Off The Shelves

Making the Leap to Adult Fiction

When you’re used to reading books from the Teen Fiction area, it can be challenging to know how to get started with Adult Fiction. Of course, many adults prefer Teen Fiction for the fast pace, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’re interested in switching things up and exploring a broader range of literature, you might want to start with books that have been named for the Alex Awards. The Alex Awards are given each year to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18, and can be a great way to try something new. Here are the 2022 Alex Award books, just announced on 1/24/22.

The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec    The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

The Witch’s Heart is perfect for everyone who loves stories based on mythology. It’s a retelling from the feminine perspective of a three-times burned witch in Norse mythology. The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is a beautiful inter-generational story about an unlikely friendship that develops through an art class intended for patients under end-of-life care. If you liked The Fault in Our Stars, you’ll love this one!

  

Here’s another mythology-based book, this time in graphic novel format. Lore Olympus, Volume I depicts the love story of Hades, the god of the Underworld, and Persephone, the daughter of Demeter and goddess of spring. Described as both joyful and heart-rending, Light from Uncommon Stars brings together the lives of a young transgender runaway, a violin teacher who’s sold her soul to the devil, and a refugee alien star-ship commander.

 

The Library of the Dead is a dystopian novel set in Scotland. Ghost talker Roya uses her Zimbabwean magic to investigate the mysterious disappearances of missing children. Book two of this series is scheduled for publication in April of 2022. How Lucky is the story of Daniel who has a good friend, a routine that involves football game day in the South, and a debilitating disease that has robbed him of body control and speech. When he is the only witness to a kidnapping, it causes several issues that might risk his life.

   The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

If you enjoyed The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, you’ll also like  Malice, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Kate Quinn is a great author for anyone who likes historical fiction with strong female leads. The Rose Code is set during World War II and revolves around the work done by the women at Bletchley Park. Read this, and then look for Quinn’s new book, The Diamond Eye, coming out in March 2022

  

Winter’s Orbit is science-fiction but combines the intrigue of a thriller and the passion of a romance. An arranged marriage between a prince and a diplomat is meant to strengthen alliances, but suspicions of conspiracy and murder force the new husbands to lay aside their own secrets and work together. The only non-fiction book on this year’s list, Crossing the Line tells about brothers from a disadvantaged neighborhood who find their passion in the sport of polo.

Although I’ve only read 2 of these books, so far, they all sound great for both teens and adults! You can find the titles from previous Alex Awards at https://www.ala.org/yalsa/alex-awards.

We don’t have all of these books yet, but we’ll do our best to get the book you want, if you just let us know!

5 Things You *Probably* Didn’t Know About Anne Perry

“The Cater Street Hangman,” Perry’s first published book

1. Her first book wasn’t published until she was 41.

Perry began writing when she was in her twenties; however, her first book wasn’t picked up for publication until many years later. During the time in between, she held various jobs in clerical work, retail, and fashion, and was also a flight attendant and a limo dispatcher for some time. Despite all these jobs, she knew writing was what she wanted to pursue. She has now published over 100 books, including 3 published as recently as this past year. Her fifth Daniel Pitt book is scheduled to be released sometime in 2022.

2. She won an Edgar Award for her short story “Heroes.”

Perry’s story “Heroes” first appeared in the 1999 anthology Murder and Obsession and won the Edgar Award for Best Short Story in 2001. The Edgar Allan Poe Awards, popularly called the Edgars, are presented every year by the Mystery Writers of America. Named after American writer Edgar Allan Poe, a pioneer in the genre, the awards honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television, film, and theater published or produced in the previous year.

3. She had no formal schooling past the age of 13.

Perry was diagnosed with tuberculosis at the age of 6. She was so severely ill that she missed three years of schooling. Luckily, her mother taught her to read and write, so she was able to catch back up when she returned to school at age 10. However, at 13 she fell seriously ill again and left school permanently.

4. She’s lived in at least five different countries.

Perry was born in London, England in 1938. Her family moved around frequently in her younger years, and sent her to the Bahamas to live with a foster family in hopes that the warmer weather would be better for her illness. As a teen, she moved back with her family to a small island off the coast of New Zealand. In her 20s, Perry returned to England for a while, but eventually made her way to the United States for five years. She once again returned to England when her stepfather became seriously ill. She currently lives in Scotland.

