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The Shadow Land

posted by: May 1, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Shadow LandBulgaria, which lies along the Black Sea coast in Europe, is an ancient country whose capital city of Sofia dates from the Fifth century. Ottoman Turks, tsars and Soviet-style communists have all had a crack at ruling the country, which is now a parliamentary democratic republic. The legacy of Bulgaria’s shifting governance and political instability drives Elizabeth Kostova’s novel, The Shadow Land.  

 

New college grad Alexandra Boyd is an American abroad. She’s just arrived in Sofia and reaches out to help an elderly couple struggling down the steep steps of the upscale Hotel Forest. No good deed goes unpunished as a cab ride later, she realizes she’s accidentally mixed a piece of their luggage in with hers. With the help of her taxi driver, nicknamed Bobby, Alexandra starts a journey in attempt to return the bag which contains a deeply personal item: the ashes of a man named Stoyan Lazarov. And while Americans like Alexandra turn to the police for help, Bobby isn’t as trusting of the new state’s authority. As the pair crisscrosses Bulgaria tracking the elusive Lazarov family, they realize they, too, are being followed.

 

At its heart, this story is gripping historical fiction. As Alexandra and Bobby gradually piece together the life of Stoyan Lazarov, they also uncover the horror of government-sanctioned “work camps,” survivor’s guilt and unending atonement. A recent past that won’t stay hidden looms, threatening all of Bulgaria with its darkness. Readers who enjoy historical fiction with a political bent, such as The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna or Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, should add The Shadow Land to their reading list.


 
 

This month's BCPL's Reading Challenge is read a book set in Asia. Here are some of our suggestions. Select any title to learn more or to request a copy. You can participate in BCPL's Reading Challenge on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #Bwellread to earn prizes at the end of each month!

 

 BCPL Reading Challenge 2017 In Partnership with WBALTV

Cover art for The Arab of the Future Cover art for Black WaterCover art for Cambodia Noir Cover art for China Rich Girlfriend Cover art for The Coroner's Lunch Cover art for A Fine Balance Cover art for Four Years in the Mountains of Kurdistan Cover art for The Good Earth Cover art for Henna House Cover art for Hiroshima Cover art for Hunters in the Dark Cover art for In Order to Live Cover art for Island of a Thousand Mirrors Cover art for Jade Dragon Mountain Cover art for The Kite Runner Cover art for Memoirs of a Geisha Cover art for Midnight in Siberia Cover art for The Morning They Came For Us Cover art for Music of the Ghosts Cover art for The Quiet American Cover art for Sarong Party Girls Cover art for The Secret Chord Cover art for Selection Day Cover art for Shogun Cover art for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Cover art for A Strangeness in My Mind Cover art for The Teeth of the Comb and Other Stories Cover art for The Temporary Bride Cover art for The Translation of Love Cover art for Waking Lions Cover art for Walking the Himalayas Cover art for The Wind Up Bird Chronicles Cover art for Women of Silk Cover art for A Word for Love


 
 

The 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards Gala is on May 1 in Chicago with host Jesse Tyler Ferguson, of ABC's award-winning TV show Modern Family. These awards are presented for excellence in cuisine, culinary writing and culinary education in the United States. The Foundation’s mission is to celebrate, nurture and honor chefs and other leaders making America's food culture more delicious, diverse and sustainable for everyone. The nominees represent the finest chefs, restaurants, journalists, cookbook authors and other food professionals across the United States. Be sure to check out the nominated cookbooks and travel around the world with these mouth-watering recipes.

Cover art for All Under Heaven Cover art for Appetites Cover art for Art of the Pie Cover art for Big Bad Breakfast Cover art for Breaking BreadsCover art for Central Cover art for Classic Koffman Cover art for Cooking for Jeffery Cover art for Cook's Science Cover art for Dandelion & Quince Cover art for Deep Run Roots Cover art for Dorie's Cookies Cover art for Eat in my Kitchen Cover art for The Elements of Pizza Cover art for Everything I Want to Eat Cover art for Food City Cover art for French Wine Cover art for I Taste Red Cover art for Land of Fish and Rice Cover art for The Middle Eastern Vegetarian Cookbook Cover art for Milk Made Cover art for My Two Souths Cover art for The Oxford Companion to Cheese Cover art for Pure Delicious Cover art for Skinnytaste Fast and Slow Cover art for Smuggler's Cove Cover art for Something to Food About Cover art for Spritz Cover art for A Square Meal Cover art for Taste and Technique Cover art for Taste of Persia Cover art for Victuals  Cover art for The Waldorf Astoria Bar Book Cover art for You Have it Made


 
 

Caraval

posted by: April 26, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for CaravalStephanie Garber’s debut novel Caraval has taken the teen world by storm. The first in a series, Caraval will lead you on an unforgettable, magical journey full of deception, love and family.

