Online Reading Challenge – July

Hello and welcome to the July edition of the Online Reading Challenge!

This month our theme is about the Holocaust and those who survived. Living through this terrible, dark time is pretty much unimaginable to those of us that were not touched by it’s horrors. Simply reading about the Holocaust is difficult, but I think it’s important that we do read about it and never forget how terrible events can happen. We must always be vigilant so that this never happens again, a job that is neverending.

This month’s main title is We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter.

An extraordinary, propulsive novel based on the true story of a family of Polish Jews who scatter at the start of the Second World War, determined to survive, and to reunite. It is the spring of 1939, and three generations of the Kurc family are doing their best to live normal lives, even as the shadow of war grows ever closer. The talk around the family Seder table is of new babies and budding romance, not of the increasing hardships facing Jews in their hometown of Radom, Poland. But soon the horrors overtaking Europe will become inescapable and the Kurc family will be flung to the far corners of the earth, each desperately trying to chart his or her own path toward safety.

Also available as an ebook.

Alternate titles are:

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

In April 1942, Lale Sokolov, a Slovakian Jew, is forcibly transported to the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. When his captors discover that he speaks several languages, he is put to work as a Tätowierer (the German word for tattooist), tasked with permanently marking his fellow prisoners. Imprisoned for more than two and a half years, Lale witnesses horrific atrocities and barbarism–but also incredible acts of bravery and compassion.

Also available as an ebook, e-audiobook and Large Print.

The Last Train to London by Meg Waite Clayton

Truus Wijsmuller, a member of the Dutch resistance, risks her life smuggling Jewish children out of Nazi Germany to the nations that will take them. It is a mission that becomes even more dangerous after the Anschluss – Hitler’s annexation of Austria – as, across Europe, countries close their borders to the growing number of refugees desperate to escape. Tante Truus, as she is known, is determined to save as many children as she can.

Night by Eli Wiesel

Born in the town of Sighet, Transylvania, Elie Wiesel was a teenager when he and his family were taken from their home in 1944 to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and then to Buchenwald. This book is the terrifying record of Elie Wiesel’s memories of the death of his family, the death of his own innocence, and his despair as a deeply observant Jew confronting the absolute evil of man.

Also available as an e-audiobook and as a book-on-cd

Look for these books and many others on display at each of our buildings.

Online Reading Challenge – June Wrap-Up

Hello Challenge Readers!

How did your reading go in June? Did you read something from this month’s theme of food and connection? There certainly were a lot of great (delicious!) books to choose from!

Our main title this month was the graphic novel Relish by Lucy Knisley. I’m not a big fan of graphic novels, but this one is loaded with charming illustrations, funny personal stories and cooking tips and recipes. Knisley retraces her culinary journey through her life, from her earliest memories of the kitchen of her “foodie” parents, to travels around the world where she discovers new foods, to her triumphs and stumbles in cooking as an adult. Relevant recipes are scattered throughout the book along with cooking tips and shortcuts.

While you can expect to find recipes and cooking adventures in food-oriented books as well as vivid descriptions of meals and dining experiences, what I find most intriguing about them goes beyond the food.  It’s the fellowship and celebration of cultural differences that these books share. There’s almost always food involved when people gather, especially celebrations  and family events. Food brings us together with shared memories and family history whether it’s food brought to America with immigrants (recently arrived or long ago), regional specialties or a nuclear family’s own traditions. The preparation of food can honor those who have passed away and it can be an integral part of a holiday (Christmas cookies anyone? Thanksgiving turkey?). It can also teach us about other cultures – visiting another country (or even another part of the US) can open our eyes to new flavors and cuisines and broaden our perspectives.

Did you find this to be true in the book you read for June? How did food factor into the story? What was the character’s experience with food? Did your characters celebrate traditional family meals, or did they explore different cultures through food?

Be sure to share your observations on this month’s Book Flight in the comments below!

Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda

Megan Miranda is one of my favorite psychological suspense authors. Miranda’s latest novel, Such a Quiet Place, is a twisty, riveting books about a murder that happens in a close-knit and idyllic neighborhood. Megan Miranda loves adding twists to her books and the ones she adds here pack a punch!

