At the last meeting of the Bring Your Own Book Club, a bunch of book lovers chatted about the books we’ve all been reading lately including those listed below. Looks like we’ll be doing it again on September 8th at 4:00 PM. If you’d like to tell us about some books or hear what your fellow readers suggest, join our Zoom chat.
It by Stephen King
Can an entire city be haunted? The Losers’ Club of 1958 seems to think so. After all, when they were teenagers back then, these seven friends who called the small New England metropolis of Derry their home had first-hand experience with what made this place so horribly different. Every twenty-seven years, something that has existed here for a very long time comes back to terrorize Derry, lurking in the city storm drains and sewers, taking the shape of every nightmare and deepest dread. And yet, time passed and the children grew up, moved away…the horror of what they all experienced buried deep, wrapped in forgetfulness. Now nearly thirty years later, they’re all being called back to Derry for a final life-or-death confrontation with a primordial evil that stirs and coils in the sullen depths of their memories. For the Losers’ Club and the thing known only as “It” have some unfinished business with each other…
Bloodchild by Octavia Butler
A perfect introduction for new readers and a must-have for avid fans, this New York Times Notable Book includes “Bloodchild,” winner of both the Hugo and the Nebula awards and “Speech Sounds,” winner of the Hugo Award. Appearing in print for the first time, “Amnesty” is a story of a woman named Noah who works to negotiate the tense and co-dependent relationship between humans and a species of invaders. Also new to this collection is “The Book of Martha” which asks: What would you do if God granted you the ability—and responsibility—to save humanity from itself?
Harlem Shuffle by Colson Whitehead
“Ray Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked…” To his customers and neighbors on 125th street, Carney is an upstanding salesman of reasonably priced furniture, making a decent life for himself and his family. He and his wife Elizabeth are expecting their second child, and if her parents on Striver’s Row don’t approve of him or their cramped apartment across from the subway tracks, it’s still home.
Few people know he descends from a line of uptown hoods and crooks, and that his façade of normalcy has more than a few cracks in it. Cracks that are getting bigger all the time.
Cash is tight, especially with all those installment-plan sofas, so if his cousin Freddie occasionally drops off the odd ring or necklace, Ray doesn’t ask where it comes from. He knows a discreet jeweler downtown who doesn’t ask questions, either.
Then Freddie falls in with a crew who plan to rob the Hotel Theresa—the “Waldorf of Harlem”—and volunteers Ray’s services as the fence. The heist doesn’t go as planned; they rarely do. Now Ray has a new clientele, one made up of shady cops, vicious local gangsters, two-bit pornographers, and other assorted Harlem lowlifes.
The City We Became by N.K. Jemisin
Every city has a soul. Some are as ancient as myths, and others are as new and destructive as children. New York City? She’s got five.
But every city also has a dark side. A roiling, ancient evil stirs beneath the earth, threatening to destroy the city and her five protectors unless they can come together and stop it once and for all.
Ink Blood Sister Scribe by Emma Törzs
For generations, the Kalotay family has guarded a collection of ancient and rare books. Books that let a person walk through walls or manipulate the elements–books of magic that half-sisters Joanna and Esther have been raised to revere and protect.
All magic comes with a price, though, and for years the sisters have been separated. Esther has fled to a remote base in Antarctica to escape the fate that killed her own mother, and Joanna’s isolated herself in their family home in Vermont, devoting her life to the study of these cherished volumes. But after their father dies suddenly while reading a book Joanna has never seen before, the sisters must reunite to preserve their family legacy. In the process, they’ll uncover a world of magic far bigger and more dangerous than they ever imagined, and all the secrets their parents kept hidden; secrets that span centuries, continents, and even other libraries . . .
Other Birds by Sarah Allen
Right off the coast of South Carolina, on Mallow Island, The Dellawisp sits—a stunning old cobblestone building shaped like a horseshoe, and named after the tiny turquoise birds who, alongside its human tenants, inhabit an air of magical secrecy.
When Zoey comes to claim her deceased mother’s apartment at the Dellawisp she meets her quirky and secretive neighbors, including a young woman with a past, two estranged middle-aged sisters, and a lonely chef, and three ghosts. The sudden death of one of Zoey’s new neighbors sets off a search that leads to the island’s famous author and to a long-estranged relative of the sisters.
Each of them has a story, and each story has an ending which hasn’t yet been written.
Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules–a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.
When his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders–a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman–have stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes–and save himself in the process–before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.
Pop Art by Steven Henry Madoff
Pop A Critical History chronicles one of the most controversial art movements of the century. The anthology draws from a great range of sources, from the leading art magazines and art historical journals to newspapers and news magazines such as the New York Times, Life , and Newsweek . What emerges from this rich cross-section of critical and journalistic commentary is a fascinating view of the tumultuous rise of Pop art and its establishment as a major force in contemporary art. A broad selection of articles traces the emergence of the movement itself in England and America, as seen through the eyes of the working critics of the day. The focus then narrows to present in-depth writings on the four major Pop Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, James Rosenquist, and Andy Warhol, along with an examination of many other artists involved in the movement. From reviews of the very first shows of many of these artists to interviews with them, to news stories about their collectors and their lifestyles, Pop A Critical History represents the most complete and coherent record of Pop art yet published. The book concludes with an invaluable chronology of the major ’60s exhibitions by Pop artists. Among the contributors are Lawrence Alloway, John Coplans, Donald Judd, Max Kozloff, Gerald Nordland, Peter Plagens, Barbara Rose, Robert Rosenblum, John Russell, Gene Swenson, and Sidney Tillim.
