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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

Turn Off Your Smart Phone: Make a Goal to Read More Books

8 Aug

Summer Reading is winding up at the library as I write this and as I logged my reading, I’ve realized I have been reading less lately, which isn’t completely accurate since I’ve been reading tons of news and blogs and such online, but I’ve certainly been reading less books.  This isn’t just true of myself – I’ve realized as I’ve talked to others.  The phones most of us carry now are more like mini tablets than a means of communication. They constantly demand to be checked for the latest social media update or what latest political scandal has occurred in the news. And that paperback book on my bedside table isn’t constantly sending me push notices, instead it sits there patiently as I renew it for another two weeks and think “I’ll read it tomorrow”.  Ruminating on it now I realize I’m missing out – though since there are entertaining and some high quality things online, there is also a lot of shallow click bait that wastes my time and doesn’t add to my enjoyment of life or increase my understanding of the world in a positive way.  So I’ve decided to put my phone away at the end of the day and read more books.  I hope you’ll join me; let’s keep that pushy electronic device waiting for an hour or two and instead get lost in a good book.

Here are two books I read this summer that I enjoyed curling up with while my cell phone was tucked away in a bed side drawer.  Both deal with frequent vacation destinations that are anything but ordinary.

The Last Cruise
by Kate Christensen
LastCruise
I hadn’t read any of Christensen’s writing before, but after reading The Last Cruise, I definitely want to check out more of her fiction and nonfiction. The Last Cruise was beautifully written with the kind of lush language and imagery one would expect to find in poetry. It is set on an old cruise ship making one last trip to Hawaii.  The three main characters: an elderly Israeli musician, an up and coming chef, and a farm wife on a life changing vacation, were all complex and I liked the emotional journey and development that occurred for the three of them over the course of the book. I’m looking forward to taking a cruise next year, so I’m hoping the many disasters that befall the ship and its passengers are not likely to occur in real life. At the very least – not all at once – from the comfort of my own home it was exciting to see how the characters fared through the many challenges they faced.

Tricks For Free
by Seanan McGuire
TricksforFree
I enjoyed this urban fantasy book a lot as I have the other books in the InCryptid series about a family that protects the monsters secretly living among us. Tricks for Free is the second novel focusing on Annie, the youngest of the Price siblings, and though I think I prefer her older sister as a character, I thought this novel was still fast paced and interesting. Tricks for Free is set at a Disney like Amusement Park, which was so well thought out that it felt real. It even had well-detailed associated fictional movies, songs, and characters; I’d love if McGuire crafted the stories that she based these on as they sounded so interesting. I’m looking forward to the next book when it comes out, which also follows Annie and her friends. Tricks for Free included a novella at the end focusing on Annie’s Aeslin Mice (talking mice that worship the Price family) and her boyfriend during the time she is on the run and has to leave them behind.

See the Latest Books Available at HPL
Want to see what is new at HPL?  You can always see what new books we have by browsing the shelves near the first floor circulation desk where they feature the new nonfiction and fiction.  Or you can find lists of new books and other items by going to https://catalog.bccls.org/polaris/custom/whatsnew.aspx?ctx=61

Hoboken Residents Can Have 10 Interlibrary Loan Requests
We appreciated everyone’s patience during the state’s recent interlibrary loan delivery issues, but are thrilled that we can again offer Hoboken Library Residents up to 10 loan requests from other BCCLS libraries at a time so even if something you want is out here, we can request it for you!

Written By:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

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