The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton

Do you have authors whose new books you anxiously await? I’m sure you do. One of the newest authors I have added to this list is Stuart Turton. Turton wrote The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastlewhich was published in 2018. That book is a mix of an Agatha Christie novel and the movie Groundhog Day as readers learn that Evelyn Hardcastle keeps dying and Aiden must solve her murder or relive the day over and over. It kept me engaged from start to finish, so when I learned that Turton had a new book coming out at the end of 2020, I knew I wanted to read it.

The Devil in the Dark Water is Turton’s latest novel and it’s a gloriously written complex historical mystery telling the story of people trapped on a ship traveling across the high seas to Amsterdam. Stuck on a ship means that there has to be a bad guy and, OH BOY, are they bad! It’s a bit of a closed room mystery mixed with Sherlock Holmes and a strong dab of history. Read it and let me know what you think. Let’s get into this review!

It’s 1634. Samuel Pipps is the world’s greatest detective, traveling the world with his bodyguard Arent Hayes solving cases that no one can solve. He sees things others miss and can easily figure out the answer to whatever is plaguing him in a case. Arent believes Sammy is gifted and can solve anything. When Sammy ends up being arrested for a crime he may not have committed, Arent is devastated. The two end up boarding a ship to Amsterdam where Sammy is locked away in a small dark and musty cell. He is being transported to Amsterdam to stand trial for his crimes and Arent’s job to keep him safe becomes immensely harder.

As soon as they head out to sea, issues start to plague the ship. Devilry wreaks havoc on the ship and passengers and crew alike are scared. Pipps is shackled inside his cell, leaving Arent to solve the mystery without him. A leper who should have been dead is stalking the ship. Livestock is brutally killed. A strange symbol connected to Arent’s past starts showing up all over the ship.

When the deaths start, panic reaches a fever pitch. Could a demon be responsible for everything happening on board the ship? Voices whisper to people promising their heart’s desire for a small price. Arent needs help solving this mystery and reaches out to other passengers he deems safe. Multiple passengers are connected to this mystery with past secrets and hidden questions that threaten to sink the ship, killing everyone onboard.

This book is also available in the following format:

Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow

I recently came across this 2019 middle grade fiction book, Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow, and I honestly can’t recommend it enough. It covers heavy subjects (content warning: including miscarriage) and doesn’t shy away from hard feelings and uncomfortable situations, but it does these things with incredible gentleness, authenticity, and hope. If you’re looking for a warm and wholesome read about family, friendship, and personal growth, you may like Hazel’s Theory of Evolution.

The main character of this book is Hazel, a thirteen-year-old going into 8th grade at a new school, thanks to local redistricting. She refuses to be open or optimistic about this development, determined to keep her head down and “hibernate” her way through one last year before being reunited with her best friend in high school. Unfortunately for her, her best friend grows increasingly distant and mysterious, befriending Hazel’s longtime bully and trying out for cheerleading (which Hazel has always deplored as a ridiculous and sexist activity). Meanwhile, in her new school, a green-mohawked classmate starts pushing his way into her self-isolation, and she makes an unexpected connection with Carina, a fellow transfer looking for a fresh start. At the same time as her social life grows increasingly confusing, her moms announce that one of them, Mimi, is pregnant again…after suffering two miscarriages. Unable to face the agony of hope and loss again, Hazel tries to live in denial: the baby isn’t real until its born safe and healthy. But painful or not, some things can’t be denied or ignored, and Hazel will have to find her way through her new realities.

There are many good things about this book, as mentioned above, including positive representation of multiple identities (ethnic, religious, gender, and sexual identities), and positive parenting: Hazel’s moms do a good job talking to her about her feelings as well as their own, while giving her space to process what she’s going through. I also appreciated reading a modern and well-formed school Health class, complete with discussions of family relationships and positive and comprehensive sex ed. The book is also peppered with Hazel’s articles for the Encyclopedia of Misunderstood Creatures she’s writing, which make delightful educational asides. I recommend this book for a wide range of ages (though be prepared to cry); Hazel has something to resonate with anyone who’s struggled with change and feeling misunderstood or alone in the world.

