Bleak Books with Olivia: The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

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.

I found The Death of Jane Lawrence after scouring the internet for any books that were like the dark, mysterious, gory, magical horror of Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. I have tried about 10 books after finishing that one in hopes that I would like it just as much and I was sorely disappointed. This was the ONLY one who met and exceeded my expectations. Same type of creepy, disturbing magic and ritual focus, totally different setting.

Jane Shoringfield finds herself approaching old maid status quickly in turn-of-the-century Great Breltain. She finds the solution to her problems in Dr. Augustine Lawrence, a handsome, aloof surgeon new to town who is noticeably unmarried. They come to a clear-cut arrangement: they will marry out of convenience, as Jane wants nothing more to pursue her goal of becoming an accountant and Augustine is in desperate need of one. There is only one requirement: Jane must never enter Lindridge Hall, Augustine’s dilapidated family home. But just as the lines of their platonic arrangement are blurred, Jane finds herself abandoned outside of Augustine’s house on the night of their wedding. When she enters, she finds Augustine to be a changed man, fearful of her and believing her to be an apparition. As she explores Lindridge Hall, she finds that Augustine’s hidden secrets and demons are much darker, and more alive, than Jane could ever have imagined.

Friends, if you are looking for a truly bleak book, this is it. Caitlin Starling perfectly captures the essence of traditional Gothic horror while combining it with the peculiar, disturbing, and supernatural elements of today’s horror films. The sheer sense of dread and fear that entered my mind every time I cracked this book open is inescapable and addicting. Every chapter holds a new truth, more terrifying and haunting than anything we, and our protagonist, Jane Lawrence, can believe to be true. Monsters hide in the dark corners of Lindridge Hall, and no matter how horrifying they may be, as a reader, I couldn’t wait to meet them and know what makes Dr. Augustine Lawrence’s past so twisted and secretive. It is truly one of the best modern Gothic novels I have ever read.

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.

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

 

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.

Native American Heritage Month

November is National Native American Heritage Month. This month is the time to celebrate diverse cultures and traditions and to acknowledge the importance of Native people. We are honoring those who have been here long before us by selecting children’s books that are not only about indigenous people but are #ownvoices. These authors are Native Americans themselves and have put their culture and tradition into their stories for families to enjoy.  These stories are not only enjoyable to read, but they offer a way for children to learn about Native American culture and to understand the importance of the Native American culture.

Come and check out these titles and more at Aurora and Dillsboro!

Fry Bread by Kevin Noble Mallard

 

 

 

Fry Bread – Kevin Noble Mallard – Part of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma tribe

 

 

 

 

Wild Berries by Julie Flett

 

 

 

 

Wild Berries – Julie Flett – Part of Swampy -Cree Metis tribe

 

 

 

 

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by Joseph Marshall III

 

 

 

 

 

In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse – Joseph Marshall – Part of the Sicangu Oyate (Rosebud Sioux, Lakota) tribe

 

 

 

 

Brother Eagle Sister Sky by Chief Seattle

 

 

 

 

Brother Eagle Sister Sky – Chief Seattle – Suquamish and Duwamish chief

 

 

 

 

The Earth Under Sky Bears Feet: Native American Poems of the Land by Joseph Bruchac

 

 

 

The Earth under Sky Bear’s feet : Native American poems of the land – Joseph Bruchac –  Abenaki tribe

 

 

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!

Fall Reads

Fall is my most favorite time of the year. With the days getting shorter and the temperature getting cooler, there is nothing better than curling up with a good book. The changing colors of the leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, Halloween and Thanksgiving are things that embody fall. My favorite genre to read during this time is mystery/thriller with a little bit of science fiction. Here are some of my recommendations!

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Classic monsters are everywhere during Halloween. Frankenstein is a classic monster but what if the image of Frankenstein was different that what you have been told? Published in 1818, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus follows Victor Frankenstein as he defies the laws of nature and assemble body parts together to make a monster. This is my all time favorite book. At only 200 pages, this is a quick read and is a great start for those who want to read more classics. Mary Shelley’s writing is simplistic and beautiful and she wrote this novel when she was only 18. She is also one of the pioneers of science fiction/horror. Once your finished, watch the 1931 Frankenstein film, starring Boris Karloff and you will be amazed at how many changes there are.

