Monday, February 6, 2023

love bites

With these, you can take the title of this post pretty seriously.  

Enjoy a more macabre side of love and romance with these dark films and books!

Here are the films:

Bones and All

Starring Timothée Chalamet (Lee) and Taylor Russell (Maren), this tasty movie morsel reflects on the challenges of being a young-and-in-love cannibal on the road. Wanderlust and bloodlust combine as outsider-lovers navigate their need to consume human flesh to survive. Although its subject matter may be hard to stomach, Bones and All proves a deeply romantic and thought-provoking treat.

Til Death

Megan Fox stars as Emma in S.K. Dale’s 2021 film, Til Death, a film about a woman struggling in an abusive marriage. After falling for another man, she is forced to navigate her husband’s gruesome revenge plan. This fast-paced horror-thriller comments on the difficulty of leaving a toxic relationship and involves creative reuse of an old wedding dress.


Florence Pugh (Dani) and Jack Reynor (Christian) play a couple on the verge of breakup in writer-director Ari Astor’s 2019 film, Midsommar. Dani has suffered a horrific tragedy and is struggling to pick up the pieces when she travels with Christian and his friends to a rural Swedish village during a mid-summer festival. The villager’s unusual traditions force Dani to confront the reality of her deteriorating relationship while offering inspiring—and terrifying—opportunities for her to start anew.

The Man With Two Brains

Steve Martin and Kathleen Turner star in Carl Reiner’s 1983 tale of romance-gone-wrong. Martin plays a famous and arrogant brain surgeon, Dr. Michael Hfuhruhurr, and Turner is his femme fatale, Dolores. This macabre comedy is part retelling of Rebecca, part retelling of Frankenstein, and all parts insane—in the best possible way.

The Love Witch

Writer-director Anna Biller’s dark yet humorous 2016 film, The Love Witch, tells the story of Elaine Parks (Samantha Robinson), a modern-day witch on a relatable quest in search of love. She attempts to use her powers to make men fall in love with her, but her spells often conjure tragedy.


Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s 2014 film, Spring, is a dark love story about a young man, Evan (Lou Taylor Pucci), who travels to Italy and falls for an unusual local woman, Louise (Nadia Hilker). It soon becomes apparent that the mysterious Louise is keeping her true identity a secret.

Only Lovers Left Alive

Tilda Swinton (Eve) and Tom Hiddleston (Adam) play centuries-old vampire lovers in Jim Jarmusch’s 2013 film, Only Lovers Left Alive. In this moody horror-romance, Adam is a musician who has grown despondent and suicidal. His life is thrown into disarray with the arrival of Eve’s younger sister. The vampires must deal with the challenges posed by their blood-thirsty lives.

My Bloody Valentine

George Mihalka’s 1981 Valentine’s Day slasher takes place in a Canadian mining town. The town reinstates an annual Valentine’s Dance despite clear warnings not to proceed. Brutal killings commence, motivated by a decades-old tragedy.

Here are the books:

An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. James

After her ghost-hunting uncle Toby dies, Oxford student Jillian must drive to the seaside village of Rothewell to pack up his belongings. Almost immediately, terrifying events convince Jillian that an angry spirit is trying to enter the house. Is it Walking John, the two-hundred-year-old ghost that haunts the bay? And who besides the ghost is roaming the local woods at night? If Toby uncovered something sinister, was his death really an accident? The arrival of handsome Scotland Yard inspector Drew Merriken leaves Jillian with more questions than answers and the added complication of a powerful mutual attraction.

Property of a Lady by Sarah Rayne

A house with a sinister past – and a grisly power - When Michael Flint is asked by American friends to look over an old Shropshire house they have unexpectedly inherited, he is reluctant to leave the quiet of his Oxford study. But when he sees Charect House, its uncanny echoes from the past fascinate him – even though it has such a sinister reputation that no one has lived there for almost a century. But it’s not until Michael meets the young widow, Nell West, that the menace within the house wakes . . .

Staked by J.F. Lewis

Eric's got issues. He has short-term and long-term memory problems; he can't remember who he ate for dinner yesterday, much less how he became a vampire in the first place. His best friend, Roger, is souring on the strip club he and Eric own together, and his girlfriend, Tabitha, keeps pressuring him to turn her so she can join him in undeath. It's almost enough to put a Vlad off his appetite. Almost. All Eric wants to do is run his strip club, drink a little blood, and be left alone. Instead, he must survive car crashes, enchanted bullets, sunlight, sex magic, and werewolves on ice—not to mention his own nasty temper and forgetfulness.

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews

Such wonderful children. Such a beautiful mother. Such a lovely house. Such endless terror! It wasn't that she didn't love her children. She did. But there was a fortune at stake—a fortune that would assure their later happiness if she could keep the children a secret from her dying father. So she and her mother hid her darlings away in an unused attic. Just for a little while. But the brutal days swelled into agonizing years. Now Cathy, Chris, and the twins wait in their cramped and helpless world, stirred by adult dreams, adult desires, served a meager sustenance by an angry, superstitious grandmother who knows that the Devil works in dark and devious ways. Sometimes he sends children to do his work—children who—one by one—must be destroyed.... 'Way upstairs there are four secrets hidden. Blond, beautiful, innocent struggling to stay alive....'

The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller

A young widow restores a dilapidated mansion with the assistance of a charming, eccentric genius, only to find the house is full of dangerous secrets in this effervescent Gilded Age debut novel.

Warm Bodies

In Warm Bodies, Isaac Marion’s New York Times bestselling novel that inspired a major film, a zombie returns to humanity through an unlikely encounter with love.

