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An Interview with Author Stacey Kade

Larissa Distler, Adult Services Librarian

Can you explain in your own words what makes your most recent adult novel, “738 Days,” intriguing to readers?

738 DAYS is the story of Amanda Grace, a girl who was abducted at sixteen and held captive in a basement for over two years. She escapes and, at the start of the story, is trying to recover from that experience. But she struggles with trusting others–and herself. She is famous–or infamous–for this horrible thing that happened to her and feels like she can’t escape it or its aftereffects. She needs something to change, but her anxiety and fear are holding her prisoner as much as the chain that once held her in that basement.

The other half of the story belongs to Chase Henry, a former teen star struggling to reboot his career and his reputation after some seriously bad decisions. When Amanda was in that horrible basement, Chase’s poster on the wall was the only thing that reminded her of home (her sister had a huge crush on the actor) and kept her going. Knowing this and the amount of attention that still surrounds Amanda, Chase’s shady publicist arranges a surprise meet-up, looking for good PR for Chase. Chase doesn’t like the idea, but he’s desperate and goes along with it. Of course the meet-up doesn’t go well, but Chase and Amanda figure out that they might both be able to help each other.

As for what makes it intriguing, I think it’s the idea of someone managing to survive something so awful–something the whole world knows about–and coming out of it with the strength and determination to try and rebuild their life. To trust another human again, enough to fall in love. I was most definitely inspired by the Elizabeth Smart story and the overwhelming press coverage surrounding her disappearance and recovery. She has built an amazing life in the years since.

I also think that we, as a culture, are fascinated by fame, and this story explores multiple ways in which fame becomes a terrible burden instead of an amazing, shining thing to be desired.

I’ve read that you pulled from your own experiences with anxiety to write the character of Amanda, can you elaborate on that?

Amanda has PTSD, which is considered an anxiety disorder. I have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). I haven’t been through what Amanda has experienced, but many anxiety disorders share common symptoms. So I know what panic attacks feel like, for example. And I know what it is to agonize over tiny, useless details–what shirt to wear, for example–because your brain tells you that this could be THE choice that makes a difference between a good day and a bad one.

Amanda is dealing with these issues on an enormous scale. She no longer feels safe in the world, even in her own home. I wanted to draw on my personal experiences to convey the depth of what it’s really like to have clinical anxiety. When you have anxiety to that degree, it can consume your life. And there is no magical cure. It’s something that Amanda (and the rest of us) will have to work on forever. But getting help (medication, therapists, a supportive family member or loved one) can make an enormous difference.

Please tell me about the inspiration behind “For This Life Only.”

FOR THIS LIFE ONLY is the story of twins, Jace and Eli, who are the sons of a prominent pastor. After a terrible car accident in which Eli is killed and Jace is technically dead for a few moments until his heart is restarted, Jace awakens to find his world completely changed. He’s no longer a twin, his baseball future is over with the injuries to his arm, and he no longer knows what he believes. Because while he was temporarily dead for those few minutes, he didn’t see a bright light or hear the voice of God or anything he expected to experience. Now, he’s struggling with his grief and his guilt and questioning everything.

I’m the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, and, as such, I grew up with religion and the church in my life in a different way than most people experience. As with anything, when you see behind the scenes, it changes your perspective. Many PKs (pastor’s kids) pull away from the church as adults because they’ve seen how very human it can be, as an organization. (The pressure of being highly visible in the church community and held to a higher standard doesn’t help either!)

I, like many PKs, struggled with figuring out what I believed. And I was intrigued with telling the story of someone trying to work that out with much higher stakes. I also wanted to explore a touchy subject (religion) in an open way that I hoped would help teens who are thinking about these things. It’s okay to question, it’s okay to wonder.

How has your writing developed over the years?

It’s my goal to continually grow and improve as a writer. But the thing that no one tells you is that every book is different. You’d think it would get easier after you’ve done this seven or eight times, but it doesn’t. And that’s part of what I love about writing, even when it’s frustrating.  Every book presents its own unique challenge. So, with every book, I try to improve on some aspect, to grow in some way. For example, FOR THIS LIFE ONLY was my first time writing from one character’s point of view after years of writing books with multiple points of view. And 738 DAYS was my first romance for adults after six paranormal/sci-fi novels for teens. 

How did your life change when you became a published author?

It didn’t change much at all, at first. I’d been published by several small presses before Disney bought my first young adult novel. You know that whole saying about, “Don’t quit your day job”? Very true for me and for most authors, especially in the beginning. I was squeezing writing in on weekends, evenings and lunch breaks.