Smile Beach Murder by Alicia Bessette
When Callie is laid off from her reporting job, she returns to her hometown of Cattail Island and lands a gig at the local bookstore—the same one where she found comfort after her mother died.
In fact, the anniversary of her mother’s infamous death is approaching. Years ago, Teri Padget tumbled from the top of the lighthouse. As islanders are once again gossiping about the tragedy, devastating news strikes: the lighthouse has claimed another victim. Eva Meeks, of Meeks Hardware.
The police are calling it suicide, but Callie does not believe Eva jumped any more than she believes her mother did—especially because Callie knows that before her death, Eva had dug up a long-forgotten treasure hunt that could have put a target on Eva’s back.
In Callie’s search for answers, she enlists the help of some beloved books and several new friends, including the handsome local martial arts instructor, Toby Dodge. But when another death rocks Cattail Island, Callie must face her fears alone. As she earns enemies in pursuit of the truth, Callie knows she will either uncover the killer or become a victim herself.
Charlotte Illes is Not a Detective by Katie Siegel
As a kid, Charlotte Illes’ uncanny sleuthing abilities made her a minor celebrity. But in high school, she hung up her detective’s hat and stashed away the signature blue landline in her “office”—aka garage—convinced that finding her adult purpose would be as easy as tracking down missing pudding cups or locating stolen diamonds.
Now twenty-five, Charlotte has a nagging fear that she hit her peak in middle school. She’s living with her mom, scrolling through job listings, and her love life consists mostly of first dates. When it comes to knowing what to do next, Charlotte hasn’t got a clue.
And then, her old blue phone rings . . .
Reluctantly, Charlotte is pulled back into the mystery-solving world she knew—just one more time. But that world is a whole lot more complicated for an adult. As a kid, she was able to crack the case and still get her homework done on time. Now she’s dealing with dead bodies, missing persons, and villains who actually see her as a viable threat. And the detective skills she was once so eager to never use again are the only things that can stop a killer ready to make sure her next retirement is permanent.
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when a meteor knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? As summer turns to Arctic winter, Miranda, her two brothers, and their mother retreat to the unexpected safe haven of their sunroom, where they subsist on stockpiled food and limited water in the warmth of a wood-burning stove.
Told in journal entries, this is the heart-pounding story of Miranda’s struggle to hold on to the most important resource of all–hope–in an increasingly desperate and unfamiliar world.
12 Dogs of Christmas by David Rosenfelt
Defense lawyer Andy Carpenter usually tries to avoid taking on new cases at all costs. But this time, he’s happy—eager, even—to take the case that’s just come his way. Andy’s long-time friend Martha “Pups” Boyer takes in stray puppies that the local dog rescue center can’t handle, raises them until they’re old enough to adopt, and then finds good homes for them. Not everyone admires the work Pups does as much as Andy does, however. With Christmas just around the corner, one of Pups’s neighbors has just reported Pups to the city for having more than the legal number of pets in her home under the local zoning laws.
Andy happily takes Pups’s case, and he feels confident in a positive outcome. Who could punish someone for rescuing puppies, after all, especially at Christmastime? But things get a lot more complicated when Randy Hennessey, the neighbor who registered the complaint against Pups, turns up dead. Pups had loudly and publicly threatened Hennessey after he filed his complaint, and Pups was also the one to find his body. All the evidence seems to point to Pups as the killer, and suddenly Andy has a murder case on his hands. He doesn’t believe Pups could be guilty, but as he starts digging deeper into the truth behind Hennessey’s murder, Andy may find himself facing a killer more dangerous than he ever imagined.
The Night in Question by Kathleen Glasgow
Alice Ogilvie and Iris Adams became the talk of Castle Cove when they cracked the biggest case of the fall: the death of Brooke Donovan. Together, the Agathas put Brooke’s killer away for good, and since then things around town have been almost back to normal. Quiet, even.
But if Alice and Iris know anything, it’s that sometimes quiet is just the calm before the storm. The truth is, Brooke’s disappearance wasn’t the first mystery to rock Castle Cove, and it won’t be the last. So when their school dance at the infamous Levy Castle—the site of film starlet Mona Moody’s unsolved death back in the 1940s—is interrupted by a violent assault, Iris and Alice pull out their murder boards and get back to work.
To understand the present, sometimes you need to look into the past. And if the Agathas want a chance at solving their new case, that’s exactly where they’ll need to start digging. Only, what they uncover might very well kill them.
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.
But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.
True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus performers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.
The Wave by Todd Strasser
The powerful forces of group pressure that pervaded many historic movements such as Nazism are recreated in the classroom when history teacher Burt Ross introduces a “new” system to his students. And before long The Wave, with its rules of “strength through discipline, community, and action”, sweeps from the classroom through the entire school. And as most of the students join the movement, Laurie Saunders and David Collins recognize the frightening momentum of The Wave and realize they must stop it before it’s too late.