Minion by L.A. Banks

All Damali Richards ever wanted to do was create music and bring it to the people. Now she is a Spoken Word artist and the top act for Warriors of Light Records. But come nightfall, she hunts vampires and demons―predators that people tend to dismiss as myth or fantasy. But Damali and her Guardian team cannot afford such delusions, especially now, when a group of rogue vampires have been killing the artists of Warriors of Light and their rival, Blood Music. Damali soon discovers that behind these brutal murders is the most powerful vampire she has ever met, and this seductive beast is coming for her next.

Lothaire by Kresley Cole

Driven by his insatiable need for revenge, Lothaire, the Lore’s most ruthless vampire, plots to seize the Horde’s crown by offering up the soul of his lovely new captive, Elizabeth Peirce. Yet the young human soon tempts him beyond reason. In one month, Lothaire must choose between a millennia-old blood vendetta and his irresistible prisoner. Will he succumb to the miseries of his past...or risk everything for a future with her?

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

taking the train


The next Books & Beyond (BAB) meeting will be on Tuesday, February 28th at 6:30pm and the topic up for discussion will be retellings, books and films that put a modern spin on classic and modern classic novels.  Please join us!  

Looking for possibilities?  Visit the Shelf Care page and scroll down to the Books & Beyond section here:

If you’d like to attend online, register here for a Zoom link:

BAB met this week to chat about trains and train trips!

Mrs. Queen Takes the Train by William Kuhn

An absolute delight of a debut novel by William Kuhn—author of Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in BooksMrs Queen Takes the Train wittily imagines the kerfuffle that transpires when a bored Queen Elizabeth strolls out of the palace in search of a little fun, leaving behind a desperate team of courtiers who must find the missing Windsor before a national scandal erupts.

The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes by Anthony Sadler

An ISIS terrorist planned to kill more than 500 people. He would have succeeded except for three American friends who found heroic unity and strength inside themselves at the moment when they, and 500 other innocent travelers, needed it most. There is also a film adaptation.

Riding Britain’s Railways (streaming on Disney+)

Britain's railways were key to the development of Britain - they helped facilitate the Industrial Revolution, the suburbs- and the commuter - and created popular holiday destinations. They've even inspired poetry, film and song. Combining contemporary train journeys with ITN's extensive archive this series provides a unique and revealing history of Britain's railroads and our engineering evolution. In each episode our presenter will take a different rail journey across the UK, use historical rail guides, board classic trains, experience captivating views and explore fascinating histories and personal stories. We'll hear stories of success - and learn about the disasters which pushed the engineering forward.

Around the World in 80 Trains: A 45,000 Adventure by Monisha Rajesh

When Monisha Rajesh announced plans to circumnavigate the globe in eighty train journeys, she was met with wide-eyed disbelief. But it wasn't long before she was carefully plotting a route that would cover 45,000 miles - almost twice the circumference of the earth - coasting along the world's most remarkable railways; from the cloud-skimming heights of Tibet's Qinghai railway to silk-sheeted splendour on the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express.

Strangers on a Train (1951 film)

In Alfred Hitchcock's adaptation of Patricia Highsmith's thriller, tennis star Guy Haines (Farley Granger) is enraged by his trampy wife's refusal to finalize their divorce so he can wed senator's daughter Anne (Ruth Roman). He strikes up a conversation with a stranger, Bruno Anthony (Robert Walker), and unwittingly sets in motion a deadly chain of events. Psychopathic Bruno kills Guy's wife, then urges Guy to reciprocate by killing Bruno's father. Meanwhile, Guy is murder suspect number one.

Violet by S.J.I. Holliday (not in the JCLC system, request from Interlibrary Loan)

When two young women – strangers – end up sharing a cabin on the Trans-Siberian Express, a strange friendship develops, one that can only have one ending. A tense, nerve-shattering psychological thriller about obsession, manipulation and toxic friendships, Violet also reminds us that there's a reason why mother told us not to talk to strangers...

The Taking of Pelham 123 (The 1974 film is not in the JCLC system, but other adaptations are available.)

In New York City, a criminal gang led by the ruthless "Mr. Blue" (Robert Shaw) hijacks a subway car and threatens to start shooting one passenger per minute unless they receive a million dollars in cash from the city within an hour. On the other end of the line, crusty veteran transit policeman Zachary Garber (Walter Matthau) has his hands full dealing with the mayor's office and his hotheaded fellow cops, while also trying to deliver the ransom before the deadline expires.

Unstoppable (2010 film)

When a massive, unmanned locomotive roars out of control, the threat is more ominous than just a derailment. The train is laden with toxic chemicals, and an accident would decimate human life and cause an environmental disaster. The only hope of bringing the train to a safe stop is in the hands of a veteran engineer (Denzel Washington) and a young conductor (Chris Pine), who must risk their lives to save those in the runaway's path. Inspired by true events.

Silver Streak (1976 film)

While on a cross-country train ride, overworked book editor George Caldwell (Gene Wilder) begins an unexpected romance with an enigmatic woman named Hilly Burns (Jill Clayburgh). His vacation is interrupted, however, when he witnesses a murder for which he is then accused. The true villains kidnap Hilly and eject Caldwell from the moving train. Desperate, Caldwell teams up with car thief Grover Muldoon (Richard Pryor), and together they must save Hilly while avoiding the police.

The Railwayman’s Wife by Ashley Hay

Written in clear, shining prose, The Railwayman’s Wife explores the power of beginnings and endings—and how difficult it can be to tell them apart. It is an exploration of life, loss, tragedy, and joy, of connection and separation, longing and acceptance, and an unadulterated celebration of love that “will have you feeling every emotion at once” (Bustle).

