Category: Blog Posts

A Frozen Land: Books & Films Set in Russia

Winter is upon us. Snow is falling and the nights are cold and dark. While you wait for summer, why not revel in the frigid temperatures and discover some exceptional books and movies set in one of the coldest countries on earth, Russia?

Russia fascinates me and I love discovering new literature and film about it. The next time it snows, I invite you to curl up on your sofa with a blanket and a hot drink and dive into a story set in this faraway land of ice and snow.

Here are some suggestions to get you started.

The Bear and the Nightingale

by Katherine Arden
The first of a trilogy, Katherine Arden’s debut novel is a fantastical story set in the dark forests of medieval Russia. Arden draws from Russian folklore to tell the story of Vasya, a girl who can communicate with the spirits that guard her father’s house and roam the frozen wilderness outside. The novel is rich with detail, and Arden’s lyrical prose reads like a fairy tale.

Between Shades of Gray

by Ruta Sepetys
Ruta Sepetys’s profound historical fiction reveals a little-known corner of World War II history. It is the story of Lina, a young Lithuanian girl who is torn from her homeland when Stalin orders the Great Purge of the Baltic States. Along with her mother and brother, Lina makes a harrowing journey across Russia to the coldest and remotest portion of Siberia. It is only her drawings that keep Lina from giving up in despair.

The Romanov Sisters

by Helen Rappaport
Before Princess Diana, Anastasia Romanov and her sisters were the most popular royals of the early 20th century. Helen Rappaport brings them to life through their letters and diaries. Discover the real women behind the much sensationalized story of the last royal family of Russia and their tragic assassination in a basement at Ekaterinburg.

War & Peace (2016)

An epic, eight-part adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s celebrated novel about Napoleon’s invasion of Russia. The story centers on Pierre, Natasha and Andrei, whose lives intertwine as they are challenged by war, loss and scandal. Filmed on location, this brilliant miniseries brings Imperial Russia to life with stunning scenery, gorgeous music (featuring the Latvian Radio Choir), and compelling performances by its actors.

Anna Karenina (2013)

Joe Wright’s inventive film adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic novel of forbidden love places the characters inside a dilapidated theater. The actors move and interact in a confined space that signifies their entrapment in a world of strict societal rules. It is only when they break out of this world that they are able to enter the wild Russian countryside and live their true lives.

Laughing Out Loud

Is there a greater feeling than sitting in bumper-to-bumper, rush-hour traffic amid a sea of brake lights and laughing so hard that coffee (or tea, in my case) almost erupts from your nose? In the spirit of sanity-saving frivolity, I present this list of hilarious audiobooks written by talented women willing to share their most embarrassing, uncomfortable, emotional, and just plain bizarre life experiences.

While listening to these books, you’re bound to say to yourself at some point, “Yep, I can totally relate!” And some of the stories are almost guaranteed to raise your eyebrows more than a few times. Each author intersperses stories of chagrin-worthy moments with life lessons learned, providing a heaping dose of both humor and self-reflection.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)

by Jenny Lawson
Hands down my favorite humorous audiobook of all time! I listened to this little gem while training for a half-marathon. I lost count of how many times I had to literally stop running to catch my breath from laughing too hard. People driving by likely thought I was overcome by the physical exertion, but I can assure you those were tears of joy on my cheeks!

We Are Never Meeting in Real Life

by Samantha Irby
Samantha Irby doesn’t pull any punches, and referring to her as “unapologetic” is an understatement. I often found myself nervously giggling while double-checking that my windows were rolled up so that I didn’t accidentally offend any nearby drivers.

The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo

by Amy Schumer
Amy Schumer puts her own characteristic flair on the endearing self-deprecation mixed with inflated self-confidence style of humor. She covers some pretty tough (but important) subject matter, all while delivering more than a few guffaw-inducing moments.

The Tao of Martha

by Jen Lancaster
The author openly shares her successes and many, many failures in her quest to “Martha up” nearly every aspect of her life. What results is a veritable cornucopia of disastrous narratives, ranging from an intimate insect assault while creating a cutting garden, to projectile yolk when prepping for an Easter brunch party, to the joys and challenges of adopting cats with anger management issues. All are told with humor and humility.