The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow

How do you choose what books you want to read? When I’m not diving through my massive to-read pile, I find myself seeking out books with interesting covers first and then I read the book description. This is how I stumbled upon my last read, The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow. This fantasy novel wrapped me in a cocoon of alternate histories where witches are real and they are tired of being hunted. Magic and the suffrage movement become tightly tied together as Harrow tells the story of witches who will do anything to survive.

The Once and Future Witches tells the story of the three Eastwood sisters: James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna. It’s the late 1800s and the sisters are struggling. They haven’t seen each other in seven years when their father tore them apart and scattered them to different places. They have been feeling a tug in their bodies that something isn’t right. Their grandmother taught them the words, the ways, and the will to practice magic, but it always seemed small.

In 1893, magic and witches don’t exist. In the past before the burnings began, magic ran wild throughout the world, but man ruined it. They started burning the witches who opposed them and those that fit their idea of what a witch was. Today’s witching is smaller. It’s hidden in nursery rhymes and the charms that are done to keep the home tidy and appearance perfect. It’s not the witching of old. In this escape from the past, women have decided that it’s safer to seek power by fighting for the right to vote and joining the suffrage movement.

Juniper, Agnes, and Bella end up joining the suffrage movement in New Salem, but finding that it isn’t quite what they expected, they start looking for magic in the unexpected. The three start gathering the forgotten words and ways of witches hidden in the obvious places. Talking with other women, they discover that everyone has their own magic and start compiling their magic together. Magic and the women’s movement begin to converge leading to a witches’ movement that puts the women of New Salem at risk. The deeper they dive into magic, the more dangerous it becomes. Stalked across the city by those who want to destroy them, the sisters must forge new alliances, dig for old magic, and bind themselves closer together if they want to survive.

This book is also available in the following format:

The Love Study by Kris Ripper

I’ve got two ways out of a reading slump: sweet, fluffy romances and children’s chapter books. Since I got into a bit of a slump as winter turned to spring, I went for a fluffy romance – that I liked – The Love Study by Kris Ripper. This book is a win for portraying happy endings, casual positive representation, and the power of friendship!

The main character and narrator is Declan, a temp with a great group of friends and major commitment issues. His friends love to introduce him by saying he left his last boyfriend at the altar, which he did. Since then, he’s sworn off romance, but now he’s starting to wonder if it’s time to try again. Enter Sidney, the group’s newest friend, who’s looking for someone to come on their YouTube show for a series called The Love Study. Declan agrees to go on a series of blind dates arranged by Sidney, and then to discuss them on the YouTube show, both to explore his relationship issues and to give dating advice to the viewers. The dates go okay, though he doesn’t really connect with any of them. That’s probably because the only person he is connecting with is Sidney — but since Sidney also doesn’t date, can they overcome their respective relationship fears and make something work for them?

I really loved how self-aware Declan is; he never tries to be macho or hide his feelings. He cares a lot, and he expresses that care in long, endearing rambles. He never stops apologizing to his former boyfriend, now good friend, Mason, who he left at the altar, but instead acknowledges how horrible it was for him to do that to someone he cared about and never fails to drop in a sincere “So sorry for that, again” every time it comes up. He’s always aware of his own faults and tries to make other people comfortable and put their feelings first. Frankly, I’ve never read a romantic hero like him before and I found it so refreshing. I also loved Sidney because they were such a distinct character with their own personality, their own fashion sense, and their own approach to things. They’re more reserved and thoughtful, but don’t hesitate to voice their honest and transparent opinion when asked. Two romantic characters that can and do communicate with each other? Shocking (and delightful)! Of course, their communication isn’t perfect, and Declan has some mental health issues to work through — or there wouldn’t be a story — but as these kind of issues, resolutions and happily-ever-afters go, I think this book did a good job of presenting a unique and realistic scenario.

The whole book was beautifully wholesome and transparent; I’ve never read a less problematic romance (or book in general) for adults. Sidney’s gender and pronouns are treated casually and with complete acceptance; no inappropriate or invasive questions were asked. Declan’s group of friends is loving and supportive, even though they don’t hesitate to roast Declan mercilessly; the group also includes a range of personalities, ethnicities, and gender identities which again receive full and unquestioned support.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone for a gentle read, a utopian view of the world, and a sweet romance.

Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo

Elizabeth Acevedo has written a new young adult novel detailing the stories of two sisters grieving the loss of their father. Clap When You Land  weaves together their two separate stories into a tight tale of sorrow, loss, and finding a bright spot amidst immense grief.

