Online Reading Challenge – June Wrap-Up

Hello Fellow Challenge Readers!

How did your reading go this month? Did you read something set in the 1970s that you enjoyed? Share in the comments!

I had already read our main title, Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina, previously for a different book club, so I decided to read Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau.

Mary Jane is beyond ready to have a summer job. It’s 1970s Baltimore and her parents are strict. She spends her time cooking meals with her mother, attending church and singing in the church choir, and listening to records from the Broadway Show Tunes of the Month club to which her family subscribes. Her parents have decided that she can work as a nanny for the local doctor. She will spend her summer looking after their daughter – her mother says it’s respectable, which means a lot coming from her.

The moment Mary Jane steps foot inside the house, she knows her mother would be scandalized. The house may look respectable on the outside, but the inside is a mess. Clutter spills over every surface, stickers adorn the walls, and food is a free-for-all. The doctor isn’t even a traditional doctor – he’s a psychiatrist whose only patient for the entire summer is a famous rock star attempting to dry out from his addictions. Her mother would be scandalized and to be honest, Mary Jane is shocked as well.

Mary Jane spends her summer being exposed to ideas, music, books, and culture that her parents would not approve of. She brings order, a consistent food schedule, clean clothes, and so much else to the house while they expand her worldview. The closer the end of the summer gets, the more Mary Jane realizes that there is more to her world than the life her parents have carved out for her. Her future is wider than she ever thought possible.

Set in 1970s Baltimore, Jessica Anya Blau has created a riveting coming-of-age story highlighting a fourteen-year-old girl’s summer stuck between her strict family and the progressive family she nannies for. This book gave me strong Daisy Jones and the Six vibes. It was adorable, funny, and gently heart-breaking to watch Mary Jane grow over the summer. Her journey outside her parents’ strict house was liberating. Readers get to see Mary Jane grow more confident throughout the summer as she is exposed to things she never knew existed before.

What did you read, watch, or listen to that was set in the 1970s? Did you enjoy it?

Next month, we are traveling to the 1980s.

Summer Fiction Reads

Summer is here! To celebrate the official first day of summer on June 20th, I put together a list of fiction books with summer in the title. (Stay tuned for a list of romance books with with the same theme!) Whether about making new friends, investigating a tragic death, or shaking up a small town, these picks will have you thinking about what how you want to spend your summer.

These titles are all owned by Davenport Public Library at the time of this writing. Descriptions are provided by the publisher.


Jackpot Summer by Elyssa Friedland

After the Jacobson siblings win a life-changing fortune in the lottery, they assume their messy lives will transform into sleek, storybook perfection–but they couldn’t be more wrong.

The four Jacobson children were raised to respect the value of a dollar. Their mother reused tea bags and refused to pay retail; their father taught them to budget before he taught them to ride a bike. And yet, now that they’re adults, their financial lives are in disarray.

The siblings reunite when their newly widowed father puts their Jersey Shore beach house on the market. Packing up childhood memories isn’t easy, especially when there’s other drama brewing. Matthew is miserable at his corporate law job and wishes he had more time with his son; Laura’s marriage is imploding in spectacular fashion; Sophie’s art career is stalled while her boyfriend’s is on the rise; and Noah’s total failure to launch has him doing tech repair for pennies.

When Noah sees an ad for a Powerball drawing, he and his sisters go in on tickets while their brother Matthew passes. All hell breaks loose when one of the tickets is a winner and three of the four Jacobsons become overnight millionaires. Without their mother’s guidance, and with their father busy playing pickleball in a Florida retirement village, the once close-knit siblings search for comfort in shiny new toys instead of each other.

It’s not long before the Jacobsons start to realize that they’ll never feel rich unless they can pull their family back together. – Berkley

Mockingbird Summer by Lynda Rutledge

In segregated High Cotton, Texas, in 1964, the racial divide is as clear as the railroad tracks running through town. It’s also where two girls are going to shake things up.

