On April 10th, a bunch of librarians and library patrons went online to talk about all the books we’ve been reading lately. We’d love to have you join us for the next meeting of the Bring Your Own Book Club.
Here’s all the books we discussed.
Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw
Greta Helsing inherited the family’s highly specialized, and highly peculiar, medical practice. In her consulting rooms, Dr. Helsing treats the undead for a host of ills – vocal strain in banshees, arthritis in barrow-wights, and entropy in mummies. Although barely making ends meet, this is just the quiet, supernatural-adjacent life Greta’s been groomed for since childhood.
Until a sect of murderous monks emerges, killing human and undead Londoners alike. As terror takes hold of the city, Greta must use her unusual skills to stop the cult if she hopes to save her practice, and her life.
Book | Overdrive Ebook
A Study in Sable by Mercedes Lackey
Psychic Nan Killian and Medium Sarah Lyon-White—along with their clever birds, the raven Neville and the parrot Grey—have been agents of Lord Alderscroft, the Elemental Fire Master known as the Wizard of London, since leaving school.
Now, Lord Alderscroft assigns them another commission: to work with the famous man living at 221 Baker Street—but not the one in flat B. They are to assist the man living in flat C. Dr. John Watson and his wife Mary, themselves Elemental Masters of Water and Air, take the occult cases John’s more famous friend disdains, and they will need every skill the girls and their birds can muster!
Nan and Sarah’s first task: to confront and eliminate the mysterious and deadly entity that nearly killed them as children: the infamous Haunt of Number 10 Berkeley Square. But the next task divides the girls for the first time since they were children. A German opera star begs Sarah for help, seeking a Medium’s aid against not just a single spirit, but a multitude.
The Mapping of Love and Death by Jacqueline Winspear
August 1914. Michael Clifton is mapping the land he has just purchased in California’s beautiful Santa Ynez Valley, certain that oil lies beneath its surface. But as the young cartographer prepares to return home to Boston, war is declared in Europe. Michael-the youngest son of an expatriate Englishman-puts duty first and sails for his father’s native country to serve in the British army. Three years later, he is listed among those missing in action.
April 1932. London psychologist and investigator Maisie Dobbs is retained by Michael’s parents, who have recently learned that their son’s remains have been unearthed in France. They want Maisie to find the unnamed nurse whose love letters were among Michael’s belongings-a quest that takes Maisie back to her own bittersweet wartime love. Her inquiries, and the stunning discovery that Michael Clifton was murdered in his trench, unleash a web of intrigue and violence that threatens to engulf the soldier’s family and even Maisie herself. Over the course of her investigation, Maisie must cope with the approaching loss of her mentor, Maurice Blanche, and her growing awareness that she is once again falling in love.
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Beauty by Robin McKinley
Beauty’s wealthy father loses all his money when his merchant fleet is drowned in a storm, and the family moves to a village far away. Then the old merchant hears what proves to be a false report that one of his ships had made it safe to harbor at last, and on his sad, disappointed way home again he becomes lost deep in the forest and has a terrifying encounter with a fierce Beast, who walks like a man and lives in a castle. The merchant’s life is forfeit, says the Beast, for trespass and the theft of a rose—but he will spare the old man’s life if he sends one of his daughters: “Your daughter would take no harm from me, nor from anything that lives in my lands.” When Beauty hears this story—for her father had picked the rose to bring to her—her sense of honor demands that she take up the Beast’s offer, for “cannot a Beast be tamed?”
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Cancer Schmancer by Fran Drescher
Part inspirational cancer-survival story, part memoir-as-laugh-riot, Cancer Schmancer picks up where Fran’s last book Enter Whining, left off. After the publication of that book, Fran’s life began a steady downward spiral. She separated from her long and complicated relationship, her TV series started to slip in the ratings and her beloved dog’s health was in major decline. Then came the mysterious symptoms no doctor could adequately explain. With her trademark humour, Fran tells of her indefatigable search for answers and the cancer diagnosis that she ultimately beat. But not before a goldmine of humorous insights were revealed to her about what really matters most in life.
It’s time to get off the beaten path. Inspiring equal parts wonder and wanderlust, Atlas Obscura celebrates over 700 of the strangest and most curious places in the world.
Talk about a bucket list: here are natural wonders—the dazzling glowworm caves in New Zealand, or a baobob tree in South Africa that’s so large it has a pub inside where 15 people can drink comfortably. Architectural marvels, including the M.C. Escher-like stepwells in India. Mind-boggling events, like the Baby Jumping Festival in Spain, where men dressed as devils literally vault over rows of squirming infants. Not to mention the Great Stalacpipe Organ in Virginia, Turkmenistan’s 40-year hole of fire called the Gates of Hell, a graveyard for decommissioned ships on the coast of Bangladesh, eccentric bone museums in Italy, or a weather-forecasting invention that was powered by leeches, still on display in Devon, England.
