Libby Book Awards, aka The Libbys

Did you know that Libby by OverDrive has book awards? The winners of the inaugural Libby Book Awards were announced on March 12th, 2024. How does this work? Well, these books are considered to be the best of 2023 by an expert panel of librarians. Said panel nominated five finalists in seventeen different categories. After that, librarians and library workers across North America vote and the winners are announced online in a virtual ceremony!

Below you will find the winners and honorable mentions from a variety of categories. You’ll notice that not all categories have honorable mentions – these were chosen when the race was close.  For a list of the nominees as well as more information, visit the Libby Life blog. Descriptions have been provided by the publishers or authors.

Best Adult Fiction

Winner: The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride

In 1972, when workers in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, were digging the foundations for a new development, the last thing they expected to find was a skeleton at the bottom of a well. Who the skeleton was and how it got there were two of the long-held secrets kept by the residents of Chicken Hill, the dilapidated neighborhood where immigrant Jews and African Americans lived side by side and shared ambitions and sorrows. Chicken Hill was where Moshe and Chona Ludlow lived when Moshe integrated his theater and where Chona ran the Heaven & Earth Grocery Store. When the state came looking for a deaf boy to institutionalize him, it was Chona and Nate Timblin, the Black janitor at Moshe’s theater and the unofficial leader of the Black community on Chicken Hill, who worked together to keep the boy safe.

As these characters’ stories overlap and deepen, it becomes clear how much the people who live on the margins of white, Christian America struggle and what they must do to survive. When the truth is finally revealed about what happened on Chicken Hill and the part the town’s white establishment played in it, McBride shows us that even in dark times, it is love and community—heaven and earth—that sustain us. – Riverhead Books

Honorable Mention: Tom Lake by Ann Patchett

In the spring of 2020, Lara’s three daughters return to the family’s orchard in Northern Michigan. While picking cherries, they beg their mother to tell them the story of Peter Duke, a famous actor with whom she shared both a stage and a romance years before at a theater company called Tom Lake. As Lara recalls the past, her daughters examine their own lives and relationship with their mother, and are forced to reconsider the world and everything they thought they knew.  – Harper

Best Adult Nonfiction

Winner: The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann

On January 28, 1742, a ramshackle vessel of patched-together wood and cloth washed up on the coast of Brazil. Inside were thirty emaciated men, barely alive, and they had an extraordinary tale to tell. They were survivors of His Majesty’s Ship the Wager, a British vessel that had left England in 1740 on a secret mission during an imperial war with Spain. While the Wager had been chasing a Spanish treasure-filled galleon known as “the prize of all the oceans,” it had wrecked on a desolate island off the coast of Patagonia. The men, after being marooned for months and facing starvation, built the flimsy craft and sailed for more than a hundred days, traversing nearly 3,000 miles of storm-wracked seas. They were greeted as heroes.

But then … six months later, another, even more decrepit craft landed on the coast of Chile. This boat contained just three castaways, and they told a very different story. The thirty sailors who landed in Brazil were not heroes – they were mutineers. The first group responded with countercharges of their own, of a tyrannical and murderous senior officer and his henchmen. It became clear that while stranded on the island the crew had fallen into anarchy, with warring factions fighting for dominion over the barren wilderness. As accusations of treachery and murder flew, the Admiralty convened a court martial to determine who was telling the truth. The stakes were life-and-death—for whomever the court found guilty could hang. – Doubleday

Best Young Adult Fiction

Winner: Divine Rivals by Rebecca Ross

After centuries of sleep, the gods are warring again. But eighteen-year-old Iris Winnow just wants to hold her family together. Her mother is suffering from addiction and her brother is missing from the front lines. Her best bet is to win the columnist promotion at the Oath Gazette.

To combat her worries, Iris writes letters to her brother and slips them beneath her wardrobe door, where they vanish—into the hands of Roman Kitt, her cold and handsome rival at the paper. When he anonymously writes Iris back, the two of them forge a connection that will follow Iris all the way to the front lines of battle: for her brother, the fate of mankind, and love. – Wednesday Books

Honorable Mention: What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez

Bolivian-Argentinian Inez Olivera belongs to the glittering upper society of nineteenth century Buenos Aires, and like the rest of the world, the town is steeped in old world magic that’s been largely left behind or forgotten. Inez has everything a girl might want, except for the one thing she yearns the most: her globetrotting parents—who frequently leave her behind.

When she receives word of their tragic deaths, Inez inherits their massive fortune and a mysterious guardian, an archeologist in partnership with his Egyptian brother-in-law. Yearning for answers, Inez sails to Cairo, bringing her sketch pads and a golden ring her father sent to her for safekeeping before he died. But upon her arrival, the old world magic tethered to the ring pulls her down a path where she soon discovers there’s more to her parent’s disappearance than what her guardian led her to believe.

With her guardian’s infuriatingly handsome assistant thwarting her at every turn, Inez must rely on ancient magic to uncover the truth about her parent’s disappearance—or risk becoming a pawn in a larger game that will kill her. – Wednesday Books

Best Audiobook

Winner: I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai

A successful film professor and podcaster, Bodie Kane is content to forget her past—the family tragedy that marred her adolescence, her four largely miserable years at a New Hampshire boarding school, and the murder of her former roommate, Thalia Keith, in the spring of their senior year. Though the circumstances surrounding Thalia’s death and the conviction of the school’s athletic trainer, Omar Evans, are hotly debated online, Bodie prefers—needs—to let sleeping dogs lie.

But when the Granby School invites her back to teach a course, Bodie is inexorably drawn to the case and its increasingly apparent flaws. In their rush to convict Omar, did the school and the police overlook other suspects? Is the real killer still out there? As she falls down the very rabbit hole she was so determined to avoid, Bodie begins to wonder if she wasn’t as much of an outsider at Granby as she’d thought—if, perhaps, back in 1995, she knew something that might have held the key to solving the case. – Penguin Books

Best Debut Author

Winner: The House in the Pines by Ana Reyes

Maya was a high school senior when her best friend, Aubrey, dropped dead in front of the enigmatic man named Frank whom they’d been spending time with all summer.
 
