Books about being a dad from our Literacy and Learning Collection

The Literacy and Learning Collection is full of items that include learning to be the best parent you can be. Here are some books that focus specifically on the experience of being a dad. (Descriptions from the publishers.)

Dad skills : how to be an awesome father & impress all the other parents by Chris Peterson – This handy, amusing book is perfect for the busy guy who has his eye on the “Father of the Year” award. Organized by the child’s stage and age range, each chapter covers essential insights and techniques to keeping kids happy, safe, healthy and stopping them from torturing their parents. Following the style of its tongue-in-cheek predecessor Manskills, Dadskills wraps valid, incredibly useful information inside humorous writing. Chapters cover all stages of the journey: Baby Wrangling, Dealing with Toddlers, The Single-Digit Challenge, Managing Tweens, Taming Teenagers, and Prepping for the Empty Nest.

Geek dad : awesomely geeky projects and activities for dads and kids to share and The geek dad book for aspiring mad scientists by Ken Denmead – These books offer projects for all ages to suit any timeframe or budget. These books will help scientists-in-the-making discover how our world works with creative project ideas. Supergeek and father of two, Ken Denmead created the ultimate, idea-packed guide guaranteed to help dads and kids alike enjoy the magic of playtime together and tap into the infinite possibility of their imagination.

Dad’s maybe book by Tim O’Brien – In 2003, as an older father, O’Brien resolved to give his young sons what he wished his own father had given to him: a few scraps of paper signed “Love, Dad.” Maybe a word of advice. Maybe a sentence or two about some long-ago Christmas Eve. Maybe some scattered glimpses of their aging father, a man they might never really know. In this book, O’Brien moves from soccer games to warfare to risqué lullabies, from alcoholism to magic shows to history lessons to bittersweet bedtime stories, but always returning to a father’s soul-saving love for his sons.

Measuring up : a memoir of fathers and sons by Dan Robson – A tender memoir of fathers and sons, love and loss, and learning to fill boots a size too big. Dan Robson’s father was a builder, whose high-school education was enough not only to provide for his family, but to build a successful business. When he dies, nothing in his son’s world feels steady anymore. Dan never learned the blue-collar skills he admired, because his father wanted him to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. Tender and unflinching, Measuring Up is a story of love, mourning, and learning what it means to be a man.

The world’s best dad after divorce : a guide to co-parenting for divorced dads by Paul Mandelstein – Packed with advice from family counseling experts, anecdotes from divorced parent groups, interviews with fathers, mothers, and children, and the author’s own first-hand experiences, The world’s best dad during and after divorce is a realistic, yet compassionate approach to parenting during and after divorce. The user-friendly format combines bulleted lists with practical suggestions, exercises, and even sample dialogues that make even the most difficult conversations with children and former spouses more manageable. Most importantly, this guidebook empowers men to be the best fathers they can be: fathers who are present and accountable, loving and leading, competent and caring.

The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White

Are you an adult who likes to read young adult books? If so, join the See YA Book Club! In June, we met to discuss The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White. More information about See YA can be found at the bottom of this blog post. Let’s get back to The Chaos of Stars!

Isadora is a normal teen. Well, except for the fact that she is the mortal human daughter of the immortal ancient Egyptian gods Isis and Osiris. As a sixteen-year-old, Isadora is annoyed with the drama from her family who can’t even remember her name. When Isis starts having dark dreams that portend deadly chaos in the future, she offers Isadora the opportunity to move to California to live with her brother. Isadora is ecstatic to finally escape her family. California, however, turns out to be more complicated and menacing than anyone expected. While in California, Isadora finds friends, meets a boy she really likes, and confronts her ideas of what she wants out of life vs what her parents expect. She spends her time working, hanging with her friends, and hating her family. As much as Isadora wishes she could escape her family and hopes she has done so by living in California, Egypt continually calls to her. The trouble she thought she left behind comes back deadlier than ever, forcing Isadora to decide what she really wants out of life.

