Hot Titles by High-Demand Authors

Late October and early November are traditionally busy times in the U.S. publishing market, especially for titles by high-demand authors.  We have several new books from new authors and some of your favorites. Look at the bottom of the post for a list.

We’ve got several new books in, and if espionage is an interest of yours, we have three exciting titles that you will like.  Agent Sonya: Moscow’s Most Daring Wartime Spy by journalist Ben Mcintyre, is the true story of Ursula Burton, an undercover high-ranking Soviet intelligence officer who lived a quiet life in a village in the Cotswolds with her husband and children.  All the while she was hunted by intelligence organizations of all the major powers in the world.  This is a riveting but insightful book.  If you liked The Unexpected Spy by Tracy Walder, you will like this book as well.  The Quiet Americans: Four CIA Agents at the Dawn of the Cold War by Scott Anderson exposes the story of the CIA’s original four spies, a mish-mash of unlikely men who set the path of American espionage. In The Spymasters: How the CIA Directors Shape History and the Future by Chris Whipple decodes the history of the growth of power of this agency and offers behind-the-scenes glimpse through interviews with many who have seen the CIA in action first-hand.

If you like Southern literature or reading about the South, then we have some new titles for you to enjoy!  Columnist Rick Bragg has compiled the best of his columns from Southern Living and Guns and Gardens magazines in Where I Come From: Stories from the Deep South.  These columns cover all things southern, from why Southern men should always carry a knife to the best way to kill fire ants with humor and wit.  Fannie Flagg takes us, and many of our favorite characters, back to the Whistle Stop Café in The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop.  This book is filled with southern humor and is as heart-warming as her other novels have been.  She Come By It Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs by Sarah Smarsh tells the story of a quieter feminism that cultural icon Dolly Parton exuded.  This is not really a read just about the South, rather one that pays tribute to hard-working, overlooked women all over the United States.

There are so many new books out by high-demand authors, that I’m just going to list them here by author and title:

V.C.Andrews                      Whispering Hearts

Ace Atkins                           Robert B. Parker’s Someone to Watch Over Me

Robyn Carr                          Return to Virgin River

Lee Child                              The Sentinel

John Connolly                    The Dirty South, Volume 18

Clive Cussler                       Marauder

Janet Daily                           Paradise Peak

Janet Evanovich                Fortune and Glory, Volume 27

Jasper Fforde                     The Constant Rabbit

Heather Graham              Deadly Touch

Heather Graham              Dreaming Death

John Grisham                     Time for Mercy

Lisa Jewell                           Invisible Girl

Craig Johnson                    Next to Last Stand: A Longmire Mystery

Sophie Kinsella                  Love Your Life

Mike Lupica                        Robert B. Parker’s Fool’s Paradise

James Patterson               The Coast to Coast Murders

James Patterson               Three Women Disappear

Louise Penny                     All the Devils are Here

Jodi Picoult                         The Book of Two Ways

Marilynne Robinson        Jack

Jess Walter                         The Cold Millions

Stuart Woods                    The Shakeup

You can come by the library to browse through them in our new books section, or you can place a hold on any of them either through our app or at our catalog here:  https://uppl.ent.sirsi.net/client/en_US/external/?dt=list

Halloween Reads from Classic American Authors

Happy Hallowreading!  One of our library customers asked me if I read things seasonally or certain things during the different seasons, but the only answer I could come up with is for Halloween.   Having a background in American History and Literature, a few American classic writers come to mind.

My personal tradition is to read Edgar Allan Poe short stories a few nights before and on Halloween.  They’re beautifully and lyrically written and some of them are spine-tingling scary.  I suggest The Tale-Tell Heart and The Cask of Amontillado, both available in some anthologies we have here at the library and on numerous places online.  For lovers of suspense, The Pit and the Pendulum is a great choice.  The reader feels the despair and the pain of  the prisoner.  These stories all lead up to a scary, horrible climax with grace and great prose.