Created by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras and Ella Morton, ATLAS OBSCURA revels in the weird, the unexpected, the overlooked, the hidden and the mysterious. Every page expands our sense of how strange and marvelous the world really is. And with its compelling descriptions, hundreds of photographs, surprising charts, maps for every region of the world, it is a book to enter anywhere, and will be as appealing to the armchair traveler as the die-hard adventurer.
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The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
The winner of the NBCC Award for Poetry offers up a spirited collection of short lyric essays, written daily over a tumultuous year, reminding us of the purpose and pleasure of praising, extolling, and celebrating ordinary wonders. Ross Gay’s The Book of Delights is a genre-defying book of essays-some as short as a paragraph; some as long as five pages-that record the small joys that occurred in one year, from birthday to birthday, and that we often overlook in our busy lives. His is a meditation on delight that takes a clear-eyed view of the complexities, even the terrors, in his life, including living in America as a black man; the ecological and psychic violence of our consumer culture; the loss of those he loves. Among Gay’s funny, poetic, philosophical delights: the way Botan Rice Candy wrappers melt in your mouth, the volunteer crossing guard with a pronounced tremor whom he imagines as a kind of boat-woman escorting pedestrians across the River Styx, a friend’s unabashed use of air quotes, pickup basketball games, the silent nod of acknowledgment between black people. And more than any other subject, Gay celebrates the beauty of the natural world-his garden, the flowers in the sidewalk, the birds, the bees, the mushrooms, the trees.
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Just Kids by Patti Smith
It was the summer Coltrane died, the summer of love and riots, and the summer when a chance encounter in Brooklyn led two young people on a path of art, devotion, and initiation.
Patti Smith would evolve as a poet and performer, and Robert Mapplethorpe would direct his highly provocative style toward photography. Bound in innocence and enthusiasm, they traversed the city from Coney Island to Forty-Second Street, and eventually to the celebrated round table of Max’s Kansas City, where the Andy Warhol contingent held court. In 1969, the pair set up camp at the Hotel Chelsea and soon entered a community of the famous and infamous, the influential artists of the day and the colorful fringe. It was a time of heightened awareness, when the worlds of poetry, rock and roll, art, and sexual politics were colliding and exploding. In this milieu, two kids made a pact to take care of each other. Scrappy, romantic, committed to create, and fueled by their mutual dreams and drives, they would prod and provide for one another during the hungry years.
Just Kids begins as a love story and ends as an elegy. It serves as a salute to New York City during the late sixties and seventies and to its rich and poor, its hustlers and hellions. A true fable, it is a portrait of two young artists’ ascent, a prelude to fame.
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Serendipity Market by Penny Blubaugh
When Toby breathes on Mama Inez’s bird-shaped invitations, giving them the power to fly, plans for the Serendipity Market begin. Soon, eleven honored guests travel from afar and make their way to the storytellers’ tent to share their stories. Each tale proves what Mama Inez knows-that magic is everywhere. Sometimes it shows itself subtly-a ray of sun glinting on a gold coin, or a girl picking a rose without getting pricked by the thorn-and sometimes it makes itself known with trumpets and fireworks. But when real magic is combined with the magic of storytelling, it can change the world. This is a breathtaking debut novel written with elegance and grace.
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The Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton
In the depths of a 19th-century winter, a little girl is abandoned on the streets of Victorian London. She grows up to become in turn a thief, an artist’s muse, and a lover. In the summer of 1862, shortly after her eighteenth birthday, she travels with a group of artists to a beautiful house on a bend of the Upper Thames. Tensions simmer and one hot afternoon a gunshot rings out. A woman is killed, another disappears, and the truth of what happened slips through the cracks of time. It is not until over a century later, when another young woman is drawn to Birchwood Manor, that its secrets are finally revealed.
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The River by Peter Heller
Wynn and Jack have been best friends since freshman orientation, bonded by their shared love of mountains, books, and fishing. Wynn is a gentle giant, a Vermont kid never happier than when his feet are in the water. Jack is more rugged, raised on a ranch in Colorado where sleeping under the stars and cooking on a fire came as naturally to him as breathing. When they decide to canoe the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate long days of leisurely paddling and picking blueberries, and nights of stargazing and reading paperback Westerns. But a wildfire making its way across the forest adds unexpected urgency to the journey. When they hear a man and woman arguing on the fog-shrouded riverbank and decide to warn them about the fire, their search for the pair turns up nothing and no one. But: The next day a man appears on the river, paddling alone. Is this the man they heard? And, if he is, where is the woman?
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Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
It’s February 1976, and Odessa, Texas, stands on the cusp of the next great oil boom. While the town’s men embrace the coming prosperity, its women intimately know and fear the violence that always seems to follow.
In the early hours of the morning after Valentine’s Day, fourteen-year-old Gloria Ramírez appears on the front porch of Mary Rose Whitehead’s ranch house, broken and barely alive. The teenager had been viciously attacked in a nearby oil field—an act of brutality that is tried in the churches and barrooms of Odessa before it can reach a court of law. When justice is evasive, the stage is set for a showdown with potentially devastating consequences.
