seraphinaRachel Hartman’s Seraphina is my new favorite book of dragon fantasy. In it, dragons – an unfeeling, coldly mathematical species which can fold themselves into human shape – have shared an uneasy peace with Seraphina’s homeland of Goredd for 40 years. Prejudice and naked hatred between the two races exists everywhere, and on the eve of the peace treaty’s fortieth anniversary, tensions are running high. Add to this mix a murdered prince (whose missing head strongly suggests dragon involvement) and a smart, curious young woman with a unique ability to understand dragon culture and you have a recipe for intrigue. Seraphina is a gifted musician and the assistant to the court composer, which makes her a minor member of the royal court. Her talent is making her famous, but she has secrets to keep; preserving those secrets while at the same time investigating a royal murder and befriending the presumptive heirs (Princess Glisselda and her fiancé, the bastard Prince Lucian) puts Seraphina in a lot of tight spots. Her friends; her life; her sanity; her secrets – what will Seraphina sacrifice to protect the peace?

I have no complaints about this novel; it’s perfectly paced, gorgeously written, and well imagined, all of which shines through a multi-layered and complicated plot that never gets out of Hartman’s control. The characters are inspirational in their intelligence and bravery yet relatable in their worries and failures. There’s intrigue and mystery as well as philosophy and breathless action, and even a bit of romance. Seraphina’s romance with Lucian is wonderfully subtle and genuine – a true meeting of the minds. Hartman is so busy writing about their meaningful conversations and compatible personalities that I’m not even sure I know what Lucian looks like! Seraphina has more important things to think about than the color of his eyes.

January 8

frankenweenieFrankenweenie – Winona Ryder, Martin Short

Young Victor conducts a science experiment that will bring his dog Sparky back to life, only to face unintended, sometimes monstrous consequences. Rated PG

houseattheendofthestreetHouse at the End of the Street – Jennifer Lawrence, Elizabeth Shue

Newly divorced Sarah and her teenage daughter Elissa have just moved to the suburbs for a fresh start. But their hopes quickly shatter as they learn that, years earlier, a grisly murder took place next door when a deranged girl killed her parents and disappeared. The girl’s older brother Ryan still occupies the house, and when he befriends Elissa, his secretive past could become her worst nightmare. Rated PG

January 15

possessionThe Possession – Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Kyra Sedgewick

Clyde and Stephanie Brenek see little cause for alarm when their youngest daughter Em becomes oddly obsessed with an antique wooden box she purchased at a yard sale. But as Em’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic, the couple fears the presence of a malevolent force in their midst, only to discover that the box was built to contain a Dibbuk, a dislocated spirit that inhabits and ultimately devours its human host. Rated PG-13

to rome with loveTo Rome With Love – Woody Allen, Penelope Cruz, Alex Baldwin

Clyde and Stephanie Brenek see little cause for alarm when their youngest daughter Em becomes oddly obsessed with an antique wooden box she purchased at a yard sale. But as Em’s behavior becomes increasingly erratic, the couple fears the presence of a malevolent force in their midst, only to discover that the box was built to contain a Dibbuk, a dislocated spirit that inhabits and ultimately devours its human host. Rated R

taken 2Taken 2 – Liam Neeson, Famka Janssen, Maggie Grace

Liam Neeson returns as Bryan Mills, an ex-CIA operative who finds himself taken hostage along with his wife. To survive, Bryan must enlist the help of an unlikely ally and use his brutally efficient skills to take out his kidnappers. Rated PG-13

January 29

cold light of dayCold Light of Day – Henry Cavill, Bruce Willis

Will Shaw arrives in Spain for a weeklong sailing vacation with his family. The situation takes an unexpected turn when his family is kidnapped and Will gets tangled in an intergovernmental web of lies and secrets, with a briefcase in the center of the mystery. Will finds himself on the run and realizes that he must recover the briefcase and take down secret agents in order to get his family back alive. Rated PG-13

hotel transylvaniaHotel Transylvania – Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Molly Shannon

The Hotel Transylvania, run by Dracula, is a unique, high-end resort catering only to the finest monsters and their families. Dracula is preparing for an extra special weekend – his daughter Mavis’s 118th birthday – when trouble arises: a human has stumbled upon the resort for the first time ever! Even worse: the human has taken a liking to Mavis! Rated PG

I found this book in a roundabout way, but I’m so glad I landed on it! On the recommendation of a friend, I picked up Julia Quinn’s What Happens In London to read on an upcoming vacation, so I was familiar with the author: her books focus on 19th century London society, clever dialog, and spirited characters. So, when I saw A Night Like This on a search of audiobooks read by my favorite narrator, Rosalyn Landor (a reader I fell in love with for her perfect reading of Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella), and it happened to be on the shelf not 10 feet away from my desk, I snagged it immediately!