Another classic American writer whose works are fun to read this time of year is Nathanial Hawthorne.  Young Goodman Brown is set on Halloween night in chilly New England.  The story has the classic plot of good versus evil, but it is fun to try to figure out the symbolism throughout the story.  It’s a perfect Halloween read!  Other Hawthorne stories that are frightening include Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment and Rappacini’s Daughter.  We actually have the film version of these two stories on DVD, starring Vincent Price and a very young Beverly Garland.  The House of Seven Gables, also by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a creepy story about family turmoil, struggle, and a murder.  We have this book in electronic format and on DVD, also starring Vincent Price.

And lastly, we have Washington Irving’s Tales of the Supernatural, an anthology that includes several spooky stories involving ghosts, the Devil himself, and pirate treasure.  What a combination!  Tales of the Supernatural includes The Spectre Bridegroom, The Devil and Tom Walker, and The Legend of the Enchanted Soldier.  It also includes the all-time classic Halloween story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. 

 Many of these stories are now in the public domain, so you can find them online in full text.  You can find many of them in the Guttenberg Project collection online here:  https://uppl.ent.sirsi.net/client/en_US/default/?rm=OPEN+SOURCE+DA0%7C%7C%7C1%7C%7C%7C1%7C%7C%7Ctrue.  Type in the name of the story or author you are looking for in the search bar.  We also have anthologies, in print and in electronic format, containing some of these stories, in the library.  If you need help finding them on the Libby app, please give us a call at 214-363-9095 or email me at sperry@uptexas.org.

I will also be talking about some more contemporary Halloween Reading on Wednesday, October 21st at 2pm on Facebook live.  I hope you join me there!

Mindfulness for Kids

Returning to school can be a stressful experience for kids, especially while wearing a mask and worrying about Covid-19. Mindfulness, a practice centered on self-awareness and focusing on the present moment, has been scientifically proven to improve kids’ ability to respond to stressors. By identifying and accepting their thoughts and emotions, children increase their well-being and gain the tools they need to deal with difficult situations. These resources, available from UP Library, help to teach kids mindfulness in a variety of ways.

Breathe Like a Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused Anywhere, Anytime (DVD) 

A collection of 30 exercises that teach children how to regulate their emotions through breathing and mindfulness. Children can learn to control their emotions and body as they practice these exercises in the car, on the soccer field, or before a test at school. Short and easy to memorize, these methods can also help families develop their own mindfulness practices at home. 

Meditation is an Open Sky: Mindfulness for Kids by Whitney Stewart 

If you would like to practice mindfulness using a book rather than a DVD, this book helps children grow in awareness of their thoughts and emotions. An elephant and monkey serve as meditation guides and the gentle illustrations lead kids through nine different mindfulness exercises for gaining focus, relaxation, and clarity. Included is a list of frequently asked questions about meditation, and the encouragement that each person moves through these exercises differently and at their own pace. 

Breathing Makes It Better: A Book for Sad Days, Mad Days, Glad Days, and All the Days In-Between by Christopher Willard 

Colorful illustrations and simple language take kids through the different feelings they may experience each day, and teaches them to apply mindfulness in each situation. Families might read the book from start to finish, or may choose to work through a relevant emotion as needed. Tips for parents are also included at the end for leading children through additional mindfulness practices. 

My Magic Breath by Nick Ortner

This interactive picture book invites children into a simple breathing pattern as they read. As they do, they learn to calm their frustration and anger, replace sadness with happiness, and release tension. The beautiful illustrations make this an inviting mindfulness tool for preschoolers and elementary kids, who will love using their own magic breath to make worries disappear! 

Calm with the Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

This miniature picture book is a simple tool for teaching even the youngest children the importance of mindfulness. Carle’s beloved caterpillar guides readers through deep breaths and relaxation techniques, showing them to soothe themselves when sad, frightened, or worried.

New Fiction and A lot of Nonfiction

I hope you’re all enjoying the  pretty weather and getting some good reading time in.  We have a few new fiction titles, not by high-demand authors, but really good nonetheless.  The Queen of Tuesday by Darin Strauss offers a glimpse of mid-century American culture and establishes Lucille Ball as the main influencer of her time.  The story revolves around a romance – an affair that the author’s grandfather may have had with Lucille Ball – but mixes the fiction of the romance with some of the facts of Ball’s life.  Be prepared to be surprised to learn that there was much more to Lucille Ball’s life than what we saw on television.

