Fiction Titles about one of America’s Most Iconic Women

Who has better captured the imagination and respect of the America people better than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis?  There are two new novels that tell her story in unexpected ways.   Jackie & Me by Louis Bayard offers a charming, warm view into the early years of her courtship with and marriage to John F. Kennedy.  The story is told through the friendship of Jackie and Lem Billings, one of the best friends of President Kennedy.  Billings and Jackie become close friends as well.  Bayard portrays the former First Lady’s shyness as President Kennedy’s political career was rising and her loneliness and sadness through her miscarriage and subsequent stillborn birth of a daughter through Billings’ sympathetic, adoring point of view.  The story telling in this novel is pleasantly written and flows well.  It is a sweet, charming, and wonderfully written story.  This book is in the library to check out now.

The world admired Jackie for her fashion and style sense, then a book about the design and construction of her wedding dress will surely delight.  By Her Own Design by Piper Huguley is the story of Ann Love, a “designer to the social register,” including Jacquelyn Bouvier Kennedy.  This is the story of intrepidness, ingenuity and one woman’s struggle to rise above her childhood in Jim Crow Alabama and make a name for herself in the fashion industry.  The title is especially fitting; “By Her Own Design” refers not only to the dresses Ms. Love designed, but also to how she made her way in the fashion business. The story is triumphant, as Ann Love did become one of the most famous dress designers of the first half of the 20th Century. Circling back to Jackie, this book also tells a fascinating story of her wedding dress with a surprise.  There is a back story to that iconic dress that most people don’t know.   We have this title on order, but it will be in the library soon.  Place your hold on it now!

We have a few other novels that center around Jackie Kennedy’s life: Jackie by Josie by Caroline Preston; The Editor by Steven Rowley; and The Pink Suit by Nicole Mary Kelby.  The Pink Suit is about, of course, the suit that First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy was wearing when her husband was assassinated.  The suit was President Kennedy’s favorite, and he had asked his wife to wear it that fateful day.  The dress became a symbol of the horror of the untimely death of a sitting President, but it also impacted Kate, the young Irish immigrant who had made the dress.  She worked at the very exclusive New York City boutique Chez Ninon and was forever changed by the events of November 1963.  This story resonates with hope and sadness, especially in the realm of a broken American Dream.

Jackie by Josie and The Editor are charming, heart-warming stories that center around the last part of Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ life, when she became an editor for a major publishing house.  Jackie by Josie is fresh and adventurous.  This is the story of a young writer who is called upon to finish researching and editing the last projects that Mrs. Onassis was working on when she died.  It covers all types or relationships: children, marriage, and friendships.  The young writer sees that there are some distinct similarities between her life and that of Mrs. Onassis.  Steven Rowley, the author of Lily and the Octopus, delivers the same amount of charm in The Editor.  A writer trying to make his name, sells his autobiographical novel to none other than Mrs. Onassis.  He is reluctant to publish the book as he doesn’t want to expose hurtful family secrets.  He and Mrs. Onassis develop a deep friendship while she tries to coax him into finishing and publishing the manuscript.

As these are all fiction, if you want more factual knowledge about Jackie Kennedy Onassis, we have several biographies for you to check out.  Just ask one of our staff to help you choose.

Summer Reading Challenges for Adults

Summer Reading may bring to mind memories of childhood, fun prizes, and incentives for reading. At the library, we think adults should get the same level of inspiration as kids when it comes to their books, so we have some reading challenges for you to complete! Be sure to sign up for Summer Reading here to log your reading hours and share book reviews.

1. Take a walk in one of our city’s parks. 

Here in the City of University Park we have no shortage of beautiful parks where you can walk, lounge, or read! One way to help foster a love of nature is to read books that focus on the natural world. Robbin Wall Kimmerer, Annie Dillard, and Walt Whitman are great writers who celebrate the outdoors. Check out their books at the library and take a stroll through one of our stunning local parks.

Recommended Reads: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard, and Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

2. Go to lunch with a friend to talk about the last book you read.

When you’re going to lunch with a friend, it’s essential to pick something trendy and juicy that will give you a lot of fun things to talk about. Even if your friend hasn’t read the book, picking a hot title will keep the conversation relevant! Contemporary Fiction, Romance, and Mystery are great genres to browse for this reading challenge.