This is the last summer of thirteen-year-old Corky Corcoran’s childhood, and her family hires a Haitian housekeeper who brings her daughter, America, along with her. Corky is quick to befriend America and eager to share her favorite new “grown-up” novel, To Kill a Mockingbird. America’s take on it is different and profoundly personal. As their friendship grows, Corky finds out so much more about America’s life and her hidden skill: she can run as fast as Olympian Wilma Rudolph!

When Corky asks America to play with her girls’ softball team for the annual church rivals game, it’s a move that crosses the color line and sets off a firestorm. As tensions escalate, it fast becomes a season of big changes in High Cotton. For Corky, those changes will last a lifetime.

Set on the eve of massive cultural shifts, Mockingbird Summer explores the impact of great books, the burden of potential, and the power of friendship with humor, poignancy, and exhilarating hope. – Lake Union Publishing

Seven Summer Weekends by Jane L. Rosen

When a Zoom disaster upends Addison Irwin’s decade-long career at a posh Manhattan advertising agency, things look bleak for the thirty-something mid-western transplant. But an unexpected inheritance from an aunt she barely remembers—a property on Fire Island, complete with guest house and artist’s studio—changes everything.

While debating whether to stay or sell, Addison learns that she’s also inherited her aunt’s list of eclectic guests, tying her to the island for seven summer weekends. Eager to convince Addison to keep the house rather than let a new buyer build a monstrosity in its place, the neighbors welcome her to their laid-back community. Well, all except the moody guy next door, who seems intent on glowering his way through life.

Steadfast in her path since college, Addison is determined not to let this detour on Fire Island throw her off track. But soon, between the revolving door of weekend visitors and the up-and-down relationship with her neighbor (and his adorable dog), she finds herself in unfamiliar territory. Should she try to pick up where she left off—or embrace entirely new possibilities? – Berkley

Summers at the Saint by Mary Kay Andrews

Welcome to the St. Cecelia, a landmark hotel on the coast of Georgia, where traditions run deep and scandals run even deeper. . . .

Everyone refers to the St. Cecelia as “the Saint.” If you grew up coming here, you were “a Saint.” If you came from the wrong side of the river, you were “an Ain’t.” Traci Eddings was one of those outsiders whose family wasn’t rich enough or connected enough to vacation here. But she could work here. One fateful summer she did, and married the boss’s son. Now, she’s the widowed owner of the hotel, determined to see it return to its glory days, even as staff shortages and financial troubles threaten to ruin it. Plus, her greedy and unscrupulous brother-in-law wants to make sure she fails. Enlisting a motley crew of recently hired summer help—including the daughter of her estranged best friend—Traci has one summer season to turn it around. But new information about a long-ago drowning at the hotel threatens to come to light, and the tragic death of one of their own brings Traci to the brink of despair.

Traci Eddings has her back against the pink-painted wall of this beloved institution. And it will take all the wits and guts she has to see wrongs put to right, to see guilty parties put in their place, and maybe even to find a new romance along the way. Told with Mary Kay Andrew’s warmth, humor, knack for twists, and eye for delicious detail about human nature, Summers at the Saint is a beach read with depth and heart. – St. Martin’s Press

The Summer We Started Over by Nancy Thayer

Eddie Grant is happy with her life and her work as a personal assistant to Dinah Lavender, one of the most famous and renowned romance authors in the business. But being a spectator to notoriety and glamour isn’t as fulfilling as she once thought. Thankfully, Eddie has the perfect excuse for a vacation: Her hardworking younger sister, Barrett, is opening her gift shop on Memorial Day weekend, and could use all the help she can get.