Such a Quiet Place tells the story of Hollow’s Edge – a picture perfect neighborhood nestled along a lake where everyone knows everyone else, where they look out for each other. Their closeness is compounded by the fact that many of the residents work together at the local college. This idyllic peace is shattered with the murders of Brandon and Fiona Truett. Rumors begin to spread almost immediately after the bodies are found with residents searching their secrutiy cameras for clues and posting on their neighborhood message board.

Fast forward a year and a half. Hollow’s Edge is on the verge of an uproar. The residents who want to sell their homes aren’t able to, while the Truett house sits empty and haunts them. One spark is enought to send them panicking and that spark comes in the form of Ruby Fletcher. They implicated her as the killer at the trial, but now she’s out of jail and back in Hollow’s Edge for who knows how long.

Ruby’s conviction has been overturned and she shows up at the house she once shared with Harper Nash like nothing has happened. Harper is five years older than Ruby and has always treated her like a younger sister who has lost her way. With Ruby back, Harper is terrified. Why has she come back to Hollow’s Edge, the literal scene of the crime? How can Harper tell her to leave when Ruby has no other place to go?

Ruby’s arrival has the community up in arms. Suspicion spreads through the neighborhood. It soom becomes clear to Harper that not everyone told the truth about what happened the night Brandon and Fiona Truett died. Harper finds threatening notes at her house and realizes that she needs to find out who is responsible before the killer strikes again.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Trouble in the Stars by Sarah Prineas

When life gets you down… read a middle-grade novel. These books tackle serious issues without the angst of YA or the bleak cynicism of adult fiction, and that’s something everyone needs sometimes. My latest recommendation is Trouble in the Stars by Sarah Prineas.

Readers are plunged headlong into a journey of discovery when a young shapeshifter (who enters the story as a blob of goo) goes on the run from StarLeague (dystopian government type) soldiers. After stowing away aboard a freighter, the shifter takes human form and is christened Trouble by the crew. Trouble learns what it means to be a human (from food to friendship) while trying to earn the crew’s trust. But eventually StarLeague will catch up, so it’s up to Trouble and the ship’s crew to chase down the truth about where Trouble came from and why StarLeague wants so badly to find them.

New readers of sci-fi will appreciate learning the lingo alongside Trouble, and similarly diversity (of many stripes) is explained in clear, matter-of-fact terms. Fans of Firefly (or parents who want to expose their kids to the concept but not the actual show) will appreciate the outlaw vibes, complete with a mysterious, coveted individual who doesn’t know their own power. This is a good read for all ages, balancing a quick and interesting plot with thoughtful characterization and moral considerations.

See also its sequel, Asking for Trouble for the continued adventures of your new favorite shapeshifter. Trouble in the Stars is also available on Overdrive.

Oprah’s Latest Book Club Pick: ‘Nightcrawling’ by Leila Mottley

Join our Best Sellers Club to have certain celebrity book club picks automatically put on hold for you: Reese Witherspoon, Jenna Bush Hager, and Oprah Winfrey. While Reese and Jenna generally announce a new title each month, Oprah’s selections are more sporadic. She has just announced hew newest selection! Reminder that if you join our Best Sellers Club, you can choose to have these titles automatically put on hold for you.

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Oprah Winfrey has selected Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley.

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

A dazzling novel about a young Black woman who walks the streets of Oakland and stumbles headlong into the failure of its justice system—the debut of a blazingly original voice and “a soul-searching portrait of survival and hope” (Oprah Winfrey)

Kiara and her brother, Marcus, are scraping by in an East Oakland apartment complex optimistically called the Regal-Hi. Both have dropped out of high school, their family fractured by death and prison

But while Marcus clings to his dream of rap stardom, Kiara hunts for work to pay their rent—which has more than doubled—and to keep the nine-year-old boy next door, abandoned by his mother, safe and fed. One night, what begins as a drunken misunderstanding with a stranger turns into the job Kiara never imagined wanting but now desperately needs: nightcrawling. Her world breaks open even further when her name surfaces in an investigation that exposes her as a key witness in a massive scandal within the Oakland Police Department.

Rich with raw beauty, electrifying intensity, and piercing vulnerability, Nightcrawling marks the stunning arrival of a voice unlike any we have heard before.

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Join our Best Sellers Club to have Oprah’s adult selections automatically put on hold for you!

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle

Rebecca Serle’s One Italian Summer takes place in an idyllic Amalfi coastal town. Like Serle’s previous work, In Five Years, there’s a bit of time travel to make the plot work.

