Cozy Reads for Chilly Nights: A Winter Reading List

Looking out over the winter landscape filled with snow and ice (this is Minnesota, after all), we here at The Library Ladies are looking for a cup of cocoa, a warm fire, and a good read. With the Winter Solstice descending upon us, and the holidays that come with it, we have a list of winter-y reads to get your in the seasonal spirit. 

341288Book: “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

Publication Info: Roberts Brothers, 1868

With the opening line “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” we are introduced to the beloved March Sisters and their coming of age. The story of Jo, Meg, Amy, and Beth has been beloved since it’s publication in the 1860s, and has stood the test of time not only as a favorite children’s book, but an enduring Christmas tale. It has spawned numerous adaptations from stage to screen, and shows the love that a family has for each other during the best and worst times of their lives (we will never forgive Louisa May Alcott for Beth). If you haven’t read it before or if it’s been awhile, it could be fun to pick it up and see why this story is so immortal.

25773791Book: “Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North” by Blair Braverman

Publication Info: Ecco, July 2016

We in Minnesota know cold, but even the colds of Alaska and the far reaches of Norway are a bit intimidating. In this fun memoir, Blair Braverman recounts the time in her life where she uprooted from California and moved to the Arctic Circle, first working on a sled dog team in Norway and then moving to work as a glaciar tour guide in Alaska. Telling stories from her various jobs, as well as the stories that are far more about her personal life, “Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube” is a tale about adjusting to a new life, standing tall even when you feel like you don’t have it in you, and learning to love living in the deathly cold.

25489134Book: “The Bear and the Nightingale” by Katherine Arden

Publication Info: Del Rey Books, January 2017

I will take any and every opportunity to promote this book. And with my review for the third and final book in this trilogy coming down the pike, this reading list is the perfect place to once again highlight this series. Set in Russia and featuring a snow/death god, is it any wonder that this makes for the perfect read for fantasy lovers in the winter? Nevermore will you appreciate your warm cozy house than when you are reading about Vasilisa and her family all vying for the coveted chance to sleep on top of the househould oven. Like the cover of the book, the story perfectly captures the beauty and danger that can be found in the extreme cold. Fans of fairytale-like fantasy stories should definitely check this one out!

24485589Book: “Hunted” by Meagan Spooner

Publication Info: HarperTeen, March 2017

Another fantasy novel, this one a re-telling of “Beauty and the Beast,” “Hunted” is unique for the important role that winter plays in this classic tale. Much of the story is driven the the harsh cold and the winter hunting prowess of the main character. I particularly enjoyed this re-telling for its joining the rare ranks of fairytale retellings that do not demonize the main character’s sisters, but instead develop healthy familial relationships alongside the primary romance. The story also takes several divergences from the classic tale, so readers shouldn’t go in confident that they know already where this story is going or will end up!

20309175Book: “My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories”

Publication Info: St. Martin’s Griffin, October 2014

We read this book a few years ago for bookclub, and it is the perfect short-story collection for the winter months. As the title so obviously states, these are holiday stories, but they are a diverse grouping, focusing on different winter holidays and the many different people who experience them. While we both found the stories hit and miss (we had a few stand-out favorites, but also a few that we didn’t enjoy as much), as a whole this collection has a little something to offer up to everyone. Plus, you can read it one story at a time through-out the holiday season, drawing out the fun with a nightly new story!

What books do you enjoy reading during the chilly, winter-y months? Let us know in the comments below!

Highlights: December 2018

The holiday season is officially upon us! And here in Minnesota, this is the one bright side of the onslaught of cold weather and dark evenings. But between decorating, holiday parties, and an excessive amount of baked goods, we still, of course, found time to look ahead to books we want to get our hands on this month! Here are our picks for December.

Serena’s Picks

23510085Book: “Fire and Heist” by Sarah Beth Durst

Publication Date: December 4, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Other than the fact that Durst is one of the author’s whose new books I always keep an eye out for, the title alone should probably say enough. A fantasy novel featuring a heist story? After my ravings about “Six of Crows,” my love for these types of stories should come as no surprise. Here, we have a protagonist, Sky, whose entire family has a long history of stealing treasure. So much so, that one’s first heist is essentially a coming-of-age moment. And for the fantasy element, Sky is a wyvern, a human capable of turning into a dragon. So, yeah. That all sounds pretty cool and I’ll be reading it ASAP.

