Jenna Bush Hager October Pick – ‘Leave the World Behind’

Jenna Bush Hager has selected Leave the World Behind by Rumaan Alam as the October pick for her #ReadWithJenna book club.

Curious what Leave the World Behind is about? Check out the following description provided by the publisher.

A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong.

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other?

Suspenseful and provocative, Rumaan Alam’s third novel is keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped—and unexpected new ones are forged—in moments of crisis.

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Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

“The world might indeed be a cursed circle; the snake swallowed its tail and there could be no end, only an eternal ruination and endless devouring.”

If you are looking for an uncanny and spine-chilling read for Halloween, you won’t want to miss Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Set in Mexico in the 1950s, young socialite Noemi Taboada is asked to visit her cousin, Catalina, in the country upon her father receiving an unusual and seemingly delusional letter from her. In it, she claims her newlywed husband and the mansion they live in are trying to poison her, among other ramblings Noemi and her father can’t make much sense of. While Noemi isn’t keen on leaving her life in Mexico City, she embarks to the countryside for an undetermined length of time to attend to her cousin’s well-being, half-expecting to bring her back to Mexico City to see a psychiatrist.

It doesn’t take long upon arriving, however, for Noemi to experience the unnatural, isolating, and menacing ambiance of this mansion, also known as High Place. Along with Catalina and her husband, Virgil, the manor is home to Virgil’s ancient father, aunt, cousin, and a handful of servants. In addition to the family living with no electricity and in complete silence most of the time, which is very unnerving for the loquacious and lively Noemi, she is also made very uncomfortable when introduced to Virgil’s father, a man completely enamored by the notion of eugenics.

In addition to the dismal demeanor of the house’s occupants, the decrepit house itself is a character of its own. It is truly the epitome of a Gothic setting from beginning to end, complete with the dark and derelict interior, the haunted neighboring cemetery, and the insane, enigmatic descriptions of the house coming to life. Within the grasp of the house, Noemi begins to have horrific dreams of the house as a living organism and of inhumane events occurring within its walls, and she soon realizes her cousin has been subjected to something far worse than she could have ever imagined.

For me, this Gothic tale was Jane Eyre meeting “The Yellow Wallpaper,” which then met Stephen King. I have always been a fan of Gothic literature, and this was a fresh, chilling, and creepy story I didn’t want to put down. While I didn’t initially relate with the protagonist and the story had a bit of a slow start, I found the suspense, plot, and imagery to be completely worth the small wait. I will make a disclaimer that it does have some pretty morbid descriptions and imagery at parts (hence, Stephen King’s shout out), but if you want something to leave you haunted and squeamish, even with the lights on, you will definitely enjoy this novel!

This book is also available in the following formats:

Overdrive eAudiobook

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:

Virtual Book Club – ‘Good Girls Lie’ on September 23

On Wednesday, September 23rd at 2pm,  Virtual Book Club will be discussing Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison. This book club meets virtually every week to discuss a book using GoTo Meeting. Information about how to join is provided at the end of this blog.

Want to learn more about Good Girls Lie? Read the following description provided by the publisher.

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous. In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. When a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide. But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Virtual Book Club – Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison
Wed, Sep 23, 2020 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (CDT)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/230386885

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (224) 501-3412

Access Code: 230-386-885

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/230386885

Take Me Apart by Sara Sligar

The lives of famous artists has always fascinated me. You get a tiny glimpse of their lives when you visit museums, but that’s hardly the full story. Sara Sligar’s debut book, Take Me Apartlets readers look into the background of a photographer as people try to figure out what really happened to her.

Take Me Apart by Sara Sligar talks about the history of a famous photographer through the eyes of an ex-journalist hired by her son. Miranda Brand is a famous photographer who died mysteriously when she was at the peak of her career. Miranda left behind a grieving husband and a young son who had to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. The whole community of Callinas, California was shocked and wondered what really happened to Miranda. Her artwork became even more priceless and her agent was able to sell what he had left of hers for very high prices.

Decades later, Miranda’s son Theo heads back to the house where he grew up. His father has recently died and Theo has decided to clean up the house. He hires ex-journalist Kate Aitken to archive Miranda’s work and personal effects. She begins the arduous process of organizing her materials and finds herself at the center of the rumor mill surrounding the Brand family and their house. The community is still telling stories full of rumors and somewhat shocking details about Miranda’s life, while Kate is finding out bits and pieces of her true life. Miranda seemed to be crumbling under the pressures of family, marriage, and trying to balance her artistic ambition with being a new mother. While she works to catalog all of Miranda’s papers, Kate is continuously haunted by secrets from her own past. When a surprising discovery related to Miranda falls into her lap, Kate’s curiosity begins to tip out of her control, leading her down a spiral that concerns all those around her.

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown

Did you know that Investigation Discovery has a book club? Working with Random House, the ID Book Club was formed as a way for fans of Investigation Discovery to read more about crime and justice. To see a list of past book club selections, check out their website!

Pretty Things by Janelle Brown was one of the ID Book club’s selections and my introduction to the club. This mystery novel weave together the stories of two very different women. Although they grew up in wildly different circumstances, their life decisions lead back to a handful of similar life-forming moments that they both shared.

