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!

The Iron Druid Series

Fans of Kevin Hearne are excited and heartbroken (if it is possible to be both) at the announcement of the final installment in the Iron Druid series. Fans of  mythology, talking Irish wolfhounds and great storytelling will love this series. It is set in our world (the first couple of books are set in Tempe, Arizona) where supernatural creatures exist, such as witches, vampires, werewolves, as well as gods and goddesses from various mythologies. The series is told in the first-person point-of-view of Atticus O’Sullivan (aka. Siodhachan O Suileabhain), a Druid who owns and runs an occult bookshop, Third Eye Books and Herbs, as he gets embroiled in the day-to-day struggle of gods and goddesses and other supernatural creatures. I have truly enjoyed this series. I will certainly mourn the loss of Atticus and his dog Oberon. Visit Kevin’s webpage at https://kevinhearne.com/ for more entertaining antics and info written by the dog.

The following open letter is from Kevin to his fans announcing SCOURGED:

Hey there, Spiffy Humans!

It’s a bit bewildering to be writing this letter to you. When I began writing Hounded in 2008, I had no idea that I was beginning a ten-year odyssey that would see the publication of nine Iron Druid novels, five novellas, and myriad short stories. I wrote Hounded to scratch several itches: the desire to present Irish paganism in more depth than a couple of its more popular goddesses, while simultaneously presenting all faiths as equally valid; to geek out about pop culture one moment and Shakespeare the next; speculate about what a long life would do to the psyche of humans and gods; and to indulge my boundless affection for doggies and their infinite appreciation of simple things.

I figure we could all stand to be reminded that simple pleasures are the best, and that’s part of the reason why Oberon the Irish wolfhound has become so popular. What’s not to like about sausage and gravy? Or poodles, for that matter. Belly rubs and naps. And maybe just a dash of conspiracy theory for drama, like the absolute fact that squirrels are most definitely planning to kill us all, and somewhere on the outskirts of Seattle, a scientist in a secret lab has created the Triple Nonfat Double Bacon Five-Cheese Mocha. Living in the present for such pleasures is the key to achieving a hound’s best life, and Oberon reminds Atticus that despite the trials of his past, much remains to be loved today-right now!-and we, too, could use a friend like him to point out that even in the midst of a rather rough world, there is still plenty in this moment to savor and cherish.

I certainly hope you’ll savor the last book of the Iron Druid Chronicles, Scourged, which wraps up many of the series’ long-running conflicts and leaves us with the possibility of revisiting the world later on. I’m currently working on two other series (The Seven Kennings and the Tales of Pell with Delilah S. Dawson), but there is room for further adventures should my schedule (and the Muses) allow. But this particular story arc with Atticus has been building to a head for a long while. Seeds of the final conflict and its resolution can be seen not only in the previous books, but in short stories like “The Chapel Perilous” that I originally wrote for an anthology, novellas like Grimoire of the Lamb, and most especially “Cuddle Dungeon,” a story I wrote for the Besieged collection.

It’s been a tremendous privilege to write these books and I thank you all for reading. May harmony (and sausage) find you.

Peace & whiskey,

Kevin Hearne

#OnMyShelf

#OnMyShelf is a blog series in which I’ll share some of the books that are currently housed at my house on my shelves. I’ll pick random books and tell you a bit about that specific book, the story behind the purchase, and if I’ve read it, what I thought about it.

Titanic: The Longest Night is an enlightening and tragic tale of two teenage couples on the doomed Titanic. The story is written beautifully and will make any heart beat and weep for the tragic tale of the Titanic.

This book was actually bought for me by my grandmother. Within the cover of the book is a small little note to me from her and I’ve cherished the book ever since. It took me some time to read it, but once I did, I didn’t regret it.

Though, I didn’t know there was a sequel to the series until just this moment when I was searching for a picture of the book and saw the second book. Of course, it’ll be one I read, eager to delve into more history.

We do not have any copies of the book but don’t worry. You can always request the book through our ILL (Inter-Library Loan) services! Just call or come in to request!

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!

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!

Reading Challenge for 2018

I know it’s crazy to even write the year 2018, but it will soon be upon us! Are you looking for your next reading challenge? Here are some suggestions that might help you get started!