Pauline Parker and Juliet Hulme

5. Her real name is Juliet Hulme.

Perry changed her name after serving five years in prison for murder. At 15 years old she met Pauline Parker. The girls initially bonded over the debilitating illnesses they both had as children, but their relationship quickly became obsessive. When Perry’s family decided to send her to South Africa, the girls could not stand the thought of being separated. Perry’s parents offered to pay for Pauline to come along, but Pauline’s parents refused, thinking it would be best to separate the friends for a while. The girls decided that the only thing keeping them apart was Pauline’s mom Honorah. They believed the only way to stay together was to kill her. Pauline and Juliet planned an outing with Honorah under the guise of a goodbye for Juliet, who would be leaving soon for South Africa. The three of them went on a walk down a wooded path in Victoria Park when the girls bludgeoned Honorah to death with a brick. They were quickly caught, and were both sentenced to five years in separate prisons. The two have not spoken since.

Books by Anne Perry

     

Get Your Cookie On!

Yes, it’s that time of year when ovens across America are heating up, sprinkles are purchased, and cookbooks are inspected for the perfect selection of Christmas cookie recipes. Whether you’re baking only for your family, or whether you’ll be gifting dozens of cookie trays, now is the time to choose your recipes and gather your ingredients. Yes, you can find individual recipes online, but why not check out a whole book?

We have great cookbooks in print at the library, and we have a nice selection of digital cookbooks, if that’s what you prefer.  Check out these seasonal selections as you plan your holiday baking. Some have cookie recipes only, but others contain a variety of items for every sweet tooth.

Cake-Mix Cookies by Camilla Saulsbury Favorite Cookies by the William Sonoma Test Kitchen The Great Christmas Cookie Swap by Good Housekeeping

Christmas Baking by Mia OhrnThe Christmas Cookie Deck by Lou Seibert Pappas Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays by Jeanne Sauvage

Betty Crocker Christmas Cookies American Cookie by Anne Byrn Christmas Cookies

Baking for the Holidays by Sarah Kieffer Christmas with Paula Deen The Gooseberry Patch Christmas Book 14

    Christmas Cookies by Better Homes and GardensCookies for Christmas by FamilyFun magazine

   No-Bake Cookies by Camilla Saulsbury  Best-Ever Cakes & Cookies by Family Circle

 

Diverse Voices

One of the hottest topics in the publishing world these days is the effort to provide books with a variety of authentic perspectives. You will sometimes see #OwnVoices used to designate books written by authors who share an identity with a main character. Often the character is part of a marginalized community. Examples would be Native Americans, people with physical or mental disabilities, immigrants, survivors of abuse, or people in the LGBTQ+ community. These authors bring the richness of personal experience to their writing, and the books often serve to challenge our preconceived ideas about people who are not like us. Reading these books can stretch us intellectually and emotionally and can also help us see the universal human traits that bind us together.

Here are some #OwnVoices selections from the library collection that are great choices for different ages.

Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick D. Barnes Dreamers by Yuyi Morales Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie

El Deafo by Cece Bell George by Alex Gino Amina's Voice by Hena Kahn

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan The Gravity of Us by Phil Stamper Americanized by Sara Saedi

A Pure Heart by Rajia Hassib Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi  The Round House by Louise Erdrich

For help in finding just the right books for you and your family, ask one of our staff members or check out these resources.

This database from Teaching Books allows you to search for diverse books by genre, age level, or cultural identity. This resource is provided by the Indiana State Library, so just select that you are an Indiana resident to get into the database.

DiverseBooks.org also provides great resources for parents, teachers, and librarians, including explaining the importance of diversity in the world of books.

Bleak Books with Olivia: Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Have you ever read a book all the way through just to close it for the last time and say “wow, that was bleak”? Well, I’m here to make the case for those dark, dreary, haunting, and disturbing reads that keep you up at night long after you put them down. Welcome to Bleak Books with Olivia, your resident creepy book lover at the Aurora Public Library District.

Spooky season is upon us, friends, and you know what that means! All things thriller, horror, and cheesy 80’s slasher have returned to my reading list! After scouring the dark corners of the internet for something truly terrifying to read, I came across Riley Sager (or should I call him by his real name, Todd Ritter?). Sager hit it out the park on his first try with Final Girls, a hair-raising novel that follows Quincy Carpenter as she adjusts to her new life as a member of a club no one wants to be a part of: the “Final Girls”, or girls who survived horror movie-level murderous rampages. Just as she starts to settle into this unsettling reality, each one of the “final girls” is picked off one by one. All of his novels have a sense of that classic 80’s horror flick that I just love. I just had to see what all the rage was about, and picked up his newest novel, knowing I wouldn’t regret it.