All Nina ever hoped for was a decent childhood and to live a life that was different than her mom’s. Nina’s mother is a con artist who hustled throughout Nina’s entire childhood in order to hopefully give her daughter a better life. Moving constantly and trying to make new friends was hard for Nina until Nina and her mom ended up in Lake Tahoe. That year living in Lake Tahoe changed Nina’s life forever, introducing her to her closest friend and first love. That year of tranquility came crashing down around them and ended with Nina and her mom running from the town in a cloud of shame. Nina worked hard and went to college, graduating with a liberal arts degree that she hoped would lead her to a legitimate career. When she gets a call saying that her mom is sick and needs her help, Nina leaves everything behind and rushes home to help her. She ends up putting her life on the line and starts pulling scams with her Irish boyfriend, Lachlan. Nina promised herself she wouldn’t turn into her mom, but what did she expect: she learned from the best and to deny the tricks she grew up learning from her mother doesn’t make sense anymore.

Vanessa is privileged. A young heiress who has had anything and everything in life handed to her, Vanessa wants to leave her mark in the world. She wants to do better than her parents. When her plans don’t turn out quite like she hoped, Vanessa becomes an Instagram influencer. Traveling around the globe, posing for pictures in exotic locations, and being showered in free clothes and products as long as she posts pictures of herself using them has become Vanessa’s life. Being an Instagram influencer quickly overtakes and becomes her entire life. Based on her Instagram, it looks like Vanessa leads a perfect and immensely covetable life. She shouldn’t be wanting for anything. Behind that facade however, Vanessa’s life is full of tragedy. The catalyst proves to be a broken engagement, which sends Vanessa, in desperate search of solitude, to her family’s estate, Stonehaven. This sprawling mansion on Lake Tahoe is full of dark secrets that haunt Vanessa and her family.

Lake Tahoe and Stonehaven sing a siren call to Vanessa and Nina, luring both women back to the site where their lives intertwine even tighter, leading to a twisting confrontation full of revenge, deceit, duplicity, and destruction.

This book is also available in the following formats:

Virtual Book Club – ‘The Cabin at the End of the World’ on August 12th

The Virtual Book Club is meeting next Wednesday, August 12th, at 2pm central to discuss The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay. We are using GoTo Meeting which will allow patrons to video chat with others about the book. Information about how to join is below!

Curious what the book is about? Check out the following description from the publisher.

The Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Head Full of Ghosts adds an inventive twist to the home invasion horror story in a heart-palpitating novel of psychological suspense. Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake. Their closest neighbors are more than two miles in either direction along a rutted dirt road. One afternoon, as Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young, friendly, and he wins her over almost instantly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault”. Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.” Thus begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are entwined. The Cabin at the End of the World is a masterpiece of terror and suspense from the fantastically fertile imagination of Paul Tremblay.

This book is also available in the following format:

Virtual Book Club
Wed, Aug 12, 2020 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (CDT)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/969823581

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (646) 749-3122

Access Code: 969-823-581

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/969823581

Virtual Book Club – ‘The Escape Room’ on July 29

New book club pick! Virtual Book Club will be discussing The Escape Room  by Megan Goldin on Wednesday, July 29th at 2pm central. Information on how to join the discussion is below!

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

In the lucrative world of Wall Street finance, Vincent, Jules, Sylvie and Sam are the ultimate high-flyers. Ruthlessly ambitious, they make billion-dollar deals and live lives of outrageous luxury. Getting rich is all that matters, and they’ll do anything to get ahead. When the four of them are ordered to participate in a corporate team-building exercise that requires them to escape from a locked elevator, things start to go horribly wrong. They have to put aside their fierce office rivalries and work together to solve the clues that will release them. But in the confines of the elevator, the dark secrets of their team are laid bare. They are made to answer for profiting from a workplace where deception and intimidation thrive. Tempers fray and the escape room’s clues turn more and more ominous, leaving the four of them dangling on the precipice of disaster. If they want to survive, they’ll have to solve one final puzzle: which one of them is a killer?

This book is also available in the following formats:

Virtual Book Club
Wed, Jul 29, 2020 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (CDT)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/534926045

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (224) 501-3412

Access Code: 534-926-045

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/534926045

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 15

Join our Virtual Book Club on Wednesday, July 15th at 2pm central for a virtual discussion of You Are Not Alone  by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. We will be using GoTo Meeting for this program.  Information on how to join in is listed below! We hope to see you there!

You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen is the third and most recent book written by the duo. The below is a description of the book provided by the publisher:

Shay Miller has three strikes against her: no job, no apartment, no love in her life. But when she witnesses a perfectly normal looking young woman about her age make the chilling decision to leap in front of an ongoing subway train, Shay realizes she could end up in the same spiral. She is intrigued by a group of women who seem to have it all together, and they invite her with the promise: ‘You are not alone.’ Why not align herself with the glamorous and seductive Moore sisters, Cassandra and Jane? … They are everything Shay aspires to be, and they seem to have the keys to getting exactly what they want. As Shay is pulled deeper and deeper under the spell of the Moore sisters, she finds her life getting better and better. But what price does she have to pay? What do Cassandra and Jane want from her? And what secrets do they, and Shay, have that will come to a deadly confrontation? You are not alone: Is it a promise? Or a threat?

This book is also available in the following formats:

Virtual Book Club
Wed, Jul 15, 2020 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM (CDT)

Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone.
https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/617521805

You can also dial in using your phone.
United States: +1 (312) 757-3121

Access Code: 617-521-805

New to GoToMeeting? Get the app now and be ready when your first meeting starts:
https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/617521805

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