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The Townhouse by Norah Lofts
“It was in the first week of October in the year 1391 that I first came face to face with the man who owned me… the man whose lightest word was to us, his villeins, weightier than the King’s law or the edicts of our Holy Father…”
So began the story of Martin Reed – a serf whose resentment of the automatic rule of his feudal lord finally flared into open defiance. Encouraged by the woman he loved, Martin Reed began a new life – a life which was to culminate in the building of the House, and the founding of the dynasty who were to live there.
The Bridgertons Happily Ever After by Julia Quinn
Once upon a time, a historical romance author created a family, but not just any family. Eight brothers and sisters, assorted in-laws, sons and daughters, nieces and nephews (not to mention an overweight corgi) plus an irrepressible matriarch who’s a match for any of them. Through eight bestselling novels, readers laughed, cried, and fell in love. But they wanted more.
And so the readers asked the author: What happens next? Does Simon ever read his father’s letters? Do Francesca and Michael become parents? Who would win in a Pall Mall grudge match? Does “The End” really have to be the end?
Now, Julia Quinn delivers eight sexy, funny, and heartwarming “2nd Epilogues” plus a bonus story about none other than the wise and witty matriarch Violet Bridgerton herself. So get to know the Bridgertons all over again–because Happily Ever After is a whole lot of fun.
No Good Asking by Fran Kimmel
Ellie and Eric Nyland have moved their two sons back to Eric’s childhood farmhouse, hoping for a fresh start. But there’s no denying it, their family is falling apart, each one of them isolated by private sorrows, stresses, and missed signals. With every passing day, Ellie’s hopes are buried deeper in the harsh winter snows.
When Eric finds Hannah Finch, the girl across the road, wandering alone in the bitter cold, his rusty police instincts kick in, and he soon discovers there are bad things happening in the girl’s house. With nowhere else to send her, the Nylands reluctantly agree to let Hannah stay with them until she can find a new home after the Christmas holidays. But Hannah proves to be more balm than burden, and the Nylands discover that the only thing harder than taking Hannah in may be letting her go.
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Gnomes by Wil Huygen
The beloved Gnomes was first published in 1976 and the world became enchanted with the simple and diligent ways of these special creatures. Based on Rien Poortvliet and Wil Huygen’s scientific observation of the local gnome population in Holland, Gnomes covers all areas of gnome culture: architecture, education, courtship, medicine, industry, and relationships with other mythical creatures. Thirty-five years later, this beautifully illustrated book continues to bring joy to readers of all ages.
True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake
The Larkin family isn’t just lucky-they persevere. At least that’s what Violet and her younger brother, Sam, were always told. When the Lyric sank off the coast of Maine, their great-great-great grandmother didn’t drown like the rest of the passengers. No, Fidelia swam to shore, fell in love, and founded Lyric, Maine, the town Violet and Sam returned to every summer.
But wrecks seem to run in the family: Tall, funny, musical Violet can’t stop partying with the wrong people. And, one beautiful summer day, brilliant, sensitive Sam attempts to take his own life.
Shipped back to Lyric while Sam is in treatment, Violet is haunted by her family’s missing piece-the lost shipwreck she and Sam dreamed of discovering when they were children. Desperate to make amends, Violet embarks on a wildly ambitious mission: locate the Lyric, lain hidden in a watery grave for over a century.
She finds a fellow wreck hunter in Liv Stone, an amateur local historian whose sparkling intelligence and guarded gray eyes make Violet ache in an exhilarating new way. Whether or not they find the Lyric, the journey Violet takes-and the bridges she builds along the way-may be the start of something like survival.
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End of October by Lawrence Wright
At an internment camp in Indonesia, forty-seven people are pronounced dead with acute hemorrhagic fever. When Henry Parsons–microbiologist, epidemiologist–travels there on behalf of the World Health Organization to investigate, what he finds will soon have staggering repercussions across the globe: an infected man is on his way to join the millions of worshippers in the annual Hajj to Mecca. Now, Henry joins forces with a Saudi prince and doctor in an attempt to quarantine the entire host of pilgrims in the holy city . . . A Russian émigré, a woman who has risen to deputy director of U.S. Homeland Security, scrambles to mount a response to what may be an act of biowarfare . . . Already-fraying global relations begin to snap, one by one, in the face of a pandemic . . . Henry’s wife, Jill, and their children face diminishing odds of survival in Atlanta . . . And the disease slashes across the United States, dismantling institutions–scientific, religious, governmental–and decimating the population. As packed with suspense as it is with the fascinating history of viral diseases, Lawrence Wright has given us a full-tilt, electrifying, one-of-a-kind thriller.
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Bridgid Kemmerer
It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.
Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world. Break the curse, save the kingdom.
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The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
Of course we talked about our big community reading program, WE ALL READ, and its book selections, The Wind in the Willows and Frog and Toad are Friends. Find more info, download the books, and join in on virtual library events at WE ALL READ.