Read a book recommended to you by a librarian. (This is easy because we LOVE to recommend books to you here at the Aurora Public Library District! Or you can always check the blog to see what books we’ve been writing and raving about.)

Read a book that’s been in your “To Be Read” pile for way too long. Or read a book that you own but you haven’t gotten around to reading yet.

Listen to an audiobook. (This is easy for people who love audiobooks, but for those who have a hard time letting go of the words on the page, it can be a real challenge! You can do it!)

Read a book where the main character or the author is different than you; this could be ethnicity, religion, culture, ability, etc. Try to see the world through someone else’s eyes. You could also read a book from a nonhuman perspective.

Read a book written by multiple authors. (See if you can pick out the different writing styles of each author as you go along.)

Read a book written by someone you admire.

Read a classic. Or you could read a book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t. (I won’t tell.) You could even read a children’s book you never got to read when you were small.

Read a book by an author who uses a pseudonym.

Read a bestseller from a genre you wouldn’t usually read.

Read the first book in a series you’ve never read before.

Read a book that was published in 2018 or that is becoming a movie that year.

Read a book that was published the year you were born.

Read a book set in more than one time period.

Read a book based on a true story.

Read a book you love so much, it always makes you smile. This could even be a beloved children’s book.

Read a book that someone close to you loves more than any other book that you’ve never read before.

Read a book set somewhere drastic, like during a war, in the wilderness, or the characters are trying to survive, etc. Read something to get your heart pumping.

Read a book solely based on the cover; literally judge a book by its cover without reading the summary of what it’s about.

Read a book that will make you smarter.

Read a book that everyone but you has read. This could be that book everyone was raving about last year that was made into a movie.

Read a book with an unreliable narrator.

Read a book with pictures! (How fun would this be?!)

Read a book that’s a story within a story.

Red a book that’s won a prestigious award.

I know that our lives are busy and that it can be hard to even find time to sit down, let alone read a book. But even if you cross just a few of these off the list, you’ll come out of the challenge as a better, more well-rounded person than you were last year. But who am I to dictate what you should and shouldn’t read? Create your own reading challenge for 2018 and let us know how you do! I’d love to be inspired by you!

Happy Reading!

Scary Stories for Halloween

It’s the spookiest time of year again! What better way to spend these long fall nights than to be scared senseless (or just a little spooked) than by reading creepy stories to get you in the mood for Halloween?

The Aurora Public Library District has lots of Halloween picture, ABC, and Easy chapter books for your little ones. These books are easy to locate because they are shelved according to their titles rather than by the author’s last name, which is how the rest of fiction is shelved throughout the District. So if you’re looking for books about Halloween, pumpkins, ghosts, bats, witches, etc., start by looking for these books on the shelves by subject. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, we can search our catalog by subject and pull up more titles for you. Let us help you find that perfect title with just the right amount of scary for your little ones!

For our older elementary age readers, we have plenty of eerie books to get you in the mood for Halloween, like the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series, the Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine, or Darren Shan’s various series. You can check out The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare, Tales for the Midnight Hour: Stories of Horror by J.B. Stamper, The Scary Story Reader, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, The Doll Bones by Holly Black, Thornhill by Pam Smy, and more! We’ll find a story with just the right amount of creepy just for you!

For our teen and young adult readers, there are many chilling series, like the Thirst series by Christopher Pike, The Mediator series by Meg Cabot, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series by Ransom Riggs and more. There are standalone titles like Wickedpedia by Chris Van Etten, The Omen by David Seltzer,  Teeth: Vampire Tales by Cassandra Clare, or anything by Joe Hill or Jonathan Maberry. You can check out The Walking Dead series in our graphic novels section, too, if you want a visual of the gory details on the page.

There are plenty of horror stories for adults, too, whether you’re looking for classic or contemporary reads. You can check out Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury, Dracula by Bram Stoker, Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving, Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice, or The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty. You can also read pretty much anything by Stephen King, John Saul, Heather GrahamPeter Straub, Laurell K. Hamilton, Dean Koontz, or Richard Bachman. Other standalone titles are Obedience by Will Lavender, Where Are The Children by Mary Higgins Clark, and The Scarlet Gospels by Clive Barker.