I adored all the tidbits of mythology dropped in the story, which left me hoping for a sequel (sadly, this is a stand-alone title). Isadora is angry and angsty and at times heartless and annoying, but if you step back, you see that she is going through normal teenage growing pains on top of having to deal with a family of gods and goddesses.

This was a relaxing, easy read for me, but I was left wanting more: more information about the Egyptian gods and mythology, more character development. Isadora also adapted very quickly to the modern world, which I felt was unrealistic, but also interesting to watch her learn more about the world outside her family. I also recognize that as an adult, I am not the target audience for this book. While adult Stephanie wanted more, teen Stephanie would have adored and devoured this book.

More Information about See YA

Join our adult book club with a teen book twist. See why so many teen books are being turned into movies and are taking over the best seller lists.

Books are available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Eastern Branch. We meet the first Wednesday of the month at Eastern at 6:30pm.

2024 Pulitzer Prize Winners

The winners of the 2024 Pulitzer Prizes have been announced! You can watch the announcement video on the Pulitzer Prize website or read the media release. To celebrate the winners, we decided to highlight some of the winners and finalists. Below you will find the fiction winner and finalists, the biography winners, and the general nonfiction winner and finalists.

Reminder: what is written about below is not the complete list of 2024 Pulitzer Prize winners. For more information about the other 2024 Pulitzer Prize winners as well as past years’ winners, please check out their website.

Descriptions are provided by the publishers.

Fiction

Winner

Night Watch by Jayne Anne Phillips

In 1874, in the wake of the War, erasure, trauma, and namelessness haunt civilians and veterans, renegades and wanderers, freedmen and runaways. Twelve-year-old ConaLee, the adult in her family for as long as she can remember, finds herself on a buckboard journey with her mother, Eliza, who hasn’t spoken in more than a year. They arrive at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia, delivered to the hospital’s entrance by a war veteran who has forced himself into their world. There, far from family, a beloved neighbor, and the mountain home they knew, they try to reclaim their lives.

The omnipresent vagaries of war and race rise to the surface as we learn their story: their flight to the highest mountain ridges of western Virginia; the disappearance of ConaLee’s father, who left for the War and never returned. Meanwhile, in the asylum, they begin to find a new path. ConaLee pretends to be her mother’s maid; Eliza responds slowly to treatment. They get swept up in the life of the facility—the mysterious man they call the Night Watch; the orphan child called Weed; the fearsome woman who runs the kitchen; the remarkable doctor at the head of the institution. – Knopf

This title is also available in large print.

Finalists:

Same Bed Different Dreams by Ed Park

In 1919, far-flung patriots establish the Korean Provisional Government to protest the Japanese occupation of their country. This government-in-exile proves mostly symbolic, though, and after Japan’s defeat in World War II, the KPG dissolves and civil war erupts, resulting in the tragic North-South split that remains today.

But what if the KPG still existed—now working toward a unified Korea, secretly pulling levers to further its aims? Same Bed Different Dreams weaves together three distinct narrative voices with an archive of mysterious images, and twists reality like a kaleidoscope. Korean history, American pop culture, and our tech-fraught lives come together in this extraordinary and unforgettable novel.

Soon Sheen, a former writer now employed by the tech behemoth GLOAT, comes into possession of an unfinished book seemingly authored by the KPG. The manuscript is a riveting revisionist history, connecting famous names and obscure bit players to the KPG’s grand project—everyone from Syngman Rhee and architect-poet Yi Sang to Jack London and Marilyn Monroe. M*A*S*H is in here, too, as are the Moonies and a history of violence extending from the assassination of President McKinley to the Reagan-era downing of a passenger plane that puts the world on the brink of war. – Random House

Wednesday’s Child by Yiyun Li

A grieving mother makes a spreadsheet of everyone she’s lost. Elsewhere, a professor develops a troubled intimacy with her hairdresser. And every year, a restless woman receives an email from a strange man twice her age and several states away. In the stories of Wednesday’s Child, people strive for an ordinary existence until doing so becomes unsustainable, until the surface cracks and the grand mysterious forces—death, violence, estrangement—come to light. Even before such moments, everyday life is laden with meaning, studded with indelible details: a filched jar of honey, a mound of wounded ants, a photograph kept hidden for many years, until it must be seen.

