Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Book Club Observation

I observed the monthly book club at my local library, this month they read The Orphan Train, by Christina Baker Kline. I did not participate; group discussion really isn’t my thing. The group was made up of mostly older people (think 60’s plus).The leader, a librarian, started the meeting and gave a brief summary about the book. There weren’t any provided snacks or beverages, but several people brought their own beverages. When the meeting started, the leader was the one asking the questions. The questions were all discussion questions to facilitate group discussion. Eventually the discussion took hold, and the group began to lead the discussion themselves. There were one or two who tended to monopolize the conversation, but that’s not unusual for older people who live alone. All of the attendees participated, and it was a friendly and open atmosphere.
The library system has a whole collection of book club kits: 10 copies of the book, and a list of discussion questions—the Central group doesn’t use the book club kits. The group typically reads narrative non-fiction, 90% history based, and all are Americana. The librarian creates a list of questions to begin the discussion, and incase conversation lags. The librarian also typically chooses the book, but he brings several selections for the group to decide on—he always makes sure that the book chosen has numerous copies throughout the system so that members have no problem accessing the book. The selection for next month is American Childhood by Annie Dillard.
Summary of The Orphan Train:
Between 1854 and 1929, so-called orphan trains ran regularly from the cities of the East Coast to the farmlands of the Midwest, carrying thousands of abandoned children whose fates would be determined by pure luck. Would they be adopted by a kind and loving family, or would they face a childhood and adolescence of hard labor and servitude? As a young Irish immigrant, Vivian Daly was one such child, sent by rail from New York City to an uncertain future a world away. Returning east later in life, Vivian leads a quiet, peaceful existence on the coast of Maine, the memories of her upbringing rendered a hazy blur. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. Seventeen-year-old Molly Ayer knows that a community-service position helping an elderly widow clean out her attic is the only thing keeping her out of juvenile hall. But as Molly helps Vivian sort through her keepsakes and possessions, she discovers that she and Vivian aren’t as different as they appear. A Penobscot Indian who has spent her youth in and out of foster homes, Molly is also an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. Moving between contemporary Maine and Depression-era Minnesota, Orphan Train is a powerful tale of upheaval and resilience, second chances, and unexpected friendship. (Amazon).

Friday, March 10, 2017

Mystery Annotation

Castle, R. (2013). Deadly heat. New York, New York : Hyperion Press.

 Top NYPD Homicide Detective Nikki Heat pursues the elusive former CIA station chief who ordered the execution of her mother over a decade ago. For the hunt, Nikki teams once again with her romantic partner, Pulitzer Prize winning investigative journalist Jameson Rook, and their quest for the old spy and the motive behind the past murder unearths an alarming terror plot-which is anything but ancient history. It is lethal. It is now. And it has already entered its countdown phase. Complicating Heat's mission to bring the rogue spy to justice and thwart the looming terror event, a serial killer begins menacing the Twentieth Precinct and her homicide squad is under pressure to stop him, and soon. The frightening murderer, known for his chilling stealth, not only has singled out Nikki as the exclusive recipient of his taunting messages, he then boldly names his next victim: Detective Heat (Amazon).

Characteristics of Mysteries:
1)      The solving of a crime, usually a murder, drives the plot. The detective and the audience sort through the available clues to discover the truth.
2)      The story focuses on the investigation and investigatory team. Mysteries are often written in a series, following the investigator through several cases.
3)      The frame in which the mystery is set plays a big role in its appeal.
4)      Mysteries range from dark and gritty to lighthearted and witty.
5)      Since mysteries are about the solving of a puzzle, pacing is relentless and compelling.

Patterson, J. (2002). 1st to die. New York: Warner Books.
Imagine a killer who thinks, "What is the worst thing anyone has ever done?"--and then goes far beyond it. Now imagine four women --a police detective, an assistant DA, a reporter, and a medical examiner --who join forces as they sidestep their bosses to track down criminals. Known as the Women's Murder Club, they are pursuing a murderer whose twisted imagination has stunned an entire city. Their chief suspect is a socially prominent writer, but the men in charge won't touch him. On the trail of the most terrifying and unexpected killer ever, they discover a shocking surprise that turns everything about the case upside down.

