Espionage Thrillers

There’s just nothing like a great spy novel to get your heart racing and the pages turning! Of course, the espionage genre is filled with unforgettable classics by authors like John Le Carre, Graham Greene, Frederick Forsyth and Robert Ludlum.  However, the authors writing spy novels today can hold their own with even the best of these well-known novelists. Check out these titles, all written in the last ten years. There’s a lot of variety in the settings, including World War I, World War II, the Cold War, and post 9/11. I hope you will find at least one new author to love.

The Cairo Affair by Olen Steinhauer  Mission to Paris by Alan Furst  The Moroccan Girl by Charles Cummings

Moscow Sting by Ales Dryden  The Night Agent by Matthew Quirk  An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris

Palace of Treason by Jason Matthews  Red Star Falling by Brian Freemantle  Dragonfly by Leila Meacham

The Shanghai Factor by Charles McCarry  Too Bad to Die by Francine Mathews  The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

Young Philby by Robert Littell  Leaving Berlin by Joseph Kanon  The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Let us know which spy is your favorite!

“Most spies were amateurs: frustrated revolutionaries of the left or right, people who wanted the imaginary glamour of espionage, greedy men or lovesick women or blackmail victims. The few professionals were very dangerous indeed; they were not merciful men.”
Ken Follett, Eye of the Needle

Sweet Chariot by Virginia Rep on Tour

You’re invited to a FREE public performance of Sweet Chariot, presented by the Virginia Repertory Theatre on Tour. The play will be held at the Aurora City Park Pavilion on Thursday, February 27th at 11:00 AM.

Virginia Rep’s production of Sweet Chariot shares the narratives of the ex-enslaved, as told to WPA writers. These stories were compiled in the‘Slave Narrative Collection’. Over two thousand interviews with former enslaved people were conducted in seventeen states during the years 1936-38. Virginia Rep combines these first-hand accounts of life as an enslaved person and emancipation with enslaved spirituals to recreate a world of longing and hope in Sweet Chariot.

The spirituals not only held religious meaning for African-American enslaved people, they also served as a means of communication, especially along the Underground Railroad. Through spirituals that served as coded messages, enslaved people could issue a warning to others or communicate plans for escape or uprising. The play asks, “Did you make history today?” Enrich your history by experiencing the rich historical narratives and spirituals that tell the stories of African-American enslaved people in Sweet Chariot.

Call of the Wild: an American Classic

Hollywood often turns to literature for inspiration. In the past two months we’ve seen new versions of Little Women and Dr. Doolittle. The newest adaptation of Jack London’s Call of the Wild will be released in theaters on February 21st and looks very promising. Call of the Wild is a very short novel; it was first published in four installments in the Saturday Evening Post. That makes it a great book to read with your family before seeing the film!

Jack London had spent a year in the Yukon at the height of the gold rush, and he wrote Call of the Wild after returning to California. He sold the publishing rights in 1903 and the book has been in print ever since.

The book is obviously in the genre of animal fiction, but Call of the Wild by Jack Londoncan also be looked at as a hero story, and it follows the example of other American classics like Huckleberry Finn in its depiction of a hero returning to nature.

White Fang by Jack London

 

After reading Call of the Wild, you’ll want to also check out London’s other dog story, White Fang.

 

Together We Read

The Aurora Public Library District joins nearly 16,000 libraries and thousands of readers across the country in offering the first Together We Read: US digital book club selection. From February 19–March 4, Aurora Public Library District patrons can enjoy and discuss award-winning author Pat Simmons’ new Lean on Me romance e-book for free with no waitlists or holds. Readers can access the e-book with a valid library card by visiting https://iddc.overdrive.com/iddc-aurora/content or by downloading the Libby app, and then can participate in a discussion with other readers online.

Lean on Me tells the story of Tabitha Knicely, a woman overwhelmed with sorrow and exhaustion caring for her beloved great-aunt, whose dementia is getting worse. When her neighbor Marcus Whittington accuses Tabitha of elder neglect, he doesn’t realize how his threats to have Aunt Tweet taken away add to Tabitha’s pain. Then Marcus gets to know the exuberant elderly lady and sees up close how hard Tabitha is fighting to keep everything together. Tabitha finds herself leaning on Marcus more, and he’s becoming more than happy to share her burdens.

The Together We Read: US digital book club connects readers in America through public libraries with the same e-book at the same time. This two-week program only requires an Aurora Public Library District card  and PIN to get started.

The Struggle for Civil Rights

The fight for Civil Rights in America is a continuing struggle, but it’s often difficult to know how to discuss these issues with our children. Here are some resources from the Aurora Public Library District that can help you on that path. Click on each picture to see the full description of the book in our online catalog. Some of my choices are for young children and others are more appropriate for older students, but reading the descriptions or clicking on the “Reviews” link for that book will often show you a recommended age level.

The quotations on this blog post are all from the book Powerful Words: More than 200 Years of Extraordinary Writing by African-Americans.

Heart and Soul by Kadir Nelson

 

 

“… however variable we may be in society or religion, however diversified in situation or colour, we are all of the same family…”        Benjamin Banneker in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 1791

 

 

 

 

 

Yours for Justice, Ida B. Wells by Philip Dray

 

 

 

” The student of American sociology will find the year 1894 marked by a pronounced awakening of the public conscience to a system of anarchy and outlawry which has grown during a series of ten years to be so common, that scenes of unusual brutality failed to have any visible effect upon the humane sentiments of the people of our land.”

