Following the counsel of Governor Herbert and under the direction of Mayor Kaufusi, Provo City Library will be closed until further notice. No fines will accrue while we are closed. You can return items to our outside book drops during curbside hours.
Following the counsel of Governor Herbert and under the direction of Mayor Kaufusi, Provo City Library will be closed until further notice. No fines will accrue while we are closed. You can return items to our outside book drops during curbside hours.
 

 

Adult Fiction

  •  Learning to Love Fantasy Again 2

    Growing up, I loved fantasy. Authors like Robin McKinley, Gail Carson Levine, Philip Pullman, C.S. Lewis, and, of course, J.K. Rowling captured my imagination and carried me off to magical worlds. I reread their books again and again, loving the immersion and escapism they offered.

    As an adult, I’ve found a few new favorites (Jessica Day George, Shannon Hale, and Cassie Beasley come to mind), but for the most part I’ve moved away from fantasy in favor of other genres. So many of the novels I’ve tried recently have disappointed me due to shallow world-building or a focus on romance at the expense of plot. I was beginning to wonder if, at the ripe old age of 29, I’m just too old and crotchety for fantasy.

    Fortunately, 2017 is changing my mind. This year, three novels in particular have blown me away with their beautiful writing, imaginative and vivid world building, and three-dimensional characters.

    9.7 The Bear and the NightingaleTHE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE
    By Katherine Arden
    (2017)

    This book, the first by author Katherine Arden, draws on Russian folklore to create an utterly engrossing story of a young girl who embraces magic at a time when it is being suppressed. I read THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE early in the year, but I can still picture the characters and setting with perfect clarity because the book is so beautifully written. Although this is a coming of age story, it is marketed to adults rather than teens, largely because the novel has its dark and creepy aspects. At turns playful, heartbreaking, comforting, scary, and suspenseful, THE BEAR AND THE NIGHTINGALE really is a wonderful book.

     

    9.7 The Black WitchTHE BLACK WITCH
    By Laurie Forest
    (2017)

    This Y.A. fantasy novel is CONTROVERSIAL. Though it received starred reviews from several review journals, it has also been excoriated by a few prominent book bloggers for being racist, homophobic, ableist, sexist, and more. So why is THE BLACK WITCH one of my favorite fantasy reads in years?

    As the book begins, its protagonist, Elloren Gardner undeniable exhibits all of the characteristics listed above, as do her family and the society in which she lives. As the book progresses, however, Elloren gradually comes to recognize that the history and prejudices she’s been raised with are inaccurate and cruel. This may be a book about a racist, but I don't feel like it's a racist book. Quite the opposite, in fact.

    This book may not be for everyone. Particularly for individuals who have been on the receiving end of prejudice, it's perfectly valid to not want to live in the mind of a prejudiced character for hundreds of pages. I believe, however, that THE BLACK WITCH has a valuable message about both how a racist (or homophobe, sexist, ableist, etc.) is made and how they can be unmade. Education and relationships with people who are different from herself are the keys to Elloren’s awakening (which isn’t perfectly complete at the end of the book – this is the first of a series, after all), and maybe through her story readers will confront their own unacknowledged prejudice and privilege. It certainly left me thinking deeply about difficult issues, something that you don’t always expect from Y.A. fantasy.

    On top of that, Laurie Forest is an excellent writer, creating a world with a complex history, fascinating cultures, and a vivid cast of characters. The complexity of the magical society she developed even reminds me of J.K. Rowling's wizarding world. I was riveted from the first page and finished this 600 page book within 48 hours.

    9.7 Strange the DreamerSTRANGE THE DREAMER
    By Laini Taylor
    (2017)

    STRANGE THE DREAMER may just have the most unique, vivid, and gorgeous world-building I’ve ever encountered in a fantasy novel.  Lazlo Strange, a poor, orphaned young man, has fixated on the lost city of Weep since childhood. Though others say Weep is simply a myth, Lazlo pours his heart into researching the mysterious city, desperate to uncover its secrets. The story is difficult to do justice to in a synopsis, but count on this novel for dreams, nightmares, adventure, romance, mystery, and plenty of plot twists.

    Plus, the main character is a librarian, which is certainly a point in his favor. I <3 Lazlo Strange.

     

     

  • teacup books

    It was my thirteenth birthday. The present from my grandmother was heavy and thick; it felt like a book. My favorite. I knew that it was going to be something important and special. Something that would change my life. I ripped open the wrapping paper. And there it was. LITTLE WOMEN. I opened it immediately and started to read. I have no memory of the rest of the party, or even the day. I just remember being in Concord, Massachusetts with Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.  

    Few other books have molded my childhood like this one did. I immediately saw myself in Jo. I wanted to be a writer like she did. Like Jo, I got frustrated at the unfairness in the world. And also like Jo, I loved my family deeply. If Jo, despite everything, could achieve her dreams,  then so would I. She was the reason I came to love books so much, why I would become an English major. She was why I would teach and eventually become a librarian.  

    And I’m not the only one who has been influenced by Little Women and especially by Jo. Writer and director of SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE, YOU'VE GOT MAIL, and JULIE AND JULIA, Nora Ephron and her sister Delia grew up reading the book and taking turns playing Jo. Stephanie Meyer cites it as one of her earliest inspirations to become a writer. And the list goes on of women who were particularly inspired to write because of reading this book: Cynthia Ozik, Barbara Kingsolver, Jane Smiley, Anne Tyler, Mary Gordon, Margaret Atwood, and Jhumpa Lahiri are just a few.  

    What is it that makes this book published in 1868-1869, 150 years ago, resonate with girls and women in the 21st century? Maybe it is the strong female characters that each must face her own challenges growing up. Maybe it is portrayal of sisterhood during war and hard economic times that speaks to our modern sensibilities. Whatever it is seems to touch our hearts and makes us long to be better and to be more.  

    Is it time for you to discover or rediscover this classic? For all things Little Women, check out these offerings from our catalog. 

    2.6 Little WomenTHE ANNOTATED LITTLE WOMEN
    By Louisa May Alcott
    Edited by John Matteson
    (2015)

    Pulitzer Prize-winning Alcott biographer John Matteson illuminates the world of Little Women and its author.

     

    2.6 Meg Jo Beth and AmyMEG, JO, BETH, AMY: THE STORY OF LITTLE WOMEN AND WHY IT STILL MATTERS
    By  Anne Boyd Rioux
    (2018)

    In Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, Rioux recounts how Louisa May Alcott came to write Little Women, drawing inspiration for it from her own life. Rioux also examines why this tale of family and community ties, set while the Civil War tore America apart, has resonated through later wars, the Depression, and times of changing opportunities for women. 

     

    2.6 Little Women DVDLITTLE WOMEN
    Directed by Gillian Armstrong
    (1994)

    A beloved film adaptation starring Winona Ryder, Kirsten Dunst, Claire Danes, Christian Bale, and Susan Sarandon.

     

    2.6 Little Women 2018LITTLE WOMEN
    Directed by Clare Niederpruem
    (2018)

    A modern retelling of Louisa May Alcott's novel. The story details to the passage from childhood to womanhood of Jo, Meg, Beth, and Amy who are all sisters. Despite hard times, they cling to optimism. As they mature they face blossoming ambitions and relationships, as well as tragedy, while maintaining their unbreakable bond as sisters.   

     
  • Sullivan

    My father and I have a special kind of two person book club. The two of us read the same books (usually ones that he’ll find for me) and then we nerd out about them together. One day when we were searching for a new fantasy novel, he came across an author who was advertising the fact that his books are all the fun of fantasy without any of the explicit stuff. We jumped on board, and thank goodness we did.

    If you have heard of Michael J. Sullivan, I wouldn’t be surprised. His latest series THE LEGENDS OF THE FIRST EMPIRE has become a hit, especially in the fantasy community. If you haven’t heard of him, then stick around, because you are about to meet your new favorite author.

    Sullivan has written a full series and is in the middle of two more, all of which are set in the same magical world called Elan. The feeling of the novels is very Tolkienesque, fit with elves, dwarves, and wizards, but also with his own great twists. He weaves his story with myths, legends, and religions that are unique to the world in which he’s built.

    Best of all, he writes all of the books in a series before publishing them, a two-fold gift. For one, the intriguing threads he creates are perfectly weaved throughout, from beginning to end. And secondly, this way we don’t have to sit around, staring at his Goodreads profile and waiting for him to give us some kind of sign for when the next book is coming out (looking at you, Patrick Rothfuss).

    One of my favorite things about Sullivan is how approachable he is. At the beginning of every book, he includes an author’s note, asking for you to shoot him an email with feedback. On top of this, his Goodreads profile is extremely active. At one time I emailed him a question for an assignment in my English class and he replied within the day. This is truly a career author who not only writes well, but looks out for his fans.

    Below I’m going to highlight the first books in each of the Sullivan’s series. Although Sullivan promises that each series is spoiler-free for the others, I suggest reading each series in order of publication, as I’ve lain out.

    1.18 Theft of SwordsTHEFT OF SWORDS: BOOK ONE OF THE RIYRIA REVELATIONS
    By Michael J. Sullivan
    (2011)

    The first book in the RIYRIA REVELATIONS is actually made up of two books in one, which he published himself originally: The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha. When Sullivan’s books were picked up by a publisher, they decided to publish them two at a time. The story follows the unlikely pair of Hadrian, a master swordsman with a huge conscience, and Royce, an amoral thief. While on a job, the rogues end up being framed for the murder of the king and get thrown into an ancient conspiracy. I highly suggest you read this series before the other two, as it is a brilliant introduction to the world of Elan.