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman is set in a book store in Paris during World War II.  It looks at the toll that living in France during the War and Occupation took on many.

How Lulu Lost Her Mind by Rachel Gibson is a mother and daughter relationship story that is told with humor and compassion that will resonate with the reader as they contemplate their relationships with their own mothers.

Monogamy by Sue Miller will probably be my favorite book of 2020.  It’s the story of the complications of marriage and blended families with one big secret that tears down everything a woman believed about her life.  The relationships in the book are messy, but the book is engrossing.  I couldn’t put it down.

I received an early copy of The Big Door Prize by M.O. Walsh earlier this year and have been impatient for it to be published so I could share it with you all!  In a small Louisiana town, a machine appears in the local grocery store that changes quite a bit for this small Southern town.  For two dollars and a swab of a person’s cheek, it can tell them what their life’s potential is.  And the revelations that the machine offers challenges people’s relationships, self-esteem and satisfaction levels.  This book is magical realism at its best, and the graceful writing will have the readers enthralled.

Just a few other new fiction titles to mention are The Geometry of Holding Hands, the newest installment in Alexander McCall Smith’s Isabel Dalhousie series; The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue is a work of historical fiction with modern and real-life influences.  It’s a survival story set against the back drop of the Influenza Pandemic of 1918.

Robert Galbraith (also known as J.K. Rowling) adds another title to her Cormoran Strike novels in Troubled Blood.

And lastly in my discussion about new fiction titles is Dear Ann by Bobbie Ann Mason.  Her first novel, In Country, is now considered a post-modern classic, and this latest title probably will be as well.  Dear Ann leads the reader down the path of a re-examination of a first love and all the living that the main character either did or didn’t do in her life.  It’s as gritty and real as In Country.

 New non-fiction titles on our shelves include The Hard Things about Hard Things by entrepreneur Ben Horowitz, His Truth Is Marching On: John Lewis and His Power of Hope by Jon Meacham, and Everything Beautiful In Its Time: Seasons of Love and Loss by Jenna Bush Hager.  If you want to understand more about Netflix and how it has reinvented itself over and over, then read No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Reed Hastings.  In A Knock at Midnight: A Story of Hope, Justice, and Freedom   by Brittany K Barnett takes readers on her journey to understand the American justice system when, as a young law student, she comes across a case that will change her life forever.  We have Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ memoir, titled Speaking for Myself: Faith, Freedom, and the Fight of Our Lives Inside the Trump White House and we now have Killing Crazy Horse: The Merciless Indian Wars in America by Bill O’Reilly.

Stayed tuned for the next post, which is all about some great Halloween reads you may or may not have thought about for the spooky time of year.

So Many Great Books!

Hello!  Early October is traditionally a hot time in Amercan publishing, and this year is no different.  Many of your favorite authors have books that were either released yesterday (October 6th) or will be next week (October 13th).  Some of them include 1st Case by James Patterson, a murder mystery that involves college students and computer hacking; The Bourne Evolution, by Brian Freeman; Near Dark by Brad Thor; and Deadlock by Catherine Coulter.  Father-and-son team Jonathan and Jesse Kellerman have written another title in the Clay Edison series, Half Moon Bay.   Wow!  How talented is that family? Father, son and mother all write best-selling books!  Carl Hiaasen’s new book is Squeeze Me, and it is just as fun and offers as great an escape as his previous titles.  J.D. Robb continues her Eve Dallas stories with Shadows in Death, which is the fifty-first in that series.  Vince Flynn continues the Mitch Rapp series with Total Power.

For romance readers, we have some new titles by a few of your favorite authors.  Bitter Pill by Fern Michaels is the latest in her Sisterhood series.  Janet Dailey has launched a new series that combines romance, handsome rodeo cowboys, empowered women, and suspense.  Whirlwind: A Thrilling Novel of Western Romantic Suspense will be the first in that series.  Meg Cabot returns to Little Bridge Island with No Offense.  Sandra Brown also combines suspense with romance in Thick as Thieves.  This book kept me on my toes all throughout and to the very end!  It involves a high-stakes heist, a missing father, and a daughter who wants to find answers.  The characters are rich, and the story clips along at an extremely readable pace.  The end surprises a bit but does not disappoint.

