Explore Mars in both fiction and nonfiction

NASA completes a year-long Mars mission called CHAPEA (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analog) on July 6, 2024. For 378 days, four ordinary people — with master’s degrees in a STEM field — have been living in Mars Dune Alpha, a 1,700-square-foot habitat built inside a warehouse at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA has not shared many details about the experiment except to say participants will experience “resource limitations, equipment failure, communication delays and other environmental stressors.”

While those participants will be getting a taste of what it may be like to live on Mars, you can explore the Red Planet in your own mind with materials from the Davenport Public Library. Here’s a small sample of what’s available. (Summaries provided by the publishers.)

Non-fiction book: The new world on Mars : what we can create on the red planet by Robert Zurbrin

SpaceX, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic are building fleets of space vehicles to make interplanetary travel as affordable as Old-World passage to America. We will settle on Mars, and with our knowledge of the planet, analyzed in depth by Dr. Zubrin, we will utilize the resources and tackle the challenges that await us. What will we build? Populous Martian city-states producing air, water, food, power, and more. Zubrin’s Martian economy will pay for necessary imports and generate income from varied enterprises, such as real estate sales–homes that are airtight and protect against cosmic space radiation, with fish-farm aquariums positioned overhead, letting in sunlight and blocking cosmic rays while providing fascinating views. Zubrin even predicts the Red Planet customs, social relations, and government — of the people, by the people, for the people, with inalienable individual rights — that will overcome traditional forms of oppression to draw Earth immigrants. After all, Mars needs talent.

Documentary on DVD: Space : the longest goodbye

In the next decade, NASA will send astronauts to Mars for the first time. Separated from Earth, and unable to communicate with the ground in real-time, crew members will experience extreme isolation that could gravely affect their three-year journey. This Sundance-premiering documentary follows a savvy NASA psychologist tasked with protecting daring space explorers. Ido Mizrahy’s documentary “Space : the longest goodbye,” explores issues facing plans for a manned mission to Mars. The challenge is to not only figure out how to physically prepare astronauts for 3+ years in space, but also psychologically.

Fiction book: Girlfriend on Mars by Deborah Willis

Amber Kivinen is moving to Mars. Or at least, she will be if she wins a chance to join MarsNow. She and 23 reality TV contestants from around the world — including attractive Israeli soldier Adam, endearing fellow Canadian Pichu, and an assortment of science nerds and wannabe influencers — are competing for two seats on the first human-led mission to Mars, sponsored by billionaire Geoff Task. Meanwhile Kevin, Amber’s boyfriend of 14 years, was content going nowhere until Amber left him — and their hydroponic weed business — behind. Since the technology to come home doesn’t exist yet, would Amber really leave everything behind to be a billionaire’s Martian guinea pig? Sure, the rainforest is burning, Geoff Task has bought New Zealand, and Kevin might be a little depressed, but isn’t there some hope left for life on Earth?

Science fiction book: The strange by Nathan Ballingrud

New Galveston, Mars: Fourteen-year-old Anabelle Crisp sets off through the wastelands of the Strange to find Silas Mundt’s gang who have stolen her mother’s voice, destroyed her father, and left her solely with a need for vengeance. Since Anabelle’s mother left for Earth to care for her own ailing mother, her days in New Galveston have been spent at school and her nights at her laconic father’s diner with Watson, the family Kitchen Engine and dishwasher as her only companion. When the Silence came, and communication and shipments from Earth to its colonies on Mars stopped, life seemed stuck in foreboding stasis until the night Silas Mundt and his gang attacked. Ballingrud’s novel is haunting in its evocation of Anabelle’s quest for revenge amidst a spent and angry world accompanied by a domestic Engine, a drunken space pilot, and the toughest woman on Mars.