Gerritsen, T. (2012). The surgeon. New York: Ballantine Books.
In her most masterful novel of medical suspense, New York Times bestselling author Tess Gerritsen creates a villain of unforgettable evil--and the one woman who can catch him before he kills again. He slips into their homes at night and walks silently into bedrooms where women lie sleeping, unaware of the horrors they soon will endure. The precision of the killer's methods suggests he is a deranged man of medicine, propelling the Boston newspapers and the frightened public to name him "The Surgeon." Filled with the authentic detail that is the trademark of this doctor turned author . . . and peopled with rich and complex characters--from the ER to the squad room to the city morgue--here is a thriller of unprecedented depth and suspense. Exposing the shocking link between those who kill and cure, punish and protect, The Surgeon is Tess Gerritsen's most exciting accomplishment yet.

Barr, N. (2006). Hard truth. New York: The Berkley Publishing Group.
Just days after marrying Sheriff Paul Davidson, Anna Pigeon moves to Colorado to assume her new post as district ranger at Rocky Mountain National Park. When two of three children who'd gone missing from a religious retreat reappear, Anna's investigation brings her face-to-face with a paranoid sect--and with a villain so evil, he'll make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end.

Amazon. (n.d.). Retrieved March 4, 2017, from

Saricks, J. G. (2009). The readers' advisory guide to genre fiction. Chicago: American Library Association.

 WorldCat. (n.d.). Retrieved March 4, 2017, from

Monday, March 6, 2017

Science Fiction Annotation

Asimov, I. (1990). The gods themselves. New York: Bantam.

Summary: Only a few know the terrifying truth--an outcast Earth scientist, a rebellious alien inhabitant of a dying planet, a lunar-born human intuitionist who senses the imminent annihilation of the Sun.  They know the truth--but who will listen?  They have foreseen the cost of abundant energy--but who will believe?  These few beings, human and alien, hold the key to the Earth's survival (Amazon).

Characteristics of Science Fiction:
1) Speculative fiction, typically set in the future. Explores moral, ethical, or social ideas in a non-reality setting.
2) Setting is crucial to the genre: conjures a different time, place, and/or reality.
3) Offers a range of styles and language crafted to suit the storyline, and add to the speculative nature of the genre.
4) The focus of the story determines the pacing of it: More adventurous, the faster the storyline moves, etc.
5) Science fiction has a wide range of tone, from dark to comic; Tone is often used to highlight the issues discussed.

Clarke, A. C. (2000). The Hammer of God. Bantam Books.
In the year 2110 technology has cured most of our worries. But even as humankind enters a new golden age, an amateur astronomer points his telescope at just the right corner of the night sky and sees disaster hurtling toward Earth: a chunk of rock that could annihilate civilization.  While a few fanatics welcome the apocalyptic destruction as a sign from God, the greatest scientific minds of Earth desperately search for a way to avoid the inevitable. On board the starship Goliath Captain Robert Singh and his crew must race against time to redirect the meteor form its deadly collision course. Suddenly they find themselves on the most important mission in human history--a mission whose success may require the ultimate sacrifice. (Amazon).

Benford, G. (2006). Timescape. New York: Bantam Books.
The author of Tides of Light offers his Nebula Award-winning SF classic--a combination of hard science, bold speculation, and human drama. In the year 1998, a group of scientists works desperately to communicate with the scientists of 1962, warning of an ecological disaster that will destroy the oceans in the future--if it is not averted in the past. (Amazon).

Amazon. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2017, from

Saricks, J. G. (2009). The readers' advisory guide to genre fiction. Chicago: American Library Association.

WorldCat. (n.d.). Retrieved February 28, 2017, from