But going home to the beautiful island of Nantucket means facing the family’s difficult past. Shortly after the death of Eddie and Barrett’s brother, their mother left them and their father made the spontaneous decision to buy a small farm. Eddie stayed there for only a year before her family’s grief threatened to consume her as well, and had been living in Manhattan ever since. Now that she is back, Eddie must face all she left behind: her father’s increased eccentricities, which has led to a house bursting at the seams with books; her sister’s resentment over Eddie’s escape; and a past love connection, one that is still undeniable and complicated, all these years later. But the Grant sisters are nothing if not resilient and capable, opening a used bookstore in their father’s abandoned barn to manage his hoarding, and navigating the discovery of a long-buried family secret that will change all of them forever. – Ballantine Books

More 2024 Summer Fiction Reads!

Advocate: A Graphic Memoir of Family, Community, and the Fight for Environmental Justice by Eddie Ahn

Eddie Ahn has crafted Advocate: A Graphic Memoir of Family, Community and the Fight for Environmental Justice as a way to highlight his life from childhood to adulthood and all the steps in between that led to his work as an environmental justice lawyer and activist.

Eddie was born in Texas to Korean immigrants. His parents opened a store where Eddie grew up working behind the counter and stocking shelves. As he went through school, his parents outlined their expectations for his future. They wanted him to achieve the “American Dream”. Eddie wasn’t sure what he wanted, but he knew that what they wanted for him was different than what he wanted for himself. Eddie eventually moved to San Francisco and earned his law degree. After graduating with his law degree, he had difficulty finding a job in the legal field. He chose instead to opt for experience and entered into the world of nonprofits where he currently still works.

This decision is confusing for his parents, especially after they lose their store and end up divorcing. Describing his work to his parents is time consuming and a let-down as they struggle to understand what exactly he does for work, focusing instead on his monetary wealth. Eddie works hard to make a life for himself, but finds that he may be doing too much. He has too many balls in the air: family expectations, community dreams, professional goals, racial prejudice, burnouts, and economic inequality, amongst a plethora of others. Eddie knows he wants to live a life of service, helping his community with whatever they need. In his nonprofit work as an environmental justice attorney, Eddie spends his days fighting immediate issues as they pop up, ones that have consequences for all from ravaging wildfires to economic and social inequality.

This graphic memoir was profound. Eddie weaves together a narrative involving his personal life and family history with the historical and present fights for environmental justice in communities across the globe, but specifically his work in his local California area. The artwork is incredibly detailed. I appreciated the humorous bits mixed with moments of sadness and victory. All in all, this graphic memoir left me thinking about what more I could be doing with my life.

2024 Edgar Award Winners

The 2024 Edgar Award Winners have been announced! I look forward to this event all year. The 2024 Edgar Allan Poe Awards honor the best in mystery fiction, nonfiction, and television published or produced in 2023. The categories are best novel, best first novel by an American author, best paperback original, best fact crime, best critical/biographical, best short story, best juvenile, best young adult, best television episode teleplay, the Robert L. Fish Memorial Award, the Simon & Schuster Mary Higgins Clark Award, the G.P. Putnam’s Sons Sue Grafton Memorial Award, and the Lilian Jackson Braun Memorial Award. As much as I would love to discuss all the winners and finalists in this blog post, I can’t! That’s just too many! Instead, I will be focusing on those that are owned by the Davenport Public Library at the time of this writing.

All descriptions provided by the publisher. This is not a complete list of all the 2024 Edgar Award winners and nominees. For a complete list, please visit the Mystery Writers of America website.



Flags on the Bayou by James Lee Burke

In the fall of 1863, the Union army is in control of the Mississippi river. Much of Louisiana, including New Orleans and Baton Rouge, is occupied. The Confederate army is retreating toward Texas, and being replaced by Red Legs, irregulars commanded by a maniacal figure, and enslaved men and women are beginning to glimpse freedom.