Seven years later, Maya lives in Boston with a loving boyfriend and is kicking the secret addiction that has allowed her to cope with what happened years ago, the gaps in her memories, and the lost time that she can’t account for. But her past comes rushing back when she comes across a recent YouTube video in which a young woman suddenly keels over and dies in a diner while sitting across from none other than Frank. Plunged into the trauma that has defined her life, Maya heads to her Berkshires hometown to relive that fateful summer—the influence Frank once had on her and the obsessive jealousy that nearly destroyed her friendship with Aubrey.
 
At her mother’s house, she excavates fragments of her past and notices hidden messages in her deceased Guatemalan father’s book that didn’t stand out to her earlier. To save herself, she must understand a story written before she was born, but time keeps running out, and soon, all roads are leading back to Frank’s cabin. . . . – Dutton

Best Diverse Author

Winner: Camp Zero by Michelle Min Sterling

In remote northern Canada, a team led by a visionary American architect is break­ing ground on a building project called Camp Zero, intended to be the beginning of a new way of life. A clever and determined young woman code-named Rose is offered a chance to join the Blooms, a group hired to entertain the men in camp—but her real mission is to secretly monitor the mercurial architect in charge. In return, she’ll receive a home for her climate-displaced Korean immigrant mother and herself.

Rose quickly secures the trust of her target, only to discover that everyone has a hidden agenda, and nothing is as it seems. Through skill­fully braided perspectives, including those of a young professor longing to escape his wealthy family and an all-woman military research unit struggling for survival at a climate station, the fate of Camp Zero’s inhabitants reaches a stunning crescendo. – Atria Books

Best Comic/Graphic Novel

Winner: The Talk by Darrin Bell

Darrin Bell was six years old when his mother told him he couldn’t have a realistic water gun. She said she feared for his safety, that police tend to think of little Black boys as older and less innocent than they really are.

Through evocative illustrations and sharp humor, Bell examines how The Talk shaped intimate and public moments from childhood to adulthood. While coming of age in Los Angeles—and finding a voice through cartooning—Bell becomes painfully aware of being regarded as dangerous by white teachers, neighbors, and police officers and thus of his mortality. Drawing attention to the brutal murders of African Americans and showcasing revealing insights and cartoons along the way, he brings us up to the moment of reckoning when people took to the streets protesting the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. And now Bell must decide whether he and his own six-year-old son are ready to have The Talk. – Henry Holt and Co.

Best Memoir & Autobiography

Winner: Pageboy by Elliot Page

“Can I kiss you?” It was two months before the world premiere of Juno, and Elliot Page was in his first ever queer bar. The hot summer air hung heavy around him as he looked at her. And then it happened. In front of everyone. A previously unfathomable experience. Here he was on the precipice of discovering himself as a queer person, as a trans person. Getting closer to his desires, his dreams, himself, without the repression he’d carried for so long. But for Elliot, two steps forward had always come with one step back.

With Juno’s massive success, Elliot became one of the world’s most beloved actors. His dreams were coming true, but the pressure to perform suffocated him. He was forced to play the part of the glossy young starlet, a role that made his skin crawl, on and off set. The career that had been an escape out of his reality and into a world of imagination was suddenly a nightmare.

As he navigated criticism and abuse from some of the most powerful people in Hollywood, a past that snapped at his heels, and a society dead set on forcing him into a binary, Elliot often stayed silent, unsure of what to do. Until enough was enough. – Flatiron Books

Best Cookbook

Winner: Start Here: Instructions for becoming a better cook by Sohla El-Waylly

Honorable Mention: Let’s Eat: 101 recipes to fill your heart & home by Dan Pelosi

In his debut cookbook, larger-than-life personality Dan Pelosi offers up a warm hug of home cooking, sharing both comfort food and connection with 101 of his nearest and dearest Italian American recipes. Some have been passed down through his family, and others have been cooked up from scratch—but all are made with love and accompanied by fun, meaningful stories to warm your heart while filling your belly. Read how Bimpy (the 100-year-old grandpa the internet loves to love!) smuggled homemade subs into Yankee Stadium, then craft your ultimate Big Italian Sandwich. Relive the memory of Dan learning how to make his friend’s mom’s stuffed chicken cutlets in their Jersey Shore house (and getting himself adopted into their family), then level up with Prosciutto & Mozzarella–Stuffed Chicken Parm. Learn how Dan’s mom would spring him out of school before the final bell (just to preheat the oven), then make your own Early Dismissal Pot Roast. And rewind to the beginning of Dan’s relationship with his boyfriend, Gus, then recreate the Zabaglione (and the romantic Cheesecake Factory ambiance) that inspired their first “I love you.”

In addition to the staple chapters like Eggs, Appetizers, Pasta, Meat & Fish, and Sweets, you’ll also find deep dives on Italian food recipes like Dough and Marinara, presented with hero recipes you can spin into all kinds of deliciousness. (Don’t worry—his viral Vodka Sawce is here!) Also sprinkled throughout this recipe book are Grossy’s Guides to cooking, cleaning, organizing, and everything you need to become intuitive in your kitchen.

Approachable and tasty, Dan’s recipes are meant to be shared with the ones you love. Set the table, grab a chair, roll up your sleeves . . . now LET’S EAT! – Union Square & Co.