I’m very glad I did. A Night Like This is a terribly fun romance; a genuine connection between two likable people, explored in an enjoyable book with a bearable quota of romance cliches. Anne Wynter, the main character, is probably my new all-time favorite romance heroine. She is brave, intelligent, and kind, and she is factually, genuinely self-sufficient in a way that most historical heroines are emphatically NOT (though the author may try to trick you into thinking they are). After a scandalous incident in her teen years, she is sent away from her modest gentry family to live as a governess under an assumed name; during this novel, she has been succeeding at this career for eight lonely years, isolated from her family and unable to create any new connections of her own status. That she still manages to be bright and positive is inspirational, and when she falls in love with the Earl of Winstead, a man way out of her league as a “ruined woman,” you’ll root for them all the way. Daniel, her beloved, is a pretty boring version of the romance-hero-pretty-boy trope, and his instant lovesickness is tiresome, but this book is worth reading just to get to know Anne.

Good news! This audiobook is available for download via WILBOR!

December 4

Hope Springs – Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones

Kay and Arnold are a middle-aged couple who have been married for 30 years and now are sleeping in separate rooms and barely interact in any meaningful loving way. Finally, Kay has had enough and finds a book by Dr. Feld which inspires her to sign them up for the doctor’s intense week-long marriage counseling session. What follows is an insightful experience as Dr. Feld manages to help the couple understand how they have emotionally drifted apart and what they can do to reignite their passion. PG-13

Dark Knight Rises – Christian Bale, Ann Hathaway

It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act. PG – 13

Odd Life of Timothy Green – Jennifer Gardner

When a childless couple buries a box with all of their wishes for an infant in their backyard, their wishes are granted. However, their child, Timothy Green, is not all that he appears PG


Beast of the Southern Wild – Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry

Hushpuppy is a six-year-old living in an isolated bayou community. When her father Wink becomes ill, she sets off for the outside world in an attempt to help him. The journey to save her father is delayed by a ‘busted’ universe that reverses weather patterns and brings about long-extinct animals. Can Hushpuppy save the day?  PG – 13

December 11

Ted – Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis

As the result of a childhood wish, John Bennett’s teddy bear, Ted, came to life and has been by John’s side ever since. Their friendship is tested when Lori, John’s girlfriend of four years, wants more from their relationship. R


Bourne Legacy – Jeremy Renner, Scott Glenn

Aaron Cross is an agent groomed by the government program that also unleashed Jason Bourne, but with a few new wrinkles. Cross is busy training in Alaska when he’s caught in a tsunami of hurt, thus beginning a frantic search for answers to who and what he is. PG – 13

Ice Age – Continental Drift – Ray Romano, Denis Leary

Scrat’s constant quest for an acorn causes a shift in the ice. Manny, Sid, and Diego end up stranded on an iceberg in the middle of the sea. A group of misfit pirates are determined to stop the trio from ever returning home. PG


December 18

Total Recall – Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale

Welcome to Rekall, the company that can turn your dreams into real memories. For a factory worker named Douglas Quaid, even though he’s got a beautiful wife who he loves, the mind-trip sounds like the perfect vacation from his frustrating life. But when the procedure goes horribly wrong, Quaid becomes a hunted man. PG – 13

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days – Zachary Gordon, Steve Zahn

When Greg Heffley’s dad threatens to send him to military school if he doesn’t stay out of trouble, Greg finds all-new ways to land himself in the doghouse! For starters, Greg’s in over his head when he pretends to work at the swanky country club where Rowley’s family has a membership. Things don’t go much better on a father-son camping trip with the Wilderness Explorers, and then there’s the Heffley’s new dog, Sweetie, who fetches even more trouble for Greg. PG

Trouble with the Curve – Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams

Gus Lobel has been one of the best scouts in baseball for decades, but, despite his efforts to hide it, age is starting to catch up with him. Nevertheless, Gus-who can tell a pitch just by the crack of the bat-refuses to be benched for what may be the final innings of his career. The one person who might be able to help is also the one person Gus would never ask: his daughter, Mickie, an associate at a high-powered Atlanta law firm. PG – 13

December 21

Resident Evil: Retribution – Milla Jovovich

Alice fights alongside a resistance movement in the continuing battle against the Umbrella Corporation and the undead. R



Premium Rush – Joseph Gordon-Levitt

In Manhattan, a bike messenger picks up an envelope that attracts the interest of a dirty cop, who pursues the cyclist throughout the city.PG – 13