When Hannah Laveau, an enslaved woman working on the Lufkin plantation, is accused of murder, she goes on the run with Florence Milton, an abolitionist schoolteacher, dodging the local constable and the slavecatchers that prowl the bayous. Wade Lufkin, haunted by what he observed—and did—as a surgeon on the battlefield, has returned to his uncle’s plantation to convalesce, where he becomes enraptured by Hannah. Flags on the Bayou is an engaging, action-packed narrative that includes a duel that ends in disaster, a brutal encounter with the local Union commander, repeated skirmishes with Confederate irregulars led by a diseased and probably deranged colonel, and a powerful story of love blossoming between an unlikely pair. As the story unfolds, it illuminates a past that reflects our present in sharp relief. – Grove Press

This title is also available in large print, Playaway audiobook, and CD Audiobook.




The Peacock and the Sparrow by I.S. Berry –

Shane Collins, a world-weary CIA spy, is ready to come in from the cold. Stationed in Bahrain off the coast of Saudi Arabia for his final tour, he has little use for his mission—uncovering Iranian support for the insurgency against the monarchy. Then Collins meets Almaisa, a beautiful and enigmatic artist, and his eyes are opened to a side of Bahrain most expats never experience, to questions he never thought to ask.

When his trusted informant inside the opposition becomes embroiled in a murder, Collins finds himself drawn deep into the conflict. His budding romance with Almaisa—and his loyalties—are upended; in an instant, he’s caught in the crosswinds of a revolution. Drawing on all his skills as a spymaster, he sets out to learn the truth behind the Arab Spring, win Almaisa’s love, and uncover the murky border where Bahrain’s secrets end and America’s begin. – Atria Books




Vera Wong’s Unsolicited Advice for Murderers by Jesse Q. Sutanto

This title is also available in large print and a discussion box.




The Ghosts of Rancho Espanto by Adrianna Cuevas

Rafa would rather live in the world of The Forgotten Age, his favorite fantasy role-playing game, than face his father’s increasing restrictions and his mother’s fading presence. But when Rafa and his friends decide to take the game out into the real world and steal their school cafeteria’s slushie machine, his dad concocts a punishment Rafa never could’ve imagined—a month working on a ranch in New Mexico, far away from his friends, their game, and his mom’s quesitos in Miami.

Life at Rancho Espanto isn’t as bad as Rafa initially expected, mostly due to Jennie, a new friend with similarly strong opinions about Cuban and Korean snacks, and Marcus, the veteran barn manager who’s not as gruff as he appears. But when Rafa’s work at the ranch is inexplicably sabotaged by a man (or a ghost) who may not be what he seems, Rafa and Jennie explore what’s behind the strange events at Rancho Espanto—and discover that the greatest mystery may have been with Rafa all along. – Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Girl Forgotten by April Henry

Piper Gray starts a true-crime podcast investigating a seventeen-year-old cold case in this thrilling YA murder mystery by New York Times bestselling author April Henry. 

Seventeen years ago, Layla Trello was murdered and her killer was never found. Enter true-crime fan Piper Gray who is determined to reopen Layla’s case and get some answers. With the help of Jonas—who has a secret of his own—Piper starts a podcast investigating Layla’s murder. But as she digs deeper into the mysteries of the past, Piper begins receiving anonymous threats telling her to back off the investigation, or else. The killer is still out there, and Piper must uncover their identity before they silence her forever.  – Christy Ottaviano Books

THE G.P. PUTNAM’S SONS SUE GRAFTON MEMORIAL AWARD – Presented on behalf of G.P. Putnam’s Sons


An Evil Heart by Linda Castillo

On a crisp autumn day in Painters Mill, Chief of Police Kate Burkholder responds to a call only to discover an Amish man who has been violently killed with a crossbow, his body abandoned on a dirt road. Aden Karn was just twenty years old, well liked, and from an upstanding Amish family. Who would commit such a heinous crime against a young man whose life was just beginning?

