Amy | Cyd | Deb | Gene | Janet | Jessica | Karen | Kari | Megan (Children’s books, YA books and Adult books) | Olivia | Randy |

Amy
Picture of book cover for When All Is SaidWhen All Is Said by Anne Griffin
Booklist: “Few things are as comforting to Maurice Hannigan as the first sip of a good stout. Looking back on a lifetime of memories, both gut-bustingly happy and tearjerkingly sad, it’s often the smallest comforts that put him at ease. Maurice has watched the landscape of County Meath, Ireland, and the attitudes of its inhabitants change around him. Now nearing the end of his life, he sidles up to his favorite bar at the Rainsford House Hotel and settles in for a night of reminiscing. With each drink, he dives deep into his memory to focus on one of the five people who’ve made a difference in his life, good or bad. Through Maurice’s toasts, Griffin paints a full portrait of his life, giving even the simplest memory weight and resonance. Fans of Anne Tyler and Sara Baume will appreciate Griffin’s sense of personal history and her bright, lyrical voice. Her deeply moving debut novel highlights the power of nostalgia, the pang of regret, and the impact that very special individuals can have on our lives.”
Picture of book cover for Ask Again, YesAsk Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Publisher’s Weekly: “In her thoughtful, compassionate latest, Keane traces two families’ shared history over the course of four decades. When Brian Stanhope and Francis Gleeson meet in 1973, they forge the kind of quick, close-knit friendship that can arise from shared trials-in their case, the pressures of being rookie cops in a tough Bronx precinct. When both young men marry and plan to have children, they purchase neighboring homes in the fictional suburb of Gillam, hoping the 20-mile commute to the city will provide a sufficient buffer between the grind of police work and the pleasures of family life. All is not well in suburbia, however-although Francis’s youngest daughter, Kate, and Brian’s only son, Peter, become fast friends, tensions between the two families eventually flare into violence fueled by alcoholism and untreated mental illness. Years later, Kate and Peter grasp a chance for a hesitant new beginning, despite their fears about recapitulating the past. The two families’ stories offer a visceral portrait of evolving attitudes toward mental health and addiction over the past 40 years. More generally, Keane’s novel, which unfolds through overlapping narratives, illustrates the mutability of memory and the softening effects of time. “We repeat what we don’t repair,” Keane writes, and Kate and Peter’s story poignantly demonstrates how grace can emerge from forgiveness, no matter how hard-won.”
Picture of book cover for The Amish Cookie ClubThe Amish Cookie Club by Sarah Price
Summary: “Edna’s friend, Vera Bontrager, has a problem. Her outspoken twenty-year-old daughter, Myrna, has been fired from her job. Again. Myrna’s family really needs her to chip in, but she’s clearly unsuited to customer service-not to mention that her sharp tongue scares away any boy who might come courting. But Edna has an idea-and his name is Levi Eicher. A widower with four young children, Levi needs help. His house and his brood are a mess; his demeanor is gruff. It’s no surprise Myrna takes an immediate dislike to him. Yet she has no choice but to take on the challenge-and soon she starts to create order out of chaos. In fact, the kids begin to depend on Myrna-and so does Levi. The truth is, she’s fallen in love with him. But if he’s to prove he’s not looking for a marriage of convenience, he’ll have to convince her of what’s in his heart.”
Cyd
Picture of book cover for This Tender LandThis Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
Booklist: “Minnesota, 1932. Twelve-year-old orphan Odie and his 16-year-old brother, Albert, are the only white students at the Lincoln Indian Training School. When Odie accidentally kills a fiendish school employee, he, his brother, their Sioux friend Mose, and a bereft little girl, Emmy, whose single-parent mother has been killed by a tornado, must flee by canoe down the nearby Gilead River. And so their adventure begins, narrated by Odie, who is a born storyteller who often entertains his companions with tales. The way to their planned destination, St. Louis, is a checkered one: a one-eyed, troubled man named Jack holds them captive; a bounty hunter nearly captures them; they find respite with a revival tent show; Odie falls in love; and more. Theirs is more than a simple journey; it is a deeply satisfying odyssey, a quest in search of self and home. Richly imagined and exceptionally well plotted and written, the novel is, most of all, a compelling, often haunting story that will captivate both adult and young adult readers”
Picture of book cover for Where the crawdads singWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Booklist: “Owens’ first novel is a leisurely, lyrical tale of a young woman growing up in isolation in the 1950s and 60s, in a marsh on the North Carolina coast. Kya is abandoned by her troubled mother when she is only six. Soon after, her four, much-older siblings leave, as does her alcoholic father a couple of years later. As Kya matures and teaches herself to be a naturalist, she is torn between two slightly older boys: kind, observant Tate and rascally, attractive Chase. Chase dies falling from a fire tower in his twenties, and the investigation of his possible murder, which alternates with the story of Kya’s coming-of-age, provides much of the novel’s suspense. Because the characters are painted in broad, unambiguous strokes, this is not so much a naturalistic novel as a mythic one, with its appeal rising from Kya’s deep connection to the place where she makes her home, and to all of its creatures”
Picture of book cover for Fountains of SilenceThe Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
Publisher’s Weekly: “It’s 1957 and aspiring photographer Daniel Matheson is visiting Spain with his Texas oil tycoon father. Daniel is eager for the opportunity to flesh out his portfolio for a photography contest what would be more prize-­worthy than photos of daily life in notoriously secretive Spain? but he gets repeated warnings, some quite aggressive, against looking too closely. Another thing Daniel doesn’t bank on is Ana, an arrestingly beautiful maid at the Castellana Hilton, where he’s staying with his parents. As their affection deepens, so, too, do their differences: Ana, daughter of executed anti-Fascists, lives a tightly constrained existence, and Daniel has unprecedented freedom in her country and can’t quite wrap his head around the danger he puts her in. In another meticulously researched novel, Sepetys offers a captivating glimpse into Franco’s Spain, a region awash in secrets and misinformation. As Sepetys slowly unspools hard truths about the era, such as the prevalence of babies stolen from poor, Republican families, the facts become increasingly impossible to ignore, both for the reader and for Daniel. The romance ultimately takes center stage, but the troubling events in the margins add terrifyingly high stakes to Daniel and Ana’s relationship. For all her extensive, careful research (evident in the back matter), Sepetys doesn’t overwhelm readers with facts; rather, she tells a moving story made even more powerful by its placement in a lesser-known historical moment. Captivating, deft, and illuminating historical fiction.”
