- Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden
Escape from Camp 14: One Man's Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West by Blaine Harden The heartwrenching New York Times bestseller about the only known person born inside a North Korean prison camp to have escaped. North Korea’s political prison camps have existed twice as long as Stalin’s Soviet gulags and twelve times as long as the Nazi concentration camps. No one born and raised in these camps is known to have escaped. No one, that is, except Shin Dong-hyuk. In Escape From Camp 14, Blaine Harden unlocks the secrets of the world’s most repressive totalitarian state through the story of Shin’s shocking imprisonment and his astounding getaway. Shin knew nothing of civilized existence—he saw his mother as a competitor for food, guards raised him to be a snitch, and he witnessed the execution of his mother and brother. The late “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il was recognized throughout the world, but his country remains sealed as his third son and chosen heir, Kim Jong Eun, consolidates power. Few foreigners are allowed in, and few North Koreans are able to leave. North Korea is hungry, bankrupt, and armed with nuclear weapons. It is also a human rights catastrophe. Between 150,000 and 200,000 people work as slaves in its political prison camps. These camps are clearly visible in satellite photographs, yet North Korea’s government denies they exist. Harden’s harrowing narrative exposes this hidden dystopia, focusing on an extraordinary young man who came of age inside the highest security prison in the highest security state. Escape from Camp 14 offers an unequalled inside account of one of the world’s darkest nations. It is a tale of endurance and courage, survival and hope.
- Pride by Ibi Zoboi
Pride and Prejudice gets remixed in this smart, funny, gorgeous retelling of the classic, starring all characters of color, from Ibi Zoboi, National Book Award finalist and author of American Street. Zuri Benitez has pride. Brooklyn pride, family pride, and pride in her Afro-Latino roots. But pride might not be enough to save her rapidly gentrifying neighborhood from becoming unrecognizable. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri wants nothing to do with their two teenage sons, even as her older sister, Janae, starts to fall for the charming Ainsley. She especially can’t stand the judgmental and arrogant Darius. Yet as Zuri and Darius are forced to find common ground, their initial dislike shifts into an unexpected understanding. But with four wild sisters pulling her in different directions, cute boy Warren vying for her attention, and college applications hovering on the horizon, Zuri fights to find her place in Bushwick’s changing landscape, or lose it all. In a timely update of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, critically acclaimed author Ibi Zoboi skillfully balances cultural identity, class, and gentrification against the heady magic of first love in her vibrant reimagining of this beloved classic.
- Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
At our last meetup, we selected Ginny Moon as our book for May. Description is below. EAD THE BOOK CRITICS ARE RAVING ABOUT! “A brilliant debut.” —Graeme Simsion, New York Times bestselling author of The Rosie Project “A heartwarming and unforgettable page-turner.” —Booklist, starred review “A powerful affirmation of the fragility and strength of families.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review “At once captivating and heart-wrenching…. Ginny's is a unique and compelling voice…. Ginny Moon is original, revealing and timely. And, with any luck, it will spark much-needed conversations around foster care, adoption and autism. ” —The Toronto Star Full of great big heart and unexpected humor, Ludwig's debut introduces the lovable, wholly original Ginny Moon who discovers a new meaning of family on her unconventional journey home. Ginny Moon is exceptional. Everyone knows it—her friends at school, teammates on the basketball team, and especially her new adoptive parents. They all love her, even if they don't quite understand her. They want her to feel like she belongs. What they don't know is that Ginny has no intention of belonging. She's found her birth-mother on Facebook, and is determined to get back to her—even if it means going back to a place that was extremely dangerous. Because Ginny left something behind and she's desperate to get it back, to make things right. But no one listens. No one understands. So Ginny takes matters into her own hands… Benjamin Ludwig's whip-smart, unforgettable novel is an illuminating look at one girl's journey to find her way home and one of the freshest debuts in years.
- ACT Now Trivia Night
A couple people were talking about Trivia at our last meetup, so I wanted to post this upcoming event supporting ACT Now. Anyone who knows Susan, can see her passion for what she does and for this organization bringing quality afterschool programs to under served communities across IL. I hope some of you can join me at this event. Join us for ACT Now's Upcoming Trivia Night! Grab your friends and join us for a brain-busting evening of trivia, food, fellowship, and fun at Brick House Tavern in Wrigleyville. Register today at https://metropolitanfamilyservices.salsalabs.org/ACTNowTriviaNightMay2019/index.html?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=b588dc04-7444-4af8-aa33-2a9faacb1193
- Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicone Valley Startup by John Carreyrou
One of the Best Books of 2018: NPR • New York Times Book Review, Inc. • TIME • Wall Street Journal • Washington Post • The McKinsey Business Book of the Year "The story is even crazier than I expected, and I found myself unable to put it down once I started. This book has everything: elaborate scams, corporate intrigue, magazine cover stories, ruined family relationships, and the demise of a company once valued at nearly $10 billion." --Bill Gates The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the multibillion-dollar biotech startup, by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end, despite pressure from its charismatic CEO and threats by her lawyers. In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup "unicorn" promised to revolutionize the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes's worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: The technology didn't work. A riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.
- Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
We selected Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman as our March book. This is one of my favorite books so I am looking forward to reading it again. Here is the book description from Amazon. National Bestseller Selected as one of NPR’S Top 100 Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of All Time The #1 New York Times bestselling author’s ultimate edition of his wildly successful first novel featuring his “preferred text”—and including his special Neverwhere tale, “How the Marquis Got His Coat Back” Published in 1997, Neverwhere heralded the arrival of a major talent and became a touchstone of urban fantasy. Over the years, a number of versions were produced both in the U.S. and the U.K. Now Gaiman’s preferred edition of his classic novel reconciles these works and reinstates a number of scenes cut from the original published books. Richard Mayhew is a young London businessman with a good heart whose life is changed forever when he stops to help a bleeding girl—an act of kindness that plunges him into a world he never dreamed existed. Slipping through the cracks of reality, Richard lands in Neverwhere—a London of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels that exists entirely in a subterranean labyrinth. Neverwhere is home to Door, the mysterious girl Richard helped in the London Above. Here in Neverwhere, Door is a powerful noblewoman who has vowed to find the evil agent of her family’s slaughter and thwart the destruction of this strange underworld kingdom. If Richard is ever to return to his former life and home, he must join Lady Door’s quest to save her world—and may well die trying. Neil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books, and is the recipient of numerous literary honors. Originally from England, he now lives in America.
- The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
At our last meetup, we selected The 7 1/2 deaths of Eveyln Hardcastle as our book for February. Here is the book description from Amazon. "Agatha Christie meets Groundhog Day...quite unlike anything I've ever read, and altogether triumphant." ― A. J. Finn, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Woman in the Window Shortlisted for the Costa Award One of Stylist Magazine's 20 Must-Read Books of 2018 One of Harper's Bazaar's 10 Must-Read Books of 2018 One of Guardian's Best Books of 2018 The Rules of Blackheath Evelyn Hardcastle will be murdered at 11:00 p.m. There are eight days, and eight witnesses for you to inhabit. We will only let you escape once you tell us the name of the killer. Understood? Then let's begin... *** Evelyn Hardcastle will die. Every day until Aiden Bishop can identify her killer and break the cycle. But every time the day begins again, Aiden wakes up in the body of a different guest. And some of his hosts are more helpful than others... The most inventive debut of the year twists together a mystery of such unexpected creativity it will leave readers guessing until the very last page.
- Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
At our last meetup, we selected Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson as our January book. The book description from Amazon is below. #1 New York Times Bestseller In Furiously Happy, a humor memoir tinged with just enough tragedy and pathos to make it worthwhile, Jenny Lawson examines her own experience with severe depression and a host of other conditions, and explains how it has led her to live life to the fullest: "I've often thought that people with severe depression have developed such a well for experiencing extreme emotion that they might be able to experience extreme joy in a way that ‘normal people' also might never understand. And that's what Furiously Happy is all about." Jenny’s readings are standing room only, with fans lining up to have Jenny sign their bottles of Xanax or Prozac as often as they are to have her sign their books. Furiously Happy appeals to Jenny's core fan base but also transcends it. There are so many people out there struggling with depression and mental illness, either themselves or someone in their family―and in Furiously Happy they will find a member of their tribe offering up an uplifting message (via a taxidermied roadkill raccoon). Let's Pretend This Never Happened ostensibly was about embracing your own weirdness, but deep down it was about family. Furiously Happy is about depression and mental illness, but deep down it's about joy―and who doesn't want a bit more of that?
- December meetup - Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan
The winner of the pool is Beneath a Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan. Below is the Amazon book description. Soon to be a major television event from Pascal Pictures, starring Tom Holland. Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, the USA Today and #1 Amazon Charts bestseller Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours. Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior. In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders. Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share. Fans of All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.
- The Rosie Project: A Novel (Don Tillman Book 1) by Graeme Simsion
Since the last few books have been a pretty heavy, we decided to pick a more light hearted book for November. This book as been on my to-read list for a couple years. Below is the book description from Amazon. The international bestselling romantic comedy “bursting with warmth, emotional depth, and…humor,” (Entertainment Weekly) featuring the oddly charming, socially challenged genetics professor, Don, as he seeks true love. The art of love is never a science: Meet Don Tillman, a brilliant yet socially inept professor of genetics, who’s decided it’s time he found a wife. In the orderly, evidence-based manner with which Don approaches all things, he designs the Wife Project to find his perfect partner: a sixteen-page, scientifically valid survey to filter out the drinkers, the smokers, the late arrivers. Rosie Jarman possesses all these qualities. Don easily disqualifies her as a candidate for The Wife Project (even if she is “quite intelligent for a barmaid”). But Don is intrigued by Rosie’s own quest to identify her biological father. When an unlikely relationship develops as they collaborate on The Father Project, Don is forced to confront the spontaneous whirlwind that is Rosie―and the realization that, despite your best scientific efforts, you don’t find love, it finds you. Arrestingly endearing and entirely unconventional, Graeme Simsion’s distinctive debut “navigates the choppy waters of adult relationships, both romantic and platonic, with a fresh take (USA TODAY). “Filled with humor and plenty of heart, The Rosie Project is a delightful reminder that all of us, no matter how we’re wired, just want to fit in” (Chicago Tribune).