Off The Shelves

Modern-Day Retellings of Classics

One popular writing trend that never seems to go out of style is the rehashing of familiar stories by making them relevant to today. It is always interesting to see how various authors interpret old classics, because each spin-off or retelling is different. Here is a short list of modern-day retellings of favorite stories that you can check out today:

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

The Spring Sisters by Anna Todd

Dorothy Must Die series by Danielle Page

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Graham-Smith

Splintered series by A.G. Howard

The Fall by Bethany Griffin

Wicked series by Gregory Maguire

Cinder series by Marissa Meyer

A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas

Bright Smoke, Cold Fire by Rosamund Hodge

Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry

Vinegar Girl by Anne Tyler

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood

New Boy by Tracy Chevalier

Macbeth by Jo Nesbo

After Alice by Gregory Maguire

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Longbourn by Jo Baker

Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid

Emma by Alexander McCall Smith

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire

Circe by Madeline Miller

Fairest by Gail Carson Levine

Beastly by Alex Finn

March by Geraldine Brooks

Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley

Before Green Gables by Budge Wilson

The Mists of Avalon series by Marion Zimmer Bradley

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

Can you tell what each title is a retelling of? What’s your favorite modern-day retelling of an old classic? Mine would probably have to be Wicked by Gregory Maguire! Let us know in the comments!

Happy Reading!

Standalone Central

I’ll be the first to acknowledge how much I love series. I love getting to really know the characters in multiple installments rather than trying to glean anything I can in the limited amount of pages offered by a standalone novel. Aside from some nonfiction books, like memoirs or essay collections, I don’t tend to read many standalones. That being said, I’m going through a standalone novel phase that I’m not really sure how I got into, but I’m a little reluctant to pull myself out of and delve into another series.

Here are some standalones that I’m a little bit obsessed with at the moment:

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

Only Child by Rhiannon Navin

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Marlena by Judy Buntin

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Circe by Madeline Miller

The Spring Girls by Anna Todd

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

How to Stop Time by Matt Haig

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhorn

Oliver Loving by Stefan Merrill Block

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao

As Bright as Heaven by Susan Meissner

White Houses by Amy Bloom

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern (Which we’ll be reading for Stuck Between the Pages, the high school age book discussion for May!)

Here are some standalone novels that have been near and dear to my heart since I have read them in years past:

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cell by Stephen King

P.S. I Love You by Cecilia Ahern

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Where the Heart Is by Billie Lets

The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood

The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

And by Jodi Picoult, one of my favorite authors:

The Storyteller

The Pact

Leaving Time

Nineteen Minutes

My Sister’s Keeper

Plain Truth

Salem Falls

Second Glance

It helps that I read/listen to multiple books at a time, so while I can lose myself in various series, I can learn to love something new in a standalone. I commend authors who can pack character development, a believable story arc, and grip/keep my attention in one novel.

What are some of your favorite standalone novels? I’d love any recommendations you could give!

Happy Reading!

Binge-Worthy Shows to Watch After the Book

In the age of Netflix, Hulu, and DVR, do people still watch TV shows the times that they’re on and wait a week for the next episode? I would much rather jump into a show late in the game so I can binge-watch as many episodes as I can, one after the other, without waiting for the next one. It’s because I have no patience; it’s the same reason I read the last page of every book I get first to see what the outcome will be and if the book will be worth my time.

I’m not even sorry.

Did you know that many of the most binge-worthy shows on television and television platforms were actually based on books first? If you’re anything like me and need to know what happens before it happens to the characters, check out these books before watching its television counterpart! The Aurora Public Library District also owns several of these shows (look for the *) as well for you to check out on DVD.

On Netflix:

13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher

The Shannara Chronicles series by Terry Brooks

House of Cards by Michael Dobbs*

Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar

A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket

Pretty Little Liars series by Sara Shepard

The Vampire Diaries series by L.J. Smith*

Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman*

The Walking Dead comic book series by Robert Kirkman*

Dexter series by Jeffry Lindsay

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Longmire series by Craig Johnson*

The Carrie Diaries by Candace Bushnell

Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan (ILL)

Anne with an E (Based on the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery)

Sherlock (Based on the Sherlock Holmes novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)*

Mindhunter by John Douglas

Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy (ILL)

Hulu:

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Rizzoli & Isles series by Tess Gerritsen

Bones (Based on the Temperance Brennan series by Kathy Reichs)*

Castle Rock (Based on stories by Stephen King)

HBO:

True Blood (Based on the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris)

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin*

Starz:

Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon*

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

The White Queen series by Philippa Gregory

Amazon Prime:

Poldark series by Winston Graham*

Call the Midwife (Based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth)

Justified (Based on the Raylan Givens series by Elmore Leonard)*

Epix:

Get Shorty by Elmore Leonard

Regular Television:

The Magicians by Lev Grossman

The Alienist by Caleb Carr

Instinct (Based on Murder Games by James Patterson)

The Terror by Dan Simmons

Lucifer (Based on the Sandman series by Neil Gaiman)