Library Closed for Independence Day

All three Davenport Public Library locations will be closed Thursday, July 4th in observance of Independence Day. All three buildings will reopen with regular business hours on Friday, July 5th: Main (321 Main Street) 9am to 5:30pm, Eastern (6000 Eastern Avenue) 9am to 5:30pm, and Fairmount (3000 N Fairmount St) 9am to 5:30pm.

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!

Welcome New Trustees!

Exciting news! We have three new friendly faces joining The Davenport Public Library Board of Trustees!

On June 12th, Major Mike Matson appointed Honey Bedell, Bob Davis, and Jerry Skalak with confirmation by the Davenport City Council. They officially started their new roles on July 1st. These new additions come as we say goodbye to our long-time Trustees: Steve Imming, Judie Lance, and Sylvia Roba, who have made a huge impact on The Library.

Our Board of Trustees play a crucial role in governing and setting policies for Davenport Public Library. Made up of nine community members who serve 6-year terms, the Trustees are responsible for advocating for The Library, planning for its future, evaluating its effectiveness, adopting governance policies, and overseeing the Library Director.

The Library Board of Trustees meet monthly on the third Tuesday at noon at the Main Library, and are open to the public. You can find past and upcoming meeting agendas and minutes on The Library’s website. Meetings are also recorded and posted online. Trustees follow a Code of Ethics and complete annual education requirements to ensure The Library’s continued success.

While we will miss Steve, Judie, and Sylvia, we are thrilled to welcome Honey, Bob, and Jerry as the newest guardians of your public library. Here’s to a bright future ahead!

Honey Bedell

Honey held a leadership position at Eastern Iowa Community Colleges (EICC) for 32 years, with 27 of those years spent working closely with the EICC Board of Trustees. She retired in June 2023 as Chief of Staff. Her experience includes strategic planning, professional development, legislative advocacy, marketing, and communications. A lifelong volunteer, she has been actively involved in numerous community organizations and continues to serve in volunteer roles with the FRIENDS of the Davenport Public Library, River Bend Food Bank, and Davenport Community School District. She and her husband, Daniel, have been married for 31 years and are proud parents of two grown sons who graduated from Davenport Schools.

Bob Davis

Bob, the Outreach Program Manager at Community Health Care, plays a key role in providing healthcare to individuals experiencing homelessness, as well as those in shelters, treatment centers, and correctional facilities. Previously, he spent sixteen years counseling teenagers at Valley Shelter Homes before transitioning into the position of Assistant Director. Bob began his career as a practicum student at St. Ambrose while pursuing a degree in Psychology/Sociology. With over nineteen years of experience at Community Health Care, Bob is deeply connected to the community and possesses valuable resources that he hopes to bring to the Board, particularly to advocate for people of color.

Jerry Skalak

Jerry has been residing in Davenport since 1988. His wife is a retired music teacher and they have three grown children. He holds degrees in Geography and Water Resources Management. Jerry worked for over 30 years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and has also worked as an adjunct professor for Scott Community College. He is actively involved with RiverAction’s annual Upper Mississippi River conference and volunteers with Living Lands and Waters, Humility Homes and Services, and Nahant Marsh. Additionally, he is a member of many Quad Cities quality of life assets, including the Figge, GAHC, QC Botanical, and more.

Puzzled: A Memoir about Growing Up with OCD by Pan Cooke

Readers looking for insight on what it’s like growing up with undiagnosed OCD should read Puzzled: A Memoir about Growing Up with OCD by Pan Cooke. Pan shares his story from different stages of childhood with a pop-in from adult Pan at the end. This was a lovely, openminded read about one person’s journey growing up with OCD.

Pan is ten years old when the anxious thoughts start to take over. They rule his brain like puzzle pieces that don’t quite fit together or ones that are missing entirely. Pan has become an impossible puzzle that he can’t figure out. As he works to find answers to the swirling thoughts in his brain, he is bombarded by repeating questions and fears that can only be pacified through repeated rituals that take time to go through. His compulsions being to impact his ability to do his normal tasks. His friendships start fading, his anxiety ratchets up, and Pan is left at a loss of what to do.