 A few other titles by popular authors include The End of Her by Shari Lapena.  As in all of Lapena’s books, this book will keep you in suspense.  Toward the end, it will have you wondering about your partner’s or past.  Iris Johansen returns with Chaos and introduces a new female character, Alisa Flynn.  Flynn is a CIA agent who goes to extreme measures to rescue several school girls in Africa who are kidnapped.  This story is action-packed, intelligent, and has a lot of heart.  While I’d never read anything by Johansen before, this book has made a fan out of me.  Tying in with a few real-life events of the past few years, this book would make a great book club pick.  Ruth Ware’s newest title, One By One, is set in a luxurious ski chalet in the French Alps.  Tensions run high between the guests and staff of the chalet when an avalanche occurs and causes panic while the number of guests dwindles, one by one.

Jude Devereaux brings some of her beloved characters back to Providence Falls, North Carolina in Chance of a Lifetime, a story filled with magical realismChristina Baker Kline, the author who made us all aware of and fascinated by that unique piece of America history in The Orphan Train, shows us the harsh realities of life in Australia when it was a penal colony in The Exiles.  This book has already been optioned for a miniseries by HBO, so you’ll want to read it before you watch it!

If you enjoyed the magical realism and poignancy of Aimee Bender’s first novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, then you’ll enjoy her newest novel, The Butterfly Lampshade.  As in Lemon Cake, this story features Francie, a precocious young girl, who despite struggling with a troubled mother, teaches us how to navigate life’s difficulties.  This book is magical and readers will be enchanted with Francie just as they were with Rose in Lemon Cake.

Tomorrow I’ll post about some unique new fiction titles we have in, along with a plethora of timely nonfiction titles and biographies.  The library has all of the books mentioned above, so place your requests for them, and we’ll either have them ready for you in the library or take them down to your car via curbside service.  If you need help placing requests for your books, give us a call at 214-363-9095.

Historical Fiction, More Thrillers, and Science Fiction/Fantasy

Picking up from yesterday’s post….

For our suspense/crime/thriller readers, here are a few new authors to try:  Joe Ide has written a fascinating murder story, Hi Five, that involves arms dealers and a witness, also a suspect, with multiple personalities.  This one will keep the reader on their toes.  Lucy Foley’s second book, The Hunting Party, is the story of a group of friends who gather on New Years to bring in the new year and one of them turns up dead in the midst of a blizzard.  The Wife Who Knew Too Much  by Michele Campbell is set in the Hamptons and involves murder and characters who will do anything, criminal or not, for love and money.  Pretty Things by Janelle Brown tosses together troubled family relationships, theft and con artistry, and fabulous settings all into a page-turning book.  Alex North returns with The Shadows, another creepy, scary story that involves the blending of dreams and reality.  This one will keep you up at night, so get your night lights ready!

Historical fiction, especially novels set during and around World War II, are hot now, and we’ve got several for you to enjoy.  The Vanishing Sky by Annette L. Binder studies a family who is torn apart by opposing viewpoints of events in Germany as World War II comes to a close.  Universe of Two by Stephen Kiernan is a fictionalized story of a real-life mathematician who worked on the Manhattan Project.  The Queen’s Secret by Karen Harper is the story of Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and her will of steel that helped her husband settle into his unexpected role of king and guided England through some of its darkest times.  Exile Music by Jennifer Steil is the story of a Jewish family who flees Vienna for Bolivia when the German forces invade Austria.  Resistance Women by Jennifer Chiaverini is a novel about a group of American Women in Berlin who wage a secret war against Hitler.  To Wake the Giant by Jeff Shaara is a novel of Pearl Harbor, a departure for Shaara, who has spent most of his career writing about the Civil War.