Famous in Love by Rebecca Serle (ILL)

Midnight, Texas series by Charlaine Harris

Elementary (Based on the Sherlock Holmes novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)*

The 100 series by Kass Morgan

More:

Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger*

Under the Dome by Stephen King*

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (Miniseries)

Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell

Castle series by Richard Castle (Tie-in novels)*

New Shows Airing in 2018:

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn (HBO)

C.B. Strike (Based on the Cormoran Strike series by J.K. Rowling HBO)

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton (PBS)

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (HBO)

Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler (Starz)

What is your favorite television adaptation from a book? Mine is a toss-up between Outlander and Gossip Girl. Allegedly Hulu bought the rights to Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series to be made into a television show; if you know anything about me, you know that I’m still jumping up and down with excitement.

Interested in more? Check out this blog on Goodreads for more movies and television shows based on books coming out this spring.

Happy Reading (and Watching)!

The Rockton series by Kelley Armstrong

Rockton

 

ADULT / MYSTERY / SERIES

Don’t look for Rockton on any map of the Yukon. This tiny, off-the-grid town doesn’t exist. Neither do the people in it. They’re all on the run from their pasts, needing a place where they can disappear for a few years.

Casey’s best friend, Diana, is on the run from a violent, abusive ex-husband. When Diana’s husband finds her, and Casey herself is attacked shortly after, Casey knows it’s time for the two of them to disappear again.

Diana has heard of a town made for people like her, a town that takes in people on the run who want to shed their old lives. You must apply to live in Rockton and if you’re accepted, it means walking away entirely from your old life, and living off the grid in the wilds of Canada: no cell phones, no Internet, no mail, no computers, very little electricity, and no way of getting in or out without the town council’s approval. As a murderer, Casey isn’t a good candidate, but she has something they want: She’s a homicide detective, and Rockton has just had its first real murder. She and Diana are in. However, soon after arriving, Casey realizes that the identity of a murderer isn’t the only secret Rockton is hiding—in fact, she starts to wonder if she and Diana might be in even more danger in Rockton than they were in their old lives.

I am currently reading book three and have truly enjoyed this series. The setting is perfect for a good mystery and the character of Casey is believable, flawed, but very much likeable nonetheless.

 

Series Starters: The Red Queen

Fantastical, dystopian societies are all the rage with young adult fiction these days, and The Red Queen series by Victoria Aveyard fits right in.

The world is divided in two, by blood; Red or Silver. People with Red blood are normal humans, but people with Silver blood are elite, with special powers that set them above the Red-blooded. Mare Barrow is a poor Red, just barely scraping by with her family until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Despite her red blood, Mare discovers that she possesses powers of her own that threatens to destroy the careful balance of power. The Silvers who discover her powers hide her in plain sight, claiming Mare is a lost Silver princess who is now engaged to a Silver prince. Carefully walking the razor edge between Mare’s compliance and her death, she decides to aid a Red alliance to overthrow the Silvers from power.

The Aurora Public Library District owns the first three books in the series, with the fourth and final book expected to be published sometime in 2018. The Indiana Digital Download Center also has the first three books as well as two prequels and audio books. Check these out today!

Happy Reading!

Series Starters: The Waking Land

The Waking Land by Callie Bates was just released in June of 2017, but I’m already sucked into the hype and can’t wait for the second book to be released in May of 2018. This novel would probably be categorized in the genre New Adult, which is the in-between phase of books with characters between the ages of about eighteen and thirty.

The Waking Land begins with the kidnapping of Elanna Valtai, a five-year-old girl with incredible powers  who is the daughter of a duke and duchess in the north, where magic is still possible and the very earth is alive. Elanna is raised by King Antoine like a daughter, but is still ostracized by members of his court. Falsely accused of his murder, Alanna must flee with a band of rebels to the north, back home, where her dormant powers begin to awaken. Chock-full of magic and adventures, this novel will keep you on the edge of your seat and second-guessing until the very last page.

Elanna’s first-person, present-tense narration keeps the story directly in front of you, so you feel like you’re witnessing the events of the novel right alongside Elanna, Jahan, Sophie, Finn, and the rest of the characters. Your heart will pound when they’re being chased or captured, you will weep when key characters are killed, and you will rejoice when they rejoice. I’m excited to see how the rest of the series will turn out, especially since the second book is told from Jahan’s point of view.

Happy Reading!

Series Starters: Me Before You

A couple years ago, the novel Me Before You by Jojo Moyes was one of the most popular books in the country, largely due to the fact of the release of the movie of the same name. What many might not know is that Louisa Clark’s story continued with a second and third book (the third book was just published in January; will there be a fourth?). And while there have been mixed reviews from readers about the continuation of Lou’s life, I believe that it’s important to see how she grows in each book as well as how she’s living her fullest life.