Recommended Reads: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and Something Borrowed by Emily Griffin

3. Read about a place you’d like to visit.

Does planning a summer vacation count as reading? We think so! Check out the nonfiction section for travel guides and insider info on your next destination. Alternatively, find a fictional book that is set in a famous city and enjoy!

Recommended Reads: Fodor’s Paris, One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle, and Olympus Texas by Stacy Swann

4. Read a biography about someone you admire.

One of the best ways to get out of a reading slump is to find a biography on someone you are really interested in. From musicians to athletes, politicians, and activists, there are so many people with inspiring life stories. The UP Library has a whole biography section that is organized by the last name of the biography’s subject, so stop by to browse for the perfect book.

Recommended Reads: Robin by Dave Itzkoff, Marilyn: The Passion and the Paradox by Lois W. Banner, and Elizabeth the Queen: The Life of a Modern Monarch by Sally Bedell

5. Read about gardening.

What is it about gardening and reading that are just good for the soul? Head over to the “635.9” section of non-fiction to check out our array of books on gardening.

Recommended Reads: Growing Flowers by Niki Irving, Neil Sperry’s Complete Guide to Texas Gardening, and Cut Flower Garden by Benzakein Chai

6. Read a book by a Texas author.

Over the last year, the library has had many local authors come and give presentations about there books. Below are some great local reads!

Recommended Reads: The Forger’s Forgery by Clay Small, Snow Globe by Jeanne Skartsiaris, One Million Daffodils by Rebecca Winn

7. Try a new recipe from a cookbook checked out from the library.

There’s only one thing you need to know when browsing for cookbooks at the library: the number 641.5. If you head over to the non-fiction section 641s, we have books on baking, cooking, crock-pots, you name it! Cooking is integral to gatherings and culture, so make sure you spend some time cooking what you love this summer.

Recommended Reads: Eat Clean, Live Well by Terry Walters, Eat for Life by Joel Fuhrman, and Happiness is Baking by Maida Heatter

8. Learn a new craft or skill from a book checked out from the library.

In case you didn’t pick up enough hobbies in 2020, we’ve got creative and DIY books of all sorts. There’s never a better time to live out your wildest Pinterest or Etsy dreams by picking up macrame, miniatures, embroidery, or my latest personal goal – homemade kombucha brewing!

Recommended Reads: The Encyclopedia of Stitches by Karen Hemingway, The Urban Homesteading Cookbook by Michelle Nelson, and The Handbook of Quilting by Judy Poulos

9. Read two books by the same author.

There’s nothing like finishing an amazing book and then picking up another amazing book by the same author. If you know you love an author’s style and can’t get enough, how could you go wrong? One of my favorite reads of the summer so far is Sirens of Titan, my seventh Kurt Vonnegut book. My connection to Vonnegut’s voice and the cannon of characters that appear throughout his novels has given me a reading experience like no other! There are many prolific authors out there that have developed remarkable catalogs of books that go best when read together. Some of my favorite all-star writers include Toni Morrison, Agatha Christie, Stephen King, and James McBride. It’s all about finding a body of work you can connect with and dig into!

Recommended Reads: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie, Five-Carat Soul by James McBride, and Pet Sematary by Stephen King

10. Read two books from a new genre.

Step out of your comfort zone by picking up a genre you have never read before. Magical Realism, Sci-fi, and Graphic Novels are all great picks if you haven’t yet tried one of them. Go for a shorter length book or an author’s most acclaimed work if you want to make the transition easier. Maybe you’ll learn that you love a new style this summer!

Recommended Reads: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix Harrow, Exhalation by Ted Chiang, and Watchmen by Alan Moore

Student – Written Book Reviews (Part 2)

As part of her Girl Scout Silver Award project, Miranda McParlin began gathering book reviews from friends and fellow students in fall 2021. She has created a beautiful display in the Children’s Area of the library featuring the reviews. She has been rotating them throughout the year, and we encourage you to stop by to view her display in person! Even better, all of these books are included in the library collection and are available to checkout. We have included some of featured books below, along with the student-written reviews.