40130093Book: “Once Upon a River” by Diane Setterfield

Publication Date: December 4, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I think this book is technically categorized as literary fiction. But with its folklore-ish description of an inn where stories abound and where a stranger appears with a seemingly drowned girl who miraculously comes back to life hours later, it sounds like one of those genre-crossing stories that might be just up my alley. I haven’t read Setterfield’s popular “The Thirteenth Tale,” but I know people rave about it. So this book looks like just as good of an entry point to her work as any. Not to mention, that cover is absolutely to die for.

36373555Book: “Splendor and Spark” by Mary Taranta

Publication Date: December 4, 2018

Why I’m Interested: For one thing, another beautiful cover! For two, this is another of those weird examples where I’m highlighting the second book in a series when I have yet to post a review for the first. Alas, these things happen. But hopefully my review for the first will be coming shortly, and in the mean time, I’m still super excited for this sequel. At its heart, it’s a fantasy story featuring the complicated emotions between two sisters. There’s romance, magic, and intrigue. Plus a very hateable villain. I also love the fact that its a duology, so this book should conclude the story. Not everything has to be a trilogy people!

Kate’s Picks

38926467Book: “Clueless: One Last Summer” by Amber Benson and Sarah Kuhn

Publication Date: December 4, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I’m sure you all remember that “Clueless” is one of my favorite movies, and that I was pretty satisfied with the first graphic novel that was based upon it. Given that it focused the stories on Cher, Dionne, and Tai, and didn’t make their main focus romantic, I thought that it was a fun, girl power romp. So when I found out that Amber Benson and Sarah Kuhn wrote another collection, this one taking place during the summer before college, I really wanted to get my hands on it. I hope that they can keep the fun kitsch up, and that it’s another worthy follow up that showcases my personal hero and idol Cher Horowitz.

38491738Book: “Deadfall” by Stephen Wallenfels

Publication Date: December 10, 2018

Why I’m Interested: When two brothers, hiding secrets and on the run, come upon a car accident, they are hoping to help in any way they can. And then a noise starts coming from the trunk. What they find inside sends them into a situation more dangerous than they could have ever imagined. You had me at noise in the trunk. I love thrillers, especially thrillers that involve survival horror AND do-gooders trying to help only to find out that no good deed goes unpunished. It seems like it’s going to be the kind of book that I’m going to really enjoy reading on a snowy winter night.

38355282Book: “Watching You” by Lisa Jewell

Publication Date: December 26, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Lisa Jewell has kind of flown under my radar when it comes to thriller novels. I’ve seen her books at the library and on my Goodreads feed, but I haven’t as of yet picked one up by her. But “Watching You” is probably going to be the one to change that, as it sounds creepy and dark. My favorite things! A well loved head master name Tom Fitzwilliam is living in a high end neighborhood, and his new neighbor Joey has found herself very attracted to him. But one of his students, Jenna, is convinced that Mr. Fitzwilliam has secrets that he’s hiding, dangerous secrets, and that he may be a predator. It sounds like it has multiple unreliable narrators AND a weird stalker who will set my teeth on edge, which I LOVE.

What books are you looking forward to this month? Let us know in the comments!

Not Just Books: November 2018

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks

mv5bodcwotg2mde3nf5bml5banbnxkftztgwntuynty1njm-_v1_sy1000_cr006751000_al_Netflix Show: “Daredevil” Season 3

I’ve been pretty diligent with my Marvel Netflix show watching. That said, there have been some definite misses of late and I had started getting lazy. Truth time: I didn’t even finish the second season of Luke Cage. And honestly, given that it was cancelled shortly after, I count this as a lucky miss. But I’ve always loved “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones.” Both had stellar first seasons and second seasons that dragged a bit but were still good quality. So this is the first (and maybe last with all of the cancellations?!) of the Marvel Netflix shows to get a third season. And man, if this one is evidence of anything, it’s that some series can get even stronger as they go! This was not only the best season for this show in particular but vies for a tie with my ultimate favorite in “Jessica Jones” season 1. It’s also one of the few shows that fully takes advantage of its 13 episode format and doesn’t ever succumb to filler plot lines. I love the intense look into Matt’s Catholic faith that comes to the forefront in this season, as well as the payoff in such a well-defined villain as Kingpin has become. It ties things up quite nicely, but I can’t help but wish for a fourth season if this is the quality we can expect!