Camino Rios only sees her father in the summer. Every June, he flies to visit her and her aunt in the Dominican Republic. Papi lights up her tiny community and his presence is everywhere she looks. Even when he’s not there, he protects her. This time when Camino goes to the airport to pick him up, she arrives to see groups of people crying and watching the news. Not her papi…

Yahaira Rios lives in New York City with her father and mother. Papi is her hero. He taught her to play chess and nurtured her talents. He has left every summer to go to the Dominican Republic on business for as long as she can remember. It’s almost the end of the school year and papi has just taken off. Yahaira is called to the principal’s office and notices teachers clustered in corners, crying, and stealing glances at her. A disheveled mami is in the office with devastating news. Her father has died in a plane crash. Her hero is gone.

Grieving their father’s death, Yahaira and Camino struggle to find a new way through life. Without money, Camino doesn’t know how she will keep going to high school and college seems to be now firmly out of the picture. Without her father, Yahaira and her mother are unmoored. Her mami and other relatives spend hours whispering and stop talking as soon as she walks in the room.

Separated by distance, both girls have to figure out a new reality without their father. He’s gone and nothing they do can bring him back. The deeper their grief, the more they struggle to find a new purpose. Just when it feels like they have reached their breaking point, they each learn the other exists. Papi had many secrets.

This book is available in the following formats:

New Romance Titles at Fairmount

Are you looking for a new book? Check out the following new romance titles available at our Fairmount Street Branch. Check out the titles and see if any of them are something that you would be interested in. All descriptions have been provided by the publisher.

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Hero Wanted by Betina M. Krahn

When dashing, determined bachelor Rafe Townsend, and beautiful, impetuous Lauren Alcott are trapped into an engagement by their powerful business magnate fathers, their attraction suggests there may be pleasurable compensations to matrimony after all. Until an outing together puts a damper on their future…

Lauren is appalled when Rafe refuses to help two women whose boat has overturned on a river. Stripping her outer clothing, she dives in to rescue them herself—delighting a nearby reporter. Soon, newspapers and scandal sheets have labeled Rafe as “less than heroic,” for all of London to see, while Lauren is viewed by many as brazen. Besieged by scandalous rumors, and with both their reputations in the balance, what ensues is a prickly scheme that will either forge a partnership of deception—or blaze a path to true love.

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All the Colors of Night by Jayne Ann Krentz

Two psychics plunge into a dark world of deadly secrets in this second installment of the Fogg Lake trilogy by New York Times bestselling author Jayne Ann Krentz.

North Chastain possesses a paranormal talent that gives him the ability to track down the most dangerous psychic criminals. When his father suddenly falls into a coma, North is convinced it was caused by a deadly artifact traced back to the days of a secret government laboratory known only as the Bluestone Project. North knows his only hope of saving his father is to find the artifact. He is good when it comes to tracking down killers but to locate the relic, he’s going to need help from a psychic who knows the shadowy world of obsessive collectors, deceptive dealers, and ruthless raiders…

With her reputation in ruins after a false accusation, antique expert Sierra Raines is looking for a fresh start. She turns to the murky backwaters of the paranormal artifacts trade, finding and transporting valuable objects with a psychic provenance. When North Chastain approaches her for help, Sierra takes him on as a client, though not without reservations. North represents the mysterious Foundation, the secretive organization established to police the underworld populated by psychic criminals and those, like Sierra, who make a living in the shadows of that world.

North and Sierra soon find themselves at the scene of The Incident that occurred decades ago in Fogg Lake. The town and its residents were forever changed by the disaster in the nearby Bluestone Project labs. The pair unearth shocking truths about what happened that fateful night, but they are playing with fire—someone in town knows what they’ve discovered and will do anything to make sure the secrets stay buried.

This book is also available in the following formats:

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Jackson by LaQuette

Aja Everett longs to turn her old family ranch into a place where anyone can find rest and healing. But her big heart’s bound to get her in trouble if she’s not careful—someone wants her gone, and they’ll do whatever it takes to drive her away from the land that’s her lifeblood. Whether she’s willing to admit it or not, she needs help.

She needs a man like Ranger Jackson Dean.