Arbitage – Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon

Robert Miller is a New York hedge-fund magnate who appears to have it all: money, power, a loving wife, and a devoted daughter working by his side. But behind the gilded walls of his mansion, Miller is running on borrowed time, trying to unload his crippled trading company before his frauds are revealed. A deadly error throws Miller’s life into a tailspin, raising the suspicions of a detective and threatening the future of his financial empire. R

Killer Joe – Matthew McCoughney, Emile Hirsch

‘Killer’ Joe Cooper is a Dallas detective who doubles as a hitman with the charm of a Southern gentleman. Chris hires Joe to kill his mother in order to collect her life insurance and pay off his debts. When Chris is unable to pay for the service up front, Joe takes Chris’s sister Dottie as a retainer until he can be paid. R


November 6

Arthur Christmas

On Christmas night at the North Pole, Santa’s youngest son looks to use his father’s high-tech operation for an urgent mission. Rated PG



Your Sister’s Sister – Emily Blunt, Mark Duplass

A year after the death of his brother Tom, Jack is having trouble coming to terms with his loss and has hit a wall. An intervention in the guise of his best friend Iris results in a planned week of solitude in the country at her family’s cabin. Iris’s sister Hannah has the same idea, and she and Jack inadvertently have a night of drunken confessions and shared experiences. Rated R

Rock of Ages – Tom Cruise, Alex Baldwin

Drew and Sherrie meet in LA while pursuing their dream of life in the big city. Will their love survive the challenges the city throws their way? This musical features songs by Journey, Twisted Sister, Starship, REO Speedwagon, Foreigner, and many more. PG-13


November 9

Amazing Spider-Man – Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone

Peter Parker finds a clue that might help him understand why his parents disappeared when he was young. His path puts him on a collision course with Dr. Curt Connors, his father’s former partner.PG-13


November 13

Chernobyl Diaries – Devin Kelley,

Six tourists hire an extreme tour guide who takes them to the abandoned city of Pripyat, the former home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. During their exploration, they soon discover they are not alone. Posted R


Savages – Taylor Kitsch, John Travolta

Laguna Beach entrepreneurs Ben, a peaceful and charitable Buddhist, and his closest friend Chon, a former Navy SEAL and ex-mercenary, run a lucrative, homegrown industry, raising some of the best marijuana ever developed. They also share a one-of-a-kind love with the extraordinary beauty Ophelia. Life is idyllic in their Southern California town, until the Mexican Baja Cartel decides to move in and demands that the trio partners with them. Unrated.

Brave – Kelly Macdonald, Emma Thompson

Princess Merida, an archer and self-reliant young woman, makes a decision which defies custom and brings chaos to her kingdom. To restore her kingdom, she must rely on her bravery and archery skills. Rated PG


The Watch – Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn

There’s trouble brewing in peaceful Glenview, Ohio. That’s why four civic-minded citizens, armed with flashlights, walkie-talkies, and spiffy new jackets, have teamed up to safeguard their community. But the guys find more than they bargained for when they uncover an alien plot to destroy Earth, and now these bumbling heroes are Glenview’s only chance to save the neighborhood and the world from annihilation. Rated R

November 20

Magic Mike – Matthew McConaughey, Joe Mangteaniello

Mike, an experienced stripper, takes a younger performer called The Kid under his wing and schools him in the arts of partying, picking up women, and making easy money. Rated R


Expendables 2 – Sylvester Stallone, Liam Helmworth

When Mr. Church decides to reunite the Expendables, and one of their men is murdered on the job, their quest for revenge puts them deep in enemy territory and up against an unexpected threat.Rated R


November 27

Lawless – Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy

The true story of the infamous Bondurant brothers: bootlegging siblings who made a run for the American Dream in Prohibition-era Virginia. In this epic outlaw tale, inspired by true-life tales of author Matt Bondurant’s family in his novel The Wettest County in the World, the loyalty of three brothers is put to the test against the backdrop of the nation’s most notorious crime wave. Rated R

Step up : Revolution – Kathryn McCormick

Emily arrives in Miami with aspirations of becoming a professional dancer and soon falls in love with Sean, a young man who leads a dance crew called ‘The Mob’. When a wealthy business man threatens to develop The Mob’s historic neighborhood and displace thousands-of people, they all work together to turn their performance art into protest art, and risk losing their dreams to fight for a greater cause. Rated PG-13

The Campaign – Will Ferrell, Zach GalifianaKIS

In order to gain influence over their North Carolina district, two CEOs seize an opportunity to oust long-term congressman Cam Brady by putting up a rival candidate. Their man, naive Marty Huggins, is director of the local Tourism Center. Rated R