     

    1.18 The Crown TowerTHE CROWN TOWER: BOOK ONE OF THE RIYRIA CHRONICLES
    By Michael J. Sullivan
    (2013)

    Since Theft of Swords takes place 12 years after their first encounter, Sullivan takes this series, THE RIYRIA CHRONICLES, as a chance to show us how the unlikely duo came to be. Although the two men hate each other when they first meet, a common ally hires them to steal from The Crown Tower, an impenetrable fortress. This feat cannot be done without the skills of both, so the hope is they don’t kill each other before the job’s done. This series can be read before The Riyria Revelations, but I wouldn’t recommend it. I’m not too prideful to admit that I nearly cried at the end because of how much I had already grown to love the two.

     

    1.18 Age of MythAGE OF MYTH: BOOK ONE OF THE LEGENDS OF THE FIRST EMPIRE
    By Michael J. Sullivan
    (2017)

    This most-recent series, The Legends of The First Empire, takes place about 3,000 years before the events of Royce and Hadrian. The basic premise of this story is that everything you learned about the religions and myths in his other series isn’t necessarily accurate. Sullivan takes the phrase “history is written by the winners” with the wonder of an epic fantasy writer. In an age where men worship the Fhrey as gods, a man named Raithe finds himself a God Killer, and sets into motion the beginning of either human annihilation or the dawn of a new age.

     
  •  shelves with stack on table

    Best Fiction of 2018”, “Chilling Books”, and “YA Award Winners” are just a few of our booklist titles. I, myself, have found some great reads from these lists, but I would be willing to bet that almost every other library in the country has similar booklists. While we still have your typical booklists like Fantasy, Science Fiction, or Historical Romance, we also have some that are a little…different. Even if you’ve seen booklists before, you might not have seen booklists that are quite like these. Here’s a list of 10 of our more unique booklists:

    SELF-HELP FOR ENTREPENEURS OR SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS

    Looking to start your own business? Here are some books to help keep you motivated! These books are not exactly “how-to” manuals, but talk more about how to have the right mindset, be successful, and work effectively.

    JANE AUSTEN ADAPTATIONS

    Have you burned through all of Jane Austen’s books (even Lady Susan)? Most of these books take inspiration from Pride and Prejudice, but there are some retellings of Austen’s other works as well as some titles that feature Jane Austen as a character.

    FRACTURED FAIRY TALES

    Fairy tales aren’t just for bedtime with these books. We have lists for both Adults and Young Adults featuring characters that might seem a little familiar…

    ASSASSINS, SPIES, AND THIEVES

    Secret agents and heists abound in these books. Whether you like rooting for the “bad guy” or enjoy following rogue government agents, these books are sure to have plenty of action and intrigue.

    ACCLAIMED AUDIOBOOK NARRATIONS

    These audio books might be even more enjoyable to listen to than the book is to read. Perfect for those who have long commutes or simply don’t have time to sit down with a book.

    READING WITH THE STARS (BOOKS WRITTEN BY CELEBRITIES)

    While you can’t trust tabloid headlines these books are written by celebrities themselves.

    KICK-BUTT GIRLS IN YA FICTION

    Katniss Everdeen was just the beginning. This is a list full of female main characters that could definitely hold their own in the Hunger Games.

    SO YOU LIKE BRANDON SANDERSON

    Brandon Sanderson is one of our most popular authors, but what do you do when you’ve read everything he’s written? Luckily, we have this list of read alike books and authors.

    STAR WARS NOVELS

    Did you know that the Star Wars series was turned into books? We have the original series based off the movies, but then other books that are considered canon or are licensed by Lucasfilm. Overall, there are dozens of Star Wars books, so if you’re a fan of the franchise, you’re welcome.

    SO FRESH, SO CLEAN (CLEAN READS)

    Sometimes you’re just in the mood for a nice, clean read. We have lists for both Adults and Young Adults, so help yourself!

    YA ROAD TRIP AUDIOBOOKS

    Road trips can feel agonizingly long sometimes, but with these audio books hopefully the time can pass a little faster.

    Many of our booklists for Kids, Teens, and Adults can be found online. We also keep physical booklists at the first and second floor reference desks. The first floor reference desk even has a binder where we keep all of our past booklists for your browsing pleasure! No matter what you’re in the mood to read, we probably have a booklist for you. So the next time you’re in the library, don’t forget to stop by a reference desk and see what booklists you might be interested in!

  •  Little Women

     It may be a couple of days past Mother’s Day, but every day is a good day for celebrating moms, right? In addition to the wonderful women in my life – my mother, grandmother, sisters, and neighbors – I’ve been raised by a number of literary mothers. These women have taught me the value of courage, kindness, hard work, self-improvement, and having an open heart, and I love them as if they were real. Here are a few of my favorites, in no particular order.

    A Wrinkle in TimeKate Murry
    A WRINKLE IN TIME
    by Madaleine L'Engle
    (1962)

    Dr. Murry is a brilliant microbiologist who sets an example of hard work, passion, courage, and love for her four wildly different children. She loves awkward Meg, athletic and level-headed twins Sandy and Dennys, and wise Charles Wallace equally and individually. She treats them as rational thinkers and speaks to them with respect as well as warmth. She also immediately welcomes Calvin O’Keefe into the family, sensing that the popular boy comes from an unstable home. Even with her husband missing, Dr. Murry keeps the family together and provides a loving, stable home. She makes delicious stew over the bunson burner, comforts Meg, and conducts experiments in her home lab all at the same time, and that’s pretty darn impressive.  

    little womenMarmee
    LITTLE WOMEN
    by Louisa May Alcott
    (1868)

    Marmee’s a “tall, motherly lady, with a ‘can-I-help-you’ look about her which was truly delightful.” Is there a more quintessential mother in all of literature? I adore Marmee. It’s not because she’s longsuffering and calm and perfectly good. Instead, I love her for the conversations she has with her daughters when they’ve made mistakes. Her love is unconditional, but she gently helps them understand themselves, to make amends, and to grow. Because she loves them, she guides them to be better than they are. She’s not focused on her daughter’s achievements, but she’s determined to help develop their character.

    Tangent: I will forever feel annoyed that someone addresses Marmee as Abigail in the 1994 film adaptation of Little Women. Her name is Margaret! Meg is named after her! If the filmmakers had really loved Marmee, they would have known that.

    No, I’m not going to get over it. You can’t make me.  

    RoomMa
    ROOM
    by Emma Donoghue
    (2010)

    I expected Room to be a more disturbing book than it was. After all, it’s narrated by a little boy who has never been outside of the hidden underground room where his mother is held captive by a brutal abuser. Because of Ma’s great love for Jack, however, the boy is happy, and the story is often surprisingly gentle. Ma creates structure for their days, plays with Jack, teaches him, makes sure he receives the exercise and nutrients he needs, and protects him from her captor. When Ma decides it’s time to escape, she helps Jack make the difficult transition to understanding there’s a world outside their room. Her situation is horrifying, but she endures it with incredible courage for the sake of her son.  

    Harry PotterMolly Weasley
    HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE
    by J.K. Rowling
    (1997)

    You knew Molly would be on this list, right? She’s warm, fiery, funny, and kind. As much as I love her relationship with her own children, who she treats with equal amounts adoration and exasperation, I’m even more touched by her love for Harry. The moment where Harry receives his first Christmas sweater and a box of home-made fudge from Molly after a lifetime without a real Christmas present leaves me a little teary. In spite of the Weasley’s financial struggles, she takes the orphaned boy into her family with all her giant heart. She’s also an excellent cook and knitter and hug-giver. And then there’s that famous line when Bellatrix almost kills Ginny…

    Molly’s the best.  

    The Secret Life of BeesAugust Boatright
    THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES
    by Sue Monk Kidd
    (2001)

    August may not have her own biological children, but she unquestionably has a mother’s heart. When heartbroken Lily stumbles into her life, she takes the girl into her home, where she already takes care of her two sisters and a beekeeping business. She knows who Lily is instantly, but waits for the girl to reveal her identity in her own time. A former teacher, August is intelligent and knowledgeable, nurturing without being pushy, and a wonderful combination of independent and community-oriented. She becomes the ballast and mother figure Lily has spent her life longing for, and she beautifully represents the power of female relationships.  

    Anne of Green GablesMarilla Cuthbert
    ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
    by Lucy Maud Montgomery
    (1908)

    Initially, Marilla Cuthbert is gruff and unkind toward sensitive Anne. She intended to adopt a farmboy, so the dreamy, trouble-prone little girl is only a source of frustration. Marilla’s softness and sense of humor gradually appear, however. Her love for her brother is apparent from the beginning, and she relents about keeping Anne at Green Gables for his sake. Though she remains a strict disciplinarian, Marilla and Anne smooth out each other’s rough edges; Anne becomes more practical and disciplined under Marilla’s teaching, and Marilla becomes gentler and happier. After Matthew’s death (which will never stop breaking my heart), Marilla finally opens up in the most beautiful way:

    “We’ve got each other, Anne. I don’t know what I’d do if you weren’t here – if you’d never come. Oh, Anne, I know I’ve been kind of strict and harsh with you maybe – but you mustn’t think I didn’t love you as well as Matthew did, for all that. I want to tell you now when I can. It’s never been easy for me to say things out of my heart, but at times like this it’s easier. I love you as dear as if you were my own flesh and blood and you’ve been my joy and comfort ever since you came to Green Gables.”

    Don’t you just love Marilla?

    the helpAibileen Clark
    The Help
    by Kathryn Stockett
    (2009)

    "Taking care a white babies, that's what I do, along with all the cooking and cleaning. I done raised seventeen kids in my lifetime. I know how to get them babies to sleep, stop crying, and go in the toilet bowl before they mamas even get out a bed in the morning." Having lost her own son, Aibileen Clark is more mother to her charge than the white mother she works for. As THE HELP unfolds, she develops a special relationship with toddler Mae Mobley. After spending three years trying to protect the little girl from her mother's neglect, criticism, and racism, Aibileen decides to counteract all that unkindness with active words of love. We all know her motherly affirmation: "You is kind. You is smart. You is important." 

    Books and the characters within them can profoundly shape the way we view the world. I'm so grateful for the inspiring mothers I've found in a lifetime of reading and for all that they've taught me. So here's to the mothers, both literal and literary!