Survive the Night follows Charlie, a college student in 1991, who is looking for a ride home, and fast. Her roommate was brutally murdered by a serial killer just a couple months ago, and she is riddled with guilt. She may have not been the one who killed her, but she did leave her roommate and best friend alone at a bar that fateful night after a massive fight, and may have even seen the killer, but she just can’t bring herself to remember their face. She posts a carpool request in the student commons and soon meets Josh, a charming older man who offers to drop her off on his way home to Ohio from Olyphant University. The journey starts off smooth, but soon, Charlie develops a suspicion that Josh isn’t who he claims he is. He may even be the Campus Killer himself.

What ensues in this novel is a rollercoaster of events that had me visibly gasping in coffee shops and gripping the armrests of my plane seats. I see lots of book reviews that say “Gripping from start to finish” or some variant of that phrase, but I never truly experienced that until this book. Considering this is my first Riley Sager novel, Id say he’s just gained a permanent fan. He knocked it out of the park on this one, and I can’t wait to read more.

Thank you for joining me on this dissection of one of my favorite Bleak Books. I hope to see you again sometime soon! Please take a look in the Adult Fiction section at the Aurora and Dillsboro Public Libraries for my favorite Bleak Books, or check out our e-books on Overdrive or Libby. If you are looking for this specific title, you can use our catalog to locate it or ask a librarian for help! If you meet me in the library and have any Bleak Books suggestions, please let me know! I’m always looking for a new book to disrupt my life for a couple of weeks.

The #BigLibraryRead with Overdrive and Libby!

Check out November’s Big Library Read! This virtual book club run by Overdrive allows thousands of library patrons like you to check out the same e-book at the same time without any holds or wait lists!

This November, join thousands of other Overdrive and Libby users as we read Five Total Strangers by Natalie D. Richards together! This wild, heart-pounding thriller is sure to keep those (virtual) pages turning. So, cozy up with a new book as the weather gets colder and get reading! Use the hashtag #BigLibraryRead on social media for a chance to win Libby swag, a tablet, and signed books by the author!

If you are new to Overdrive or Libby and would like assistance in setting up your account, please contact the Aurora or Dillsboro Public Libraries or speak to a librarian. We’re here to help!

Historical Series for Kids

If you have elementary age children, you probably already know about the “I Survived” series by Lauren Tarshis. These books have been tremendously popular with kids across the country. Each book is told from the perspective of a child in the middle of a disaster or major event. They’re a fun way to pick up some history while enjoying an action-packed story.

I Survived the Great Chicago Fire, 1871 by Lauren Tarshis I Survived the Children's Blizzard, 1888 by Lauren Tarshis I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863 by Lauren Tarshis I Survived the American Revolution, 1776 by Lauren Tarshis

We also have some older series in juvenile fiction that have been very popular in the past.  Books in the “Dear America” series feature girls as the main characters, while the “My Name is America” books feature boys. Christmas After All is set in Indianapolis and is also written by a Hoosier author, so it’s a great choice for our Fall Beanstack Challenge. These series were both published by Scholastic and written by some of the very best children’s authors. They are notable for the diverse ethnicities of the main characters.

I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly by Joyce Hansen  Christmas After All by Kathryn Lasky West to a Land of Plenty by Jim Murphy So Far From Home by Barry Denenberg

The Journal of Ben Uchida by Barry Denenberg The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung by Laurence Yep The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins by Walter Dean Myers The Journal of Joshua Loper by Walter Dean Myers

The Royal Diary series is all girls; nothing here but queens and princesses. The best thing about this series is that it takes you around the world; it’s not just focused on European royalty.

Marie Antoinette, Princess of Versailles by Kathryn Lasky Kaiulani: The People's Princess by Ellen Emerson White Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile by Kristiana Gregory Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess by Carolyn Meyer

All of these books will enrich your child’s knowledge of the world and give them hours of great reading! Series are actually terrific choices for kids. The standard format of many series makes it easier to get immersed in the story, especially for struggling readers. These books may also start an interest in a person or event that can followed up with some non-fiction reading.