Best Mystery

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

Best Thriller

Winner: Bright Young Women by Jessica Knoll

Masterfully blending elements of psychological suspense and true crime, Jessica Knoll—author of the bestselling novel Luckiest Girl Alive and the writer behind the Netflix adaption starring Mila Kunis—delivers a new and exhilarating thriller in Bright Young Women. The book opens on a Saturday night in 1978, hours before a soon-to-be-infamous murderer descends upon a Florida sorority house with deadly results. The lives of those who survive, including sorority president and key witness, Pamela Schumacher, are forever changed. Across the country, Tina Cannon is convinced her missing friend was targeted by the man papers refer to as the All-American Sex Killer—and that he’s struck again. Determined to find justice, the two join forces as their search for answers leads to a final, shocking confrontation. – Simon & Schuster / Marysue Rucci Books

Best Romance

Winner: Georgie, All Along by Kate Clayborn

Longtime personal assistant Georgie Mulcahy has made a career out of putting others before herself. When an unexpected upheaval sends her away from her hectic job in L.A. and back to her hometown, Georgie must confront an uncomfortable truth: her own wants and needs have always been a disconcertingly blank page.

But then Georgie comes across a forgotten artifact—a “friendfic” diary she wrote as a teenager, filled with possibilities she once imagined. To an overwhelmed Georgie, the diary’s simple, small-scale ideas are a lifeline—a guidebook for getting started on a new path.

Georgie’s plans hit a snag when she comes face to face with an unexpected roommate—Levi Fanning, onetime town troublemaker and current town hermit. But this quiet, grouchy man is more than just his reputation, and he offers to help Georgie with her quest. As the two make their way through her wishlist, Georgie begins to realize that what she truly wants might not be in the pages of her diary after all, but right by her side—if only they can both find a way to let go of the pasts that hold them back.  – Kensington

Honorable Mention: We Could Be So Good by Cat Sebastian

New York City, 1959

Nick Russo has worked his way from a rough Brooklyn neighborhood to a reporting job at one of the city’s biggest newspapers. But the late 1950s are a hostile time for gay men, and Nick knows that he can’t let anyone into his life. He just never counted on meeting someone as impossible to say no to as Andy.

Andy Fleming’s newspaper-tycoon father wants him to take over the family business. Andy, though, has no intention of running the paper. He’s barely able to run his life—he’s never paid a bill on time, routinely gets lost on the way to work, and would rather gouge out his own eyes than deal with office politics. Andy agrees to work for a year in the newsroom, knowing he’ll make an ass of himself and hate every second of it.

Except, Nick Russo keeps rescuing Andy: showing him the ropes, tracking down his keys, freeing his tie when it gets stuck in the ancient filing cabinets. Their unlikely friendship soon sharpens into feelings they can’t deny. But what feels possible in secret—this fragile, tender thing between them—seems doomed in the light of day. Now Nick and Andy have to decide if, for the first time, they’re willing to fight. – Cat Sebastian

Best Fantasy

Winner: Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros

Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general—also known as her tough-as-talons mother—has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders.

But when you’re smaller than everyone else and your body is brittle, death is only a heartbeat away…because dragons don’t bond to “fragile” humans. They incinerate them.

With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother’s daughter—like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant.

She’ll need every edge her wits can give her just to see the next sunrise.

Yet, with every day that passes, the war outside grows more deadly, the kingdom’s protective wards are failing, and the death toll continues to rise. Even worse, Violet begins to suspect leadership is hiding a terrible secret.

Friends, enemies, lovers. Everyone at Basgiath War College has an agenda—because once you enter, there are only two ways out: graduate or die. – Rebecca Yarros

Best Romantasy

Winner: Iron Flame by Rebecca Yarros

Everyone expected Violet Sorrengail to die during her first year at Basgiath War College—Violet included. But Threshing was only the first impossible test meant to weed out the weak-willed, the unworthy, and the unlucky.

Now the real training begins, and Violet’s already wondering how she’ll get through. It’s not just that it’s grueling and maliciously brutal, or even that it’s designed to stretch the riders’ capacity for pain beyond endurance. It’s the new vice commandant, who’s made it his personal mission to teach Violet exactly how powerless she is–unless she betrays the man she loves.

Although Violet’s body might be weaker and frailer than everyone else’s, she still has her wits—and a will of iron. And leadership is forgetting the most important lesson Basgiath has taught her: Dragon riders make their own rules.

But a determination to survive won’t be enough this year.

Because Violet knows the real secret hidden for centuries at Basgiath War College—and nothing, not even dragon fire, may be enough to save them in the end. – Rebecca Yarros

Best Science Fiction

Winner: System Collapse by Martha Wells

Am I making it worse? I think I’m making it worse.

Following the events in Network Effect, the Barish-Estranza corporation has sent rescue ships to a newly-colonized planet in peril, as well as additional SecUnits. But if there’s an ethical corporation out there, Murderbot has yet to find it, and if Barish-Estranza can’t have the planet, they’re sure as hell not leaving without something. If that something just happens to be an entire colony of humans, well, a free workforce is a decent runner-up prize.

But there’s something wrong with Murderbot; it isn’t running within normal operational parameters. ART’s crew and the humans from Preservation are doing everything they can to protect the colonists, but with Barish-Estranza’s SecUnit-heavy persuasion teams, they’re going to have to hope Murderbot figures out what’s wrong with itself, and fast!

Yeah, this plan is… not going to work. – Tordotcom

Best Historical Fiction

Winner: Let Us Descend by Jesmyn Ward

Let Us Descend describes a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the slave markets of New Orleans and into the fearsome heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation. A journey that is as beautifully rendered as it is heart wrenching, the novel is “[t]he literary equivalent of an open wound from which poetry pours” (NPR).

Annis, sold south by the white enslaver who fathered her, is the reader’s guide. As she struggles through the miles-long march, Annis turns inward, seeking comfort from memories of her mother and stories of her African warrior grandmother. Throughout, she opens herself to a world beyond this world, one teeming with spirits: of earth and water, of myth and history; spirits who nurture and give, and those who manipulate and take. While Annis leads readers through the descent, hers is ultimately a story of rebirth and reclamation. – Scribner

Best Book Club Pick

Winner: Yellowface by R.F. Kuang

Authors June Hayward and Athena Liu were supposed to be twin rising stars. But Athena’s a literary darling. June Hayward is literally nobody. Who wants stories about basic white girls, June thinks.

