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.

Beyond Dog Man

As Youth Services Librarian, I am often asked for reading recommendations. The Dog Man series by Dav Pilkey has been a long-time favorite in our community, and many kids have read and re-read the series several times! I have created a list of book ideas for young readers who are ready to move beyond these books to something more challenging. For readers interested in branching out from graphic novels, this list includes both graphic novels and books in “regular” format. Click on the links below to view these titles in our catalog. 

Graphic Novels- 

Bird and SquirrelIn the first of this early graphic novel seriestwo best friends must outwit Cat or be eaten! Kids will love the hilarious, full-color scenes from Bird and Squirrel’s road trip south for the winter, doing their best to avoid Cat waiting around every turn. UP Library has all six books in the series. 

Press StartThis Scholastic Branches series blends graphic novel images and short paragraphs. Beginner chapter readers will follow super brave and super fast Super Rabbit Boy, a character living inside of a video game. His goal of rescuing Singing Dog from the Meanie King Viking can only be accomplished with the help of Sunny, the boy playing the game. These fast-paced, full-color books emphasize teamwork and positive attitude with just the right amount of tension (what will happen to Super Rabbit Boy and his friends if Sunny loses each level?) You can find all 10 books from this series in our collection.  

HiLoThis series of longer graphic novels tells the story of D.J. and Gina, two regular kids who meet a new kid named Hilo. Hilo isn’t a regular kid, though…he has just fallen out of the sky and doesn’t know what he’s doing on Earth. Can D.J. and Gina help Hilo figure out his past, and more importantly, can Hilo survive another day of school on Earth? This hilarious series has many strengths, from its positive picture of friendship to its diverse characters. The newest book, the seventh one in the series, features Gina as the main character and is available from the library. 

Pea Bee and JayThis graphic novel with just a few chapters is on the Texas Library Association’s 2021 Little Mavericks reading list, a selection of the best graphic novels published each year for young children through teens. Pea wanders away from the farm and runs right into two unexpected friends, Bee the bee and Jay the bird. Can Bee and Jay help Pea find his way back home? There are two books in the series so far, with another on the way, each one emphasizing friendship and working together to accomplish a goal. 

Science ComicsAn educational graphic novel series? Yes! Readers intimidated by long nonfiction books filled with pages of text will dive right into these books and their full-color imagesUP Library is adding books from this series all the time. Right now, the ones we own cover a range of topics, from volcanoes to robots. If you are looking for other nonfiction graphic novels, try Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales (focused on history). 


“Regular” books- 

My Father’s DragonThis book, the first in a trilogy of classic chapter books for beginner readers, follows Elmer Elevator (the narrator’s father) when he was a boy. In what feels like a true story written long ago, readers follow Elmer as he teams up with an old cat and exotic animals to rescue a baby dragon from Wild Island. Written in 1948 and a Newbery Honor winner, this book has black and white illustrations sprinkled throughout. With its funny details and child-like logic (Elmer packs little more than gum and lollipops for his long journey), this would also make a great family read-aloud. Elmer’s adventures continue in Elmer and the Dragon and The Dragons of Blueland, which are available from the library as well. 

Zoey and SassafrasThe library owns two copies of all seven books in this popular series for beginner readers. Zoey is a curious and intelligent girl fascinated by science. Kids will love following along with Zoey and her sidekick cat, Sassafras, as they explore the world around them using their “thinking goggles”This a great series for encouraging creativity, problem solving, and building vocabulary (a glossary is included in the back of each book). 

Max and the MidknightsFrom the author of the Big Nate series, this series is geared toward fourth through sixth graders and emphasizes kindness and braveryMax wants to be a knight but his dream just seems too unlikely…until his uncle Budrick is kidnapped by a cruel king and Max has to take action! Together with his group of fellow adventurers, the Midknights, Max sets out on a quest to rescue his uncle and restore happiness to ByjoviaThis fast-paced and hilarious book is a blend of traditional novel and graphic novel, with comic-like illustrations sprinkled throughout. There are two books in the series so far, and UP Library owns both. 