Under the Big Top

Most of you are probably familiar with Sara Gruen’s break-out novel Water for Elephants. It was written in 2006 and turned into a movie in 2011. But have you read any of the other circus books we have in our adult fiction collection? Here’s a quick summary of six circus-related novels, plus one circus memoir.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

 

When his parents are killed in a traffic accident, Jacob Jankowski hops a train after walking out on his final exams at Cornell, where he had hoped to earn a veterinary degree. The train turns out to be a circus train, and since it’s the Depression, when someone with a vet’s skills can attach himself to a circus if he’s lucky, Jacob soon finds himself involved with the animal acts-specifically with the beautiful young Marlena, the horse rider, and her husband, August.  – from Library Journal

 

 

 

 

 

To Fetch a Thief by Spencer Quinn

 

 

To Fetch a Thief is the third book in Spencer Quinn’s Dog On It mystery series.

  • When the elephant star of a traveling circus goes missing along with her trainer, canine detective Chet and his human partner, Bernie Little, follow the missing elephant’s scent out into the desert, where some dangerous people would prefer that Chet and Bernie disappear. – from the publisher

 

 

 

 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

 

 

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors.  – from the publisher

 

 

 

Silence is Golden by Jeanne Dams

 

 

This is Book 4 in the Hilda Johansson series by Hoosier author Jeanne Dams.

The time is 1903; the circus is in town (South Bend, Indiana); and Fritz, a friend of Hilda’s younger brother, decides he wants to join up and become a trapeze artist. Then the real trapeze artists, the Stupendous Shaws, disappear. So does Fritz, who eventually turns up hiding in a barn, brutally beaten and claiming that he was abused. To make matters even more confusing, Hilda’s brother, Erik, also vanishes. – from Booklist

 

 

 

The Circus in Winter by Cathy Day

Did you know that many traveling circuses used to winter over in Indiana. Cathy Day’s book The Circus in Winter is a series of interconnected short stories about the performers in one of those circuses.

Drawing on observations made during her own childhood in Peru, Indiana, home of the International Circus Hall of Fame, Day strips away the grease paint and costumes of clowns, elephant trainers, and steel-nerved acrobats to reveal lives as messy as any found in mainstream America. Meticulously researched and graced with a dozen lovely black-and-white historical circus photographs, this is a fun way to explore a slice of Indiana history.

– from Library Journal

 

 

 

The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers

 

 

The Ladies of the Secret Circus shares some of the fantasy aspects of The Night Circus.

Lara Barnes grew up hearing tales of her family’s long-retired circus, and its allure never faded away for her as an adult. After her fiancé goes missing on their wedding day, she is understandably distraught, especially when it seems her mother knows more about the situation than she lets on. As Lara unravels the mystery with the town’s chief of police, she discovers more about her family’s past, including a different, secret circus that remains legendary decades after its last performance. This is recommended for readers who don’t mind genre-bending or who enjoy time-slipping fiction.

– from Booklist

 

Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi

 

Finally, a memoir: Cremonesi never set out to join the circus, yet this young woman from Oregon ends up swimming with sharks and riding an ostrich with one of Italy’s most famous circuses, Circo Moira Orfei. Cremonesi’s memoir is saturated with descriptive language and emotion, as she tells the story of how, at 23, she becomes a dancing girl in a traveling circus and falls in love with Stefano, the passionate Italian elefanti caretaker.  – from Booklist

 

Bleak Books with Olivia: The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

Have you ever read a book all the way through just to close it for the last time and say “wow, that was bleak”? Well, I’m here to make the case for those dark, dreary, haunting, and disturbing reads that keep you up at night long after you put them down. Welcome to Bleak Books with Olivia, your resident creepy book lover at the Aurora Public Library District.

Ah, finally, a return to my comfort zone: a dark academia murder mystery. After finishing Michaelides’s first novel, The Silent Patient, I was ravenous for more. Here in Bleak Books world, we love a good, shocking, knock-you-off-your-feet psychological thriller, and boy did Michaelides deliver. Then, after that book left a void in my life, I read the description for his next release: another psychological thrill ride with a crazy twist ending, but this time, with a dash of dark academia, the genre that’s taking the literary world by storm right now. So of course I put my name on the waiting list and read it as fast as possible as soon as I got it. Now, it’s time to reflect on the madness that is The Maidens. Let us begin, shall we?

