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IQ

posted by: May 10, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for IQThis is Sherlock like you’ve never seen him before. Joe Ide’s IQ is a fresh take on the famous detective that really boils down the essence of the character and reimagines him in an entirely new context. This is not just another “update” where Sherlock becomes a quirky PI with a psychiatric disorder and a nicotine habit, nor is it a recasting where they take a cranky doctor or a malcontent police officer and throw in some brilliant deductive reasoning. Ide crafts an entirely new character who embodies the spirit of the great detective while breaking new ground; in this story he is a young African American man, growing up poor but smart in south central Los Angeles. It feels like a breath of fresh air for a story that, even when done well, has been done to death.

 

The story spans a couple of time periods. It begins present day where IQ (the nickname of Isaiah, our titular character) has become well known as a problem solver, and is called in to solve an attempt on the life of a rap mogul. It flashes back and forth with the past where Isaiah takes steps down a dark path while simultaneously beginning the journey to become a positive force to the world around him. In the present, a bevy of suspects and an unusual crime scene confuse the field for Isaiah and his assistant/frenemy/partner Dodson, while in the past we see the pair in their earlier days, striking out at others and themselves as they struggle with the curveballs life throws their way and the questionable choices they make.

 

At times, the story may feel distant from the experiences of many of its readers, but the author does a good job of including threads we can all identify with. We may not be poor and growing up in the inner city, but we all understand struggling with grief, giving in to temptation and making bad, easy choices, or trying to help people even when they won’t help themselves. If anything, Ide’s IQ is more generous and well intentioned than most of us — going above and beyond to help others even at real cost to himself. Rather than being alienating though, I found it inspiring. Plus Ide includes a cast of oddball true-to-life characters that keep the story moving and the reader’s interest piqued.

 

I really enjoyed this story — especially the tension of the mysteries and the well-developed main characters. If you like this story, you’ll probably enjoy a lot of Sherlock stories — both the originals by Arthur Conan Doyle and many of the derivatives by a batch of other authors. I would highly recommend BBC’s recent adaptation of Sherlock, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. It shares the modern setting and a certain irreverent sense of humor.


 
 

Foxlowe

posted by: May 8, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for Foxlowe"Don't go Outside. Don't let the Bad in." In Eleanor Wasserberg's debut novel we see the inner workings of Foxlowe, a commune where a group of people, who call themselves the Family, live by a different set of rules. Freya is the leader of the group, and as long as you follow her rules and listen to what she says, everything will be okay. If you break the rules, you are punished or you become a Leaver.

 

The story is presented through Green, a young girl living at Foxlowe, who Freya treats like a daughter. In the main part of the story, Green remembers what her childhood was like at Foxlowe and she recalls when Blue became a new family member and the down fall of everything. She follows and believes Freya blindly and doesn't understand the unsettling truth of who Freya really is. While much of her telling shows a beautiful and happy life, there are dark and disturbing moments throughout the story.

 

Later, Green recalls her life as an adult, where she goes by the name of Jess and lives on the Outside. She misses Foxlowe as her life is difficult and she is unsettled. Her life on the Outside is met with strange feelings and unhappy moments. Remembering the reason she no longer lives at Foxlowe, we see the deeply dark moments that have brought her to her current struggle in life.

 

Though you may be left with questions in the end, some things are better left unanswered. The mysteries of Foxlowe and what happened to everyone is intriguing and left up to the reader’s imagination in many ways. The beautiful language and point of view gives a sense of a magical and secretive world that is also dark and disturbing. Foxlowe is a captivating new story that will keep you guessing.


 
 

The Second Mrs. Hockaday

posted by: May 4, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Second Mrs. HockadayDear Readers,                                                                       May 4, 2017

 

I am writing to you to offer a glimpse into the book The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers. A first novel for this accomplished playwright, if you enjoy reading in letter and diary format—once you pick it up, it will be difficult to put down. A historical fiction, mystery surrounds the main character, Placidia Fincher, and through her writing you learn how it was to be a young woman left alone to face the responsibility of maintaining some type of normalcy at home despite being surrounded by the chaos of the Civil War.

 

At the start of her entries, dating back to 1865, we find out that 19-year-old Placidia has recently been arrested and is corresponding with her cousin behind bars. It is obvious that she is not willing to reveal the circumstances behind her predicament—at least not easily—which adds to the mystery. What is established, prior to Placidia being in jail, is at the young age of 17, she finds a respectable union with Gryffth Hockaday, a high-ranking confederate soldier. Adhering to the social customs of the time, this union was one where marriage came first, above love. However, before any romance blossomed, the major received his own letter calling him to the frontlines of battle.

 

Switching between different time periods, you will be anxious to find out what happened during the two years that they were separated. What you realize is that hidden within the diary entries and letters is a snapshot of life in the South during this chaotic time. Susan Rivers does not stray away from the complicated history of this time period—touching on topics such as slavery, isolation and brutality. Despite the dark aspects, the story is also one of hope and redemption, especially for the leading lady of the story. If you enjoy this style of historical writing, then you may enjoy The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer or These Is My Words: The Diary of Sarah Agnes Prine, 1881-1901 by Nancy E. Turner.

 

I hope this blog finds you well.
 
Yours Truly,
Elna


 
 

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 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.


 
 

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.”

 


 
 

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