The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky The Mary Shelley Club – Goldy Moldavsky

This was a recent read for me. Being a big fan of Mary Shelley and Frankenstein, I went into this one with pretty high expectations and I was not disappointed. I found this to be a very enjoyable, fast paced read, and I read it in two days. This follows a girl named Rachel Chavez. She loves horror movies and they help her cope with things that she does not wish to remember. She is recruited by the mysterious Mary Shelley Club. This club does very elaborate pranks or what they call “Fear Tests”. Whoever has the scariest prank wins. The pranks escalate into something more deadly.  Think of this one as Gossip Girl meets Scream and I think that this one is perfect for the fall and spooky season.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson Truly Devious – Maureen Johnson

I am a sucker for a private school mystery. This story follows a girl named Stevie Bell, who is invited to be apart of Ellingham Academy. The academy was founded by Albert Ellingham, who wanted to make the school a place for bright thinkers, artists and inventors. When his wife and his daughter go missing, the only clue is a letter signed by “Truly Devious”, a mocking riddle that lists different methods of murder. Stevie’s first year at Ellingham starts with one goal in mind, to solve the cold case. This is the first book in this series, the following books continue Stevie’s story. This is a great mystery for Halloween. The other books in the series are The Vanishing Stair, The Hand on the Wall and The Box in the Woods.

 

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.

Bleak Books with Olivia: The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker

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.

Psychological thrillers have been at the top of all international book charts for years, it seems. They really are the full package: dark premise, morally ambiguous characters, and the quintessential twist ending that everyone never saw coming. Although they may have become the comfort genre for some (including me), it’s always nice to get thrown a curveball now and then. Leave it to real-life experimental psychologist and author Nancy Tucker to do just that.

The First Day of Spring follows Chrissie, or Julia, depending on her age, as she navigates life and tries to grow past the abuse and neglect she encountered as a child and the dastardly results that it caused. Chrissie is poor, hungry, and unloved, and she lashes out to get any sort of attention from adults and children alike. Then, one day, her rage starts to leave behind a body count. The murder makes her feel more important and powerful than she ever has, but she soon finds out that she has crossed a line that will impact her life forever. Julia was released five years ago from Haverleigh, the home she was put in as the murderous Chrissie when she was just nine years old, and she has a daughter of her own now. Julia attempts to fumble her way through motherhood with nothing to reference. Her mother was abusive and neglectful and her father came and went, depending on where he could get booze for a cheap cost. One day, Julia picks up the phone and on the other end, someone asks breathlessly, “Chrissie?” Julia panics, fearing the worst: the papers have found out her past yet again and her daughter will be taken from her because of her recently broken arm that Julia blames herself for. She does the only thing she can think of doing: she takes Molly away, back to her hometown to see her mother one last time. There, she learns to forgive herself for her past as she realizes her circumstances formed the monster she feared, no her own mind.

This painful, heartbreaking, and hopeful tale about motherhood and mistakes definitely took me by surprise. I was expecting a disturbing tale about the twisted mind of a killer child, but instead I found myself fiercely defensive of Chrissie AND Julia as they navigate life bravely on their own. This one isn’t our typical bleak book, as it may make you love a previously unlovable character, but like I said before, it’s always nice to get thrown a curveball now and then. This book will remind you of one crucial truth about life: you must forgive yourself first before you forgive others.

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.

A Boy and His Skunk

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

 

 

For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises — some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter. But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

 

 

 

After reading A Boy Called Bat, you’ll want to dive right into the next two books in the series.

Bat and the Waiting Game by Elana K. Arnold    Bat and the End of Everything by Elana K. Arnold

For more “unusual pet” stories, give these books a try! Rascal and The Tarantula in My Purse are juvenile biographies (J 912), and Flora & Ulysses and Pax are juvenile novels found in the juvenile fiction of the library.

Rascal by Sterling North The Tarantula in My Purse by Jean Craighead George Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo Pax by Sara Pennypacker