Reading Room Blog

03/15/2017 - 1:51am
The Gunslinger, The Dark Tower Book 1

Stephen King is best known for his terrifying and macabre horror novels. Many of his sadistic stories have grazed the minds of readers over the years. King loves to leave an uncomfortable impact on the psyche of his readers through nightmare-fueled characters such as the evil Pennywise, the Dancing Clown in IT (1980); the vicious vampire Kurt Barlow in 'Salems Lot (1975); and, of course, the dangerously haunted Overlook Hotel in The Shining (1977).

One of his epic, long-lasting creations is The Dark Tower series. Last year, Columbia Pictures announced that it would be releasing a movie based on The Dark Tower, starring Idris Elba as Roland and Matthew McConaughey as The Man in Black. To King's fans' dismay (and delight, in some cases), the film will not be an adaptation of first installment, The Gunslinger. Instead, it will be a quasi-sequel to the whole series, following the ending of the last book, The Dark Tower.

03/14/2017 - 1:50am
Cover to One-Dish Wonders

So, you want to make a substantial, memorable meal, but you don’t want to use every pot in the house or have to time multiple dishes to arrive at the table in good shape? Maybe what you need is a One-Dish Wonder. The very experienced editors at Southern Living (Oxmoor House) have gathered recipes that don’t require a lot of fuss, will work well at covered-dish suppers, and will satisfy a gathering of friends and/or family. Recipes range from breakfast to dinner to sides to desserts. Some are strictly from scratch, while others take advantage of time-saving, pre-packaged ingredients.

Savory pies really shine here, including Loaded Chicken-Bacon Pot Pie, Cheese-Crusted Pizza Pot Pies, and Vegetable Pot Pie with Parmesan-Black Pepper Biscuits.  And, of course, there are many dishes in traditional casserole form. Casseroles are great for the aforementioned covered-dish suppers, and they can also provide welcome sustenance for families and friends going through difficult times. Some that caught my eye: Chicken-Mushroom-Sage Casserole, Four-Cheese Macaroni, and Easy Lasagna.

03/13/2017 - 9:48am
Cover to Rose Daughter by Robin McKinley

Do you love the magic, romance, and wisdom of the traditional tale of Beauty and the Beast? Are you ready for something more than a Disney retelling? Award-winning fantasy author Robin McKinley’s Rose Daughter will grant your wish.

03/20/2017 - 3:14pm
Julie Scelfo, Author of The Women Who Made New York, Returns to Fredericksburg

Fredericksburg native Julie Scelfo returns home to discuss her first book, The Women Who Made New York, in a partnered event with the University of Mary Washington's Program in Women’s and Gender Studies. You can meet Julie on Monday, April 10, at 7:00 p.m., at the Headquarters Library. The event will include a lively Q&A session followed by a book signing. If you want to read the book before the event, check it out from the library!

The Women Who Made New York is an illustrated work featuring stories of the remarkably talented and influential women who made the city perhaps the most distinctive and vibrant in the world.  

03/10/2017 - 9:24am
If you like The Shack by William Paul Young

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form, and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.
 

The Shack by William Paul Young
Mackenzie Allen Phillips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever. (catalog summary)

If you like The Shack, here are some other titles you may enjoy:
 


The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations. Paulo Coelho's masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different—and far more satisfying—than he ever imagined. Santiago's journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams. (catalog summary)
 

03/08/2017 - 12:47am
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel

Seventeen years ago, young Rose Franklin landed on a mysterious crater in South Dakota. Instead of falling to her death, Rose lands on a giant, glowing mechanical hand with ambiguous symbols and pictures carved in the metal.

03/06/2017 - 8:25am
If you like Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of A Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance
Vance, a former marine and Yale Law School graduate, provides an account of growing up in a poor Rust Belt town that offers a broader, probing look at the struggles of America's white working class. The decline of this group, a demographic of our country that has been slowly disintegrating over forty years, has been reported on with growing frequency and alarm. J.D. Vance tells the true story of what a social, regional, and class decline feels like when you were born with it hung around your neck. Author of Hillbilly Elegy, J.A. Vance

The Vance family story begins hopefully in postwar America. J. D.'s grandparents were "dirt poor and in love," and moved north from Kentucky's Appalachia region to Ohio in the hopes of escaping the dreadful poverty around them. They raised a middle-class family, and eventually their grandchild (the author) would graduate from Yale Law School, a conventional marker of their success in achieving generational upward mobility. But as the family saga of Hillbilly Elegy plays out, we learn that this is only the short, superficial version. Vance's grandparents, aunt, uncle, sister, and, most of all, his mother, struggled profoundly with the demands of their new middle-class life, and were never able to fully escape the legacy of abuse, alcoholism, poverty, and trauma so characteristic of their part of America. (catalog summary)



Are you either waiting or finished with Hillbilly Elegy? Check out these similar titles to Vance's epic biography.

