Library Reads for November 2019

Librarians across the country have chosen the ten books coming out in November that they’re most excited about.

The Starless Sea  by Erin Morgenstern
A moving labyrinth of a story, ever changing and evolving. What begins as a mysterious thread in a book, an opportunity taken or missed and the consequences of the choice, evolves into a story similar to a choose-your-own adventure tale or a mystical video game experience. For fans of Neil Gaiman, Susanna Clark, and Lev Grossman.
~ Cynde Suite, Bartow County Library, Cartersville, GA

The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
Thea gave up everything when she became Gavin’s wife, and has been faking more than just her happiness. When the marriage is headed for divorce, Gavin’s friends bring him into their secret book club to help him win his wife back. For readers who like romance with a little humor, and fans of Curtis Sittenfeld and Jennifer Crusie.
~ Melissa McNeill, Montgomery County Memorial Library System, Conroe, TX

The Deep by Rivers Solomon
An incredibly interesting reimagining of what happened to the slaves that got thrown off the ships while crossing the ocean. For fans of She Would Be King by Wayetu Moore and The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
~ Kelli Ponce, Mesquite Public Library, Mesquite, TX

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
Chloe is doing all she can to avoid being defined by her illness. Redford is a talented artist who was verbally abused by his former girlfriend. Smart and snarky, they find ways to help each other face their challenges. Snappy dialogue, dynamic characters, and a realistic story make this a good choice for fans of Alyssa Cole and Jasmine Guillory.
~ Paula Pergament, Lincolnwood Public Library, Lincolnwood, IL

Little Weirds by Jenny Slate
Weirdly delightful and beyond compare. Essays that provide a look into the comedian’s brain. For fans of Miranda July.
~ Jesica Sweedler DeHart, Neill Public Library, Pullman, WA

Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher
A perfect contemporary romance that will make you laugh, swoon, and maybe even get a little weepy. Hannah is a heroine for the ages, prickly, real, and worth fighting for. For readers who loved How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days.
~ Elizabeth Gabriel, Milwaukee Public Library, Milwaukee, WI

Tracking Game by Margaret Mizushima
This is a terrific series with characters that are constantly changing. I’m so excited to see what happens to them next! A good pick for fans of Nevada Barr.
~ Liz Kirchhoff, Barrington Area Public Library, Barrington, IL

Twenty-one Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks
Daniel Mayrock is struggling to find his way as a man, husband, and potential father. His story is told entirely in lists. Written as a form of therapy for himself, Daniel’s lists show his sense of humor and feelings of inadequacy. Funny, sad, uplifting but always relatable. A must read for fans of Rachel Joyce and Gabrielle Zevin.
~Sam Sepulveda, Milford Town Library, Milford, MA

We Met in December by Rosie Curtis
A lovely charmer of a book. Jess follows her dream and moves to London and rents a room in a big Notting Hill house with one rule – no dating your flatmates. For fans of One Day (even mentioned in the book), Four Weddings and One Day in December.
~ Stephanie Chase, Hillsboro Public Library, Hillsboro, OR

The Witches are Coming by Lindy West
Lindy West takes on rape culture, climate change, Hollywood and toxic masculinity among other topics. It’s funny, relatable and on-point. For fans of Rebecca Solnit and Roxane Gay.
~ Shari Suarez, Genesee Districy Library, Goodrich, MI

But wait, we’re not done there!! Two additional titles out this month are on the Library Reads Hall of Fame list, earned once an author has had three or more titles appear on the monthly lists since 2013.

The Confession Club by Elizabeth Berg
What starts as a simple supper club transforms into something special when one member reveals a very personal secret. Berg continues her Mason, MO, series with a story that exudes goodness, warmth and solid friendships. A surefire winner and hot book club pick!
~ Ron Block, Cuyahoga County Public Library,
Brooklyn, Ohio

The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell
Gothic and creepy, this is the tale of an aging London mansion taken over by a strong-willed con artist happy to prey on the minds of the eccentric family living there. I look forward to each Lisa Jewell release and The Family Upstairs does not disappoint.
~ Linda Quinn, Fairfield Public Library, Fairfield, CT


~ posted by Andrea G.

