Dead Collections by Isaac Feldman

Are you a dedicated user of our Special Collections department, or another archive? Do you love urban vampire stories or LGBTQIA literary fiction? If you said yes, or are intrigued, definitely try reading Dead Collections by Isaac Fellman. I checked it out because I had heard it was good transgender representation set in an archival setting and was delighted by the love story and identity exploration amidst an archival mystery. Here’s a quick summary:

When archivist Sol meets Elsie, the larger than life widow of a moderately famous television writer who’s come to donate her wife’s papers, there’s an instant spark. But Sol has a secret: he suffers from an illness called vampirism, and hides from the sun by living in his basement office. On their way to falling in love, the two traverse grief, delve into the Internet fandom they once unknowingly shared, and navigate the realities of transphobia and the stigmas of carrying the “vampire disease.” Then, when strange things start happening at the collection, Sol must embrace even more of the unknown to save himself and his job.

I loved reading both the experiences of trans man Sol and Elsie, who goes down a rabbit hole of gender exploration while falling in love with Sol. I also thought the way the story’s different threads wove together was clever and unique; this isn’t just a romance, or an urban fantasy, or a literary fiction, or a mystery, it’s a truly unusual blend of all of these, and reads like a prose poem. Sol’s narration is also reminiscent of the storytelling in Life of Pi by Yann Martel, incorporating glimpses of and insights from different times in Sol’s life. Different formats (email, scripts, etc.) were also woven into the narrative to echo the multimedia landscape of modern life.

As someone who reads more genre fiction than literary fiction, I did find the poetic writing style difficult in places, but the raw and real emotions, in all their complexity, that the characters lived through were really powerful and profound. I recommend this quirky and moving book to anyone looking for a one-of-a-kind reading experience full of queer representation, cool libraries, and mysterious goings-on.

Best Sellers Club September Authors: Jojo Moyes and J.R. Ward

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! September’s authors are Jojo Moyes for fiction and J.R. Ward for romance.

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Our September fiction author is Jojo Moyes. She studied journalism at City University and then worked at The Independent for 10 years. In 2001, she became a full-time novelist. Jojo has sold over thirty-eight million copies of her novels worldwide and has hit the number one spot in twelve countries. Her novels have been translated into forty-six languages. She won the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Novel of the Year in 2004 for her novel, Foreign Fruit aka Windfallen. Her novel Me Before You was adapted into a movie starring Sam Claflin and Emilia Clarke that was released in June 2016. Jojo currently lives in Essex with her husband and has three children. She writes historical fiction, romance, and general fiction.

Kingsbury’s newest book is The Giver of Stars, which was published in October 2019.

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

Set in Depression-era America, a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond, from the author of Me Before You.

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.

The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.

What happens to them–and to the men they love–becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.

Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic–a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.

This book is also available in the following formats:

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Our September romance author is J.R. Ward. This is a pseudonym used by author Jessica Bird. As Ward, she has written over thirty novels. The Black Dagger Brotherhood series is both a #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling series. So far, there are more than 15 million copies of her novels in print worldwide published in 25 different countries.Ward first majored in Art History and History at Smith College, but then decided to go to law school. After law school, she worked in healthcare in Boston, eventually worked many years as Chief of Staff at one of the premier academic medical centers in the United States. She currently lives with her husband and her golden retriever in the south. Ward primarily writes romance while focusing on paranormal romance and romantic suspense.

Ward’s newest book is The Viper, set to be published in September 2022. This is the third book in the Black Dagger Brotherhood: Prison Camp series.

Curious what this book is about? Below is a description provided by the publisher:

In this newest Prison Camp installment, #1 New York Times bestselling author J. R. Ward pens a heart-wrenching tale of love and betrayal in the Black Dagger Brotherhood world…

Framed for the grisly murder of his shellan, Kane is condemned to the notorious prison camp—unaware of the dark truth behind his arranged mating. Centuries later, when he is horribly burned while attempting to save others, he prays he’ll finally be reunited in the Fade with his mate…not knowing what revelations await him.

Nadya is a self-taught nurse who does what she can to ease the suffering of the prisoners. When Kane comes under her care, she cannot help but empathize with his condition for very personal reasons—and as the guards take him away one last time, she fears he is facing a terrible death.