250px-survivor_david_vs_goliathTV Show: “Survivor” Season 38

It’s time once again for me to remind readers that yes, I still watch this long-running reality TV show and yes, I love it enough to post it publicly on this blog. Look, it’s not that I love reality TV in general, but I have weaknesses towards certain things and other than cooking contest shows (my other main reality TV fare), “Survivor” hits on them all. Drama, but not stupid, relationship drama. Outdoorsy survival situations. And physical competitions. There’s no denying that it’s pretty impressive that a show that started in what, 2000, is still on today. And it speaks to the lasting appeal of the concept. I mean, who doesn’t have fun watching others willing place themselves into situations where it’s pretty much ongoing suffering and betrayal? Beyond that, it’s always thrilling to see the players who truly excel, and this season has a great cast of characters, many of whom I’d be happy to see win. Of course, this means they will all lose, since it’s been a while since my ultimate favorite has won. But I can hope anew each season!

mv5bzwflnjnmntetytfkmi00njdklwe0mdgtzgyzowm4nzu0m2njxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyndg3ota0nzq-_v1_sx1777_cr001777999_al_Documentary: “The Tigers of Scotland”

Yes, that looks like a regular, old tabby cat in the picture. But guess what?! It’s not! It’s a Scottish Wildcat, the only wild “big cat” in the UK. I had never heard of these cats before, but when I saw this documentary floating around Netflix, of course I jumped on it. I mean, cats…need I say more? The hour-long documentary discusses the fragile state of the Scottish Wildcat, noting that there are perhaps only less than 100 living wild in Scotland today. Conservation efforts, challenges, and the unique makeup that marks the Scottish Wildcat as a distinct species are all covered. Plus, it’s just gorgeous and there are a lot of shots of adorable cats. I can attest to the fact that the show is only improved when watched with one’s own feline companion sleeping on one’s lap.

Kate’s Picks

80688Podcast: “Casefile”

As a true crime aficionado and true crime obsessive, I’m always on the look out for true crime podcasts that can keep me sated until the next episode of “Last Podcast on the Left” or “My Favorite Murder” is released. One that I have recently started listening to is “Casefile”, a podcast from Australia. Like “Last Pod” and “MFM”, “Casefile covers a litany of true crimes from all over the world, but unlike the previous two it is far more ‘just the facts’ without the humorous commentary. The host is an anonymous Australian man who tells the stories with a serious tone, and the cases range from murder to The Dark Web Silk Road to theft to fraud. For those of you who want accuracy, the research is impeccable. If you like true crime but aren’t comfortable with the shows that combine as such with black humor, “Casefile” might be a good fit for you! I’ve found it very informative and fascinating.

mv5bztc2zdq1odmtndzlys00zmeylthlotqtnjg0mgflzjkzyjhlxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvyoduxotu0otg-_v1_TV Series: “The Good Place”

I’m not horribly late to this show, as I did watch Season 1 on and off earlier this year, but it wasn’t until I got my husband into it that I really dove headfirst into “The Good Place”. This incredibly hilarious and also supremely heart felt show not only explores day to day ethics and philosophy, but it showcases a stellar cast whose chemistry is off the charts. Everyone is cast perfectly, and the plot lines are whimsical as well as dark. And even though there is something of a surprise ending to Season 1, Season 2 is able to roll with some interesting changes and upheavals. We’ve been enjoying unwinding with this show this month, as it really does know how to make the viewer feel pretty good as well as think deeply about philosophical hypotheticals.