Top 10 Noteworthy 2019 Speculative Fiction Books Part 2

A continuation of our favorite speculative fiction works this year! So far…

The Future of Another Timeline by Annalee Newitz. Annalee Newitz just won a Hugo Award for the Our Opinions Are Correct podcast with their partner Charlie Jane Anders and is a writer of both science and science fiction. TFOAT is a fiercely feminist queer punk rock time travel novel that follows Tess, a time traveling geologist and her cohort of time travelers who are orchestrating a fine-tuned fight against a group of men hell-bent on stopping women’s rights from ever advancing. It’s the kind of science fiction that reminds us about how the future is happening right now and it’s up to us to collectively work towards better futures.

The Need by Helen Phillips. If you like your literary fiction unsettling, then this is for you. If you like reading about the beauty, joy, mess and terror of raising small children, this is also for you. If you like reading books that mess with your head or make you wonder about the wellness of the main character, this is for you. I am not entirely sure how well it worked for me in the end or what I thought of the conclusion, but I was drawn into this mother’s paranoid recitations of her time alone with her children while her husband is away, a possible intruder, the horror of seeing your own reflection/true self, and, again, the micro-moments of warmth interspersed with the micro-moments of slog and clean-up coupled with the fear that being responsible for the physical and mental well-bring of two humans engenders. This is essentially literary horror with Science Fiction elements that reminded me a bit of the repulsive discomfort of Kang Han’s The Vegetarian.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow. Portal fantasy is my catnip. I just adore stories that take you from our world into others. Another reviewer noted that fans of Seanan McGuire’s Wayward Children books will enjoy this, and they are right. It is not nearly as dark overall as some of those stories, but the stories and storytelling here of the various Doors and January who slowly learns of these passages and of the Society who is trying to close them is just as lovely and beguiling.

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. Gideon the Ninth is a buzzy debut and deserves the buzz. It is being hailed as “lesbian necromancers in space,” which it is ostensibly, but it deliver more on the horror, gore, and pure peculiarity of its dark world than on any of the titillation such a hook-line implies. Gideon is a wonderful main protagonist, with a mysterious backstory and a stubborn, snarky internal and external monologue. She is in servitude to Harrowhark Nonagesimus, the Reverend Daughter of the Drearburh, and their mutual hate and verbal sparring are the central appeal of the book. When Gideon is called to be Harrowhark’s cavalier, a role she takes on only under duress, in order to compete against the other 8 houses for a Lyctorship position in service to the Undead Emperor, the storyline unfolds into a series of tests and a whodunit. This is a delightfully weird but full on splattercore horror space opera mystery novel with some wonderfully villainous characters.

The Lesson by Cadwell Turnbull. Cadwell Turnbull’s debut science fiction novel is set in the U.S. Virgin Islands that explores first contact, colonialism and oppression. Aliens arrive and park their ship over Water Island while they start to integrate themselves into the communities below. The Ynaa are not an entirely peac-loving people, and while they offer technology it seems to come with strings. What do the Ynaa want? Turnbull slowly unfolds how life changes for the people of the island, and how human dramas continue even amidst catastrophic change.

Missed the first five! Check out Part 1!

~posted by Misha S.

Top 10 Noteworthy 2019 Speculative Fiction Books Part 1

Even though it’s only October and there are still two more months left for publishing and reading in 2019 we are already assembling our “best lists”.

Here are some of our favorite speculative fiction works this year (so far):

The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders. This is a science fiction novel steeped in the politics and prose of relationships. Humanity has arrived on a cold, tidally-locked planet, January, with searing sun rays on one side and constructed societies of survival in different pockets on the dark side of the planet with different rules and regulations. Sophie and Bianca, and the itinerant Mouth narrate the novel. Sophie is spellbound by Bianca, a beautiful girl from the ruling class with bold ideas about how to change the society they are in, intoxicating with out-sized personality and revolutionary dreams. This is a story of ecological consequences, humanity’s push and pull for control and freedom, our need to have someone to believe in, how our idea of the person we love may be quite different from the person they truly are, and how it is so hard to admit when we have been betrayed by a person we thought worthy of our trust.

