Top 10 Reasons to Read Veronica Roth's "Divergent":
9. It's set in Chicago, and mentions several popular landmarks...although, they've been changed over time in this dystopian future.
8. Simulated Fear Landscapes. How fast can you overcome your phobias?
7. Geniuses make the best villains. Our heroine Tris could learn a thing or two from Superman and his battles with Lex Luthor.
6. Knowing combat trainer Four is afraid of things too makes everyone just a little more brave.
5. Who hasn't wanted to try jumping on and off a moving El train?
According to Malcolm Gladwell in his latest book, "David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants," the answer is not so simple. Gladwell asserts that qualities we generally perceive as strengths can be a source of weakness. Conversely, the lack of those things can be an advantage. He also explores how being an underdog changes a person. In some cases, facing impossible odds creates opportunities.
Setting the normal teen movie on its head "Perks of a Being a Wallflower" shows both the pain and the joy of coming of age. Introverted Charlie has a lot of baggage for a freshman in high school. His best friend recently committed suicide and Charlie is having difficulty getting beyond his grief and other issues. At school, he is drawn to some other outcasts, Sam and Patrick, who are seniors and far more flamboyant. Sam and Patrick's world is peopled with eccentrics and revolutionaries. Charlie is an odd fit for their motley crew, but they welcome him. Despite their age difference and her telling him not to, Charlie falls for Sam and the usual manic highs and crushing lows of infatuation sear through this character whose old wounds haven't even begun to scab over.
"Warm Bodies" gives romance a zombie twist. Julie, played by Teresa Palmer, is foraging for supplies after a virus has decimated humankind, when she and her party are attacked by zombies. It turns out, zombies experience the memories of their victims after they eat their brains. So when "R," played in a gloriously understated way by Nicholas Hoult, makes a meal of Julie's boyfriend he likes her enough to take her home. Julie finds herself at the airport, peopled with zombies and bonies, skeletal beings who have abandoned all hope. While alone with R she realizes there are still traces of his humanity left, not only did he save her, but he has a vinyl record collection and decorated his plane in a rather eclectic style. Trying to fit in with the zombie crowd is more challenging than Julie expected. She and R decide she needs to return to her own kind.
Matthew Goodman's book "Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland's History-Making Race Around the World" tells the story of a publicity stunt that captured the public imagination in nineteenth-century America.
Joseph Pulitzer's newspaper "The World" specialized in lurid and shocking stories that increased sales. But by late 1889, circulation figures were leveling off. The editors wanted to do something big that would sell papers for more than one day.
One of the few female reporters on staff was Nellie Bly, who had become a popular figure through her undercover journalism. Bly got herself committed to an insane asylum to report on the treatment of women there, and went to work in a paper-box factory to reveal poor working conditions.
Eric Lundgren's comic novel "The Facades" centers on Sven Norberg and his search for his missing wife, a popular mezzo soprano with the city opera. Norberg has a 16-year-old son, a menial job, a mother living in an exclusive mental institution, and lots of time to ponder what it all means.
Norberg moves from one absurd situation to another, introducing readers to the fictional Midwestern city of Trude, a formerly-great industrial center now crowded with boarded-up grand hotels and mansions. The architecture of the city is dominated by the work of one man who left behind a memoir titled "Memories of My Nervous Illness."
The mayor of Trude has closed the public libraries in an effort to make the city less "namby-pamby." A group of librarians has formed an armed militia and occupies Central Public Library, a large beaux-arts palace with high arched windows and a staircase flanked by two gilded owls.
"Liberal Arts" jumps the usual indie film hurdles with great acting and a strong script. Jesse, played by Josh Radnor, is in a dead end job and a foundering relationship. When one of his favorite college professors announces retirement, Jesse takes the opportunity to relive his glory days. As his life unravels, an unlikely romantic relationship with a student creates new options, but also new complications. It turns out Jesse has more to learn from his alma mater. He is not alone. Some of the professors he admires also get hard lessons. By turns funny, dramatic, charming and heartbreaking; this indie has some surprises, but never loses sight of the theme to make the most of life, even if it hurts.
--Cindy F., Headquarters
Sarah Waters is good at creating creepy moods and her novel "Affinity" is very creepy, indeed. The story takes place in 19th century London, so there are a lot of fog banks, old buildings and mysterious servants to heighten the suspense. The main character, Margaret Prior, does not fit in her world. She, having recently recovered from a suicide attempt, is invited to visit the women inmates of Millbank Prison. These isolated and misbegotten women might benefit from interacting with ladies such as Margaret. There are innate dangers, however, and Margaret is warned by the experienced and stern staff to abide by their seemingly harsh rules.