But when The Ghost and the Goth came out in 2010, I was very fortunate to be able to begin writing full time. And that was an enormous–and scary and thrilling–change.  The responsibility was actually a little daunting at first, to be my own boss. But now I love it.

What is the most exciting thing about becoming published?
Before I was published, I used to visit the bookstore and look for the space on the shelf where my name/book would be, for inspiration and motivation to keep writing through the rejection. And now, to be able to walk into a bookstore and see my name on the shelf, to see my words on the page, is amazing. I hope I never take that thrill for granted.

Also, receiving emails and letters from readers, telling me that my story helped them through a bad day or made them laugh, is incredibly moving, and I treasure every one of them. It’s incredible to think about that connection between author and readers, strangers except for this shared story and characters. How cool!


Are you looking forward to visiting Galena for LitFest?

I’m very excited! I’ve never been to Galena, but my parents have been several times and they love it.

An Interview with Author Mary Kubica

 

Larissa Distler, adult services librarian, recently had the pleasure to ask LitFest author Mary Kubica a few questions!

 

mary-kubica-9-websitesmallCan you explain in your own words what makes your most recent novel, “Don’t You Cry,” intriguing to readers?

Don’t You Cry has a little bit of everything, from mystery to romance, elements of motherhood, friendship, self-discovery and even a ghost story thrown in.  The narrators are both male and female, and will appeal to a variety of readers.  I think what makes this genre so red hot in general right now is that authors of psychological suspense take our everyday ordinary and turn it on edge.  Readers can relate because the extraordinary circumstances that happen to the characters in the novel are not so far removed from our own lives, and I believe the same is true for Don’t You Cry.

 

How has your writing developed over three books?

Until writing my first novel, The Good Girl, I didn’t share my work with anyone.  I was very discreet about my writing.  Few people even knew writing was something I loved to do.  Once I sold The Good Girl, I was blessed with a phenomenal editor and for the first time received critical feedback on my work.  It’s been an invaluable asset, having someone point out for me my strengths and weaknesses as an author, and how I can improve my work.  I do hope that with each novel I continue to improve in my craft, and that the novel I write ten years from now is far better than the one I’m working on today.

 

How did your life change when you became a published author?

The biggest change for me is that writing was able to take a central focus in my life, rather than being something that sat on the backburner all the time.  It was no longer a hobby but now a career, and so I was able to set aside hours of my day to devote to something I had such great passion for: writing!  Beyond that, much of my life remains the same.

 

What is the most exciting thing about becoming published?

One of the most exciting things about being published is getting to share my characters with readers.  Authors spend so much time alone, wrapped up in their thoughts, conversing with fictional characters, and so to take these ideas and these fabricated worlds that I’ve created, and share them with readers is a thrill for me.  There’s nothing that makes me more proud than hearing from a reader that they enjoyed my book, or that a character resonated with them, or that they were surprised by a plot twist.

 

We’ve heard that “The Good Girl” has been optioned for film making rights, any insight on that?

The Good Girl was optioned for film by Anonymous Content, though the option recently expired.  We’re in the process of finding a new home for it, and have no doubt we soon will succeed!

 

Are you looking forward to visiting Galena for LitFest?

Of course!  For one, I’m eager to visit Galena again.  It’s been many years since I’ve had a chance to stop by, and I absolutely adore the area.  My family and I used to visit frequently when I was a girl.  But even more, I’m so looking forward to speaking with readers at LitFest about the one thing I love best: books!  I’m so grateful that I’ve been invited to join the festivities this year.

 

 

Staff Book Review | “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne

Reviewed by Larissa Distler, Adult Services Librarian

29056083Welcome back Harry! You and I seem to be in the same boat. The one that’s precariously sailing through adulthood trying desperately not to screw everything up for everyone.

I do wish that it was a novel written by J.K. Rowling, I fully admit that. Reading a play is essentially like reading a proofread outline. A large portion of the character development and nuances come from the performance.

However, I was able to craft characters in my head based on what the play format had to offer. I loved Albus and Scorpius, particularly Scorpius. I also loved the marriages between Harry and Ginny, Hermione and Ron. They played out like people actually talk to each other, despite the overly silly antics of Ron (which I thought were way over the top).

The dialog is ridiculous and at times out of character. Yes this is a different format, but these are characters that are much beloved and fans will know if one is saying something that he/she would never say. It bothered me. Not a lot, but enough.

Long story short . . .I’m glad I read this, but I’m feeling like the closure I once had now has a big tear in it.

 

JFIC ROW

Staff Book Review | “After Alice” by Gregory Maguire

Reviewed by Larissa Dister, Adult Services Librarian

24331115This little book is enjoyable, yet not what I expected it to be.