The more Kate gets to know his devastated family and the people—both English and Amish—who loved him, the more determined she becomes to solve the case. Aden Karn was funny and hardworking and looking forward to marrying his sweet fiancé, Emily. All the while, Kate’s own wedding day to Tomasetti draws near…

But as she delves into Karn’s past, Kate begins to hear whispers about a dark side. What if Aden Karn wasn’t the wholesome young man everyone admired? Is it possible the rumors are a cruel campaign to blame the victim? Kate pursues every lead with a vengeance, sensing an unspeakable secret no one will broach.

The case spirals out of control when a young Amish woman comes forward with a horrific story that pits Kate against a dangerous and unexpected opponent. When the awful truth is finally uncovered, Kate comes face to face with the terrible consequences of a life lived in all the dark places. – Minotaur Books

This title is also available in large print, CD audiobook, and Playaway audiobook.


THE LILIAN JACKSON BRAUN MEMORIAL AWARDEndowed by the estate of Lilian Jackson Braun


Glory Be by Danielle Arceneaux

It’s a hot and sticky Sunday in Lafayette, Louisiana, and Glory has settled into her usual after-church routine, meeting gamblers at the local coffee shop, where she works as a small-time bookie. Sitting at her corner table, Glory hears that her best friend—a nun beloved by the community—has been found dead in her apartment.

When police declare the mysterious death a suicide, Glory is convinced that there must be more to the story. With her reluctant daughter—who has troubles of her own—in tow, Glory launches a shadow investigation into Lafayette’s oil tycoons, church gossips, a rumored voodoo priestess, nosey neighbors, and longtime ne’er-do wells.

As a Black woman of a certain age who grew up in a segregated Louisiana, Glory is used to being minimized and overlooked. But she’s determined to make her presence known as the case leads her deep into a web of intrigue she never realized Lafayette could harbor.

Danielle Arcenaux’s riveting debut brings forth an unforgettable character that will charm and delight crime fans everywhere and leave them hungry for her next adventure. – Pegasus Crime


My Next Life as a Villainess All Routes Lead to Doom! : Pirates of the Disturbance

Originally a light novel series, My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! (or Hamefura, for short) has been adapted multiple times, receiving a manga, an anime, and now… a visual novel game! My Next Life as a Villainess All Routes Lead to Doom! : Pirates of the Disturbance is a non-canon addition to the series, set after season one of the anime.

You play as protagonist Catarina Claes, a Japanese highschooler reincarnated into the game Fortune Lover. As the game’s villainess, Catarina was doomed to an ending of exile or death! Somehow, she managed to befriend the main characters, survive the game’s ending, and make it to spring break. Pirates of the Disturbance finds her spending spring break on a luxury ship voyage with her adoptive brother Keith. After boarding the ship, she finds that all of the main characters are onboard. When the ship is attacked by pirates who hold the passengers hostage, Catarina recalls the plot of a Fortune Lover fan book and realizes she’s on her way to yet another bad end!

The game is made up of one common route and six romance routes, for a grand total of 25 endings. The six romance routes include four existing love interests (Geordo, Keith, Alan, and Nicol), as well as two new additions (Rozy and Silva). The routes share an overarching storyline, with each one revealing different plot details. For the best story experience, the developers recommend the following order: Geordo → Keith → Alan → Nicol → Rozy → Silva. The common route’s friendship ending unlocks after the first playthrough and can be played at any point in this order.

The Council of Catarinas (game screenshot)

While familiarity with the original series is helpful, the game does a great job of introducing the setting and characters for new players. The writers preserved the humor and charm that made the series popular, including fan-favorite comedic gags like the Council of Catarinas. For completionists like me, the 100 save slots and visible character affinity levels makes it easy to reach the different endings. Completing all 25 endings takes around 40-45 hours, but the visual novel style is great for playing at your own pace. Pirates of Disturbance does have its flaws (the English translation is awkward in places) but overall, it is an enjoyable and light-hearted game, perfect for both long-time fans and newcomers.

My Next Life as a Villainess All Routes Lead to Doom! : Pirates of the Disturbance is available on Nintendo Switch.