  • Shark Week

    There are three major holiday seasons at my house: Christmas, Easter, and Shark Week. If you haven’t heard of it (do you live under a rock??), Shark Week is a television program on the Discovery Channel. According to their website, Shark Week is the longest running summer TV event, with this July marking its 30th year running.

    I love sharks, and Shark Week is a time for me to not only get my fill of shark related pseudo-science TV shows (I mean, Phelps vs Shark was not exactly top-notch  science), but I also get to share my love of sharks with friends and family. I might make shark-themed treats, wear a shark shirt or hat (both items of clothing I own), and maybe even enjoy a sharky read. However you choose to celebrate, the library has some great materials to check out if you have sharks on the brain.

    7.23 JawsJAWS
    By Peter Benchley
    (1974)

    You’ve seen the movie, but have you given the book a try? When it was published, Jaws sold millions of copies and was a best-seller for 44 weeks in a row. And if you haven’t seen the movie, widely considered to be one of the best films of all time, you need to stop what you are doing and watch it now. Trivia: Author Peter Benchley actually makes a cameo appearance in the film as the reporter on the beach that discusses the shark attacks.  

     

    7.23 Close to ShoreCLOSE TO SHORE
    By Michael Capuzzo
    (2001)

    Now that you are familiar with the story of Jaws, check out the historical inspiration behind it. This book tells the true story of a rogue shark that terrorized swimmers off the New Jersey coast in the summer of 1916. This was the beginning of our country’s shark hysteria and panic, causing beach-goers to think twice before going in the water.  

     

    7.23 Devils TeethDEVIL’S TEETH
    By Susan Casey
    (2005)

    This is the account of journalist Susan Casey’s obsession with great white sharks that led her to the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco. While not overly data-heavy, this book gives readers a sense of magical wonder at great whites and their relationship to these islands.  

     

    7.23 Encyclopedia of SharksTHE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SHARKS
    By Steve Parker
    (2008)

    Maybe you are tired of the largely false stereotypical Hollywood portrayal of sharks as mindless killers, and you want to learn more about these fascinating creatures. This volume gives you details and scientific facts on hundreds of shark species. You’ll learn about shark evolution, mating rituals, life-cycles, and conservation and protection efforts. That’s right, sharks need protection from an even scarier predator—us! Sharks are in danger from over fishing, sports fishing, and “finning,” and the ecological impact from losing these apex predators is proving to be dire.  

     

    7.23 JawsGREAT WHITE: THE MAJESTY OF SHARKS
    By Chris Fallows
    (2009) 

    Maybe you just want to look at stunning photos of massive great whites, leaping out of the water in a spray of foam and teeth. Well, here you go. You’re welcome.

     
  • muslim pride and prejudice 

    As a PRIDE AND PREJUDICE fan, I am fated to read almost every PRIDE AND PREJUDICE retelling that I find.  I was surprised and thrilled, therefore, to discover that three contemporary retellings of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE came out recently, featuring characters from Pakistan or India.  An interesting twist on a classic!  I had to put all three books to the test.  Which one would be the best?  Let’s look at the list of contenders:

    2.12 UnmarriageableUNMARRIAGEABLE
    By Soniah Kamal
    (2019)

    A scandal and a vicious rumor has destroyed the Binat fortune, and with it, the five Binat daughters’ hopes of arranging desirable marriages.  When the Binat family receives an invitation to the most sought-after wedding of the year, Mrs. Binat sees her chance to launch her girls back into Pakistani society.  As the days of the lavish wedding party unfold, Jena Binat catches the eye of the charming Bungles Bingla, and Alys Binat butts heads with Bungles’ friend, Valentine Darsee.

    If you’re looking for an almost literal, yet modern-day Pakistani retelling of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, UNMARRIAGEABLE is the book for you.  This is the book that has the most obvious scene-to-scene comparisons, and most of the characters have Pakistani versions of the names of the original characters.

     

    2.12 Pride Prejudice and Other FlavorsPRIDE, PREJUDICE AND OTHER FLAVORS 
    By Sonali Dev 
    (2019)

    Dr. Trisha Raje is San Francisco’s most highly acclaimed neurosurgeon.  But that’s not enough for the Rajes, who have put most of the family’s efforts into supporting Trisha’s brother’s political aspirations.  When she meets chef DJ Caine at a fundraiser, Trisha immediately gets on DJ’s wrong side.  It’s bad enough that the two are forced together to plan the next fundraiser.  But when DJ finds out that Trisha is the only neurosurgeon with the skills to save his sister’s life, the two must figure out a way to get along.

    This version of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE has less to do with the characters’ Indian heritage than it does with the contemporary setting, but the thing I liked best about this was the role reversal. With Trisha basically playing the Mr. Darcy character, the story took some interesting turns that I didn’t see coming.

     

    2.12 Ayesha at LastAYESHA AT LAST
    By Uzma Jalaluddin
    (2019)

    Ayesha dreams of becoming a poet. But she also feels a debt to her wealthy uncle for sponsoring her family when they moved to Canada from Pakistan. When Ayesha’s uncle asks her to help plan a fundraiser for their local mosque, Ayesha feels she can’t refuse. There Ayesha meets Khalid. Khalid is smart and handsome, but also conservative and judgmental. As Ayesha and Khalid spend more time together, their first opinions of each other give way to something neither of them expected.

    Of the three, AYESHA AT LAST was my favorite PRIDE AND PREJUDICE retelling.  I appreciated that this book hit the main points of the source material without feeling wedded to it.  I got all of the comfort of reading a favorite, while also exploring new themes and learning a little about a culture I’m not very familiar with.

     
  • read a romance 1

    August is Read a Romance Month, so we're sharing our favorite subgenres of romance. For last week's post on romantic classics, go here, and be sure to join us next week for our favorite funny and fantastical romances!

    PROPER ROMANCE

    Proper Romances have been around for a few years now and are published by local publishing company, Shadow Mountain Publishing.  They “allow readers to enjoy romance at its very best – and at its cleanest-portraying everything they love about a passionate, romantic novel, without busting corsets or bed scenes”.  These novels have becoming extremely popular, and here are a few titles we like to recommend.

    8.22 EdenbrookeEDENBROOKE
    By Julianne Donaldson
    (2012)

    When Marianne receives an invitation to spend the summer with her twin sister in Edenbrooke, she has no idea of the romance and adventure that await her once she meets the dashing Sir Philip.

     

    8.22 Lord Fentons FollyLORD FENTON’S FOLLY
    By Josi Kilpack
    (2015)

    Lord Fenton and Alice Stanbridge's marriage is one of convenience for him, but one of love for her. When Alice realizes the truth, she matches Fenton wit for wit until they both learn to see the truth of each other's hearts and find love beyond the folly.

     

    8.22 Beauty and the Clockwork BeastBEAUTY AND THE CLOCKWORK BEAST
    By Nancy Campbell Allen
    (2016)

    A plea from a desperate relative brings Lucy Pickett to Blackwell Manor, where she meets the estate's resident "Beast," the brooding Lord Blackwell. This series opener boasts an intense (but chaste) romance and a supernatural Victorian setting that blends Gothic atmosphere and Steampunk trappings.

     

    HISTORICAL ROMANCE

    I believe some of the best historical fiction includes a good dose of romance. Here are a few recent historical fiction titles that I think qualify as romances, though you will probably find them in our general fiction collection.

    8.15 Carnegies MaidCARNEGIE’S MAID
    By Marie Benedict
    (2018)

    Engaging, richly-detailed, biographical, and historical fiction. In 1860s Pittsburgh, Clara, an Irish immigrant takes a job working as a maid for Andrew Carnegie, with whom she falls in love, and then goes missing.

     

    8.15 Love and RuinLOVE AND RUIN
    By Paula McLain
    (2018)

    After meeting and falling in love while she covered the Spanish Civil War in Madrid, Martha Gellhorn is forced to choose between her marriage to Ernest Hemingway and her career as a war correspondent.

     

    7.22 Everyone Brave is ForgivenEVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN
    By Chris Cleave
    (2016)

    When war is declared Mary North signs up at the War Office, where she is made a teacher. Tom Shaw and his roommate Alistair enlist. When Mary and Alistair meet love and war tests them in ways they could never imagine.

     
  • read a romance 1

    When it comes to literary genres, I feel like Romance gets a raw deal.  It can be very stigmatized since a good number of us automatically think of books whose covers feature bare chested men embracing partially dressed women with flowing hair…actually sometimes the men have flowing hair as well. And while that does describe a subset of the genre, there are so many other types of romances.  It isn’t hard to find a romance that would feel at home on anyone’s reading list.

    August is Read-A-Romance Month!  For the next few weeks, we'll share Romance subgenres that you may want to check out. Make room for a little love this month and hopefully you’ll discover a new author or genre you can dive into throughout the year.

    ROMANTIC CLASSICS

    If you are in the mood for something timeless check out one of these classics.  They have withstood the test of time and proved themselves worthy of our attention. 

    8.15 North and SouthNORTH AND SOUTH
    By Elizabeth Gaskell
    (1855)

    Through Margaret Hale, a middle-class English southerner who moves to the northern industrial town of Milton, Gaskell skillfully explores issues of class and gender in the conflict between Margaret's ready sympathy with the workers and her growing attraction to the charismatic mill owner, John Thornton.

     

    8.15 Jane EyreJANE EYRE
    By Charlotte Bronte
    (1847)

    In early nineteenth-century England, an orphaned young woman accepts employment as a governess and soon finds herself in love with her employer who has a terrible secret.

     

    8.15 Gone with the WindGONE WITH THE WIND
    By Margaret Mitchell
    (1936)

    A spoiled young Southern belle vows to rebuild her family plantation home after the Civil War and is swept off her feet by a man who infuriates her.