 

​Allegheny Front: The Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction Selected by Lydia Millet, authored by Matthew Neill NullAllegheny Front: The Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction Selected by Lydia Millet, authored by Matthew Neill Null
The deceptively powerful stories in Null's first collection, after his debut novel Honey from the Lion, create a map not only of the geography of rural West Virginia but also of its people. These are characters inhabiting places largely ignored by the outside world. In "Mates," a man kills an endangered bald eagle on his land, believing himself to be above the law, and is then stalked and tormented by the eagle's mate. In "Gauley Season," a group of ex-miners turn to operating rafting companies after their mining jobs disappear, but the promising new industry quickly leads to tragedy. The rugged lives of a group of log drivers in the late 1800s are chronicled in "The Slow Lean of Time." In the astonishing "Telemetry," a young scientist's camp on Back Allegheny Mountain is visited by a local man and his daughter, their presence forcing the scientist to confront her relationship to her own origins, which becomes a recurring theme in the collection. Violence is inevitable in these stories-guns are almost always present, and they aren't just decoration-but there is plenty of beauty, too. Landscape is an essential element, as well as the constant presence of wild animals, but Null focuses on the ways that a setting can shape how we identify with the world. The scope of the collection contains voices from multiple generations, and the result is a kaleidoscopic portrait of a distinctive region of North America, as well as an exercise in finding the universal in the particular. (catalog summary)
 

03/03/2017 - 12:44am
Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids.  You can browse the book matches here.

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
Before John Glenn orbited the earth or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of dedicated female mathematicians known as "human computers" used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. Among these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally talented African American women, some of the brightest minds of their generation. Originally relegated to teaching math in the South's segregated public schools, they were called into service during the labor shortages of World War II, when America's aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and they answered Uncle Sam's call, moving to Hampton Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory. Even as Virginia's Jim Crow laws required them to be segregated from their white counterparts, the women of Langley's all-black "West Computing" group helped America achieve one of the things it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet Union in the Cold War, and complete domination of the heavens. (catalog summary)
 

Have you read our Rappahannock Read, Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly? If you have and you're looking for more titles like Hidden Figures, check these out! These selections include: history of the Space Race and women's achievements in science and other fields of STEM.


 

The Astronaut Wives Club: A True StoryThe Astronaut Wives Club: A True Story by Lily Koppel
As America's Mercury Seven astronauts were launched on death-defying missions, television cameras focused on the brave smiles of their young wives. Overnight, these women were transformed from military spouses into American royalty. They had tea with Jackie Kennedy, appeared on the cover of Life magazine, and quickly grew into fashion icons. Annie Glenn, with her picture-perfect marriage, was the envy of the other wives; platinum-blonde Rene Carpenter was proclaimed JFK's favorite; and licensed pilot Trudy Cooper arrived on base with a secret. Together with the other wives they formed the Astronaut Wives Club, meeting regularly to provide support and friendship. Many became next-door neighbors and helped to raise each other's children by day, while going to glam parties at night. As their celebrity rose—and as divorce and tragic death began to touch their lives—they continued to rally together, and the wives have now been friends for more than fifty years. (catalog summary)
 


03/02/2017 - 9:33am
The Whistler: A Novel by John Grisham

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.

The Whistler: A Novel by John Grisham
Lacy Stoltz is an investigator for the Florida Board on Judicial Conduct. She is a lawyer, not a cop, and it is her job to respond to complaints dealing with judicial misconduct. After nine years with the Board, she knows that most problems are caused by incompetence, not corruption. But a corruption case eventually crosses her desk. A previously disbarred lawyer is back in business with a new identity. He now goes by the name Greg Myers, and he claims to know of a Florida judge who has stolen more money than all other crooked judges combined. And not just crooked judges in Florida. All judges, from all states, and throughout U.S. history. What's the source of the ill-gotten gains? It seems the judge was secretly involved with the construction of a large casino on Native American land. The Coast Mafia financed the casino and is now helping itself to a sizable skim of each month's cash. The judge is getting a cut and looking the other way. It's a sweet deal: Everyone is making money. But now Greg wants to put a stop to it. His only client is a person who knows the truth and wants to blow the whistle and collect millions under Florida law. Greg files a complaint with the Board on Judicial Conduct, and the case is assigned to Lacy Stoltz, who immediately suspects that this one could be dangerous. Dangerous is one thing. Deadly is something else. (catalog summary)
 

If you're looking for a spellbinding legal thriller like The Whistler, check out these other titles similar to Grisham's work.


As Time Goes by: A Novel by Mary Higgins ClarkAs Time Goes by: A Novel by Mary Higgins Clark
Television journalist Delaney Wright is on the brink of stardom after she begins covering a sensational murder trial for the six p.m. news. She should be thrilled, yet her growing desire to locate her birth mother consumes her thoughts. When Delaney's friends Alvirah Meehan and her husband Willy offer to look into the mystery surrounding her birth, they uncover a shocking secret they do not want to reveal. On trial for murder is Betsy Grant, widow of a wealthy doctor who has been an Alzheimer's victim for eight years. When her once-upon-a-time celebrity lawyer urges her to accept a plea bargain, Betsy refuses: she will go to trial to prove her innocence. Betsy's stepson, Alan Grant, bides his time nervously as the trial begins. His substantial inheritance hangs in the balance—his only means of making good on payments he owes his ex-wife, his children, and increasingly angry creditors. As the trial unfolds, and the damning evidence against Betsy piles up, Delaney becomes convinced that Betsy is not guilty and frantically tries to prove her innocence. (catalog summary)

03/01/2017 - 12:43am
Cover to Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge

In traditional biographies of the Washingtons, the subject of slavery rarely comes up, or, if it does, it is given a paragraph or perhaps a chapter to explain the “peculiar institution” as it related to the first First Family. There is nothing like a personal story—a slave’s personal and true story—to get a deeper perspective. In Erica Armstrong Dunbar’s Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave Ona Judge, that is exactly what we have.

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