Deb
Picture of book cover for The Book Woman of Troublesome CreekThe Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
Publisher’s Weekly: “This gem of a historical from Richardson features an indomitable heroine navigating a community steeped in racial intolerance. In 1936, 19-year-old Cussy Mary Carter works for the New Deal-funded Pack Horse Library Project, delivering reading material to the rural people of Kentucky. It’s a way of honoring her dead mother, who loved books, and it almost makes her forget the fact that her skin is blue, a family trait that sets her apart from the white community. The personable and dedicated Cussy forges friendships through her job, including with handsome farmer Jackson Lovett, who becomes Cussy’s love interest. Cussy’s ailing coal miner father, Elijah, insists she marry, but the elderly husband he finds for her, Charlie Frazier, dies on their wedding night. Pastor Vester Frazier, a vengeful relative, blames Cussy for Charlie’s death and starts stalking her. The local doctor steps in to help, and Cussy repays Doc by letting him perform medical tests on her to learn the cause of her blue skin. A potential cure for Cussy’s blue skin and a surprise marriage proposal set in motion a final quarrel among the townspeople over segregation laws that threatens Cussy’s chance at happiness. Though the ending is abrupt and some historical information feels clumsily inserted, readers will adore the memorable Cussy and appreciate Richardson’s fine rendering of rural Kentucky life”
Picture of book cover for Where the crawdads singWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Booklist: “Owens’ first novel is a leisurely, lyrical tale of a young woman growing up in isolation in the 1950s and 60s, in a marsh on the North Carolina coast. Kya is abandoned by her troubled mother when she is only six. Soon after, her four, much-older siblings leave, as does her alcoholic father a couple of years later. As Kya matures and teaches herself to be a naturalist, she is torn between two slightly older boys: kind, observant Tate and rascally, attractive Chase. Chase dies falling from a fire tower in his twenties, and the investigation of his possible murder, which alternates with the story of Kya’s coming-of-age, provides much of the novel’s suspense. Because the characters are painted in broad, unambiguous strokes, this is not so much a naturalistic novel as a mythic one, with its appeal rising from Kya’s deep connection to the place where she makes her home, and to all of its creatures”
Picture of book cover for Before We Were YoursBefore We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Booklist: “Newly engaged Avery Stafford leaves her job as a federal prosecutor in Washington, D.C., to go back home to South Carolina, where she is being groomed to succeed her ailing father, a U.S. senator. At a meet-and-greet at a nursing home, she encounters May, a woman who seems to have some link with Avery’s Grandma Judy, now suffering from dementia. The reader learns early on that May was once Rill Foss, one of five siblings snatched from their shanty home on the Mississippi and taken to the Memphis branch of the Tennessee Children’s Home Society. The society seems too Dickensian to be true, except that it was, and its black-market adoption practices caused a stir in the mid-twentieth century. Rill’s harrowing account of what befell the Foss children and Avery’s piecing together (with the help of a possible new love interest) of how Rill and Grandma Judy’s stories converge are skillfully blended. Wingate writes with flair, and her distinctly drawn characters and adept use of the adoption scandal will keep readers turning the pages.”
Gene
Picture of book cover for The Polar Bear ExpeditionThe Polar Bear Expedition : the heroes of America’s forgotten invasion of Russia, 1918-1919 by Kim Michele Richardson
Publisher’s Weekly: “Nelson narrates a largely forgotten chapter of WWI, when 5,000 American doughboys of the 339th Infantry Regiment were dispatched to northern Russia in 1918. The expedition’s mission was to support opponents of the Russian Revolution and recreate the eastern front against Germany, which had vanished after the Bolshevik government pulled out of the war. But the result was a weak American invasion some 1,000 miles north of Moscow that inexplicably extended past the armistice and “sowed the seeds for recriminations and distrust that would plague U.S.-Russian relations throughout the 20th century-and beyond.” Using books, articles, and newspaper accounts-and a crisp character-driven approach-Nelson narrates the expedition’s sung and unsung heroes (like Thomas Downs, who cheerfully marched through a seven-mile retreat after losing an eye to a gunshot), horrors, and other events, such as a minor but exaggeratedly reported mutiny that left one company’s reputation forever tarnished. Nelson’s engrossing narrative will engage military historians, political buffs, and general readers alike.”