After a daring rescue, Kane is offered a treatment that will change his very nature. Choosing life, for the time being, he goes back for the female who took such good care of him—but his duty to Nadya sets him on a collision course with his own past. When long-buried secrets are exposed, his self-destruction is inevitable…unless true love can save his soul.

Romance Reads: Wedding Date series by Jasmine Guillory

“I’ve never seen you look at anyone or anything like you look at her. And you’re just going to throw all of that away for some bullshit reason? Because you’re too scared for something real?”
― Jasmine Guillory, The Wedding Date

The Wedding Date is the first book in the Wedding Date series by Jasmine Guillory. I enjoyed this title as it’s a contemporary multicultural romance with one of my favorite romance tropes: fake dating!

Alexa Monroe works in Berkeley as the mayor’s chief of staff. She has a busy professional life, but with her sister living across the country in New York, her personal life isn’t as fulfilled as she wishes it was. When Olivia comes to California for a visit, Alexa is excited and a bit hesitant to see her. Their relationship isn’t the best, but she’s determined to try fixing it. Deciding to visit Olivia at the hotel where she is staying, Alexa is so caught up in her emotions that she misses the attractive guy who is in the hotel elevator with her. Fate intervenes, the elevator gets stuck, and Alexa soon finds herself as a last-minute date to a wedding with elevator guy.

Drew Nichols is a pediatric surgeon in Los Angeles. Spending the weekend in Berkeley for his ex’s wedding festivities is not how he wanted to spend his time, especially since his date wasn’t able to come. Getting stuck in the elevator with the stunningly attractive Alexa Monroe is the perfect distraction that Drew needed. In fact, he is so drawn to her, he asks her to be his last-minute wedding date and his fake girlfriend to the wedding.

Alexa and Drew have more fun than they originally thought they would have had at the wedding. After the weekend is over, the two head back to their high-stress jobs, but soon find that they can’t stop thinking about each other and the good times that they had. Alexa and Drew begin talking and decide to spend more time together with the assumption that their relationship, or whatever they want to call it, is only short-term. This long-distance dating situationship starts to get messier and messier, soon leaving the two to have to think about what they actually want and need from each other.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Wedding Date series

  1. The Wedding Date (2018)
  2. The Proposal (2018)
  3. The Wedding Party (2019)
  4. Royal Holiday (2019)
  5. Party of Two (2020)
  6. While We Were Dating (2021)

‘Something Wilder’ by Christina Lauren

‘Just because thoughts are loud or constant doesn’t mean they’re right.’ – Christina Lauren, Something Wilder

Something Wilder by Christina Lauren is the newest novel by authors Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings. This novel is full of laughter, romance, wilderness, and the hunt for treasure.

Lily Wilder grew up in the shadow of her father Duke Wilder. Duke was a notorious treasure hunter which sadly made him an absentee father. Lily’s mother left when she was young, leaving her to grow up with her father and her uncle on Wilder Ranch, a property owned by her uncle. After her uncle passed away, her father took control of the ranch, something he detested. He repeatedly left the ranch to go exploring with Lily to handle the day-to-day running of the ranch. Duke’s constant explorations left little money, so running the ranch was what Lily had to do to make money to survive. She grew to detest the treasure hunts that pulled her dad away.

Now that she’s older, Lily uses Duke’s hand-drawn maps to lead tourists on fake treasure hunts through the red rock canyons of Utah. Lily would love nothing more than to stop doing these tourist trips, but sadly they are the main way she makes money. She only makes enough money to pay the bills, but nowhere near enough to buy back Wilder Ranch which her father sold years ago. The summer Duke sold Wilder Ranch was also the summer that the man she loved left her and never contacted her again. He broke her, something that Lily swears she will never let happen again.

Imagine Lily’s surprise when her lost love shows up for a treasure hunt with a group of his friends. Her emotions run ragged. Once Leo Grady gets over his shock of seeing Lily in person again, he decides that he is ready to leave the past behind and reconnect with Lily. She however is only interested in keeping their relationship professional – it’s her business after all to make sure they all stay safe on the trip.

