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Quirky Characters, a Charming Setting and Topical Issues: Louise Penny’s A Better Man

4 May

A Better Man
Take a small rural Canadian village. A bistro serving almond croissants and café au lait. A quirky cast of core characters, with a few new faces mixed in each new book of the series.

Mix in some current topical issues, in this case the effects of environmental change, social media reality and the how impressions can be shaped there by anonymity, doctored videos and the viral nature of opinions. Add other dark aspects of life, like violence against women.

What you get is a somewhat cozy mystery with enough rough reality mixed in that you won’t gag from the sweetness.

It’s a formula that is repeated throughout this now 15 book long series. Armand Gamache, an officer of the Surete du Quebec lives with his extended family in the (fictional) village of Three Pines in Quebec. He deals with various crimes (a rather shocking amount, for such a backwater) as well as issues within the Surete du Quebec. He carries the baggage of decisions he has made in his career in each new book. In this one, he is looking into the disappearance of a woman known to have been abused by her husband. He is helped by his son-in-law Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and other Surete agents that have appeared in previous books in the series.

I hesitate to make the suggestion, because it is a rather substantial reading commitment, but it really is best to read the series in order. There is enough explanation of the backstories of the major plot developments to get you through each book as a stand-alone, but your enjoyment will be deeper for seeing characters develop over time. Penny doesn’t pull any punches. She is not afraid to write main characters out of the script or involve plot twists that will shock you.

A list of the series in order from the first to the most recent is: Still Life, A Fatal Grace/Dead Cold (same book, different title), The Cruelest Month, A Rule Against Murder/The Murder Stone (same book, different title), The Brutal Telling, Bury Your Dead, A Trick of the Light, The Beautiful Mystery, How the Light Gets In, The Long Way Home, The Nature of the Beast, A Great Reckoning, Glass Houses, Kingdom of the Blind, and A Better Man.  You can find them as ebooks and/or digital audiobooks to checkout from eLibraryNJ, eBCCLS, and Hoopla.

If you require s bit more convincing, take a look at Louise Penny’s web site, which features reviews and more describing the books in detail.

What I enjoy about the series is the morality of Armand Gamache and the plotting that keeps each book both familiar and surprising. And the food! The characters frequently indulge in food and drink at the bistro or at get-togethers at the villagers’ homes that sound awesome.

Written by:
Victoria Turk
Reference Librarian

Twilight’s 10 Year Anniversary: Reimagine How the Lion Fell in Love with the Lamb

21 Nov

Twilight Reimagined

“And so the lion fell in love with the lamb… What a stupid lamb. What a sick, masochistic lion.”

As we come to the month of November and the 21st approaches, I am hit with the truth that it’s been ten years that the fangirl in us all has freaked out about the first Twilight movie.

As a teenage high schooler whom loved going against trends and getting sucked into the world that was fangirling – I didn’t even know what Twilight, the book, was until the first movie trailer came out. I of course having no knowledge whatsoever on the series was super confused while others squealed with joyous anticipation.  Hadn’t even noticed that almost everyone around me was reading the books. It wasn’t until my best friend told me about the series – while spoiling everything she could on the way up to book three, that I thought I’d give it a shot. That was when I got sucked into a world I wasn’t ready for.

Now, ten years later it’s a franchise that still moves hearts and imaginations everywhere. So much so that you can now tour these iconic spots in Forks and Portland, Oregon and reenact the most iconic moments in the movies.

This series was such a hit that it caused other phenomenon novels to follow after it. Everyone knows of the adult novel Fifty Shades of Grey when it took the world by storm. But what most people don’t know is that E L James was inspired by Twilight and in fact the Grey Series is entirely based off of it and is considered fanfiction.

With rumors of Meyer creating a book through the perspective of Edward himself it’s no surprise that James went along and created a whole new spin off through the eyes of Christian Grey himself.

Unfortunately, as eager fans such as myself anticipated the beauty that would’ve been Edward’s mind, Meyer did not go through with her idea of what was to be called Midnight Sun and instead created a whole different spin off told as if the Vampire was a woman. Twilight Reimagined: Life and Death I dare say is just as good as the first. Taking you into this whole new but yet familiar world again, we are brought on this journey of what would’ve happened if Edward was a woman. Of course because of the whole twist on gender roles, the story only goes as far as one book but it is good enough to satisfy the craving for a new vampire love story. It is quite fun juxtaposing Twilight against Twilight Reimagined: Life and Death.

You can check out the Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey series as ebooks and digital audiobooks from eLibraryNJ and eBCCLS.  Also check out our previous blog post where we discussed Twilight Reimagined and other books/shows that were inspired by Fan fiction.  Don’t like Twilight, check out parodies of the novels written by Stephfordy Mayo on Hoopla; you can also read a parody of Fifty Shades of Grey.

Written by:
Sherissa Hernandez
Adult Programming Assistant

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