Picture of book cover for Age of WarAge of War by Michael J. Sullivan
Publisher’s Weekly: “In this powerful third book (after Age of Swords) of a projected six-book series, Sullivan continues providing excellent worldbuilding and character development while introducing the first true battle in the war between the human Rhune and the elven Fhrey. After Nyphron, a Fhrey allied with humans, secures the surrender of the great fortress of his people, Rhune ruler Persephone must lead her people in their preparations for the inevitable assault from Fhrey leader Fane Lothian. Meanwhile, a young historian and a warrior in training discover evidence that one of the ghoulish raow is hiding in the city and harboring some evil purpose. The world is technologically equivalent to our early Middle Ages: during the course of this tale, steel is invented, the initial use of archers in combat occurs, and a human first rides a horse. Sullivan also gifts readers with complex lives for his characters, filled with tests, triumphs, and tragedies. This isn’t an entry point for the series, but Sullivan’s fans will be delighted.”
Picture of book cover for on desperate groundOn Desperate Ground: The Marines at the Reservoir, the Korean War’s Greatest Battle by Hampton Sides
Booklist: “*Starred Review* The 1950 battle in North Korea along the Chosin Reservoir is held in reverence by U.S. Marines. The mountainous terrain minted heroes by the score after a massive sneak attack by Communist Chinese forces during the harsh winter. Best-selling Sides tells the story of the First Marine Division, from their landing at Inchon and the drive north to the ferocious attack in a different direction to reach safety after being surrounded. Sides has done incredible work: the action is cinematic, with the detailed insights and character development of a novel. And it is all real. Sides’ impeccable research includes interviews with survivors in addition to a thorough survey of the considerable archives. He glides seemingly effortlessly from describing intense firefights on the ground up to the difficult decisions faced by leaders at all levels of the chain of command as the possibility of atomic destruction loomed in the background. The result is a masterpiece of storytelling about a war that is often given short shrift in American history. Readers will feel the fierce cold, the constant threat of death, and the desperation of being trapped and under siege felt by the U.S. Marines in Sides’ vivid and invaluable history.”
Janet
Picture of book cover for Olive, AgainOlive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
Booklist: “Has Olive mellowed? She is still irascible, she still speaks her mind with unflinching honesty, but age and the death of her husband, Henry, have worn away some of her edge: “”I feel like I’ve become, oh, just a tiny tiny bit better as a person,”” she says at one point. Strout’s latest work like Olive Kitteridge (2008), a collection of stories set in the coastal town of Crosby, Maine takes Olive from her early seventies into her eighties, through a surprising marriage to Jack Kennison, a second widowhood, a heart attack, a kind of rapprochement with son Christopher, and, finally, a move into Maple Tree Apartments, “”that place for old people.”” And also like Olive Kitteridge, in several of the stories, Olive steps aside while other characters, some bussed in from Strout’s novels, take center stage and lend their own voices and perspectives. Love, loss, regret, the complexities of marriage, the passing of time, and the astonishing beauty of the natural world are abiding themes, along with “”the essential loneliness of people”” and the choices they make “”to keep themselves from that gaping darkness.”” Unmissable, especially for readers who loved Olive Kitteridge.”
Picture of book cover for Where the lost dogs goWhere the Lost Dogs Go: A Story of Love, Search, and the Power of Reunion by Susannah Charleson
Publisher’s Weekly: “A fitting sequel to 2011’s Scent of the Missing, about training dogs to search for humans, this moving memoir from Charleston (The Possibility of Dogs) focuses on another aspect of canine search and rescue: finding other dogs who run or wander off. It turns out that her golden retriever, Puzzle, was not only a gifted searcher for humans, but also possessed a unique canine charisma: lost dogs would emerge from hiding to greet her. That’s a highly useful skill, Charleston notes, considering that, according to the American Humane Society, roughly 10 million dogs and cats are lost or stolen every year. Charleston suffuses her tale with insight and well-earned sentiment, skillfully weaving in anecdotes of searches for lost dogs with those of her blossoming relationship with a new addition to her household, rescued Maltese-poodle mix Ace. She also offers sound advice to pet owners on how to increase the odds of their pet being found with some common sense tips, such as securing back yards and updating tags and microchips. This inspiring and informative work will resonate with pet lovers everywhere. “
Picture of book cover for Middle EnglandMiddle England by jonathan Coe
Booklist: “Coe (Number 11, 2017) returns to characters he introduced in The Rotters’ Club (2002) in this biting critique of Brexit-era England. The ensemble cast of this politically charged comedy of manners reflects the divisive issues that dominate public and personal discourse, such as nationalism, immigration, microaggressions, outrage culture, and political correctness. Coe masterfully displays his highly tuned ear for dialogue as he captures the elegiac notes of a widowed retiree’s lament for a dying age awash in the Orwellian doublespeak of a brash political strategist and the unscrupulous sensationalism of journalism vying for website clicks. Meanwhile, once promising writer Benjamin Trotter’s magnum opus has ballooned to more than 10,000 pages, symbolic of the life he has avoided living while brooding over his unrequited love for Cicely. Coe’s singular achievement is the dexterity with which he illustrates the generational conflicts and the nuanced experiences of aging, loneliness, declining health, and the seemingly irreversible march toward obsolescence as the inevitable cyclical counterpart of youthful idealism and romanticized enlightenment. Timely and timeless, this plaintive, clarion call is an acerbic, keenly observed satire peppered with the penetrating wit for which Coe is so justly admired.”