November 30

Men in Black 3 – Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith

Agent J must travel back in time to MIB’s early years in the 1960s and save his partner, Agent K, from being assassinated by an alien. Along the way, Agent J teams up with young Agent K and learns that there are secrets to the universe that Agent K never told him. Rated PG-13

Sparkle – Whitney Houston, Jordan Sparks

Set in the 1960s, Sparkle and her two sisters form a singing group and dream of becoming stars beyond the affluent Detroit suburb where they come from, and where they are already well-known. But as the sisters become more famous, the close-knit nature of their family begins to fall apart. Features the late Whitney Houston’s final screen performance. Rated PG-13

Here are some of the new releases from popular authors that are coming out in October. Reserve your favorites today!




Jennifer Chiaverini – The Giving Quilt

Patricia Cornwell – Bone Bed

Nelson DeMille – The Panther

Louise Erdrich – The Round House

Richard Paul Evans – A Winter Dream

W. Michael Gear – People of the Black Sun

John Grisham – The Racketeer

Carolyn Hart – What the Cat Saw

Mark Helprin – In Sunlight and in Shadow




Susan Isaacs – The Goldberg Variations

Iris Johansen – Sleep No More

Karen Kingsbury – The Bridge

Debbie Macomber – Angels at the Table

James Patterson – NYPD Red

John Sandford – Mad River

Alexander McCall Smith – The Uncommon Appeal of Clouds

Danielle Steel – The Sins of the Mother

Tom Wolfe – Back to Blood

For more new titles, be sure to check out Upcoming Releases on the Davenport Public Library webpage!


I checked out this kindle book via WILBOR after a friend described reading it as “entering a bliss-coma.” Perfect for a vacation book, I expected. And if you want an unapologetically romantic, milquetoast, white bread – er, white cake – wish fulfillment fantasy with little and less conflict, Savor the Moment is perfect for you! Laurel McBane is the co-founder and executive pastry chef at Vows, an all-inclusive wedding planning service. Her best friends Mac (photographer), Parker (wedding coordinator), and Emma (florist and decorator) are her co-founders, and the four of them live together in the country mansion where they also host (and cook for) dozens of weddings every summer. Also living and working in their enclave are the soon-to-be husbands of Mac and Emma (see books one and two for their Happily Ever Afters) and Parker’s brother Delaney – the suitably handsome, rich, and dashing hero that Laurel has been in love with half her life.

Among a blur of other people’s weddings, and entirely too closely surrounded by friends and a woman called Mrs. G. who acts as nanny and short-order cook for reasons not made totally clear (is she an employee? a relative? a servant? does she owe them a debt!?), Laurel and Del begin dating. You know the rest. Since they’re already friends, there’s no getting-to-know-you phase. Their whole journey is about negotiating the way their friends and relatives will see them once they’ve transitioned from buddies to bedfellows. This thin love story isn’t a very sturdy backbone for the novel, but it doesn’t really need to be, surrounded as it is by love stories big and small, glorious descriptions of gowns and cakes and desserts and wedding ceremonies, and a lot of meaningful female friendships.

The business side of Vows is pretty interesting; I like reading about women who are smart and talented, and making this business run smoothly – coordinating dozens of vendors and hundreds of guests for almost daily events – requires the characters to be brainy and focused. It’s a tough job, and Roberts’ characters are good at it. It’s great to see an author really understand and illustrate the way weddings work instead of glossing over the details, but reading about those details – the stressed out brides, the last-minute changes, the groomsmen who show up late – can walk the line between boring (if you’re not interested in weddings) and stressful (if you remember these things too clearly from your own wedding). If you adore weddings, brides, cakes, and comforting, easy love stories, this series is the right choice for you.

The titular beauty of Beguiling the Beauty is Venetia Easterbrook, a young widow widely regarded as the most beautiful woman in London society, who vows revenge against the Duke of Lexington when he slanders her good name. Since he knows her by her famously stunning face, she wears a veil to seduce the Duke, London’s most eligible bachelor, while crossing the Atlantic on a luxurious steamer, planning to ditch him at the end of the journey and teach him a lesson about love gone wrong. Little does she know that their shared love of fossil-hunting and study of dinosaurs will cement their intellectual compatibility even as their physical chemistry sizzles.

Sherry Thomas’ newest novel, first in a planned trilogy, is a delight: it’s absurd, it’s sensual, and it’s great fun! In what other novel is the gift of exquisitely preserved tetrapodichnites (fossilized dinosaur tracks) fraught with emotional significance?! Where else in literature does a veil that blocks the wearer from seeing, eating, and kissing seem like a glamorous accessory with only the addition of a few paillettes? Nowhere!