Not long into their hunt, disaster strikes, leaving the group scrambling to figure out what to do next. The biggest question: is the legend of the hidden treasure that Duke spent his life searching for actually true? In order to find the truth, Lily and Leo must work through their past. They must decide how much of themselves they are willing to risk.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Romance Reads: Bellinger Sisters series by Tessa Bailey

“What she thought was living life to the fullest had actually been living life for other people to watch. To gawk at. She wouldn’t lie to herself and pretend one month had completely cured her of her deeply rooted yen for attention. For praise. For what she’d once interpreted as love. Now though? She is participating in her life. Not just posing and pretending. The world was so much bigger than her, and she was really seeing it now. She was really looking.”
― Tessa Bailey, It Happened One Summer

It Happened One Summer is the first book in the Bellinger Sisters series. This title was also my first read by Tessa Bailey, an author that I’ve seen pop up on TikTok and other social media sites a lot more recently. This novel also reminded me a lot of the television show Schitt’s Creek as I was reading it. Let’s get into the first book!

Piper Bellinger is a Hollywood ‘It Girl’, well at least she was until she threw a spectacularly outrageous and out-of-control rooftop party that left the influential wild child cut off from her wealthy family and sent to a small Pacific Northwest town. Piper’s stepfather has decided that it’s time for Piper to learn some responsibility. He sends both Piper and her sister to Washington to run their late father’s dive bar.

Piper is shocked that her stepfather would even consider sending her away, let alone cutting her off. With her sister’s support, the two arrive in Westport to hopefully make the next three months fly by so they can head back to LA. As soon as Piper steps foot outside her late father’s bar, she meets Brendan, a big, burly, bearded sea captain who has nothing nice to say to her. He doesn’t think that Piper will last a night in Westport, especially when she sees the state of the apartment where the two women will be staying. Fed up with everyone, men especially, expecting little from her, Piper is determined to show the town of Westport that she’s more than just a pretty face. After all, this is her late father’s town and he is a legend. She has big shoes to fill.

As soon as Piper decides to show up Brendan, she of course starts running into him everywhere (mostly due to Westport being such a small town – but let’s be honest the two have an undeniable chemistry). Piper is bubbly, while Brendan is gruff and set in his ways. Although the two couldn’t be more opposite, there’s a simmering tension and attraction between the two. Piper does not want anything to do with Brendan, especially since she plans to head back to LA as soon as possible. The more time she spends reconnecting to her Westport past and getting to know the area, the more Piper starts to wonder if she really wants to go back home where no one really knows her. Where does her heart want to be?

This book is also available in the following formats:

Bellinger Sisters series:

  1. It Happened One Summer (2021)
  2. Hook, Line, and Sinker (2022)

‘The Ex Hex’ by Erin Sterling

“Never mix vodka and witchcraft.”
― Erin Sterling, The Ex Hex

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling is the story of a scorned lover who demands revenge, albeit while drunk and in a way that she didn’t think would actually come to fruition. Nine years ago, Vivienne Jones was a young witch nursing a freshly broken heart. She tried to heal it the best way she (and her cousin) knew how: a bubble bath, vodka, sad music, and a curse on her horrible ex-boyfriend. Vivi and her cousin knew they shouldn’t mix vodka and witchcraft, but her broken heart wanted vengeance. After all, they cast their curse using an orchard hayride scented candle – that’s an utterly ridiculous candle to curse someone with, so the two thought nothing of it and moved on. At best, they thought he would have a couple minor inconveniences and that’s it, no grievous bodily harm or anything.

Flash forward nine years and Rhys Penhallow, the breaker of Vivi’s heart, is on his way back to Graves Glen, Georgia. Rhys is one of the descendants of the town’s ancestors. His presence is necessary to recharge the town’s ley lines and to put in an obligatory appearance at the annual fall festival. The minute Rhys is within the town’s limits though, disaster strikes. As soon as he recovers from one issue, another one happens. It soon becomes apparent to Vivi and Rhys that her long ago hex isn’t quite as harmless as she thought it would be.

After a particularly disastrous incident, the two realize that Graves Glen is under attack. The magic has begun to rebel and the supposedly harmless ex hex may lay at the root of all of their problems. Vivi and Rhys must work together to find a way to save the town and to counteract and/or destroy the ex hex before everything they know and love is destroyed.