Jessica
Picture of book cover for The Blacksmith QueenThe Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken
Booklist: “Aiken kicks off the new Scarred Earth series with a rollicking fantasy adventure. Keeley is happiest working in her blacksmith shop and helping her parents with her younger siblings, paying little mind to the politics of the royals. When the Old King dies and a prophecy is revealed stating that a farmer’s daughter will be the new Queen, her quiet, country life is turned upside down. Keeley is determined to protect her sister Beatrix, whom they believe will be the new monarch. A surprise betrayal brings her family under the watchful eyes of a clan of centaurs. Caid, a taciturn centaur warrior, is doing his best to protect Keeley and keep his distance, but their friendship slowly turns into something more as they spend time together on the trail to the capital. Aiken’s world building shines as she fills the series with dwarves, elves, centaurs, and demonic wolves which only Keeley can control. Tilting more toward fantasy, this paranormal romance will be a hit with fans of both genres who enjoy tales that are lighthearted and humorous.”
Picture of book cover for Vengeance RoadVengeance Road by Christine Feehan
Library Journal: “Raised in the violent motorcycle club (MC) environment, Breezy Simmons has finally escaped that scene and begun a new life. When her father kidnaps her toddler son and threatens to harm him, Breezy must find Steele, her son’s father, whom she once adored but who swept her aside, and warn him that her father’s MC is out to get him. Steele, aka Lyov Russak, isn’t about to let the one woman he could never forget get away again, especially when they now have a child who needs their help. Inter-club rivalries and violence keep the story moving, and the presence of well-drawn, diverse characters keeps fans engaged. VERDICT Hard-driving, gritty, and raw, Feehan’s latest foray into her motorcycle club world-with links to her “Northern California Coast” series-is a hands-down winner.”
Picture of book cover for A Woman of No ImportanceA Woman of No Importance: The Untold Story of the American Spy Who Helped Win WWII by Sonia Purnell
Booklist: “The large cast of characters and nuanced detail in this exceptional true story require close attention, but the payoff for readers is tenfold. Purnell shines a spotlight on Virginia Hall, an American woman, by recounting her unprecedented heroism in WWII. An accidental, self-inflicted gunshot wound cost Hall her leg. Even so, she hiked through the Pyrenees with a wooden prosthetic to escape Nazis who considered her a dangerous spy and top target for capture. Stories like this one layer on top of each other in a seemingly endless display of bravery. As part of the Resistance in France, Hall masterminded the prison escape of 12 agents, developed the tactics that would bloom into successful guerilla warfare, and cultivated a network of spies so effective that her superiors said progress in France would have been impossible without her. During her lifetime, Virginia’s gender and her wooden leg were used as excuses to dismiss and undervalue her. Purnell’s writing is as precise and engaging as her research, and this book restores overdue attention to one of the world’s great war heroes. It’s a joy to read, and it will swell readers’ hearts with pride.”
Karen
Picture of book cover for Red, white & royal blueRed, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Publisher’s Weekly: “McQuiston’s outstanding debut pivots on an inspired rom-com premise: What if Alex Claremont-Diaz, the half-Mexican son of the first female president of the United States, fell in love with Prince Henry, England’s heir? The two heartthrobs are arch-nemeses at first. After a scandalous mishap at a wedding, however, they are required to pretend to be best friends lest their enmity spark an international incident. Not surprisingly, their hate turns into a bromance. When Henry kisses Alex, the First Son goes into a mild gay panic, but their snide texts soon become gushy emails ending with romantic quotes. The scions also contrive ways of being together at Wimbledon, in Texas, and at a West Hollywood karaoke bar to steal kisses or have secretive sex. Of course, their romance will eventually be discovered and leaked to the press during the president’s heated reelection campaign. The impossible relationship between Alex and Henry is portrayed with quick wit and clever plotting. The drama, which involves political rivals, possible betrayals, and even a meeting with the queen, is both irresistible and delicious.
Picture of book cover for The Lager Queen of MinnesotaThe Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal
Booklist: “Edith Magnusson never thought she’d be figuring out how to translate the flavors of her award-winning pies into beer, but she’s had plenty of practice being adaptable. Ever since her father left the family farm to her sister, Helen, Edith has learned to make do on her own. She and her husband raised their children comfortably, but not extravagantly, and no job was ever too small for Edith. When her granddaughter, Diana, turns a severance package into ownership of a fledgling craft brewery, she’s surprised to find that brewing is in the family bloodline. A chance to mend decades-old resentment resurfaces, and Edith, Helen, and Diana have to decide how to best navigate the tricky waters of reconciliation. A love story to Minnesota, craft beer, and the power of second chances, Stradal’s second novel goes down easy. Perspective shifts among Helen, Edith, and Diana, letting each woman speak for herself and allowing their narratives to build off one another, despite the non-linear timeline. Imbued with Midwestern references and the importance of a can-do attitude, this warm, witty novel will appeal to fans of Curtis Sittenfeld and Meg Wolitzer.”
