Icy Isolation

Ok, I know Spring is sprung and we’re all ready for flowers, more daylight, and sunnier days, but I’m taking one last look back at winter with this trio of recent suspense novels that find characters trapped in remote, snowy mountain lodges in the Alps.

One by One by Ruth Ware
The eight shareholding employees of a tech start-up gather at a high-end ski chalet in the French Alps to discuss the contentious topic of opening their company to investors. But soon after arrival, one in their party goes missing on the slopes, and soon an avalanche has trapped the group and the two chalet staff inside with no phone access, no wifi, and no electricity. Tensions and tempers flare, until one by one other members of the group disappear into the snow or are found dead in their rooms. Told from the perspective of Liz, a former employee who holds the linchpin vote; and Erin, the chalet hostess and ski guide hiding her own secrets.

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pears
Elin, estranged from her brother Isaac, has nonetheless gone with her fiancée Will to celebrate Isaac’s engagement at Le Sommet, a former tuberculosis sanatorium in the Swiss Alps renovated into a minimalist hotel. A detective back in the UK, Elin arrives already unsettled, on leave after her last case left her injured and questioning her judgement, an uneasiness intensified by the starkness and history of the hotel. When both Isaac’s fiancée and a staff member go missing, and an avalanche traps the few remaining guests and staff in the hotel, cut off from local police assistance, Elin starts digging but finds much more than she bargained for.

Continue reading “Icy Isolation”

Snowbound! Winter Chills and Thrills

Desperate messages came flooding in, through the silent darkness of the winter nights. “Help! Snowed in at home! I need something to read!” So, adding to our recent list of Wintry reads, here are some gripping novels that revolve around winter storms.

  • The Quality of Silence, by Rosamund Lupton. An astrophysicist and her precocious hearing-disabled daughter head into a fierce storm to search the Alaska tundra for the girl’s missing father.
  • Whiteout, by Ken Follett. A missing canister containing a deadly virus forms the center of a storm that traps Stanley Oxenford, director of a medical research firm, and a violent trio of thugs in a remote house during a Christmas Eve blizzard.
  • Death Wore White, by Jim Kelly. In the midst of a line of cars stranded in a blizzard, a man is killed with a chisel andhis murderer escapes without leaving a trace.
  • Travelers Rest, by Keith Morris. When a freak snowstorm traps a family, the seek refuge in a grand, crumbling old hotel that holds some ghastly surprises in its strange, labyrinthine depths. A haunting update to Stephen King’s  The Shining.

Continue reading “Snowbound! Winter Chills and Thrills”

Snowing While Sunny

~posted by Anne C.

You might not think it, but some of the more interesting and challenging questions that come to the Business, Science and Technology desk at the Central Library actually have to do with language. Vagaries in definition, etymology, slang and dialect can be tough to resolve authoritatively, but are also fascinating to explore. Continue reading “Snowing While Sunny”

Silly Stories to Share

I don’t know about you, but despite the glorious weather, everyone I know is in need of a bit of cheering up.  I turn once more to the picture books, the silly and the sublime.

Waiting For Winter by Sebastien Meschenmoser
I know we’re all waiting for summer at this point, but don’t let that stop you from picking up this lovely, hilarious book. Some of the most expressive drawings I’ve ever seen, combined with an original story and a smart, subtle commentary on the state of our world. Really, though, just get it for the pictures. No one, but no one, has ever captured such an exquisitely sleepy squirrel or such a fabulously unkempt hedgehog. They’re just _so_tired. I can relate.

Hippo! No, Rhino! by Jeff Newman
Read this one aloud. Giving voice to the grumpy, grumpy hippo RHINO is immensely satisfying. The simple illustrations nevertheless convey our hapless hippo’s RHINO’s distress excellently and with feeling. There are days when I long to correct opinions forcibly with the strength of my vehemence alone. I could take lessons from the much maligned and very funny RHINO.

Monkey With a Tool Belt by Chris Monroe
“This is Chico Bon Bon.” Of course it is. If I were a monkey with a tool belt (and a banana hammer), my name would have to be Chico Bon Bon, too. And I would have lots of absurd adventures involving excessive tinkering and unnecessarily complicated escape plans and loud noises like “Arooga Boom Clang Clang Clang!” Oh, wait. That last one’s from the next book, Monkey with a Tool Belt and the Noisy Problem . Trust me, you’ll want to read that one, too.

Happy by Mies van Hout
This new book, written for the very young, makes up in extraordinary, luminous chalk drawings what it lacks in plot. Brightly colored fish portray a range of emotion from the simple joy of delight, to the spikey intensity of fury. Beautiful and satisfying.

Mad at Mommy by Komako Sakai
Again with the expressive illustrations! Komako Sakai won awards for one of her other books, The Snow Day, but Mad at Mommy talks to me in the place where my inner child having a tantrum lives. Her engaging, delightful book provides a space to thoroughly enjoy being dramatically upset without collapsing in a heap yourself.

~Jenny, Central Library

Wishing for Snow

As I look out on the dreary grey that has become the standard color for this winter, I think back on last year’s winter white and wish for snow. Yes, I know it was a bit extreme and highly inconvenient – not to mention downright dangerous, at times – but being forced to stay home or sharing a bus that is packed as tightly as a sardine can, reeking with the overpowering odor of wet wool, has its charms. Last winter’s snow storms had some unexpected benefits.  The weather forced everyone into survival mode and brought regular routines to a standstill. Sometimes a standstill can be magical and allow us some time to bond with our kids, get to know our neighbors and enjoy a slower pace of life. 

If you can’t have the real thing, how about creating some snow of your own? Here are a few items to help whiten your day. (You might send a bit of your snow up to Vancouver. The Olympic committee wouldn’t mind a bit of extra snow right now…)

Books about Snow:

Big Wolf & Little Wolf: The Little Leaf that Wouldn’t Fall, by Nadine Brun-Cosme and Olivier Tallec

Little Wolf dreams of touching the last little leaf high up in a bare tree. Big Wolf, doting friend that he is, decides to climb to the top of the slippery, snow-covered tree in order to make Little Wolf’s dream come true. As Little Wolf waits below in the falling snow, he starts to wonder if the leaf is worth all the trouble and to worry about the safety of his companion.

The Smallest Snowflake, by Bernadette Watts

Snowflakes everywhere are floating down to mountains, forests and villages. Each snowflake seems to know where to go, but the Smallest Snowflake is having difficulty deciding where to land. The snowy landscapes depicted in this lovely picture book will have you imagining yourself into an enchanting winter vignette.  Continue reading “Wishing for Snow”