So when June witnesses Athena’s death in a freak accident, she acts on impulse: she steals Athena’s just-finished masterpiece, an experimental novel about the unsung contributions of Chinese laborers during World War I.

So what if June edits Athena’s novel and sends it to her agent as her own work? So what if she lets her new publisher rebrand her as Juniper Song—complete with an ambiguously ethnic author photo? Doesn’t this piece of history deserve to be told, whoever the teller? That’s what June claims, and the New York Times bestseller list seems to agree.

But June can’t get away from Athena’s shadow, and emerging evidence threatens to bring June’s (stolen) success down around her. As June races to protect her secret, she discovers exactly how far she will go to keep what she thinks she deserves. – William Morrow

Together We Read

If you use Libby through the library, you can participate in Together We Read, a book club connecting readers in the United States! The current title is One Summer in Savannah by Terah Shelton Harris. This book will be available until March 6th with no waitlists or holds.

Curious what One Summer in Savannah is about?

A compelling debut that glows with bittersweet heart and touching emotion, deeply interrogating questions of family, redemption, and unconditional love in the sweltering summer heat of Savannah, as two people discover what it means to truly forgive.

It’s been eight years since Sara Lancaster left her home in Savannah, Georgia. Eight years since her daughter, Alana, came into this world, following a terrifying sexual assault that left deep emotional wounds Sara would do anything to forget. But when Sara’s father falls ill, she’s forced to return home and face the ghosts of her past.

While caring for her father and running his bookstore, Sara is desperate to protect her curious, outgoing, genius daughter from the Wylers, the family of the man who assaulted her. Sara thinks she can succeed—her attacker is in prison, his identical twin brother, Jacob, left town years ago, and their mother are all unaware Alana exists. But she soon learns that Jacob has also just returned to Savannah to piece together the fragments of his once-great family. And when their two worlds collide—with the type of force Sara explores in her poetry and Jacob in his astrophysics—they are drawn together in unexpected ways. – Sourcebooks

Looking for more information? Try the following:

OverDrive Records – No Longer In Catalog

PATRON: Do you still have eBooks and eAudiobooks?

LIBRARIAN: Why, yes, we do.

PATRON: I don’t see them listed in the catalog any more.

LIBRARIAN: Well, we removed the records.

PATRON: Why?

 

During the first week of 2024 the RiverShare Libraries de-integrated (removed) the records of OverDrive items from our catalog.

Checking our statistics, we found that less than 3% of OverDrive users visit the RiverShare catalog to find what eBooks and eAudiobooks are available. Over 97% of you go directly to the Libby or Sora site to borrow your items and place holds.

So, we decided to save the staff time spent entering this data and also save the cost of the MARC records to be added.

Did you know that we do not “own” some OverDrive items? Many items are “metered.”  We have access to them for X number of circulations or for a particular number of months/years. Once we no longer have the rights to circulate these items, their records need to be removed from the catalog. That’s right, more work! Or looking at it from our new angle, more time saved!

What impact will this change have to you? Well, for 97% of you, none.

For the 2-3% of you who are use to locating the records in the RiverShare catalog, you will want to change your approach and go directly to the OverDrive site.

There you will be able to check out up to 5 items at a time, place reserves on up to 10 items, check out an unlimited number of magazines, and use the Settings option to control the default length of time items are charged to your account.

Don’t you just love OverDrive!?

Well, we just found a way to love it even more!

 

Do You Need To Update To OverDrive’s Libby App?

Still using the old OverDrive app?  The time is upon you to switch to the newer Libby app.

The old OverDrive app will become inactive at the end of April.  Downloading the Libby app takes just a few minutes.  There is no impact to your account.  The items that you have checked out and on hold will be there in the Libby app.

To use on a mobile device, you may need to update your Smartphone software.  Ensure your device is running at least:

  • Android 4.4+ (you’ll also need Chrome, not the stock Android web browser)
  • iOS 10+
  • Fire OS 4.5.4+

To download Libby to a Smartphone:

  • Go to your App Store.
  • Search for the words “Libby” and “OverDrive.”
  • Download the app.
  • Enter your App Store password to install the app on your device.
  • The app will ask you to associate your account with a library. Search for “Davenport” or “RiverShare.”  (Be careful.  Be certain to select Davenport, IOWA.)
  • Enter your library card number into the app.

After that, you should be good-to-go!

 

If you use a laptop or desktop to access OverDrive, you may still use OverDrive Read in your favorite browser.  OverDrive Read is compatible with:  Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Google Chrome, and Safari.

 

The end of April is fast approaching.  Spend the time today to ensure you’ll be able to checkout in May!

 

Do You Read eMagazines?

You should.

In addition to eBooks and eAudio titles OverDrive offers a wealth of magazines that are available to you 24/7.

That’s right, with our OverDrive magazine subscription our patrons have access to over 4,000 magazine titles, many with three years of back issues.  You’ll be able to see the magazines just as they appeared in print.  All the images and all the advertisements, viewable right on your device’s screen.

Magazines do not count toward your OverDrive title limit, so check out as many as you want.   You could have 5 eBooks/eAudio items checked out and, say, 30 magazines.  You also can determine your own loan period, 7, 14, or 21 days.

You will likely never need to wait to check out a title, because issues can be used by multiple simultaneous users.

OverDrive has titles for young and old on topics such as:  sports, new & current events, finance & business, home & garden, celebrities & gossip, and much more.

Seeking non-English language titles?  OverDrive has them.    

Practice your French with Vogue France, L’Ami des Jardins, Closer France, or Marie Claire Maison.

How about Spanish?  OverDrive offers ¡Hola!, Maxim Mexico, Horoscopos, and TvNotas.  And that is just to name a few!

