Sylvia

About Sylvia

I am an Adult Services Librarian at the Warrenville Public Library. I've been here for 15 years. I like to read literary fiction, historical fiction, mysteries, thrillers, and memoirs. I also enjoy cooking, gardening, and walking. All of which I can do while listening to audiobooks.

House of Trelawney by Hannah Rothschild

House of TrelawneyAudiobook – Sometimes, the best little pleasures are discovered by accident. Needing an audiobook in a hurry, I found House of Trelawney, a Downton Abbey set in the 1980’s and besieged by total financial ruin.

Trelawney Castle has been around some 700 years.  Life should be glamorous for a titled aristocrat living in a place with turrets, follies, a room for every day of the year and four miles of corridors amid 500,000 acres. Instead, the castle is in shambles, crumbling around its inhabitants and lacking heat. Living with Kitto, the current heir and the 25th Earl of Trelawney are:  his wife, Jane; their three children; his frail parents and Aunt Tuffy, who is obsessed with studying fleas. Centuries of ancestors’ squandering of fortunes, wars, and taxes, has left little to maintain the estate once boasting 85 servants. The family is in danger of losing their home unless they obtain funds and/or devise a feasible plan. 

The dysfunctional Trelawney’s interact with other delightful and eccentric characters, who involve themselves in attempts to save the castle. Complete with villains, romance, friendship, determination, and tests of family loyalty–The House of Trelawney has everything to keep you listening and guessing whether the house can be saved!

Check out The House of Trelawney, available now on Hoopla.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Book – Looking for a great psychological thriller? The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen should satisfy that need. Vanessa is the jilted, ex-wife of Richard. When they first met she was swept off her feet by this handsome, wealthy, successful and attentive man. To her, their relationship was worth giving up her career and New York City lifestyle, to move to the suburbs with the prospect of a future family. The fairy tale soon unravels after numerous, failed fertility treatments. Richard eventually leaves Vanessa for his assistant Nellie, who in many ways is a younger version of Vanessa. Vanessa becomes obsessed with her former husband’s young, naïve fiancé and tries to sabotage the upcoming nuptials. Is Vanessa, who is swimming through an alcoholic haze, just bitter and vengeful, or is something else at play? Meanwhile, Richard is protective and loving towards his future wife, but Nellie is beginning to have doubts.

Each character’s story is narrated from their perspective. What is real, what is not? The twists and turns cause misdirection, forcing you to keep guessing their ulterior motives- who, of course, all have their secrets.

The Audiobook of The Wife Between Us is also available on Hoopla and Overdrive for Kindle and other electronic devices.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Book – Becoming is a fascinating biography of former first lady Michelle Obama. We get a glimpse of her tight knit, extended family upbringing on Chicago’s south side. Her mother had high expectations of her children and taught them independence. Her father battled MS, yet took pride in his work for the City. He instilled his work ethic in his children and encouraged Michelle to be outspoken and unafraid. She adored her protective and supportive older brother, Craig and eventually followed him to Princeton. She developed a love of music from her great aunt who gave her piano lessons and her grandfather who always filled his house with music. Her childhood and family support helped mold her into an intelligent, independent woman.

Michelle thrived at Harvard Law School. I did not know that Michelle was a first year lawyer at a prestigious firm when she and Barack met. He was a first year law student at Harvard working as a summer associate hired by her firm. Becoming delves into their career paths, marriage and family life. We see just how unglamorous a life in politics really is and her initially strong misgivings. Michelle eventually supported Barack for his Senate bid and eventually the presidency, because she firmly believed in his vision and ability to make a difference. Themes of love and family are primary to her story. Fiercely supportive of her husband and protective of her daughters, she worked hard for them have as normal a life as possible. Though Michelle touches on the obstacles of being an African American woman, she does not dwell on them and moves forward, inspired. She writes, “I’m an ordinary person who found herself on an extraordinary journey.” Becoming is an inspiring story of a woman who has soul and substance.

On November 19th Obama will release Becoming: A Guided Journal for Discovering Your Voice to accompany her memoir and help others find their voice.

Bad Times at the El Royale (2018)

Movie – If you like movies that are weird, but in a good way, and reminiscent of Pulp Fiction, then you will enjoy Bad Times at the El Royale. Set in 1969 near Lake Tahoe, the El Royale motor lodge used to be grand in its day. Unique that it is on the border of California and Nevada, the once austere lobby of the hotel has a line going down its center separating the two states. Something very bad happened there a decade ago and the seven strangers that randomly gather will be affected by those events.