Jackson doesn’t trust love. He once made the mistake of following his heart and all he’d gotten was pain in return. But when city-slicking do-gooder Aja Everett asks for his help, he can’t stay away…and as attraction sizzles and protective instincts flare, she may be the only woman able to restore the heart of this Texas Ranger.

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Like You Love Me by Adriana Locke

Two childhood friends are playing house—and maybe playing for keeps—in this sexy, and unpredictable marriage-of-convenience romance.

To save her Tennessee bed-and-breakfast, Sophie Bates needs a fast-cash miracle. Holden McKenzie, her childhood best friend, needs to prove to a prospective employer that he’s a committed man. Their fortunes on the line, Holden proposes…a solution.

He’ll take care of Sophie’s bills if she agrees to a temporary marriage of convenience. And why not? They’re comfortable together, they have fun, and they trust each other. It’s as simple as saying “I do.” But the off-the-cuff wedding has all of Honey Creek talking—and Sophie and Holden realizing that their perfect arrangement is working too well. If they’re not careful, this marriage could turn into a love story.

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A Rogue to Remember by Emily Sullivan

In this irresistible historical romance debut, a seasoned spy sets out to rescue the childhood friend he once loved from a reputation-destroying rumor—only to discover that she is actually the source.

After enduring five interminable seasons, Lottie Carlisle has had enough of shallow London society, her boring little life, and her uncle Alfred’s meddling. When he demands she accept a proposal by the end of next season or else he will choose a husband for her, she devises a plan: create a scandal shocking enough to make her unmarriageable and spend her spinsterhood far enough away in the countryside where no one will ever recognize her.

Alec Gresham hasn’t seen Lottie since he left his childhood friend without a word five years ago. So he’s not surprised to find her furious when he appears on her doorstep. Especially bearing the news he brings: her uncle is dying, her blasted reputation is still intact, and Lottie must return home. As they make the journey back to her family estate, it becomes increasingly clear that the last five years hasn’t erased their history, nor their explosive chemistry. Can Lottie look past her old heartache and trust Alec, or will his secrets doom their relationship once again?

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The Keepsake Sisters by Lori Wilde

It was a story that couldn’t possibly be true: Identical twins, separated at birth. Anna Drury wouldn’t have believed it, but the woman standing before her was physically alike her in every way…and held in her hands a keepsake baby bracelet, the same as Anna had.  How could it be?

Anna—with her tall, strong husband and two adorable children, grew up loved and secure, and she freely opens her heart to others, so she embraces the idea of her new-found sister, Amelia. Everyone tells Anna to tread carefully, but Amelia is family, she sees it in the other woman’s face and knows it in the depth of her soul. And family should always be welcome.

Once the shock settles and the dust clears, the sisters learn about each other as they unravel the secrets of their past and separation. Anna wants to believe that life with her new-found sister will be perfect, but just as they are bonding in a special way, Amelia reveals the true reason for their reunion. Her kidneys are failing, and Anna could be her perfect match. 

But if Anna agrees to her request it might threaten everything she holds dear, her marriage, her health…even her life. Faced with this dilemma, Anna must ask herself a hard question, how far will she go to help her twin, the woman who is her other half…and a woman she doesn’t really know?

This book is also available in the following format:

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A Lady’s Formula for Love by Elizabeth Everett

What is a Victorian lady’s formula for love? Mix one brilliant noblewoman and her enigmatic protection officer. Add in a measure of danger and attraction. Heat over the warmth of humor and friendship, and the result is more than simple chemistry—it’s elemental.

Lady Violet Hughes is keeping secrets. First, she founded a clandestine sanctuary for England’s most brilliant female scientists. Second, she is using her genius on a confidential mission for the Crown. But the biggest secret of all? Her feelings for protection officer Arthur Kneland.

Solitary and reserved, Arthur learned the hard way to put duty first. But the more time he spends in the company of Violet and the eccentric club members, the more his best intentions go up in flames. Literally.

When a shadowy threat infiltrates Violet’s laboratories, endangering her life and her work, scientist and bodyguard will find all their theories put to the test—and learn that the most important discoveries are those of the heart.

This book is also available in the following format:

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A Good Old-Fashioned Cowboy by Maisey Yates, Caitlin Crews, Jackie Ashenden, and Nicole Helm

Four best friends return home to find more than they ever dared dream of in this delightful quartet from bestselling authors Maisey Yates, Caitlin Crews, Jackie Ashenden and Nicole Helm.