Magazines can be viewed by using OverDrive Read in your favorite browser or in the Libby app.

Give it a try!  Check out the eMagazine section the next time you are using OverDrive (Libby).

New Large Print at Fairmount

Looking for a new large print title to read? This blog post is full of new large print titles pulled right from the shelves at our Fairmount branch! If you want to read any of them, click the link or contact the library. All the descriptions are provided by the publisher.

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The Kaiser’s Web by Steve Berry (Cotton Malone #16)

Two candidates are vying to become Chancellor of Germany. One is a patriot having served for the past sixteen years, the other a usurper, stoking the flames of nationalistic hate. Both harbor secrets, but only one knows the truth about the other. They are on a collision course, all turning on the events of one fateful day — April 30, 1945 — and what happened deep beneath Berlin in the Fürherbunker. Did Adolph Hitler and Eva Braun die there? Did Martin Bormann, Hitler’s close confidant, manage to escape? And, even more important, where did billions in Nazi wealth disappear to in the waning days of World War II? The answers to these questions will determine who becomes the next Chancellor of Germany.

From the mysterious Chilean lake district, to the dangerous mesas of South Africa, and finally into the secret vaults of Switzerland, former-Justice Department agent Cotton Malone discovers the truth about the fates of Hitler, Braun, and Bormann. Revelations that could not only transform Europe, but finally expose a mystery known as the Kaiser’s web.

This book is also available in the following formats:

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Summer Longing  by Jamie Brenner

Ruth Cooperman arrives in beautiful beachside Provincetown for her retirement, renting the perfect waterfront cottage while she searches for her forever home. After years of hard work and making peace with life’s compromises, Ruth is looking forward to a carefree summer of solitude. But when she finds a baby girl abandoned on her doorstep, Ruth turns to her new neighbors for help and is drawn into the drama of the close-knit community.

The appearance of the mystery baby has an emotional ripple effect through the women in town, including Amelia Cabral, the matriarch who lost her own child decades earlier; Elise Douglas, owner of the tea shop who gave up her dream of becoming a mother; and teenage local Jaci Barros who feels trapped by her parents’ expectations. Ruth, caring for a baby for the first time in thirty years, even reaches out to her own estranged daughter, Olivia, summoning her to Provincetown in hopes of a reconciliation.

As summer unfolds and friends and family care for the infant, alliances are made, relationships are tested, and secrets are uncovered. But the unconditional love for a child in need just might bring Ruth and the women of Provincetown exactly what they have been longing for themselves.

This book is also available in the following format:

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Burden of Proof  by T. Davis Bunn

Three weeks after his twenty-third birthday, Ethan missed the chance to save his brother’s life when he was murdered on the steps of the courthouse in Jacksonville, Florida. Ever since that fateful day, Ethan has sensed a deep disconnect between the man he should have been and the one he has become. His days play out a beat too slow, his mind replaying the scene of his failure again and again.

But when his brother’s widow appears, asking for his help in uncovering what was really behind his brother’s death, Ethan is stunned to hear that she and her late husband were involved in a much larger case than he knew–one that threatens the global power structure. As Ethan joins the search for answers, he will enter into his own past–and discover a means of redeeming his future.

This book is also available in the following format:

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Turning Tide by Melody Carlson (The Legacy of Sunset Cove #4)

As the Great War rages on, Sunset Cove continues to feel its impact. Running the small town newspaper, Anna McDowell can’t escape the grim reports from the other side of the world, but home-front challenges abound as well.

Dr. Daniel is serving the wounded on the front lines. And Katy, expecting her first child, with her husband in the trenches, tries to support the war effort with her Red Cross club. Even as the war winds down the costs are high—and Sunset Cove is not spared.

This book is also available in the following format:

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Infinite Country by Patricia Engel

At the dawn of the new millennium, Colombia is a country devastated by half a century of violence. Elena and Mauro are teenagers when they meet, their blooming love an antidote to the mounting brutality of life in Bogotá. Once their first daughter is born, and facing grim economic prospects, they set their sights on the United States.

They travel to Houston and send wages back to Elena’s mother, all the while weighing whether to risk overstaying their tourist visas or to return to Bogotá. As their family expands, and they move again and again, their decision to ignore their exit dates plunges the young family into the precariousness of undocumented status, the threat of discovery menacing a life already strained. When Mauro is deported, Elena, now tasked with caring for their three small children, makes a difficult choice that will ease her burdens but splinter the family even further.

Award-winning, internationally acclaimed author Patricia Engel, herself the daughter of Colombian immigrants and a dual citizen, gives voice to Mauro and Elena, as well as their children, Karina, Nando, and Talia—each one navigating a divided existence, weighing their allegiance to the past, the future, to one another, and to themselves. Rich with Bogotá urban life, steeped in Andean myth, and tense with the daily reality for the undocumented in America, Infinite Country is the story of two countries and one mixed-status family—for whom every triumph is stitched with regret and every dream pursued bears the weight of a dream deferred.

This book is also available in the following formats:

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Shootout at Sioux Wells by Cliff Farrell

Zack Keech’s business was cattle; railroads were a nuisance, an interloper on the free range and a pain in Zack’s saddle-tanned anatomy. So how did this rootin’-tootin’ cowboy — who only wanted the money he figured was due him for a train-triggerd stampede — find himself working as an undercover agent for two most unusual railroad owners and the notorious Wild Bill Hickok? And furthermore, what was he doing in a situation where not only were a lot of self-declared enemies out to gun him down but even his supposed friends had to pretend that he was an outlaw and a man that Sioux Wells would be better off without?

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The Girl from the Channel Islands by Jenny Lecoat

The year is 1940, and the world is torn apart by war. In June of that year, Hitler’s army captures the Channel Islands—the only part of Great Britain occupied by German forces. Abandoned by Mr. Churchill, forgotten by the Allies and cut off from all help, the Islands’ situation is increasingly desperate.