Yiyun Li is a truly original writer, an alchemist of opposites: tender and unsentimental, metaphysical and blunt, funny and horrifying, omniscient and unusually aware of just how much we cannot know. Beloved for her novels and her memoir, she returns here to her earliest form, gathering pieces that have appeared in The New Yorker, Zoetrope, and other publications. Taken together, these stories, written over the span of a decade, articulate the cost, both material and emotional, of living—exile, assimilation, loss, love—with Li’s trademark unnerving beauty and wisdom. – Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Biography

Winners

King: A Life by Jonathan Eig

Vividly written and exhaustively researched, Jonathan Eig’s King: A Life is the first major biography in decades of the civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr.—and the first to include recently declassified FBI files. In this revelatory new portrait of the preacher and activist who shook the world, the bestselling biographer gives us an intimate view of the courageous and often emotionally troubled human being who demanded peaceful protest for his movement but was rarely at peace with himself. He casts fresh light on the King family’s origins as well as MLK’s complex relationships with his wife, father, and fellow activists. King reveals a minister wrestling with his own human frailties and dark moods, a citizen hunted by his own government, and a man determined to fight for justice even if it proved to be a fight to the death. As he follows MLK from the classroom to the pulpit to the streets of Birmingham, Selma, and Memphis, Eig dramatically re-creates the journey of a man who recast American race relations and became our only modern-day founding father—as well as the nation’s most mourned martyr.

In this landmark biography, Eig gives us an MLK for our times: a deep thinker, a brilliant strategist, and a committed radical who led one of history’s greatest movements, and whose demands for racial and economic justice remain as urgent today as they were in his lifetime. – Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Master Slave Husband Wife: An Epic Journey from Slavery to Freedom by Ilyon Woo

In 1848, a year of international democratic revolt, a young, enslaved couple, Ellen and William Craft, achieved one of the boldest feats of self-emancipation in American history. Posing as master and slave, while sustained by their love as husband and wife, they made their escape together across more than 1,000 miles, riding out in the open on steamboats, carriages, and trains that took them from bondage in Georgia to the free states of the North.

Along the way, they dodged slave traders, military officers, and even friends of their enslavers, who might have revealed their true identities. The tale of their adventure soon made them celebrities, and generated headlines around the country. Americans could not get enough of this charismatic young couple, who traveled another 1,000 miles criss-crossing New England, drawing thunderous applause as they spoke alongside some of the greatest abolitionist luminaries of the day—among them Frederick Douglass and William Wells Brown.

But even then, they were not out of danger. With the passage of an infamous new Fugitive Slave Act in 1850, all Americans became accountable for returning refugees like the Crafts to slavery. Then yet another adventure began, as slave hunters came up from Georgia, forcing the Crafts to flee once again—this time from the United States, their lives and thousands more on the line and the stakes never higher. – 37 Ink

General Nonfiction

Winner

A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy by Nathan Thrall

Five-year-old Milad Salama is excited for a school trip to a theme park on the outskirts of Jerusalem. On the way, his bus collides with a semitrailer. His father, Abed, gets word of the crash and rushes to the site. The scene is chaos—the children have been taken to different hospitals in Jerusalem and the West Bank; some are missing, others cannot be identified. Abed sets off on an odyssey to learn Milad’s fate. It is every parent’s worst nightmare, but for Abed it is compounded by the maze of physical, emotional, and bureaucratic obstacles he must navigate because he is Palestinian. He is on the wrong side of the separation wall, holds the wrong ID to pass the military checkpoints, and has the wrong papers to enter the city of Jerusalem. Abed’s quest to find Milad is interwoven with the stories of a cast of Jewish and Palestinian characters whose lives and histories unexpectedly converge.