This book is also available in the following format:

‘Beach Read’ by Emily Henry

“That was what I’d always loved about reading, what had driven me to write in the first place. That feeling that a new world was being spun like a spiderweb around you and you couldn’t move until the whole thing had revealed itself to you.”
― Emily Henry, Beach Read

Beach Read is a book about writers struggling to come up with their next great novel. January Andrews is a romance writer who no longer believes in love. The problem is her next bestselling romance is due to her agent in just a few months, but she has no inspiration. January’s broke, her emotions are ragged, and she has massive writer’s block. Augustus Everett is a highly acclaimed author of literary fiction. He looks down on fluffy romance and would much rather kill of his entire cast of characters than ever give them a happily ever after. He, too, is struggling with writer’s block and has a book due very soon. January and Augustus couldn’t be more opposite.

As it turns out, Augustus and January are living in neighboring beach houses. Their initial meeting may have been a bit rocky, but with writing tensions high and January in an emotion spiral, it’s to be expected. Another twist: the two actually know each other from year prior. Stuck next to each other while trying to write seems like a curse. They have so much work to do, but nothing is working.

One night the two come up with a bet that is sure to break them out of their writer’s block. January will spend her summer writing the Next Great American Novel, while Augustus will write something happy. Each will have the opportunity to take the other on research field trips to get them accustomed to the other’s writing process. January will take Augustus out on trips that could be found in any rom-com. Augustus will take January along as he interviews the surviving members of a death cult. The two are destined to finish a book and hopefully not fall in love. The longer the summer goes on, January realizes that what she thought was true about her life was not. She starts to question every assumption she has made, including her thoughts about Augustus.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Best Sellers Club August Authors: Karen Kingsbury and Janet Dailey

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! August’s authors are Karen Kingsbury for fiction and Janet Dailey for romance.

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Photograph © Dean Dixon
Photograph © Dean Dixon

Our August fiction author is Karen Kingsbury. She is a New York Times bestselling novelist with more than 25 million copies of her books in print. Many of her novels are in development as major motion pictures.  The Baxter family book series has been developed into a television series. In addition to being an author, she is an adjunct professor of writing at Liberty University.  She currently lives in Tennessee with her husband, where they are close to their children and grandchildren. Kingsbury writes inspirational fiction.

Kingsbury’s newest book is The Baxters: A Prequelpublished in April 2022. This is the prequel to the Baxter Family series.

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

This warmhearted and moving prequel to the “heart-tugging and emotional” (RT Book Reviews) #1 New York Times bestselling Baxter Family Series follows the family members as they face rising tensions during a wedding and a colossal storm.

A terrible storm builds in the early morning sky over Bloomington, Indiana, as Elizabeth Baxter prepares to celebrate her daughter Kari’s wedding to Tim Jacobs. It’s supposed to be the happiest of days, but Elizabeth can’t shake a growing sense of dread. Is the storm a sign? Something bad is about to happen. Elizabeth knows it.

Indeed, there are dark currents of conflict and doubt coursing through the Baxter family. In the midst of them, Kari Baxter is starting to panic. Is marrying Tim a mistake? And what about her family? Her brother Luke is angry and resentful of their sister Ashley, who has recently returned from Paris, a single mom with a son she too often leaves with their parents. At the same time, Ashley and their sister Brooke have lost the faith that is the family’s glue. Against all this, Kari sees Ashley rejecting her longtime love, Landon Blake, who clearly cares for her, no matter what happened in Paris.

When the storm reaches a terrifying crescendo, a shocking moment of danger brings important truths to light. At the end of the long day, can the Baxters remain a family, tested but stronger?

From an author who “writes with seemingly effortless poetic elegance” (Booklist), The Baxters is an unforgettable testament to the power of love, family, and faith.

This book is also available in the following formats:

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Our August romance author is Janet Dailey. Dailey was born in Storm Lake, Iowa and knew that she wanted to be a writer from a very young age. Dailey worked with her husband in construction and land development before they decided to travel the United States. During this traveling, Dailey was inspired to write her Americana series of romances. In this series, Dailey set a novel in every state in the United States. She was also the first American author to write for Harlequin, starting her tenure with them in 1974. She has written 90 plus novels with 21 of them appearing on the New York Times bestseller list. As of today, there are over 324 million print copies of her novels all over the world in 98 countries and in 19 different languages. Janet Dailey died in December 2013 at the age of 69.