With the exception of the denouement (which is silly) and the groundwork laid for the two planned sequels (which is distracting), this romance is a pure, unadulterated delight. The historical setting feels genuine rather than slapdash, and Thomas’s writing is smart and snappy. A flat-out perfect beach read for any romance reader, though it doesn’t stand up to vigorous literary scrutiny: after all, the Beauty is the one doing all the Beguiling here, and if even the title doesn’t take this book too seriously, how can readers? Despite that, the conceit of the masked seductress combined with the interest in paleontology makes this romance uniquely entrancing – or even beguiling.


The kids are out of school, the temperatures are topping ninety degrees, and gas prices are creeping up: it must be summer, and with it, Beach Reading Season! Even if your vacation plans don’t take you as far as a sandy beach, you’ll still need the perfect novel to get lost in while your kids play in the pool or you soak up the sun on a porch swing. These books all share engrossing, captivating stories, but they’re still light enough to be picked up and set down whenever a distraction arises.

Just Kids by Patti Smith: This engaging memoir is one of the best of the past few years. Smith’s life story, centered around her love affair with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, takes place in an exciting city (New York in the ’70s) and is a great look at the development of artistic talent. Smith’s tender authorial voice is a lovely surprise and has earned high praise – an uncommon feat in the memoir genre.

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: for the fantasy fans, the perfect summer reading novel. Kvothe, the protagonist, is a brilliant boy wizard – but his journey and his wizard school are far darker and less predictable than the other Boy Wizard of recent cultural significance. And: Kvothe is much smarter and more devious than Harry could ever be, so though he isn’t as kind and endearing, he’s much more interesting. There’s plenty of action, but it’s got enough moral grey areas and gritty realism to keep it from being all fluff. If you loved Harry Potter, this is the logical next step.

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon: A paragon of the time-travel romance subgenre, this well-loved book is a treat. Claire, a WWII nurse, steps through a stone circle in Scotland from 1945 to 1743, where she is swept away by a dashing Scotsman. Her ensuing struggle is beautifully romantic and entirely thrilling, and has a lot more to offer than a simple love story. (If you’ve already read the Outlander series, try The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley for a similar experience)

Secrets of a Summer Night by Lisa Kleypas: The first book of the Wallflower series, this romance tells the story of Annabelle, who is torn between the seductive charm of her admirer Simon and her need to make a respectable marriage. The friendship Annabelle shares with the other “Wallflowers” – a group of four female friends – makes this series a favorite of romance readers.


The Summer Reading Program is in full swing for kids, teens, and adults. Stop by any library location to sign up!

This novel is everything good and everything bad about so-called “chick lit.” Bet Me is a contemporary romance that follows an actuary, Minerva Dobbs, who falls in love with a businessman, Cal Morrisey. All the great things about chick lit are here: a comforting happy ending, a heroine who struggles with her weight (how relatable!), a sizzling romantic connection, and the kind of supportive female friendship that anyone would wish to be part of. But all the cliche chick lit negatives are here too: love at first sight and rapid-fire courtships, a heroine with a negative body image (how typical!), Krispy Kreme donuts used as a tool of seduction, overbearing and critical moms, boring B-stories, way too many descriptions of shoes, a poorly realized setting (neglected no doubt to give more text to the developing romance, which doesn’t need it), absurd coincidences, and a ridiculously neat happy ending.

It’s a pretty sharp novel overall; the characters aren’t deep or unique, but they’re not hateful or wooden either. The dialog is crisp and cute and the whole book reads really quickly, so it’s a great choice for light reading. If you’re picky, be warned: there are quite a few breaks with reality. There are only about a dozen characters in this book and they all interact very intimately, whether they’re lovers, ex-lovers, old friends, family, or strangers – it reads very high school even though these are all supposedly career-oriented individuals in their thirties. The wedding subplot with Min’s sister as a bride is hopelessly unrealistic (at one point, Min has to take over catering the rehearsal dinner, which is for only 14 people AND it doesn’t include an actual wedding rehearsal. what?!). Min lets a feral cat into her house and feeds and sleeps with it without even giving it a bath or a once-over with a comb, let alone taking a trip to the vet. This is another classic problem of chick lit: authors tend to steamroll over realism to achieve the symbolism or plot developments that they have planned, and it’s just plain distracting. You can’t tell me that Min is a smart woman and then show me her sleeping with a mangy wild cat in her bed; one of those two things is a lie. If that kind of light touch doesn’t bother you, Bet Me is as scrumptious and sweet as a Krispy Kreme – but like the fabled donut, it’s mostly hot air.