Hedy Bercu is a young Jewish girl who fled Vienna for the island of Jersey two years earlier during the Anschluss, only to find herself trapped by the Nazis once more—this time with no escape. Her only hope is to make herself invaluable to the Germans by working as a translator, hiding in plain sight with the help of her friends and community—and a sympathetic German officer. But as the war intensifies, rations dwindle and neighbors are increasingly suspicious of one another. Hedy’s life is in greater danger every day. It will take a definitive, daring act to save her from certain deportation to the concentration camps.

A sweeping tale of bravery and love under impossible circumstances, Hedy’s remarkable story reminds us that it’s often up to ordinary people to be quiet heroes in the face of injustice.

This book is also available in the following format:

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Lizzie’s Heart by Susan Lantz Simpson (The Amish of Southern Maryland #5)

Fall in Southern Maryland’s Amish country is a time of fiery falling leaves, a bountiful harvest, and bracing, frost-touched days. It’s the perfect season for one irrepressible maidel to try an unexpected match.

Good-hearted and impulsive, twenty-year-old Lizzie Fisher has many chores—and secrets. She’s caring for kittens abandoned by their mother and practicing her drawing talent away from disapproving eyes. So the last thing she needs is someone like handsome Stephen Zimmerman constantly “helping” her out of trouble. But when she discovers they both have lovelorn siblings, she has an idea: why can’t she and Stephen bring his older brother and her older sister together? After all, how hard could matchmaking be?

Even though he’s the youngest son of an Old Order Mennonite family, Stephen is used to looking out for everyone else. Yet somehow the romantic schemes he and Lizzie cook up keep going awry—in ways that hint they may suit each other. But their deepening bond is both delightful and complicated. For bridging their differences will take bravery, compromise—and faith in their hopes and dreams.

This book is also available in the following format:

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The Affair by Danielle Steel

When Rose McCarthy’s staff at Mode magazine pitches a cover shoot with Hollywood’s hottest young actress, the actress’s sizzling affair with a bestselling French author is exposed. The author happens to be Rose’s son-in-law, which creates a painful dilemma for her. Her daughter Nadia, a talented interior designer, has been struggling to hold her marriage together, and conceal the truth from their young daughters, her family, and the world. But Nicolas, her straying husband, is blinded by passion for a younger woman—and not only that, she is pregnant with his child.

Nadia’s three sisters close ranks around her, flying to Paris from Los Angeles and New York to lend support and offer their widely divergent advice. Athena, a jovial celebrity chef with her own TV show in Los Angeles, is leery of marriage. Olivia, a stern conservative New York superior court judge, is haunted by a shocking secret of her own. Venetia, a zany fashion designer, happily married with three kids, has the gentlest, most realistic point of view. Despite their well-meaning advice, Nadia needs to figure out what she herself thinks, and what to do next.

The Affair is about the painful journey to discover who you are, what you want, and how much forgiveness and compromise you are capable of in order to be loved. It’s about finding yourself at the crossroads of life when everything is on the line. It’s about the hard lessons we are forced to learn about others and ourselves. Right up until its final twist, this gripping novel is full of powerful insights about who we love, how much—and even how much we love ourselves.

This book is also available in the following formats:

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Tropic of Stupid  by Tim Dorsey (Serge Storms #24)

Devoted Floridaphile Serge Storms is a lover of history, so he’s decided to investigate his own using one of those DNA services from late-night TV. Excited to construct a family tree, he and Coleman hit the road to meet his kin. Along the way, he plans to introduce Coleman to the Sunshine State’s beautiful parks where he can brush up on his flora, fauna, and wildlife, and more importantly, collect the missing stamps for his park passport book.

But as the old saying goes, the apple doesn’t fall far . . .  Serge is thrilled to discover he may be related to a notorious serial killer who’s terrorized the state for twenty years and never been caught. Which one of his newfound relatives will be the one to help him hunt down this deranged maniac? Serge doesn’t know that a dogged investigator from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement is also hot on the trail.

Then Serge meets a park ranger who’s also longing to make a family re-connection. But all is not as it appears on the surface, and Serge’s newfound friendship in the mysterious swamps of Florida may lead to deadly results. Finding his own relatives has made Serge understand the importance of family. Of course he’ll do anything to help.

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Pianos and Flowers: Brief Encounters of the Romantic Kind by Alexander McCall Smith

A delightful compendium of short stories inspired by images in the renowned photographic archive of The Sunday Times. A picture can paint a thousand words, but what about a vintage photograph?

In 2015 Alexander McCall Smith wrote a book entitled Chance Developments: Unexpected Love Stories, in which he imagined the stories behind five chanced-upon black and white photographs. Who were those people, why were they smiling, what made them sad? He so enjoyed the experience that when The Sunday Times generously offered him access to their early 20th century photograph archive he jumped at the opportunity.

In Pianos and Flowers we are invited, through the medium of sepia images, to glimpse a world long departed. In these stories, inspired by long-lost photographs, the lives of the people in the frame are imagined and then explored, layer by layer. What must have it like to be them? We hold our breath for them. Our heart beats faster for them. We look again at the photograph in a new light, and say Yes, it might have happened just like that. This journey of exploration takes us to some exotic places. We share the lives of three sisters, brought up in Penang. We read of what happened to them, and to their Chinese neighbors caught in the tides of war. We see a group of small boys in a Glasgow slum, their young lives stunted by poverty, and hear how life worked out in contrasting ways for them. We follow a young woman’s search for love in the unlikely realm of Egyptian antiquities. And through all of these photographs, and all of these stories, there runs the same refrain: the possibilities of love, of friendship, of happiness lie before us. There are big stories in these simple pictures. At first glance the photographs may seem unexceptional: the mere freezing of a moment in time. But delve deeper and you will realize that these photographs speak volumes.