As always, feel free to peruse the Indiana Digital Download Center for more spooky titles or ask one of us for help.

Happy Reading!

Series Starters: The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels

If you’re a fan of historical fiction, I’m sure you’re familiar with the name Philippa Gregory. As someone who has always been interested in the English Wars of the Roses, her series have been on my to-read list for a long time. But also as someone who is easily confused by names and dates in history, I was never sure where to start with the two series that I was always interested in: the Tudor Court and Cousins’ War series. Luckily, as of August 2016, Gregory combined these series into one giant series (The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels) and released a list for how they are to be read in chronological order rather than publication order.

Start with The Lady of the Rivers, which is about Jacquetta of Luxemborg, who was married to the Duke of Bedford, the uncle of King Henry V. When her first husband died, she married Richard Woodville, shifting her alliance from the House of Lancaster to the House of York after the Battle of Towton. After Edward IV took the throne, Jacquetta’s daughter, Elizabeth Woodville, married him and became Queen consort to the new King of England. Don’t forget the dashes of witchcraft and magic! The novel is a historical fictionalization of one of the prominent, if often overlooked, figures in England’s civil war, known as the Wars of the Roses. The book opens in 1430, right after Henry VI is crowned King of England at only nine years old after his father, King Henry V, is killed in battle during the Hundred Years’ War.

If you’re interested in reading The Plantagenet and Tudor Novels series in chronological order:

The Lady of the Rivers

The White Queen

The Red Queen

The Kingmaker’s Daughter

The White Princess

The Constant Princess

The King’s Curse

Three Sisters, Three Queens

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Boleyn Inheritance

The Taming of the Queen

The Queen’s Fool

The Virgin’s Lover

The Last Tudor

The Other Queen

If you’re interested in reading the series in publication order:

The Tudor Court:

The Constant Princess

Three Sisters, Three Queens

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Boleyn Inheritance

The Taming of the Queen

The Queen’s Fool

The Virgin’s Lover

The Other Queen

The Cousins’ War:

The Lady of the Rivers

The White Queen

The Red Queen

The Kingmaker’s Daughter

The White Princess

The King’s Curse

The Last Tudor

This particular section has always interested me, but I always get so confused trying to keep track of names and dates. Luckily, Gregory provides a link to the family tree of the historical figures of her books on her website, or I would be lost.

Happy Reading!

Series Starters: The Selection

If you’re looking for an easy series read with elements of a dystopian, futuristic society with a competition to win the prince’s heart, then The Selection series by Kiera Cass is perfect for you! This series is what I like to call a fluff read, with an easy romance and just enough bad guys in the story to keep the plot moving right along. There are five books total in the series that you will be able to devour one after the other, whether you check them out from the Indiana Digital Download Center or from the Aurora or Dillsboro branches.

Teenager America Singer has gone through her entire life as a Five, which means she is on the lower end of the caste system with little to no prospects of ever moving up into the world. Her  family– and other Fives — work as musicians, entertainers, and artists to make ends meet. The only prospects America, and other girls like her, have of a better life is to enter into The Selection, which is the competition that only comes around when the heir to the crown and dystopian country comes of age. America is coerced into entering the competition by her mother and is shocked to find out that she is chosen to be one of only thirty-five girls, who come from all different backgrounds and castes all over the country, to compete for Prince Maxon’s affections. America now has to leave her boyfriend Aspen, a Six, behind at home while she goes off to the palace to try to make it long enough for her family to survive on the payout without falling in love with the prince or letting him fall for her. As the lowest number in the caste to compete, America quickly makes many enemies, even the king himself.

I enjoyed this series immensely, with all the twists and turns it took and the portrait it drew of a futuristic United States ruled entirely by a king and queen, and mostly separated from the rest of the world. It’s easy to see America’s growth throughout the series as well as empathize with her various internal conflicts. I definitely recommend!

The first three books follow America’s competition and the final two books are the aftermath. You can check out all five of the books as digital copies from the Indiana Digital Download Center, or as physical copies from the Aurora Public Library District branches. You can also check out the novella collection that takes place during the series in these formats.

Happy Reading!