To view a book in our catalog or to place a hold, click on the book’s title.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? by Bill Martin

Recommended by: Katherine Peticcolas

Why it’s recommended: I would recommend this book because it helps with colors and animals. I think this is a great book for parents to read to their children because it provides many different animals and what color they are, which is beneficial to human development. I think this is a cute book that is great for any baby, toddler, or child in early grade school! This book provides good information in an easy to follow storyline. It is also a good book for children to learn to read because it has limited words.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss

Recommended by: Mary Jane Clark

Why it’s recommended: I love this book so much. It is so fun to read with all ages! Oh, the Places You’ll Go! has many fun and colorful illustrations. Overall, this story is very well done, contains a positive meaning and can be enjoyed by everyone, not just young children. 

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

Recommended by: Mallory Green

Why it’s recommended: I liked Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes because Chrysanthemum, the main character, taught me a valuable lesson, which was confidence. I grew to love Chrysanthemum herself. She is creative and calm when it comes to the hard situations she has to deal with at school. This is a great story for kids because of the fun pictures and the overall story.

Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson

Recommended by: Mary Green

Why it’s recommended: This book was one of my all time favorites as a child. Reading this book shows so many morals to live by that a younger child would need growing up. This book displays the importance of friendship and the benefits of being kind to others. It displaces these ideas in a funny yet understanding way for kids. The rhythmic wording makes it even more enjoyable and interesting to others.

The Pigeon Finds a Hot Dog! by Mo Willems

Recommended by: Zoe Lawyer

Why it’s recommended: This is such an adorable book with a great lesson. It is super creative and funny. I love reading it and seeing how Pigeon will react to any situation he encounters. This story is about a cute little chicken and a pigeon that wants a hot dog. Kids can learn a very valuable lesson from this tale. I love this book and every short story in the series.

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Recommended by: Emma Vaughn

Why it’s recommended: I enjoy this book because it is an easy and fun read. It is a page turner and a mystery at the same time. I recommend this book to others because of its plot and message in the end. This book has a large sequel, so if you enjoy the first one, there are many more books to continue this plot. If you enjoy thriller/page turning type reads, or if you are needing a break from reading large books, I highly recommend this novel.

The BFG by Roald Dahl

Recommended by: Anna Melihercik

Why it’s recommended: Lots of children will thoroughly love this book. It is a very funny and sweet book. The BFG is a real page turner and will keep you hooked. It is also not incredibly long, so kids who do not love reading or have a lower reading level can easily make it through.  

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Recommended by: Ella Jahant

Why it’s recommended: I liked the book Counting by 7s for many reasons. My favorite part about this book is that it explains the concept that even when the worst has happened, things will begin to look up in life. This story motivates you to always keep going and helps you realize that you can overcome any obstacle. 

The Unteachables by Gordon Korman

Recommended by: Kendall Hall

Why it’s recommended: I enjoyed this book because it was very fun and I never wanted to stop reading. I loved every single character and how they acted. Also, The Unteachables contains many great life lessons. The main characters are students at school, so it is easy to relate to their feelings. Overall, I highly enjoyed this book.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Recommended by: Peyton Bono

Why it’s recommended: This is a fantastically written start to an amazing series. It is a cross-country road trip with an extremely lovable cast of characters and the best protagonist of all time. I loved this book because of the funny dialogue, epic battles, fantastic world, and of course, Percy Jackson, who is the BEST. Arguably one of Rick Riordan’s best, this book was the one that sparked my love of reading and was such a joy. If you’re a Harry Potter lover, an adventure seeker, or if you just like to read a book that is both serious and has a ton of fun, I highly recommend this one.

The Silver Award is the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. To learn more about the Silver Award, visit Girl Scout Silver Award (

New books by popular authors

Happy End-of-Winter!  Hopefully we will be done with this cold weather and in some warm Spring weather soon, but until then, I hope you’re keeping warm with some great books.    

While we’re all confined to staying warm inside, are you binge-watching the series Pieces of Her on Netflix? This series is from Karin Slaughter’s thriller by the same title.  Slaughter has become one of my new favorite writers, and this title does not disappoint.  If you want to read it before or while watching the series, we have the print book in the library.  It is also available in both downloadable audio and ebook formats on the Libby app, and it is available in audio on Hoopla, with no waiting. 

