Best Seller Club January Authors – Nicholas Sparks and John Sandford

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! January’s authors are Nicholas Sparks for fiction and John Sandford for mystery. Have you read either of these authors?

Our fiction pick for January is Nicholas Sparks. So far, Sparks has published 21 novels and one non-fiction memoir that he co-wrote with his brother. His books have been published in more than 50 languages and have sold more than 105 million copies worldwide. His first novel, The Notebook, was written in six months when Sparks was 28 and he followed that up with more. You may already be familiar with the film adaptations of many of Nicholas Sparks novels, all of which he has served as a producer on.

Nicholas Sparks’ newest book is The ReturnThis title was released on September 29, 2020. Curious what The Return is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

Trevor Benson never intended to move back to New Bern, NC. But when a mortar blast outside the hospital where he worked as an orthopedic surgeon sent him home from Afghanistan with devastating injuries, the dilapidated cabin he inherited from his grandfather seemed as good a place to regroup as any.

Tending to his grandfather’s beloved bee hives while gearing up for a second stint in medical school, Trevor isn’t prepared to fall in love with a local . . . and yet, from their very first encounter, his connection with Natalie Masterson can’t be ignored. But even as she seems to reciprocate his feelings, she remains frustratingly distant, making Trevor wonder what she’s hiding.

Further complicating his stay in New Bern is the presence of a sullen teenage girl, Callie, who lives in the trailer park down the road from his grandfather’s cabin. Claiming to be 19, she works at the local sundries store and keeps to herself. When he discovers she was once befriended by his grandfather, Trevor hopes Callie can shed light on the mysterious circumstances of his grandfather’s death, but she offers few clues — until a crisis triggers a race that will uncover the true nature of Callie’s past, one more intertwined with the elderly man’s passing than Trevor could ever have anticipated.

In his quest to unravel Natalie and Callie’s secrets, Trevor will learn the true meaning of love and forgiveness . . . and that in life, to move forward, we must often return to the place where it all began.

This book is also available in the following formats:

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Our mystery author for January is John Sandford, the pseudonym for John Roswell Camp. He has written over 40 novels and has also published two non-fiction books as well. In addition to those novels, Camp co-wrote a science fiction book called Saturn Run and three young adult novels with Michele Cook in the Singular Menace series. All of his books have made it onto the New York Times best-seller lists.  Camp is also an Iowa native! He was born in Cedar Rapids.

John Sandford’s newest book is Ocean PreyThis book will be released on April 13, 2021. Curious what Ocean Prey is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher:

An off-duty Coast Guardsman is fishing with his family when he calls in some suspicious behavior from a nearby boat. It’s a snazzy craft, slick and outfitted with extra horsepower, and is zipping along until it slows to pick up a surfaced diver . . . a diver who was apparently alone, without his own boat, in the middle of the ocean. None of it makes sense unless there’s something hinky going on, and his hunch is proved right when all three Guardsmen who come out to investigate are shot and killed.

They’re federal officers killed on the job, which means the case is the FBI’s turf. When the FBI’s investigation stalls out, they call in Lucas Davenport. And when his case turns lethal, Davenport will need to bring in every asset he can claim, including a detective with a fundamentally criminal mind: Virgil Flowers.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Piranesi by Susanna Clarke

“The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite.”

Any Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell fans out there? If so, I am happy to share that Susanna Clarke has recently published a new book called Piranesi. While this title doesn’t have any direct ties to Clarke’s first novel, it does share magical and fantastical elements in a world you won’t want to leave. Let’s jump right in!

This novel follows the journal entries of Piranesi, one of two humans living in “the House.” This setting is described as an endless labyrinth of halls, corridors, and vestibules filled with statues, an entombed ocean, and various types of wildlife, such as the majestic albatross. Piranesi lives to explore this world, documenting his travels by mapping its contents and cataloging all of the statues he finds, all while utilizing the House’s resources in order to survive.

In this world is only one other human besides Piranesi, aptly called “the Other.” They initially work together in an attempt to find and unleash the “Great and Secret Knowledge,” or the God-like powers the Other believes are harnessed in the House. Over time, Piranesi begins to fall away from this quest, as he doesn’t view the House as merely a means to an end, but still assists the Other with anything he requests of him. As the story progresses, however, Piranesi comes to question the world as he knows it upon discovering journals in his own handwriting he can’t remember writing and the existence of another person in the House. This story then blurs the lines between magic and reality, identity and purpose, as Piranesi endeavors to solve the mysterious and mind-bending plot he finds himself in the middle of.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the dream-like escapism this story provides and reveled in Clarke’s suspenseful writing style that leaves you guessing until the end. While Piranesi is a very innocent protagonist, he also proves to be unreliable as the story unfolds, which lends an additional interesting twist to the story. I did find myself wanting more, though, as this book is a mere 245 pages in comparison to the 1,000+ pages of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (I even missed having footnotes!).

