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 Book Thief

titleThe Book Thief. 2014. (DVD Drama Book)

I’m usually reluctant to see movies based on books I love, so when I went to see The Book Thief, I was pleasantly surprised. This adaptation of Markus Zusak’s bestseller with its perfect casting and recreation of 1930s Germany retained the book’s essence. The story, set in Nazi Germany, focuses on Liesel Meminger sent to live with foster parents Hans and Rosa Hubermann in a small village outside Munich. It is Hans who teaches Liesel to read and it is her passion for reading and words that compels her to “borrow” books. Sophie Nelisse, who made her screen debut in Monsieur Lazhar, gives another wonderful performance here as the film’s young protagonist – and holds her own against veteran actors Geoffrey Rush and Emily Watson who play her foster parents. The sardonic narration by Death which works so well in the book doesn’t quite translate in the film – but despite that the film is beautiful and moving. Recommended for both adults and young adults.

(Laura, Reader's Services)



Alien: Out of the Shadows


Lebbon, Tim. Alien: Out of the Shadows. 2014. (Downloadable eBook).

This novelization of the 1979 film (and its sequels) is available from EPL only in downloadable format, which feels appropriate: following the action on a tablet or e-reader pulls you closer to the story's futuristic atmosphere and inhuman lead characters. Thumbing through paper pages would reduce the eerie effect. As in the film, the alien characters use human space travelers as cocoons, bursting out into the open amidst gore and terror. Once "born" they may be stopped only after [spoiler alert: highly predictable plot component about to be revealed] the two central human characters, Ripley and Hooper, who share a love interest, witness the gruesome deaths of most of their colleagues. Ripley's and Hooper's psychological struggles are forgettable: this is for fans of gadgetry and non-stop action, more than characterization and plot. (Jeff B., Reader's Services)


City of Thieves

titleBenioff, David. City of Thieves. 2008. (Fiction Benio.D)

My sister told me I would love this book. "It's about an improbable friendship told with sharp humor. It takes place during the Siege of Leningrad." How could a story about that be funny? "Okay," she said, "black humor." The improbable friendship is a result of an impossible proposition made to two inmates awaiting their death. If in this starving country, they can find a dozen eggs for a colonel's daughter's wedding cake, they will be freed and their ration cards returned.  One of the two is a seventeen year old angst filled Jew-who wouldn't be filled with angst at this time in Leningrad's history-and a good-humored handsome randy literary army deserter. I had to look away from the violence several times but there was always a leavening of the promised black humor. The author has gone on to write and produce Game of Thrones so perhaps this rich mix is unsurprising.

(Nancy E., North Branch)


The Golem and The Jinni


Wecker, Helene. The Golem and The Jinni. 2013. (Fiction Wecke.H)

The best thing I can say about this wonderful novel is that I can't wait for Wecker's next one to be published. It may take a while though, if she gives as much attention to combining historical detail, fantastical stories, intriguing characters, joy,  horror, humor and pathos, in her next book as she did in this one. Everything that happens here is unexpected because the two main characters are mythical creatures who are brought unknowingly to turn of the 20th century New York. The Golem, a slave devoted unthinkingly to a single master has no master since hers has died on the boat to the new land and the Jinni, a creature usually unfettered by anything except its own wants, finds itself partially freed from a captivity it can't remember. Along with all the other immigrants in the city, they try to find a way to live without giving away or betraying their true natures.

(Nancy E., North Branch)


The Lost World of Bletchley Park

titleMcKay, Sinclair. The Lost World of Bletchley Park: An Illustrated History of the Wartime Codebreaking Centre. 2013. (940.5486 MCK)

For World War II buffs, Anglophiles, cryptography geeks, and fans of the excellent Masterpiece Mystery series The Bletchley Circle, this book takes readers to the top-top-secret estate of Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire that was for five years home to the crucial work of cracking the German military codes. Bletchley was a world unto itself, staffed with cryptographers, mathematicians, linguists, military specialists, intelligence agents, stenographers, and locals who served as the housekeeping and kitchen staff. Oh, and there was the occasional genius to shed light on the codes to be cracked. Everyone involved had to sign the Official Secrets Act and almost all kept mum well after the war was won. This book is a compendium of all things Bletchley. It's a trove of memoirs, anecdotes, mini-biographies, the workings of the Enigma machines and more all accompanied by wonderful photos of life at Bletchley.

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)


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