Katie’s February Recommendation

Omens by Kelley Armstrong

omens“I just finished this book and it’s got a lot of action, with some magical twists.  It takes place in the Chicagoland area, and there’s even a shout out to River Forest. All in all, it’s a nice introductory book to Armstrong’s new series.”

After learning that she is the daughter of accused serial killers Todd and Pamela Larsen, privileged 24-year-old Olivia Taylor ends up in the small town of Cainsville, Illinois, to prove her birthparents’ innocence. But as she and Gabriel, her mother’s lawyer, start investigating the case, Olivia finds herself drawing on abilities that have remained hidden since her childhood, gifts that make her both a valuable addition to Cainsville and deeply vulnerable to unknown enemies.- Summary from SWAN

 3 Similar Titles:

What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn

House Rules by Chloe Neill


Katie’s January Recommendation

Cold Days by Jim Butcher

colddaysIf you haven’t heard of the Dresden Files series, what you need to know is that Harry Dresden is a Chicago PI and professional wizard. Intrigued? Katie reviews book 14 in the series. But, if you want to start at the beginning – the first book is Storm Front.

“It’s the most recent book in the Dresden Files series.  They recently, finally, released the date for the next book on May 27th.  Anyway, Queen Mab has finally won, and Harry is now her Winter Knight.  His first assignment is to try and kill another immortal.  The book does not disappoint while changing the trajectory of the series.  Suddenly, the characters are changing in ways you would never expect, but you can still recognize them.” -Katie

list of Dresden Files books in order:

Dresden files series
1. Storm front
2. Fool moon
3. Grave peril
4. Summer knight
5. Death masks
6. Blood rites
7. Dead beat
8. Proven guilty
9. White night
10. Small favor
11. Turn coat
12. Changes
13. Ghost story
14. Cold days
3 Similar Reads
Angel’s Ink by Jocelynn Drake
Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison
Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch

Weekly Spotlight On: Transport Yourself Into the New Year with Time-Travel Fiction

Transported into the New Year

This week I’d like to take a look at books that feature time-travel, since it’s a classic and stretches across many genres – literary, historical, fantasy, and science fiction. Many times time travel appeals to fantasy readers because of the magic of it, and science fiction readers if the time travelers go to the future. However, when time travel occurs between the different time periods of present and past, the book can become richly seeped with details about history and appeal to those who like historical novels.
Sometimes time travel even appeals to romance readers. You’ve probably by now seen or heard of Audrey Niffeneger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife (which I enjoyed for the Chicago setting and librarian character) that was adapted into a film as well. Recently another time traveling movie with the same lead actress Rachel McAdams was released called About Time.
In any case, there’s a time-traveling themed book out there for you. Review some of these titles and see if anything is similar to your taste in fiction.
The summary of each novel is taken from the catalog, and each book title is hyper-linked so that you can easily click and request a copy.
Happy traveling!
The River of No Return by Bee Ridgway

theriverofnoreturnWaking up in a modern London hospital 200 years after meeting his death on a Napoleonic battlefield, Nick Falcott is indoctrinated into a time-traveling society and returned to the side of a woman he loves to reclaim a vital talisman, a mission that places the fate of the future in his hands.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

outlanderThe year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon — when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach — an “outlander” — in a Scotland torn by war and raiding Highland clans in the year of Our Lord … 1743.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
lifeafterlifeOkay I’m cheating on this one a little. It’s not time travel, but the main character is reborn again and again. – Genna
On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born to an English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in a variety of ways, while the young century marches on towards its second cataclysmic world war.
The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes
theshininggirlsA time-traveling serial killer is impossible to trace– until one of his victims survives. In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. He stalks them through their lives across different eras until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back. Working with an ex-homicide reporter who is falling for her, Kirby has to unravel an impossible mystery
11/22/63 by Stephen King
112263On November 22, 1963, three shots rang out in Dallas, President Kennedy died, and the world changed. What if you could change it back? The author’s new novel is about a man who travels back in time to prevent the JFK assassination. In this novel that is a tribute to a simpler era, he sweeps readers back in time to another moment, a real life moment, when everything went wrong: the JFK assassination. And he introduces readers to a character who has the power to change the course of history. Jake Epping is a thirty-five-year-old high school English teacher in Lisbon Falls, Maine, who makes extra money teaching adults in the GED program. He receives an essay from one of the students, a gruesome, harrowing first person story about the night fifty years ago when Harry Dunning’s father came home and killed his mother, his sister, and his brother with a hammer. Harry escaped with a smashed leg, as evidenced by his crooked walk. Not much later, Jake’s friend Al, who runs the local diner, divulges a secret: his storeroom is a portal to 1958. He enlists Jake on an insane, and insanely possible, mission to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. So begins Jake’s new life as George Amberson and his new world of Elvis and JFK, of big American cars and sock hops, of a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald and a beautiful high school librarian named Sadie Dunhill, who becomes the love of Jake’s life, a life that transgresses all the normal rules of time.
Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix
foundWhen thirteen-year-olds Jonah and Chip, who are both adopted, learn they were discovered on a plane that appeared out of nowhere, full of babies with no adults on board, they realize that they have uncovered a mystery involving time travel and two opposing forces, each trying to repair the fabric of time.
theimpossiblelivesofgretawellsFrom the critically acclaimed author of the New York Times bestseller The Confessions of Max Tivoli comes The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells, a rapturously romantic story of a woman who finds herself transported to the “other lives” she might have lived.After the death of her beloved twin brother and the abandonment of her long-time lover, Greta Wells undergoes electroshock therapy. Over the course of the treatment, Greta finds herself repeatedly sent to 1918, 1941, and back to the present. Whisked from the gas-lit streets and horse-drawn carriages of the West Village to a martini-fueled lunch at the Oak Room, in these other worlds, Greta finds her brother alive and well—though fearfully masking his true personality. And her former lover is now her devoted husband…but will he be unfaithful to her in this life as well? Greta Wells is fascinated by her alter egos: in 1941, she is a devoted mother; in 1918, she is a bohemian adulteress.In this spellbinding novel by Andrew Sean Greer, each reality has its own losses, its own rewards; each extracts a different price. Which life will she choose as she wrestles with the unpredictability of love and the consequences of even her most carefully considered choices?