Yes Please

by Amy Poehler
While many of the references in this book might go straight over your head if you are not well-versed in Saturday Night Live comedy, there are still plenty of humorous and tender anecdotes to keep you smirking and sighing. In the audiobook, Amy goes a step beyond just name-dropping (which she does quite a bit of as she really does seem to know everybody and their mother, brother, or alleged lover in showbiz) — she actually voice-drops, with Seth Meyers, Carol Burnett, Patrick Stewart, Kathleen Turner, and even her own parents making vocal cameos.

 

Time (Travel) Is on My Side, Yes It Is

I’ve always been intrigued by the concept of time travel and entertained by the variety of ways that authors have incorporated the concept into literature. For me, I’d never want to go backward. Why would I want to dwell in the past? And, of course, you can’t do anything there without disturbing the fabric of time, collapsing our universe in on itself or creating an alternate universe with its own set of problems.

I’d rather roll the dice and see where mankind goes in the future, hopefully, with the ability to keep moving forward if that place in time doesn’t suit me. Luckily, the literary options for time travel in many directions are bountiful. Here are a handful you might enjoy.

The Time Machine

by H.G. Wells
Wells’ classic from 1895 describes a time traveler’s adventure as he journeys 800,000 years in the future and experiences a new civilization. A groundbreaking piece of science fiction for its time, it is still an exciting ride 120-plus years later. Sadly, we still don’t have time machines, and don’t get me started on where the heck our flying cars are!

11/22/63

by Stephen King
Jack Epping has the opportunity to travel back in time to prevent President Kennedy’s assassination. Through a strange portal at the back of a diner that can take him back to 1958, he flits back and forth, creating a new life in the past that will give him the chance to alter history. Of course, five years is a long time to wait, so as he adjusts to life in the past Jack inserts himself in the storyline, discovers love, and works to solve a mystery from his present. It’s a long book but an exciting story.

Paper Girls

by Brian K. Vaughan
A graphic novel. On the morning after Halloween in 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls get caught in a time-travel conflict that skips them back and forth across time. If you like the ’80s retro resurgence (e.g., Stranger Things, Ready Player One), then you’ll enjoy this one. As with many graphic novels, episodes are still being written and released, so you’ll need to wait to see how things get resolved.

Time and Again

by Jack Finney
Advertising artist Simon Morley is approached to participate in a secret government project to learn whether it is feasible to send people back into the past by self-hypnosis and environmental control. Morley travels back and forth between 1970 and 1882 New York City, becoming immersed in the past. There, he uncovers secrets and discovers that other time-travelers are making changes that can affect the past and the present — or is it the present and the future? Illustrated with reproductions of photos from the 1880s, Time and Again presents time travel without the use of technology or portals, making it an unusual twist on the genre.

Three Years with the Rat

by Jay Hosking
Featuring a nonlinear storyline that develops slowly and can be sometimes confusing, Three Years with the Rat tells the story of a young man who returns to his hometown to reconnect with his sister, a graduate student in psychophysics. When she and her boyfriend disappear, their trail leads to (or from) a mirrored box, a rat, and a strange note. Is it time travel or just the ability to slow and stop time?

Dark Matter

by Blake Crouch
Perhaps more alternate/multi-universe than time travel — call it side travel if you like; nevertheless, it’s a fun read. Dark Matter is a fast-paced thriller in which a physics professor gets kidnapped through time, visiting other versions of his world and meeting the people and adventures that occupy those spaces and times. The life he now has is not the one he remembers, and lines are blurred between who and where he is. Is one world a dream and the other reality? Who kidnapped him and for what purpose? How can he get back to where he was? And where exactly is that? Yep, there are lots of questions with this one!

The Time Traveler’s Almanac

compiled by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer
Sometimes, a short story is just as fun as a long one (take that, Mr. King!). This collection of nearly 70 journeys through time from such authors as Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, William Gibson, Ursula K. Le Guin, George R.R. Martin, Michael Moorcock, and H.G. Wells provides quick and tasty bites into time travel. From the ancient past to the distant future, the stories in The Time Traveler’s Almanac will meet any fan’s need. If you don’t like one story, do some time traveling of your own and jump to another!

YA Lit – It’s Not Just for Teens

When was the last time you picked up a young adult book? Was it when you were a young adult? Or when your teen was reading something for his or her literature class and you decided to read along?

Young adult literature, or YA lit, continues to evolve, and it isn’t just for teens anymore. Authors are telling amazing stories about young people, with themes that go beyond crushes and trying to fit in with the popular crowd. Well, OK, there is still some of that too. But you will also find meatier themes and topics than you might expect.

