Classic Spinoffs

Have you read any classic books? Even if you haven’t, you can still enjoy the books on this list. These are inspired by classics as they tell the stories of supporting characters, are prequels or sequels to the classic stories, or even retell the classics themselves. Read them all!

gertrudeandclaudius Gertrude and Claudius by John Updike  
This prequel to Hamlet tells the story of Gertrude Queen of Denmark before the action of Shakespeare’s Hamlet begins. Updike brings to life Gertrude’s girlhood as the daughter of King Rorik, her arranged marriage to the man who becomes King Hamlet, and her middle-aged affair with her husband’s younger brother.

 

MadameBovarysDaughter Madame Bovary’s Daughter by Linda Urbach
This continuation of Flaubert’s classic Madame Bovary finds twelve-year-old Berthe cast off by society in the aftermath of her mother’s suicide and sent to live with her impoverished grandmother, from where she eventually rises through the ranks of Charles Worth’s famed fashion empire.

 

thebeekeepersapprentice The Beekeeper’s Apprentice, or, On the Segregation of the Queen by Laurie R. King   
In 1914, a young woman named Mary Russell meets a retired beekeeper on the Sussex Downs. His name is Sherlock Holmes. The Great Detective is no fool, and can spot a fellow intellect even in a fifteen-year-old woman. So, at first informally, then consciously, he takes Mary as his apprentice.

 

julietsnurseJuliet’s Nurse by Lois Leveen   
A new telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, from the perspective of Juliet’s nurse. In Verona, a city ravaged by plague and political rivalries, a mother mourning the death of her day-old infant enters the household of the powerful Cappelletti family to become the wet-nurse to their newborn baby. As she serves her beloved Juliet over the next fourteen years, the nurse learns the Cappelletti’s darkest secrets.

ruthsjourney Ruth’s Journey by Donald McCaig
A prequel to one of the most beloved and bestselling novels of all time, Gone with the Wind. The critically acclaimed author of Rhett Butler’s People magnificently recounts the life of Mammy, one of literature’s greatest supporting characters, from her days as a slave girl to the outbreak of the Civil War.

 

revenge Revenge by Stephen Fry  
This brilliant recasting of the classic story The Count of Monte Cristo centers on Ned Maddstone, a happy, charismatic, Oxford-bound seventeen-year-old whose rosy future is virtually pre-ordained. Handsome, confident, and talented, newly in love with bright, beautiful Portia, his father an influential MP, Ned leads a charmed life. But privilege makes him an easy target for envy, and in the course of one day Ned’s destiny is forever altered.

thehistorian The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
A woman discovers that the past of her family is connected to the stories of Vlad the Impaler, the man who inspired Dracula and must decide whether to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive.

 

deankoontzfrankenstein Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein: Prodigal Son
This is a retelling of Frankenstein set in New Orleans. In the 19th century, Dr. Victor Frankenstein brought his first creation to life, but a horrible turn of events forced him to abandon his creation and fall away from the public eye. Now, two centuries later, a serial killer is on the loose in New Orleans, and he’s salvaging body parts from each of his victims, as if he’s trying to create the perfect person. But the two detectives assigned to the case are about to discover that something far more sinister is going on…

widesargassosea Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys  
Jean Rhys brings into the light one of fiction’s most mysterious characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane EyreSet in the Caribbean, its heroine is Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Rochester. In this best-selling novel, Rhys portrays a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind.

monsignorquixote Monsignor Quixote by Graham Greene
When Father Quixote, a local priest of the Spanish village of El Toboso who claims ancestry to Cervantes’ fictional Don Quixote, is elevated to the rank of monsignor through a clerical error, he sets out on a journey to Madrid to purchase purple socks appropriate to his new station. Accompanying him on his mission is his best friend, Sancho, the Communist ex-mayor of the village who argues politics and religion with Quixote and rescues him from the various troubles his innocence lands him in along the way.

There are many, many more books that are inspired by the classics. Sometimes even classics are inspired by other classics! What are your favorite classic spinoffs?

Books that Defy Genre Labels and Description

Part of my job in labeling and cataloging books includes deciding if it needs a genre label and which one(s). Some books are easy. With some books I know right away that it needs a mystery, fantasy, or science fiction sticker. Particularly if the publisher is nice enough to include that information in a subtitle or in the book description. Sometimes it takes a little more research, but the author or publisher often include the intended genre pretty clearly somewhere, if you know where to look. However, there are some books that are simply beyond categorizing. Sometimes this is because the book covers so much ground very well, sometimes it is because it simply defies description, and sometimes it is because it crosses so many genre lines that there is not enough room to defygenre1include all the relevant genre stickers.