After living for years with no answers, Pan learns that he has obsessive compulsive disorder. His anxious thoughts, missing puzzle pieces, and his attempts to solve the mess he feels are all evidence that he has OCD. This middle grade graphic memoir shows Pan’s journey from living with OCD to learning about OCD and what he can do to help quiet his thoughts.

While I enjoyed this middle grade graphic memoir, I was left wanting more. Many of my favorite graphic memoirs that discuss mental health list resources and sources of information in the back. While I understand that this is a graphic memoir for kids, I still would have liked some resources, websites, or organizations presented. Even though these were absent, Pan’s evolving relationships with his friends, family, doctors, and therapist all modeled changing ties between others, as well as positive and negative relationships. Showing Pan working through his thoughts on his own, while trying to find paths that worked for him and help, was very realistic. All in all, I’m glad I decided to pick up this book as Pan was incredibly candid and open about his mental health.

QCL Book Club June Wrap-up and July Pick!

In June, Morgan and I read The Celebrants by Steven Rowley to celebrate Best Friends Day on June 8th. Below is a short synopsis of the book and what I thought of it! 

After the tragic death of their friend, 5 recent college grads make a pact to gather during tumultuous events in their lives. The goal of the gatherings is to hold a funeral for the living person to ensure that they know how important they are. Over several years, each friend takes their turn until they are down to two. Now, they are gathered in Big Sur and recount the past few decades as they plan another funeral. 

This book was beautiful and sad! The characters were so complex and lovable in their own ways. I loved it very much and can’t wait to read more by Steven Rowley! – Brittany


Morgan and I have a very exciting lineup of book options for July, below are our four options including our winning title! Feel free to check them out from Davenport Public Library! 

*** QCL Book Club July Pick!  

The Echo of Old Books by Barbara Davis (In Honor of Cheer Up the Lonely Day on July 11th) 

Rare-book dealer Ashlyn Greer’s affinity for books extends beyond the intoxicating scent of old paper, ink, and leather. She can feel the echoes of the books’ previous owners–an emotional fingerprint only she can read. When Ashlyn discovers a pair of beautifully bound volumes that appear to have never been published, her gift quickly becomes an obsession. Not only is each inscribed with a startling incrimination, but the authors, Hemi and Belle, tell conflicting sides of a tragic romance. With no trace of how these mysterious books came into the world, Ashlyn is caught up in a decades-old literary mystery, beckoned by two hearts in ruins, whoever they were, wherever they are. Determined to learn the truth behind the doomed lovers’ tale, she reads on, following a trail of broken promises and seemingly unforgivable betrayals. The more Ashlyn learns about Hemi and Belle, the nearer she comes to bringing closure to their love story–and to the unfinished chapters of her own life — adapted from back cover   

 

Everything Must Go by Camille Pagán (In Honor of Give Something Away Day on July 15th) 

Laine Francis believes there’s a place for everything-and New York, where her family lives, isn’t her place. But no sooner does the professional organizer’s marriage begin to unravel than her sisters drop another bomb on her: their mother, Sally, may have dementia, and they need Laine to come home. Laine agrees to briefly return to Brooklyn. After all, bringing order to chaos is what she does best. To Laine’s relief, Sally seems no more absentminded than usual. So, Laine vows to help her mother maintain her independence, then hightail it back to Michigan. Except, Laine’s plans go awry when she runs into her former best friend, Ben, and realizes she finally has a chance to repair their fractured relationship. Then she discovers that memory loss isn’t the only thing Sally’s been hiding, forcing Laine to decide whether to reveal a devastating truth to her sisters-and whether to follow her heart when it means breaking her mother’s — adapted from back cover 

 

Flying Solo by Linda Holmes (In Honor of Aunts and Uncles Day on July 26th) 