We have some new titles by your favorite authors coming soon.  Some of the new thrillers include Quicksilver by Dean Koontz, an exciting story of a danger-filled road trip; a new J.P. Beaumont novel by J.A. Jance, Nothing to Lose; City of the Dead: An Alex Delaware Novel by Jonathan Kellerman; Diablo Mesa by Douglas Preston; Steal by James Patterson, which is the 3rd book in the Instinct series; Gwendy’s Final Task by Stephen King; The Last House on the Street by Diane Chamberlin; and lastly, Abandoned in Death by J.D. Robb.  This is book number 54 of 55 Eve Dallas novels. 

In the historical fiction/romance category, readers will enjoy the second book in Janet Dailey’s Calder Brand series, Calder Grit: A Sweeping Historical Ranching Dynasty Novel.  It’s very sweeping – it covers the period of American Westward expansion with farmers and cattlemen.  It has also been described as “Romeo ­­and Juliet meets Legends of the Fall,” so it should be dramatic and riveting! Other historical fiction titles include Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict, an historical novel about Rosalind Franklin, who began the path of DNA studies as a modern-day science; and The Lady’s Mine by Francine Rivers, a romance set during the Gold Rush Days in California. 

These books will be in the library very soon, so place your requests now so you can be the first to read some of them!

New Titles by Popular Authors

Hello! It has been such a long while since we’ve posted, but we’re back! I want to start this post talking about Hoopla, one of our streaming services. The ebook and audio holdings have been very impressive lately: Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict, News of the World by Paulette Jiles; a biography of Lee Child, called The Reacher Guy, and False Witness by Karin Slaughter. Hoopla has a “Book Club Hub” with several titles that are good for group discussion. The great thing is there are no holds or waiting period – everything is instantly available, so your entire book club can check out the same title! There is also a feature called “Netflix Book Club,” which showcases books on which some Netflix series are based. Some of the new films available are Arctic Void, the 2021 thriller about a small tourist vessel in the Arctic where all but three passengers disappear; East of the Mountains, starring Tom Skerritt as a dying heart surgeon who goes on an epic journey; and Infinitum, which is a science fiction version of the movie Groundhog Day. Please give this service a try; you will be pleased with their selection of all formats.
We have several new books in by popular, high-demand authors: Robert B. Parker’s Bye Bye Baby by Ace Atkins; Criminal Mischief by Stuart Woods; End of Days: A Pike Logan Novel by Brad Taylor; Quicksilver by Dean Koontz; The Horsewomen and The Paris Detective, both by James Patterson; Her Hidden Genius by Marie Benedict; Find Me by Alifair Burke; Invisible by Danielle Steel; One Step Too Far by Lisa Gardner, and Preacher’s Inferno by William Johnstone. James Rollins begins a new science fiction and fantasy series with The Starless Crown, a character-driven dystopian adventure. The last installment of Jayne Ann Krentz’s Fogg Lake series is Lightning in a Mirror.
In nonfiction we have James Patterson’s newest, titled The Defense Lawyer: The Barry Slotnick Story, about the attorney who represented some notorious criminals and negotiated Melania Trump’s prenup agreement with former President Trump. Also just in is Carl Bernstein’s memoir, Chasing History: A Kid in the Newsroom, which is about the beginning of his journalism career.
Happy reading, and check back in a week or two! There are several exciting titles that will be released in early March.

Student – Written Book Reviews

As part of her Girl Scout Silver Award project, Miranda McParlin began gathering book reviews from friends and fellow students earlier this fall. She has created a beautiful display in the Children’s Area of the library featuring the reviews. She rotates them throughout the year, and we encourage you to stop by to view her display in person! Even better, all of these books are included in the library collection and are available to checkout. We have included some of featured books below, along with the student-written reviews.

To view a book in our catalog or to place a hold, click on the book’s title.