Confessions on the 7:45 by Lisa Unger

Selena Murphy is commuting home on the train when she strikes up a conversation with a beautiful stranger in the next seat. The woman introduces herself as Martha and soon confesses that she’s been stuck in an affair with her boss. Selena, in turn, confesses that she suspects her husband is sleeping with the nanny. When the train arrives at Selena’s station, the two women part ways, presumably never to meet again. Then the nanny disappears. As Selena is pulled into the mystery of what happened, and as the fractures in her marriage grow deeper, she begins to wonder, who was Martha really? But she is hardly prepared for what she’ll discover…

Murder on the Orient Express (1974 film)

Having concluded a case, detective Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) settles into what he expects will be a relaxing journey home aboard the Orient Express. But when an unpopular billionaire is murdered en route, Poirot takes up the case, and everyone on board the famous train is a suspect. Using an avalanche blocking the tracks to his advantage, Poirot gradually realizes that many of the passengers have revenge as a motive, and he begins to home in on the culprit.

The Great Train Robbery (1978 film)

Edward Pierce (Sean Connery) is a master thief of the Victorian Era who's never found a heist he couldn't pull off. For his next criminal operation, he plans something that has never been done before: to rob a moving train. Working with a master safecracker (Donald Sutherland) and a seductive woman (Lesley-Anne Down), Pierce devises an incredibly complex plan to break into the train's safe and steal the thousands of dollars' worth of gold that are contained within.


Here is the toilet documentary:

Descriptions were pulled from Amazon and Rotten Tomatoes.


Saturday, January 21, 2023

PEN America literary awards


PEN America has announced the Longlists for the 2023 Literary Awards. The Awards are juried by panels of esteemed, award-winning authors, editors, translators, and critics. These authors are committed to recognizing their contemporaries, from promising debut writers to those who have had a continuous, lasting impact on the literary landscape. Spanning fiction, nonfiction, poetry, biography, essay, science writing, translation, and more, these Longlisted books are dynamic, diverse, and thought-provoking examples of literary excellence.


To a book-length work of any genre for its originality, merit, and impact, which has broken new ground by reshaping the boundaries of its form and signaling strong potential for lasting influence.

Judges: Joan Naviyuk Kane, Lauren Groff, Madeleine Thien

My Pinup, Hilton Als 

Acting Class, Nick Drnaso 

If I Survive You, Jonathan Escoffery 

Dr. No, Percival Everett 

Very Cold People, Sarah Manguso 

Milkweed Smithereens, Bernadette Mayer 

If an Egyptian Cannot Speak English, Noor Naga 

The White Mosque, Sofia Samatar 

Customs, Solmaz Sharif 

Night of the Living Rez, Morgan Talty 


To an exceptional book-length work of any literary genre by an author of color.

Judges: Jenn Baker, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Nina McConigley, Erika L. Sanchez

Golden Ax, Rio Cortez 

Shutter, Ramona Emerson 

The Black Period, Hafizah Augustus Geter 

The Listening Skin: Poems, Glenis Redmond 

Gorgoneion, Casey Rocheteau 

All the Flowers Kneeling, Paul Tran 

The Town of Babylon, Alejandro Varela 

Making Love with the Land, Joshua Whitehead 

Last Summer on State Street, Toya Wolfe 

Solito, Javier Zamora 


To an author whose debut collection of short stories represents distinguished literary achievement and suggests great promise for future work.

Judges: Nafissa Thompson Spires, Chris Gonzalez, Susan Muaddi Darraj

Seeking Fortune Elsewhere, Sindya Bhanoo 

Rainbow Rainbow, Lydia Conklin 

Is This How You Eat a Watermelon?, Zein El-Amine 

If I Survive You, Jonathan Escoffery 

A Down Home Meal for These Difficult Times, Meron Hadero 

A Calm & Normal Heart, Chelsea T. Hicks 

What We Fed to the Manticore, Talia Lakshmi Kolluri 

The Anchored World, Jasmine Sawers 

Night of the Living Rez, Morgan Talty 

Manywhere, Morgan Thomas 


To a debut novel of exceptional literary merit by an American author.

Judges: Gina Apostol, Oscar Cásares, Matthew Salesses

A Tiny Upward Shove, Melissa Chadburn 

The School for Good Mothers, Jessamine Chan 

Activities of Daily Living, Lisa Hsiao Chen 

Shutter, Ramona Emerson 

Nuclear Family, Joseph Han

Calling For a Blanket Dance, Oscar Hokeah 

Nightcrawling, Leila Mottley 

How High We Go in the Dark, Sequoia Nagamatsu 

Little Rabbit, Alyssa Songsiridej 

Which Side Are You On, Ryan Lee Wong 


To a poet whose distinguished collection of poetry represents a notable and accomplished literary presence.

Judges: Kimiko Hahn, Molly McCully Brown, Allison Rollins, Willie Perdomo

Smoking the Bible, Chris Abani 

[To] The Last [Be] Human, Jorie Graham 

Maafa, Harmony Holiday 

The Hurting Kind, Ada Limon 

To The Realization of Perfect Helplessness, Robin Coste Lewis 

Cain Named The Animal, Shane Mcrae 

Pink Waves, Sawako Nakayasu 

blood snow, Dg Nanouk Okpik 

Then The War, Carl Phillips 

Best Barbarian, Roger Reeves 


For a book-length translation of poetry from any language into English.