Alvin HoIn this series geared toward second through fourth graders, Chinese-American second grader Alvin Ho is afraid of many things, including talking at school. Follow along with Alvin’s daily adventures at homewhere he is a bold superhero named Firecracker Man, and at school (where is he a wallflower). This hilarious book touches on anxiety in a kid-friendly way and readers will cheer Alvin on as he embraces the outside world. Illustrations are dispersed throughout the text, making this a good choice for reluctant readers and kids graduating to longer books. 

Shel Silverstein poetryA long-time favorite of children all over the world (and their parents), Silverstein’s poetry makes for fun reading, aloud or alone. His quirky, imaginative, and memorable writing will appeal to fans of Pilkey’s humor, and the funny illustrations are an added bonus. The library owns several different volumes of his poetryincluding A Light in the AtticEverything on It, and The Missing Piece. 



New Spring Titles

Happy Spring!  We’ve got many new titles on our shelves for you to enjoy while soaking in some sunshine.  New titles by some of your favorite authors include the newest by Clive Cussler, Fast Ice; Steve Berry’s latest installment to the Cotton Malone series, The Kaiser’s Web, and Win by Harlan Coben.  This story features, an heiress, an abduction, and a stolen painting that shows up years after its theft.  Stephen King’s latest novel, Later, involves a young boy with special but frightening ability.

Other popular authors with new books out this month include Sara Paretsky, Lisa Scottoline, and Ursula Hegi.  Love & Other Crimes by Sara Paretsky offers a collection of short mystery and detective stories featuring her recurring character, V.I. Warshawski.  Eternal by Lisa Scottoline is her first historical novel, and it is of epic proportion; it is set in Rome on the eve of World War II and continues a story of love and friendship for decades.  Ursula Hegi is back with her first novel in many years, The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls.  This is also historical fiction, set in the late 1800s in Germany.  The story of three women and the children and men they love, the prose is as haunting and emotional as Stones from the River.

Alex Finlay’s crime thriller, Every Last Fear, illustrates all of the fears that parents and families feel when tragedy happens.  It will keep readers on their toes – it is a page-turner and told from multiple points of view, so readers need to pay close attention when the voice changes.  This book has been hailed by several sources as one of the best or most anticipated books of 2021, and it is well worth the read.  This is Finlay’s debut novel.  Another debut that we’ve recently received include The Downstairs Neighbor by Helen Cooper, a thriller centered around the disappearance of a teenage girl in London and the effects that secrets and lies can have on a family.  The Memory Collectors by Kim Neville is in my favorite genre, magical realism.  Set in Vancouver, this story is about two women with a special power that takes its toll on not only them, but the people around them.  Reese Witherspoon’s latest Hello Sunshine pick is Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse.  It’s the story of a former-sanatorium-turned hotel in the Swiss Alps that’s edgy, suspenseful and a page turner.

Lastly, another debut title, and my favorite new book of the Spring, is Who Is Maud Dixon? by Alexandra Andrews.  This psychological thriller involves several fascinating elements: a novelist’s secret identity, a woman’s chance to reinvent her identity and an exotic setting.  The author’s imagery of Marrakesh is so rich that I had to go eat at a Mediterranean restaurant after reading it!  This book is one of GoodRead’s Most Anticipated Books of 2021, which is a well-deserved accolade.

Some of our new nonfiction titles this month cover people or topics in history you might not have been familiar with but will be interested in.  The Eagles of Heart Mountain: A True Story of Football, Incarceration, and Resistance in World War II by Bradford Pearson is a heart-warming story of resilience.  In 1943, the football team from the high school in a Japanese-American concentration camp located in Wyoming finished their first season undefeated.  Readers who enjoyed Boys in the Boat will love this book.  Pearson is a former journalist and editor, and his research skills and journalistic style combine to make this a fascinating, very readable insight into this part of United States history.

The Princess Spy: The True Story of world War II Spy Aline Griffith, Countess of Ramanones by Larry Loftis will leave readers wanting to research all of the unlikely spies used by the United States during World War II.  Aline Griffith was an American college graduate and former fashion model before joining the Office of Strategic Services and being assigned to Spain.  While infiltrating the upper echelons of European society and royalty, she marries the Count of Ramonones.  She continues her espionage work, but not without a few near-miss experiences and adventures.  This book is perfect for those who enjoyed The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott and Code Name Helene by Ariel Lawhon.