When they were girls, best friends Hope, Charity, Pru and Kit made a pact. If, at thirty, they weren’t happy with their lives, they would return home to Jasper Creek, Oregon. And when Hope’s wedding implodes, they decide it’s time.

While Hope is uncertain she’ll find her way back to the man she left behind, Kit finds herself kissing the man of her high school fantasies, good girl Charity decides to have some fun with a bad boy and Pru develops feelings for the one man she shouldn’t touch–her brother’s best friend.

All they wanted was to make their small-town childhood dreams a reality. But along the way, these four women also have to contend with their very own good old-fashioned cowboys.

This book is also available in the following format:

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Wild Rain by Beverly Jenkins

The second novel in USA Today bestselling author Beverly Jenkins’ compelling new Women Who Dare series follows a female rancher in Wyoming after the Civil War.

A reporter has come to Wyoming to do a story on doctors for his Black newspaper back east. He thinks Colton Lee will be an interesting subject…until he meets Colton’s sister, Spring. She runs her own ranch, wears denim pants instead of dresses, and is the most fascinating woman he’s ever met.

But Spring, who has overcome a raucous and scandalous past, isn’t looking for, nor does she want, love. As their attraction grows, will their differences come between them or unite them for an everlasting love?

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Hopeless Romantic by Marina Adair

Set against the breezy backdrop of coastal Rhode Island, bestselling author Marina Adair’s latest novel asks whether two of a small town’s biggest hearts can learn to put themselves first—in the name of love.

As caregiver for her autistic brother, Beckett Hayes knows how meaningful a little extra help can be when life happens. Which is why she runs Consider It Done, a personal concierge service in her small town. Her job also gives her the flexibility to follow her passion, being Rome, Rhode Island’s unofficial special needs advocate, training emotional support companions in her spare time. There’s not much of that, though, and certainly not enough for serious dating. It’s always been family first for Beck. But one unquestionably gorgeous, good-natured man is suddenly a temptation that’s getting tougher to resist…

Sixteen years ago, Levi Rhodes was ready to sail off into the sunset–literally. But then his father’s death and his sister’s unexpected pregnancy postponed his sailing scholarship and the adventures he had planned. Running the family marina and bar was the least he could do for his grieving mother. Plus, his niece needed a father-figure. But now that she’s in high school and has her bio-dad in her life, Levi’s wondering if it’s time to get his sea legs under him again…until curvy, caring Beck showed up in his bar, and then in his dreams.

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The Lost Manuscript by Cathy Bonidan; translated from the French by Emma Ramadan

The Lost Manuscript is a charming epistolary novel about the love of books and magical ability they have to bring people together.

When Anne-Lise Briard books a room at the Beau Rivage Hotel for her vacation on the Brittany coast, she has no idea this trip will start her on the path to unearthing a mystery. In search of something to read, she opens up her bedside table drawer in her hotel room, and inside she finds an abandoned manuscript. Halfway through the pages, an address is written. She sends pages to the address, in hopes of potentially hearing a response from the unknown author. But not before she reads the story and falls in love with it. The response, which she receives a few days later, astonishes her…

Not only does the author write back, but he confesses that he lost the manuscript 30 years prior on a flight to Montreal. And then he reveals something even more shocking–that he was not the author of the second half of the book.

Anne-Lise can’t rest until she discovers who this second mystery author is, and in doing so tracks down every person who has held this manuscript in their hands. Through the letters exchanged by the people whose lives the manuscript has touched, she discovers long-lost love stories and intimate secrets. Romances blossom and new friends are made. Everyone’s lives are made better by this book–and isn’t that the point of reading? And finally, with a plot twist you don’t see coming, she uncovers the astonishing identity of the author who finished the story.

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The Jake Ryan Complex by Bethany Crandell

A teenage movie crush set her standards high. Now a real man needs to meet them. Fast.

Chicago obstetrician Mackenzie “Mac” Huntress set her standards for men very high early on. It’s been over twenty years since she fell for a fictional movie heartthrob, and Mac’s content to wait for the real version to come along; it’s her nagging mother who’s not happy with the timeline. So Mac falls back on her lifelong Mom-surviving skill—lying. The latest fabrication: a handsome neurologist named Michael. Pity he’s too busy to meet her friends and family. Problem solved.