Ida B. Wells in A Red Record, 1895

 

 

 

Remember by Toni Morrison  A Sweet Smell of Roses by Angela Johnson

“…the Fourteenth Amendment prevents states from according differential treatment to American children on the basis of their color or race.”   – Thurgood Marshall in Brown vs. Board of Education, 1953

Rosa by Nikki Giovanni   Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds

“I was determined to achieve the total freedom that our history lessons taught us we were entitled to, no matter what the sacrifice.”    – Rosa Parks in Rosa Parks: My Story

Don't Hold Me Back by Winfred Rembert   Spies of Mississippi by Rick Bowers

“My right and privilege to stand here before you has been won – won in my lifetime – by the blood and the sweat of the innocent.”    – Jesse Jackson, 1988

When Thunder Comes by J. Patrick Lewis Martin & Mahalia by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Brian Pinkney

“Now, more than ever before, America is challenged to bring her noble dream into reality, and those who are working to implement the American dream are the true saviors of democracy.”   – Martin Luther King, 1961

What Do You Do with a Voice Like That? by Chris Barton

 

 

 

“We are attempting to fulfill our national purpose, to create and sustain a society in which all of us are equal.”   – Barbara Jordan, 1976

 

 

 

Love Your Library and Love Your Community

February is National Library Lovers Month, and we’re asking you to show your love by donating cans of food to the Aurora Public Library District. For each item you bring in, we’ll reduce any outstanding fines on your library account by $1.00. Then, we’ll spread the love by donating the food to a local food pantry. Food items must not be expired, and cans must be undented and have a label.

As most of you know, outstanding fines or fees in excess of $5.00 prevent you from checking out Library materials. That makes us sad, so this is a great way to clear some of those pesky fines and to get back the ability to make full use of the Library’s wonderful resources. Fines for late, lost, or damaged items can be reduced through this program. Fees for printing, earbuds, Inter-Library Loans, PLAC cards, or non-resident cards cannot be reduced by bringing in food items.

Please pass the word to anyone you know who may have outstanding fines, so they can start using the library again!

We will be accepting donations through Saturday, February 29th.

Most Beautiful Book Cover

In February, the Aurora Public Library District will be hosting our first ever Beautiful Book Cover contest. We’ve all had that experience of seeing an absolutely gorgeous book for the first time! Now’s your chance to vote on your favorite. Yes, this is extremely subjective, and the contestants were selected by a possibly biased staff member, but let’s all celebrate the creativity and artistic ability of cover designers.

Here’s how the contest works. Beginning on February 1st, displays will be up at all three Library buildings. You can only vote once! Just take a ballot and record your 1st and 2nd choices for Most Beautiful cover. There will also be a space to write in a choice for “Most Inviting” (like “Miss Congeniality”). “Most Inviting” is for the cover that makes you most likely to read the book. Write-in candidates are allowed. Voting will also be allowed through the Library Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/eAPLD.org/

You can vote through Saturday, February 22nd and the winners will be announced on February 25th. Everyone who participates will also get a chance to enter a drawing to win a bit of library swag!

The City of Light

Are you ready for some adventure? Just sit back and get comfortable, because these books will whisk you away to the City of Light! Of course, the library has many books set in Paris. This is just a small selection to get you started; you can choose the one that seems the most interesting to you.

A Garden in Paris by Stephanie Grace Whitson  The House I Loved by Tatiana De Rosnay  The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

The Good Thief's Guide to Paris by Chris Ewan  The Bones of Paris by Laurie R. King The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Paris was the Place by Susan Conley  The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell  The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan

While you’re in the library, pick up one of our Paris-themed DVDs to set the stage.

Gigi DVD An American in Paris DVD Hugo DVD Midnight in Paris DVD

To learn more about the sights and neighborhoods of Paris, check out our newest Fodor’s guide or the non-fiction book Five Nights in Paris by John Baxter.

Fodor's Paris 2020  Five Nights in Paris by John Baxter

“He who contemplates the depths of Paris is seized with vertigo.
Nothing is more fantastic. Nothing is more tragic.
Nothing is more sublime.”
Victor Hugo

Chinese New Year

 

In 2020, Chinese New Year begins on January 25th and ends on February 4th and it would be a great time to explore this Asian holiday by sharing some of our children’s books with your family.

Goldy Luck and the Three Pandas by Natasha Yim

The Dancing Dragon by Marcia Vaughan  Long-Long's Newyear by Catherine Gower

Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragon Boats discusses several Chinese holiday and has great recipes and activities for celebrating the Chinese New Year. D is for Dancing Dragon will give you additional information about Chinese culture.

Moonbeams, Dumplings, & Dragon Boats by Nina Simonds  D is for Dancing Dragon by Carol Crane

Older children who read or listen to chapter books will enjoy the next three titles with ties to the Chinese holiday. 2020 is the Year of the Rat, so Grace Lin’s book is a perfect choice. You may also want to read The Year of the Dog by Lin.

Happy New Year, Julie by Megan McDonald The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao The Year of the Rat by Grace Lin