If you’re having trouble wrapping your brain around all of these great books and deciding what to read next, I suggest A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence by Jeff Hawkins.  Hawkins is a neuroscientist and computer engineer who has developed a new theory about how our brain cells create intelligence.  Be smart and read this one!

Many New Hoopla Items

Have you used our newest digital service, Hoopla yet?  I hope you’re using it not only for movies and television shows, but for audiobooks and ebooks as well.  There are so many great titles available with no wait period:  Faithless in Death, number 52 of the “In Death” series by J.D. Robb, is available on audio; The Alice Network by Kate Quinn is available in both audio and ebook, as is The Huntress, also by Kate Quinn; Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology is also ready for you to check out and listen to; and if you need some dysfunctional Southern family humor to brighten your day, listen to Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson.  I laughed out loud several times while listening to it myself!  Hoopla has several ebook titles by Elena Farrante, the Italian writer of the Neapolitan Quartet:  The Lost Daughter, My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, The Days of Abandonment, and The Lying Life of Adults. 

There have been some fascinating movies, television shows, and documentaries on Hoopla lately.  I recently watched Promised, a movie about a modern-day arranged marriage.  It was sweet, romantic, poignant and uplifting all at the same time!  If you like to scare yourself with movies, there are a few choices available:  The Shadowman, which is as scary as it sounds; if you like film noir, then check out Across the Hall, a sophisticated, clever thriller; and if you like BBC television, you can binge-watch all three parts of Archangel, a murder thriller starring Daniel Craig.  The Great Alaskan Race is a good family-friendly pick; its about a group of mushers who travel over 700 miles to save children from an epidemic.  It’s a fascinating up-close view of mushing through Alaska.  To follow up that movie, watch the National Geographic documentary, Extreme Alaska: Denali National Park.

Hoopla also provides themed, curated lists of all available formats, and this month’s theme is Women’s History Month.  Included in the collection are books for adults and children, such as Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore and a graphic novel, Marie Curie: The Radium Fairy by Montellier.  Women’s History Month movies include Dolly Parton: Queen of Country and RBG, the documentary of Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s life.

If you’re in the mood for something Irish, there are books, audiobooks, music, and movies available in the Irish Heritage collection.  You can listen to traditional Irish music with the album Shoe the Donkey by Francie McPeake, Love Songs of Ireland by Mary O’Hara, and quite a few others.  The music collection even includes Celtic Woman 3: Ireland!  Several of Frank McCourt’s books are included in both ebook and audio format, and you can watch the series 1916: The Irish Rebellion featuring Liam Neeson.  I recommend the very romantic and haunting movie Ondine starring Colin Farrell.

For National Craft Month, Hoopla has curated a list of ebooks to help learn new crafts, including knitting, drying flowers, soapmaking, and beer brewing.  There’s even a book about Cricut crafts, which offers tips for all of the Cricut machines.

Please try Hoopla out!


New Titles on Our Shelf and on Hoopla!

Now that the rush of the Holidays are over, and we’re settling down into the winter for a bit longer, I hope you’re getting cozy reading some great books from our library!  We have some new titles by high-demand authors that have just come in: Neighbors by Danielle Steel; All the Colors of Night by Jane Ann Krentz; Truly, Madly, Deeply by Karen Kingsbury; Hush-Hush by Stuart Woods; Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz; Out of Hounds by Rita Mae Brown; Under the Alaskan Ice by Karen Harper; The Children’s Blizzard by Melanie Benjamin; Sharpe’s Trafalgar by Bernard Cornwell; The Russian by James Patterson (another Michael Bennett story); The Scorpion’s Tail by Preston & Child; Spin by Patricia Cornwell, which is part of her Captain Chase series; American Traitor by Brad Taylor; Before She Disappeared  by Lisa Gardner; and Till Murder Do Us Part: True-Crime Thrillers by James Patterson.  Make your requests now and get on the list for your favorites!

