While some fiction lends itself to a certain critical consensus (“good” books and “bad” books), there are other works which end up having a particularly polarized reception. This month, Novelties takes a look at a popular paranormal romance that exemplifies this phenomenon due to the widely-ranging opinions reported by its readers. Laurell K. Hamilton’s A Shiver of Light is an urban fantasy romance, and the two read-alikes we’ll be focusing on share its juxtaposition of fantastical elements with an otherwise familiar, contemporary setting.
|Hamilton is primarily known for two series, one focusing on her character Anita Blake and the other on Meredith Gentry. Those interested in A Shiver of Light should know that it’s the ninth book in the Merry Gentry series, and Hamilton had reader’s waiting five years between it and the previous installment. For many this led to great expectations, and here is where the controversy begins: some readers felt that this novel was all they were waiting for and more, while others were disappointed with how it played out after having been so patient. As for the plot, Gentry is a faerie princess who spent time working as a private detective in Los Angeles and who begins this book pregnant with triplets. Facing the need to protect herself and her future children, she enlists the help of several of the men in her life, each with a set of unique supernatural powers, to help her resist the nefarious forces seeking to dominate or destroy her. Potential readers should be aware that this book is very much a romance novel, and contains some fairly explicit scenes of Gentry and her lovers. If that’s what you’re looking for, have at it; otherwise, you might want to skip this one.|
|Charlaine Harris’ Dead in the Family is another later (in this case, tenth) installment of a series, this one centering on Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse. The book begins with the aftermath of the previous book, Dead and Gone, which saw Stackhouse tortured by supernatural enemies and suffering serious psychological trauma before being rescued. As she is recovering she finds herself dealing with several other sources of drama, including the arrival of her vampire lover’s sire, the discovery of a dead body on her property, and mounting government pressure on the werewolf community. While this all sounds exciting, many readers report feeling that this novel is more “filler” than they would like, slow-moving and unnecessary. However, others claim that it’s an appropriate change in tone after an intense predecessor and does some essential work in wrapping up the intense action from Dead and Gone. There is some good character development and plot advancement, as well as some interesting exploration of the idea of family, but while the book was released to generally positive reviews the popular consensus appears to be that this entry in the series is worth the read but unlikely to be anyone’s favorite.|
|Lastly, we have Jasper Fforde’s third installment in his Thursday Next series, The Well of Lost Plots. Another novel with elements of crime literature and contemporary fantasy, The Well of Lost Plots is set within an alternate history where fiction is very real and has an often significant impact on reality. Thursday Next is a literary detective who handles cases related to the fictional world (a previous book has her pursuing her antagonist through the plot of Jane Eyre), and in this novel she is newly pregnant and taking a break after her previous assignment. Residing inside an unpublished book within the titular well, Next finds herself having to contend with a murderer who is targeting her colleagues on top of book scavengers and other threats lurking within the unregulated world of the well. Fforde’s universe has been hailed as refreshingly original and imaginative, and his premise leads to a great metafictional treat for the well-read. His writing is full of some solid wordplay and clever references to other works that make for a witty and engaging book. Readers who enjoy this genre but are looking for something different would do well to give this novel—and series—a shot.|
E.P. Foster Library has copies of A Shiver of Light, Dead in the Family, and The Well of Lost Plots in its collection, and additional copies are available at other Ventura County Library branches. Dead in the Family is also available to borrow in eBook format through OverDrive. If you want to find more read-alikes, you can access NoveList Plus from our eLibrary’s Reading Suggestions section. If the book you are interested in is not currently on the shelf at your branch, you can always request that a copy be sent to the branch of your choice in person, over the phone, or online through our catalog.
Conjured up by Ronald Martin.
On the first Saturday of July, the San Buenaventura Friends of the Library will hold their next book discussion in the Topping room at E.P. Foster Library.
This group reads a variety of fiction and non-fiction works, and this month’s read is God and Mr. Gomez, by Jack Smith. You can visit the SBFOL website for more information on this discussion group and its future selections.
The event begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 5, and is free and open to the public. New members are always welcome!
We have launched our new catalog. Try it now!
The new catalog, called "Enterprise", has a more efficient search than our "Classic Catalog".
After your initial search, see the left sidebar of the search results for filters (include or exclude): authors, other titles, publication year, languages, library, series, etc.
We welcome your feedback - tell us what you think!
For our patrons who wish to download books: Search with the default setting ("Everything"), you can then limit results to ebook and eaudiobook content by selecting/checking the eBook, eAudiobook, Electronic Resources, etc. filter under "Format" in the left sidebar.
"Classic Catalog" is still available with the link below our logo in the upper left corner.
This event has been postponed; we apologize for the inconvenience. Please keep in touch for a rescheduled date!
This presentation will include information on the history of books and on the tools and techniques necessary to maintain modern volumes. If you’re passionate about the preservation of important works—or if you’re just curious about how it’s done—this is the event for you!
This free talk begins at 10 a.m. in Foster Library’s Topping Room. Call or visit the library for more information!