The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

Recommended by: Delaney Newberry

Suggested age range (according to reader): 5 to 8

Why it’s recommended: The Day the Crayons Quit is a fun, enjoyable and easy read book for kids and parents to enjoy together. I personally enjoy hearing all of the crayons share their perspectives on how they feel about being used. What makes this book funny is the personalities that the characters share. Even though the characters all have totally different perspectives, and points that they are trying to get across to Duncan, they are ultimately annoyed at Duncan. The way these characters explain their experiences and the way that they express their feelings makes me laugh inside.

The Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne

Recommended by: Bessie Brown

Suggested age range (according to reader): 7 to 10

Why it’s recommended: I loved this series so much when I first learned how to read. Every single book is very entertaining. There is a lot of action. There are two main characters who are kids named Jack and Annie. The pair goes on a ton of adventures together. They have a special hideout, aka their treehouse.

Quinny and Hopper by Adriana Brad Schanen and Greg Swearingen

Recommended by: Lily Haglund

Suggested age range (according to reader): 7 to 12

Why it’s recommended: I like this book because it is very interesting and adventurous. It shows how Quinny and Hopper, the main characters, become best friends. I have read this book many times and it never gets old. It is the perfect story line for kids!

The Doll People by Ann M. Martin and Laura Goodwin

Recommended by: Miranda McParlin

Suggested age range (according to reader): 8 to 11

Why it’s recommended: This mysterious and exciting tale keeps all readers on the edge of their seats. For those who are trying to find an easier but compelling read, this book is for you! The book is tailored to readers who want a surprise at every turn. A family of 100-year-old china dolls never disappoints – especially when eight-year-old Annabelle Doll is trying to figure out what happened to her aunt who disappeared long ago. The only tool she has to solve this mystery is a dusty old notebook. Annabelle must also stay completely still during certain hours of the day…but why?

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Recommended by: Abbie Carrell

Suggested age range (according to reader): 9 to 14

Why it’s recommended: This book is about a ten-year-old boy named Auggie who is not like every other kid. He has had hundreds of surgeries and has never had the chance to live a normal life. When reading this book, you get to see how Auggie navigates friendships and life even through all of the hardships he has had to overcome.

Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

Recommended by: Hannah Birdwell

Suggested age range (according to reader): 9 and up

Why it’s recommended: Number the Stars is an amazing first step to reading historical fiction books. It is a wonderful choice for kids who have an interest in history and how people in WWII were forced to go about their everyday lives. Number the Stars is beautifully written and to this day remains one of my favorite books, and has a lasting impact on how I see that historical time period.

How They Croaked by Georgia Bragg and Kevin O’ Malley

Recommended by: Margaret Taylor

Suggested age range (according to reader): 11 to 14

Why it’s recommended: For those who are into history, this book is for you. It gives an in-depth treatise into the lives of dozens of famous people-and their interesting deaths. The book embraces its gory theme by incorporating images of death, like skulls, throughout the book. However, the book is also very informative as to the lives of who it investigates, not just their deaths. I like the dramatic way it tells the stories of the people, from beginning to end.

The Fire Within by Chris D’ Lacey

Recommended by: Margaret Taylor

Suggested age range (according to reader): 11 to 15

Why it’s recommended: I would recommend this book because of its sense of wonder. This book is mainly about dragons living in the modern world. It has relatable characters and a hint of mystery as well. It has lifelike descriptions that you can see in your mind’s eye as if you are there with the characters. It is a book full of emotion.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Recommended by: Caroline Blankenship

Suggested age range (according to reader): 11 and up

Why it’s recommended: This book is about a society divided into 12  districts where each year two teenagers are chosen to fight to their death. This book is a thriller and leaves you on the edge of your seat. You get the opportunity to really connect with the characters, which helps to enrich the story. Each chapter is a cliffhanger and makes you want to keep reading.

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Recommended by: Blaire Taylor

Suggested age range (according to reader): 12 to 15

Why it’s recommended: This is a great book because it correctly uses Greek mythology and seams it perfectly into the story. The characters are great because Percy is funny but Annabeth balances him out with a serious but caring demeanor. Grover just makes it work. He also has a great way of working the whole story into places that actually exist. For example, in the story, Mount Olympus is at the top of the Empire State Building and “Zeus likes that sushi place on 3rd street”. There are many exciting plot twists but no spoilers. This is all waiting for you in this great book. You should check it out, settle into a comfy place, and read it right now.