     
    Next week we'll be sharing some of our favorite proper romances and historical romances. Which ones do you love?
  • Reimagined Classics 

    Oddly enough, I read many more classics when I was twelve than I have managed to get through as an adult pursuing a library science degree. As a kid I loved going through Project Guttenberg’s files and reading all sorts of classics for free. I devoured GIRL OF THE LIMBERLOST,  ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, TARZAN, and so many more.

    So for the purpose of this blog post there are three types of people in this world:  

    1. You have read all of the classics! Congratulations!

    2. You're somone like me who has read some of the classics but not as many as you would like to before you die.

    3. You still have nightmares of being forced to read GREAT EXPECTATIONS in high school.

    Whichever person you may be, there are some reimagined classics you might really enjoy.

    8.28 Pride and Prejudice and ZombiesPRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES
    By Seth Graham Smith
    (2009)

    A horrible plague of zombies have fallen on the quiet English village Meryton. Elizabeth Bennet has been trained in combat and is determined to wipe out the zombie threat. But she is distracted when the arrogant Mr. Darcy comes to town.

     

    8.28 HiddenseeHIDDENSEE
    By Gregory Maguire
    (2017)

    In this retelling of The Nutcracker, Dirk discovers that when there were too many mouths to feed he was taken and abandoned in the woods. Fate saves him and he eventually moves to the city to settle and open a toy store. His toys are very popular, but only his friend’s granddaughter Klara sees the magic that is embedded in the them.

     

    8.28 For Darkness Shows the StarsFOR DARKNESS SHOWS THE STARS
    By Diana Peterfreund
    (2012)

    In this retelling of PERSUASION, the future world is absolutely devastated by genetic engineering gone horribly wrong. As all children became mentally challenged, Elliot North fights to save her family’s land.

     

    8.28 Second StarSECOND STAR
    by Alyssa Sheinmal
    (2014)

    Wendy Darling goes off to find her missing brothers and finds herself on a beach in California. Here she meets Pete and his friends. Have fun reading this retelling of PETER PAN.

     

    8.28 The Mere WifeTHE MERE WIFE
    By Maria Headley
    (2018)

    A modern retelling of BEOWULF recasts classic themes from the perspectives of the attackers and finds a suburban housewife and a battle-hardened veteran navigating dark realities to protect the sons they love.

     
  • shape shifters

    You know that get-to-know-you question that everyone has been asked: if you could have one superpower, what would it be?  My answer has always been shapeshifting!  I have always been fascinated by the idea.  How amazing would it be to see the world from a birds-eye view on a lazy breeze, or change to something faster and stronger than a human, or to something small so as to sneak around unnoticed? 

    Of course there are more than these, but here are some of my favorite books that feature shapeshifting in some form or another. 

    6.12 HawksongHAWKSONG (Keisha’ra #1)
    By Amelia Atwater-Rhodes
    (2010)

    Probably one of the first shapeshifter books I ever read, Hawksong is about Danica Shardae, whose other form is a hawk, heir of the avian throne.  Her people have been in a war against the neighboring serpiente shifters for so long that no one remembers why they started fighting in the first place.  Weary of fighting and loss, she will do anything to stop the war, even accept enemy leader Zane Cobriana as her pair bond.  All he asks is her trust, but it may be more than she can give.  Each book in this series focuses on a different character, but they all tie together for a fuller story than one character could give alone. 

     

    6.12 ShapeshifterSHAPESHIFTER
    By Holly Bennett
    (2010)

    Shapeshifter brings together two of my favorite themes, shapeshifting and Celtic legends.  Sive is an immortal woman of the Otherworld who must flee to the mortal lands of Eire in the shape of a deer to escape the dark druid, who wants to control her gift of song.  I especially like how this book stays very close to the Celtic legends the author pulls from, and of course that the plot pivots around Sive’s ability to shift into a deer. 

     

    6.12 Moon CalledMOON CALLED (Mercy Thompson #1)
    By Patricia Briggs
    (2006)

    This series is hands down my favorite featuring shapeshifters at the moment.  Mercy Thompson is a Native American shapeshifter raised by a pack of werewolves.  She left the pack behind her and now runs a mechanic shop she bought from a gremlin (who still stops in regularly) and services the cars of the local vampire seethe.  But when a half-starved, newly changed werewolf shows up at her shop, Mercy is forced to ask her neighbor, the local pack alpha, for help with the new wolf struggling to control his animal instincts.There are 10 books so far in the series with another one coming out in March 2019, as well as a sister series, Alpha and Omega, which starts with Cry Wolf that focuses on Mercy’s almost brother Charles and his mate Anna. Start with Moon Called, because the Mercy books explain all the magic, but be aware that the chronology of the two series overlaps.  As a side note: the cover art of the books look rather scandalous, but that vibe is not reflected in the content of the books. 

     

    6.12 The Swan MaidenTHE SWAN MAIDEN
    By Heather Tomlinson
    (2007)

    Doucette’s older sisters are swan maidens, born with a swan-skin that allows them to transform into swans and learn sorcery.  Every summer Doucette watches her sisters leave to spend the months learning magic from their aunt while she is stuck at home learning to become a chastelaine.  When she discovers her mother has been lying to her and finds her own swan-skin, she runs away to learn from her aunt.  All she wants is freedom to choose, but will she be able to live with her choices?  I like this one because it is an easy read with a good lesson to go with it. 

     

    6.12 Dragons BaitDRAGON’S BAIT
    By Vivian Vande Velde
    (2003)

    Alys is falsely accused of being a witch, just so the neighbor can ‘legitimately’ steal her father’s workshop.  The villagers tie her up out in the middle of nowhere as an offering to the local dragon.  The dragon is uninterested, until she starts throwing rocks at him.  He changes to a human form and listens to her story, then agrees to help her exact revenge on the villagers.  But is revenge worth it?  This is the shortest book on my list and as such lacks a little bit for depth, but it’s great for someone looking for something short that won’t require much thought and I enjoyed it anyway. 

     
  • sanderson alikes

     

    So you’ve already read all of Brandon Sanderson’s books.  In fact, you’ve read everything he’s ever written, including the novellas. Now you’re bored out of your mind waiting for the next STORMLIGHT ARCHIVE book to come out because it’s taking FOREVER. So, what do you read? Well, there’s always WHEEL OF TIME. But either you’ve already read that (being the good Sanderson fan that you are) or you couldn’t muscle your way past Robert Jordan’s ridiculous verbosity. There are classics out there like LORD OF THE RINGS and David Eddings’ BELGARIAD, but to be honest, they’re a little slow. You want something new, something fresh, something that’s going to keep you turning pages until two in the morning. You know, something Sanderson-esque. Well, there aren’t any exact duplicates out there, but there are some that come pretty close. Here is a list of books that pass the “Sanderson test”—they’re Fantasy at its most engaging, most well-written, most complex, and most downright fun to read.

     

    goblin emperorTHE GOBLIN EMPEROR
    By Katherine Addison
    (2014)

    The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile. But when his father and three older brothers are killed, he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

    Sanderson Score: 3/5

    Though I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it had a great critical reception (it was nominated for the Nebula, Hugo, and World Fantasy awards), it has a lot less action than a Sanderson fan might expect. Sanderson does a little bit of court intrigue, but this book is ALL court intrigue. The writing is fairly good, but the formal “court language” has a lot of “thou” and “canst not,” which is a little annoying at first.

    Cleanliness: On par with Sanderson. So pretty clean!

     

    furiesofcalderonFURIES OF CALDERON
    By Jim Butcher 
    (2004)

    In the land of Alera, where people bond with the furies--elementals of earth, air, fire, water, and metal--young Tavi struggles to cope with his lack of magical talent.

    Sanderson Score: 5/5

    Not only does this book have an engaging plot set in a detailed world, it also has a totally unique Sanderson-esque magic system! The writing is fairly good and mostly disappears behind the plot and characters.

    Cleanliness: On par with Sanderson. So pretty clean!

     

    wizardsfirstruleWIZARD’S FIRST RULE
    By Terry Goodkind
    (1994)

    A beautiful woman falls into Richard Cypher’s life shortly after his father’s violent murder. When she reveals that her quest is to find the legendary Seeker of Truth to stop the evil Darken Rahl, Richard agrees to help.

    Sanderson Score: 4/5

    Though this book is older than the others and draws on a lot more classic fantasy tropes than Sanderson ever would, Goodkind problematizes those tropes in a very modern way. He adds moral quandaries and self-doubt to his good characters in a way that reminds me of Dalinar in THE WAY OF KINGS. Overall, though, I would only recommend this one if you enjoyed THE WHEEL OF TIME in addition to Sanderson’s other works, since that means you have more of a taste for 90s fantasy epics like this one.

    Cleanliness: Like in Sanderson, Goodkind’s characters use made-up swear words. The violence is a bit more graphic than Sanderson, though, and the second half of the book includes a dominatrix named Denna who might offend those sensitive to sexual content.

     

    princeofthornsPRINCE OF THORNS
    By Mark Lawrence
    (2011)

    After years leading a band of bloodthirsty thugs, Prince Jorg Ancrath returns to his father’s castle to reclaim his birthright, but faces magic and treachery once he arrives.

    Sanderson Score: 4/5

    Prince of Thorns is pretty engaging right from the start, with Jorg gloating over a town he has just ravaged and already making plans for his future rise to power. The night I read my sample of this one I actually stayed up until 2am because I couldn’t put it down. The main difference between this and Sanderson is that while Sanderson’s characters are usually fundamentally good, Jorg is fairly evil. You’re definitely rooting for him to become king, especially after everything that’s happened to him, but he frequently will cut up his comrades simply because they annoy him.

    Cleanliness: First, violence. There’s a lot of it, and it’s fairly graphic. Second, swearing. There is plenty of the word “fecking,” mixed in with some actual swears. Third, sexual content. Jorg’s thugs definitely participate in the rape part of rape and pillage and the group visits a lot of whore houses when they’re in town. If those things don’t deter you, though, (and it’s nothing as bad as GAME OF THRONES) you’re in for a treat.

