Current Picks: Book Reviews

Series Spotlight: Bridgertons

Are you enthralled by the beauty, drama, and wit of the newest Netflix phenomenon Bridgerton? Great news—this TV show is based on the bestselling 8-book series about the Bridgerton siblings by Julia Quinn. Start with The Duke and I (2000) for Simon and Daphne's story, then check out The Viscount Who Loved Me (2000) to see Anthony fall in love (and for a hysterically competitive game of croquet).

While the Netflix adaptation shares many traits with the novels, there are, of course, differences. In the books, you'll discover even more witty banter, family antics, and a lighter tone in these Regency-set romances.

We've made the books available in as many places as we could! The Duke and I is available in regular print and large type. You'll find the audiobook in eMediaLibrary and on our preloaded iPods. Check out eMediaLibrary to read Bridgerton Collection: Volume 1, which includes the first three books in the series.

You'll find the complete series available in print at the library, and most as ebooks or audiobooks via Overdrive and Hoopla.

And if you're wondering what to read next... we've got ideas for you! Check out our lists on our website and Overdrive.

Don't have Netflix? Borrow one of our Rokus so you can binge Bridgerton too.



Beat the Reaper

This is a funny book, but the humor is very dark. Peter Brown tells the story himself. He is an emergency room intern. His real name is Pietro Brnwa, and he's a mob hitman. Because the story is told by this former hitman, the language is pretty crude. Very crude. But it has to be, given his background. And the violence is bone crushingly graphic. Still, Beat the Reaper (2009) is really funny. Author Josh Bazell has an M.D. from Columbia (the university, not the country), giving authenticity to Dr. Brown.

The tough guy narration by Robert Petkoff brings Dr. Brown to life. This audiobook is first class entertaining (if you're okay with language and violence). Get this audiobook and thank me later.

Listen to the book on Hoopla or read the book on Overdrive.



Black Sun

A fantasy novel inspired by pre-Columbian civilizations in the Americas, Black Sun (2020) swept me away into a world of adventure and vengeance. The stories of a Sun Priest dealing with political intrigue and assassination attempts, a blind young man raised to fulfill a prophesy and a somewhat unstable sea captain, who is still discovering the extent of her aquatic powers, all converge on the day of the winter solstice in the holy city of Tova. Pandemonium ensues and I can't wait for the next installment of this exciting new series.

Rebecca Roanhorse brings to life a fantasy world that is decidedly not Eurocentric or gender binary. Black Sun will appeal to readers who enjoy epic fantasies with a refreshing twist.

Visit Overdrive to check out the eBook.



The Age of Miracles

The Age of Miracles (2012) is beautifully told from the point of view of eleven-year-old Julia. As the Earth's rotation slows, it has unintended and dire consequences for all life on the planet. Meanwhile, Julia is already grappling with all the complexities of being a pre-teen girl, including a crush on a boy, falling out with close friends, and strained relations with her father.

Karen Thompson Walker does an excellent job of putting you in the frame of mind of this young girl, which makes the calamity seem that much more real and heartfelt. Read the ebook or listen to the audiobook on Overdrive. 



Series Spotlight: Brands We Know

Star Wars, Crayola, Nintendo, Netflix: have you ever wondered how these and other popular brands came to be? Check out the series, Brands We Know by Sara Green, for fun facts, timelines, and colorful photos to learn all about pop culture and your favorite companies, restaurants, and stores. With 23 available, which ones will you explore?

There are even more to explore in Hoopla: check out one of the 34 books available to read instantly. 



Fangirl

Cath and Wren have been inseparable, but when they get to college Wren decides it's time to venture out on her own. Cath struggles to adjust to college life on her own and attempts to avoid any situations that are out of her comfort zone. One of Cath's passions is writing fanfiction for her favorite book series Simon Snow, which has manifested into her writing one of the most popular Simon Snow fanfictions online.

Something that I enjoyed while reading the novel was how it includes some of Cath's writing from her fanfiction. Fangirl (2013) brings a mix of family and internal struggles about coming of age with a sprinkle of romance and fanfiction.

Read or listen to this Rainbow Rowell novel instantly on Overdrive.



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Leap of Faith

Marie-Angea, a young French girl, experiences tragedy, leaving her with only one remaining family member. Unfortunately, that relative lives in the United States, the two have never met, and the aunt is a mean and nasty individual. Marie-Angea isn't completely alone, though; she connects with Billy, a neighbor who stays with her and befriends her.

Marie-Angea must work hard to survive at her aunt's house, and it feels like a fairytale story as it progresses, the likes of Cinderella. Marie-Angea can be a bit naive in Leap of Faith (2001), but it doesn't distract from the overall story and is still worth a look at if you like fairytale-esque stories.

Check out Leap of Faith by Danielle Steel today. Listen to the audiobook via Overdrive.



A Study in Scarlet

This book started it all. Watson needs to find a cheaper place to live. Holmes is looking for a roommate. They move to 221B and the legend is born. The first use of a magnifying glass by a detective is here too.

The mystery: Scotland Yard asks Sherlock Holmes for help investigating a murder. Holmes has a look around and says the murderer is 6 feet tall, has long fingernails on his right hand, smokes cigars, was taken to the scene in a carriage pulled by a horse with 3 old shoes and 1 new one, and the man was poisoned. Wow! But that's Sherlock.