Historical fiction titles that are not set during World War II include Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles, The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, and  The Paris Hours by Alex George.  Simon the Fiddler is set in post-Civil War Texas, The Paris Hours is set during the brilliant and lush Belle Epoque, and The Jane Austen Society is set in a small village in England in the years just after World War II.  It is a must-read for those who enjoyed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel SocietyThe Woman Before Wallis: A Novel of Windsors, Vanderbilts, and Royal Scandal by Bryn Turnbull is as delicious as its title.  Miss Austen by Gill Hornby is about Jane Austen’s sister, Cassandra, and her life after the death of her sister.

I’ll finish up this post by letting you all know about some science fiction/fantasy titles that we’ve just received.  The Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth is an adult title written by the author of the Divergent series, and it is apocalyptic, sweeping, and brilliant.  The Last Emperox  by John Scalzi is the last of a trilogy and is very timely: it is about an epidemic of a viral disease.  The Blue Ticket by Sophie Mackintosh and Master Class by Christina Dalcher would be interesting to read together.  They’re both stories about a not-too-distant future when women and girls are forced into roles and lives against their will by governmental powers.

I’ll write one more post this week tomorrow and let you all know about some very timely and contemporary fiction, some literary fiction, and a lot of novels about families and relationships.  We have so many new books in – please come browse our new book shelves.  Our browsing hours are 11am to 2pm Tuesday through Saturday.  You can also read more about these and other great titles in our catalog:  https://uppl.ent.sirsi.net/client/en_US/external.  From the catalog, requests can be placed for books for curbside pick up.

New Non Fiction and Thrillers

Hello! The blog is back, and so are new books! We have so many new ones, that I’m going to break this post up over the next three days, discussing new books by subject/genre and give very little commentary on each title.
In nonfiction, we have some new titles that cover natural phenomena, current events, and some memoirs with a little history in between. Growing Old: Notes on Aging with Something Like Grace by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas is an affirming book about the beauty and joys that come with age. We finally have a copy of Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man by Mary L. Trump, the President’s niece. Mary Trump is a clinical psychologist and gives insight on Trump family history. The Answer Is…Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek will be a favorite among those who have faithfully watched Jeopardy each night. Rivers of Power: How a Natural Force Raised Kingdoms, Destroyed Civilizations, and Shaped Our World by Laurence C. Smith is a fascinating read about how rivers have shaped geography, economy, and culture throughout history. Thirteen Days in Ferguson is a timely book written by a Ferguson police officer, Ron Johnson, that gives the reader a very close view of what happened during those turbulent days. Five Days: The Reckoning of an American City by Wes Moore is another timely book that offers an in-depth view of the circumstances surrounding the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore and the events that followed. Hell and Other Destinations is former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s memoir of her time as the first female in that position.
For World War II enthusiasts, we have two new titles in: A Game of Birds and Wolves: The Ingenious Young Women Whose Secret Board Game Helped Win World War II by Simon Parkin and The Volunteer: One Man, an Underground Army, and the Secret Mission to Destory Auschwitz by Jack Fairweather. Both books tell the story of two very interesting sides of World War II that you may not have known about before. Written by Forbes senior editor Zack O’Malley Greenburg, A-List Angels How a Band of Actors, Artists, and Athletes Hacked Silicon Valley, talks about just that – how a few actors and entertainers used their social reach and money to fund and launch companies/concepts like Uber, Airbnb, and Spotify. Rounding out some of our new nonfiction titles are two very poignant books: My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me by Jason B. Rosen and My Life in Seven Dogs by Jennifer Finney Boyland. So as not to spoil either of them for you, all I will say is that they are both lovely tales of unexpected events that deeply touched the authors’ lives.
We have some new thriller and crime titles in by some of your favorite authors: Eagle Station by Dale Brown, Never Ask Me by Jeff Abbott, Home Before Dark by Riley Sager, Final Judgement by Marcia Clark, Credible Threat by J. A. Jance, The Persuasion by Iris Johansen, The Night Swim by Megan Golden, Night.Sleep.Death.The Stars by Joyce Carol Oates, and The Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda.
I’ll continue tomorrow with a discussion of some thrillers and suspense books by new authors, some new science fiction/fantasy titles, and a lot of historical fiction. Happy Reading!