The Silver Award is the highest award a Girl Scout Cadette can earn. To learn more about the Silver Award, visit Girl Scout Silver Award (

November 2021

High-Demand Authors

October and November are big months for high-demand author releases, and we’ve got several in the library now.  For Stewart Woods fans, we have Foul Play, the latest in the Stone Barrington series.  The newest Jack Reacher novel, Better Off Dead, by Lee and Andrew Child, is sure to keep the reader on their toes.  John Le Carre’s, Silverview, takes place in a small English coastal town and has all of the spy activity and intrigue readers love about his previous titles.  Alice Hoffman’s latest installment the Practical Magic series, The Book of Magic, continues the story of the Owens family but includes a long-lost brother.  Besides, it is set in one of my favorite places – a library!  Danielle Steel’s newest offering is The Butler, which spans two continents, and is a family drama interspersed with a grand love story.  Richard Powers returns to the natural world in his newest title, Bewilderment.  It is the story of a love between a father and son centered around the stars and planets.  Lastly, The Party Crasher is Sophie Kinsella’s latest.  With family drama, fabulous parties, and some romance, this story will be a light-hearted Holiday read. 

New titles coming in December by some well-known authors are The Midnight Lock by Jeffery Deaver and Flying Angels by Danielle Steel.  Also coming in December are Sharpe’s Assassin: Richard Sharpe and the Occupation of Paris, 1815 by Bernard Cornwell; and a new W.E.B. Griffin title, Rogue Asset.

 Just in time to welcome in the New Year, the following authors all have new titles coming out in January: Ace Atkins, Diane Chamberlin, James Patterson (co-written with Dolly Parton), Danielle Steel, Janet Dailey, J.A. Jance, Lucy Foley, Stephen King, J.D. Robb, and Johnathan Kellerman, Catherine Coulter, and Francine Rivers, Marie Benedict, Dean Koontz, Jayne Ann Krentz. 

Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month, and we have some titles either about or written by Native Americans on display.  We have several titles by Sherman Alexie, Louise Erdrich, and Tony and Anne Hillerman.  To learn more about the Native Americans during the development of the western United States, read the classic Bury my Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown.  We have Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne, about Quanah Parker and the Comanche tribe in Texas; Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, and Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West by Hamp Sides.  Come by the library to check these out or place a hold on them through our app.

Page to Screen

The new series on Amazon Prime, What to do When Someone Dies, is from the book of the same title by Nicci French.  We have that title on order and several other thrillers by French on the shelves. 

New Book-Club-in-a-Bag Sets are here!

Our new Book-Club-in-a-Bag sets are ready and available to check out!  The new titles are:

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune

Somebody’s Memoir by Ashley C. Ford

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

Leonora in the Morning Light by Michaela Carter

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

We choose the titles for book clubs because of their timeliness, quality of writing, and how well they will lend themselves to lively, interesting discussion.  Malibu Rising meets all of those criteria!  It’s a family drama by the author of the wildly popular Daisy Jones and the Six set around an annual party thrown by the children of a legendary rock singer.  The party takes place at their father’s Malibu mansion, and by the end of the night, things get wild and there’s some reckoning to be done.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune is a beautifully written allegorical fantasy with magical beings, a fascinating setting, and a sweet ending.  The story is about all types of relationships and finding family and defining what home is.  This book will be good for book clubs that have just a few fantasy enthusiasts but a lot of members who enjoy good writing.

The Lost Apothecary is a character-driven novel with a dual story line and setting: an 18th-century secret apothecary shop in London and modern-day London with an historian who discovers evidence of the shop and ties it to some unsolved murders.  This book has so many discussion possibilities: women’s lives throughout history, herbal remedies and pre-modern medicine, friendships, and historical research.

The other historical novel in this group is Leonora in the Morning Light by Michaela Carter.  Based on actual events and people, it is the love (and life) story of two artists in World War II – era Europe.  It is a fascinating glimpse into the art world of early 20th century Europe featuring such interesting real-life people like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, and Peggy Guggenheim, among many others.  This is book will work well for book clubs with members who are interested in history and/or in art.  To add depth to the discussion, members research any of the other characters featured in the book.