Judges: Baba Badji, Mona Kareem, Julia Leverone

The Loose Pearl, Paula Ilabaca Nuñez, translated from Spanish by Daniel Borzutzky 

No Way in the Skin without This Bloody Embrace, Jean D’Amérique, translated from French by Conor Bracken 

The Threshold, Iman Mersal, translated from Arabic by Robyn Creswell

claus and the scorpion, Lara Dopazo Ruibal, translated from Galician by Laura Cesarco Eglin

Dolore Minimo, Giovanna Cristina Vivinetto, translated from Italian by Gabriella Fee and Dora Malech

Let Us Believe in the Beginning of the Cold Season, Forough Farrokhzad, translated from Persian by Elizabeth T. Gray, Jr. 

distant transit, Maja Haderlap, translated from German by Tess Lewis

Motherfield, Julia Cimafiejeva, translated from Belarusian by Valzhyna Mort and Hanif Abdurraqib

The Rust of History, Sotero Rivera Avilés, translated from Spanish by Raquel Salas Rivera 

Adela Zamudio: Selected Poetry & Prose, Adela Zamudio, translated from Spanish by Lynette Yetter


For a book-length translation of prose from any language into English.

Judges: Layla Benitez-James, Slava Faybysh, Sora Kim-Russell, Elton Uliana

All Your Children, Scattered, Beata Umybyeyi Mairesse, translated from French by Alison Anderson

The Tatami Galaxy, Tomihiko Morimi, translated from Japanese by Emily Balistrieri

Jawbone, Mónica Ojeda, translated from Spanish by Sarah Booker

Call Me Cassandra, Marcial Gala, translated from Spanish by Anna Kushner

Moldy Strawberries, Caio Fernando Abreu, translated from Portuguese by Bruna Dantas Lobato

Toño the Infallible, Evelio Rosero, translated from Spanish by Victor Meadowcroft and Anne McLean

Ghost Town, Kevin Chen, translated from Taiwanese by Darryl Sterk

People from Bloomington, Budi Darma, translated from Indonesian by Tiffany Tsao

A Line in the World: A Year on the North Sea Coast, Dorthe Nors, translated from by Caroline Waight

Pina, Titaua Peu, translated from French by Jeffrey Zuckerman


For a seasoned writer whose collection of essays is an expansion on their corpus of work and preserves the distinguished art form of the essay.

Judges: Jill Lepore, John McWhorter, Simon Winchester

I’ll Show Myself Out, Jessi Klein 

Translating Myself and Others, Jhumpa Lahiri 

A Place in the World, Frances Mayes 

Still No Word From You, Peter Orner 

Animal Bodies: On Death, Desire, and Other Difficulties, Suzanne Roberts 

Happy-Go-Lucky, David Sedaris

Small Acreages: New and Selected Essays, Georgia Green Stamper 

Streaming Now: Postcards from the Thing That Is Happening, Laurie Stone 

A Left-Handed Woman, Judith Thurman 

The Green Hour: A Natural History of Home, Alison Townsend 


For a work that exemplifies literary excellence on the subject of the physical or biological sciences and communicates complex scientific concepts to a lay audience.

Judges: Tim Folger, David Hu, Emily Raboteau

Different: Gender Through the Eyes of a Primatologist, Frans de Waal 

Vagina Obscura: An Anatomical Voyage, Rachel E. Gross 

Orchid Muse: A History of Obsession in Fifteen Flowers, Erica Hannickel 

Sounds Wild and Broken: Sonic Marvels, Evolution's Creativity, and the Crisis of Sensory Extinction, David George Haskell 

A Molecule Away from Madness: Tales of the Hijacked Brain, Sara Manning Peskin 

The Wine-Dark Sea Within: A Turbulent History of Blood, Dhun Sethna 

Big Bang of Numbers: How to Build the Universe Using Only Math, Manil Suri 

Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey, Florence Williams 

An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us, Ed Yong 

Dancing Cockatoos and the Dead Man Test: How Behavior Evolves and Why It Matters, Marlene Zuk


For a biography of exceptional literary, narrative, and artistic merit, based on scrupulous research.

Judges: Manu Bhagavan, Silvana Paternostro

An American Martyr in Persia: The Epic Life and Tragic Deathof Howard Baskerville, Reza Aslan 

Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Strugglefor Equality, Tomiko Brown-Nagin 

Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-HopProducer Who Reinvented Rhythm, Dan Charnas

The Adventures of Herbie Cohen: The World's Greatest Negotiator, Rich Cohen 

G-Man: J. Edgar Hoover and the Making of the AmericanCentury, Beverly Gage 

The Hyacinth Girl: T. S. Eliot’s Hidden Muse, Lyndall Gordon 

Guru to the World: The Life and Legacy of Vivekananda, Ruth Harris 

Mr. B: George Balanchine’s 20th Century, Jennifer Homans 

The Pope at War: The Secret History of Pius XII, Mussolini,and Hitler, David I. Kertzer 

Saxophone Colossus: The Life and Music of Sonny Rollins, Aidan Levy 


For a distinguished book of general nonfiction possessing notable literary merit and critical perspective that illuminates important contemporary issues.

Judges: Sanjiv Bhattacharya, Geraldo Cadava, Sofija Stefanovic

The Naked Don’t Fear the Water: An Underground Journey withAfghan Refugees, Matthieu Aikins 

Tree Thieves: Crime and Survival in North America’s Woods, Lyndsie Bourgon 

After the Ivory Tower Falls: How College Broke the AmericanDream and Blew Up Our Politics–And How to Fix It, Will Bunch 

The Inheritors: An Intimate Portrait of South Africa’sRacial Reckoning, Eve Fairbanks 

Bad Mexicans: Race, Empire, and Revolution in theBorderlands, Kelly Lytle Hernandez 

South to America: A Journey Below the Mason-Dixon toUnderstand the Soul of a Nation, Imani Perry 

The War of Nerves: Inside the Cold War Mind, Martin Sixsmith 

The Viral Underclass: The Human Toll When Inequality andDisease Collide, Steven W. Thrasher 

The Great Stewardess Rebellion: How Women Launched aWorkplace Revolution at 30,000 Feet, Nell McShane Wulfhart 

Solito, Javier Zamora 


Wednesday, January 18, 2023

film and tv adaptations


Mark your calendar for the Short Story Matinee series coming this spring!