Here are a few examples of fascinating reads that defy simple genre classifications:

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
Interweaves six narratives spanning the period between 1984 and the 2030s to chronicle a secret war between a cult of soul-decanters and a small group of vigilantes who would take them down. By the award-winning author of Cloud Atlas.defygenre2

Flatland: a Romance of Many Dimensions by Edwin A. Abbott
A century-old classic of British letters that charmed and fascinated generations of readers with its witty satire of Victorian society and its unique insights, by analogy, into the fourth dimension.

Hard-boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami; translated by Alfred Birnbaumdefygenre3
Tracking one man’s descent into the Kafkaesque underworld of contemporary Tokyo, Murakami unites East and West, tragedy and farce, compassion and detachment, slang and philosophy.

2666 by Roberto Bolaño; translated from the Spanish by Natasha Wimmer
An American sportswriter, an elusive German novelist, and a teenage student interact in an urban community on the U.S.-Mexico border where hundreds of young factory defygenres4workers have disappeared.

The Incarnations by Susan Barker
Receiving mysterious letters from someone claiming to be his soulmate, a Beijing taxi driver learns about their shared relationships in numerous past lives before becoming increasingly certain that someone is watching him.

defygenrebtmMore suggestions for indescribably interesting reads include: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell, Geek Love by Katherine Dunn, Valis by Philip K. Dick, Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer, Here, There be Dragons by James A. Owen, Frost in May by Antonia White, The Secret History by Donna Tartt, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino,Gun, With Occasional Music by Jonathan Lethe,Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke,The Marvels by Brian Selznick, In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters, and The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.

Have you ever read a book that left you changed but still somehow wondering what exactly it was that you just read? What is your favorite book that left you speechless when it came down to recommending it or describing it to someone else?

Time Travel Stories, That are NOT Science Fiction

time-travelEver wish you could slip away to another time or place? Want to see how things really were during your favorite era of history or perhaps take a peek at a future that might not yet be written in stone?

I have always been intrigued by the notion, but no matter how much I enjoy science fiction I have never been a fan of books that paired the two. You might think that any book that has time travel is automatically science fiction, but this is far from the truth. While the two often overlap, there are many other kinds of books that feature time travel. There is a genre of time travel romance, sometimes magic or other aspects of the story trigger the travel, and sometimes in fiction it just happens.

Here are some of the best books I have seen that feature time travel, but are not science fiction.timet1

The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells  by Andrew Sean Greer
To alleviate her suffocating depression after the death of her twin brother and the break-up with her long-time lover, Greta Wells embarks on a radical psychiatric treatment that has an unexpected side effect, which transports her to the lives she might have had if she had been born in a different era.

Night Watch: a Novel of Discworld by Terry Pratchett
timet4Flung back in time by a mysterious accident, Sam Vimes has to start all over again. He must get a new name and a job, and there’s only one job he’s good at: cop in the Watch. He must track down a brutal murderer. He must find his younger self and teach him everything he knows. He must whip the cowardly, despised Night Watch into a crack fighting force – fast. Because Sam Vimes knows what’s going to happen. He remembers it. He was there. It’s part of history. And you can’t change history…timet2

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
Hurtled back through time more than two hundred years to Scotland in 1743, Claire Randall finds herself caught in the midst of an unfamiliar world torn apart by violence, pestilence, and revolution and haunted by her growing feelings for James Fraser, a young soldier.

11/22/63 by Stephen Kingtimet3
Receiving a horrific essay from a GED student with a traumatic past, high-school English teacher Jake Epping is enlisted by a friend to travel back in time to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy, a mission for which he must befriend troubled loner Lee Harvey Oswald.

Now & Then by Jacqueline Sheehan
Her life spinning out of control to the point timet5that she wakes up one day among her Irish ancestors in 1844, Anna struggles to find her way home while navigating a time and culture completely foreign to her, a situation that is further complicated by her troubled teenage nephew.

More books that include time travel without being science fiction, but I did not have room for above, include: The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, Orfeo by Richard Powers, The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes, The House on the Strand by Daphne Du Maurier,  Replay by Ken Grimwood, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, Timebound by Rysa Walker, Morrigan’s Cross by Nora Roberts, and 1632 by Eric Flint.

Hidden Treasures in the Library Lobby

When you walk into the Cheshire Public Library you enter the main floor lobby. This large area is home to CD’s, DVD’s, Audiobooks, adult fiction, and new books. There are also a variety of displays, the public catalogs, the circulation desk, and the Friends book sale and donation area. Most regular visitors to the library are aware of their favorite areas, and browse those areas comfortably. However, like in the children’s room there are some hidden treasures that often get over looked and deserve some attention.