     

    lockelamoraTHE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA
    By Scott Lynch
    (2006)

    Sold into a crew of thieves as a child, Locke Lamora’s natural gifts soon make him an underworld celebrity. Forming a crew of Gentleman Bastards as an adult, he vows to take down the city’s crime boss.

    Sanderson Score: 5/5

    A cross between OLIVER TWIST and the first MISTBORN, this book has everything going for it in terms of plot, characters, and writing. It’s the best written fantasy I’ve picked up in ages, and it manages to capture everything good about the first MISTBORN book while remaining true to its own unique style.

    Cleanliness: Swearing. Big time. A lot. More than I’ve read in any book in quite some time.

     

    promiseofbloodPROMISE OF BLOOD
    By Brian McClellan
    (2013)

    After staging a coup, Field Marshal Tamas inadvertently provokes a war with the Nine Nations, forcing him to rely on his estranged son and a retired police inspector.

    Sanderson Score: 5/5

    This book is actually written by one of Brandon Sanderson’s writing protégés. McClellan attempts to capture Sanderson’s style while putting his own fantasy spin on the French revolution. Though the writing is occasionally rough (it feels like a first novel—lots of potential but not yet polished), the magic system is super cool, and Sanderson himself called the book “Just plain awesome.”

    Cleanliness: Very close to Sanderson levels. There is a tiny bit of swearing, but not much.

     

    hismajestysdragonHIS MAJESTY’S DRAGON
    By Naomi Novik
    (2006)

    When the HMS Reliant captures an unhatched dragon egg, Captain Will Laurence is swept into a kinship with it and joins the elite Aerial Corps.

    Sanderson Score: 3/5

    This one is a little out of the box, since it’s a historical fantasy that takes place during the Napoleonic Wars rather than an epic high fantasy. It’s engaging, the characters are compelling, and though it isn’t a mirror copy of something Sanderson would write, I still think that most of his fans would find it well worth a read.

    Cleanliness: On par with Sanderson. So pretty clean!  

     

    swordofthebrightladySWORD OF THE BRIGHT LADY
    By M.C. Planck 
    (2014)

    After stumbling into a magical medieval universe, mechanical engineer Christopher Sinclair agrees to serve as a priest and solider to the Bright Lady.

    Sanderson Score: 3/5

    My main beef with this book is its ultra-choreographed beginning. Christopher has to wonder if he’s dreaming at least 50 times before he finally gets with the program. Once he does, though, things get better. There’s definitely a fun CONNECTICUT YANKEE IN KING ARTHUR’S COURT aspect to it where Christopher uses his knowledge of modern technology to his advantage in a medieval world. It also has some nice moral ambiguity thrown in, since the decision between siding with the goddess of healing or siding with the god of war is more complex than it first appears. Definitely not as well written as Sanderson’s stuff, but still pretty popular with his crowd.

    Cleanliness: On par with Sanderson. So pretty clean!  

     

    name of the windTHE NAME OF THE WIND
    By Patrick Rothfuss
    (2007)

    A magically gifted young man named Kvothe recounts his transformation into the world’s most notorious wizard, musician, thief, and assassin.

    Sanderson Score: 5/5

    You’ve probably read this one already. If you haven’t, you need to. This book is not only the best fantasy of the 21st century (yes, I’ll fight you over that), it has also has this ringing endorsement from Sanderson himself: “Masterful.... There is a beauty to Pat's writing that defies description.” 

    Cleanliness: The first book is just as clean as Sanderson, but the second book does have a good amount of sexual content.

     
  • austen ranking

    Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5

    I've been lucky enough to meet a lot of incredible authors through our AuthorLink events, but there’s only one I’d completely geek out over. Unfortunately, she’s been dead for nearly 200 years.

    I’m one of those people. Janeite, Austenite, actual crazy person, nerd – whatever you want to call me, I have to confess that when it comes to Jane Austen, I’m more than a casual fan. After reading each of her novels countless times, researching her life extensively, poring over Austen scholarship, and writing a master’s thesis about Austen adaptations, I’ve come to two conclusions:

    1. I’m WAY too invested in the life and writings of a dead person

    2.  Austen 100% lives up to the hype

    If you’ve never read an Austen novel, I’m begging you to do it, even if you’ve seen the film adaptations and think they’re not your thing. The humor, rhythm, and genius of her writing never completely transfer to the screen, and you don’t quite know Austen if you’ve never read her books.

    That being said, Austen adaptations are prolific, ranging from the merely okay to the brilliant, and most of them are worth watching at least once. Fortunately for you, I’ve seen them all, with one notable and a few not so notable exceptions, so I can save you time in choosing where to start.

    Austen nerd that I am, I’ll spend the next few weeks sharing my favorite and not-so-favorite Austen adaptations (except for PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES and a handful of obscure adaptations from the 50s and 60s that I still haven’t seen. Whoops.) 

    Miniseries, films, and YouTube adaptations are all up for grabs, but there are a few films I won’t be ranking. Here's why:

    4.26 Death Comes to PemberleyDEATH COMES TO PEMBERLEY
    Directed by Daniel Percival
    (2013)

    Because it’s a sequel, not an adaptation of the original. It is on Netflix, though, if you like your Regency period drama with a dash of murder.

     

    4.26 Becoming JaneBECOMING JANE
    Directed by Julian Jarrold
    (2008)

    Because it’s a (romantic, but not terribly accurate) biographical film, not an adaptation of an Austen novel.

     

    4.26 Miss Austen RegretsMISS AUSTEN REGRETS
    Directed by Jeremy Lovering
    (2008)

    Because, again, it’s a biopic, not an Austen adaptation. Maybe it's good that it's not on the list, because our library doesn't own it, and neither does the Orem Public Library. I definitely don't own it, so how did I ever watch this in the first place?

    It's a mystery.

     

    4.26 AustenlandAUSTENLAND
    Directed by Jerusha Hess
    (2014)

    Because, though this film is a joy, it's a Shannon Hale Adaptation, not a Jane Austen adaptation. It is, however, a hilarious homage to Austen, Austen fans, and people who think Austen fans are ridiculous. You should watch it.

     

    4.26 The Jane Austen Book ClubTHE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB
    Directed by Robin Swicord
    (2007)

    Because, though it draws on Austen in its plots, it's in that fuzzy territory between Austen-inspired and a full-fledged adaptation. Feel free to disagree.

     

    4.26 EligibleELIGIBLE
    TBA

    Because, regrettably, I am unable to time travel into the future, even for a modernized Austen adaptation. In the meantime, the book is available.

     

    So, with those banned from the competition, now’s the time for guessing. I'll try to be diplomatic in my analysis, but you don't have to be. Which adaptation do you think deserves the number one spot? Which adaptations are an abomination, defiling all that is good and holy and Austenesque? Let us know in the comments.

     
  •  1.31 Liane Moriarty

    Let’s talk Liane Moriarty, or as I like to call her, my not-remotely-guilty pleasure. You might think you haven’t heard of this delightful, Australian author, but you’ve probably heard of her most popular novel, BIG LITTLE LIES. After reading one of her books as part of a summer reading challenge a few years ago (in case you’re wondering, the book was TRULY MADLY GUILTY, and the challenge was to read a book with a character that has your same name), I’ve been maybe just a little obsessed and I’ve read everything she’s written and I’m impatiently awaiting the next one.  

    Here’s what I love about Liane Moriarty: she is SO GOOD at internal dialogue. Her characters are interesting and complex and oh-so-relatable. She often (but not always) builds up a mystery with this internal dialogue, and often shifts character perspectives so you get different pieces from different characters. She is especially good at writing female characters. Sometimes it’s hard to put your finger on exactly the reason you’ve stayed up until 3:00 am reading her books AGAIN, but her books are addicting and consistently make me take much longer lunches than I normally would.  

    So, with no further ado, I’ll get right to ranking these books from worst (though I’ve enjoyed them all!) to best. I dare you to argue.  

    1.31 Truly Madly Guilty8. TRULY MADLY GUILTY
    By Liane Moriarty
    (2016)

    WHAT HAPPENED AT THE BARBEQUE?!?! The answer to that question is less interesting than the exploration of these characters and the various things that motivate them.  

    The premise is pretty simple: three couples, three kids, one ill-fated barbeque that throws their lives to shambles. The book ping pongs back and forth from present day to that day at the barbeque, with characters saying ominous things like, “We never should have gone to the barbeque,” or “What if we hadn’t gone to the barbeque?” I dare you not to flip ahead to figure out what they’re talking about. 

    TRULY MADLY GUILTY is a good exploration of characters and the ways that their relationships are complicated. This was the first Moriarty novel I read, and obviously it was compelling enough to drive me into a slight obsession, but now that I’ve read everything else she’s written I find this one the least enjoyable.   

     

    1.31 The Hypnotists Love Story7. THE HYPNOTIST'S LOVE STORY
    By Liane Moriarty
    (2012)

    Many Moriarty fans actually rank this one as their least favorite, but they’re wrong (though not by much).  

    Ellen is a hypnotherapist with a history of terrible relationships and is happy to finally find herself in one she thinks will last. The only complication? He has a stalker of an ex-girlfriend, and she’s constantly interfering in his life. Ellen finds this fact kind of interesting, and is intrigued to meet the woman.  

    Except she already has, she just doesn’t know it. DUN DUN DUN!  

    This is one of Moriarty’s happier books—in the end, there are no dark twists, no long-held secrets, nobody dead or maimed (though at points in the story you start to feel like all of these things are a real possibility). It wraps up nicely--too nicely? Probably. But it’s a nice fluffy book, and I read it in about four days so obviously the story still drew me in. Plus, I want to live in Ellen’s beach house.  