Dailey’s newest book is Quicksand, set to be published in August 2022. This is the third book in the Champions series.

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

New York Times bestselling author Janet Dailey’s latest Champions novel tells the rugged, romantic story of an Arizona family ranch in trouble, as the Champion sisters fight to keep their legacy bull-rearing operation strong, going head-to-head —and heart to heart—with some of the toughest men on the rodeo circuit.

Tess Champion knows better than to trust Brock Tolman, the rancher who once swindled her late father in a land deal. But with the Alamo Canyon Ranch in foreclosure, Tess is forced to accept Brock’s offer of a partnership. Brock claims he only wants to breed the Champion bloodline into his own herd. In exchange, he offers Tess one of his own young bulls. Soon enough, Quicksand is the rising star of the rodeo circuit, which only proves Tess is better at picking bulls than she is men. Because she’s way too tempted to surrender to her attraction to Brock, despite her certainty he’s only out to steal her family ranch . . .

It’s not until the tycoon’s private plane crashes in the wilderness, stranding him with Tess, that the truth of their relationship will come out. The Champion family’s future is on the line, but it’s Tess’s heart that will take the hit if she’s fallen for the wrong man . . .

This book is also available in the following format:

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

“I still have a lot to figure out, but the one thing I know is, wherever you are, that’s where I belong. I’ll never belong anywhere like I belong with you.”
― Emily Henry, People We Meet on Vacation

The above quote sums up People We Meet on Vacation pretty perfectly. Alex and Poppy do not seem like they would fit together. Poppy is a traveling wild child who gets anxious if she is in one place for too long. Alex would much rather stay at home in his khakis reading a book. The two met by chance at college, but each wrote the other off as a nobody. Thrown together later in a car share home one summer, the two form a best friend bond that has only grown over time.

While Alex and Poppy may live apart for most of the year – she in New York and he back home in Ohio, they revel in their summer trips. For over a decade, the two have taken one week of vacation together every summer to various destinations all over the globe. They have had disastrous vacations all the way to magnificent ones. Two years ago, something happened on their summer vacation that has driven a wedge between the two. They haven’t spoken to each other since.

Poppy has been having a rough time dealing with Alex being out of her life. She feels like she’s stuck in a rut. When her friend asks her when she last felt happy, Poppy realizes that it was when she was with Alex. She wants that back! Poppy has decided that she has to get Alex to take a vacation with her so that she can make their relationship right again. Alex agrees, so she has one week to fix everything that’s wrong between them. That task proves to be way harder than she imagined, given the massive secret lurking between the two.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Loveless by Alice Oseman

Georgia has always assumed she’d find love. No, she hasn’t ever dated anyone, or kissed anyone, or had a crush on anyone, but that’s normal, right? It’ll happen eventually… right? It isn’t until she graduates from school and is about to go to university that she realizes how different she is from everyone else. Feeling panicked, behind, and alone, she decides to reinvent herself and become the kind of girl who’s a social butterfly, that falls in love and enjoys kissing. She enlists her roommate Rooney and her friends Jason and Pip in her quest, but it never starts to feel easier, to feel right. It’ll take time, soul-searching, and the help of Sunil, president of the Pride Society, to figure out what she wants and where she belongs.

Loveless by Alice Oseman is a great book for a lot of reasons, including its representation of people who have always been treated like they’re broken: introverts, asexuals, and aromantic people. Georgia is flawed and real as she struggles and angsts her way into self-acceptance and self-love, leaving some chaos and hurt in her wake. Oseman doesn’t shy away from showing Georgia’s culpability for that hurt, or the complicated process of making amends, not to mention the natural grieving process that comes with being different. In this and many ways (though I can’t vouch for the depiction of British university life) it’s a refreshingly realistic book. Despite the title, love is the thread that runs through the book – through Georgia’s friendships, Rooney’s relationship to Shakespeare, Pip’s cultural heritage, and Sunil’s feelings for the Pride Society.

For a fresh and educational coming-of-age with strong friendships, diverse characters, realistic portrayals of asexuality and aromanticism, and quick, addictive chapters, this is the best book you’ll read this year.

This title is also available on Overdrive.