Sci-Fi and Fantasy Books with a bit of Mystery

Are you looking for a new science fiction or fantasy book to read? I have found a list of science fiction and fantasy titles that also have a bit of mystery running through them. If you’re like me and sometimes find sci-fi and fantasy books overwhelming, these titles may help ease you into this genre. You can even think of them as mysteries set in science fantasy worlds! If you have read something that fits with the below titles, let us know in the comments!

Descriptions are provided by the publishers.

The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett

In Daretana’s greatest mansion, a high imperial officer lies dead—killed, to all appearances, when a tree erupted from his body. Even here at the Empire’s borders, where contagions abound and the blood of the leviathans works strange magical changes, it’s a death both terrifying and impossible.

Assigned to investigate is Ana Dolabra, a detective whose reputation for brilliance is matched only by her eccentricities. Rumor has it that she wears a blindfold at all times, and that she can solve impossible cases without even stepping outside the walls of her home.

At her side is her new assistant, Dinios Kol, magically altered in ways that make him the perfect aide to Ana’s brilliance. Din is at turns scandalized, perplexed, and utterly infuriated by his new superior—but as the case unfolds and he watches Ana’s mind leap from one startling deduction to the next, he must admit that she is, indeed, the Empire’s greatest detective.

As the two close in on a mastermind and uncover a scheme that threatens the Empire itself, Din realizes he’s barely begun to assemble the puzzle that is Ana Dolabra—and wonders how long he’ll be able to keep his own secrets safe from her piercing intellect. – Del Rey


My Murder by Katie Williams

What if the murder you had to solve was your own?

Lou is a happily married mother of an adorable toddler. She’s also the victim of a local serial killer. Recently brought back to life and returned to her grieving family by a government project, she is grateful for this second chance. But as the new Lou re-adapts to her old routines, and as she bonds with other female victims, she realizes that disturbing questions remain about what exactly preceded her death and how much she can really trust those around her.

Now it’s not enough to care for her child, love her husband, and work the job she’s always enjoyed—she must also figure out the circumstances of her death. Darkly comic, tautly paced, and full of surprises, My Murder is a devour-in-one-sitting, clever twist on the classic thriller. – Riverhead Books


The Helm of Midnight by Marina J Lostetter

In a daring and deadly heist, thieves have made away with an artifact of terrible power—the death mask of Louis Charbon. Made by a master craftsman, it is imbued with the spirit of a monster from history, a serial murderer who terrorized the city.

Now Charbon is loose once more, killing from beyond the grave. But these murders are different from before, not simply random but the work of a deliberate mind probing for answers to a sinister question.

It is up to Krona Hirvath and her fellow Regulators to enter the mind of madness to stop this insatiable killer while facing the terrible truths left in his wake. – Tor Books


The Hexologists by Josiah Bancroft

The Hexologists, Iz and Warren Wilby, are quite accustomed to helping desperate clients with the bugbears of city life. Aided by hexes and a bag of charmed relics, the Wilbies have recovered children abducted by chimney-wraiths, removed infestations of barb-nosed incubi, and ventured into the Gray Plains of the Unmade to soothe a troubled ghost. Well-acquainted with the weird, they never shy away from a challenging case.

But when they are approached by the royal secretary and told the king pleads to be baked into a cake—going so far as to wedge himself inside a lit oven—the Wilbies soon find themselves embroiled in a mystery that could very well see the nation turned on its head. Their effort to expose a royal secret buried under forty years of lies brings them nose to nose with a violent anti-royalist gang, avaricious ghouls, alchemists who draw their power from a hell-like dimension, and a bookish dragon who only occasionally eats people.

Armed with a love toughened by adversity and a stick of chalk that can conjure light from the darkness, hope from the hopeless, Iz and Warren Wilby are ready for a case that will test every spell, skill, and odd magical artifact in their considerable bag of tricks. – Orbit


The Mimicking of Known Successes by Malka Older

On a remote, gas-wreathed outpost of a human colony on Jupiter, a man goes missing. The enigmatic Investigator Mossa follows his trail to Valdegeld, home to the colony’s erudite university—and Mossa’s former girlfriend, a scholar of Earth’s pre-collapse ecosystems.