In The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, main character Starr contends with racial identity and finding her voice in a world full of turmoil.

Ink and Bone by Rachel Caine takes readers to a world where a single entity controls all knowledge, and paper books are illegal. Who should control the knowledge that exists in the world?

Nyxia by Scott Reintgen explores questions about what people will do for money and how teams learn to work together — or don’t.

Kora, the daughter of King Midas, must reconcile with the mistakes of her father while learning how to deal with her own mistakes in A Touch of Gold by Annie Sullivan.

 

In today’s YA lit, you’ll find heroes and heroines who are strong, or grow to be strong. The stories often move quickly, and not necessarily because they are short; rather, the action and dialog don’t slow down.

The themes that resonated with you as a teen will likely still resonate today, because we continue to try to find ourselves, understand the world around us, and look for ways to make a difference for others throughout our lives.

Learn to Code

Today’s digital world is expanding at a record pace and the importance of programming, or coding, continues to grow. While computer science seeks to solve problems using computers, coding is the magic of implementing those solutions — for IT, scientists, engineers, data analysts, artists and designers, and even those in the fields of medicine and finance. This means that coders are highly sought after, and well-compensated too.

So let’s chat about learning to code. If you’ve ever been curious about it, or seen a creative website or app that spoke to you, dip your toes into the technology with these resources for beginners.

Learn to Code: A Brain-Friendly Guide

by Eric Freeman
This guide will help you learn how to write code for anything with a CPU, including your computer and mobile device. Using the programming language of Python, you’ll learn the core concepts of programming and computer science.

Begin to Code With Python

by Rob S. Miles
This is a fantastic resource, even if you don’t have any experience! It boasts a full-color tutorial to help beginners learn the basics of the Python programming language.

Cracking Codes With Python: An Introduction to Building and Breaking Ciphers

by Al Sweigart
Here’s your crash course in programming and testing Python code.

Coding: Everything You Need to Get Started With Programming Using Python

by Mike Saunders
You’ll find simple descriptions and step-by-step guides to help navigate the Python programming language — everything you need to learn to write code.

Coding All-in-One for Dummies

by Nikhil Abraham
Full of easy-to-understand information about coding for a website, designing a mobile app, and discovering the world of data science.

Learn Python 3 the Hard Way: A Very Simple Introduction to the Terrifyingly Beautiful World of Computers and Code

by Zed Shaw

A book that helps you learn as you go! You’ll learn Python while working through 52 expertly designed exercises that allow you to type out code, correct mistakes, and watch the programs run.

Coding for Kids

The resources and cool tech toys here can help encourage digital creativity in your kids, with lots of hands-on interaction. You might even enjoy these too!

Help Your Kids With Computer Science: A Unique Visual Step-by-Step Guide to Computers, Coding, and Communication

The clear-cut information presented here covers topics like hardware, software, coding languages, social media, and troubleshooting.

Code-a-Pillar

Coding at its most basic! Code-a-Pillar is the perfect gadget to help kids, even toddlers, learn the principles of coding, sequencing, and critical thinking. The Code-a-Pillar is made up of blocks that each contain a directional setting. When snapped together, each block will dictate whether the Code-a-Pillar turns right or left, moves forward, or just plays music. It is up to the builder to get the right code to move the Code-a-Pillar from a starting point to an ending point of his or her choosing.

Dash

Dash is a robot that can navigate objects and respond to sounds using picture-based coding language. It can be used to explore fun, playful lessons in algorithm design, command sequences, control flow, problem-solving, and other random things. Four main education apps are available to control Dash; they’re free from the iTunes and Google Play app stores.

Little Bits

These Little Bits have been compared to electronic LEGOs for kids (and adults). The kits are designed to get people as young as 8 years old to learn basic coding skills and to think about electronics and how hardware is built. With Little Bits, your kids can build gadgets like robotic cars and musical instruments, or create new inventions.

On the Journey

There is nothing more fascinating to me than travel. The concept of a journey is broad and it applies to all of us. As Anaïs Nin stated, “We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls.” Even if each of us has our own path to travel, and our own story to write, we often look to the stories of others in search of truths, some knowledge, help, or just out of curiosity and for the simple thrill of enjoyment.