SATURDAY, March 4th at 11am
SUNDAY, April 2nd at 3pm
SUNDAY, May 7th at 3pm
SUNDAY, June 4th at 3pm

Get your popcorn ready for a wealth of exciting book-to-screen adaptations coming in 2023! From a highly anticipated film based on Suzanne Collins’s The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes to a series based on Bonnie Garmus’s Lessons in Chemistry, BookBub lists 15 titles for readers and moviegoers of all kinds to look forward to this year. Here are the movies and TV shows based on books that we can’t wait to watch in 2023.

The Mayfair Witches series by Anne Rice

Calling all fantasy fans! Mayfair Witches, a series based on Anne Rice’s bestselling trilogy, will be streaming on AMC on January 5. Alexandra Daddario stars in the upcoming adaptation as a young neurosurgeon who learns she comes from a long line of witches — and must grapple with her newly discovered powers while fighting a sinister force that has long haunted her family. Watch the trailer here. The trilogy consists of The Witching Hour, Lasher, and Taltos.

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

Writer-director M. Night Shyamalan is at the helm for Knock at the Cabin, a film adaptation of Paul Tremblay’s novel The Cabin at the End of the World. The novel centers around Eric and Andrew, a couple who travel to a forest retreat for vacation with their daughter, Wen. But the secluded cabin soon proves far from relaxing when four strangers break in and hold the family hostage. With a cast …

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume

Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates are set to star in the long-awaited film adaptation of Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by the one and only Judy Blume! Though challenged and banned when it was first released in 1970 due to its mention of topics like sex and religion, this classic novel, named a Time Magazine Best Book of All Time, has earned modern acclaim and widespread adoration.

Text for You by Sofie Cramer

Rom-com fans have a lot to look forward to in 2023! After the death of her fiancé, Mira copes by sending romantic texts to what once was his phone number — and when journalist Rob begins receiving anonymous love messages, he becomes determined to meet the woman behind the beautiful words. Based on Sofie Cramer’s charming novel Text for You, Love Again stars Quantico actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas.

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

Director Martin Scorsese dives into the world of westerns with his upcoming film adaptation of National Book Award finalist Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann. The nonfiction book details a string of mysterious killings targeting members of the Osage tribe in 1920s Oklahoma — and recounts the newly formed FBI’s winding path toward exposing the chilling conspiracy.

American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin

Based on American Prometheus, Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s Pulitzer Prize–winning biography, Oppenheimer details the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the American theoretical physicist known for his involvement in World War II’s Manhattan Project, where he played a crucial role in developing the atomic bomb. Christopher Nolan serves as writer and director of the film.

Dune by Frank Herbert

Following Dune winning an astounding six Academy Award in 2021, the anticipated follow-up to the smash-hit is coming to the big screen next fall! Dune: Part Two is based on the second half of Frank Hebert’s sci-fi epic novel of the same name, which follows Paul Atreides as he joins forces with the Fremen to seek revenge for his family. Denis Villeneuve returns to direct.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

Hunger Games fans have long awaited a new installment in the wildly popular film franchise, and it’s finally here! The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes comes to life in a film adaptation of Suzanne Collins’s prequel novel, which explores the life of young Coriolanus Snow before he becomes the oppressive president of Panem.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Nearly 40 years after Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award–winning novel was adapted into a film directed by Steven Spielberg, the heartrending story of The Color Purple is returning to the big screen as a musical. Based on the 2005 Broadway show, the new film follows the struggles of Celie, a Black teenager in 20th-century rural Georgia, as she grapples with the oppression.

Romancing Mister Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Dearest readers, the Bridgerton family’s return is sure to be the talk of the ton this London season, with season three of the hit Netflix series inspired by Julia Quinn’s Regency-era romance novels set to premiere this year! Fans have been swooning for the gorgeous visuals and romantic plots that have become Bridgerton staples, and the newest installment is sure to be no different.

The Three-Body Problem series by Cixin Liu

Sci-fi fans won’t want to miss The Three-Body Problem trilogy’s small-screen adaptation set to premiere in 2023! In the series’s first novel by Cixin Liu, an alien civilization on the brink of destruction during China’s Cultural Revolution plans to invade Earth after a secret military project makes contact. The books in the trilogy are The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Death's End.

Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston

Based on Casey McQuiston’s heartwarming and hilarious New York Times bestseller, Red, White, & Royal Blue follows Alex, the First Son of the United States, who agrees to a fake friendship with British prince Henry to mend their public image — but their posed camaraderie soon develops into something more.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Lee Eisenberg serves as showrunner for Lessons in Chemistry, a series based on Bonnie Garmus’s acclaimed 2022 bestseller. Set in the early 1960s, the novel centers around Elizabeth Zott, a scientist who’s sick of being limited to the domestic sphere. After an unplanned pregnancy causes her to lose her job, Elizabeth accepts an offer to host a TV cooking show.

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

The Last Thing He Told Me is sure to be a pulse-pounding new series based on Laura Dave’s #1 New York Times bestseller and Reese’s Book Club pick. After her husband mysteriously disappears, Hannah sets out on a thrilling search for the truth with her stepdaughter, Bailey. The series stars Jennifer Garner as Hannah and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau as Owen. 

Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

Shailene Woodley plays a grieving writer embarking on an unforgettable journey in Three Women, a series based on the #1 New York Times bestselling novel by Lisa Taddeo. The riveting true story follows three American women from different backgrounds as they navigate the boundaries of sex and relationships while trying to find their place in the world.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

mysteries, thrillers, and glass onions


January features a great slate of mysteries to thrill and thrillers to chill!


Aaron Falk deals with financial investigations as a federal investigator but takes a very rare leave from work to visit friends and his godchild. There, he’s plunged into a small community and the case of a mother who went missing one year ago from a busy festival, seemingly in front of everyone.


Welcome to Mae Pruett’s Los Angeles, where “Nobody talks. But everybody whispers.” As a “black-bag” publicist tasked not with letting the good news out but keeping the bad news in, Mae works for one of LA’s most powerful and sought-after crisis PR firms, at the center of a sprawling web of lawyers, PR flaks, and private security firms she calls “The Beast.” They protect the rich and powerful and depraved by any means necessary. This is what the crime novel can achieve in the modern age: portray the human lives at the center of vast American landscapes, and make us thrill at their attempts to face impossible odds.


A stranded detective tries to solve a murder in a tiny Alaskan town where everyone lives in a single high-rise building, in this gripping debut by an Academy Award–nominated screenwriter.


A young Indian woman finds the false rumors that she killed her husband surprisingly useful—until other women in the village start asking for her help getting rid of their own husbands—in this razor-sharp debut.


Naomi Shaw used to believe in magic. Twenty-two years ago, she and her two best friends, Cassidy and Olivia, spent the summer roaming the woods, imagining a world of ceremony and wonder. They called it the Goddess Game. The summer ended suddenly when Naomi was attacked. Miraculously, she survived her seventeen stab wounds and lived to identify the man who had hurt her. The girls’ testimony put away a serial killer, wanted for murdering six women. They were heroes. And they were liars. For decades, the friends have kept a secret worth killing for. But now Olivia wants to tell, and Naomi sets out to find out what really happened in the woods―no matter how dangerous the truth turns out to be.


A husband’s disappearance links two couples in this twisty thriller from New York Times bestselling author Mary Kubica.


Little Caribbean, Brooklyn, New York: Lyndsay Murray is opening Spice Isle Bakery with her family, and it’s everything she’s ever wanted. The West Indian bakery is her way to give back to the community she loves, stay connected to her Grenadian roots, and work side-by-side with her family. The only thing getting a rise out of Lyndsay is Claudio Fabrizi, a disgruntled fellow bakery owner who does not want any competition. On opening day, he comes into the bakery threatening to shut them down. Fed up, Lyndsay takes him to task in front of what seems to be the whole neighborhood. So when Claudio turns up dead a day later―murdered―Lyndsay is unfortunately the prime suspect.


Finlay Donovan has been in messes before―after all, she's an author and single mom who's a pro at getting out bloodstains for rather unexpected reasons―but none quite like this. After she and her nanny/partner-in-crime Vero accidentally destroyed a luxury car that they may have "borrowed" in the process of saving the life of Finlay's ex-husband, the Russian mob got her out of debt. But now Finlay owes them…


Forty years ago, Steven “Smithy” Smith found a copy of a famous children’s book by disgraced author Edith Twyford, its margins full of strange markings and annotations. When he showed it to his remedial English teacher Miss Iles, she believed that it was part of a secret code that ran through all of Twyford’s novels. And when she disappeared on a class field trip, Smithy became convinced that she had been right. Now, out of prison after a long stretch, Smithy decides to investigate the mystery that has haunted him for decades.


Knives Out and Clue meet Agatha Christie and The Thursday Murder Club in this “utterly original” (Jane Harper), “not to be missed” (Karin Slaughter), fiendishly clever blend of classic and modern murder mystery.

In the high school category:


For dark academia fans! J.B., Ramón, and Trey must adhere to the Urban Promise Prep School’s strict rules, which relies on extreme discipline to turn boys into men. When Principal Moore is murdered, the three boys end up at the top of the suspect list and realize coming together to solve the murder is their only hope of not being arrested.


Nova Albright was going to be the first Black homecoming queen at Lovett High—but now she's dead. Murdered on coronation night. Fans of One of Us Is Lying and The Other Black Girl will love this unputdownable thriller.

If viewing is more your style (and, like me, you’re obsessed with Glass Onion!), some of these may fit the bill.  From brooding classics to hilarious ensemble casts, you may have to put everything on the backburner to make it through your watchlists with these!

The Lady Vanishes

On a train headed for England a group of travelers is delayed by an avalanche. Holed up in a hotel in a fictional European country, young Iris (Margaret Lockwood) befriends elderly Miss Froy (Dame May Whitty). When the train resumes, Iris suffers a bout of unconsciousness and wakes to find the old woman has disappeared. The other passengers ominously deny Miss Froy ever existed so Iris begins to investigate with another traveler (Michael Redgrave) and, as the pair sleuth, romantic sparks fly.

Gosford Park

Robert Altman, one of America's most distinctive filmmakers, journeys to England for the first time to create a unique film mosaic with an outstanding ensemble cast. Set in the 1930's, "Gosford Park" brings a group of pretentious rich and famous together for a weekend of relaxation at a hunting resort. But when a murder occurs, each one of these interesting characters becomes a suspect.

Memories of Murder

In 1986, Park (Song Kang-ho) and Cho (Kim Roi-ha) are two simple-minded detectives assigned to a double murder investigation in a South Korean province. But when the murderer strikes several more times with the same pattern, the detectives realize that they are chasing the country's first documented serial killer. Relying on only their basic skills and tools, Park and Jo attempt to piece together the clues and solve the case in this thriller based on true events.


