Readers' Services

The Readers’ Services staff can help you find specific materials and can offer reading suggestions. Please phone (847) 448-8620 for assistance. Use Novelist, to find reviews, reading guides, and reading lists for fiction lovers.

The Red Garden

titleHoffman, Alice. The Red Garden. 2011. (CD Fiction Hoffm.A)

At the foot of the Berkshires in Blackwell, Massachusetts, generation after generation of intrepid or foolhardy or lonely descendants of the first settlers live out their lives, their fates entwined by shared history. Wanderers appear and stay in Blackwell, or like Johnny Appleseed, continue on their way leaving a bit of themselves behind. In these fourteen chronological tales, from the founders who survived the first winter due to the bravery of a young woman from England through the American wars and the wounded who returned or never left, every day life looks miraculous and magical like the garden where everything that grows turns red.

(Nancy E., North Branch)


Silent Witness


Silent Witness. 2014 (DVD TV Silent Season 1)

I’m a big fan of Amanda Burton (The Commander, Helen West Casebook) – she brings authenticity and vulnerability to all her roles. And in this forensic thriller series she’s superb as brilliant London University professor and pathologist Sam Ryan. With her unfailing ability to find clues from the bodies both at the scene of the crime and during the autopsies, she’s usually one step ahead of the police in solving the murders. In this debut season she deals with some very disturbing cases, including the tragic death of a six-year-old girl; a ritualistic murder, and the death of a man in a police cell. Just as fascinating as the cases though is Dr. Ryan herself. As the series evolves, we learn about her past, including the death of her father from an IRA bomb, and her relationships with her family and former lover. Although the series began in 1996, Season 1 has just been released on DVD - and as one reviewer so aptly noted: "this series knocks the socks off of any CSI or American clone." (Laura, Reader's Services)




The Rental Sister

titleBackhaus, Jeff. The Rental Sister. 2013. (Fiction Backh.J)

Hikikomori are a phenomenon in Japan, adolescents and adults who refuse to leave their rooms to engage with the world. Thomas, burdened by enormous guilt, has retreated to his bedroom in his New York apartment for three years. His patient wife, lonely and sad, has tried for those three years to bring him back out. Finally, she hires a young Japanese woman to entice Thomas to leave his room. Megumi brings her own terrible sadness to the task, including the pain from her older brother's withdrawal and her mother's subsequent flight. These two broken people need to help each other heal in order to reengage with family and friends.

(Nancy R., North Branch)


I Can See in the Dark

titleFossum, Karin. I Can See in the Dark. 2014. (Mystery Fossu.K)

Riktor--single, 40-ish, lonely--likes his job at the Lakkø Nursing Home outside Oslo where elderly and terminally ill patients wait for the end. He's both fascinated and repelled by death and suffering, so much so that his particular form of "caring" includes horrid acts of sadism: dumping pain-killers in the toilet, injecting medication into a mattress, and even torture--hair pulling, pinching, and taunting. Riktor, you see, is a psychopath. He narrates this story and you are privy to his irrational thinking as he goes about his life. Fossum, author of the popular Inspector Sejer mysteries, is a master at crafting psychologically chilling mysteries. Here she has given us one of the most fascinating and unsympathetic main characters in all her works. This is a stand-alone novel--there's no Inspector Sejer with his calming presence and confidence to ease the tension Riktor invokes. So, if you like edgy, this is one for you.

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)


Orphan Train

titleKline, C. Orphan Train. 2013. (Fiction Kline.C)

I don't believe things happen for a reason unless it's cause and effect. Authors whose characters proclaim that annoy me because, of course, the author has written them into that place. However, we are who we are because of where we've been so I guess I should give authors some slack. The two main characters in this book are women with similar life experiences though one is 91 and the other is 16. The older woman, Niamh/Dorothy/Vivian, was one of the thousands of orphans sent out on trains to the Midwest to be adopted or, as often happened, to become indentured servants during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her story entwines with that of Molly who is enduring her way through the foster care system in Maine and serving a community service punishment by helping the elderly woman clean out her attic which is stuffed with items that bring back memories. They help each other accept their lives.

(Nancy E., North Branch)


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