220px-red_dead_redemption_iiVideo Game: “Red Dead Redemption 2”

I never played “Red Dead Redemption” back when it came out, but like many popular games it had been in my husband’s library. I had heard a lot of buzz about “Red Dead Redemption 2”, and was already interested in it because of what I’d heard. Then I decided to give it a whirl, and boy am I glad that I did. I’m not big into Westerns, but this game definitely has a lot of themes within it that I do enjoy: loyalty, morality, justice, and just plain out being an outlaw. I’m not very good at it (shooting games are really tough for me mechanics wise), but there are enough side missions and open world sandbox aspects that I can just pet my horse, fish, and wander around to my heart’s content, helping people along the way. And yeah, screwing others over is pretty fun too.

 

Who Rules The World? Girls!: Books With Women Who Kick Ass (Part 2)

Two years ago, we here at the Library Ladies were left despondent and angry at the way that the Presidential Election turned out. Two years later, most of our fears have been confirmed, and American politics has been a shit show. But this year, it was a Midterm Election, and things went a bit better this time around. One of the reasons for that is more that 100 women were elected into governing positions across the nation, breaking the all time record of women in such roles!! So in honor of that, we’re bringing back our Women Who Kick Ass Book List, and this time it’s based in hope!!

13642929Book: “My Beloved World” by Sonia Sotomayor

Publishing Info: Knopf, January 2013

The first Latinx justice and the third woman on the bench, Sonia Sotomayor is a really awesome lady in many, many ways. Her memoir is the story of her life, from her childhood living in a Bronx based housing project to her time as a Judge on the Supreme Court of the United States. She is very open about the struggles that she had to overcome in her life, from a broken marriage to living with diabetes since childhood and an unstable home life, but always emphasizes the determined spirit that she had to get through. Sotomayor’s voice always shines through in relatable and honest ways, and her story shows the power of believing in oneself, and how far it can take you.

10846336Book: “Salvage the Bones” by Jesmyn Ward

Publishing Info: Bloomsbury, August 2011

Jesmyn Ward has always been known for writing emotional and evocative books, from “Men We Reaped” to “Sing, Unburied, Sing”, but the novel that first won her a National Book Award was “Salvage the Bones”. It’s the story of Esch, a black teenage girl living in a coastal Mississippi town as Hurricane Katrina is heading towards shore, and the ways that she tries to keep her family together as the inevitable lurches towards them. Esch is a determined and driven character, who is dealing with her own personal turmoil outside of the impending hurricane (poverty, an unwanted pregnancy, a rough home life), but she is always there for her siblings and always trying her best to make things safe for them as the storm looms. This is a tough read, but it’s beautifully written and the characters, especially Esch, will stay with you.

32025298Book: “The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine who Outwitted America’s Enemies” by Jason Fagone

Publishing Info: Dey Street Books, September 2017

Similar to our recommendation of “Hidden Figures” in our last list of this kind, “The Woman Who Smashed Codes” is another incredible true story of women operating behind the scenes throughout history, getting stuff done, but going largely unnoticed. Together with her husband, Elizabeth Smith could be considered the starting point for the NSA (for better or worse these days). But in her time, she was able to put her incredible code-breaking stills to work on secretive missions to gain important intel during WWII. But the story explores much more than just that, diving also into her work exposing gangsters during Prohibition and her husband’s experiences breaking the Japanese version of Enigma.

3236307Book: “Graceling” by Kristin Cashore

Publishing Info: Harcourt, October 2008

Another fiction choice, “Graceling’s” main character, Katsa essentially has the skill of “being badass.” You think I’m exaggerating, but that’s pretty much it. In a world that is made up of certain individuals with seemingly random abilities, Katsa’s is by far the most awe-inspiring. But as fans of Spiderman know so well, this type of gift doesn’t come with out strings and difficult choices attached. What makes Katsa stand apart is the way she never backs down from confronting these challenges herself. She doesn’t wait for others, she doesn’t question her own abilities. She just sees a wrong or a need, and she acts. Definitely a go-to for fantasy fans, Katsa fully earns her place on this list.