But when Mac’s little sister announces her engagement, Mac is expected to introduce her elusive “plus-one” at the wedding, leaving her with only forty days to find a flesh-and-blood stand-in for the imaginary Michael. And the only potential Mr. Right comes with a big hitch.

However, it turns out Mac’s not the only one bringing secrets to the wedding. With expectations high, and shocking truths to be revealed, Mac’s left to find her own happy ending, which isn’t as simple as in the movies…though it’s definitely worth waiting for.

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Meet You in the Middle by Devon Daniels

What happens when the person you find MOST impossible becomes impossible to resist? Opposites distract in this hilarious romantic comedy about America’s least likely couple.

There’s just one thing standing between liberal Senate staffer Kate Adams and passage of the landmark legislation she’s been fighting for all year: Ben Mackenzie, intimidating gatekeeper for one of DC’s most powerful conservative senators. After Kate and Ben lock horns in a meet-not-so-cute, they vow to take each other down–by any means necessary.

She thinks he’s arrogant (and doesn’t deserve those gorgeous green eyes). He thinks she’s too quick to judge (and irresistibly distracting). But as their endless game of one-upmanship becomes Kate’s favorite part of the day, she starts to wonder if her feelings for Ben are closer to attraction than animosity…and maybe their sparring is flirting. And when Kate realizes there’s more to Ben than meets the eye, she’s forced her to confront her biggest fear: In her sworn enemy, she may have found her perfect match.

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The Sea Glass Cottage by RaeAnne Thayne

The life Olivia Harper always dreamed of isn’t so dreamy these days. The 16-hour work days are unfulfilling and so are things with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when she hears that her estranged mother, Juliet, has been seriously injured in a car accident, Liv has no choice but to pack up her life and head home to beautiful Cape Sanctuary on the Northern California coast.

It’s just for a few months—that’s what Liv keeps telling herself. But the closer she gets to Cape Sanctuary, the painful memories start flooding back: Natalie, her vibrant, passionate older sister who downward-spiraled into addiction. The fights with her mother who enabled her sister at every turn. The overdose that took Natalie, leaving her now-teenaged daughter, Caitlin, an orphan.

As Liv tries to balance her own needs with those of her injured mother and an obstinate, resentful fifteen-year-old, it becomes clear that all three Harper women have been keeping heartbreaking secrets from one another. And as those secrets are revealed, Liv, Juliet, and Caitlin will see that it’s never too late—or too early—to heal family wounds and find forgiveness.

This book is also available in the following formats:

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Season of the Wolf by Maria Vale

In a world of danger and uncertainty, the Alpha has enough to worry about without him…

For Alpha Evie Kitwanasdottir, things are never easy. The Great North Pack has just survived a deadly attack. Evie is determined to do whatever is necessary to keep her Pack safe, especially from the four Shifters who are their prisoners.

Constantine lost his parents and his humanity on the same devastating day. He has been a thoughtless killer ever since. When Constantine is moved to live under Evie’s watchful eye, he discovers that taking directions and having a purpose are not the same thing.

Each moment spent together brings new revelations to Constantine, who begins to understand the loneliness of being Alpha. He finds strength and direction in helping Evie, but there is no room for a small love in the Pack, so Constantine must work harder than ever to prove to Evie he is capable of a love big enough for the Great North Pack itself.

Get In On the Ground floor — New Graphic Novels Series

New graphic novel series are starting all the time, introducing new characters or new storylines for established characters. Here are some series added to the Davenport Public Library collection in early 2021 that will help you enjoy your graphic novel reading experience from the very beginning.

The Apothecary Diaries – This manga from Natsu Hyuuga tells the story of Maomao, a young woman trained in the art of herbal medicine, who is forced to work as a lowly servant in the inner palace. Using her wits to break a “curse” afflicting the imperial heirs, Maomao attracts the attentions of the handsome eunuch Jinshi and is promoted to attendant food taster. But Jinshi has other plans for the erstwhile apothecary, and soon Maomao is brewing potions and solving mysteries. In this quick moving series, Volumes 2 through 4 are scheduled to come out by the end of the year.

Batman/Superman – From popular comic hero writer Joshua Williamson, Batman and Superman team up in a new series. They must work together to find out who is infected with the mutated Joker virus and hopefully cure them before it’s too late.  You can jump in here or get more backstory on the Joker virus in 2019’s The Batman Who Laughs storyline from Scott Snyder.   Volume 2 of  Batman/Superman is due out later this year.