 

Scarlett and Donatella (Tella) Dragna dream of a future outside the grip of their violent, suffocating father. For Scarlett, that future lies in an arranged marriage. Scarlett’s plan is derailed, however, when she receives a long-awaited letter from Caraval Master, Legend.

 

For years during her childhood, Scarlett wrote to Legend in vain, pleading with him to bring Caraval, a touring interactive performance show, to their island home Trisda. Now, at the worst possible time, Legend invites Scarlett, her fiancé and Tella to experience Caraval as his special guests.

 

Scarlett initially refuses Legend’s offer, but is tricked by Tella and a mysterious sailor, who cart her off to Caraval despite her objections. Convinced she should make the most of the situation, Scarlett plans to stay for only one night so she can be home in time for her wedding. All of that changes, however, when her sister goes missing.

 

Scarlett has no choice but to enter Caraval, hoping to find Tella inside. At the start of Caraval, players and spectators alike are warned not to trust anything they see: it’s all just part of the game. The winner will receive the grand prize of one wish, and the object is simple: find Donatella Dragna.

 

Scarlett finds herself in a race against time — and every other Caraval player — to find her sister. Can she navigate the labyrinth of mystery and deceit that is Caraval? Or will she fall for the illusion?

 

Caraval is a one-of-a-kind reading adventure. Garber knowingly creates an unreliable narrator in Scarlett: if Scarlett can’t trust anything in her surroundings, how can the reader trust her? “Remember, it’s only a game.”

 


 
 

Girl Mans Up

posted by: April 24, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover Art for Girl Mans UpWhat does it mean to be loyal to your friends? To respect your parents? In Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard, Pen’s life is governed by the loyalty and respect others demand from her — loyalty to her best friend Colby, even if it means aiding his womanizing; respect to her old-fashioned parents, even if their expectations of who Pen should be don’t match who Pen knows she is.

 

What does it mean to be a girl? A boy? Despite others assuming at first glance she’s a boy, Pen knows she’s a girl who likes playing video games, doing yard work and (if she ever finds someone who’s interested) dating other girls. However, her mother wants Pen to wear dresses and makeup, learn how to cook and find a nice boy to date, like Colby. Colby wants Pen to be his wingman and help him create the illusion he’s a nice guy to date because he’s friends with a girl, even if she dresses and acts like one of the guys.

 

It doesn’t matter to Pen that Colby doesn’t stay in a relationship for long, that is until two things happen: One, she meets Olivia, one of Colby’s former flings who’s keeping a secret; two, she gets a girlfriend in Blake, a fellow classmate who Colby was initially interested in dating. These two new relationships force Pen to reevaluate her role as friend and daughter and her understanding of loyalty and respect. She’ll make some hard decisions about the type of person she wants to be as well as the types of people she wants in her life.

 

Girard captures not only how complicated friendships can become as children grow into teenagers but also how hard it is to struggle with the world’s perception of who you should be and how you should act versus who you know yourself to be. Girl Mans Up is brutally honest from start to finish in its depictions of gender identity, sexuality and bullying as well as the complications that accompany strained family relationships. It’s not an easy book in terms of topic, although it is a quick read, and Pen is a strong, complex character. Readers looking for more books featuring LGBTQ characters and themes should also check out The Other Boy by M. G. Hennessey and Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown.


 
 

A Taste for Monsters

posted by: April 20, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover Art for A Taste for MonstersIf you are interested in reading a work of teen fiction, especially one that involves a Victorian tale, horror and feel good story wrapped into one, then try A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby. Within the bustling crowded streets of late 19th century London, a killer, sometimes referred to as Leather Apron but more commonly known as Jack the Ripper, terrorized the town of Whitechapel. Caught in the middle of this chaotic situation are two unlikely characters who must find a way to solve this murder mystery or face its deadly and haunting consequences.