Many of history’s most notable literary works are built on the theme of traveling: think Homer’s Odyssey, Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, Cervantes’s Don Quixote, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Verne’s Journey to the Center of The Earth, Tolkien’s Hobbit, or Coelho’s The Alchemist. The subject is inexhaustible, as life continuously writes new stories.

Recently, a few new titles grabbed my attention. These books have one thing in common: the concept of a journey. But the stories unfold in various ways, revealing the most urgent issues of our time.

Journeys: An American Story

by Andrew Tisch & Mary Skafidas
This collection of 72 essays includes personal stories about immigrating to America. These stories are from various periods of time showing the many ways people arrived on the continent. Some came to the new land escaping oppression in their own countries; some came to the “Land of Hope and Opportunity” to fulfill their dreams of a better life; some were searching for love and freedom; too many were brought here against their will. The last chapter of the book includes a quote from Ronald Reagan that provides hope for every immigrant who comes to America, and at the end of the book the authors provide pages for readers to add their own stories — because each individual experience becomes “America’s story.”

The Girl With Seven Names

by Hyeonseo Lee
This is a true story about a 17-year-old girl from North Korea who lived on the border with China. She decided to cross the border into China to escape her homeland. She could not have imagined that it would be 12 years before she would be reunited with her family. Lee’s book is a heartbreaking testimony of survival, bravery, family love, and commitment. Two other stories of escape from North Korea have caught readers’ attention: Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden, and A River in Darkness: One Man’s Escape from North Korea by Masaji Ishikawa. Both books capture the incredible courage that put two men on a journey to escape the North Korean regime in search of freedom.

Marwan’s Journey

by Patricia de Arias & Laura Borràs
This story is told from the perspective of a young boy, Marwan, who is forced to leave his home because of war. He finds himself among many other souls on a challenging journey through the deserts and across the sea in search of safety. The beautifully illustrated book is a testimony of those who have lost their homeland. Armed only with hope, Marwan is searching for a safe place to build “a house with the cement of his sure steps” and “the walls with happiness.” This book, which is great for children and parents, paints an emotional picture of a refugee’s tragic experience, providing perspective and teaching empathy.

To Shake the Sleeping Self

by Jedidiah Jenkins
This memoir details a 14,000-mile bicycle journey from Oregon to Patagonia, written by a man who once was afraid of being “funneled into a life he didn’t choose” (http://www.jedidiahjenkins.com). At the age of 30, Jedidiah Jenkins decided to make his life more exciting and go for an adventure. “If discontent is your disease, travel is medicine … travel has a way of shaking the brain awake,” he writes. Jenkins received wide attention when he recorded his story on Instagram. The author’s memoir is his reflection on the physically and spiritually challenging journey.

A Year Off

by Alexandra & David Brown
Alexandra and David had only known each other for just over two months when they decided to go on a big journey together, following the advice of Bill Murray: “If you have someone who you think is the one, take that person and travel around the world. And go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of … When you come back, if you are still in love with that person, get married at the airport.” They quit their desk jobs and took off on a journey to visit more than 20 countries. In this book, they tell their story from the road, reflecting on adventure and presenting interesting thoughts about life. The book is part memoir, part practical travel guide, and part traveling essay in one.

Travels With Herodotus

by Ryszard Kapuściński
Kapuściński was an acclaimed journalist and foreign correspondent. He grew up behind the Iron Curtain in Poland and was the only Communist-era Polish journalist appointed to work in Africa, Asia and South America. With a copy of Herodotus’s The Histories, Kapuściński traveled to India, China and Ethiopia to discover historical places and learn about unique cultures. His observations and philosophical reflections are captured in this fascinating literary work. You may also want to explore the author’s other titles: The Shadow of the Sun (2001), a report from Kapuściński’s travels to Africa, and Imperium (1995), a memoir of his journey through the Soviet empire — both of which are available through Prospector.

The Artist’s Journey

by Steven Pressfield
Pressfield is the bestselling author of fiction works including Gates of Fire and The Profession, as well as nonfiction titles such as The Lion’s Gate, The War of Art, Turning Pro, and Do the Work. In this, his new book, Pressfield encourages readers to find a purpose in their existence. According to the author, there is an artist in each of us and it is up to each of us to find a purpose and do the work we were born to do. We are on a fascinating journey of self-discovery. Pressfield gives practical guidance on what it means to be an artist and what the artist’s journey is about. Will you answer the writer’s call?