28503941Book: “Wonder Women: 25 Innovators, Inventors and Trailblaizers Who Changed History” by Sam Maggs

Publishing Info: Quirk Books, October 16

Of course, there are simply too many amazing women throughout history to list an entire book for each of them. So instead, here’s a lovely compilation of twenty-five of them for you to enjoy in small snippets. What makes this collection all the more enjoyable is the fact that many of these women may be ones you were unfamiliar with prior to picking up this book! There are also interviews with women currently in STEM-related fields and other resources for women looking to make their way into the sciences.

What are some of your favorite books about powerful women? Let us know in the comments!

Not Just Books: October 2018

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks

dragon_age_iii-2514302

Video Game: Dragon Age: Inquisition

I love Skyrim. It’s probably my favorite video game up to this point. But, sadly, I’m starting to scrape the bottom of the barrel as far as how much is left of that game (I’ve been drawing it out foreeevver at this point). So, I started looking around to find something similar, and this game popped up. I haven’t played either of the two to come before it, but I thought, why the heck not, and jumped in on this, the third. For one the word “dragon” was in the title. And for two, the graphics and general fantasy setting seemed very similar to Skyrim. But, of course, they are very different games. This is the first game of this sort that I’ve played where part of the game is learning the tactical and strategic management of a party of characters other than your main story character. It’s taken some getting used to and patience, but I think I’m finally getting there. There’s also an overwhelming amount of quests and things to do, but that’s probably for the best. I need something to tide me over for the likely YEARS remaining before the next Elder Scrolls releases anyways.

mv5bmjaynzkxotu5mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtk1otyznjm-_v1_sy1000_sx800_al_TV Show: “Supernatural”

What would fall be without a return to the world of “Supernatural?” Honestly, with the start of season 14, I really don’t know! I’ve been watching this show since college and that’s way longer ago than I would like to think about. But, of course, we’re back and with Dean now possessed by the archangel Michael, the question remains: will this last for 2 episodes or will they stretch it out to a full 3?? After 14 seasons, fans of the show know one solid truth: the heart of this series is Dean and Sam together. Any fiddling with that recipe has lead to disaster, so it’s not a matter of if Dean will be rescued; it’s not even a question of when. Instead, it’s just how quickly will the show manage to resolve this current hiccup before returning us to our usual, brotherly love programming?

mv5bmje2mdiwmdu5ml5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtkxntgznjm-_v1_Movie: “Free Solo”

A few years ago, my husband and I struck on a bizarre movie fixation that we shared: fascinating/horrifying documentaries about mountaineering/climbing. There’s some hard-to-pin down thrill about the combination of wonder at the gorgeous cinematography, terror of heights, and shared judgement over the sanity of the individuals involved that makes for a great movie-going experience. So for our anniversary this year (yes, this is how much we enjoy these types of films), we decided to check out “Free Solo,” the documentary following the build-up to and experience of Alex Honnold becoming the first man to climb the El Capitan Wall without ropes. It’s terrifying, people! During several portions of the movie you could look around the theater and literally see the entire crowd squirming in their seats (and this was a sold out theater, so that should also speak to the quality of the film.) Knowing the end result does practically nothing to diminish this discomfort. Honnold was also a surprisingly charming and witty individual. Though, yes, we still left the theater questioning his sanity.

Kate’s Picks

mv5bmtu4nza4mdewnf5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtqxodyznjm-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_Netflix Show: “The Haunting of Hill House”

As a big fan of Shirley Jackson’s original novel, and the fabulous 1963 film adaptation (we are NOT going to talk about the 1999 abomination), I was a little skeptical when I saw the trailer for “The Haunting of Hill House”. Who were all these people, and what did ANY of them have to do with a paranormal investigation into an old haunted mansion? And while “The Haunting of Hill House” on Netflix is a very loose adaptation of the book it comes from, I really, REALLY enjoyed what was done with it. Instead of trying to recreate the entire story from the book, the show creates a new set of characters who take traits from the original ones. This time it’s a family that has been haunted by a traumatic living experience in this house, and how they have all fallen apart because of it. It’s not only pretty dang scary, it’s also one of the most emotional shows that I’ve seen in a long time.