New nonfiction titles include some biographies, history, economics, health, and organizing your home – what a wide spectrum!  Bezonomics: How Amazon is Changing Our Lives and What the World’s Best Companies Are Learning From It by Brian Dumain offers a highly readable and behind-the-scenes glimpse of how Jeff Bezos built the Amazon empire.

Some of our new biographies include Me and Sister Bobbie: True Tales of the Family Band by Willie and Bobbie Nelson offers insight how music helped heal some of the pain of their childhood in East Texas.  Walking with Ghosts: A Memoir by Gabriel Byrne is heartfelt, funny and at times poignant.  Not only does Byrne write about his childhood and his rise to stardom; he also shares the Ireland of his childhood.  Michael J. Fox writes about friendships and family while dealing with illness in No Time Like the Future: An Optimist Considers Mortality.  The Last Queen: Elizabeth II’s 70-Year Battle to Save the House of Windsor by Clive Irving showcases the royal family and how they’ve evolved with the ever-changing world around them.   The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcom X and Martin Luther King Jr. by Peniel E. Joseph is a dual biography that reveals the two men’s relationship and how it affected their movements.  This is a three-for-one: readers will get a look at both men’s lives, as well as the history of their time and era they worked in. 

History titles include The Crooked Path to Abolition Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution by James Oakes.  This book offers a look not only at Lincoln and the abolition of slavery, but also offers a deep explanation of States’ Rights and how the Constitution addressed both sides.  Lynn Cheney, wife of the former Vice President, writes about our earliest founding fathers and their work in hammering out the government of the United States in The Virginia Dynasty: Four Presidents and the Creation of the American Nation.  Veteran and prolific history writer Jon Meacham explains Thomas Jefferson’s deepest intentions of the Constitution in In the Hands of the People: Thomas Jefferson on Equality, Faith, Freedom, Compromise, and the Art of Citizenship. Meacham has collected some of the most inspiring words written about the document, including some by Jefferson himself.

We have so many new books in, that I’m going to end by showcasing a few of my recent favorites.

Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park by Conor Knighton is a beautiful look behind the author’s epic journey to visit every National Park in one year.  The writing is wonderful and insightful, and this book could be a travel guide for your own such journey.  Knighton offers tidbits of information about the parks and will inspire readers to take their own journey to these majestic parks.

When I picked up A Saint From Texas by Edmund White, I’ll admit that my curiosity was piqued by the title and didn’t know what to expect.  This story takes two sisters from a hardscrabble existence in 1950s Texas to South America, Paris, and right here in Dallas.  Not just a story of twin sisters’ love for each other, but it also tells a story of just how deeply past experiences define our futures.

Every few years a book comes along with such quirky characters and story line that I just can’t help but want to cheer the characters along and celebrate their victories right along with them.  Bear Necessity by James Gould-Bourn is that book this year.  It’s a special story about a single father with a special needs son who goes to great lengths to protect and nurture him.  This book will be a favorite of readers who loved Graeme Simsion’s Rosie trilogy.

Like I said earlier, we have so many new books that I can’t mention them all!  But I do want to remind you all of our great new streaming product, Hoopla, which features not only movies and television shows, but ebooks and audiobooks.  Some very current, high-demand books are available with no wait time right now:  The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley, The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins, Virgin River by Robyn Carr, The Awakening, Nora Roberts’ newest title, almost all of the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn, News of the World by Paulette Jiles, The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman, Gabriel Byrne’s new memoir that I’ve mentioned already in this blog, and The Water Keeper  by Charles Finch.

New Nonfiction and Fiction Titles

I hope you’re all having a very Happy Holiday Season and are finding time to relax and read!  Our latest boxes of new books contained some very interesting nonfiction, about many fascinating people or events.

To go along with our family history theme that I’ve been doing on our “Tea Talk with a Librarian” series, we have Questions to Ask Your Parents Before Its Too Late by Shannon L. Alder.  This book was originally written to guide readers in getting to know their parents better, but it will help family historians know what questions to ask about their parents’ childhoods, family traditions, and views on spirituality.  The book contains over 300 questions to ask your parents or older relatives.