Tough Mugs, Brassy Dames & (Lots of) Hats: Noir Fiction & Film

Noir fiction, sometimes called hard-boiled fiction, and film noir are rarely as simple as they seem. You probably know the characters and scenarios: a tough guy (with a soft spot or an unseen weakness); a tough gal (smarter than she seems and always able to manipulate that guy); a dark, gritty cityscape; dingy bars; and some sort of crime — extortion, robbery or murder. And yeah, these characters like to wear hats.

If you’re interested in exploring the stories and authors of this genre, here are a few titles to wet your whistle.

Classic Noir

Red Harvest

by Dashiell Hammett
Hammett’s quick-talking, hard-drinking characters set the standard for noir fiction. In Hammett’s first novel, Red Harvest (1929), the private investigator known as the Continental Op takes on a town nicknamed Poisonville while investigating a murder in the midst of a violent labor dispute. The Continental Op character returns in a number of Hammett’s novels as does investigator Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon) and “retired” detective Nick Charles, who drinks and solves crimes with the help of his wife, Nora (The Thin Man).

The Big Sleep

by Raymond Chandler

Published in 1939, Chandler’s first novel features tough-guy detective Philip Marlowe, a character that Chandler used in several of his books. When a case of blackmail involving the daughter of a California millionaire leads to murder, Marlowe becomes embroiled in a troublesome case of extortion complicated by kidnapping, pornography, seduction and murder.

Noir of the ’60s

Sinner Man

by Lawrence Block
Block’s first novel was published in 1968 but was “lost” for almost 50 years as it was originally published under a pseudonym with a different title before it reappeared as Sinner Man in 2018. To escape punishment for a murder he didn’t mean to commit, insurance man Don Barshter must take on a new identity: Nathaniel Crowley, ferocious up-and-comer in the New York mob. But can he find safety in the skin of another man … a worse man … a sinner man?

One Fearful Yellow Eye

by John D. MacDonald
MacDonald put out a series of crime novels between 1964 and 1984 that featured “salvage consultant” Travis McGee, who lives on a houseboat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and investigates crimes to recover lost property for a 50 percent fee. One Fearful Yellow Eye is representative of the series as McGee helps his friend Glory Doyle by traveling to Chicago to investigate the theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars that occurred during Glory’s husband’s dying days.

Noir of the ’90s & Beyond

L.A. Confidential

by James Ellroy
Published in 1990 as the third book in Ellroy’s L.A. Quartet, L.A. Confidential tells the story of crime and corruption surrounding a horrific mass murder and the lawmen caught up on both sides of the law. Set in Los Angeles in the ‘40s and ‘50s, the L.A. Quartet includes the novels The Black Dahlia, The Big Nowhere, and White Jazz, featuring new and recurring characters as police and gangsters blur the lines between right and wrong.

The Black-Eyed Blond: A Philip Marlowe Novel

by Benjamin Black
This 2014 novel by Booker Prize-winner John Banville (writing as Benjamin Black) picks up the Marlowe character in the 1950s. A young, beautiful, and expensively dressed client wants Marlowe to find her former lover, a man named Nico Peterson. Marlowe sets off on his search, but almost immediately discovers that Peterson’s disappearance is merely the first in a series of bewildering events. Soon he is tangling with one of Bay City’s richest families and discovering how far they will go to protect their fortune. It’s a worthy continuation of the Raymond Chandler series.

Noir: A Novel

by Christopher Moore
Moore’s latest release takes place in San Francisco in 1947 and he creates a noir novel with his typically crazy sense of humor. An enigmatic, comely blonde named Stilton (like the cheese) walks into the scruffy gin joint where Sammy “Two Toes” Tiffin tends bar. It is love at first sight, but before Sammy can make his move, an Air Force general arrives with some urgent business. A suspicious flying object has been spotted up the Pacific coast, followed by a mysterious plane crash in a distant patch of desert in New Mexico that goes by the name Roswell. When one of Sammy’s schemes goes south and the Cheese mysteriously vanishes, Sammy is forced to contend with his own dark secrets if he wants to find his girl.

Film Noir

It wouldn’t and couldn’t be a brief discussion of noir fiction without mentioning its celluloid cousin, film noir of the ’40s and ’50s. So many classic novels were made into film, it is sometimes hard to read about Sam Spade or Philip Marlowe without hearing the voice of Humphrey Bogart; but here are a few films that didn’t star Bogie.