220px-halloween_28201829_posterFilm: “Halloween” (2018)

I first saw the original John Carpenter “Halloween” during my freshman year in high school. While the people I was watching with weren’t as affected as I was, I was completely taken in by the tension and dread surrounding the story. Michael Myers was sufficiently terrifying and Jamie Lee Curtis was the perfect heroine as Laurie Strode. The rest of the series (outside of “Halloween H20”) didn’t really do much for me. So when I found out that the new film “Halloween” was going to retcon everything after the first one, I was excited. Instead of being the long stalked sister, in “Halloween” (2018) she is a tough, traumatized mother and grandmother who is waiting for Michael to come for her. Because she’s ready for him this time. This movie not only got back to the nitty gritty of the terror and suspense of the original, it showcases Curtis as the powerhouse she always as been, as well as introducing other lady characters who are here to take care of business. It is the sequel that “Halloween” has always deserved.

chilling-adventures-sabrina-netflixNetflix Show: “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”

I had been waiting for this to come out for a long time, and now it’s here. Given how much I loved the comics, I was pretty excited to see what Netflix did with “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”. And while it didn’t go AS dark as the comics did, I think that there are a lot of things to like about this show. The cast is pretty great, with Kiernan Shipka playing the titular teen witch, but I thought that the real MVPs were Miranda Otto and Lucy Davis, who play Aunts Zelda and Hilda. While both of them could be two dimensional caricatures (Zelda as the stern true believer and Hilda as the bubbly optimist), they each give the aunts depth and nuance. While there are some moments that come off a little cringey (some of the optics weren’t totally well thought out), overall I think that “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” is an entertaining and fun tale about witches and the mortals they care about.

 

Highlights: October 2018

HAPPY HALLOWEEN SEASON, NERDS!!! Yes, the Season of the Witch has begun, and Kate can barely contain her excitement for all things horror, while Serena looks forward to embracing all clothing cozy and cardigan-esque. Neither like to think about the upcoming winter. But with a new month comes new books, and here are the titles we are looking forward to this month!

Serena’s Picks

36342330Book: “The Hollow of Fear” by Sherry Thomas

Publication Date: October 2, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Interested?? I’m SO much more excited than just “interested!” I absolutely adored the first two books in the Lady Sherlock series (thanks again Kate for getting me started on this!) and devoured them both in only a few days. So this has been one of my more anticipated reads of the entire year. I have a copy already on hand and it’s been all I can do to try to resist reading it until closer to its publication date. That being said, a review is going to show up VERY soon. As for the plot, it seems to be continuing the fallout of the break in Lord and Lady Ingram’s marriage, ending with murderous finality in this book with the discovery of the body of the latter found on Lord Ingram’s own property. Now it is up to Charlotte Holmes to save her dear friend from the noose. Have I mentioned that I’m excited for this one??

25446343Book: “Muse of Nightmares” by Laini Taylor

Publication Date: October 2, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Again, do you have to ask? After the crushing cliffhanger that was the end of “Strange the Dreamer,” I’ve been  biting at the bit to get my hands on this one and finally have all of my questions resolves. I mean, I’m sure they will be resolved in the heard-wrenching and tragic manner possible, because this is Laini Taylor we’re talking about. But the writing will be beautiful while we suffer, so at least there’s that. Don’t want to spoil the first one for any of you crazies who haven’t gotten around to it yet, but news gods have appeared, characters have died, and ghosts roam free. It’s sure to be a wild ride!

31822495Book: “West” by Edith Pattou

Publication Date: October 23, 2018

Why I’m Interested: This is also technically a sequel, but its predecessor, “East” a retelling of “East of the Sun, West of the Moon” came out in 2005, so it was a complete shock when I saw it making its rounds as an up-and-comer. I might have to go re-read that one to re-familiarize myself with that exact retelling of the tale (man, I read too many fairytales), but it sounds like this one is set in the same world with the same characters only nine years later. And once again tragedy strikes and it is up to Rose to save her love and, perhaps, the world. It’s pretty rare to see authors pick up stories like this over ten years after the first book, so I’m excited to see what Pattou has in store.