This book is also available in the following format:

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She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs by Sarah Smarsh

The National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author of Heartland focuses her laser-sharp insights on a working-class icon and one of the most unifying figures in American culture: Dolly Parton.

Growing up amid Kansas wheat fields and airplane factories, Sarah Smarsh witnessed firsthand the particular vulnerabilities—and strengths—of women in working poverty. Meanwhile, country songs by female artists played in the background, telling powerful stories about life, men, hard times, and surviving. In her family, she writes, “country music was foremost a language among women. It’s how we talked to each other in a place where feelings aren’t discussed.” And no one provided that language better than Dolly Parton.

Smarsh challenged a typically male vision of the rural working class with her first book, Heartland, starring the bold, hard-luck women who raised her. Now, in She Come By It Natural, originally published in a four-part series for The Journal of Roots Music, No Depression, Smarsh explores the overlooked contributions to social progress by such women—including those averse to the term “feminism”—as exemplified by Dolly Parton’s life and art.

Far beyond the recently resurrected “Jolene” or quintessential “9 to 5,” Parton’s songs for decades have validated women who go unheard: the poor woman, the pregnant teenager, the struggling mother disparaged as “trailer trash.” Parton’s broader career—from singing on the front porch of her family’s cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains to achieving stardom in Nashville and Hollywood, from “girl singer” managed by powerful men to leader of a self-made business and philanthropy empire—offers a springboard to examining the intersections of gender, class, and culture.

Infused with Smarsh’s trademark insight, intelligence, and humanity, She Come By It Natural is a sympathetic tribute to the icon Dolly Parton and—call it whatever you like—the organic feminism she embodies.

This book is also available in the following format:

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The Unwilling by John Hart

Gibby’s older brothers have already been to war. One died there. The other came back misunderstood and hard, a decorated killer now freshly released from a three-year stint in prison.

Jason won’t speak of the war or of his time behind bars, but he wants a relationship with the younger brother he hasn’t known for years. Determined to make that connection, he coaxes Gibby into a day at the lake: long hours of sunshine and whisky and older women.

But the day turns ugly when the four encounter a prison transfer bus on a stretch of empty road. Beautiful but drunk, one of the women taunts the prisoners, leading to a riot on the bus. The woman finds it funny in the moment, but is savagely murdered soon after.

Given his violent history, suspicion turns first to Jason; but when the second woman is kidnapped, the police suspect Gibby, too. Determined to prove Jason innocent, Gibby must avoid the cops and dive deep into his brother’s hidden life, a dark world of heroin, guns and outlaw motorcycle gangs.

What he discovers there is a truth more bleak than he could have imagined: not just the identity of the killer and the reasons for Tyra’s murder, but the forces that shaped his brother in Vietnam, the reason he was framed, and why the most dangerous man alive wants him back in prison.

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Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz (Orphan X #6)

Forced into retirement, Evan Smoak gets an urgent request for help from someone he didn’t even suspect existed.

As a boy, Evan Smoak was pulled out of a foster home and trained in an off-the-books operation known as the Orphan Program. He was a government assassin, perhaps the best, known to a few insiders as Orphan X. He eventually broke with the Program and adopted a new name – The Nowhere Man―and a new mission, helping the most desperate in their times of trouble. But the highest power in the country has made him a tempting offer – in exchange for an unofficial pardon, he must stop his clandestine activities as The Nowhere Man. Now Evan has to do the one thing he’s least equipped to do—live a normal life.

But then he gets a call for help from the one person he never expected. A woman claiming to have given him up for adoption, a woman he never knew—his mother. Her unlikely request: help Andrew Duran—a man whose life has gone off the rails, who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, bringing him to the deadly attention of very powerful figures. Now a brutal brother & sister assassination team are after him and with no one to turn to, and no safe place to hide, Evan is Duran’s only option. But when the hidden cabal catches on to what Evan is doing, everything he’s fought for is on the line—including his own life.

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The Last Garden in England by Julia Kelly

Present day: Emma Lovett, who has dedicated her career to breathing new life into long-neglected gardens, has just been given the opportunity of a lifetime: to restore the gardens of the famed Highbury House estate, designed in 1907 by her hero Venetia Smith. But as Emma dives deeper into the gardens’ past, she begins to uncover secrets that have long lain hidden.

1907: A talented artist with a growing reputation for her ambitious work, Venetia Smith has carved out a niche for herself as a garden designer to industrialists, solicitors, and bankers looking to show off their wealth with sumptuous country houses. When she is hired to design the gardens of Highbury House, she is determined to make them a triumph, but the gardens—and the people she meets—promise to change her life forever.

1944: When land girl Beth Pedley arrives at a farm on the outskirts of the village of Highbury, all she wants is to find a place she can call home. Cook Stella Adderton, on the other hand, is desperate to leave Highbury House to pursue her own dreams. And widow Diana Symonds, the mistress of the grand house, is anxiously trying to cling to her pre-war life now that her home has been requisitioned and transformed into a convalescent hospital for wounded soldiers. But when war threatens Highbury House’s treasured gardens, these three very different women are drawn together by a secret that will last for decades. 

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Hammer to Fall by John Lawton (Joe Wilderness #3)

It’s London, the swinging sixties, and by all rights MI6 spy Joe Wilderness should be having as good a time as James Bond. But alas, his postings are more grim than glamorous. Luckily, Wilderness has a knack for doing well for himself even in the most unpromising postings, though this has gotten him into hot water in the past. A coffee-smuggling gig in divided Berlin was a steady money-maker but things went pear-shaped when he had to smuggle a spy back to the KGB instead.