Overseas by Beatriz Williams

overseasA cynical Wall Street analyst falls in love with a billionaire with a mysterious past in a romance with mystical ties to a relationship between a World War I British officer and a beautiful young American who held vital information about a fateful reconnaissance mission.

Claudia’s October Recommendation

by Thomas Dyja
the third coast“This well researched book tells the cultural history of Chicago in the middle of the 20th century,  including contributions to literature, music, theater,  architecture and more.  There are colorful portraits and interesting stories which enlighten the reader-native Chicagoan or not.” -Claudia
The Third Coast… has an elegant, unflinching, non-nostalgic clarity… a new touchstone in Chicago literature… an ambitious history lesson no one had written.”
—Chicago Tribune
3 Similar Reads:
Great Fortune by Daniel Okrent
A History of Venice by John Julius Norwich
Names on the Land by George Stewart

Genna’s September Recommendation

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes 

the shining girlsHarper Curtis is a time-traveling serial killer based in Chicago. He travels through time between the 1920’s and 1980’s, with his home base located somewhere on the south side. He collects an article from each girl he kills, and leaves it in the house. Harper seems to be crazy, mentioning that the house speaks to him, and that the objects shine. He only hunts for female victims he says “shine”, which means they are promising in some way: ambitious, smart, courageous.  Though leaping through decades might seem like the ultimate escape from the law, Harper runs into some trouble when one of his would-be victims, a spunky young student named Kirby Mizrachi, survives the brutal attack. She is determined to find her killer, and gets an internship at the Chicago Sun-Times specifically so she can work with a former crime beat reporter, Dan Velasquez. Together they pick up the baffling clues from old cases of Harper’s victims, like finding a Babe Ruth baseball card in a victim’s old case files before Babe Ruth was even playing.

Great for fans who can handle just a little bit of gore (I had to flip past a few pages when Harper was committing the murders). Also great for Chicago fans to get a glimpse into two different decades. The author is from Australia and researched Chicago very well in her work, impressive!

3 Similar Reads

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Kimberly’s August Recommendation

Philosophy Made Simple by Robert Hellenga
philosophy made simple“I loved the main character, Rudy’s, openness to new things like avocado orchards, elephants, and philosophy.  This is interesting and has a lot of heart.” – Kimberly
“Widower Rudy Harrington, a father of three grown daughters, leaves his Chicago home for a new life at an avocado grove in Texas, where he takes up philosophy, presides over his daughter’s Hindu wedding, and falls for his son-in-law’s mother.” – Summary
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Home Safe by Elizabeth Berg
White Hot by Sandra Brown
Match Me If You Can by Susan Phillips

Mary Ann’s July Recommendation

Marshall Field’s: The Store That Helped Build Chicago by Gayle Soucek

marshall field's“This book traces Marshall Field’s early retail experiences that led him to create a beloved Chicago institution, Marshall Field & Company.  We learn about several people who helped Field build earlier retail businesses in a very rough and tumble Chicago. There is a riveting section on the attempts by Field and his employees to save merchandise during the Great Chicago Fire.

Soucek explains how a  young, innovative John G. Shedd and a “brash and cocky”  Harry Selfridge contributed to Field’s success.  We also learn background on the early developments of the Toy Department, Walnut Room’s Christmas Tree, the Christmas windows, and Frango Mints.

For the ambitious, there is a recipe for the Chicken Pot Pie served in the Walnut Room.

The book will evoke great memories for any reader who shopped at Field’s before it became the store-that-shall–not-be-named.” – Mary Ann

3 Similar Reads

Marshall Fields by Axel Madsen

You Were Never in Chicago by Neil Steinberg

Chicago By Day and Night: The Pleasure Seeker’s Guide to the Paris of America