Pleiti has dedicated her research and her career to aiding the larger effort towards a possible return to Earth. When Mossa unexpectedly arrives and requests Pleiti’s assistance in her latest investigation, the two of them embark on a twisting path in which the future of life on Earth is at stake—and, perhaps, their futures, together. – Tordotcom


The Spare Man by Mary Robinette Kowal

Tesla Crane, a brilliant inventor and an heiress, is on her honeymoon on an interplanetary space liner, cruising between the Moon and Mars. She’s traveling incognito and is reveling in her anonymity. Then someone is murdered and the festering chowderheads who run security have the audacity to arrest her spouse. Armed with banter, martinis and her small service dog, Tesla is determined to solve the crime so that the newlyweds can get back to canoodling—and keep the real killer from striking again. – Tor Books

Oprah’s Latest Book Club Pick: Familiaris by David Wroblewski

Join Simply Held 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 announced her newest selection: Familiaris by David Wroblewski. Reminder that if you join Simply Held, you can choose to have these titles automatically put on hold for you.


Oprah Winfrey has selected Familiaris by David Wroblewski.

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

The follow-up to the beloved #1 New York Times bestselling modern classic The Story of Edgar Sawtelle, Familiaris is the stirring origin story of the Sawtelle family and the remarkable dogs that carry the Sawtelle name.

It is spring 1919, and John Sawtelle’s imagination has gotten him into trouble … again. Now John and his newlywed wife, Mary, along with their two best friends and their three dogs, are setting off for Wisconsin’s northwoods, where they hope to make a fresh start—and, with a little luck, discover what it takes to live a life of meaning, purpose, and adventure. But the place they are headed for is far stranger and more perilous than they realize, and it will take all their ingenuity, along with a few new friends—human, animal, and otherworldly—to realize their dreams.

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, mysterious and enchanting, Familiaris takes readers on an unforgettable journey from the halls of a small-town automobile factory, through an epic midwestern firestorm and an ambitious WWII dog-training program, and far back into mankind’s ancient past, examining the dynamics of love and friendship, the vexing nature of families, the universal desire to create something lasting and beautiful, and of course, the species-long partnership between Homo sapiens and Canis familiaris. – Blackstone Publishing


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

Library Closed for Juneteenth

All three Davenport Public Library locations will be closed Wednesday, June 19th in observance of Juneteenth. All three buildings will reopen with regular business hours on Thursday, June 20th: Main (321 Main Street) 9am to 5:30pm, Eastern (6000 Eastern Avenue) 9am to 8pm, and Fairmount (3000 N Fairmount St) 12pm to 8pm.

Even though our physical locations will be closed, you can still access free digital content for all ages. Your Davenport Public Library card gives you access to free eBooks, digital audiobooks, magazines, movies, and music through LibbyFreegalTumbleBooksQC Beats, and Kanopy!

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Continental Drifter by Kathy MacLeod

Kathy MacLeod talks about belonging in her new middle grade graphic memoir, Continental Drifter.

Kathy has spent most of her life feeling like she’s stuck between two different worlds. Kathy has a Thai mother and an American father, so she’s always felt like she doesn’t quite belong 100% with either group of people. Kathy and her family spend most of the year living in Bangkok. Her father, mother, older sister, and herself all have their own separate corners of the house, seldom spending time together as a family. Her mother works long hours, while her father is retired from the military, but set in his ways. Kathy has a secret though: she’s counting down the days until summer vacation! They are heading back to Maine for the summer to a tiny seaside town where they will visit family, eat local delicacies, and travel the area. Kathy is most excited about going to her first summer camp this year!