     

    1.31 Three Wishes6. THREE WISHES
    By Liane Moriarty
    (2005)

    Three Wishes This was Moriarty’s debut, which is kind of hard for me to believe. It’s not a perfect book, but it’s got all the hallmarks of her career just in little seedling form. THREE WISHES follows the lives of a set of triplets in their thirties; the book opens with the pregnant one getting stabbed (comically…I promise there is a comical way to be stabbed…), and then fills in the backstory to see how we got there.  

    There are family secrets; there is LOTS of family drama. There are some coincidences that occasionally feel like a stretch but work in service of the story. Each triplet has her own unique voice and story arc, and I’d say that the ending is just about as happy as it could be for these characters.  

     

    1.31 The Last Anniversary5. THE LAST ANNIVERSARY
    By Liane Moriarty
    (2006) 

    THE LAST ANNIVERSARY shares so many things with Moriarty’s other novels:  great interior dialogue, an unsolved mystery, relatable female characters. Funny, funny, funny, but also heart-wrenching.  

    The premise of this one is a little bonkers; a year after ending her “perfect on the outside” relationship with Thomas, Sophie unexpectedly inherits his late aunt’s house on Scribbly Gum Island, home of the infamous Munro baby mystery. Shockingly, she accepts the house and decides to move there. Even more shockingly, most of Thomas’s family are inexplicably cool with her giant house being left to someone outside the family. When Sophie moves in, mysteries develop and unravel. Some I definitely saw coming, but there’s one twist I did NOT anticipate and it made me audibly gasp.  

    This one hosts a cast of quirky characters, but also starts to tackle deep issues (wasn’t really expecting a novel that explored postpartum depression in any kind of thoughtful way, but this one manages it!).

     
  • 1.31 Liane Moriarty

    It's time for a little more in-depth discussion of all things Liane Moriarty! Last week I ranked Moriarty novels from the good to the better, and now I'm back for the best of the best. 

    2.6 Nine Perfect Strangers4. NINE PERFECT STRANGERS
    By Liane Moriarty
    (2018)

    NINE PERFECT STRANGERS absolutely should not work as a book. Though it’s about nine people at health resort, the book takes the perspective of eleven different characters, and that’s really too many. There is very little in the way of plot; in fact, I’m going to give you the entire plot of the book right here: Nine people go to a health retreat to attempt to detox and fix various problems in their lives. At the end, they go home. There you go! There’s the whole plot!  

    But, of course, that’s not the whole book. This one’s actually pretty polarizing, because if you love a Moriarty book for the character complexity and backstory, you’ll love this one. If you love her books for the plot and the mysteries, there’s a good chance you’ll hate it. I’m in it for the characters, so I’m all in for this one. The writing is wonderful; the characters are distinct and interesting and I’m here for all of their drama and all of their non-conventional healing.  

    There's not so much of a driving mystery in this one like you'll find in BIG LITTLE LIES or TRULY MADLY GUILTY, but I finished it in two days and I work full time and have two small children that I still spent time with so I think it's safe to describe it as un-put-down-able (a phrase I’m actually surprised I haven’t used yet in this list, as it fairly well describes all Moriarty’s books for me). 

     

    2.6 The Husbands Secret3. THE HUSBAND'S SECRET
    By Liane Moriarty
    (2013)

    This one is probably Moriarty’s second-best-known book, and it’s great. If you’re interested in her books because you love a good domestic mystery, you’ll like this one.  

    Celia Fitzpatrick seems to have it all together, but when she finds a letter from her husband to be opened in the event of his death, her life—and the lives of two other women—are inevitably turned upside down, as the letter contains her husband’s deepest, darkest secret, and that secret affects them all in various ways. Celia’s husband—who is still very much alive—begs her not to read the letter, but I’m just going to spoil it for you, she does. And things change.  

    THE HUSBAND’S SECRET follows three women and their lives, and though one of them feels only tangentially related to the other two, they’re still all interesting stories to explore. I would read a novel about any one of these women, so getting to hear from all three of them is great.  

    Here are some of the things in store for you if you read this book: a murder investigation gone cold; marital intrigue; inexplicably successful Tupperware parties; snooty private school parents; hot cross buns. And, of course, all the things that a Moriarty fan will love about Moriarty novels: great internal dialogue, witty banter between characters, juicy secrets, and complicated relationships.  

     

    2.6 Big Little Lies2. BIG LITTLE LIES
    By Liane Moriarty
    (2014)

    For many people, this is the first (and only) book they read by Liana Moriarty, and I can’t say that I can argue with that. This should be the first one you read, even though it’s not my very favorite.  

    BIG LITTLE LIES has all the things going for it: three intertwined stories of women in differing circumstances; a big driving mystery; unlikely connections between characters; drama, drama, drama. It’s easy to see why this is the one that was picked up to be an HBO miniseries (which I refuse to see because there are a few things in the book that I don’t want to see on a screen, and also because I know of at least one notable change they made in one of the character’s lives and I AM NOT OKAY WITH IT). The writing is Moriarty at her best, and the fact that this is the book she’s known for doesn’t bother me at all.  

    One of my favorite things about BIG LITTLE LIES is the way that the scale of the drama changes for each character. There’s Madeline, who is dealing with sort of typical family drama: her teenage daughter is starting to prefer spending time with Madeline’s ex-husband and his new Yogini wife, and Madeline is feeling (understandably) betrayed by the situation. There’s beautiful, wealthy Celeste, whose life looks perfect from the outside but inside is filled with domestic abuse. And then there’s Jane, a young single mom harboring secrets she won’t share and connected to these women in ways none of them realize. The drama in the book isn’t always drama with a capital “D”; we have characters upset about abuse, and we have characters upset about teenage angst, and none of it is trivialized.  

    If you’re going to read one, it should be this one. But I urge you to read at least two, because next on the list we’ve got… 

     

    2.6 What Alice Forgot1. WHAT ALICE FORGOT
    By Liane Moriarty
    (2009)

    And that leaves me with what has ended up being one of my favorite books ever, because in addition to containing all the things I love about a typical Moriarty novel, this one has a significant amount of substance and the ability to cause you to examine your own life and relationships and think about how you treat those closest to you. It shows us that relationships take work, but that it’s the kind of work that’s most worth doing.  

    Here’s the premise: When Alice is 39 years old, she falls and hits her head and completely forgets the last 10 years of her life. When she wakes up, she thinks that she is 29, madly in love with her husband, and expecting her first child. To her surprise, she finds herself in a thinner body, in the middle of a messy divorce, and the mother of three children she does not know.  

    If anyone tells you this isn’t Moriarty’s best book, they are just wrong. Watching Alice come to terms with herself and her life, and trying to uncover how her relationships have or have not changed in the 10 years that she’s forgotten is at times hilarious but mostly just thought-provoking. You find yourself coming back to the same questions she’s asking: “What have I done in the last 10 years? Would 10-years-ago-me even recognize this life I’ve built? Would I be proud? Ashamed? How will the next 10 years change me?”  

    There is a bit of a mystery in this book, and there is certainly family drama, but it’s really on a smaller scale, and it’s all the more profound for it. The experience ends up transforming Alice’s life for the better, just as I promise reading it will transform yours.   

     
  • Woman Holding Shard of Glass

    There’s something about unreliable female narrators. Bestselling thrillers are chock-full of them.

    Obsession, addiction, self-destruction, and mental illness combine in characters who make you question your own understanding of the plot. Their dark, twisty stories leave readers hurrying through the pages to see if their guesses are correct. Yet they’ve been criticized as undermining real women’s believability in the age of #metoo. More often than not, though, these characters are vindicated and ultimately proven trustworthy, which may undercut that critique.

    So what do you think? If you enjoy thrillers from this complicated perspective, here are a few of the most popular options:

    7.5 The Girl on the TrainTHE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
    By Paula Hawkins
    (2015)

    Rachel Watson is a recently unemployed woman who drinks heavily to deal with the collapse of her marriage. Her only solace comes in gazing out train windows, spying on the people whose homes she passes. When Rachel wakes from a blackout one morning, bloody and injured, she discovers to her horror that one of those people, a young woman she had been fascinated with, has gone missing.

     

    7.5 Gone GirlGONE GIRL
    By Gillian Flynn
    (2012)

    When beautiful, talented Amy Dunne goes missing, suspicion quickly falls on her husband, Nick. The story initially alternates between Nick’s perspective and Amy’s diary entries, and readers gradually discover that neither character is quite what they first appear. This massive bestseller was later adapted in a 2013 award winning film, and Rosamund Pike received an Oscar nomination for her depiction of Amy.

     

    7.5 The Woman in the WindowTHE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
    By A.J. Finn
    (2018)

    This recent bestseller is Rear Window meets Gone Girl. Anna Fox is certain she’s witnessed a murder in the house across the street. Has the new neighbor murdered his wife? But when detectives arrive and begin to investigate, Anna’s story crumbles. The wife is alive and well, while agoraphic Anna appears increasingly unstable.A film adaptation starring Amy Adams is due out this fall, but the author’s own backstory is full of enough twists, turns, and lies for a movie of its own.

     

    7.5 The Wife Between UsTHE WIFE BETWEEN US
    By Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
    (2018)

    Honestly, The Wife Between Us might have too many twists and turns, but they’re ones I never saw coming. Vanessa, a woman left barely functional after her divorce from Richard, is obsessed with getting in contact with his new girlfriend. The novel rotates between Vanessa’s perspective and depicting Richard’s relationship with Nellie. This book can be a little confusing if you don’t keep track of the characters and of the twists, so pay close attention as you read. The story isn’t what you think it is.

     

    7.5 An Anonymous GirlAN ANONYMOUS GIRL
    By Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen
    (2019)

    Hendricks and Pekkanen followed up The Wife Between US with a second psychological thriller just a year later. In need of easy money, makeup artist Jessica Farris lies her way into a research study about (ironically enough) ethics. She quickly develops an intense and boundary-crossing doctor-patient relationship with the psychiatrist running the study, Dr. Shields. As the lines between Dr. Shields’s life and her own begin to blur, Jess’s paranoia grows. Is she a patient? Or a pawn?