We’re Back!

Hello everyone!  It’s been a while, but this blog is back, with new posts forthcoming each week.  We are so glad to be open for you to come in and choose your books.  If you’re busy and can’t get in to the library (which I hope you’ll always make time for the library!), then let us hand-pick some great reads for you.  You can complete the form here: https://upform.wufoo.com/forms/handpicked-reads/  and we’ll email a list to you and put the books on hold.

If you are interested in American history, and especially the settlement of the western part of our country, then we have two new books for you: Imperfect Union: How Jessie and John Fremont Mapped the West, Invented Celebrity, and Helped Cause the Civil War by Steve Inskeep; and The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West by David MCCullough.  Imperfect Union tells the story of John C. Fremont, one of the United States’ greatest explorers and how he mapped the United States in the 1850s not only geographically but also politically.  It also tells the story of his wife, Jessie, who was a woman well before her time and her influence on her husband’s work.  This book will spark memories of things you learned about in your American history classes back in college:  The Missouri Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the California Gold Rush, the concept of Manifest Destiny, and the Mexican-American War.  Inskeep has written this book in an engaging narrative style, which makes it highly readable and enjoyable.  The Pioneers begins during the French and Indian War and continues through the 1860s.  Readers will enjoy the stories about the leaders and settlers who were involved in moving people west of the Mississippi river in the early 19th century and the extraordinary events that led them to look west.  McCullough is one of our greatest writers about American History, and this book does not disappoint.

We have a few new thrillers in, and they will keep you in your toes!  The Truants, a debut novel by Kate Weinberg, is a beautifully written story of four students from very diverse backgrounds who befriend each other when they are new at university.  The dynamic between them turns dark, and a tragedy ensues that breaks up their friendships.  The story also involves love affairs, secrets, and finding your path in life.

The Return by Rachel Harrison involves a missing girl, her best friend who believes she will come back one day, and the return of the missing girl.  Did the missing girl return, or is it someone else?  This debut novel will keep you turning the pages to find out.

The Last Passenger, the latest in the Charles Lenox Mystery series by Charles Finch, is set in London’s Paddington station in 1855.  Young detective Charles Lenox must find the identity of the body of a young gentlemen found slumped in a train car.  The search for his identity shapes Lenox’s character and his career.

Last Girl Standing, by Lisa Jackson and Nancy Bush, will bring back memories of high-school cliques, but it also has the very grown-up concept of how sometimes mistakes and horrible things that happened long ago follow you into adulthood.  The story involves accidental deaths that aren’t accidents that will continue until the last girl is left standing.

The Prized Girl by Amy K. Green involves the murder of a pageant queen, a quaint, idyllic New England town, and her sister’s search for answers about the murder.  The story is told in dual narratives (each of the sisters’) and has dark humor infused throughout, mostly in the voice of the sarcastic sister who is the black sheep of the family.  The humor in the book adds a light touch to an otherwise sad story of complicated family relationships and missed connections.

The Wife and the Widow by Christian White is set on a desolate, eerie island town in the dead of winter.  Very unsettling and frightening, the story surrounds a murder told from two points of view – the widow of the man who was murdered, and the wife of the man who is suspected of killing him.   This book kept me up for most of a weekend night, and it brings to mind the question of how well do we know the people we love and who we are closest to?  This book is a page-turner.

Children’s ebooks Featuring Characters with Learning Differences

World Autism Month kicks off each year with World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. Below, we have compiled a list of children’s books from our ebook collection that feature main characters with learning differences.

Okay for Now by Gary Schmidt (Ages 10 and up)

A finalist for the National Book Award, this book follows 14-year-old Doug as he moves to a new school and navigates tough family dynamics. Doug, who struggles with reading and has grown up in poverty, finds an unlikely friend in the local librarian and discovers his artistic talent through the bird paintings of John James Audubon. It’s a story of loss and recovery with lovable characters and some American history thrown in.