Picture of book cover for The Book Woman of Troublesome CreekThe Book Woman of Troublesome Cree by Kim Michele Richardson
Publisher’s Weekly: “This gem of a historical from Richardson features an indomitable heroine navigating a community steeped in racial intolerance. In 1936, 19-year-old Cussy Mary Carter works for the New Deal-funded Pack Horse Library Project, delivering reading material to the rural people of Kentucky. It’s a way of honoring her dead mother, who loved books, and it almost makes her forget the fact that her skin is blue, a family trait that sets her apart from the white community. The personable and dedicated Cussy forges friendships through her job, including with handsome farmer Jackson Lovett, who becomes Cussy’s love interest. Cussy’s ailing coal miner father, Elijah, insists she marry, but the elderly husband he finds for her, Charlie Frazier, dies on their wedding night. Pastor Vester Frazier, a vengeful relative, blames Cussy for Charlie’s death and starts stalking her. The local doctor steps in to help, and Cussy repays Doc by letting him perform medical tests on her to learn the cause of her blue skin. A potential cure for Cussy’s blue skin and a surprise marriage proposal set in motion a final quarrel among the townspeople over segregation laws that threatens Cussy’s chance at happiness. Though the ending is abrupt and some historical information feels clumsily inserted, readers will adore the memorable Cussy and appreciate Richardson’s fine rendering of rural Kentucky life”
Kari
Picture of book cover for Daisy Jones & the SixDaisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Booklist: “*Starred Review* Daisy Jones and the Six was the hottest rock band of the seventies; the sexy voice of Daisy Jones and the pleading tones of Billy Dunne were the soundtrack to countless sweltering summer nights. Yet fans had no idea of the chaos behind the curtain. Daisy and Billy, oozing raw attraction on stage, couldn’t even look at each other as they walked off. When she wasn’t singing or writing songs, wild child Daisy was popping pills. Billy’s addiction was alcohol, until he met Camila and discovered a whole new kind of dependence. Graham, Eddie, and Warren loved the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle, but Karen and Pete had other things on their minds. Framed as a tell-all biography compiled through interviews and articles, Reid’s (The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, 2017) novel so resembles a memoir of a real band and conjures such true-to-life images of the seventies music scene that readers will think they’re listening to Fleetwood Mac or Led Zeppelin. Reid is unsurpassed in her ability to create complex characters working through emotions that will make your toes curl. “
Picture of book cover for The Giver of StarsThe Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
Booklist: “When Alice marries the charming, athletic Bennett Van Cleve, she imagines bustling city life in America, so unlike her staid English existence. But when she gets to Baileyville, Kentucky, she finds her peers are suspicious and gossipy, her house is a shrine to Bennett’s late mother, and her father-in-law sleeps in the room next door. Desperate and lonely, she surprises herself by volunteering to help with the new Baileyville Packhorse Library, run by the indomitable Margery O’Hare, who has an unsavory reputation as a moonshiner’s daughter, though no one dares say it to her face. Of course, spreading education and information, especially to the womenfolk, threatens the man who runs the coal mine Alice’s father-in-law. Readers familiar with Moyes’ very British narrative voice will be thrilled that she translates seamlessly into Appalachian, and she weaves a tough sort of protofeminism in with labor unrest and romance in this story that doesn’t stereotype but lifts up the work of the women who run the library and the lives they impact. There are tears and laughter in this homage to the power of reading and the strength of community.”
Picture of book cover for Modern LoveModern Love: True Stories of Love, Loss, and Redemption edited by Daniel Jones
From the publisher: “50 Irresistible True Accounts of Love in the Twenty-first Century. A young woman wryly describes a relationship that races from start to finish almost entirely via text messages. A Casanova is jilted after an idyllic three weeks and learns the hard way that the woman is, well, just not that into him. An overweight woman in a sexless marriage wrestles with the rules of desire. A young man recounts the high-wire act of sharing the woman he loves with both her husband and another boyfriend. A female sergeant in the Missouri National Guard, fresh from Iraq, tells what she is not supposed to tell about the woman she is not allowed to love. These are just a few of the people whose stories are included in Modern Love, a collection of the fifty most revealing, funny, stirring essays from the New York Times’s popular “Modern Love” column. Editor Daniel Jones has arranged these tales to capture the ebb and flow of relationships, from seeking love and tying the knot to having children and finding love that endures. (Cynics and melancholics can skip right to the section on splitting up.) Taken together, these essays show through a modern lens how love drives, haunts, and enriches us. For anyone who’s loved, lost, stalked an ex, or made a lasting connection, and for the voyeur in all of us, Modern Love is the perfect match.”
Picture of book cover for The Giver of StarsMaybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed by Lori Gottlieb
Publisher’s Weekly: “Gottlieb provides a sparkling and sometimes moving account of her work as a psychotherapist, with the twist that she is in therapy herself. Interspersing chapters about her experiences as a patient with others about her work, she explains, “We are mirrors reflecting mirrors reflecting mirrors, showing one another what we can’t yet see.” By exploring her own struggles alongside those of her patients, Gottlieb simultaneously illuminates what it’s like to be in and to give therapy. As she observes, “Everything we therapists do or say or feel as we sit with our patients is mediated by our histories; everything I’ve experienced will influence how I am in any given session at any given hour.” From “John,” a successful TV producer who has walled himself away from other people, to “Julie,” who has a terminal illness and is struggling to find her way through her life’s closing chapters, Gottlieb portrays her patients, as well as herself as a patient, with compassion, humor, and grace. For someone considering but hesitant to enter therapy, Gottlieb’s thoughtful and compassionate work will calm anxieties about the process; for experienced therapists, it will provide an abundance of insights into their own work”
Megan (Megan selects all the children’s and YA books for the library and she has decided to highlight the best of those books as well as her ‘grown-up’ choices)
Children’s books
Picture of book cover for Our Castle By the SeaOur Castle By the Sea by Lucy Strange
Publisher’s Weekly: “In this WWII thriller, Strange crafts an evocative portrait of wartime suspicion and intrigue. Narrator Petra (Pet) lives with her older sister Mags, and her English Pa and German Mutti in a lighthouse cottage on England’s South East coast-a lighthouse they must paint camouflage green as Britain faces imminent war. In 1939, local authorities drag Pet’s beloved Mutti, classified as an “enemy alien” because of her German ancestry, into a tribunal to investigate her loyalties. The authorities rule to intern her indefinitely “as a matter of national security.” Divided into three parts, the narrative expertly reveals a web of rumors, doubt, prejudice, and mistrust even within Pet’s own family through unraveling secrets about Pet’s parents’ wedding, Mags’s relationship with a local boy, a trip to Dunkirk, and their Pa’s charts and logbooks, seized for evidence by the police. Strange seamlessly blends a local legend, of four girls turned into ancient standing stones on the lighthouse’s clifftop, with the larger story. A standout historical novel with a memorable protagonist, strongly sketched setting, and a compelling, twisty plot.”