I have read most of the Wicked books (the books on which the play is based) and I loved them. I expected “After Alice” to be similar in that they would expand the world of Wonderland, but it wasn’t. It was more like an expansion of the Victorian world and the people that Alice left behind. Her friend Ada follows her down the rabbit hole and goes through many of the same adventures. Ada is a more likable character than Alice as it happens, but she didn’t really happen upon any part of Wonderland that we haven’t already seen.

I liked the parts about Alice’s sister, Lydia, and Ada’s governess better. It was an interesting slice of Victorian life in Oxford. Alice and Lydia’s father has a very special guest that was quite fun in his senescence. My favorite character was “Siam,” an emancipated slave boy from the America’s. His perspective was an interesting dimension in between the uptight Victorian and absurdity of Wonderland.

FAN MAG
PA FAN MAG

Staff Book Review | “Dreams of Darkness and Light” by Karen Stockwell

 

 

Reviewed by Larissa Distler, Adult Services Librarian

18602990“Dreams of Darkness and Light” is the type of book that gives a good name to self-published authors. It is lovingly put together by Karen Stockwell who feels a genuine kinship to her characters and a deep connection to her story. She not only wrote the book, but also illustrated the cover.

I tend to get bored of stories about finding faith. They always feel like self-help to me, which is something I just cannot get into, but “Dreams” is much more than the run-of-the mill story. She weaves real purpose into her main characters’ arcs. Michelle wants not only to find a path (and for her that path does involve finding a church), but also making a real difference in the world not only through faith, but also through action and artistic creation.

The other characters are on similar paths, looking for what they are meant to do with themselves and how it plays into the world as a whole. The character development is wonderful. They could be real people and are all distinct.

The narrative begins with Michelle and her friends as they prepare to embark on a vacation to an off the beaten path Mexican village. Michelle ends up on her own due to a booking era and instead of waiting for her friends to arrive in the city, she makes her own way to the village. At Sweet Dreams Bed and Breakfast she finds her Australian hosts really lovely, but she feels a strange pull to enter Anhelo, “The Cave of Dreams.”

The loss of the fifth star is because some of the cave scenes were a bit too drawn out and preachy for me. I see why Father Moran needed to be there for Michelle’s character, but I was bored of him and his dialogues on finding faith. Just not my thing. Also I found it jarring to switch from the Michelle chapters to the Sweet Dreams chapters because of the change from first person to third person.

Those are minor complaints; however, because I greatly enjoyed the book as a whole. Thank you Karen! Keep writing.

FIC STO

We also have Karen’s newest book, “The Ballad of Sam and D.Lila.”

 

 

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Staff Book Review | “Bloodline” by Claudia Gray

 

Reviewed by Larissa Distler, Adult Services Librarian

As far as Star Wars books go “Bloodline” is top of the line. Claudia Gray writes an intimate portrait of Leia Organa as she deals with the failing politics of the New Republic while uncovering some shady operations which turn out to be the beginning of the First Order.

I have fallen in love with Leia. She is a powerful, smart woman who is uncompromisingly herself in all situations. She is not perfect either. She’s flawed in ways that we are all flawed and I love her more for it. Gray even fleshes out Leia’s backstory a bit with memories of her childhood on Alderaan and it’s not the least bit cheesy or contrived.

The Ransolm Castarfo character is also wonderfully developed and interesting. I enjoyed being embroiled in the failing senate politics that allowed for the First Order to take hold. This is an excellent precursor to the Force Awakens.

I both read and listened to this book. The audio book is excellent. Star Wars audio books are always fun because the music and sound effects make it feel like a radio play.

SF GRA

Also available on Axis360 as an eBook and an eAudiobook.

 

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Staff Book Review | “Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte

I rather sheepishly admit that I did not read this book until I was 29 . . . but I am not ashamed to say that I liked it . . .just liked it.

I’m really torn actually. The societal stigma that follows the relationship of Heathcliff and Cathy makes one believe that they have a sort of burning romance that beguiles the stolidity of time and space, but that’s not really the case. They absolutely fail at relationshipping.

Sure blame it on the time in which it was written, Cathy just had to marry Edgar, right? It is what was expected of her. Of course it was, which is why the way they all deal with it makes her and Heathcliff all the more intolerable to read about. Oh we are so sad and angry about the positions we find ourselves in. Woe is us. Let’s make everyone else’s lives intolerable as well.

The second half of the novel was much more interesting to me. I enjoyed the interplay between young Cathy and everyone else. Heathcliff totally falls off his rocker eventually, which was fine with me. I liked him silly and muttering rather than intimidating and beating his dying son.

The atmosphere was delightful and the story is suspenseful so ultimately, I’m glad I read it. The ending was fun.