Kathy has big hopes that this summer will be when she finally fits in and makes friends. Writing in her diary, she outlines everything she wants to do as well as how she wants her summer to happen. As she and her family leave Bangkok for the twenty-four hour travel journey to Maine, Kathy finds herself getting nervous, but also excited to see what the summer has to offer.

When Kathy arrives at summer camp, she realizes it is nothing what she expected. No matter what she does. she struggles to fit in. She doesn’t look like the other kids and doesn’t know all the pop culture references. Kathy desperately wants to find a place where she fits in. Having pinned all her hopes on this summer camp, she is devastated when she doesn’t instantly click or feel that sense of belonging. If she doesn’t belong in America or Thailand, where will she find her place?

This graphic memoir captures the uneasiness of identity that almost all middle grade children go through. Adding on top of that summer camp insecurities and the challenges of making new friends, both at home and abroad, and the author has written a relatable heart-rending story of how feeling like you don’t belong can impact your life. The art style was also very cute and relatable to the life of an 11-year-old girl. This was a thoughtful read that walks readers trough feelings of ‘otherness’. Continental Drifter doesn’t end perfectly with everyone miraculously fixed and places found, instead it gives readers roads through which to go on their own journey of self-discovery.


What is travel fiction? It’s a book in which a place is as important to the narrative as a main character. The characters themselves may be traveling, but it can also be a book in which the reader is taken on a journey to the real (or fantastical) place described vividly on each page. It’s a book that shapes the way we see a certain place or whose events and characters could be in no other setting. Or, when written by an author about their own homeland, and so informed by the writer’s culture, that it’s impossible to read it without uncovering the author’s life.

Travel fiction has the ability to transport you to places you’ve never been and may never go. Through the power of storytelling, you can wander ancient streets in bustling cities, traverse untouched rugged landscapes, and immerse yourself in cultures rich with history and tradition. From the comfort of your armchair, you can discover that the world is vast and boundless, and that the greatest journeys are often those undertaken within the pages of a beloved book. If you don’t have grand travel plans this summer, let a book be your passport to adventure. I’ve selected three fictional books for you to consider for your reading travels.

The first book, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, is set in a very poor and isolated part of Naples, Italy in the mid-20th century. While the plot follows a lifelong friendship and unravels divergent fates due to economic and cultural circumstances, there are many vivid depictions of place and culture that will draw you in, including: immersion in shopping districts, dazzling views of the Mediterranean Sea and the Amalfi Coast, and revealing the heart of cities like Florence and Milan.


In Hula : a novel by Jasmin ‘Iolani Hakes, you’ll meet three generations of native Hawaiian women whose lives are closely tied to the art and culture of Hula, including a famous hula teacher, her daughter, Laka, a Miss Aloha Hula contest winner, and Laka’s daughter. This novel explores the tight-knit Hula community within Hilo, Hawaii. It also delves into the history of Hawaii (a now forgotten kingdom that still lives in the heart of her people) and the complicated relationships between family and between the Hawaiian people and Hawaii itself.

To stretch your imagination a bit further, I’ve included Tokyo Ueno Station by Miri Yū about a homeless ghost, Kazu, who haunts one of Tokyo’s busiest train stations and its nearby park. Kazu’s life in the city began in the park when he arrived as a laborer in the preparation for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. His life also sadly ended there in the homeless village in the park, a place erected after the 2011 tsunami devastation. We see daily life in Tokyo through Kazu’s eyes as we learn details of his own story that have been shaped at every turn by modern Japanese history.

It is said that a library card is the best passport you could ever have. Hopefully one of these fictional stories will inspire you to “travel” somewhere interesting this summer. But, I didn’t forget about those of you who prefer non-fiction… Check out this book: Around the world in 50 years : my adventure to every country on earth by Albert Podell. In his book, Podell describes unusual and exotic places – not just the well-known tourist destinations around the world.  Perhaps it will inspire your next travel fiction book selection – or to an actual travel adventure of your own.