Kate’s Picks

37859646Book: “Broken Things” by Lauren Oliver

Publication Date: October 2, 2018

Why I’m Interested: I have been a huge fan of Lauren Oliver for a few years now, as I think that she’s a pretty solid YA thriller author and has written some books that have caught me by surprise. So when I found out that she had a new book coming out this October, I was immediately interested. And then when it sounded a little like the Slenderman Stabbing, I was all the more excited to read it. Summer, Mia, and Brynn were inseparable teens obsessed with a fantasy book called “The Way Into Lovelorn”, so much so they began to believe that they could enter Lovelorn. Then Summer ends up murdered, and everyone thinks that Mia and Brynn killed her, though they are never charged. Now, a few years later, they are determined to clear their names, and to try and find out what did happen to Summer. I’m hoping for a solid murder mystery with lots of surprises!

39720991Book: “The Witch Elm” by Tana French

Publication Date: October 9, 2018

Why I’m Interested: This is another thriller novel based on a true crime, this time the “Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm?” murder. And similar to that case, it involves someone finding a skull inside of a tree. But as if that wasn’t tantalizing enough, I’ve read a few other books by Tana French, and she is almost assuredly one of the most anticipated mystery writers out there right now, with her “Dublin Murder Squad” books almost always in high demand at book stores and libraries alike. “The Witch Elm”, however, is on it’s own as a standalone novel, which is definitely a change of pace for her. A man named Toby is trying to escape the memories of a trauma, and goes to a familial estate to care for an ill uncle. But while he is there the gruesome discovery of a skull in a tree is found, which makes Toby think that perhaps the past can’t really be escaped. Given that I’ve enjoyed her writing in the past I’m really looking forward to this new chiller from Tana French.

38355410Book: “Elevation” by Stephen King

Publication Date: October 30th, 2018

Why I’m Interested: Say it with me: STEPHEN KING!! But here is the thing about “Elevation” and what it sounds like: this book might not actually be a horror story. In fact, coming in at only 145 pages, this book sounds like it’s more likely going to be one of his more recent exercises in expanding his genres, and perhaps a little bit of therapy for a world and culture that feels more and more divided as each day goes by. When a man named Scott in Castle Rock realizes that he’s ill with some mysterious disease, he starts to reevaluate his life. One of his changes is to try and reach out to the lesbian couple next door, a couple that has been experiencing discrimination and bigotry from the town, and from Scott as well. As they make unlikely friendships, they come together to try and help each other. Does it sound a little cheesy? Oh yes. But honestly, after the Halloween season is over it may be just what I need to ease down from the scares and anxieties of my favorite time of year.

Not Just Books: September 2018

While we do love us some books, believe it not, we do have a life outside of reading. So to highlight our other pop culture interests, on the last Monday of each month, we each will highlight three other “happenings” from the last month. Big events on favorite TV shows, new movies we’ve watched, old movies we’ve “discovered,” etc. Pretty much whatever we found of particular interest outside of the book world during the last month. Share your own favorite things in the comments!

Serena’s Picks

mv5bmtk3ndy5mtu0nv5bml5banbnxkftztgwndi3mde1ntm-_v1_sy1000_cr006791000_al_Movie: “Mission – Impossible: Fallout”

I actually watched this in August but somehow forgot to include it in that list, so it’s going on here! The “Mission – Impossible” series is one of those strange beasts that somehow has gotten better with age. Not only do we all want to check in to see what crazy stunt Tom Cruise will be pulling off this time, but the cinematography with how said stunt is shot has gotten better and better. Chock full of action, this lasted movie leans in on all that was great with the ones before it. The cast is phenomenal (though I will always hold the weird blurred section on Superman’s face in “Justice League” against this movie as it was the mustache Cavill had to grow here that they were trying to cover up). The action was non-stop. And it was even fun to see a few familiar faces from movies past. If you’re a fan of the franchise, this is a worthy next entry.

mv5bmjizmdcymdcxov5bml5banbnxkftztgwmtg1ndk2ntm-_v1_Amazon Prime Show: “Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan”