After receiving a frantic phone call from his ex-girlfriend, teenage loner Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) learns that her dead body has been found. Vowing to solve her murder himself, he must infiltrate high-school cliques that he previously avoided. His search for the truth places him before some of the school's roughest characters, leading to a confrontation with a drug dealer known as "the Pin (Lukas Haas)."


Based on the popular board game, this comedy begins at a dinner party hosted by Mr. Boddy, where he admits to blackmailing his visitors. These guests, who have been given aliases, are Mrs. Peacock, Miss Scarlet, Mr. Green, Professor Plum, Mrs. White and Col. Mustard. When Boddy turns up murdered, all are suspects, and together they try to figure out who is the killer

Game Night

Max and Annie's weekly game night gets kicked up a notch when Max's brother Brooks arranges a murder mystery party -- complete with fake thugs and federal agents. So when Brooks gets kidnapped, it's all supposed to be part of the game. As the competitors set out to solve the case, they start to learn that neither the game nor Brooks are what they seem to be. The friends soon find themselves in over their heads as each twist leads to another unexpected turn over the course of one chaotic night.

The Thin Man

The sparkling start of the series features the irresistible William Powell and Myrna Loy chemistry as husband and wife sleuths who solve murders with the aid of their wire-haired terrier, Asta. Set in the glamorous world of 1930s upper-class Manhattan, The Thin Man and its sequels established the standard for witty comedy, clever dialogue and urbane one upmanship. 

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang

Two-bit crook Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey Jr.) stumbles into an audition for a mystery film while on the run from the cops. Winning the part, he lands in Hollywood, where he's flung into a tangled, murderous conspiracy with his childhood sweetheart, Harmony Lane (Michelle Monaghan), and hard-boiled private eye Perry van Shrike (Val Kilmer).

Murder on the Orient Express (1974) (more adaptations were done in 2001, starring Alfred Molina, and 2017, starring Kenneth Branagh)

Having concluded a case, detective Hercule Poirot (Albert Finney) settles into what he expects will be a relaxing journey home aboard the Orient Express. But when an unpopular billionaire is murdered en route, Poirot takes up the case, and everyone on board the famous train is a suspect. Using an avalanche blocking the tracks to his advantage, Poirot gradually realizes that many of the passengers have revenge as a motive, and he begins to home in on the culprit.

Rear Window (1954) (another adaptation from 1998 starred Christopher Reeve)

A newspaper photographer with a broken leg passes time recuperating by observing his neighbors through his window. He sees what he believes to be a murder and decides to solve the crime himself. With the help of his nurse and wife, he tries to catch the murderer without being killed himself.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (the original Swedish adaptation premiered in 2010)

Disgraced financial reporter Mikael Blomkvist (Daniel Craig) finds a chance to redeem his honor after being hired by wealthy Swedish industrialist Henrik Vanger (Christopher Plummer) to solve the 40-year-old murder of Vanger's niece, Harriet. Vanger believes that Harriet was killed by a member of his own family. Eventually joining Blomkvist on his dangerous quest for the truth is Lisbeth Salander (Rooney Mara), an unusual but ingenious investigator whose fragile trust is not easily won.

The Maltese Falcon

In this noir classic, detective Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) gets more than he bargained for when he takes a case brought to him by a beautiful but secretive woman (Mary Astor). As soon as Miss Wonderly shows up, trouble follows as Sam's partner is murdered and Sam is accosted by a man (Peter Lorre) demanding he locate a valuable statuette. Sam, entangled in a dangerous web of crime and intrigue, soon realizes he must find the one thing they all seem to want: the bejeweled Maltese falcon.

Evil Under the Sun

Agatha Christie's Belgian sleuth, Hercule Poirot (Peter Ustinov), solves the murder of an actress at a Balkan resort.

Death on the Nile (2004) (more adaptations came out in 1978, starring Peter Ustinov, Bette Davis, and David Niven, and in 2022, starring Kenneth Branagh, Gal Gadot, and Armie Hammer)

While on a holiday cruise in Egypt, the Belgian sleuth (David Suchet) investigates the murder of a rich heiress who had many enemies.

To Catch a Thief

Notorious cat burglar John Robie (Cary Grant) has long since retired to tend vineyards on the French Riviera. When a series of robberies is committed in his style, John must clear his name. Armed with a list of people who own the most expensive jewels currently in the area, John begins following the first owner, young Francie (Grace Kelly). When her jewels are stolen, Francie suspects John, destroying their tentative romance. John goes on the lam to catch the thief and clear his own name.

The Long Goodbye

Private detective Philip Marlowe (Elliott Gould) is asked by his old buddy Terry Lennox (Jim Bouton) for a ride to Mexico. He obliges, and when he gets back to Los Angeles is questioned by police about the death of Terry's wife. Marlowe remains a suspect until it's reported that Terry has committed suicide in Mexico. Marlowe doesn't buy it but takes a new case from a beautiful blond, Eileen Wade (Nina van Pallandt), who coincidentally has a past with Terry.

The Talented Mr. Ripley

To be young and carefree amid the blue waters and idyllic landscape of sun-drenched Italy in the late 1950s; that's la dolce vita Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) craves- and Dickie Greenleaf (Jude Law) leads. When Dickie's father asks Tom to bring his errant playboy son back home to America, Dickie and his beautiful expatriate girlfriend, Marge Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow), never suspect the dangerous extremes to which Ripley will go to make their lifestyle his own.

Only available streaming:

Only Murders in the Building (Hulu)

Three strangers share an obsession with true crime and suddenly find themselves wrapped up in one. When a grisly death occurs inside their exclusive Upper West Side apartment building, the trio suspects murder and employs their precise knowledge of true crime to investigate the truth. Perhaps even more explosive are the lies they tell one another. Soon, the endangered trio comes to realize a killer might be living among them as they race to decipher the mounting clues before it's too late.          