Combine a love of travel with an interest in American history with two new travel guides — America’s National Historic Trails: Walking the Trails of History by Karen Berger and Oregon Trail Road Trip: Historic Sites, Small Towns, and Scenic Landscapes Along the Legendary Westward Route by Katrina Emery.  The first book is a large, gorgeous coffee table-type book that inspires readers to visit lands covered by the Pony Express and early explorers. Oregon Trail Road Trip is a more practical size that can be taken along on any trip.  It features 20-day road trip plan that starts in Independence Missouri and culminates in Oregon City.

Seventies music lovers will enjoy Do You Feel Like I Do?: A Memoir by Peter Frampton, which covers his early years with several mega-groups all the way to the twilight of his career.  This memoir offers an inside look into the British music scene of the 1970s.  Additional titles about music and musicians include The Last Days of John Lennon by James Patterson (yes, that James Patterson!) and Me and Patsy: Kickin’ Up Dust by Loretta Lynn.  Loretta Lynn tells the story behind her short, but very special friendship with Patsy Cline.

Some other new biographies and memoirs include Ree Drummond’s candid look at her life in rural northern Oklahoma: Frontier Follies: Adventures in Marriage and Motherhood in the Middle of Nowhere, and Meghan and Harry: The Real Story by Lady Colin Campbell, the royal insider who loves to tell all in her books.  Many will remember her books about other British royals, including Princess Diana.

Some very timely titles include Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Katherine May, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic by Andrew Cuomo, and Don’t Be a Victim: Fighting Back Against America’s Crime Wave by Nancy Grace, who has been a victim of crime herself.

New books about history span from the Vikings to the American Frontier in the 1840s to the Space Age.  In Children of Ash and Elm: A History of the Vikings, archaeologist and lecturer Neil Price offers a very comprehensive look into the history and legacy of this very influential culture.  The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch by Miles Harvey is a very readable and engaging look at the American frontier in the 1840s and 50s, as told through the story of the Mormons’ move westward and a splinter group in Michigan.  Finally, Shuttle, Houston: My Life in the Center Seat of Mission Control by Paul Dye take a deep look into NASA during the most prolific years of space exploration.  Paul Dye is the former and longest-serving  Flight Director of NASA, so this book truly does offer an inside look.

On the fiction front, we have some new books by some popular authors: Hidden in Plain Sight by Jeffrey Archer, Daylight by David Baldacci, and Dark Tides by Philippa Gregory and The Searchers by Tana French.  Joyce Carol Oates’ newest title is Cardiff, By the Sea: Four Novellas Suspense. Science fiction author Ernest Cline follows up Ready Player One with Ready Player Two.

Libraries center in two new fiction titles:  Midnight Library by Matt Haig, and The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis.  Midnight Library is a delightful fantasy tale about a library containing an infinite number of books that tell the alternate stories of people’s lives, the one they would have lived if they had made different choices. Fiona Davis offers readers a view of another New York City landmark in The Lions of Fifth Avenue.  As in her previous titles, Davis writes about the plight of women making hard choices in life and fighting past the stereotypes they are often forced into.

Marie Benedict writes about another strong, interesting woman – author Agatha Christie – in The Mystery of Mrs. Christie.  Agatha Christie disappeared for 11 days in 1926, a mystery that is still unsolved today.  In Perestroika in Paris, Jane Smiley writes about a horse, a boy, a dog, a raven and two ducks.  All of these characters spend a cold winter in Paris having all sorts of adventures.

Travel seems to be a theme in this post! The Garden of Promises and Lies by Paula Brackston is the second in her time-traveling series.  Paris Is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay takes readers on a journey through Ireland, France, and Italy.  Miss Benson’s Beetles by Rachel Joyce is a heart-warming and charming story of travel, the power of friendship, and the fulfillment of pursing a dream.  Miss Benson’s Beetles has the same charm and affirmation as The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. 

We have many other new titles on the shelf, so come see them! We’re open Tuesday through Thursday from 10am to 6pm, and on Fridays and Saturdays from 10am to 5pm.  Don’t forget that you can sign up to receive notices when I’ve posted something new.  You can do that at the bottom of this page.

Happy Reading!