 

Canto : If Only I had a Heart  written by David M. Booher ; art by Drew Zucker – Canto opens with a quote from the Tin Woodman in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. “I shall take the heart, for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.” That sets the stage for, what at first appears to be an adorable, short knight going on an epic quest. The story turns darker as it is explained that creatures known as “slavers” have replaced all the hearts of the Canto-like creatures with clocks and forced them to work at furnaces to fuel their city. Canto’s epic quest is to find the heart of the girl he loves after the slavers break her clock and threaten to throw her in the furnace if she can’t work anymore. Volume 2 comes out in May 2021.

Carole & Tuesday written by Shinichirō Watanabe; illustrations by Morito Yamataka – When orphan Carole meets runaway Tuesday, an uptown girl who wants nothing more than to make music, it’s as if they were fated to find each other. With their shared dream, the duo charges headfirst into the world of entertainment on colonized Mars. This is a manga graphic novel, so it reads right to left.  Watch for Volume 2 to be available from the Davenport Public Library soon.

 

Ms. Marvel starts an all-new era with an alien invasion in New Jersey.  She must save her hometown, save the planet, and protect her family.  But her parents are also trying to protect her by chaperoning her outer space adventures. In Volume 2, Ms. Marvel’s roadtrip is derailed by zombies. You don’t have to wait long for Volume 3, due in May 2021, where Ms. Marvel must complete with a new superhero in town – Amulet. This series is headed by prolific graphic novel writer Saladin Ahmed.

Ragna Crimson — Dragon hunters: warriors armed with special silver weapons who kill their prey for bounty. Lowest among their ranks is Ragna, who forms an improbable partnership with the young genius Leonica, a master dragon slayer with more kills to her name than almost any other. All Ragna wants is to stay by Leonica’s side, but his dream is shattered by an attack from the deadliest dragon imaginable. More volumes are scheduled to come out in May and August.

Let’s Talk by David Crystal

I live for well-written books that explain how the world works and/or give tips on how to build up or improve skills. My latest discovery in this genre is 2020’s Let’s Talk: How English Conversation Works by David Crystal. This slim, well-written volume breaks down the conventions and nuances of conversations in clear, simple language with lots of examples. Here’s how the publisher describes it:

Banter, chit-chat, gossip, natter, tete-a-tete: these are just a few of the terms for the varied ways in which we interact with one another through conversation. David Crystal explores the factors that motivate so many different kinds of talk and reveals the rules we use unconsciously, even in the most routine exchanges of everyday conversation. We tend to think of conversation as something spontaneous, instinctive, habitual. It has been described as an art, as a game, sometimes even as a battle. Whichever metaphor we use, most people are unaware of what the rules are, how they work, and how we can bend and break them when circumstances warrant it.

Crystal does very well at writing out and explaining the hidden, unwritten rules that underlie all our everyday interactions, leading to many ‘aha’ moments while reading that made me say “Wow, we really do do that!” His source materials and examples are particularly compelling, drawn from his 1970s recordings of authentic informal conversations as well as other modern examples. He also makes the text readable and interesting with relatively short chapters and engaging, well-written text. He tends to be academic, delving into the history of conversation in English and using some linguistics jargon (and he also writes his own take on a battle rap) but overall he shares relevant, useful, or interesting tidbits about how people talk to each other.

For me personally, as an English language and literature nerd, this book was fascinating and enlightening; I felt like an extraterrestrial anthropologist studying the communication habits of humanity (and the book’s British English was charming and familiar from my favorite UK shows)! This book would be good for other language or history nerds, social science enthusiasts, those for whom English isn’t their first language (though strong familiarity with the language is helpful), and anyone who enjoys talking to people and/or wants to have better conversations and relationships.

Best Sellers Club April Authors – Danielle Steel and Sandra Brown

Want the hottest new release from your favorite author? Want to stay current with a celebrity book club? Love nonfiction? You should join the Best Sellers Club. Choose any author, celebrity pick, and/or nonfiction pick and the Davenport Public Library will put the latest title on hold for you automatically. Select as many as you want! If you still have questions, please check out our list of FAQs.