When her mother dies, Katy goes alone on the journey that they’d planned to take together.  A side benefit of the trip overseas is that we get to enjoy the sensory-rich atmosphere – the sunshine, fragrant flowers and delicious food – not to mention the warm cadence of the Italian language. You can read it on the level of wish-fulfilling armchair travel or for the story of a mother-daughter relationship.

Katy and Carol were incredibly close – so close that others had a hard time breaking in. Katy’s husband, Eric, was excluded in many ways before Carol’s death, and, afterwards, Katy actually leaves him. In this book, the main focus is how Katy gets to know her mother, Carol, when Carol was a young woman

I enjoyed this book most for the setting – which Serle does a masterful job of evoking. The storyline about the somewhat strained loops in the space-time continuum were sometimes confusing. However, if you’re looking for a fun summer read that has a hint of literary weight, this would check a lot of the boxes.

Belfast on DVD

Buddy, a 9-year-old boy living in Belfast, Ireland in 1969 enjoys simple things – playing in the streets with his cousins, walking to school and working on his maths (homework) and going to the cinema and being dazzled by the films. He is loved and watched over by his older brother, his parents and his Pop and Granny (grandparents) as well as all of the people living in their tight-knit neighborhood where everyone knows everyone.

This safety and peace is shattered when “the troubles” explode on their street. A gang attacks the neighborhood, breaking windows, setting cars on fire and creating havoc, demanding that Catholics must leave. While Buddy and his family are Protestant and have no problems living next to Catholics, his father is pressured to either join the gangs or pay them, money that the family can’t afford.

They must now all face a terrible choice – stay in the place that they’ve always known and loved but which has become deadly dangerous, or move away for better opportunities but in a place where they know no one and no one knows them?

Directed and written (for which he received an Oscar) by Kenneth Branagh, Belfast features a collection of some of the finest actors alive today including Dame Judi Dench, Ciaran Hinds, Jamie Dornan and Catriona Balfe. Jude Hill, who plays Buddy is mesmerizing. Based on Kenneth Branagh’s own life story, this movie is by turns funny, heartbreaking and suspenseful but most of all, it’s about family love and the sacrifices one will make for them.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

You may know I’m a big fan of classic retellings, and of Jane Eyre and Rebecca. The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins is the ultimate retelling of both Jane Eyre and Rebecca, with modern feminist sensibilities.

Jane is the new dog walker in Thornfield Estates and resents the casual privilege her extremely wealthy clients display, while she’s struggling to make ends meet and living with a creepy church musician for a roommate. It seems a huge stroke of luck when she hits it off with reclusive widower Eddie Rochester and embarks on a whirlwind romance. But her sense that something isn’t right only grows as they start to talk about marriage, since the spectre of Eddie’s late wife Bea is never far away, in the neighborhood, in Eddie, and in the house. To make matters worse, then the police start asking Eddie more questions about the night Bea went missing and her best friend Blance died, and Blanche’s husband has plenty of unpleasant insinuations to make. Not to mention Jane’s own past is threatening to rear its ugly head…

I love that this book uses all the Jane Eyre names, but makes the original characters make sense in the modern world – John Rivers for example is perfectly drawn as an unsettling religious figure who wants Jane for himself and treats her badly. The plot is also optimized for modern readers as strategic flashbacks, confessions, and slow reveals avoid the boggy parts of Jane Eyre by mixing past with present. Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, and other unreliable-narrator thrillers are clear influences, and The Wife Upstairs easily joins their canon of feminist thrillers where realistic women earn their victories the hard way.

Best Seller’s Club June Authors: Lisa Jackson and Christine Feehan

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! June’s authors are Lisa Jackson for fiction and Christine Feehan for romance.

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Our June fiction author is Lisa Jackson. Jackson is a New York Times bestselling author of more than 85 novels. She also writes the Colony Series with her sister, Nancy Bush. Over 20 million copies of Lisa’s books are in print in twenty languages. Jackson writes a wide variety of genres: historical romance, mystery, romance, and romantic suspence. She describes her books as being ‘neck deep in murder’. She is fascinated by both sides of the criminal system: the killers and their pursuers. She strives to learn more about the minds and motives of each.

Photo by Shelby Kohler Photography

Jackson’s newest book is The Girl Who Survived, set to be published on June 28, 2022.