823.8 BRO

PA CLASSICS BRO

Staff Book Review | “The Witch of Lime Street: Seance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World” by David Jaher

 

Reviewed by Larissa Distler, Adult Services Librarian

I had no idea that spiritualism was so prevalent during the 1920’s. I knew there were quite a few mediums that were debunked and that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini were involved, but I didn’t know that Scientific American magazine launched a “Great Spirit Hunt” and offered a $2,500 reward for a medium they couldn’t prove fraudulent.

Imagine seeing paranormal news in well respected magazines and newspapers!

I never heard of Mina “Margery” Crandon, the “Witch of Lime Street.” She began her career as an insanely famous medium by bringing her dead brother, Walter, into the seance room. Though her act changed and evolved throughout the years, she ended up producing ectoplasmic blobs, hands, and other objects through just about every orifice in her body in addition to cold gusts of air, lights, rocking tables, etc

“The Great Houdini” sat on the Scientific American committee of judges and embarked on a crusade to expose her activity as bogus – much to the chagrin of spiritualists such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

This was a really fun non-fiction book about a quirky and extremely interesting period of human history with great characters at the forefront. The author writes narratively and injects excitement into it. Highly recommended.

133.96 JAH

This title is also available as an eBook and an eAudiobook on Axis360.

 

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Staff Book Review | “Twain and Stanley Enter Paradise” by Oscar Hijuelos

 

Reviewed by Larissa Distler, Adult Services Librarian

“Twain and Stanley Enter Paradise” is an absolutely delightful book. I’ve always been slightly intrigued of Mark Twain, but it was an intrigue I never really acted upon apart from the usual fare of the Huckleberry sort. However, the very image of him amused me with it’s weather worn square jawed face, gigantic mustache, and the shock of unruly white hair that appeared to have been hastily brushed down in the slightest effort to look presentable.

I gave this book a shot mostly because the title so intrigued me. Who was this “Stanley” and what was their “paradise?” Stanley turned out to be Sir Henry Morton Stanley. The very man who said the words, “Doctor Livingstone, I presume,” upon finding David Livingstone in Africa in 1871. Well how could I not read a novel about Mark Twain and a famous Victorian explorer?

The novel, posthumously published by Hijuelos’s wife, is written in a very interesting way. It comes across as nonfiction in it’s stylistic choices. The narrative mostly made up of “lost” manuscripts, letters, journal entries, etc. All of it is invented by Hijuelos which he wrote over a period of more than twelve years. During that time, according to his wife who wrote an introduction and an afterward, he read everything he could get his hands on regarding Samuel Clemens, Henry Stanley, and the areas and time they lived in. Dorothy Tennant also plays heavily throughout the narrative. She was the society dame and accomplished portrait painter Stanley married late in his life. She is a fascinating woman and ahead of her time. Learn more about her here.

The finished product is a beautiful, poignant portrait of a friendship and the two men that shared it. Their triumphs and short coming, joys and tragedies. I greatly enjoyed reading about them and will miss them too much not to read the works written by the men themselves.

 

FIC HIJ

PA FIC HIJ

I both read and listened to this book. The spoken narration on the Playaway audio book is fantastic. Several narrators voice the characters.

Also available on Axis 360 as a eAudiobook.

 

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Children’s Book Reviews | For Children by Children

During the month of March, children participated in the library’s “Luck o’ the Draw” program, checking out wrapped-up books and then reading and reviewing them for a chance to win prizes. Congratulations to our grand prize winner, Jacob Furlong, who won a $25 Amazon gift card. Five runners-up were also chosen: Jolie Wimberly, Sarahi Bello, Ella White, Claire Furlong, and Emma Furlong.

Here are some of the children’s reviews:

Three by the Sea by Edward Marshall

“This book is good for a kid learning to read. There are mini-stories inside this book.”-Ella

 

 

 

Thurgood Marshall: The Supreme Court Rules on “Separate but Equal” by Gary Jeffrey

“It was very educational but wasn’t violent, and it showed how segregated it was back then and how they were treated.”-Jillian

 

 

 

My Name is Parvana by Deborah Ellis

“I liked this book because it taught me a lot about Afghanistan. It also taught me more about the war.”-Jacob

 

 

 

Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik

“I liked this book. The first story was funny when Little Bear kept saying he was cold, and his mom kept giving him things to put on. I also liked when Little Bear tried to fly.”-Claire

 

 

 

Griffin’s Castle by Jenny Nimmo

“I loved this book because Dinah never gave up, and I liked how the griffins came alive.”-Emma

 

 

 

 

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

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“I liked this book because it taught me more about life in the Jungle.”-Jacob