Amazon.com: The Maidens: 9781250304452: Michaelides, Alex: Books

Mariana Andros is a group therapist living alone in London, grieving the sudden loss of her husband. Her niece, Zoe, calls her from school at Cambridge one evening in distress. There’s been a murder and Zoe’s best friend is the victim. Mariana comes to comfort Zoe, whom she raised as one of her own after her parents were tragically killed in a car accident, but she ends up staying to investigate the strange murder after she comes across an odd and seemingly sinister group of students led by the charismatic Classics professor, Edward Fosca. These girls call themselves the Maidens and have dedicated their lives to Fosca, whose strange and enigmatic presence combined with his talent for lecturing has drawn the interest of many students and faculty alike. Mariana finds herself drawn into the intertwined lives of these young women as one by one, they are picked off by the killer. Mariana knows in her heart it must be Fosca, but the truth is never all that it seems.

Set against the old, vine-covered academic setting of Cambridge University, this gripping story will shock you to your core. I was enthralled from start to finish, so invested in Fosca’s life that I felt I was a Maiden myself at times. Throughout the book, personal letters written by the killer themselves are sprinkled in, creating a three-dimensional image of a murderer before we ever meet them. The end is something you will NEVER see coming, I guarantee it. I would recommend reading The Silent Patient first, just because!

Thank you for joining me on this dissection of one of my favorite Bleak Books. I hope to see you again sometime soon! Please take a look in the Adult Fiction section at the Aurora and Dillsboro Public Libraries for my favorite Bleak Books. If you are looking to check out this specific title, please look on the New Books shelf at the Aurora Public Library. If you meet me in the library and have any Bleak Books suggestions, please let me know! I’m always looking for a new book to disrupt my life for a couple of weeks.

5 Things You *Probably* Didn’t Know About Sylvia Plath

Sylvia Plath was an American novelist, poet, and short-story writer. She is known for her confessional poetry collections The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel. Many of her previously unpublished works were published as The Collected Poems after her death in 1981. The collection won Plath the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1982, making her the fourth to receive this honor posthumously.

Triple-Face Portrait by Sylvia Plath.

1. She also wrote children’s books.

Though none of them were published while Plath was alive, a small collection of children’s stories were found among her writings after she died. One, The-It-Doesn’t-Matter-Suit tells the story of 7 year-old Max Nix and his mustard yellow suit. Max was the youngest of seven brothers. Two of the brothers were named Otto and Emil- her father’s names.

2. She originally pursued Studio Art.

When Plath attended Smith College in 1950 she initially wanted to major in Studio Art. However, once her professors realized what a gifted writer she was, they encouraged her to pursue an English degree instead. In 2017, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery mounted a retrospective of her work. It was on display until 2018.

A copy of The Bell Jar with the pseudonym Victoria Lucas.

3. The Bell Jar was initially published under a pseudonym.

When it was originally published in 1963, The Bell Jar was published under the name Victoria Lucas. It wasn’t until after Plath’s death that it was published under her real name. The Bell Jar is a semi-autobiographical novel portraying Plath’s struggles with mental illness. Colossus was the only large work published under Plath’s name while she was alive.

4. Her estranged husband received backlash following her death.

Plath was married to Ted Hughes for 6 years before Plath learned he was having an affair. They separated in July of 1962. Though they were not together, they were still legally married at the time of Plath’s death, meaning Hughes inherited the Plath estate and all of her written work. He has received backlash for burning Plath’s last journal and for losing a different journal and an unfinished novel. It is rumored that those writings contained allegations of abuse that Hughes did not want anyone to see. Some people were also angry that Plath’s tombstone read “Sylvia Plath Hughes” despite the fact that she and Hughes were separated when she died.

TW: Depression & Suicide

5. She struggled with severe mental health problems.

Plath suffered from severe depression all of her life.  In 1953, she attempted suicide for the first time. She spent the next six months in psychiatric care, receiving electric and insulin shock treatment. She attempted again in 1962 by driving her car into a river. By 1963, Plath was receiving daily visits from her doctor and had a live-in nurse to take care of both her and her children. On February 11, 1963, Plath’s nurse found her in her apartment dead of intentional carbon monoxide poisoning. She had the room sealed off with towels and cloths to protect her children. She was 30 years old.