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker is a multi-layered, highly emotional crime and family drama that involves very rich and gritty characters and a decades-long broken friendship and its healing process.  This book will be a good choice for men’s book clubs or clubs that have both men and women.  Be prepared for a heavy character dissection and discussion!

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins is a Gothic thriller and modern-day retelling of Jane Eyre. It is set in the south, around Atlanta, and has lots of Southern charm and “Southernisms.”  The discussion of this book could include a contrast and comparison with Charlotte Bronte’s original classic.

The last-minute addition to this round of Book-Club-in-a-Bag sets is Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarity.  All of the author’s books have been masterfully suspenseful, and this one does not disappoint readers who like to be kept on their toes.  It’s got a mystery, family drama and secrets, and a little bit of dry humor.  This book is already optioned for a mini-series; a good discussion point for book clubs is which actors will be cast as each of the characters.

The new nonfiction sets are Somebody’s Daughter: A Memoir by Ashley C. Ford and Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family by Robert Kolker.  Somebody’s Daughter is a brilliantly-written memoir by a victim of sexual assault who shows that with enough grit and an open heart and mind, even the toughest of childhoods can be overcome.  Ford’s story is truly about her life-long journey to discover and affirm that she is somebody’s daughter.  To truly understand the beauty of the book, book club members could research Ashley Ford and her life now and how she has used her past experiences to do a lot of good in the world.

Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family is the story of the Galvin family, Mimi and Dan their twelve children, six of whom were diagnosed with schizophrenia.  Less than one percent of the world’s population has been diagnosed with this illness, so what an amazing story it is that six people in one family were!  Robert Kolker interviewed members of the Galvin family and applied his experience as journalist to give an empathetic glimpse into how schizophrenia affected the whole family.  He also gives a clear, readable history of the study and treatment of schizophrenia and society’s perception of it.  Book club members could research the history of the study and treatment of mental illness in the United States or members could find the documentary on Netflix and watch it together.

New Titles by High-Demand Authors and More!

Hello, all of our readers!  July is a big month, with several new titles by some popular, high-demand authors being released.  Daniel Silva’s latest, The Cellist, takes intelligence officer Gabriel Allon from England to Russia and a few places in between.    Dead by Dawn is the newest offering in Paul Doiron’s Mike Bowditch mystery series.  Jeff Abbott’s newest title, Ambush of Widows, is set in Austin.  Kathy  Reich’s latest installment featuring recurring character Temperance Brennan is The Bone Code.  Karin Slaughter brings back her popular character Leigh Collier in False Witness.  Lisa Jackson (The Third Grave, Tess Gerritsen (Choose Me), and Janet Dailey (Santa’s Sweetheart) each have new titles releasing soon.

New thriller/suspense titles include Such a Quiet Place by Megan Miranda and Safe in My Arms by Sara Shepard.  Both stories are set around idyllic communities whose residents have secrets to hide.  A slightly similarly story is The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave.  A young woman marries her dream man and after he disappears shortly into the marriage, she discovers that he is not who he told her he was.  The interesting twist to this story is the unlikely alliance between her and her husband’s teen-age daughter who hates her.

Popular historical fiction authors with new releases include Marie Benedict, Beatriz Williams, and Sally Gunning.  The Personal Librarian, by Marie Benedict, is the story of J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian.  The book contains a glimpse of New York society at the height of the Gilded Age and an in-depth view of rare book and manuscript collection.  Beatriz Williams’ newest, Our Woman in Moscow, is a suspense-filled story of life behind the Iron Curtain during the mid-19th century.  Sally Gunning has moved forward in time from her previous American Revolution-era novels in Painting the Light, which is set at the end of the 20th century.

Thought-provoking new nonfiction include Peaceful on Purpose: The Power to Remain Calm, Strong, and Confident in Every Season by Joel Osteen and Powerful Thinking by Joyce Meyer.  This new book contains quite a few “Joyce-isms” as in her previous books.   Robin DiAngelo follows up her 2018 book, White Fragility with Nice Racism: How Progressive White People Perpetuate Racial Harm.