I would also recommend taking a look at the name “Piranesi” before or while you are reading this book. It is named for Giovanni Battista Piranesi, an 18th century Italian artist who is well known for his prints of dizzying and fantastic imaginary prisons. Interestingly enough, Piranesi always considered himself to be an architect, which absolutely shows when viewing the architecture he brought to life in his etchings. Viewing his work definitely helped me visualize and wrap my head around the extraordinary world Clarke creates in this story.

All in all, if you are looking for a quick read in which you are immersed in a surreal labyrinth of beauty, fantasy, and discovery, I would highly recommend this title!

This book is also available in the following formats:

Overdrive eBook

 

Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman

Figuring out who you are as a person is a never-ending process, one that changes as you age. While most people have a solid base of who they are, others seem to flit from job to job, friend to friend, place to place. What would you do if you lost the very essence of yourself? Catherine Steadman discusses this topic in her newest book Mr Nobody.

A man is found on a British beach with no identification and unable to speak. He is drifting in and out of consciousness, has no identifying characteristics, and seems to have appeared out of nowhere. Public interest in this mystery man immediately peaks with everyone wanting to know who he is. To give him a name, the press dubs him ‘Mr. Nobody’. Taken to a hospital and run through an initial battery of tests, hospital staff and medical experts try to figure out a course of treatment to bring Mr. Nobody’s life back to him.

Considered one of the experts in her field, neuropsychiatrist Dr. Emma Lewis has spent her career waiting for a case like Mr. Nobody’s. Called in to assess the patient, Emma is initially thrilled because this case has the power to make her name known. As soon as she realizes where she has to go, Emma freezes. She left that small town tucked deep inside English countryside fourteen years ago. Emma hasn’t been back since. She has worked hard to hide all traces of her past in those past fourteen years. Going back will dredge up all those painful memories and will put her family in danger again. Something is calling her back though and Emma can’t resist the pull of Mr. Nobody’s case.

As soon as she shows up back in town, Emma realizes that all her efforts to conceal her past were pointless. This small town hasn’t changed much and the people that were there fourteen years ago are still there. Pushing through those bad memories, Emma starts working with her team to create a treatment plan to help Mr. Nobody. The more time Emma spends with him, the more she realizes that he knows more about her and other hospital staff than she should. The fact that he knows about what happened to her fourteen years ago instantly send up alarm bells since no one should know about that. Mr. Nobody must be hiding something.

This book is also available in the following formats:

The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton

Reading is such an extraordinary way to escape reality, and distancing ourselves from the anxieties and uncertainties in our lives is so important for our health and well-being. One hidden gem I have recently reread (for the third time!) and would highly recommend is The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton. This book journeys back-and-forth in time, place, and perspective, and features the voices of several young women who are bound by a century-old mystery.

Beginning in 1913 in Cornwall, England, this novel revolves around a young girl who is placed on a ship to Australia and arrives with nothing but a suitcase: not even a name. Twenty-one years later, this young girl called Nell discovers a secret that upends her entire world, leading her to question her identity and embark on a journey to discover who she really is.

The story then follows the narrative of Cassandra, Nell’s granddaughter, who inherits an estate in Cornwall upon her grandmother’s death. Not only was Cassandra unaware of the existence of this estate, she also never knew Nell had visited Cornwall, let alone planned to live there. Upon receiving this inheritance, Cassandra picks up the loose threads Nell left behind to unravel the mystery of her grandmother’s life, learning a lot about herself along the way. While Nell and Cassandra are the two focal characters in this story, readers also experience the journey of several other lives that are inextricably intertwined with theirs.

Filled with secrets and revelations that will keep you guessing until the very end, this novel features a mysterious, winding storyline; beautiful, elegant language; and intricate, relatable character development. On top of that, there is a dark book of fairy tales and a secret garden (I can never resist a secret garden!). Overall, I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking to be whisked away to a forgotten garden in Cornwall or immersed in a multi-generational story brimming with family secrets, mystery, and discovery. This book is also available as an eBook:

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D Jackson

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D Jackson is a haunting story of one teenage girl’s struggle to get someone to believe her that her best friend is missing.