In the wake of what became an embarrassing disaster for MI6, Wilderness is reprimanded with a posting to remote northern Finland, under the guise of a cultural exchange program to promote Britain abroad. Bored by his work, with nothing to spy on, Wilderness finds another way to make money, this time by smuggling vodka across the rather porous border into the USSR. He strikes a deal with his old KGB pal Kostya, who explains to him there is, no joke, a vodka shortage in the Soviet Union, following a grain famine caused by Khrushchev’s new agricultural policies. But there is something fishy about why Kostya has suddenly turned up in Finland–and MI6 intelligence from London points to a connection to the mining of cobalt in the region, a critical component in the casing of the atomic bomb. Wilderness’s posting is getting more interesting by the minute, but more dangerous too.

Moving from the no-man’s-land of Cold War Finland to the wild days of the Prague Spring, and populated by old friends (including Inspector Troy) and old enemies alike, Hammer to Fall is a gripping tale of deception and skullduggery, of art and politics, a page-turning story of the always riveting life of the British spy.

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Vesper Flights by Helen MacDonald

Animals don’t exist in order to teach us things, but that is what they have always done, and most of what they teach us is what we think we know about ourselves.

Helen Macdonald’s bestselling debut H is for Hawk brought the astonishing story of her relationship with goshawk Mabel to global critical acclaim and announced Macdonald as one of this century’s most important and insightful nature writers. H is for Hawk won the Samuel Johnson Prize for Nonfiction and the Costa Book Award, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction, launching poet and falconer Macdonald as our preeminent nature essayist, with a semi-regular column in the New York Times Magazine.

In Vesper Flights Helen Macdonald brings together a collection of her best loved essays, along with new pieces on topics ranging from nostalgia for a vanishing countryside to the tribulations of farming ostriches to her own private vespers while trying to fall asleep. Meditating on notions of captivity and freedom, immigration and flight, Helen invites us into her most intimate experiences: observing songbirds from the Empire State Building as they migrate through the Tribute of Light, watching tens of thousands of cranes in Hungary, seeking the last golden orioles in Suffolk’s poplar forests. She writes with heart-tugging clarity about wild boar, swifts, mushroom hunting, migraines, the strangeness of birds’ nests, and the unexpected guidance and comfort we find when watching wildlife. By one of this century’s most important and insightful nature writers, Vesper Flights is a captivating and foundational book about observation, fascination, time, memory, love and loss and how we make sense of the world around us.

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The Wild Robot

An uncharacteristic thing has happened to this librarian lately: I haven’t felt much like reading. Of all the strange happenings in our world right now during this COVID-19 pandemic, this was yet another unexpected experience. I have no shortage of reading material. I have a reliable device I can use to download a variety of digital books. This seems like the perfect time to work my way through that looming stack of print books on my table waiting to be read.

And yet, my heart is just not in it. I sit down for about five minutes and then I am distracted and put it down and go do something else.

There has been one exception, however. I happened to be in the middle of reading The Wild Robot by Peter Brown with one of my children before bedtime each night before all this began. The chapters are short, and at one chapter a night, it was taking us a while to work our way through this 279-page book about a robot stranded on an island. But each night I read it aloud, the Wild Robot and its island populated by many animals and no humans endeared itself to me more and more.

You might think that reading a book with no humans in it during a pandemic is a lonely choice in an already lonely situation. Or perhaps on the contrary, you think it is a logical and fitting choice to read about being stranded on an island when it often feels exactly like that as we are isolated in our homes. I think there was something reflective about this mechanical protagonist who gradually (though paradoxically) becomes more humane through time and experience that captured my interest and my heart. Human interaction right now -when it does happen- is less warm and personal, more technological. Somehow the mirror image of a technological being becoming more warm and personal through challenging life experiences was a sort of balm to my woes.

Brown’s writing made reading effortless for me once again. His animal characters have unique personalities. The events that happen on his remote island, both tragic and joyful, are magically relatable. I have always been a fan of anthropomorphism. I am even more so now.

I wish I could point you to a digital version of this title that you can download immediately for free through the library, but our library currently only owns this in print. If you would like to request it for purchase in digital format, you can log into your library account using either the Libby or Overdrive apps and request this title. Be aware that it ends on a cliffhanger and you will probably want to read its sequel, The Wild Robot Escapes.

In the meantime, here are some similar books with anthropomorphic characters available digitally when you log into Overdrive with your Davenport Public Library account that you may enjoy:

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

eleanor and parkHave you ever read a book that immediately piqued your interest? One that you just couldn’t put down? My latest “must finish quickly” book was Eleanor & Park, and what hooked me, besides the immediately engaging story line, was that I listened to it as an audiobook and was therefore able to listen to it while I was doing other things. (The version I listened to was through OverDrive, but this title is also available as a print book and a book on cd – same narrators too!)

Eleanor & Park tells the story of the two title characters: Eleanor, a red-haired chubby high school student starting at a new school, who runs into Park, a kid right on the cusp of the cool crowd, but not firmly implanted there. Eleanor feels like she doesn’t belong anywhere, especially at her new school or at home. and Park feels like she doesn’t belong at their school either. Despite himself, Park finds himself falling for Eleanor, a situation that she has trouble with since she can’t possibly believe or see why this perfect Asian boy with the perfect family would ever fall for a mess like her, living with her mother, abusive step-father, and four siblings in a tiny house. This book is set over the course of one school year in 1986 with readers getting an intense look into Eleanor and Park’s budding relationship and daily lives as they struggle with trying to fit in and the strange sweetness and intense hold that first love has on them. This book pulled at my heart strings, making me pull for Eleanor and Park to beat the odds.

What really hooked me about this book was the narrators. Their voices perfectly matched the characters that I envisioned in my head with earnest emotion shining through both voices. Their inflections as both narrators mimicked the different people in both Eleanor and Park’s lives had me present, immediately in the story with them: sitting on the top bunk in Eleanor’s room while she read the comic books and listened to the tapes that Park gave her, and watching Park as he only asked for batteries for Christmas, so he could continue to give Eleanor music to listen to. I couldn’t get enough and finished this audiobook in two days. Check this book out, either in print or audio, and let me know what you think!