Louisa Clark is nothing special; her life is exceedingly ordinary (read: boring), and she’s content to keep it that way. That is, until she loses her job and is forced to take a new one as the caretaker of wheelchair-bound, paraplegic Will Traynor, who used to have the world at his feet. His life used to be anything but extraordinary, but after his accident, he turned bitter. Lou is different than all his other caretakers, though, and refuses to treat him with the delicacy he hates. When Lou discovers something shocking about Will’s future plans for his life, she decides it’s up to her to prove to Will that any life is a life worth living.

I read Me Before You right around the time all the hype surrounding the upcoming release of the movie started; typically, when it seems like the whole world can’t stop ranting and raving about a particular book, I have to read it to see what all the fuss is about. And I’m so glad I did. Not many books can bring me to tears, but this one did. My favorite part about the first two books is how you can actually watch Lou develop as a character throughout the pages. I’m so excited for the third book in this series because I have to know what happens next!

You can check out this series and other books by Jojo Moyes from the Aurora Public Library District or digitally from the Indiana Digital Download Center.

Happy Reading!

Classic Series Starters: Anne of Green Gables

Wholesome. That’s the best word I can think of to describe the Anne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery. This series is easily a classic, with feisty, redheaded, freckle-faced orphan Anne (with an E!) Shirley leading the way. With the popularity of the Netflix series soaring, as well as in the wake of the many television and film adaptations of Anne Shirley, it’s important to remember where she got her start.

Anne of Green Gables was first published by L.M. Montgomery in 1908, and has been considered a children’s novel since the middle of the twentieth century. The first in the series tells about an orphan girl named Anne Shirley who was sent by mistake instead of the boy brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert requested to help out around their farm. The book is filled with Anne’s attempt to win the Cuthberts over so they won’t send her back to the orphanage, but her temper and her mouth always seem to get in the way. Even though she has a heart of gold, Anne can’t seem to keep her opinions to herself when it comes to bullies, teachers, and classmates, alike. Anne grows from age eleven to sixteen in the first book, making and losing friendships, getting herself in and out of scrapes, and relying on her imagination and wits to see her through.

There are eight novels total in the Anne of Green Gables universe that follow Anne into adulthood and beyond. For over one hundred years, these books have been classics in almost everyone’s childhood.

Happy Reading!

The Olympics: Books to Read & DVDs to Watch

The 2018 Olympic Games will take place February 9 through 25 in PyeongChang, South Korea. Some popular events include figure skating, skiing, curling, ice hockey, luging, snowboarding, and speed skating. The Aurora Public Library District has plenty to offer to get you as excited as you can about this global tradition.

Nonfiction:

Rome 1960: The Olympics that Changed the World by David Maraniss

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold in the 1936 Olympics by Daniel Brown

A Skating Life: My Story by Dorothy Hamill

Relentless Spirit by Missy Franklin

Miracle on Ice by the Staff of the New York Times

The Treasures of the Olympic Winter Games by Martha McIntosh

I Got This: To Gold and Beyond by Laurie Hernandez

Unbroken: An Olympian’s Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive by Laura Hillenbrand

Olympic Portraits by Annie Leibovitz

6 Below by Eric LeMarque and Davin Seay

Fiction:

Running the Rift by Naomi Benaron

Swift Edge by Laura A.H. DiSilverio

Winners by Danielle Steel

The Games by James Patterson

Gold by Chris Cleave

Garden of Beasts: A Novel of Berlin 1936 by Jeffrey Deaver

DVDs:

Cool Runnings

Eddie the Eagle

Race

Miracle

Be sure to check out the Olympics display featured at the Aurora Public Library on the stairwell between the first and second floors! What’s your favorite event of the Olympics?

Happy Reading!

Home Improvement

If you’ve been following my Cooking with Shelby blogs, you know that I’ve been trying to become a real-life grown-up. Recently, my husband and I have the opportunity to move into our first real house as a married couple. This new house is all open, which means there won’t be much hiding our clutter (read: junk) in a back room that no one ever goes into (Who does that?? Also: I do that.). It’s an older house, too, which means that it could use some modern improvements, like updated floors and appliances. Boring.

What isn’t boring, though, is the fact that I get to paint and decorate the house however I want to. We’ve been perusing home improvement stores and websites, and I wondered if the Aurora Public Library District would have anything I could use.

I was in luck! The library has plenty of volumes about home improvement and home decorating. Where should I start?

We have books on kitchen remodeling, bathroom makeovers, and exterior home repairs. We have books on DIY plumbing, wiring, and other home projects. We also have books on decorating your new space, or sprucing up your old space. We have information on painting, choosing and installing new floors, and, you know, books on how to keep your new house clean once it’s pieced together the way you want it.

Once you’re in your new home, maybe you’ll want to start a garden. I thought about it, but I’m worried I’ll kill the poor plants before they sprout. Luckily, we have plenty of beginning gardening books to get me started!

Sometimes I think about a project I would like to do after the library has closed. Luckily, the Indiana Digital Download Center also has a wide variety of home improvement , design, and decorating information that I can download right to my Kindle from home without ever leaving the house!

I’m so excited to get started renovating my new home! Hopefully you’re excited, too, to start your next big project!

Happy Reading!