Claudia always believed that she and her best friend Monday Charles told each other everything. They are inseparable soul sisters who may not be related, but who spend a lot of time in each other’s company. Having spent years together, Monday and Claudia even made up their own language. Without Monday, Claudia would not have had any friends and school would have been even more difficult for her. Monday helps her so much with tests and bullies; the two always stick up for each other. They are incredibly close.

Every summer, Claudia spends the summer with her grandma, leaving Monday behind. They stay in touch by sending letters back and forth. The summer before 8th grade was no different with Claudia leaving and hoping to hear from Monday. However Monday never sent her any letters. Coming back from her visit, Claudia immediately tries to call Monday, but no one answers. Her mom tells her not to worry because Monday will show up to school. She doesn’t.

No one seems to care or even notice that Monday is missing except for Claudia. Monday doesn’t show up to school for weeks and Claudia is worried. She knows something is wrong. Not able to get any adult to help her look for Monday, Claudia starts digging into Monday’s disappearance herself. Monday’s mom isn’t giving her a straight answer and Monday’s older sister April isn’t helping either. As Claudia keeps looking for her best friend, she discovers that no one can remember when they last saw Monday. The lack of concern or call to arms to search for Monday has Claudia sick to her stomach and worried. How could no one have noticed that Monday was gone? Where did she go? What happened to her? Why does no one care?

This book is also available in the following formats:

A Nearly Normal Family by M. T. Edvardsson

I have been slowly making my way through books recommended to me by other librarians. A Nearly Normal Family by M.T. Edvardsson was my latest recommended read  and it blew me away. This is a Swedish thriller translated by Rachel Willson-Broyles. This Scandinavian crime novel had me buzzing as I tried to figure out what was going on. Trying to categorize this book is difficult, but I would describe it as a mix between courtroom drama/legal thriller and family drama/domestic suspense. Let’s get into it!

Edvardsson has crafted a new buzzy novel that tells the story of eighteen-year-old Stella Sandell and her family. Stella is accused of the brutal and horrific murder of a shady businessman almost fifteen years older than her. Her family can’t believe she actually did this. Her father is a priest while her mother is a criminal defense family. Stella is an ordinary teenager with normal teenage problems who grew up in a honorable and honest local family. Her being accused of murder throws the whole family and surrounding community into massive confusion.

Why would Stella have killed him? How did she even know him? The victim was the son of a well-known woman in the community which throws another layer of tension into the whole situation. As the investigation progresses, Stella’s parents quickly find their morals tested as they continue to protest to all who will listen that their daughter is innocent. Understanding why and how she could be considered a suspect is difficult for them to come to terms with.

This book handles complex topics and is told from three different perspectives, making it an unusual read that gives you multiple viewpoints and background stories surrounding the same event. By seeing those different perspectives, readers see how each character deals with questions of how well you really know other people and how far you are willing to go to protect them.

This book is also available in the following format:

Virtual Book Club – July 1st

On Wednesday, July 1st at 2pm central time, the Virtual Book Club will be discussing Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. Information on how to join is available at the end of this blog post. We are using GoTo Meeting which will allow patrons to talk with the librarian about the book!

Want to know what the book is about? Check out the following blurb provided by the publisher:

No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Taken in by the splendor of her surroundings Jules accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind. She is drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems, that the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her– and the next day she disappears. Can Jules discover the truth– and escape before her temporary status becomes permanent?

This book is also available in the following formats:

Virtual Book Club
Wed, Jul 1, 2020 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (CDT)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/406198773

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (669) 224-3412

Access Code: 406-198-773

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/406198773

Reese Witherspoon JUNE Celebrity Book Club Picks

Every month Reese Witherspoon releases a new pick for the Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine book club. June is an exception! She has announced TWO books for June and we are so excited to tell you about them.

If you want to make sure that you don’t miss any celebrity book club picks, join our Best Sellers Club and have those automatically put on hold for you.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley is her fiction pick for the month. This book is available in the following formats: OverDrive eAudiobook and OverDrive eBook.

Below is a description of this book provided by the publisher:

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed. But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast. And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

Reese Witherspoon’s second book club pick for June is I’m Still Here: Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown. This book is also available as an OverDrive eBook.