Debbie Macomber heartfully writes about a middle-aged woman recovering from divorce and finding love again in It’s Better This Way. This story is perfect for those of us who are “of an age” and who would enjoy a positive, uplifting read about starting over.

Since we’re on the subject about being “of an age” and starting over, I want to share about two movies that are available on Hoopla right now, with no wait time.  Then Came You stars Craig Ferguson, Elizabeth Hurley and Kathie Lee Gifford.  It’s directed by author Adriana Trigiani (whose books we have here at the library) and is about a widow who has a plan to travel around the world with her husband’s ashes to visit places they enjoyed seeing in the movies but didn’t get to see together.  She doesn’t get far, because the first stop on her trip changes her plans (and her life).  50 is the New 30 is a French film about a woman who has to move back in with her parents after her husband leaves her for younger woman.  She opens up a shop, finds love and navigates a new life after 50 in a way only the French can!  Both movies are fun and heart-warming.

Happy June!

It’s been a long, long while since I’ve posted, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t been getting new books in!  There are several titles that we’ve received in the past weeks by some of your favorite authors.  Sooley, by John Grisham, is the story of a basketball player from Sudan who comes to America to find his dreams and faces a different experience than he expected.  Edward Rutherford returns with his first novel in seven years, China: The Novel.  It is truly an epic novel, covering the history of China from the Opium War in the 1830s through the present day.  It is written in Rutherfurd’s trademark heavily-researched and highly accurate narrative.  Andy Weir’s newest book, Project Hail Mary, follows up The Martian with all of the promise of the earlier novel:  great sci-fi, human interest and redemption, and it’s a very suspenseful thriller on top of all that.  Readers who enjoyed The Martian will be very pleased with this story.  Chris Bohjalian goes further back in history than he’s done in his previous novels in The Hour of the Witch.  Set in 17th century colonial America, this story weaves witch trials together with a troubled marriage, a murdered young boy, and deep secrets into a fascinating read.

Other high-demand authors with new books out include The Final Twist, the third and final installment in the Colter Shaw Series by Jeffrey Deaver; Ocean Prey by John Sanford, book 31 of the Prey books; Jack Carr’s newest action-packed Terminal List story, The Devil’s Hand; and rounding out the new thrillers is Robert B. Parker’s Payback by Mike Lupica.

Beach reads by popular authors with new titles this month include Nancy Thayer’s Family ReunionLove for Beginners  by Jill Shalvis, The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews, and Amanda Quick’s The Lady Has a Past.  For readers who like suspense while on vacation, Paula McLain’s new book, a suspense/thriller tale, When the Stars Go Dark, is a very good choice.  This is a departure from her earlier books but does not disappoint.

We have some provocative nonfiction in our New Adult Book section: Killing the Mob by Bill O’Reilly, Persist by Elizabeth Warren, and What Happened to You? edited by Oprah Winfrey.  Best-selling author and podcaster Jenny Lawson shares her journey with Depression  in Broken in the Best Possible Way.  The Haunting of Alma Fielding by Kate Summerscale is the story of a haunted house in pre-World War II London and the Hungarian ghost hunter who tries to help.  Coming back to the other side of the Atlantic in new nonfiction, for an in-depth look at Daniel Boone’s explorations and exploits in the American frontier, Blood and Treasure: Daniel Boone and the Fight for America’s First Frontier by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin is amazing!  It is told from as much of a first-person perspective as possible for such an early time period;  Clavin and Drury gathered diaries, journals and contemporary newspaper reports for this book.

New debut fiction includes The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan, a family saga that takes place in a myriad of places around the world; The Vietri Project by Nicola Derobertis-Theye, a magical realism story set in modern-day Italy; and The Vines by Shelley Nolden, a novel of loss and survival set in a forgotten hospital in New York City and that comes from the author’s personal experience with tragedy and a lengthy hospital stay.  For my money, the best of all of the debut fiction this month is Olympus, Texas by Stacey Swann.  Readers who are from small towns in the South, but especially Texas, may find elements of their own childhood experiences or family in this modern-day story that interweaves mythology in a most entertaining way.

Happy reading, everyone!  And remember, you can always call us at 214-363-9095 for reading suggestions.