Exhalation by Ted Chiang. Ted Chiang is considered one of the best science fiction short story writers of our time. Over twenty-eight years, Chiang’s entire output has been comprised of fifteen stories. His stories have won twenty-seven science fiction awards and his slow and steady pace as well as the intellectual and emotional acumen of his work has garnered him a dedicated fanbase. This contains two of my favorite novellas of all time and they get me on an intellectual and emotional level every time I read them—these stories are just that special.

Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. Seanan McGuire is a prolific writer and her work is also varied and getting better all of the time. Her latest is a character-driven fantasy involving twins, math, and a nefarious plan hundreds of years in the making. Roger and Dodger are twins separated at birth, raised across the country, who start telepathically communicating at a young age. But how can they do this, and why do they seem to be two halves of a whole? Creepy, beautifully written and layered, such a treat. For fans of Scott Hawkins’ The Library at Mount Char.

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig. The fall is the perfect time for big, immersive books and even books that might just scare the hell out of you and Wendig’s Wanderers delivers! The book starts with sleepwalkers— Shana Stewart to finds her sister Nessie sleepwalking in their driveway in a zombie-like trance and can’t wake her up. Shana follows her sister to protect her and becomes a part of the shepherds, a group of people following their loved ones as they join this mysterious group of sleepwalkers. Conspiracy theories abound in the media as this phenomenon unfolds. While society argues, a sinister virus goes to work and a scientist and sentient AI called Black Swan try to solve the deadly puzzle before it’s too late. Wanderers is being compared to Stephen King’s The Stand and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven and for good reason—it’s just as gripping and just as terrifying.

Magic for Liars by Sarah Gailey. Ivy Gamble is a P.I. to whom people don’t “stick.” She drinks too much and spends most of her professional time chasing after unfaithful husbands and wives (or those their spouse suspects might be) and petty criminals. Then a headmaster at the magic school where Ivy’s twin sister Tabitha works makes a visit to the office asking Ivy to investigate the murder of a teacher there. Only Ivy and Tabitha haven’t talked for years, because Tabitha is magic and Ivy is not. This character-driven fantasy mystery with a slippery narrator examines family dynamics, sibling rivalry, calcified misunderstandings, some strange and conniving teens, a library with whispering books, and a magic school that doesn’t sound any more alluring than any other high school where popularity politics reign supreme.

Stay tuned for Part 2!

~posted by Misha S.

New fiction roundup, October 2019

October is particularly rich in short story collections from both established and new voices, and also sees the return of favorite characters with new books by Elizabeth Strout and Lee Child, and the long-awaited adult fiction debut of blockbuster YA author Leigh Bardugo. Continue reading “New fiction roundup, October 2019”

Library Reads for October 2019

Ready to place some holds? Check out these ten books coming in October that librarians across the US are loving.

The Body: A Guide for Occupants by Bill Bryson
A fascinating look at the human body and how it functions. Each historical tidbit is well-researched and thoroughly cited. Interesting stories, such as how diseases, cells, nerves, and organs were discovered, are woven throughout. For readers who like narrative nonfiction such as Gulp by Mary Roach, Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, and Guts by Giulia Enders.
~ Carolynn Waites, Manvel Library, Manvel, TX

The Art of Theft by Sherry Thomas
In this fun, playful series, Thomas has created a female version of [Sherlock] Holmes who is vibrant, real, relatable, and intelligent. This fourth book has Holmes and Watson travel to France, with twists and turns the reader won’t see coming. Perfect for fans of Laurie R. King’s Mary Russell series and Tasha Alexander’s Lady Emily series.
~ Carrie Pedigo, Tippecanoe County Public Library, Lafayette, IN

The Butterfly Girl by Rene Denfeld
Denfeld’s writing is like lyrical poetry, with every word captivating. Add to this an amazing mystery, a plethora of suspense, and an ending that exceeds all expectations, and we have another 5 star book. For fans of What She Knew by Gilly Macmillan and Love You More by Lisa Gardner.
~ Cyndi Larsen, Avon Free Public Library, Avon, CT Continue reading “Library Reads for October 2019”