In A Day in the Life of Abed Salama, Nathan Thrall—hailed for his “severe allergy to conventional wisdom” (Time)—offers an indelibly human portrait of the struggle over Israel/Palestine and a new understanding of the tragic history and reality of one of the most contested places on earth. – Metropolitan Books

Finalists

Cobalt Red: How the Blood of the Congo Powers Our Lives by Siddharth Kara

Cobalt Red is the searing, first-ever exposé of the immense toll taken on the people and environment of the Democratic Republic of the Congo by cobalt mining, as told through the testimonies of the Congolese people themselves. Activist and researcher Siddharth Kara has traveled deep into cobalt territory to document the testimonies of the people living, working, and dying for cobalt. To uncover the truth about brutal mining practices, Kara investigated militia-controlled mining areas, traced the supply chain of child-mined cobalt from toxic pit to consumer-facing tech giants, and gathered shocking testimonies of people who endure immense suffering and even die mining cobalt.

Cobalt is an essential component to every lithium-ion rechargeable battery made today, the batteries that power our smartphones, tablets, laptops, and electric vehicles. Roughly 75 percent of the world’s supply of cobalt is mined in the Congo, often by peasants and children in sub-human conditions. Billions of people in the world cannot conduct their daily lives without participating in a human rights and environmental catastrophe in the Congo. In this stark and crucial book, Kara argues that we must all care about what is happening in the Congo—because we are all implicated. – St. Martin’s Press

Fire Weather: A True Story from a Hotter World by John Vaillant

Full of Myself: A Graphic Memoir About Body Image by Siobhán Gallagher

“To be a girl is to go from being an observer to being observed.”
― Siobhán Gallagher, Full of Myself: A Graphic Memoir About Body Image

Content warnings for this book: anxiety, depression, self-harm, and eating disorders/bulimia, fatphobia, sexual harassment

Siobhán Gallagher has had a complicated relationship with her body since a young age. She explores this relationship in her graphic memoir, Full of Myself: A Graphic Memoir About Body ImageHer journey to self-acceptance and self-love goes through many highs and lows, a roller coaster of emotions and actions that all influenced the person she has become today.

As a teenager, Siobhán struggles with anxiety and diet culture. Constantly comparing herself to others, Siobhán decides all her issues will be solved if she could just be beautiful and smaller. She struggles with her body for years, feeling alone and unwanted, slipping into long periods of depression and anxiety. As an adult, Siobhán isn’t any nicer to herself, but eventually realizes that the person her younger self wanted to be isn’t possible. She starts an arduous process of self-reflection, self-love, and understanding that she acknowledges will never fully end.

This book was eye-opening.  Seeing Siobhán put all of her emotions, inner thoughts, and experiences out for the world to read was heartwarming, helpful, and accessible. She takes readers through the mind of her teenage self, laying out her desperate thoughts and wishes to be tiny, happy, and not alone. While Siobhán’s story is unique to her, some readers may still find content to relate to as they read. This graphic memoir was engaging, the writing was frank, and the illustrations’ cartoon style was cute. The ending tied the book together as Siobhán spoke gently to her younger selves, giving them hope, while also being realistic that her body issues will never fully disappear. Anyone who grew up surrounded by diet culture will relate to Siobhán’s journey in some way.

“i’m proud of the person i’ve become because i fought to become her.”

National Movie Night 2024

June 14th is National Movie Night. National Movie Night encourages you to spend time with your family and friends by creating a movie night tradition. Celebrate this year’s movie night with a Binge Box from the Davenport Public Library collection.


Sports: Based on a True Story:
Experience the stories of real-life sports icons. This binge box includes 42: The Jackie Robinson StoryWoodlawnGreaterMoneyballThe ProgramBobby Jones: A Stroke of GeniusPelé, and Seabiscuit.