Arthur Conan Doyle was criticized for his depiction of Mormons in this book. He eventually apologized. And Holmes kills a dog to find out if a pill contained poison. It did. I didn't much like that scene but that was the 1880s and sensibilities were different then. Check out the classic mystery A Study in Scarlet (1887). 

I listened to the audiobook read by Stephen Thorne (4.5 hours), and you can too through Hoopla. If you prefer to read the book, that's in Hoopla too. Check out the series list.



Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts

When you're in the mood for a fun, quirky adventure, pick up Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts (2019). After eccentric billionaire Vincent Price dies, he invites the residents of Boston to go on a scavenger hunt to inherit his fortune. Tuesday Mooney is a loner, researcher, and reluctant socializer. She has secrets (who doesn't?) and soon becomes engaged in the quest to solve the puzzle.

With old and new acquaintances, Tuesday embarks on the journey of a lifetime. With wit, mystery, intrigue, and adventure, Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts is a great readalike for fans of Ready Player One and Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.

Read Kate Racculia's latest instantly on Overdrive or Hoopla. This witty novel is also a great listen—check out the audiobook today.



Lost in Shangri-La

In May 1945, a plane took off from an American military base on the perimeter of Netherlands New Guinea en route to buzz the interior. Recently, they had discovered a civilization lost to time that had not had contact with the outside world in thousands of years. To boost morale, one of the officer's greenlighted this sightseeing tour, loaded up the plane with curious personnel, and embarked. Unfortunately, after dipping low into a valley, the plane failed to climb over the next ridge and crashed. Only two men and a woman survived. Injured and surrounded by unfriendly natives, they were stranded. This is the true-life story of the daring rescue mission to extract them from the land that time forgot.

Check out Lost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II (2011) by Mitchell Zuckoff today. Find the ebook and audiobook on Overdrive. Also browse of list of True Adventure titles.

The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett

85-year-old Eudora Honeysett is done with life. She lives alone with no family or friends and is as grumpy and standoffish as her cat. When she sees a pamphlet on assisted death, she decides that it is perfect for her: death on her own terms with dignity intact. Just as she makes this decision, a new family moves in next door and 10-year-old Rose comes knocking on her door. Rose, with her bright sparkly fashion sense and outspoken, quirky personality quickly worms her way into Eudora's life, bringing unexpected joy and friendship.

Will the changes in Eudora's life bring on a change of heart or is she still determined that this is the end? Annie Lyons broaches a tricky subject with sensitivity and understanding. Her endearing characters turn this into an uplifting and feel-good read. The Brilliant Life of Eudora Honeysett (2020) is perfect for readers who enjoyed A Man Called Ove and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine.

Browse our list of FeelGood Favorites on Overdrive for more titles to read.

Borrow the print book from the library or read the ebook on Overdrive.


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All My Puny Sorrows

Miriam Toews has written a beautiful book about suicide. She tells it with humor, but this was still a hard book to read. There were times I had to put the book down and walk away. All My Puny Sorrows(2019) is a book that makes you think.

It is the story of two sisters, Elf and Yoli: one has a messed-up life and the other is a famous pianist. And it is the story of mental illness and the depths one will take to achieve what they want. In the end, it's the story of what you would be willing to do for someone you love. Miriam Toews has written a powerful novel that will stay with you and have you wondering, "What would you do?"

Listen to the audiobook on Hoopla today.


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March: The Complete Series

From the first page of these compelling graphic memoirs, you'll be hooked. Congressman John Lewis shares his life story, from growing up on a farm in Alabama to the infamous march in Selma on Bloody Sunday. His personal journey provides an inside look at the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s. With familiar faces (Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X) and lesser known figures who made incredible contributions, Lewis presents a gripping history lesson.

The black and white artwork by award winning artist Nate Powell enhances the words and emotions of Lewis' story and the nonviolent resistance movement. The words and the art complement each other immensely.There is so much to discuss—it makes a great book club pick.

Read March: Book One (2013), March: Book Two (2015), and March: Book Three (2016). Check out the graphic memoirs immediately from Hoopla. For more titles on timely issues, check out our lists: Antiracism for Adults, Social Justic & Systemic Racism, and Black Voices: Memoirs, Essays, & Poetry.

11/22/63

This is a long book, over 30 hours, but worth every minute. It's the story of Jake Epping. His friend Al has found a time portal to September 9th, 1958. Al has been using it to try to prevent the Kennedy assassination. But now Al is dying. He shows the portal to Jake and convinces him to take over the project. What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty. The portal has rules. First, while everyone else is whatever age they were in 1958, Jake is still aging normally. Second, the past doesn't want to be changed. The bigger the change, the bigger the resistance to change. Third, every trip through the portal erases any changes made during previous trips. Jake has to start from scratch each time he enters the portal.

Stephen King did a great job researching Lee Harvey Oswald. Jake has to be sure he's got the right man.And then there's Sadie.

Check out 11/22/63 (2011) today. You can read or listen to the book via Overdrive.


Embracing Defeat

If you are interested in World War II or the aftermath of World War II in Japan, then this is a great in depth look at all levels of Japan's reconstruction. From how the Americans and Japanese worked together to restructure the government to how the public managed from day to day, John W. Dower covers it all. It includes how American influence changed Japanese daily life and how the public viewed these changes. It even includes individuals with memorable stories, such as a soldier who sent money back to the government so he would owe them nothing and would take nothing from them because they surrendered.

Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (2005) is lengthy and in depth, but the information it holds is fantastic if you are interested in Japan after World War II.

Listen to Embracing Defeat on Hoopla today.