Harbor Me by Jacqueline Woodson (Ages 8 to 12)

Harbor Me was on last year’s Bluebonnet list and touches on many important issues including learning differences, bullying, and race. When six kids with learning differences get together each Friday afternoon for “special-kids only time”, they share their stories and come to understand each other on a deeper level. This book beautifully displays what it means to care for someone else and listen without judgment, and is a great family conversation starter on friendship and forgiveness.

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor (Ages 8 to 12)

Mason Buttle has a lot to battle: learning differences, bullies, and grief over his best friend’s death fifteenth months ago. The police don’t believe Mason when he says he had nothing to do with it, and when his new best friend goes missing, Mason is in trouble once again. Can Mason figure out what happened to both of this friends, and will anyone believe the truth when he does?

Hank Zipzer: The World’s Greatest Underachiever series by Henry Winkler (Ages 8 to 12)

Based on Henry ‘the Fonz’ Winkler’s own life and experiences growing up with dyslexia, Hank Zipzer is a funny, relatable 12-year-old boy who finds himself in hilarious everyday situations thanks to his creative mind. After kids read the books, they can also watch the TV show based on the series.

Rules by Cynthia Lord (Ages 9-12)

Catherine’s brother has autism, and her family’s life completely revolves around it. As hard as she tries to teach her brother not to embarrass her in public, it never seems to work. When Catherine meets Jason, a friend she wasn’t expecting, and Kristi, her new neighborhood best friend, she is forced to face her own shocking behavior. Will these experiences change her view of what it means to be ‘normal’?

Roll with It by Jamie Sumner (Ages 10 and up)

Ellie has cerebral palsy and a no-nonsense approach to life. She has a wheelchair but she also has big dreams for her future, including being a professional baker. When she moves to a new town with her mom, she has to deal with not only being the girl in the wheelchair but also the one who lives in a trailer park on the bad side of town. The future is looking gloomy for Ellie until she makes her first-ever friends. Can she convince her mom that this move might be the best thing that has ever happened to them? Fans of Wonder and Out of My Mind will love this book, which is another story of resilience told from a first-person perspective.

Counting by 7s (Ages 10 and up)

Willow Chance loves nature, researching medical conditions, and counting things by 7s. Extremely smart but considered an outcast, she struggles to connect with anyone besides her adoptive parents. Despite all of that, she manages to live a happy life until her adoptive parents are tragically killed in a car accident. Suddenly completely alone in the world, Willow learns to deal with her grief and finds a new surrogate family who loves and accepts her, quirks and all. Willow is very endearing, and readers will find it impossible not to root for her all the way to the end!

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl (Ages 8 to 12)

Another Bluebonnet selection from last year, this book follows Lucy Callahan, who was struck by lightning several years ago. Although she doesn’t remember the incident, it made her a genius at math and she has been homeschooled ever since. At just 12 years old, she is ready to go to college, but her grandmother insists that she attend one year of middle school first…and make a friend, participate in an activity and read a book that’s not a textbook. Lucy’s OCD doesn’t make any of those things easy, but meeting new friends helps her get outside of her comfort zone and embrace those things that make her unique.

Freak the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick (Ages 10 and up)

Oversized, troubled Max teams up with his new neighbor, the tiny, brilliant boy with Morquio Syndrome named Freak. Together they aim to defend the weak and right wrongs in their town under the name “Freak the Mighty”. This story touches on many difficult themes including bullying and shows that courage isn’t about being big and strong.

Women in World War II books

If World War II is an interest of yours, specifically the roles that women played in the War, then we have quite a few titles coming that you will enjoy.

The Queen’s Secret by Karen Harper is the story of Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and her will of steel that helped her husband settle into his unexpected role of king and guided England through some of its darkest times.  Karen Harper is one of my favorite authors.  She chooses some of the most fascinating women in history, thoroughly researches their lives, and then writes books that shows us the more intriguing and little-known parts of their lives.  We have this book on order, so you can put it on hold so you’ll be the first to get it.