While it is always impressive to see the latest best-sellers turn into big-screen epics with even bigger budgets and loads of special effects, it’s easy to forget that many of the great literary classics also got the box office treatment. A lot of books that are still relevant today were made into films so long ago that the current generation of readers probably wouldn’t recognize the stars that brought the original text to life. Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises offers us a great example of a work that has had the honor of being appreciated and dissected in multiple formats and across decades of social and cultural change.
|The Sun Also Rises was published in 1926, and has been celebrated as a quintessential representation of the idea of the Lost Generation—those individuals who came of age during World War I. Hemingway introduces us to a number of complex characters, including narrator Jake Barnes and the free-spirited Lady Brett Ashley, whose relationship is central to many of the novel’s themes relating to love and shifting views on sexuality. Barnes served in the war, and suffered an injury which left him impotent and therefore unable to consummate a relationship with Lady Ashley, whose own frustrated feelings for Barnes lead her to indulge haphazardly in a series of affairs and meaningless relationships. The two travel from Paris to Spain with several other expatriates, friends of theirs—mostly writers—who exemplify the aimlessness and desperation of the generation that Hemingway is praised for capturing so well. With Barnes’ injury, Lady Ashley’s conquests, and the portrayals of other male characters which include drunks, hangers-on, and bullfighters, The Sun Also Rises has a lot to say about masculinity in particular, and a critical reader will find a lot to digest and appreciate.|
|One thing that most critics agree on regarding the 1957 film version of The Sun Also Rises is that it is a fairly faithful adaptation of the events in the novel. In a way it’s almost surreal to see scenes and dialogue replicated to such a degree; at times it seems that the film suffers from trying to maintain the pacing of a novel, dragging in places it should not, particularly in the first hour. That said, when the pace picks up and the cast is out in force the film is noticeably better; the second half benefits from a more compelling setting and an improved chemistry between the actors. But despite strong performances from Ava Gardner as Lady Ashley and Errol Flynn as the drunkard Mike Campbell, the film’s casting is perhaps its weakest point. As many have pointed out, the actors chosen for the film are at least a decade too old to be truly believable representations of Hemingway’s characters, creating an experience similar to watching a movie about high school students played by actors in their thirties. The Lost Generation’s wandering purposelessness seems less romantic in those already well past middle age; still, the film manages to reproduce a good deal of the existential heft that makes the novel such an important cultural touchstone.|
Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises is available to borrow at E.P. Foster Library as part of the adult and young adult collections, and is also available as an audiobook. The film is available at Foster as part of a collection which includes several other screen adaptations of Hemingway’s work. If the item you are interested in is not on the shelf at your local branch, you can request for a copy to be delivered to your home branch in person, over the phone, or online through our catalog.
Laid out by Ronald Martin.
Take a trip to the Old West in The Grave Doug Freshley by Josh Hechinger. It may seem like your run-of-the-mill western story, but this graphic novel takes a slightly different turn. It’s the tale of Bat, a young boy seeking revenge for the death of his parents. With the help of his gun-toting tutor, Douglas Freshley, he rides in search of the Delancy gang to exact his own brand of justice.
There’s just one hitch: it seems Bat’s parents weren’t the only ones shot down. Doug himself was also killed. But a promise made to the boy’s father won’t let Doug stay dead. Now the two of them are searching for the murderous Delancy gang, but they’re also trying to stay one step ahead of a mysterious cowboy hot on their trail.
Who is this cowboy, you ask? Why, none other than Death himself. It seems he’s none too pleased with Doug’s recent revival, and he’s eager to send him on his way back to the grave. Will he catch up to Doug and Bat? Will Doug return to the grave at last? Will Bat have his revenge?
I’m not one for spoilers, so you’ll just have to read it and find out. There’s violence, certainly, but there’s also humor, mostly between Doug and his charge, Bat. It’s especially amusing when Doug, in the midst of killing some bad guys, stops Bat from using foul language.
So, sit for a spell and give this graphic novel a whirl. You’ll be glad you did.
Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess
This event will feature a fun tutorial on turning your bike into an ice cream-making machine. You will have an opportunity to learn some bike repair and safety tips while also indulging your sweet tooth.
The fun starts at 4 p.m. in the Topping Room. It’s totally free and open to the public, and we’d love to see you there!
At long last, the winners of E.P. Foster Library’s annual Haiku Poetry Contest have been announced. All of the entries this year were fantastic—including the ones that didn’t technically follow the format—and we want to thank everyone who participated for making this a fun and inspirational event! Check out the winners below, and remember that there are even more prizes to be won by joining us for Foster’s Summer Reading Program for children, teens, and adults!
Walking in the park
Is relaxing and peaceful
Good exercise and nice
Posture and balance
We(e) birds call loudly
Make our names,
Stake claims on
Such precarious perches
-P. Alan Haynes
My heart unfrozen
Springtime and I are blooming
Goodbyes and hellos
On display at the Ojai Library until June 22 is this splendid map of the Ojai Valley by Dick Dodd.
Representing 112 square miles the map took 320 hours to complete.
Come get a "bird's eye" view of the Ojai Valley.