimately, fight back.

Drive-by Summary
When Curtis Harper stumbles upon a key to a special house, a house that lets him travel through time, the lives of dozens of women “burning with promise and potential” are forfeit.  Until Curtis fails to kill one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi.  Now Kirby is hunting down Curtis with the help of a broke-down, former homicide reporter.  And nothing, not even time, will stop  her.

My Favorite Character
It is hard to love Kirby Mazrachi and she likes it that way.  As someone says early in the book, “Being her friend was like going to a tropical island for a little fun in the sun, only to be kidnapped by terrorists.”

But that attitude is to be expected. She’s been through hell and has the scares to prove it.  Those scars allow her to be hard, sarcastic and not afraid to go after what she wants.  And all she wants is to find the man that tried, and failed, to kill her.

Kirby, with her punk-rock attitude and perseverance, is modern hero who burns with purpose and conviction.   She is not resigned to the fate that she was given which is so refreshing for this genre and a joy to read.

Words to Live By
“The future is not as loud as war, but it is relentless. It has a terrible fury all its own.”

Recommended For
This book has a lot of cross-genre appeal and is very tightly written.  There is a little something for everyone: serial killers, time travel, history, politics, mystery, etc. And, happily, it does not linger ghoulishly on the details of Harper’s murders.  I would especially recommend this to those who enjoyed Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn or 11/22/63 by Stephen King.

Final Say
I can’t say enough good things about The Shinning Girls.  The writing is snappy, the pacing is excellent, and the book’s concept has had me thinking for days (even months!) after reading it.  It is, to date, my favorite book of the year and one that I am recommending to anyone that will listen.  Seriously, I would be happy to discuss this book in an embarrassing amount of detail.

Check out The Shining Girls from the Bellingham Public Library today!

— Katie

From the Vault: The Shining by Stephen King

New ImpressionsThe Shining Book Cover
The Shining was, and still is, my favorite Stephen King book.  It is a tightly written, page-turner with surprisingly deep subtext.  Additionally, the setting, which is so evocative of Colorado in the early 1980s, adds a familiar and creeping sense dread to the novel that keeps the reader engaged throughout the book.

Drive-By Summary
The Shining follows the Jack, Wendy, and Danny Torrance as they struggle to move beyond their broken past by finding a second chance at the fabled Overlook Hotel deep in the isolated Colorado mountains.

Jack, an erstwhile writer, is hoping that the job will allow him to finish his play, keep him sober, and redeem him in the eyes of his family and former employers.  Wendy, his wife, is hoping the new job will keep their family together.  Danny, who is five and has an unusual talent, doesn’t want to stay at all.  He knows the hotel is alive with unseen horrors and it wants them to stay–forever.

Worth the (re)Read?
Absolutely, this book is firing on all cylinders.  The supernatural elements, Danny’s shining, and Jack’s possession still creep me out, but the frank description and commentary on alcoholism, privilege, and generational domestic violence took me by surprise.  The demons and ghosts that haunt the Overlook are nothing on the guilt, anger, and remorse that haunt Jack Torrance.   No other book would have me cheering for the demise of the hotel while fervently hoping for the redemption of the Torrance family.

Modern Connections
Doctor Sleep Book CoverInterestingly enough, King is putting out a sequel to The Shining next month. Doctor Sleep will follow an adult Danny Torrance as he struggles to protect a young girl with terrifying power not unlike Danny’s own.  I am cautiously excited about it so expect to see a review sometime next month.

The Shining  Movie CoverBut, if sequels aren’t your thing, I will always suggest a re-watch of Stanely Kubrick’s The Shining.  It is a well-constructed, visually stunning movie that is nothing like the book; which, to my mind, is actually a good thing.  (Good film cannot simply regurgitate the same territory that good literature has already explored.)

Room 237 PosterAnd, if you like a good conspiracy theory, check out Room 237.  This unusual feature length documentary attempt to unearth hidden meanings in The Shining using visual and contextual clues – sometimes with hilarious results.

 

 

From the Vault is an irregular feature here at Read More! that reconnects readers to older, recommended books that they might have missed. 

— Katie