 


Got a Token?:
Do you enjoy playing video games? This binge box has you covered with video game favorites: DoomReady Player OneResident EvilMortal Kombat, and Pixels. 

 


Rom-Com Collection:
Enjoy a night of rom-coms! This collection contains classics from the 90s and early 2000s including: Pretty WomanRunaway BrideHow to Lose a Guy in 10 DaysLaws of AttractionFailure to Launch, and What Happens in Vegas.

 


Don’t Go in the Water:
Discover the horrors lurking underneath the surface with Jaws47 Meters DownSharknadoThe MegThe Shallows, and Deep Blue Sea.

 

 


Out of This World:
Travel to another world with this collection of modern sci-fi hits, including: The MartianInterstellarGravityPassengers, and Arrival.

 

 


Family Movie Night:
Movie fun for all ages! This movie night collection includes: The Adventures of Sharkboy & LavagirlDora and the Lost City of GoldThe Addams FamilyPlaying with Fire, and Sonic the Hedgehog.

The Manor House by Gilly MacMillan

The Manor House by Gilly MacMillan transports the reader to a remote enclave in the English country side where two couples live vastly different lives in MacMillan’s latest psychological thriller.  Tom and Nicole have purchased land and built their dream house, courtesy of a lottery win.  Their closest neighbors, Sasha and Olly, live close by on an adjoining property in a stately manor, but all is not what it seems. When the ultimate tragedy occurs, the truth begins to trickle out slowly followed by a deluge.

After returning from a morning at the county fair, newly minted millionaire Nicole is shocked to find her husband floating in the couple’s pool.  In a panic she runs to the adjacent property of the Manor House for help.  Sasha and Olly, along with their housekeeper Kitty, assist Nicole by trying to help the situation.  Olly runs to the pool to help while Sasha and Kitty comfort Nicole.  The worst is confirmed when Olly returns with the grim news that Tom has died.  Nicole is left to mourn in the dream house they built and come to terms with Tom’s passing.  She is sure it is an accident but the police think he may have been murdered.  An unknown man has been spotted on the vast grounds over the last couple of weeks and Nicole starts to wonder if the stranger had anything to do with Tom’s death.

In the Manor House on the property, Olly and Sasha have an ideal life – Olly is working on his debut novel while Sasha teaches yoga on the grounds of the home.  The only other resident is their housekeeper, Kitty, who lives in the adjacent coach house.  At the same time as the police continue to investigate Tom’s death, questions arise about Olly and Sasha, their past, and how they came to live at the Manor House.   As detectives discover more about the couple they start to put the puzzle together – where is the current owner of the Manor House, Anna,  and how does Kitty fit in?

I really enjoyed The Manor House and how the author wove together parallel storylines along with alternating chapters highlighting the owner of the house’s intriguing history.  All of these combined elements make for a startling and troublesome backstory.  I found some of the plot twists and turns to be slightly far fetched and unbelievable. but overall, this was an another enjoyable roller coaster ride from Gilly MacMillan.  The Manor House has a final last twist right at the end that you won’t see coming!

June’s Celebrity Book Club Picks

It’s a new month which means that Jenna Bush Hager and Reese Witherspoon have picked new books for their book clubs! Reminder that if you join Simply Held, you can choose to have their selections automatically put on hold for you.

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Jenna Bush Hager has selected Swift River by Essie Chambers for her June pick.

Curious what Swift River is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

It’s the summer of 1987 in Swift River, and Diamond Newberry is learning how to drive. Ever since her Pop disappeared seven years ago, she and her mother hitchhike everywhere they go. But that’s not the only reason Diamond stands out: she’s teased relentlessly about her weight, and since Pop’s been gone, she is the only Black person in all of Swift River. This summer, Ma is determined to declare Pop legally dead so that they can collect his life insurance money, get their house back from the bank, and finally move on.

