Home South pole ice Bourke’s Library: Imagine What Never Was – Brainerd Dispatch

Bourke’s Library: Imagine What Never Was – Brainerd Dispatch


All of the readings this week are very different, each with their own style and story.

There’s non-fiction, the supernatural, hard life lessons, and even a bit of romance, so I hope every reader can find something to their liking among my most recent picks.

“Why All Skulls Smile” door Joe Pawlowski

I haven’t read a lot of short stories, but when I get my hands on a brand new copy of a book with a brightly colored skull reminiscent of a Día de los Muertos decoration and the promise of something thrilling, it’s it’s hard not to take a look.

why all the skulls are smiling

“Why All the Skulls are Grinning” is the fifth book by retired journalist and New Hope author Joe Pawlowski. This is a collection of nine suspenseful short stories, most set in Minnesota and all unique and engaging stories with supernatural elements.

Among the curious characters are a con man who gets more than he bargains for in his latest scheme, an old man desperate to meet spirits, an escaped convict who stumbles upon a disturbing scene in the woods, and a couple drawn into a dark, drug-soaked night they would forget if they could remember what happened.

Some scenes reminded me of a darker, more distorted version of Alice’s Journey to Wonderland, with absurd reflections and confusing illusions that surely could only be hallucinations if it weren’t for their very implications. real.

Grim and unexpected endings held me on the edge of my seat and left me with my mouth hanging open, trying to make sense of what I had just read. If you’re craving something completely original, totally twisted, and weirdly weird, “Why All the Skulls are Grinning” is the perfect thing.

“The Secret Life of Bees” by Sue Monk Kidd

I didn’t know what to expect coming into “The Secret Life of Bees”. I bought a copy of it at a library book sale a while ago because I had heard of the title and thought it would be a good read. What I encountered was a deep, moving and tragically beautiful story about a young girl’s search for answers about her mother.

The secret life of bees

It’s the summer of 1964 in South Carolina, and President Lyndon B. Johnson has just signed into law the Civil Rights Act. Rosaleen Daise has practiced her signature many times and is ready to register to vote for the first time. White teenager Lily Owens, who was placed in Rosaleen’s care 10 years ago after her mother’s death, accompanies the black woman to town for the momentous occasion, if only to get away from her violent father T. Ray for a few hours.

But when Rosaleen offends three violent racists along the way and gets thrown in jail, Lily decides it’s time for something drastic.

After breaking Rosaleen out of jail, the two set sail for the only place Lily can think of – Tiburon, South Carolina. She found the name on the back of an item belonging to her late mother and hopes the city will provide the answers she seeks, such as the true circumstances of her mother’s death and whether her father’s disturbing account can be corroborated. .

She didn’t expect these answers — or a whole host of life lessons — to be found in the beehives surrounding a bright pink house owned by three black beekeeping sisters who teach her about a mother’s love.

Asylum at the End of the World by Julian Sancton

I’m not used to reading a lot of non-fiction, but “Madhouse at the End of the Earth” feels more like a thrilling action/adventure novel than a historical narrative.

Madhouse at the end of the world

One of the lesser known Antarctic expeditions, the Belgica set out from Antwerp, Belgium on August 16, 1897 with Adrien de Gerlache de Gomery at the helm. Seeking glory for himself and his homeland, de Gerlache assembled the best team he could find. The motley group of mostly Belgians and Norwegians set out to find the magnetic South Pole, but instead ended up with a different feat to their name: the first inhabitants to winter south of the Antarctic Circle.

When de Gerlache throws caution to the wind and ends up trapping his crew in the unforgiving ice of Antarctica for a year, madness ensues. The sun sets in mid-May 1898 and does not rise again for 70 days.

Nobody signed up for it. Nobody is prepared for it, except maybe the beefy Norwegian Roald Amundsen, who was going to make a name for himself.

But how many will die before the ice loosens? How many of his comrades from Gerlach has he condemned to the icy waters, and will the commander himself survive the winter?

Through detailed diaries kept by many of the crew, Julian Sancton takes his readers on a chilling journey into the minds of men whose thirst for adventure is long gone, replaced by disease, madness and the nagging fear of never returning to civilization. .

Kids’ Choice: “The Big Island” by Julian May

Originally published in 1968, “The Big Island: The story of Isle Royale” was reprinted in 2021 with a new note from renowned wolf expert L. David Mech.

The Big Island

The short story, beautifully illustrated by John Schoenherr, outlines the basics of ecological balance on Lake Superior’s Isle Royale through its depiction of the predator-prey relationship between moose, wolves and other island animals.

The rustic designs paired with the simple, outdoor story is the perfect tale for little Minnesotans – or any curious young reader. But parents should be prepared for their little ones to request a trip to Isle Royale National Park when they’re done.

THERESA BOURKE can be reached at

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