So apparently it was an action movie/show type of month for me, as my second pick features yet another franchise heavy weight. This time it’s John Krasinski who takes on the titular role, and does an excellent job of it (to no one’s surprise). I’ve seen several of the past movies, but haven’t read any of the books, and the character was always only mildly interesting to me. But Krasinki’s effortless charm brings a new level of soulfulness to the standard action hero, and the show wisely learns lessons from other successful mini series, especially that shows like this often live and die on the strength of the villain. And here they devote a good amount of time to developing the villain and even, at times, making him a sympathetic character. The show was also incredibly tense at times, and I’m sure more than one kitten was squeezed more than he would have liked as I watched.

mv5bntrjnta4ymetnmu5zc00yjfjltk0yzmtnmfhzdi0zgyxnmi5xkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymtk3ndawmzi-_v1_Netflix Show: “Safe”

Telling the story of a father who lives with his family in a gated community when he teenage daughter goes missing, “Safe” is both comfortingly familiar as well as interestingly new. “Broadchurch-like” could almost be a genre of its own at this point,  and this would fall well within that as the story plays the same mind games by introducing a wide cast of suspects all hiding their own secrets. However, it is an interesting twist plotting the story around a missing girl rather than than a known murder. The question of whether she’s alive or not is its own mystery for much of the story. While I, like many, was horribly burned by the ending of “Dexter,” I always liked Michael C. Hall, so it’s a blast to see him in action again. Yes, the accent is weird at first (the story is set in England), but after a while, even that faded as I focused in on the secrets that were slowly be revealed.

Kate’s Picks

220px-hamilton-posterMusical: “Hamilton”

Yep. I saw “Hamilton”. It is currently running in the Twin Cities, and my mother was one of the lucky people to win the lottery to get a time slot to potentially be able to buy tickets. And yes, it was that complicated. But she scored four, and my husband and I went with my parents (it was a birthday gift to him from my folks). I had high hopes that it was going to be good, because after all, I enjoy the soundtrack. But even with that knowledge I couldn’t anticipate just how excellent it was going to be. The music is, of course, phenomenal, but actually seeing the players on stage was a whole other experience, and everyone was great. Not only is it entertaining and in a lot of ways informative, it’s also an incredibly emotional show. By the end of the show I had been moved to tears multiple times, and all of us really loved the performance.

mv5bmjm0mda2ndeznf5bml5banbnxkftztgwodyznjg4ntm-_v1_ux182_cr00182268_al_TV Show: “You”

It’s finally here!!! Near the inception of this blog I read “You” by Caroline Kepnes, and really enjoyed it. Since that first read, I’ve re-read it multiple times, as I am downright obsessed with Joe Goldberg, the psychopathic stalker extraordinaire. You can imagine how excited I was when I found out that Lifetime was turning the Joe Goldberg books into a TV series, and now that it’s started airing it’s been so great to see on screen. Penn Badgeley is a VERY good Joe, and while the show has tweaked and made some changes to the book (some of which I’m not COMPLETELY on board with yet) it has really captured the essence of the narrative at its very heart. It’s been so fun seeing the various moments from the book play out, from mentions of a red ladle to ‘engine engine number 9’ (if you’ve read it you know what these mean), and two episodes in I’m completely hooked.

mv5byzg2zdq3mjctytqxyy00nzljlwe5mtgtyzjimmm5ztmyyjnkxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvymjywnda2mde-_v1_uy268_cr00182268_al_TV Show: “The Purge”

I first saw the original “Purge” movie a few years ago, and found beneath the horror movie surface a story that had a lot to say about American society, specifically how the ‘haves’ victimize the ‘have nots’. For the unaware, the basic premise is that an extremist political party known as the New Founding Fathers of America is now the dominant party, and once a year they hold a Purge, in which all crime is legal for twelve hours.  The TV series takes place on the 10th Purge, and follows a number of people during the twelve hours, from a man looking for his sister, to a liberal minded couple who is wooing NFFA big wigs in hopes of getting funding for a charity project, to a woman who has a grudge against her colleagues, to a mysterious masked ‘purger’. It continues to ask a lot of good questions about who would support The Purge, and who would be victimized by it.