Curious what this book is about? Check out the following description provided by the author:

In an all-consuming novel of suspense from #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Jackson, the survivor of a brutal family massacre must uncover the shocking truth about a fateful night that left her forever marked . . .

All her life, she’s been the girl who survived. Orphaned at age seven after a horrific killing spree at her family’s Oregon cabin, Kara McIntyre is still searching for some kind of normal. But now, twenty years later, the past has come thundering back. Her brother, Jonas, who was convicted of the murders has unexpectedly been released from prison. The press is in a frenzy again. And suddenly, Kara is receiving cryptic messages from her big sister, Marlie—who hasn’t been seen or heard from since that deadly Christmas Eve when she hid little Kara in a closet with a haunting, life-saving command: Don’t make a sound.

As people close to her start to die horrible deaths, Kara, who is slowly and surely unraveling, believes she is the killer’s ultimate target.

Kara survived once. But will she survive again? How many times can she be the girl who survived?

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Our June romance author is Christine Feehan. Christine Feehan is a #1 New York Times bestselling author, with 83 published works in seven different series: Dark Series, GhostWalker Series, Leopard Series, Drake Sisters Series, Sea Haven Series, Shadow Series, and Torpedo Ink Series. All seven of her series have hit the #1 spot on the New York Times bestseller list. Judgment Road, the first book in her newest series, Torpedo Ink, debuted at #1 on the New York Times bestseller list. More than 13 million copies of her books are in print. They have also been published and translated in 14 countries. Christine Feehan writes primarily paranormal romance and urban fantasy.

Christine lives in the beautiful Redwoods near the ocean on California’s Pacific North Coast surrounded by family, friends and several dogs.

Feehan’s newest book is Dark Whisper, which should be published in October 2022. This is book 36 in the Dark series.

Curious what this book is about? Below is a description provided by the author.

Vasilisa Sidkorolyavolkva is a Lycan of royal blood. She knows what’s expected of her, but all she wants is to be out from under her family’s watchful eyes. There is a fire inside her that is building. A restlessness coupled with a sense of growing dread. Every day she feels the weight of the legacy passed down through generations. The prophecy that says a man will come to claim her as his mate and that she will guard his soul. She knows nothing about him, except that he is hers. But nothing seems real until the night she meets him in the flesh…

Afanasiv Belan is a Carpathian, and an ancient one. In all the centuries of his existence, no one has ever affected him like Vasilisa. He can see into her mind and feel what’s in her heart. They are so alike, warriors bound by honor and plagued by secrets. They both know they must reveal the darkest parts of their souls if they hope to survive and protect the ones they love.

But if they claim each other as lifemates it will change them down to the bone. They will become something more — something both of their kinds fear…

Within These Wicked Walls by Lauren Blackwood

Lauren Blackwood is a Jamaican American writer who writes romance-heavy fantasy. Her debut young adult novel, Within These Wicked Wallsdefinitely falls into that category. This fantasy novel is a New York Times bestseller as well as Reese Witherspoon’s Fall 2021 Young Adult book club pick.

“If I look at all the bad in my life along with the good, the bad would bury the good in a landslide. My spirit, my will to live, would shrivel and die. So, instead, I choose to be thankful for what little good I have.”
― Lauren Blackwood, Within These Wicked Walls

Within These Wicked Walls is a young adult fantasy novel that has definite horror elements.  Andromeda is a debtera without a license. Debtera are exorcists hired by households to cleanse them of the Evil Eye. Her mentor, however, threw her out before she was able to earn her license, leaving Andromeda to scrounge for work. Her only option is to find a patron and she has her eyes set on a job that has proven deadly. Andromeda wants Magnus Rochester, a handsome young heir, to be her patron. He is a rich, well-connected person who, if she completes this job, will be able to vouch for her abilities to other potential clients.

The downside: Magnus is rude and demanding  with a long list of rules that must be followed. He’s also eccentric in ways that don’t make sense until Andromeda gets to know him. The more time Andromeda spends in the house, the more she realizes that this job is nothing like anything she has ever done before. There are manifestations throughout the house, some benign while others are horrifying. While Andromeda works to cleanse the house, she discovers that Magnus is hiding more than she has ever been trained for. Death may be the only option to free the house, but Andromeda is determined to rid the house of evil before any more innocent blood is shed.

This book is also available in the following format:

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