The following is a description provided by the publisher:

The author’s first encounter with a racialized America came at age seven, when her parents told her they named her Austin to deceive future employers into thinking she was a white man. She grew up in majority-white schools, organizations, and churches, and has spent her life navigating America’s racial divide as a writer, a speaker, and an expert helping organizations practice genuine inclusion. While so many institutions claim to value diversity in their mission statements, many fall short of matching actions to words. Brown highlights how white middle-class evangelicalism has participated in the rise of racial hostility, and encourages the reader to confront apathy and recognize God’s ongoing work in the world.

Virtual Book Club – June 17th

Have you joined our Virtual Book Club yet? Every Wednesday at 2pm central time, we discuss a new book! Using GoTo Meeting, patrons are able to practice social distancing while still participating in a book club through the library. On Wednesday, June 17th, we will be discussing Conviction by Denise Mina.

Conviction by Denise Mina is a 2019 piece of murder mystery detective fiction that was the December 2019 pick for Reese Witherspoon’s book club. Curious what the book is about? Check out the following blurb from the publisher:

A true crime podcast sets a trophy wife’s present life on a collision course with her secret past in this “blazingly intense” Reese Witherspoon book club pick and New York Times Best Crime Novel of the Year (A. J. Finn).
The day Anna McDonald’s quiet, respectable life exploded started off like all the days before: Packing up the kids for school, making breakfast, listening to yet another true crime podcast. Then her husband comes downstairs with an announcement, and Anna is suddenly, shockingly alone.
Reeling, desperate for distraction, Anna returns to the podcast. Other people’s problems are much better than one’s own — a sunken yacht, a murdered family, a hint of international conspiracy. But this case actually is Anna’s problem. She knows one of the victims from an earlier life, a life she’s taken great pains to leave behind. And she is convinced that she knows what really happened.
Then an unexpected visitor arrives on her front stoop, a meddling neighbor intervenes, and life as Anna knows it is well and truly over. The devils of her past are awakened — and they’re in hot pursuit. Convinced she has no other options, Anna goes on the run, and in pursuit of the truth, with a washed-up musician at her side and the podcast as her guide.
Conviction is “daredevil storytelling at its finest” (NPR’s Fresh Air), a breathtaking thriller from one of the most “superbly talented” writers of our time (Hank Phillippi Ryan, bestselling author of Trust Me).

This book is also available in the following formats:

To join the book club, follow the link below! We will be using GoTo Meeting for this program.

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.

https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/224067037

Access Code: 224-067-037

You can also dial in using your phone.

United States: +1 (646) 749-3112

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:

https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/224067037

Long Range by C. J. Box

Have you ever found a book series that was so immersive that when you finished one book, you immediately picked up the next in the series? Sometimes there’s a cliffhanger that needs resolution or you’ve become so invested in the characters you don’t want to let go. The Lord of the Ring series by J.R.R. Tolkien or the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon are good examples. For me it’s always been the Master and Commander series by Patrick O’Brian (and omg, don’t get me started on these books – I’ll talk your ear off!) Now I’ve added another to my favorites – the Joe Pickett series by C. J. Box.

Joe Picket is a game warden in the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. He keeps an eye on the wildlife and makes sure hunting and fishing are done legally. He often teams up with his friend Nate Romanaski, a falconer who sometimes tiptoes the legal line. In Long Range, Joe is drawn into the investigation of a case where a local woman has been shot from a very long distance, a shot that would require specialized equipment and a particular set of skills. The woman is active in the community and liked by everyone, but her husband is a controversial local judge and has made more than one enemy. Was this a case of the wrong person being shot? If so, was the shooter going to try again? And who would have the skill and knowledge to make that kind of shot?

Because of Joe’s knowledge of the area and the locals, he is put on the sheriff’s task force. When Nate is falsely accused and arrested, Joe’s task becomes two-fold – finding the murderer and clearing his friend.

Long Range is number 20 in this series (I read the first 19 in the series last fall – I warned you, they’re addictive!) and the quality shows no signs of declining. The mystery is tight and suspenseful, the writing is sharp, crisp and evocative and the characters are multi-layered and interesting. Box touches on a wide range of topics from falconry, to marksmanship to environmental protection and responsibility. The rugged scenery of Wyoming serves as a stunning backdrop and Joe’s unwavering love of his family, loyalty to his friends and his unbending moral code act as the center of this series. Highly recommended.