Picture of book cover for Pay Attention, Carter JonesPay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. Schmidt
Booklist: “*Starred Review* Pandemonium reigns in the Jones household (mother, son, three younger daughters, and one excitable dog) on the first day of school at 7:15 a.m., when 12-year-old Carter answers the doorbell and meets the Butler. This portly Englishman immediately begins to put things right, offering his services to Mrs. Jones and explaining that he was willed to the family by his late employer, the children’s grandfather. Their father is an army captain deployed in Germany. Initially wary of the Butler, Carter resists his quiet authority, but slowly begins to trust the man, who teaches him to drive the Bentley, organizes a wildly popular cricket match at his middle school, and offers him implicit guidance when he needs it most. The Butler is a distinctive character with dry wit and an unshakable sense of purpose. While comparisons with Mary Poppins may be inevitable, the only magic here is the everyday kind brought about by broad understanding, sensible actions, and uncommon courtesy applied over a period of time. Not so much an unreliable narrator as an evasive one, Carter has things on his mind that initially he’s not ready to deal with, much less communicate to others. Yet his engaging narrative leads readers through a broad range of emotions in this beautifully written, often amusing, and ultimately moving novel.”
Picture of book cover for The Remarkable Journey of Coyote SunriseThe Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
Booklist: “*Starred Review* For the past five years, 12-year-old Coyote Sunrise and her father, Rodeo, have traveled all over the U.S. on a retired school bus converted into a home on wheels. Once upon a time, they lived in Washington State, but when her mother and two sisters died in an automobile accident, her father bought the bus, changed their names, and took off, determined to put painful memories behind them. But when Coyote learns that her former neighborhood park, where she and her mother and sisters buried a memory box, is about to be demolished, she knows she has to get back there and retrieve it. Knowing that a return to their old home is what Rodeo would call a “”no-go,”” Coyote plots a way to get where she needs to go. Along the way, they pick up an assortment of passengers who become involved with Coyote’s quest. Narrator Coyote is legendary: wise, thoughtful, and perceptive, she is an astute observer of human nature. Her voice is frank, authentic, and fresh as she shares her insights with her audience, whether the reader or another character. The narrative is beautifully paced and ranges easily from comic to bittersweet, and the other well-rounded characters also shine as they become part of Coyote’s circle. Coyote is well-adjusted and, like her journey, refreshingly remarkable.”
YA books
Picture of book cover for Fountains of SilenceThe Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys
Publisher’s Weekly: “It’s 1957 and aspiring photographer Daniel Matheson is visiting Spain with his Texas oil tycoon father. Daniel is eager for the opportunity to flesh out his portfolio for a photography contest what would be more prize-­worthy than photos of daily life in notoriously secretive Spain? but he gets repeated warnings, some quite aggressive, against looking too closely. Another thing Daniel doesn’t bank on is Ana, an arrestingly beautiful maid at the Castellana Hilton, where he’s staying with his parents. As their affection deepens, so, too, do their differences: Ana, daughter of executed anti-Fascists, lives a tightly constrained existence, and Daniel has unprecedented freedom in her country and can’t quite wrap his head around the danger he puts her in. In another meticulously researched novel, Sepetys offers a captivating glimpse into Franco’s Spain, a region awash in secrets and misinformation. As Sepetys slowly unspools hard truths about the era, such as the prevalence of babies stolen from poor, Republican families, the facts become increasingly impossible to ignore, both for the reader and for Daniel. The romance ultimately takes center stage, but the troubling events in the margins add terrifyingly high stakes to Daniel and Ana’s relationship. For all her extensive, careful research (evident in the back matter), Sepetys doesn’t overwhelm readers with facts; rather, she tells a moving story made even more powerful by its placement in a lesser-known historical moment. Captivating, deft, and illuminating historical fiction.”
Picture of book cover for Lovely WarLovely War by Julie Berry
Publisher’s Weekly: “Berry brings to life wartime horrors and passions with commentary from Olympian gods in this love story filled with vivid historical detail. To show her husband, Hephaestus, the real meaning of love and its connection to war and art, Aphrodite (with the help of Apollo, Hades, and Ares) tells the emotionpacked WWI saga of two besotted couples drawn together by music and war: British pianist Hazel and soldier James; AfricanAmerican jazz musician Aubrey and Colette, a Belgian war orphan with a remarkable singing voice. After James reports to duty, Hazel follows, taking a wartime volunteer position in France. There, she meets Colette, who is still reeling from her wartime losses, and introduces her to Aubrey, who quickly steals Colette’s heart. James and Aubrey witness horrors on and off the battlefield, and Hazel and Colette cling to each other during the best of times, such as when Hazel has the opportunity for a brief reunion with James, and the worst, as when Aubrey goes missing. Berry’s evocative novel starts slow but gains steam as the stories flesh out. Along the way, it suggests that while war and its devastation cycles through history, the forces of art and love remain steady, eternal, and lifesustaining.”