But when Diamond receives a letter from a relative she’s never met, key elements of Pop’s life are uncovered, and she is introduced to two generations of African American Newberry women, whose lives span the 20th century and reveal a much larger picture of prejudice and abandonment, of love and devotion. As pieces of their shared past become clearer, Diamond gains a sense of her place in the world and in her family. But how will what she’s learned of the past change her future?

A story of first friendships, family secrets, and finding the courage to let go, Swift River is a sensational debut about how history shapes us and heralds the arrival of a major new literary talent. – Simon & Schuster

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Reese Witherspoon has selected The Unwedding by Ally Condie for her June pick.

Curious what The Unwedding is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

Ellery Wainwright is alone at the edge of the world.

She and her husband, Luke, were supposed to spend their twentieth wedding anniversary together at the luxurious Resort at Broken Point in Big Sur, California. Where better to celebrate a marriage, a family, and a life together than at one of the most stunning places on earth?

But now she’s traveling solo.

To add insult to injury, there’s a wedding at Broken Point scheduled during her stay. Ellery remembers how it felt to be on the cusp of everything new and wonderful, with a loved and certain future glimmering just ahead. Now, she isn’t certain of anything except for her love for her kids and her growing realization that this place, though beautiful, is unsettling.

When Ellery discovers the body of the groom floating in the pool in the rain, she realizes that she is not the only one whose future is no longer guaranteed. Before the police can reach Broken Point, a mudslide takes out the road to the resort, leaving the guests trapped. When another guest dies, it’s clear something horrible is brewing.

Everyone at Broken Point has a secret. And everyone has a shadow. Including Ellery.  – Grand Central Publishing

Join Simply Held to have Oprah, Jenna, and Reese’s adult selections automatically put on hold for you!

Gaytheist: Coming Out of My Orthodox Childhood by Lonnie Mann, art by Lonnie Mann and Ryan Gatts

Gaytheist: Coming Out of My Orthodox Childhood by Lonnie Mann with art by Lonnie Mann and Ryan Gatts is a coming-of-age graphic memoir about discovering that you are gay while growing up in an Orthodox Jewish community.

Lonnie has always been told that it’s not okay to be gay in his Orthodox Jewish community. This was never an issue for Lonnie until one day it was. Lonnie grew up in a devout family. He went to school at a yeshiva, a traditional Orthodox Jewish school. As a result, he learned the rules of the Orthodox Jewish community, at times even loving and strictly following them.

Eventually, Lonnie realizes that he likes boys. This puts him into a crisis of identity and religion, as he has always been told that being gay is a sin. When he learns that ‘having those feelings’ is fine but acting on them is the sin, Lonnie is even more confused. He’s lost. He wonders about what kind of life he will be able to live within the Orthodox Jewish community, which turns to him wondering if he even wants to stay within the community as an adult. Once Lonnie expands his life beyond yeshiva and his family, the world and more possibilities open up. He attends a theater camp, takes college classes in the city, and has movie nights with friends he meets. These new experiences open his eyes to the type of life available to him. The caveat: the life he wants isn’t possible within the world of his parents or his religious community. Not wanting to deny his identity, Lonnie embraces his true self, builds his own chosen family, and defies everything that he has been told his entire life to find his true happiness. This struggle to separate identity and religion consumes Lonnie, something that still lingers.

This graphic novel memoir was great, leaving me hoping for a sequel. The ending was a bit abrupt. I was left wanting to learn more about Lonnie’s experience separating himself from his Orthodox Jewish community. How did attending college influence him? How did his friendships and romantic relationships shape him? How did he become an atheist? I was also interested in hearing about his relationships with his parents and other family members, if he has any at all. While I have all of these questions, I recognize that the author doesn’t owe me any answers. They shared what they are comfortable sharing. What helped bridge this gap for me was the list of resources available at the end. In the author’s note, he lists books, documentaries, television shows, and websites where readers can learn more about other people who have escaped from Orthodox Jewish communities, as well as resources for people who may need help or a welcoming community.