     

    7.5 Sharp ObjectsSHARP OBJECTS
    By Gillian Flynn
    (2006)

    Of all of these thrillers, Sharp Objects may be the darkest and creepiest. Journalist Camille Preaker has made a life for herself in Chicago, after years of self-harm and destructive choices. When young girls start going missing in Camille’s childhood hometown, her boss insists she report on the case. Returning to Wind Gap and reconnecting with her estranged family bring both Camille’s past and the crimes horrifyingly close.

     

    Interestingly, the female perspectives in nearly all of these novels are voiced by one of two narrators in audiobook form. Julia Whelan voiced GONE GIRL, THE WIFE BETWEEN US, and AN ANONYMOUS GIRL, while Ann Marie Lee narrated THE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW and SHARP OBJECTS. Whelan’s low voice has a disdainful tone perfect for the untrustworthy characters in her respective books, while Lee’s projects her characters’ fragility and uncertainty. If you enjoy audiobooks, be sure to check them out. 

  • third party

    We all know the two big names in comic books: Marvel and DC. We read their comics, watch their movies, and pick sides over which one is our favorite. However, there’s no monopoly on superheroes, and these two powerhouses aren’t the end of the story. Since the 80s, dozens of smaller publishers have cropped up, each with their own unique heroes, stories, and flavors. Our library collects highly reviewed comics regardless of publisher, so it can be a good place to get your toes wet and try a universe you haven’t read or watched before. Here are just a few of the third-party comics publishers that we house:

    Image Comics

    Founded in 1992, Image Comics provides a place where comics creators can publish their stories without giving up the rights to their characters. This is a huge departure from Marvel and DC’s way of doing things, and means that almost any comic you pick up from them will have an all-new cast. This has led to hundreds of separate storylines rather than a coherent universe. Because of their relative independence (and since you don’t need to know 60 years of history for each character), Image comic books are easy to jump into.

    8.22 DescenderDESCENDER
    By Jeff Lemire
    (2015)

     

     

     

     

     

    CHEW
    Bby John Layman
    (2012)

    REED GUNTHER
    By Shane & Chris Houghton
    (2011)

    INVINCIBLE
    By Robert Kirkman
    (2011)

    Dark Horse

    Founded in 1986, Dark Horse has its fingers in all the pies. It does licensed material like the BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER comics, creator-owned material like Mike Mignola’s HELLBOY, and even some manga.

    8.22 BuffyBUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
    By Joss Whedon
    (2007)

     

     

     

     

     

    HELLBOY
    By Michael Mignola
    (2003)

    THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: HYRULE HISTORIA
    Edited by Patrick Thorpe
    (2013)

    TRIGUN MAXIMUM
    By Yasuhiro Nightow
    (2003)

    VIZ

    Founded the same year as Dark Horse, VIZ is a far more focused publisher. They do manga, manga, and more manga. Because they’re also heavily involved in anime licensing and the television side of things, their manga is frequently adapted into popular shows. Fans of the manga want to watch the shows, and new fans of the shows want to read the manga, so it’s a circular system where both the print and the screen versions of a story benefit.

    8.22 NarutoNARUTO
    By Masashi Kishimoto
    (2003)

     

     

     

     

     

    OURAN HIGH SCHOOL HOST CLUB
    By Bisco Hatori
    (2005)

    FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST
    By Hiromu Arakawa
    (2005)

    TOKYO GHOUL
    By Sui Ashida

    IDW

    Last but not least we have Idea and Design Works, or IDW for short. Recognized as the fifth largest comic publisher in the United States, IDW focuses largely on graphic novel adaptations of popular TV shows and films. Though it has adapted several series for adults, the bulk of the company’s titles are intended for children, including their line of Cartoon Network-based comics.

    8.22 Doctor WhoDOCTOR WHO: PRISONERS OF TIME
    By Scott & David Tipton
    (2013)

     

     

     

     

     

    THE POWERPUFF GIRLS
    By Troy Little
    (2014)

    TMNT ADVENTURES
    By Justin Eisinger
    (2012)

    MY LITTLE PONY: THE MAGIC BEGINS
    By Lauren Faust
    (2013)

     

  • millenial pink

    If you don’t know what Millennial Pink is, don’t feel bad. As a millennial—and being self-described “basic”—I make sure that I keep up to date on all of the latest trends. And since I love pink, I’m obviously all about this fad.

    For the un-initiated, Millennial Pink is that one shade of pink that seems to be popping up everywhere these days – hipster restaurants, indie album covers, food (Starbucks’ pink drink anyone?), crushed velvet ballet flats, etc. It’s that not quite peach, not quite coral, not quite Pepto Bismal hue that you’ve seen all over the place whether you realize it or not. If you google “Millennial Pink” you’ll find dozens of articles trying to over-explain its appeal to youths – and they will confirm one thing: it is in.

    Millennial Pink has even crept its ways into publishing houses and libraries – there are a ton of Millennial Pink covered books that have been published recently. I can’t say for sure whether or not you’ll understand young people better by reading a book with a visually appealing cover, but I can say that your Instagram will look a lot better.

    Here’s a list of books in our collection – some old, some new – to help you achieve that Millennial ~aesthetic~

    8.10 Alex and ElizaALEX & ELIZA: A LOVE STORY
    By Melissa De La Cruz
    (2017) 

     

     

     

     

     

    8.10 Dear Fang With LoveDEAR FANG, WITH LOVE
    By Rufi Thorpe
    (2016) 

     

     

     

     

     

    8.10 Tell Me How This Ends WellTELL ME HOW THIS ENDS WELL: A NOVEL

    David Levinson
    (2017) 

     

     

     

     

     

    8.10 White FurWHITE FUR: A NOVEL
    By Jardine Libaire
    (2017)

     

     

     

     

     

    8.10 The Rules Do Not ApplyTHE RULES DO NOT APPLY: A MEMOIR
    By Ariel Levy
    (2017) 

     

     

     

     

    8.10 Girl In PiecesGIRL IN PIECES
    By Kathleen Glasgow
    (2016) 

     

     

     

     

     

    8.10 The Husbands SecretTHE HUSBAND’S SECRET
    By Liane Moriarty
    (2013) 

     

     

     

     

     

    8.10 Rebel BelleREBEL BELLE
    By Rachel Hawkins
    (2014) 

     

     

     

     

     

    8.10 Broken Hearts Fences and Other Things to MendBROKEN HEARTS, FENCES AND OTHER THINGS TO MEND
    By Katie Finn
    (2014)

     

     

     

     

    8.10 The LuxeTHE LUXE
    By Anna Godbersen
    (2007) 

     

     

     

     

    8.10 PrettyPRETTY
    By Justin Sayre
    (2017)

     

     

     

     

     

    Hopefully these recommendations will make your #bookstagram a little more pink and a little more basic. Be sure to tag the Provo City Library in any of your #booksofinstagram finds!

  • 9.18 Books for Brandon Sanderson Fans 

    It is a great time to be reading Fantasy. One of my favorite writers is Brandon Sanderson, a prolific writer and always seems to have a new book or series coming out. But, if you are like me and are waiting for the next book in the Stormlight Archive, which is scheduled for 2020, the wait can seem pretty long.

    Have no fear! There are plenty of Fantasy series to read in the meantime. If you love Brandon Sanderson, you may like one of the following series:

    The Shadowfell Series

    9.18 ShadowfellSHADOWFELL
    By Juliet Marillier
    (2012)

    Neryn is only fifteen when she sets out for Shadowfell, a training ground for a rebel group of magic practitioners. The land of Alban has seen dark times and those with magical strengths are being rounded up and captured. When Neryn meets a fellow traveler who is a soldier and then the Good Folk, they tell her that it is she, and she alone, that can save Alban from its oppressive king.

     

    The Name of the Wind Series

    9.18 Name of the WindNAME OF THE WIND
    By Patrick Rothfuss
    (2007)

    A hero named Kvothe, now living under an assumed name as the humble proprietor of an inn, recounts his transformation from a magically gifted young man into the most notorious wizard, musician, thief, and assassin in his world.

     

    Throne of Glass Series

    9.18 Throne of GlassTHRONE OF GLASS
    By Sarah J. Maas
    (2012)

    Celaena Sardothien has served her time. She is eighteen and has already served a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes. But when Crown Prince Dorian offers her freedom on the condition that she act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin, she starts down a path that will change her life forever.

     

    The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan 

    9.18 The Eye of the WorldTHE EYE OF THE WORLD
    By Robert Jordan
    (1993)

    Emond’s Field is a sleepy little village of no importance. But when the fields are attacked by the savage troll-like followers of the Dark One, the villagers realize that the war in the western lands is closer than they think. Three young men, sheepherder Rand, blacksmith Perrin, and prankster Mat must face their destiny and The Breaking of the World.

    Brandon Sanderson famously finished this series after Jordan's death, so chances are you've already read it if you're a Sanderson fan. If you haven't, though, now's the time!

     

    The Belgariad

    9.18 Pawn of ProphecyPAWN OF PROPHECY
    By David Eddings
    (1982)

    The Belgariad is an epic fantasy of immense scope, telling the tale of struggles between ancient Gods and mighty Kings, and of men in strange lands facing fated events, all bound by a prophecy that must be fulfilled. Garion is just a simple farm boy being raised by his impressive Aunt Pol on a small farm holding. But when the old magician comes to the farm, Garion’s life changes forever.  

     
  • Downton Abbey

    December is a magical time of year. There’s a chill in the air, a pine tree in the living room, and an endless number of holiday treats to nibble on. But you know what’s been missing the last few years? A DOWNTON ABBEY Christmas special on PBS.

    Fortunately, this year gave us the DOWNTON ABBEY movie, which just came out on DVD. But if, like me, you’ve already seen it and are still wishing for the intrigue, the romance, the complicated class dynamics, and the gorgeous evening gowns that Downton once added to your life, these historical fiction reads should do the trick.

