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.

Wild Tales

altWild Tales. 2015. (DVD Foreign Spanish Wild)

Ah, sweet revenge. But is it? In this highly original collection of six short films, Damian Szifron explores the all too human emotional stew pot that getting even entails. Fury, self righteousness, smug satisfaction, along with a cascade of endorphin-producing actions are portrayed by a variety of ordinary people responding irrationally to unfair parking tickets, road rage, protecting a son from a hit-and-run charge, and (my fave) a lovely newlywed at her lavish wedding party taking the concept of bridezilla to a whole new level. It's dark, dark humor for sure, and there are some moments of free-wheeling violence that would be difficult to watch were they not handled as buffoonery and extreme slapstick. You'll hoot, guffaw with disbelief, and sometimes clap your hands in delight as each story unfolds.

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)


The Fire Sermon and The Map of Bones


Haig, Francesca. The Fire Sermon. 2015. (Science Fiction Haig.F)

Haig, Francesca. The Map of Bones. 2016. (Science Fiction Haig.F)

Parts 1 and 2 of what will be a three part story that will thrill fans of the Hunger Games and the Divergent series. Four hundred years from now, the world as we know it is gone. The technology of our day has gone haywire and caused a massive explosion. Millions died and in the aftermath, humanity itself changed. Now, every pregnancy results in 2 babies: the Alpha, born perfect, and the Omega, born with deformities, said to be a result of the radiation from ‘the blast’. And there’s another catch: when one of the two twins dies, the other dies as well. Omega children are sent away, sometimes while they are very young, to live with ‘their own kind’ in settlements with harsh conditions. Cass and her brother Zach are outcasts in theirtitle community. One of them is an Omega and no one can tell which one of them it is. That’s because Cass’ deformity is not physically obvious. She is a seer, someone who gets visions of the future and the past. Seers are rare and they are almost always driven to insanity by pictures of ‘the blast’ flashing through their waking moments and their dreams. When Cass and Zach are finally separated, Zach quickly rises to political power and becomes a threat to Omegas everywhere.

Read more: The Fire Sermon and The Map of Bones


The Longest Night

titleWilliams, Andria. The Longest Night. 2016. (Fiction Willi.A)

This is the story of a young married couple and a nuclear power plant. Both are on a dangerous path toward core failure. The setting is Idaho Falls, 1959-1961. Paul Collier, an Army reactor operator, is assigned to an experimental power plant beset with problems--jammed rods, cracked tower linings, and spiking core temperatures. Collier's superior tampers with performance logs to keep his position secure. Nat, Paul's young wife, is mystified by his work and feels lonely with only their two little girls for company all day. She wants more of his attention, but he's moody and undemonstrative, highly anxious about plant safety and the cover-ups.  When Nat begins what today we'd call an emotional affair (no sex, some fantasizing) with a young local man who helps her with a flat tire, we sense there is looming danger all around in this tightly constructed novel. Williams has captured the era and it's social constraints, especially for Army wives. Her characters are well limned--I sympathized with all of them but shook my head in dismay at the immaturity and poor decision-making they displayed. There's a satisfying roller coaster of an ending which kept me wide awake and reading. 

(Barbara L., Reader's Services)



Burnt Money

titleBurnt Money (Plata quemada). 2002. (DVD Foreign Spanish Burnt)

The indie Argentine film Burnt Money, directed Marcelo Piñeyro, is an action thriller adapted from Ricardo Piglia’s novel Plata Quemada. The film Burnt Money is based on the famous real-life robbery of a Buenos Aires bank in 1965 and its bloody aftermath. Ángel and “El Nene” are lovers. They are also ruthless criminals who border on the psychotic and schizophrenic. The two men are part of a reckless gang of drug abusing, sexed-up gangsters who raid a bank in downtown Buenos Aires. Although they escape with millions in cash, Ángel is wounded during the botched heist in which several policemen are killed. They escape into Uruguay and, living in a cheap hideaway, attempt to avoid detection by the police, who are hot on their trail. A brooding, nihilistic film with subtle, yet steamy eroticism, Burnt Money is the winner of four foreign film awards. In Spanish with English subtitles. (Russ K., Ref.)



titleShah, Sonia. Pandemic: Tracking Contagions, from Cholera to Ebola and Beyond. 2016. (614.4 Shah.S)

What is going to kill us next? That horrifying but intriguing question is what science journalist Sonia Shah asks here in her lucid exploration of how vulnerable our world is to some nasty pathogen lurking somewhere--in a busy city hospital, in a third world village near a remote forest, on a poultry farm in rural China, or an antiobiotic-rich feedlot here in the U.S.A. She uses the example of cholera--by far not a new killer--as a model of how a disease becomes a pandemic due to global changes, mistaken theories of transmission, corruption, and the unwillingness to fix a known problem. Shah explains how the diseases we're confronting now, "cholera's children" (dengue fever, ebola, HIV, and such), follow many of the same patterns and outcomes. With a terrifying description of her own family's personal experience battling (for years!) the MRSA microbe, the vicious multi-drug resistant infection that's cropping up more and more in first world communities, she makes it clear that we are on the brink of losing control. I love books like this! It's good science writing for the lay person that does not bombard the reader with lingo or too many statistics, and has a real narrative style as well as an important message to all of us.

(Barbara L., Reader's Services) 


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