A vacuum cleaner salesman, a Catholic priest, a Motown singer, and a hippie chick enter the lobby that appears to be deserted. After banging on an office door Miles, who is the manager and lone employee, emerges and assigns rooms based on the guest preferences – if they want to be in California or Nevada. (California rooms cost a little more.) When the priest requests a room, the hotel manager tries to discourage him by saying, “Father, this is no place for a priest.” Regardless, Father Daniel Flynn needs a place to spend the night. We already have a feeling that there is something sinister and creepy. As each guest begins settling into their room we begin learning their secrets and there is plenty of mystery. So far, I mentioned five characters. Who are the other two? You will have to find out for yourself. The film is very atmospheric and you feel like you have been transported back to the late ‘60s. There is also lots of great music from that era, including some Motown tunes which are belted out by the singer. This is a hard boiled thriller with lots of twists and turns. The storyline and stellar cast make for a fun viewing experience.

I also really enjoyed music, so I was very pleased that Hoopla has a soundtrack from the film.

Ross Poldark: A Novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787 by Winston Graham

Cover image for Ross Poldark : a novel of Cornwall, 1783-1787Book – If you are a fan of the PBS series Poldark, then I highly recommend the books in The Poldark Family novels by Winston Graham. These stories beautifully compliment the TV series by giving a better perspective of the complexity of the characters. The reader also experiences the wildness of Cornwall and gets a good sense of this historical period, which was a time of prosperity for the rich and despair for the poor. Beginning with the first book Ross Poldark, our hero returns to Cornwall after being gone from home for years fighting in the American Revolutionary War. The captain’s homecoming is not the joyous event that he anticipated. He learns that his father has died, his family home, farmland, and tin and copper mines have been neglected or are in ruins, and his beloved Elizabeth, who believed Ross was dead, is now engaged to his cousin. Ross does the only thing he can, he rolls up his sleeves and tries to rebuild his family fortune and gain respect of the community.

The books are action packed, adventurous, and romantic with heroes we love to root for and villains that we love to hate. At the heart is Ross Poldark, flawed but deeply loyal to those he loves. Though a member of high society by birth, he is more committed to the workers in the mines and the local villagers, which causes some friction with people of his own standing. You will be swept up into this saga and you will want to keep on reading!

The Library owns all the books in the series. The next one is Demelza.

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

BookA Gentleman in Moscow is a beautifully written and magical story. Set in Moscow in 1922 and spanning four decades, we meet Count Alexander Rostov, who exudes old world elegance and aristocracy. He is sentenced by the Bolsheviks to house arrest for life at the luxurious, Metropol Hotel in Moscow and declared a “Former Person.” Despite the hotel’s grandor, the Count is imprisoned in a small attic room, which he attemptos to make cozy and familiar with a few of his favorite items. These include: two high back chairs, an oriental coffee table, a Louis XVI desk, two table lamps fashioned from elephants, and his grandmother’s set of porcelain plates. He also loves his books. “…the book had been written with winter nights in mind. Without a doubt, it was a book for when the birds had flown south, the wood was stacked by the fireplace, and the fields were white with snow; that is, for when one had no desire to venture out and one’s friends had no desire to venture in.”

Confined indoors, the Count spends his time exploring the hotel and making the acquaintance of staff and guests. His friends include Nina, a precocious young girl seeking lessons on how to become a princess, the chef and maître d of the hotel’s famed restaurant and Anna, a beautiful actress and Alexander’s lover. The author, Towles skillfully brings the world to the Count, since he cannot go out into the world. His encounters with each guest and staff member make for fascinating stories. “By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration—and our unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour.”

A truly delightful read. Amor Towles is also the author of Rules of Civility.

Searching (2018)

DVD – How well does a parent really know their child? And to what lengths will a parent go to protect their child? These questions are answered in the thriller Searching.

David Kim is a widowed dad who thinks he has a very close relationship with his16-year-old daughter, Margot. She is in advanced classes in her high school and takes piano lessons. She takes her studies very seriously, frequently staying out late at a friend’s house for group study. David wakes one morning and finds that he had three missed calls from Margot. At first, he assumes that she got home late from her study group and left in the morning for school before he woke up. David keeps texting, leaving messages, calls the school, and Margot’s piano teacher. He realizes something is terribly wrong. Margot left the study group early, never went to school, and finds out she quit her piano lessons six months ago, apparently stashing away the money from the lessons. David calls the police only to realize that he doesn’t actually know who Margot’s friends are. Detective Rosemary Vick takes the case and encourages David to follow Margot’s digital footprints to get information about the people she knows and her interests. He manages to log into Margot’s laptop, which she left behind and learns some surprising things from her social media accounts and digital history.