Three Pines (Amazon)

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache (Alfred Molina) investigates murders in Three Pines.  He sees things that others do not: the light between the cracks, the mythic in the mundane, long-buried secrets.  Along the way he faces a few of his own ghosts.

Item descriptions from Amazon and Rotten Tomatoes. Item lists from the following articles:

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

season's readings


The next Books & Beyond (BAB) meeting will be on Tuesday, January 31st at 6:30pm and the topic up for discussion is trains & train travel.  If you’re stumped for a title, peruse the BAB section of the Shelf Care page:

This week, BAB met for a reader’s choice meeting, where there is no assigned topic, so group members shared what they've really been enjoying this year and recently.

The Omega Factor by Steve Berry

The Ghent Altarpiece is the most violated work of art in the world. Thirteen times it has been vandalized, dismantled, or stolen. Why? What secrets does it hold? From the tranquil canals of Ghent, to the towering bastions of Carcassonne, and finally into an ancient abbey high in the French Pyrenees, Nick Lee must confront a modern-day religious crusade intent on eliminating a shocking truth from humanity’s past. Success or failure—life and death—all turn on the Omega Factor. 

I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy

A heartbreaking and hilarious memoir by iCarly and Sam & Cat star Jennette McCurdy about her struggles as a former child actor—including eating disorders, addiction, and a complicated relationship with her overbearing mother—and how she retook control of her life.

Reborn in the USA: An Englishman’s Love Letter to His Chosen Home by Roger Bennett

One-half of the celebrated Men in Blazers duo, longtime culture and soccer commentator Roger Bennett traces the origins of his love affair with America, and how he went from a depraved, pimply faced Jewish boy in 1980’s Liverpool to become the quintessential Englishman in New York. A memoir for fans of Jon Ronson and Chuck Klosterman, but with Roger Bennett’s signature pop culture flair and humor.

Genesis of Misery by Neon Yang

A reimagining of Joan of Arc’s story given a space opera, giant robot twist, the Nullvoid Chronicles is a story about the nature of truth, the power of belief, and the interplay of both in the stories we tell ourselves.

Cat Sebastian’s Seducing the Sedgwicks trilogy
The Sedgwick Series is about the sons of a radical, slightly unhinged poet. Each book is a standalone, but this is the chronological order:
It Takes Two to Tumble
A Gentleman Never Keeps Score
Two Rogues Make a Right

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver

Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens’ anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can’t imagine leaving behind.

Silenced No More: Surviving My Journey to Hell and Back by Sarah Ransome

For the first time ever, a survivor tells the shocking inside story of her time trapped in Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell’s sex trafficking ring.

Horse by Geraldine Brooks

A discarded painting in a junk pile, a skeleton in an attic, and the greatest racehorse in American history: from these strands, a Pulitzer Prize winner braids a sweeping story of spirit, obsession, and injustice across American history. Based on the remarkable true story of the record-breaking thoroughbred Lexington, Horse is a novel of art and science, love and obsession, and our unfinished reckoning with racism.

The Widow’s War by Sally Gunning

When Lyddie Berry’s husband is lost in a storm at sea, she finds that her status as a widow is vastly changed from that of respectable married woman. Now she is the “dependent” of her nearest male relative—her son-in-law. Refusing to bow to societal pressure that demands she cede everything that she and her husband worked for, Lyddie becomes an outcast from family, friends, and neighbors—yet ultimately discovers a deeper sense of self and, unexpectedly, love. Evocative and stunningly assured, The Widow’s War is an unforgettable work of literary magic, a spellbinding tale from a gifted talent.

Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache series

This 18 book (and counting!) series is set around the life of Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of Surete du Quebec, the provincial police force for Quebec, Canada.  The first in the series is Still Life. 

Janet Langhart Cohen's Anne & Emmett 

This play was recently produced at the Birmingham Museum of Art. Anne & Emmett is an imaginary conversation between Anne Frank and Emmett Till, both victims of racial intolerance and hatred. Frank is the 13-year-old Jewish girl whose Diary provided a gripping perspective of the Holocaust. Till is the 14-year old African-American boy whose brutal murder in Mississippi sparked the Modern American Civil Rights Movement.

Till (this DVD is on order in the library system)

In 1955, after Emmett Till is murdered in a brutal lynching, his mother vows to expose the racism behind the attack while working to have those involved brought to justice.

Babylon (this film is currently in theaters)

A tale of outsized ambition and outrageous excess, it traces the rise and fall of multiple characters during an era of unbridled decadence and depravity in early Hollywood.

William Kent Krueger’s Cork O’Connor series

This 19 book (and counting!) series features a former Chicago cop of mixed Irish and Ojibwe nation heritage living and working near an Ojibwe reservation in the north Minnesota woods. This first title in the series is Iron Lake.

The Hours

The story of how the novel "Mrs. Dalloway" affects three generations of women, all of whom, in one way or another, have had to deal with suicide in their lives.

The Hours by Michael Cunningham

In The Hours, Michael Cunningham, widely praised as one of the most gifted writers of his generation, draws inventively on the life and work of Virginia Woolf to tell the story of a group of contemporary characters struggling with the conflicting claims of love and inheritance, hope and despair. The narrative of Woolf's last days before her suicide early in World War II counterpoints the fictional stories of Samuel, a famous poet whose life has been shadowed by his talented and troubled mother, and his lifelong friend Clarissa, who strives to forge a balanced and rewarding life in spite of the demands of friends, lovers, and family. Passionate, profound, and deeply moving, this is Cunningham's most remarkable achievement to date.