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Super Science Fiction and Fantasy Reads: The Third Quarter of 2018 with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Discussion Group

17 Oct

The summer of 2018 continued to be filled with a lot of enjoyable books for our Science Fiction and Fantasy Group.  We hope you can join us for future discussions.  On Monday, October 22nd we will be discussing the short stories of HP Lovecraft for our Halloween Read at 6 PM.  At 3 PM and 4:30 PM we will be showing two Classic Spooky Comedies.  Then in November we will be discussing Red Shirts by John Scalzi; stop by the reference desk to get a print or ebook copy.  We always welcome suggestions for what books the group reads!  Email hplwriters @ gmail.com to be added to our mailing list.

Spellsinger
by Alan Dean Foster
Spellsinger
In July we discussed Spellsinger by Alan Dean Foster in honor of the summer reading theme of “Reading Rocks.”  I had enjoyed the book as a teenager and was interested to see how it held up after so many years and what the group thought of it.  You may remember I referenced the series along with others in the funny fantasy genre in my post looking back on my favorite novels over the year.  It was a fun light read for summer focusing on an average guy who becomes a hero when he is accidentally sent to an alternate dimension where he can do magic by playing cover songs from earth. The book ends on a cliffhanger leading in to the second book in the series, but many of the group agreed that it felt like the novel came full circle on an emotional development with the main character expanding his definition on what it means to truly be a person.  The group watched the R rated animated sci-fi cult classic Heavy Metal before the discussion.  Besides being available in print, you can also borrow Spellsinger along with other books in the series, as ebooks from Hoopla.

The Three-Body Problem
by Cixin Liu
translated by Ken Liu
3BodyProblem
We had previously read another book in translation, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne which was originally written in French, but The Three-Body Problem was our first translation of a more modern science fiction novel.  Besides print you can borrow it as a digital audiobook from Hoopla.  The group on the whole found the beginning of the work with its exploration of China’s Cultural Revolution a bit slow, but felt it picked up as the main story of first alien contact was introduced.  Several members of the group planned to read the other two works in the trilogy The Dark Forest and Death’s End.  I thought Liu’s use of VR game technology in the novel was especially interesting in comparison to Ready Player One, which we had discussed previously and you can now see a movie adaptation on Blu-ray or DVD.  Unfortunately a planned movie adaptation of the novel, The Three-Body Problem, was shelved a few years ago so instead we watched the classic Forbidden Planet, which is available on Blu-ray and DVD.  The movie, though from the 50’s, holds up well in both look and plot and its retro vibe only adds to its charm.

Lady of the Forest
by Jennifer Roberson

LadyoftheForest

book cover from eLibraryNJ

We read Lady of the Forest by Jennifer Roberson for our August book.  The book hooked readers with its suspenseful opening.  The group enjoyed that the book had many different characters’ perspectives and how it told the story of not just how Robin evolved into the character of myth and legends but how his merry men also met and joined him. The book especially focuses on Marian who goes from being an intelligent but more conservative, traditional lady of the day to finding her inner warrior.  It is an interesting twist on Robin, who is depicted as having PTSD from fighting in the crusades.  I think my favorite character was Eleanor, the sheriff’s daughter, who despite making several very bad decisions still intrigued me as a depiction of how a more independent oriented women would be treated in that era.  Besides print, Hoboken residents, can borrow the book from eLibraryNJ as an ebook.  Roberson also wrote a sequel Lady of Sherwood.  We watched the movie Robin and Marian which looked at the couple towards the end of their lives rather than the beginning of their adulthood in the book; it provided an interesting look at how their relationship would have evolved.  My heart still belongs to the animated Disney version, but I also enjoyed this more serious interpretation and thought Sean Connery and Audrey Hepburn gave stellar performances in the title roles.  You can learn more about the history of the Robin Hood legend from Robin Hood–The Outlaw Hero, Episode 9 of Heroes and Legends, part of The Great Courses series of lectures available for streaming from Kanopy.

I hope you will join us for upcoming discussions.  And if you like mysteries check out the Hoboken Public Library’s New Mystery Book Club!  You can email rosary.vaningen @ hoboken.bccls.org for more info about the Mystery book club!

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

September Selections – Best reads of the month

26 Sep

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle
by Stuart Turton
DeathsofEvelynHardcastle
Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m., every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others…The twists and turns of this inventive debut make it an instant must read.

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is the book that I plan to spend the first true Autumnal weekend reading. When the temperature dips nice and low, a cup of tea, a cozy blanket and my black lab Duchess. Bliss!

This title was released on Sept. 18th. The library will have this available in Hardcover, Large Print and Audiobook formats.  Hoboken Residents can borrow it as an ebook and a digital audiobook from Hoopla and as an ebook from eBCCLS.

The Dinner List
by Rebecca Serle
TheDinnerList
Years ago, Sabrina did that old thing of imagining whom she’d invite to a birthday dinner if she could have any five guests, dead or alive. She never thought her fantasy dinner would really happen, much less turn into the most efficient therapy session of her life. Guest No. 1 is, of course, her best friend, Jessica. Guest No. 2, is Tobias, a former flame, it’s clear he still loves Sabrina. Guest No. 3 is Conrad, her former philosophy professor—the man whose field trip set Sabrina and Tobias’ fate in motion. Guest No. 4 is Robert, her father, who left her in the lurch to start a new family. Guest No. 5: Audrey Hepburn, idolized by everyone at the table except perhaps Jessica. It’s Audrey who makes the impossible seem possible. A bittersweet tale of love, loss, and living with the memories. (Kirkus)

I wasn’t sure I’d like The Dinner List, magical-realism can so easily go pear-shaped in a novel. It was the inclusion of Audrey Hepburn (my favorite actress) that decided it for me. It’s an interesting look at finally resolving your past and moving forward. Leaving us ultimately with the question, who’s on your dinner list?

This title was released in Sept. 11th. The library will have this available in Hardcover, Large Print (available October 11th) and Audiobook on CD.  It is available from eBCCLS as an audiobook and ebook.

Sea Prayer
by Khaled Hosseini
SeaPrayer
The Sea Prayer, a slight graphic novel, only 48 pages, was inspired by all too tragic real-life events. Who can forget the haunting images of 3 year old Alan Kurdi, whose body, washed up on the Turkish shore in September 2015. Told in the form of a “poignant letter written by a fearful Syrian father to his son on the eve of a treacherous sea crossing to Europe.” (Kirkus). Hosseini’s lyrical prose and evocative artwork provided by Dan Williams bring us a story of love and hope that we wish for all of our loved one. This novel was beautiful, gut-wrenching and inspiring all at once, it’s worth the tears that will come freely.

This title was released in Sept. 18th. The library will have this available in Hardcover format.  It is available as an ebook from eBCCLS.

The Stylist
by Rosie Nixon
Stylist
So, to end on a lighter note, if you liked The Devil wears PradaThe Stylist is for you.

“Amber Green works at Smith’s, an upscale London boutique. When stylist to the stars Mona Armstrong comes in for a private showing, a mishap on Amber’s part, seen as a genius idea by Mona, results in Amber’s going to work as Mona’s assistant during awards season.” (Kirkus)          A celebrity-filled, jet-setting adventure follows. This a perfect escapist read for an all-too brief weekend and I had a lot of fun trying to figure out the celebrities’ real-life counterparts. Fun, fun, fun!

This title was released in Sept. 4th. The library will have this available in Trade Paperback and Audiobook format.

Written by Rosary Van Ingen
Head of Adult Circulation

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