Online Reading Challenge – June

Welcome Readers!

This month the Online Reading Challenge travels back in time to the 1970s. Our Main title for June is Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina. Here’s a quick summary from the publisher:

Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous New York summer of 1977, when the city is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young women on the streets. Nora’s family life isn’t going so well either: her bullying brother, Hector, is growing more threatening by the day, her mother is helpless and falling behind on the rent, and her father calls only on holidays. All Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own. And while there is a cute new guy who started working with her at the deli, is dating even worth the risk when the killer likes picking off couples who stay out too late? Award-winning author Meg Medina transports us to a time when New York seemed balanced on a knife-edge, with tempers and temperatures running high, to share the story of a young woman who discovers that the greatest dangers are often closer than we like to admit — and the hardest to accept. – Candlewick

Looking for other books set in the 1970s? Try any of the following.

As always, check each of our locations for displays with lots more titles to choose from.

Online Reading Challenge – May Wrap-Up

Hello Fellow Challenge Readers!

How did your reading go this month? Did you read something set in the 1950s & 1960s that you enjoyed? Share in the comments!

I had already read our main title Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo last year for book club, so I decided to read Lavender House by Lev A.C. Rosen, the first book in the Evander Mills series. Lavender House has similar themes to Last Night at the Telegraph Club, hence my picking this title. Lavender House is the first in a new queer historical series that begins in the early 1950s in California. Let’s get into this book!

It’s California in 1952 and the family that lives at Lavender House has been rocked by tragedy. The matriarch Irene Lamontaine has been found dead in her scent library. Her recipes for her signature soaps are a well held family secret, but as readers learn, those are not the only secrets hidden at Lavender House. Lavender House is unique – none of the staff or family hide who they are. They are free to love who they want and be themselves behind the gates and on the grounds. In order to keep their lives secret though, outsiders must be kept at a distance. Irene’s widow is worried that there may be a murderer on the loose at Lavender House, so she seeks someone to help.

She hires Evander Mills, also known as Andy, to find the killer. Andy has recently been fired from the San Francisco police after he was caught in a raid at a gay bar. Not having any work lined up, Andy accepts and is thrust into the secretive world of Lavender House as he looks for reasons why someone would have killed Irene. What he finds is a complicated mess of family history, old money, jealousy, and lies. As much as the family works to keep their lives insulated and safe, everyone at Lavender House has secrets that could have lead to death. A queer family that lives honestly and openly behind the walls and on the estate of Lavender House is shocking to Andy, but he quickly realizes that they aren’t as honest and open amongst each other as they pretend to be. It’s dangerous to be queer outside of Lavender House. Those at Lavender House may think they live in a utopia, but keeping the real world out forever isn’t feasible.

This title is narrated by one of my favorite audiobook narrators, Vikas Adam, so I was excited to get started. As I mentioned earlier, Lavender House shares similar themes with Last Night at the Telegraph Club. Both titles are character-driven, feature queer characters, are historical, and take place in California in the 1950s. How queer people were treated in the 1950s features prominently as well. Lavender House has older main characters and is a historical mystery, while Last Night at the Telegraph Club is considered a young adult historical novel with romance.

I enjoyed the mystery in this book. While I didn’t have the killer figured out immediately, I did quickly figure it out as I was reading. There is a large cast of characters in this book, but the author doesn’t overwhelm you with details about each at the start. You learn about the characters as Andy’s investigation progresses. All in all, I enjoyed this title set in the 1950s and am excited to see where the next books take me!

I hope you all enjoyed reading, watching, or listening to something set in the 1950s or 1960s this month. Next month, we are traveling to the 1970s.

Evander Mills series

  1. Lavender House (2022)
  2. The Bell in the Fog (2023)
  3. Rough Pages (2024)

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