Double Indemnity (1944)

Based on a 1943 novella by hard-boiled fiction writer James M. Cain, directed by Billy Wilder, and with a cast including Fred MacMurray (pre-My Three Sons), Barbara Stanwyck, and Edward G. Robinson, Double Indemnity tells the story of an insurance agent who becomes involved with an attractive woman who wants her husband dead to collect insurance money. Things don’t work out as planned.

Laura

Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews star in Director Otto Preminger’s story of a New York detective investigating the brutal murder of a woman in her fashionable apartment. As the detective grows obsessed with the case, he finds himself falling in love with the dead woman. Developed from a novel by Vera Caspary, Laura is filled with dark twists and turns in a typical film noir fashion.

The Maltese Falcon

I lied! I couldn’t do film noir without Bogart. The Maltese Falcon is my favorite and I couldn’t ignore it, with a great cast including Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, Sydney Greenstreet, and Bogie, and directed by Walter Houston. It’s a film with great dialogue, characters, and a plot that doesn’t stop twisting as P.I. Sam Spade investigates the murder of his partner during a stakeout, where all roads lead to the theft and recovery of a black bird.

Want More?

If you can’t find the noir titles you’re looking for in Douglas County Libraries’ collection, be sure to search Prospector. All DCL library cardholders have access to this combined catalog from other Colorado and Wyoming public and academic library collections. Visit DCL.org/request-title and click Search Prospector, or ask a DCL staff member for help in finding that title you’re looking for!

Take the (Quantum) Leap Into Sci-Fi

Science fiction is a marvelous genre that encompasses many ideas. You can read more along the “science” end or “fiction” end of the spectrum based on your personal taste. Almost anything goes in sci-fi; there are monsters, space flights, advanced technologies, aliens, mutants, experiments, dystopias, robots, time travel, and much more.

Science fiction has been around for quite a long time, at least since Frankenstein in 1818 and the works of H.G. Wells and Jules Verne in the late 1800s. Some classic sci-fi ideas have even become reality, like traveling to the moon and other planets. I remember reading Ender’s Game in high school and thinking it was strange that the students did all their schoolwork on laptops that had everything they needed. It didn’t seem real to me, the girl with a backpack full of textbooks. But that is now the reality for many students. Makes you wonder what future realities we’re reading about today!

This genre is so diverse, you’re sure to find a story to enjoy. If you need help, just ask a DCL librarian for recommendations — or jump into a new world in one of these recent releases.

The Calculating Stars

by Mary Robinette Kowal
Reviewers have described this as an alternate history of the space race, and it hits on some of today’s hot social issues. After a meteorite falls to earth on a cold spring night in 1952, the earth faces a climate cataclysm that calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space. Elma York, an experienced WASP pilot and mathematician, earns a place in the International Aerospace Coalition as it attempts to put a man on the moon. But Elma wonders why women can’t go too. Elma’s drive to become the first lady astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held social conventions of the day may not stand a chance against her.

Suicide Club

by Rachel Heng
This debut is set in near-future New York City, where the pursuit of immortality is all-consuming and human organs are traded on what’s called the New York Exchange. Lea Kirino is a “lifer,” which means she has the potential to live forever if she does everything right. But her perfect life is turned upside down when she is drawn into the world of the Suicide Club, a group of rebels who reject society’s pursuit of immortality and instead choose to live, and die, on their own terms.

Gate Crashers

by Patrick S. Tomlinson
One reviewer called this the Brooklyn Nine-Nine of space opera comedies — a light, fun and funny read. On humanity’s first extra-solar mission, the exploration vessel Magellan (“Maggie”) discovers an alien construction and decides it’s too important to ignore, thus setting off events that culminate in a plot to destroy Earth.

Summerland

by Hannu Rajaniemi
In this sci-fi spy thriller, loss is a thing of the past, murder is obsolete, and death is just the beginning. It’s 1938 and death is no longer feared — it’s exploited. Since the discovery of the afterlife, the British Empire has extended its reach into Summerland, a metropolis for the recently deceased. Yet Britain isn’t the only contender for power in this life and the next. The Soviets have spies in Summerland. When SIS agent Rachel White gets a lead on a Soviet mole, blowing the whistle puts her hard-earned career at risk. The spy has friends in high places, and she will have to go rogue to bring him in.