New month means new highlighted authors from the Best Sellers Club! April’s authors are Danielle Steel for fiction and Sandra Brown for romance. Have you read either of these authors?

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Our April fiction pick is Danielle Steel. Steel has written more than 194 books and has sold more than 650 million copies of said books internationally. She writes across many genres: general fiction, romance, historical, mystery, thriller, historical romance, and children’s fiction. Her works have been published in sixty-nine countries and forty-three languages. Of the 165 books she has written, eighteen are children’s books and 139 are novels. In addition to her books, Steel has also founded and runs two foundations. One foundation helps the homeless, while the other was named in honor of her late son, The Nick Traina Foundation. This foundation helps to finance organizations that deal with child abuse, mental illness, and suicide prevention.

Her latest book is Complications, which will be published in  August 2021. Curious what this book is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher:

Scandal and tragedy erupt against the backdrop of an exclusive Paris hotel in Danielle Steel’s riveting novel.

Known for its luxurious accommodations and bespoke service, the Hotel Louis XVI has been the most lauded boutique hotel in all of Paris for decades, attracting an international clientele of the rich and famous. Now, after four years of renovations and the death of its legendary and beloved manager, it is set to reopen its doors at last. An esteemed group of loyal returning guests is set to descend upon the hotel, joined by a number of new faces who have managed to secure coveted bookings in the wake of last-minute cancellations.

Awaiting them all is the Louis XVI’s new manager, Olivier Bateau, an anxious man whose lack of experience leaves him unprepared. He and his level-headed assistant manager, Yvonne Philippe, both strive to continue the hotel’s tradition of excellence. But they quickly realize that anything can happen at any moment, and on one cool September evening, everything does.

A successful art consultant arrives at the hotel for the first time since her brutal divorce, and is surprised to find new love—if she is willing to risk her heart again. A new guest contemplates ending his life, and saves a life instead. A couple finds their once-in-a-lifetime trip interrupted by a tragic medical emergency, leaving the idyllic future they’ve long waited for hanging in the balance. And one of the hotel’s most high-profile guests, a French politician and assumed presidential candidate, holds a mysterious meeting in his suite that will threaten his life and legacy. Rocked by the events of this one fateful night, guests and staff alike brace themselves for the aftershock, as it quickly becomes apparent that more dramas and misfortunes are still in store.

Danielle Steel tells an unforgettable story about a famed hotel, where a few complications quickly escalate into a matter of life and death, changing the lives of everyone who passes through its doors.

This book is also available in the following format:

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Our April romance pick is Sandra Brown. Brown writes suspense, thriller, historical, and classic romance books. She has written over 70 New York Times bestselling books, but since 1981, Brown has written over eighty novels. Almost eighty million copies of her book have been published in thirty-four languages. Television movies have been made of four of her novels: French Silk, Smoke Screen, Ricochet, and White Hot.

Brown’s latest book is Blind Tiger,  which will be published in August 2021. Brown hasn’t released much information about this forthcoming title, but what we know is provided by the publisher below:

A new page-turning historical thriller set in Prohibition-era Texas.

This book is also available in the following format:

Our Darkest Night by Jennifer Robson

Focusing on a part of World War II that is less explored, Jennifer Robson transports us to Italy under German occupation in Our Darkest Night.

Antonina has lived in Venice her whole life; her family have been residents for several generations. Her father is a renowned and well-respected doctor, with people from all over Europe and from all walks of life seeking him out. But none of this matters after the Nazi occupation of Italy. By 1943, daily life for the Jews of Venice has become nearly unbearable and increasingly dangerous.

As the danger looms, Antonina’s father refuses to leave his invalid wife, but insists that Antonina escape, posing as the wife of a man she’s never met, Nico, a former seminary student. Nico takes her to his family farm in the countryside, several days travel from  Venice, in the hopes that she will be safe hiding with a Christian family in a remote location.

Antonina (now known as Nina) finds her new life grueling and lonely, and she misses and fears for her parents desperately.  But even as she finds a place in her new family and falls in love with Nico, the German threat is not far away. Can she and Nico survive the horrors that are to come?

This is a quick read with characters that you will care about. The relentless cruelty of the Nazi’s can be difficult to read, but the strength of the Italian people will give you hope. For more books about Italy during the German occupation in World War II, be sure to check out A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell and Blame the Dead by Ed Ruggero.

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