 

Joseph Merrick, a.k.a. The Elephant Man, is a major character, and this story provides insight into how his life may have been during this time period. The physical deformities that he developed as a child caused him to experience much hardship in life that ranged from extreme discomfort to hiding underneath a mask to avoid the often unwanted attention given to him around the streets of London. Despite this, Merrick was able to befriend a doctor named Jonathan Treves, who helped him to have a comfortable stay at the London Hospital until the end of his days. Along with these historical figures, an unexpected friendship develops between The Elephant Man and a young lady named Evelyn, who is hired to be his maid. Having worked as a matchstick girl, Evelyn contracts a disease which eats away at the jaw due to phosphorous exposure. As you can already guess, physical deformities are a prevalent theme throughout the book and the author encourages the reader to reflect on who really is the “monster” in the story.

 

A teen historical fiction, this is one that not only recreates the terror of Jack the Ripper but is also about being different and finding friendship despite the bleak circumstances. Those with an interest in this time period and subject matter may also want to try The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson or Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco.


 
 

The Outsiders Turns 50

posted by: April 19, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover Art for The OutsidersFifty years ago this month, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton was published. This classic in teen literature tells the story of young men in two competing gangs, the Greasers and the Socs. Set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it is a gritty, raw look at a teenage rivalry which turns deadly.

 

The novel inspired a 1983 film adaptation directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It starred unknown young actors who would go on to great fame, including Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Diane Lane, Emilio Estevez, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio and Matt Dillon.

 

The Outsiders remains a cultural touchstone. Since 1967, over 15 million copies have been sold. It is a regular required read for middle and high school students and has been translated into 30 languages. According to fanfiction.net, there are 8,100 stories based on the book. And Instagram has more than 300,000 posts which use the hashtag #staygold, an inspiration from a Robert Frost poem that appears in the book.

 

Hinton was 16 when the book was published and had no idea the impact her novel would have on generations of teens. Hinton told Entertainment Weekly last year, “I was 15 when I started writing the book, but I was even younger when I first started thinking about the story, so The Outsiders has been a significant part of the majority of my life.”


 
 

This month's BCPL's Reading Challenge is read a book that takes place in Asia. Here are some of our suggestions. Select any title to learn more or to request a copy. You can participate in BCPL's Reading Challenge with the help of a parent or guardian on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #Bwellread to earn prizes at the end of each month!

 

 BCPL Reading Challenge 2017 In Partnership with WBALTV

Cover art for And The Bollywood Burglary Cover art for Boxers and Saints Cover art for The BreadwinnerCover art for Chandra's Magic Light Cover art for Children Growing Up With War Cover art for Climbing the Stairs Cover art for The Contest Cover art for A Crack in the Sea Cover art for Cracker! Cover art for Diary of a Tokyo Teen Cover art for Dumpling Days Cover art for Every Falling Star Cover art for Factory Girl Cover art for The Forbidden Orchid Cover art for Four Feet, Two Sandals Cover art for Golda Meir Cover art for The Golden Sandal Cover art for Grandma and the Great Gourd Cover art for The Green Bicycle Cover art for Hush! Cover art for I Am Malala Cover art for I Remember Beirut Cover art for I Survived the Japanese Tsunami Cover art for Ibn al-Haytham Cover art for Inside Out & Back Again Cover art for Into the Killing Seas Cover art for Jungle Adventures Cover art for The Jungle BookCover art for The Knight, the Princess and the Magic Rock Cover art for The Last Cherry Blossom Cover art for The Last King Angkor Wat Cover art for Listen, Slowly Cover art for Little Lek Longtail Cover art for Lost and Found Cover art for Malala A Brave Girl from PakistanCover art for Mission Mumbai Cover art for The Monkey King Cover art for The Monster on the Road is Me Cover art for My Beautiful Birds Cover art for Night of the Ninjas Cover art for One Half from the East Cover art for The Paper Dragon Cover art for Patrol Cover art for Rutabaga Peak Cover art for The Persia Cinderella Cover art for A Piece of Home Cover art for Ronit & Jamil Cover art for The Jungle Book Cover art for Sachiko Cover art for SadakoCover art for Samurai Rising Cover art for Saving the Ghost of the Mountain Cover art for Season of the Sandstorms Cover art for Shalom Everybodeee! Cover art for Seven Days of YouCover art for Sherlock Sam Cover art for Shooting Kabul Cover art for he Imagination Station Cover art for Ticket to India Cover art for Tiger Boy Cover art for Tuko and the Birds Cover art for The Turtles of Oman Cover art for Vietnam Cover art for Women Heroes of World War IICover art for Year of the Jungle Cover art for Let's Celebrate Diwali Cover art for The Nian Monster Cover art for The Shady Tree


 
 

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