A woman returns to her small Maine hometown, uncovering family secrets that take her on a journey of self-discovery and new love, in this warm and charming novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Evvie Drake Starts Over. Smarting from her recently cancelled wedding and about to turn forty, Laurie Sassalyn returns to her Maine hometown of Calcasset to handle the estate of her great-aunt Dot, a spirited adventurer who lived to be ninety. Along with boxes of Polaroids and pottery, a mysterious wooden duck shows up at the bottom of a cedar chest. Laurie’s curiosity is piqued, especially after she finds a love letter to the never-married Dot that ends with the line, “And anyway, if you’re ever desperate, there are always ducks, darling.” Laurie is told that the duck has no financial value. But after it disappears under suspicious circumstances, she feels compelled to figure out why anyone would steal a wooden duck-and why Dot kept it hidden away in the first place. Suddenly Laurie finds herself swept up in a righteous caper that has her negotiating with antiques dealers and con artists, going on after-hours dates at the local library, and reconnecting with her oldest friend and first love. Desperate to uncover her great-aunt’s secrets, Laurie must reckon with her past, her future, and ultimately embrace her own vision of flying solo — adapted from back cover 

Conversations with Friends by Sally Rooney (In Honor of Day of Friendship on July 30th)  

Frances is a cool-headed and darkly observant young woman, vaguely pursuing a career in writing while studying in Dublin. Her best friend and comrade-in-arms is the beautiful and endlessly self-possessed Bobbi. At a local poetry performance one night, Frances and Bobbi catch the eye of Melissa, a well-known photographer, and as the girls are then gradually drawn into Melissa’s world, Frances is reluctantly impressed by the older woman’s sophisticated home and tall, handsome husband, Nick. However amusing and ironic Frances and Nick’s flirtation seems at first, it gives way to a strange intimacy, and Frances’s friendship with Bobbi begins to fracture. As Frances tries to keep her life in check, her relationships increasingly resist her control: with Nick, with her difficult and unhappy father, and finally, terribly, with Bobbi. Desperate to reconcile her inner life to the desires and vulnerabilities of her body, Frances’s intellectual certainties begin to yield to something new: a painful and disorienting way of living from moment to moment. Written with gem-like precision and marked by a sly sense of humor, Conversations with Friends is wonderfully alive to the pleasures and dangers of youth, and the messy edges of female friendship. — provided by Amazon  


If you are interested in any of these titles, or have read them, we want to talk about them! Please consider leaving a comment! Want to converse with other QCL Book Club followers? Consider joining our Goodreads Group! You can also access our recorded interviews by visiting the QCL Book Club Page! 

Online Reading Challenge – July

Welcome Readers!

This month the Online Reading Challenge travels back in time to the 1980s. Our main title for July is Call Me By Your Name by André Aciman. Here’s a quick summary from the publisher:

André Aciman’s Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents’ cliff-side mansion on the Italian Riviera. Unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, at first each feigns indifference. But during the restless summer weeks that follow, unrelenting buried currents of obsession and fear, fascination and desire, intensify their passion as they test the charged ground between them. What grows from the depths of their spirits is a romance of scarcely six weeks’ duration and an experience that marks them for a lifetime. For what the two discover on the Riviera and during a sultry evening in Rome is the one thing both already fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy.

The psychological maneuvers that accompany attraction have seldom been more shrewdly captured than in André Aciman’s frank, unsentimental, heartrending elegy to human passion. Call Me by Your Name is clear-eyed, bare-knuckled, and ultimately unforgettable. – Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Looking for some other books set in the 1980s? Try any of the following.

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

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.

fiction

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.

BEST NOVEL

Winner

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.

Finalists

BEST FIRST NOVEL BY AN AMERICAN AUTHOR

Winner

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

Finalists

BEST PAPERBACK ORIGINAL

Winner

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

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

Finalists

BEST JUVENILE

Winner

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

BEST YOUNG ADULT

Winner

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

Winner

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.

Finalists

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

Winner

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

Finalists

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