Ball Lightning

by Cixin Liu

When Chen’s parents are incinerated before his eyes by a blast of ball lightning, he devotes his life to cracking the secret of this mysterious natural phenomenon. His search takes him to stormy mountaintops, an experimental military weapons lab, and an old Soviet science station. The more he learns, the more he comes to realize that ball lightning is just the tip of an entirely new frontier. While Chen’s quest for answers gives purpose to his lonely life, it also pits him against soldiers and scientists with motives of their own.

Side Life

by Steve Toutonghi
In this mind-bending thriller, Vin is a down-on-his-luck tech entrepreneur who was forced out of the software company he started. He takes a job house-sitting a beautiful Seattle mansion, where he discovers the owner — who has been missing for a year — has built a secret basement lab filled with computers, wired caskets, and a thick, dog-eared notebook of codes, odd symbols, and strange drawings. The notebook refers to the entire system as the “creche,” which induces a state similar to suspended animation. When Vin tries the system, he finds himself transported into other human consciousnesses. As his reality begins to unravel, he finds himself on a terrifying journey through the multiverse, returning each time to a mutated version of his own reality.

The Gone World

by Tom Sweterlitsch
Time-traveling Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) agent Shannon Moss is assigned to solve the case of a Navy SEAL’s murdered family and to find the SEAL’s missing teenage daughter. Determined to find the missing girl and driven by a troubling connection from her own past, Moss travels through time to explore possible versions of the future, seeking evidence or insight that will crack the present-day case. To her horror, the future reveals that it’s not only the fate of a family that hinges on her investigation, but also the fate of humanity itself.

 

All About Paris

Paris is one of my favorite destinations, and early fall is the best time to visit the legendary city. September is a weather-friendly, less-crowded season and, most importantly, it’s when European Heritage Days takes place. Parisian monuments are open for free to visitors during this cultural event, which is organized each year by the French Ministry of Culture and Communication.

During European Heritage Days, guests can discover such famous classic monuments as Elysée Palace, Matignon, Musée d’Orsay, and the Arc de Triomphe, or more contemporary buildings such as the Philharmonie de Paris, the Fondation Louis Vuitton, and La Cité de la Mode et du Design. Many other events take place at particular venues throughout the city.

If you can’t make it to Paris in person, visit vicariously through these recommended items available in DCL’s collection.

When Paris Sizzled

by Mary Sperling McAuliffe

It is the 1920s. World War I is over, and people are looking to the future with hope. It is a decade of technological and cultural changes in Parisian life. The great artists — Jean Cocteau, Picasso, Stravinsky, Proust — still dictate cultural trends, while new stars arise, such as Coco Chanel and Kiki de Montparnasse. The city attracts many young artists and writers, including Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Cole Porter, and Josephine Baker. The city sizzles! In this nonfiction book, McAuliffe brings Paris of the early 20th century to life. The author takes a clear look at the legendary city, picturing its glamour and darkness at the same time.

McAuliffe dedicated three other books to Paris: Dawn of the Belle Époque: The Paris of Monet, Zola, Bernhardt, Eiffel, Debussy, Clemenceau, and Their Friends; Twilight of the Belle Époque: The Paris of Picasso, Stravinsky, Proust, Renault, Marie Curie, Gertrude Stein, and Their Friends Through the Great War; and a new work published in September, Paris on the Brink: The 1930s Paris of Jean Renoir, Salvador Dali, Simone de Beauvoir, André Gide, Sylvia Beach, Leon Blum, and Their Friends. Her four literary works constitute a historical compendium of the legendary city of the 19th and early 20th centuries with a novelistic approach.

Paris Echo

by Sebastian Faulks
In Faulks’ latest novel, Paris is viewed through the eyes of two protagonists: an American scholar, Hannah, and a teenage boy from Morocco, Tariq. Their life experiences shape the plot in the story. Hannah focuses her research on women working in the Resistance during World War II, as Tariq — naively idolizing Parisian life — looks for traces of his French mother and an opportunity to start his life in the City of Light. The stories told by each character reveal both a beauty and tragedy of the city, bringing ghosts of the past to life.

Midnight in Paris

Even if you don’t appreciate Woody Allen’s work, this particular movie might give you some thrill. Paris is shown in all its beauty. Allen’s charming, romantic story is about a young writer and his fiancée who come to Paris for a vacation. Gil, the young writer, is struggling to finish his novel, while his materialistic fiancée pushes him to concentrate on more lucrative work. When walking back to the hotel by himself one night, Gil experiences some magic at midnight. He’s taken on a journey in time to the romantic era of 1920s Paris, an experience that changes Gil’s life forever. The film’s fantastic cast, beautiful pictures of the city, and jazzy music are a treat for viewers.