Picture of book cover for American RoyalsAmerican Royals by Katharine McGee
Library Journal: “In this alternate history, America has a royal family–the house of Washington. More than 200 years after the country was founded, the Washingtons still rule. Princess Beatrice is set to be the first queen, as the primogeniture succession rule has finally been thrown out. All three of the siblings, Beatrice and the twins Jefferson and Samantha, are young and still figuring out who they are and what they want. Beatrice must decide if she’s going to marry a nobleman for the good of the country–or the bodyguard she’s in love with. Samantha thinks she is in love with the duke engaged to her sister. And Jefferson has fallen hard for a commoner who is finding it difficult to live in the public eye. But they aren’t worried; after all, the three young people have years to figure things out. Or so they think. But King George has terminal cancer and Beatrice learns that she will be responsible for the country all too soon. Intrigue, back-stabbing, and interference by royal wannabes add to the drama. “
Adult books
Picture of book cover for The Starless SeaThe Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Booklist: Morgenstern’s new fantasy epic is a puzzlebox of a book, full of meta-narratives and small folkloric tales that will delight readers. Zachary is a grad student who stumbles on a mysterious book in his library. Pulling on the thread of its origins, he discovers the symbols of the bee, the book, and the sword, that in turn lead him to a secret society that protects a magical, subterranean library. Chased by shadowy people determined to close off the library from our world, Zachary and new friends Dorian and Mirabel eventually reach the library itself, which is neglected and in need of saving. Morgenstern (The Night Circus, 2011) uses poetic, honey-like prose to tell a story that plays with the very concept of what we expect and want from our stories; she also asks questions about accessibility, and what it truly means to guard something as precious as the library. She trusts her readers to follow along and speculate, wonder, and make leaps themselves as she dives into tales of pirates, book burnings, and men lost in time, giving the book a mythic quality that will stick with readers long after they put it down.”
Picture of book cover for The ten thousand doors of JanuaryThe Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow
Booklist: “Harrow dazzles with this historical fiction-fantasy hybrid about a young woman who discovers that the key to opening the door for change lies within ourselves. January Scaller is growing up at the turn of the 20th century as a ward of Mr. Locke, a wealthy collector of artifacts, while her father is in Mr. Locke’s service, searching for the rarest items. Being of mixed heritage in a world not kind to those in-between, January feels like a tolerated addition to Mr. Locke’s collection of unique objects. But one day, a strange book appears, one that smells of leather and adventure; of secrets and love. And when January falls through that leather-bound door, her life will never be the same. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is both whimsical and smart, using engaging writing and a unique plot to touch on serious topics. Harrow’s debut reads like a love letter to the art of storytelling itself, and readers will be eager for more from her.”
Picture of book cover for Red, white & royal blueRed, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Publisher’s Weekly: “McQuiston’s outstanding debut pivots on an inspired rom-com premise: What if Alex Claremont-Diaz, the half-Mexican son of the first female president of the United States, fell in love with Prince Henry, England’s heir? The two heartthrobs are arch-nemeses at first. After a scandalous mishap at a wedding, however, they are required to pretend to be best friends lest their enmity spark an international incident. Not surprisingly, their hate turns into a bromance. When Henry kisses Alex, the First Son goes into a mild gay panic, but their snide texts soon become gushy emails ending with romantic quotes. The scions also contrive ways of being together at Wimbledon, in Texas, and at a West Hollywood karaoke bar to steal kisses or have secretive sex. Of course, their romance will eventually be discovered and leaked to the press during the president’s heated reelection campaign. The impossible relationship between Alex and Henry is portrayed with quick wit and clever plotting. The drama, which involves political rivals, possible betrayals, and even a meeting with the queen, is both irresistible and delicious.
Olivia
Picture of book cover for The Starless SeaThe Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
Booklist: Morgenstern’s new fantasy epic is a puzzlebox of a book, full of meta-narratives and small folkloric tales that will delight readers. Zachary is a grad student who stumbles on a mysterious book in his library. Pulling on the thread of its origins, he discovers the symbols of the bee, the book, and the sword, that in turn lead him to a secret society that protects a magical, subterranean library. Chased by shadowy people determined to close off the library from our world, Zachary and new friends Dorian and Mirabel eventually reach the library itself, which is neglected and in need of saving. Morgenstern (The Night Circus, 2011) uses poetic, honey-like prose to tell a story that plays with the very concept of what we expect and want from our stories; she also asks questions about accessibility, and what it truly means to guard something as precious as the library. She trusts her readers to follow along and speculate, wonder, and make leaps themselves as she dives into tales of pirates, book burnings, and men lost in time, giving the book a mythic quality that will stick with readers long after they put it down.”