    12.20 The Summer Before the WarTHE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR
    By Helen Simonson
    (2017)

    Historical fiction is a go-to genre for me, and this novel is one of my absolute favorites of the past few years. It features the tiny coastal town of Rye England in the summer of 1914, where a single, well-educated Beatrice Nash moves following the death of her father. There she develops a close friendship with society matron Agatha Kent and her two adult nephews, Hugh and Daniel. It’s funny, poignant, as clever as the Dowager Countess herself, and delightfully written.

     

    12.20 The DressmakerTHE DRESSMAKER
    By Kate Alcott
    (2013)

    Aspiring seamstress Tess gets the opportunity of a lifetime when she’s hired as a lady’s maid by celebrated designer Lady Lucile Duff Gordon. With Lady Gordon, she sets off across the Atlantic in the famously doomed Titanic (where James and Patrick Crawley died, setting off the events of the Downton Abbey series). The Dressmakers offers a fascinating look into class relations, the well-known story of the Titanic’s sinking, and the largely forgotten social and political uproar that followed.

     

    12.20 BelgraviaBELGRAVIA
    By Julian Fellowes
    (2016)

    Belgravia takes place many years before Downton – as it’s set first in 1815 and then in the 1840s – but it’s chock full of the love triangles, intrigue, and sharp, witty dialogue you’d expect from Julian Fellowes, the creator of Downton Abbey.  Fellowes has a masterful understanding of the time setting, making this one of the most believable (and delightfully gossipy) pieces of historical fiction I’ve ever read. Even better, the audiobook narration by Juliet Stevenson is absolutely excellent.

     

    12.20 AtonementATONEMENT
    By Ian McEwan
    (2003)

    Aristocratic Cecilila Tallis and working class Robbie Turner are on the brink of romance when a misunderstanding and lie by Cecilia’s sister Briony tears everything apart. Set upon the brink of World War II, this novel takes place a generation after Downton Abbey, but they share a story of star-crossed lovers, class snobbery, high drama and the leveling effects of war.

     

    12.20 The Hired GirlTHE HIRED GIRL
    By Laura Amy Schlitz
    (2015)

    If you always preferred the downstairs half of Downton’s plots, I recommend this young adult novel. It features a naïve but plucky main character, Joan, who runs away from her abusive home in the country to Baltimore, where she gets work as a cook and cleaning girl to a wealthy Jewish family. Joan’s character has echoes of Anne Shirley, Cassandra Mortmain, and Downton’s own Daisy. 

     

    Given all the great historical fiction novels out there, this list was hard to narrow down! What novels would you recommend for Downton Abbey fans? Still can't get enough of the Downton-esque?  Try these true stories and period dramas.

     
  •  Hammock 1

    Confession – I first drafted this blog post months ago when the world was a very different place. I planned to write a post about coping with travel envy as I anticipated the influx of “perfect” vacation photos from my social media friends. I was expecting to see Instagrams of people at Disneyland or the beach or in Europe and be frustrated to be going to work every day. Little did I know that I (like many of you) would be feeling so incredibly desperate for some normalcy and an escape. 

    Even though no one’s going anywhere anytime soon, reading a book is the perfect thing to transport you to a destination and help you feel like you’re on vacation. Here are some recommendations of what to read if you need an escape.

     

    4.27 Wedding NightWEDDING NIGHT
    By Sophie Kinsella
    (2013)

    Lottie is certain that her long-time boyfriend Richard is finally going to propose. But when his big announcement is that they are going to use their frequent flyer miles and take a trip instead, Lottie has had enough. Just then, her old flame Ben reappears and reminds her that they agreed to get married if they were both still single at thirty.  The two rush into marriage and jet off to the Greek island where they first met to celebrate their honeymoon – with Lottie’s sister Fliss, and Ben’s business partner Declan following after to sabotage the marriage. Everything you love about a good Sophie Kinsella book in a fabulous Greek setting, this book is bound to take your mind off things.

     

    4.27 IdahoIDAHO
    By Emily Ruskovich
    (2017)

    Escapist reads don’t necessarily need to be uplifting, and this literary thriller is proof of that. In 2004, Ann and Wade live in near isolation in the mountains of northern Idaho. Wade is showing early signs of dementia that allow him to finally forget about his haunting past: his first wife, Jenny, murdered their young daughter and has spent years in prison. The couple’s other daughter, June, ran into the woods and was never seen again. Ann spends her days caring for Wade and trying to piece together the decades-old family history. If you’re looking for a light, happy read then look elsewhere. But this haunting, heartbreaking story is beautifully told and the sparse mountainous setting is rendered so authentically that readers will feel transported.

     

    4.27 The Giver of StarsTHE GIVER OF STARS
    By Jojo Moyes
    (2019)

    We’re partial to stories about librarians around here, so this fictional story inspired by the Pack Horse Librarians of Eastern Kentucky is especially appealing to us. Raised to be a proper Englishwoman, Alice Wright is starry-eyed when she meets and marries the handsome American Bennett Van Cleve – hoping that in America she’ll finally be free. Instead, she finds that in America she is restricted by a set of social rules she doesn’t understand. When volunteers are requested to start a traveling library, Alice jumps at the chance and is introduced to Margery – a fiercely independent woman who leads the group. Part dramatic historical fiction and part sweeping romance, this story brings Kentucky to life with lush descriptions of the Appalachian Mountains.

     

    4.27 The Paris WifeTHE PARIS WIFE
    By Paula McLain
    (2011)

    In Chicago in the 1920s, Hadley Richardson falls in love with the charming, young, Ernest Hemingway. The two lovers marry and move to Paris to indulge in the glamorous lifestyle of American ex-patriates in this golden age. Though it is quickly made apparent that this marriage is doomed (primarily because it is inspired by the actual true story of Ernest Hemingway’s first marriage), Hadley is an impressive character willing to give up her own comforts and desires in order to support her husband’s promising literary career. In this story, Ernest Hemingway is pushed to the background (no easy feat) and Hadley and Jazz Age Paris are pushed to the forefront, bringing the city to life with unflinching honesty.

     

    4.27 The VacationersTHE VACATIONERS
    By Emma Straub
    (2014)

    Every member of the Post family is eager to escape Manhattan for Mallorca. Franny and Jim; their daughter Sylvia, a recent high-school graduate; their son Bobby, along with his girlfriend Carmen; and Franny’s best friend, Charles, and his husband Lawrence, all have their own secrets as they settle into the idyllic Spanish island for two weeks. Anyone who has ever been on a crowded family vacation will recognize the inevitable drama and humor as secrets come to light and tensions rise. The perfectly sun-soaked setting feels familiar and realistic – the next best thing to being in Mallorca.

     
  • Witchy Reads

    My fascination with all things witchy dates back to September 27th, 1996 - more than 20 years! Any guesses what inspired it?

    Ever since then, I've loved the idea of witchcraft, though not in a serious way. There's just something appealing about potions, spells, animal familiars, and covens of powerful women. Thanks to this fascination, fiction books with witchy protagonists inevitably catch my eye. In honor of the season, I thought I'd share a few exciting titles that feature wonderful witches.

    10.12 The Witches of New YorkTHE WITCHES OF NEW YORK
    By Ami McKay
    (2017)

    After reading several starred reviews of Ami McKay's new book, I knew I had to read it. It did not disappoint. THE WITCHES OF NEW YORK tells the story of Adelaide and Eleanor, two magical women who run Tea and Sympathy, a shop that offers tarot readings and herbal remedies in addition to tea and biscuits. When a naive young woman named Beatrice joins them as an assistant, mundane and magical forces combine to endanger the shop and the women who run it. A warning for cautious readers that this novel does include occasional sex and violence.

     

    10.12 The Girl Who Drank the MoonTHE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON
    By Kelly Barnhill
    (2016)

    This Newbery winner is an absolute delight. In this children's novel, the people of the Protectorate abandon a baby in sacrifice to the witch who lives outside their village. Little do they know that Xan is a kindly witch who is baffled by their offerings. Each year she takes the babies to a loving family across the forest, until one night she accidentally enmagics one of her charges. She then raises Luna alongside a swamp monster and a perfectly lovable, perfectly tiny dragon.

    THE GIRL WHO DRANK THE MOON tells a lovely story and features the most charming and playful writing I've encountered aside from J.K. Rowling's. Even better, the audiobook reader gives what may just be my favorite narration of all time.

    10.12 The Black WitchTHE BLACK WITCH
    By Laurie Forest
    (2017)

    I've written about my love for this book before, but I had to include it again here. In THE BLACK WITCH, teenager Elloren Gardner leaves her small village to attend an international boarding school. She's the daughter of the Black Witch, Gardneria's rescuer and one of the most powerful mages of all time. When Elloren arrives at school, however, she discovers that the history she's been taught may not be accurate, and that the prejudices she's been raised with are undeserved and even cruel. THE BLACK WITCH deals with difficult topics in a complex but relatable way and in my opinion deserves every starred review it received.

     

    10.12 The Rules of MagicTHE RULES OF MAGIC
    By Alice Hoffman
    (2017)

    Full disclosure here: I haven't actually read this yet. After all, it only came out two days ago! Fans of Hoffman's 1995 book PRACTICAL MAGIC will be thrilled to know that she has returned to the story of the Owens family. For the members of this magical clan, love is a curse that inevitably results in death and heartache. THE RULES OF MAGIC follows an earlier generation of Owens siblings - Franny, Jet, and Vincent - as they navigate the heady days of the 1960s. I've read a few of Hoffman's other works, and her three-dimensional characters, detailed plots, and lush, lyrical writing never disappoint. And based on early reviews, this prequel is every bit as magical as its predecessor.

    Bonus: If you can't get enough fictional witchcraft, check out basically anything by Sarah Addison Allen. Within the pages of her sweet books, you're sure to find romance and magic in a small southern town.