Did she run away? Was she abducted? Is she still alive or dead? Searching is smart and suspenseful, with unexpected plot twists as dad and detective race to find the missing Margot.

Large Print Books

Books – Large Print Format You may not be aware, but we have over 1000 titles in our Large Print collection. Yes, the books are a tad bigger in size, but the font is undeniably easier on the eyes. The collection is located in the Adult department toward the back of the Library, in between the Biography section and the magazines. We own fiction, nonfiction, and mysteries and are continuously adding new titles.

Here’s a little secret – if you are impatient to read a new book that has numerous holds, check to see if the title is available in Large Print. If so, then it could be available on the shelf.  If not, the hold list may be short. Members who checked out Large Print as an alternative, found that they actually prefer the print size.

Discover which Large Print tiles we own, by doing the following at one of our IPAC stations:  on our catalog page click on “Advanced Search”, scroll down to “Limits”, check the box next to “Large Print Books”, then click on the green “Advanced Search” button.

If you are interested in any titles that we do not have in our holdings, please feel free to fill out an Item Request form, available at the Info or Youth Services Desk, or submit an e-form http://warrenville.libnet.info/itemrequestform available on our Library’s website.

Here is a sampling of what we recently ordered:

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
The Clockmaker’s Daughter
by Kate Morton
Every Breath
by Nicholas Sparks
Night of Miracles
by Elizabeth Berg
The Reckoning
by John Grisham
Leadership in Turbulent Times
by Doris Kearns Goodwin

The following are part of our Library’s holdings, that made the Best Books of 2018 list:

Transcription by Kate Atkinson
Virgil Wander by Leif Enger
Educated by Tara Westover
The Feather Thief by Kirk Wallace Johnson
Calypso by David Sedaris
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
The Witch Elm by Tana French
Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny
Lethal White by Robert Galbraith
Dark Sacred Night by Michael Connelly

Also very popular in our Large Print collection:

Becoming by Michelle Obama
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

 

The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

Book – I have to be honest, I’ve never been a James Paterson fan (gasp).  I’ve read a few of his books and thought they were “OK”.  However, when The President is Missing came out co-authored with Bill Clinton, I decided to find out what all the hype was about and see what kind of fictional tale our former president had to tell.  Well, it ended up being a suspenseful and thrilling page-turner.

President Duncan is facing impeachment.  He is accused of not taking action against Suliman Cindoruk the leader of a terrorist group. But Duncan truly has a noble reason that he can’t disclose. Unbeknownst to the rest of the country, the President must go undercover in a covert mission in order to disable a computer virus that Cindoruk is threatening to unleash. This cyber-attack, code word “Dark Ages” would potentially cripple the United States.  The President puts himself in personal danger to save the nation.  However, he does not act totally recklessly, since he is a war hero – a former Airborne Ranger in Desert Storm and a P.O.W and assembles a team of experts to assist him.  The tensions builds as the clock is ticking down to put a stop to the virus and an assassin stalks Duncan.  In addition, he realizes that there is a traitor in his administration.  Will the traitor be revealed?  Will the President be assassinated?  Will this act of cyberterrorism be quashed?  You can find out for yourself!

Even though there is currently a hold list for this title, we have numerous regular copies, a large print copy, an audiobook, and an eBook on Overdrive, so hopefully your wait will not be long.

 

 

 

Three Wishes by Liane Moriarty

Book – Approaching their thirty-third birthdays, the Kettle sisters Lyn, Cat, and Gemma reminisce about the chaotic past year.  Including pregnancy, a love affair, a mid-life crisis, and the possible reconciliation of their divorced parents. Three Wishes tells the zany story of the triplets – two identical, one fraternal, who celebrate each year with their own cake and candle(s), thus they each make a wish.

What starts out as a festive evening ends up in a chaotic brawl in a restaurant in Sydney.  The beginning will have you hooked, since you will want to know why the pregnant sister has a fondue fork sticking out of her belly.

Lyn who has it all together and is very organized begins having debilitating panic attacks.  Cat thinks she has the perfect marriage until her husband announces that he is having an affair with a younger woman. Gemma tends to have short term relationships with men and her jobs have even a briefer duration.  If she wasn’t a house sitter, then she would probably be homeless.

This is Moriarty’s first novel and it is a candid look at a trio that has an unshakeable bond that is as wonderful as it is frustrating.  Funny, sincere, and wise with a touch of sibling rivalry – this is an enjoyable read.  Netflix has plans to make this a series.