Daughter of the Reich by Louis Fein, is both poignant and spell binding, and will reinforce your belief that love is powerful and conquers everything.  It is the story of Hetty, the daughter of a high-ranking officer, who has to choose between family and her lifestyle when she begins feeling an intense attraction to a Jewish friend from her past.  The characters in this novel are rich and the reader feels their joys and pains as if they were experiencing them themselves. Daughter of the Reich will be published in May, but you can place a hold on it now.

Three Hours in Paris  by Cara Black is riveting, action-filled, and thrilling.  Kate Rees is a country girl from Oregon and an excellent markswoman who is recruited by British intelligence to drop into Paris during Hitler’s brief, three-hour visit just after Paris fell to Germany with one task:  to kill the Fuhrer.  She takes a shot at Hitler and misses, which then reveals the plan to kill him.  Kate must then run for her life, not knowing who to trust.  The rest of the story will take you for a fast, fascinating ride!

The Whispers of War by Julia Kelly is the story of three friends in England at the dawn of World War II.  One is a socialite, another is a home front war worker, and the last, Marie, is a German expat who worries about being imprisoned in an internment camp.  The three fight to keep Marie free.  This is a story of the power of friendship and women in the midst of conflict.

Exile Music by Jennifer Steil is an interesting read, a World War II story, with a couple of story lines that are fascinating.  It is the story of a musical Jewish family in Vienna.  The father plays in the Vienna Philharmonic, and the mother is an opera singer.  When the Germans invade Vienna, the family flees to La Paz, Bolivia and finds refuge there in an expat Jewish community.  What follows is the story of their acclimation to a new home, culture, and terrain – the beautiful Andes Mountains in Bolivia.  This story is powerful, strong, beautifully written, and will captivate you.

The Black Swan of Paris by Karen Robards is about a celebrated singer in Paris (Genevieve Dumont) who enjoys a position of privilege when the Germans occupy the city.  She uses that privilege to work with the Resistance.  When her estranged mother is captured by the Germans, Genevieve becomes frightened that her mother will be tortured and give away information about an upcoming Allied invasion.  She must find a way to rescue her mother while trying to keep her from giving away secrets about the invasion.  This is an exquisite novel about strength, courage, and unconditional love.  This book will not be published until June, I have an advance copy of it for the first person who emails me that they’re interested in it at sperry@uptexas.org.

Code Name Helene y Ariel Lawhon is the story of Nancy Wake, a young journalist living in Paris in the years just before World War II and at the inception of the War.  She falls in love with a wealthy French industrialist and marries him and becomes involved with the French Resistance.  She goes by a code name – Helene – and tries to protect not only her own identity, but to protect her loved ones from exposure.  Full of accurate and extremely researched information, this is a moving story, with action, suspense, and a love story.  If you haven’t read any of Lawhon’s previous books, we do have them here at the library (I Was Anastasia, Flight of Dreams, and The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress).  They’ve all been amazing.  Code Name Helene will be published in April, and we do have it on order, so you can place a hold on it now.

Hannah’s War by Jan Eliasberg is a debut novel.  It is the story of Dr. Hannah Weiss, a female Jewish scientist who is working on a research project to split the atom.  She’s conflicted, as she know the damage her discovery will inflict on innocent people, and she is treated poorly by the powers that be in the Third Reich.  While in exile to the United States, she works on the Manhattan Project and becomes a suspect in a series of leaks of information about the Project to the Germans.  Her interrogator, Major Jack Delaney, becomes a little more involved with her than he should, which makes for an interesting three days when he is called upon to interrogate her.  This is a Wartime story of loyalty and truth, and will draw the reader into Hannah’s and Jack’s lives.  Our copy of this book has not arrived, but the first person who emails me at sperry@uptexas.org  that they’re interested in it can claim an advance copy.

 

Just a few short notes:  Several of you – Nine, to be exact, are on hold for JoJoMoyes’ The Giver of Stars.  We have ordered eight extra copies, and they should be in soon.  We’ll give the nine of you a call when they’ve arrived.  I’ve also ordered extra copies of Such a Fun Age and The Dutch House.

Stayed tuned early next week, as I will be posting about my all – time favorite “happy reads.”  Happy reading!  As always, let me know if you have questions or comments at sperry@uptexas.org.