Paris: The Great Saga

This documentary recreates the history of Paris through 3,000 years. Through aerial images, 3D-animated CGI, fictional reenactments, and interviews with historians, viewers are able to witness the city’s development from ancient times through centuries of architectural, cultural and political revolutions. Five hours of fascinating journeys through time with beautiful images of the Eternal City will satisfy every history enthusiast.

Paris

by Alison Balsom
Stream this album through Hoopla. Acclaimed British trumpeter Alison Balsom delights with a distinctive, clear sound and sensitive artistic interpretations of classical and jazz masterpieces. With this album, she pays tribute to the city where she attended the Conservatoire de Paris and to her mentor Maurice André. Her interpretations of Oblivion and Les Feuilles Mortes are unforgettable! Balsom’s soft, romantic, sometimes-jazzy tunes bring a dreamy picture of the City of Light alive.

Hello Paris!

by Christopher Franceschelli

Share your love for Paris with children! This playful board book introduces the youngest audience to the beautiful city: “Night city. Bright city. Light city. Paris!” The enjoyable children’s book begins with a simple map showing significant places in Paris. It’s great for reading-together time. Franceschelli created a book about New York in the same format. I can’t wait to see more in the series!

 

Enjoy more of Paris in these great novels.

Rendezvous Reads for Mountain Men & Women

A Rendezvous attendee watches a marksmanship competition in Elbert County, Colorado.

During the early 1800s, mountain men and trappers in the Rockies rendezvoused with fur buyers and goods suppliers to sell their furs, restock supplies, and catch up on social interaction. This was called, simply, a Rendezvous.

Today, enthusiasts of history, black powder (muzzleloader) shooting, and pioneer/mountain living gather to recreate the past at Rendezvous events around the West.

At a Rendezvous, you will find activities and settings appropriate to the time period. There may be gatherings for camp fire meals, sometimes cooked with game; muzzleloader, axe and archery marksmanship competitions; oral history, storytelling and tall tales; song and dance; and crafts, costumes and artistry. Attendees dress in denim and cotton, wool, buckskins, oilskins, leather and fur, and the setting may be as formal as Bent’s Old Fort near La Junta, Colorado, or as informal as a space on a private ranch in the mountains.

While many of these events are held during summer, some are held in other seasons. I attended a Rendezvous in mid-winter where hardy attendees (not I!) camped in canvas tents with wool blankets and buffalo hides on their cots.

If you’d like to find a Rendezvous, check out the Facebook page Mountain Man Rendezvous & Reenactments, Rocky Mountain Region.

And for some reading on rendezvous, mountain/pioneer living, and history, try one of these books at DCL!

Rocky Mountain Rendezvous: A History of the Fur Trade Rendezvous 1825-1840

by Fred R. Gowans
A bit dry, but good information if you are looking to dig a little deeper into what’s recreated at Rendezvous events today.

Cowboys, Mountain Men & Grizzly Bears: Fifty of the Grittiest Moments in the History of the Wild West

by Matthew P. Mayo
Some say it’s “gritty,” “gross” and “intense.” You be the judge.

The Big Sky

by A.B. Guthrie, Jr.
First in a series of adventure novels set in the West, The Big Sky tells the story of Boone Caudill, a Kentuckian who travels west in the 1830s to become a mountain man.

The Revenant: A Novel of Revenge

by Michael Punke
If you haven’t already seen the movie Revenant, this is the book it is based upon: the story of Hugh Glass, a man betrayed by his friends and left for dead to crawl 200 miles to safety after being mauled by a grizzly bear. It’s based on a true story. If you’d like an older version of the same story, Frederick Manfred’s Lord Grizzly is an extensively detailed and gritty account. You can stream the audiobook on Hoopla.

Mountain Man Skills

by Stephen Brennan
While I’d say the last thing we need in Colorado is instruction on starting a fire, having information on building a shelter can come in handy for anyone!

Firearms, Traps & Tools of the Mountain Men

by Carl Parcher Russell
Extensive, well-researched and in-depth information on all the tools of the trade. A great book for someone just getting started.