IMG_3110Science Fiction
I have always been a big fan of science fiction and fantasy, and love helping people discover new authors and series to explore. Unfortunately, most people miss our Science Fiction shelving area entirely. As with our mystery books, they are shelved separately from the rest of the fiction. You can see which area any adult (or children’s) book is shelved in by reading the call number. Adult fiction call numbers will all start with where they are shelved; Fiction, Mystery, or IMG_3116Science Fiction. The mysteries are easy to find, since they are shelved right after the regular fiction. However, the Science Fiction materials are shelved on the wall near the fiction between the audiobooks and classic movies.

Graphic Novels
Graphic novels are not just for children and teens. Take for example the popularity of The Walking Dead. Our selection of graphic novels in the lobby is not huge, but it is high IMG_3111quality and well worth taking a look at. Since it is a fairly small collection it might be easy to over look, but it is not hard to find or to browse if you are interested. The collection is housed on the endcap of the New Biography and Nonfiction shelf, facing the windows and DVD’s. If you like what you see, but are looking for even more graphic novels, do not be afraid to explore the large selection in the Teen’s Room!IMG_3113

Categorized DVD’s
Most regular visitors know where to find the DVD’s they enjoy most, and where our Quick Flick, New, regular, and Blu-Ray movies are each shelved. However, there are a few groups of films that are shelved separately. We have labeled  these disks and changed their call numbers to IMG_3112match these special areas, but infrequent movie borrowers might not know about these little nooks and crannies. Classic movies are labeled with a red Classics label and are shelved on a slat-wall display on the wall by the fiction books. Comedy movies have an orange Comedy label and shelved in the next slat- wall display. On the same wall, in the build in bookcase between those two IMG_3114slat-wall displays, you can find the television show box sets which have a bright pink TV label on them.  If you keep following that wall to the corner you will find the Family Films (with a green label), and in the next bookcase after a window you can find the non-fiction films (classed by number) and the Foreign Films which have a yellow Foreign sticker on them.IMG_3115

Lost And Found
While not a part of our library collection, it is an often asked for and searched for item. Small or valuable items (wallets, phones, jewelry, etc) that have been turned into library staff stay at that service desk for a time and then are tucked away in a safe until claimed. However, items like coats, mittens, notebooks, umbrellas, and so on are kept at the IMG_3117service desk of the area they were found in for a few hours and are then placed in our Lost and Found bin. This is located between the Friend’s donation area and the Audiobook collection.

Do not forget about the variety of ever changing displays. Any of our items that are on these displays can be checked out. If you are still unsure where to find what you are looking for swing by the Circulation desk and we would be glad to help you!

Sharon Reads: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers is the first book in a new young adult series, His Fair Assassin. The main character is seventeen-year-old Ismea, who has been feared and shamed her entire life because of scars she bears from her mothers attempt to abort her. She escapes an arranged marriage and dedicates her life to the god, or saint, Mortain who rules death. The convent that takes her in and trains her requires complete obedience, but her skills and safety of the convent help Ismae grow and thrive. During her third assignment, she discovers that the outside world is much more complicated than she had ever imagined. She finds herself under prepared as she tries to protect the duchess, and the country, amid traitors and plots that seem to become even more tangled as she loses her heart to her partner, and potential target for death.

Let’s start with the obviously fantastic reason everyone is interested by this book, assassin nuns. It could not be anything other than awesome. Ismea is saved from being further beaten, and most likely killed, by the man her father sold her to as a wife by a local priests and hedge witch that follow the old ways. She is taught to kill, to serve a dark god or saint and to protect her country. She learns to obey, and in turn to question the orders and plots that are driving her hands in death. Ismea becomes a strong, smart woman. Her partnership with Duval is far from insta-love, and develops slowly and will the appropriate amount of doubt and mistrust. However, I will say that I was occasionally annoyed with her jumping and being startled every time he touched her or looked at her a certain way. The court intrigue was well done, and held some surprises for me. I fully expected some of the players to be exactly who they turned out to be, but I was glad to find a couple unexpected twists and turns.

I recommend Grave Mercy to fans of historical fiction, court intrigue, and heroines that take charge of their destiny. There are some mystical elements and significant romance, but neither overwhelms the historical mystery that carries throughout the story. Some might be worried about the mystic elements or take on religion. I think most interested in the book, especially by the thought of assassin nuns, will be just fine. Those that are offended by the very idea of old gods and the way pagan religions were transformed to be part of Christianity through force, and the idea that the pagan community could have had (or still have) some things right, might want to skip it.  It is a four star book in my opinion.

Dark Triumph

The sequel, Dark Triumph follows fellow assassin nun Sybella on her own heart wrenching journey.

This review was originally published on Sharon the Librarian.