Picture of book cover for Holy SisterHoly Sister by Mark Lawrence
Publisher’s Weekly: “Abeth’s ice is advancing, and the Empire battles not only the Scithrowl but betrayals from within. Nona Grey and her allies have escaped Sherzal’s palace, but the way to the Convent of Sweet Mercy, and the challenges to become a full sister in the order, is lined with peril and heartbreak. Even with the power of the shiphearts, Nona knows that the corruption that comes with that power can destroy everything she’s learned. A final battle is coming that will force Nona to realize she cannot save all her friends. With the demons inside her vying for control of her decisions, she may not even be able to save herself. Lawrence’s storytelling showcases an incredible world, with a cast of women tied by training, powers, and, in some cases, love. VERDICT Warrior nuns, mystical powers, mysterious technology, and false prophecy come full circle in this stunning, immersive conclusion to a gritty fantasy series with appeal to adults and young adults alike.”
Picture of book cover for The TestamentsThe Testaments by Margaret Atwood
Publisher’s Weekly: “Atwood’s confident, magnetic sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale details the beginning of the end for Gilead, the authoritarian religion-touting dystopia where fertile single women (handmaids) live in sexual servitude. The novel opens in New England 15 years after the first novel ends. Aunt Lydia has become a renowned educator, an ally of Gilead’s spy chief, and an archivist for Gilead’s secrets. Ensconced in her library, Aunt Lydia recalls how she went from prisoner to collaborator during Gilead’s early days. Now she is old and dying and ready for revenge. Her plan involves two teenagers. Gilead native Agnes Jemima is almost 13 when she learns her real mother was a runaway handmaid. Rather than marry, Agnes Jemima becomes an aunt-in-training. Sixteen-year-old Daisy in Toronto discovers she is the daughter of a runaway handmaid after the people she thought were her parents die in an explosion. Aunt Lydia brings the girls together under her tutelage, then sends them off to try to escape with Gilead’s secrets. Since publication, The Handmaid’s Tale has appeared as a movie, graphic novel, and popular miniseries. Atwood does not dwell on the franchise or current politics. Instead, she explores favorite themes of sisterhood, options for the disempowered, and freedom’s irresistible draw. Atwood’s eminently rewarding sequel revels in the energy of youth, the shrewdness of old age, and the vulnerabilities of repressive regimes.”
Randy
Picture of book cover for WanderersWanderers by Chuck Wendig
Publisher’s Weekly: “Wendig pulls no punches in this blockbuster apocalyptic novel, which confronts some of the darkest and most divisive aspects of present-day America with urgency, humanity, and hope. The day after a comet blazes over the west coast of North America, Benji Ray, a disgraced former CDC epidemiologist, is summoned to meet Black Swan, a superintelligent computer designed to predict and prevent disasters, which has determined that Benji must treat an upcoming pandemic. That same morning, Shana wakes up to find her little sister, Nessie, sleepwalking down the driveway and off toward an unknown goal, one of a growing number of similar travelers who are unable to stop or to wake. Shana in turn becomes one of many shepherds, protecting the travelers from a crumbling American society that’s ravaged by fear, dogma, disease, and the effects of climate change, while Benji grapples with his daunting assignment and questions about Black Swan’s nature and agenda. Wendig challenges readers with twists and revelations that probe issues of faith and free will while crafting a fast-paced narrative with deeply real characters. His politics are unabashed-characters include a populist president brought to power by neo-Nazis, as well as murderous religious zealots-but not simplistic, and he tackles many moral questions while eschewing easy answers. This career-defining epic deserves its inevitable comparisons to Stephen King’s The Stand, easily rising above the many recent novels of pandemic and societal collapse.”
Picture of book cover for The Priory of the Orange TreeThe Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon
Booklist: *Starred Review* In a departure from her best-selling Bone Season series (starting with The Bone Season, 2013), Shannon’s spellbinding standalone historical fantasy draws from the legend of George and the dragon and the courts of the sixteenth century. A thousand years ago, a world-destroying dragon known as the Nameless One and his allies were banished by a knight of House Berethnet, never to return as long as the Berethnet queens rule in the western realm of Inys, the seat of an antidragon religion. But the current queen lacks an heir, and her court is divided. Evil dragons are appearing once more throughout the world, even as their good counterparts in the east wane in strength. Through four narrators Ead, a member of the secret sisterhood of mages known as the Priory of the Orange Tree; Arteloth, an Inysh nobleman; Niclays, a disgraced alchemist; and Tané, a dragon rider of Seiiki Shannon deftly explores the divides between religion, custom, and territory. This extraordinary saga includes heroism, romance, friendship, pirates, plague, diplomacy, and, of course, dragons.
Picture of book cover for Gideon the NinthGideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir
Publisher’s Weekly: “Queer necromancers vie for power, solve ancient puzzles, and cross rapiers while exploring haunted deep-space ruins in this madcap science fantasy romp that manages to be both riotously funny and heartbreaking. Eighteen-year-old orphan Gideon Nav has spent her life devising ways to escape indentured servitude to the Ninth House. When Harrowhark Nonagesimus, the sole daughter and heir to the Ninth, sees a chance to become a Lyctor, right hand to the Necromancer Divine, she needs a cavalier by her side if she hopes to beat out the candidates of the other eight Houses-and only Gideon will do. Much as her necromancers do with human remains, Muir effortlessly compiles macabre humor, body horror, secrets, and tenderness into the stitched-together corpse of a dark universe, then brings it to life with a delightfully chaotic, crackling cast of characters and the connective tissue of their relationships. From the mad science joys of necromantic theory to the deliciously ever-evolving tension between Gideon and Harrow, this adventurous novel not only embraces its strangeness but wrings delight from it. The result is an addictive, genre-bending book that will wow readers with its vibrant energy, endearing cast, and emotional gut-punch of a finale.”

Except as noted, annotations are supplied from the SELCO catalog