Posted in Adult, eBooks & eAudio, Fiction, Mystery, Teen & Young Adult

Proper Ladies Buck Convention

Take a look at the list of books I have been reading lately. They each feature woman or girl protagonists who are in possession of indomitable spirits and a penchant for solving mysteries. While the books take place anywhere from 1815-1950, they are mostly set in Victorian England, and sometimes the old girl herself makes an appearance. The mysteries are usually murders, and in the cozy tradition, happen “off-screen” and are somewhat sanitary, as far as murders go. Each book listed is the first in a series, often with new titles still being published. 

The Body in the Garden (2020) by Katherine Shellman
Protagonist: Lily Adler
Setting: 1815 Edwardian London
Books in the series: three
Queen Victoria appearance: she wouldn’t be born for four more years
Lily Adler is unconventional because she is a young widow who prefers solving the mysteries of upper-crust London social circles she belongs to, rather than searching for a second husband. Completely cozy series with charming protagonists and ongoing story threads that connect book to book. The mysteries are complex, satisfying, and comfy like a warm bath.
Available on Hoopla in audio and e-book formats

Etiquette & Espionage (2013) by Gail Carriger
Protagonist: Saphronia Angelina Temminnick, age 14
Setting: 1851 Victorian London
Books in the Finishing School series: four
Queen Victoria appearance: yes
Yes, I’ve written about Gail Carriger in the past, and I will write about her again. This book is ridiculous in the best ways possible and the world needs to know. In this awesome steampunk version of Victorian England, vampires and werewolves are real and figure into parliamentary politics and society functions just like their human counterparts. Schools float in the sky. Pets are made of clockwork. Tea cakes are consumed with abandon. I loved getting to know the complex cast of characters over the four-book run, and then delighted in meeting them again in some of Carriger’s later work. The audio version is a particular joy if you enjoy the plummy tones of English society women. And I must ask, who among us does not?
Available on Libby in audio and e-book formats

Crocodile on the Sandbank (1975) by Elizabeth Peters
Protagonist: Amelia Peabody
Setting: 1884 England
Books in the series: twenty
Queen Victoria appearance: no, but expect to encounter real-life historical figures such as famous archaeologist Howard Carter.
This is the oldest series on my list, and while I am certain there are books about Victorian ladies striking out to fulfill their unconventional dreams published prior to this, Peters is for sure an OG refiner of the trope. Tropes include: unconventional lady inherits a fortune; has unbendable will; is the smartest person in the room; attracts an irascible male counterpart; is brave and resourceful to an almost sociopathic degree. One of the fun things about the Amelia Peabody books is that she ages from book to book as opposed to being rooted in a static, unchanging timespan. This beloved series is great for those who like a bit of ancient Egyptian history with their cozy mysteries.
Available on Libby in audio and e-book formats and on Hoopla in audiobook format

A Curious Beginning (2015) by Deanna Raybourn
Protagonist: Veronica Speedwell
Setting: 1887 Victorian London
Books in the series: seven with the eighth publishing in 2023
Queen Victoria appearance: yes
Oh, Veronica, how I adore her. If I had to choose a favorite character on this list it would be a toss-up between Veronica here and Gail Carriger’s Saphronia. Not only is Ms. Speedwell smart, tenacious, cunning, and ribald, she has a libido and a hilarious approach to men and love. Her handsome male counterpart, Stoker, provides a terrific foil to Veronica’s outrageous (at the time) actions and statements. The mysteries are extremely well-constructed and the running storyline is compelling. The audio production is so good I’ve listened through the series twice. 
Available on Libby in audio and e-book formats and on Hoopla in audiobook format

A Study in Scarlet Women (2016) by Sherry Thomas
Protagonist: Charlotte Holmes
Setting: Late 19th century London
Books in the series: six with a seventh publishing in 2023
Queen Victoria appearance: unsure, I have not read the whole series. 
One cannot throw a stone in a library without hitting a Sherlock Holmes adaptation (do not throw stones in the library plz). Along with Big Bird, Han Solo, and Frankestein, Sherlock Holmes is one of the most recognizable and enduring fictional characters in the western world. We collectively cannot get enough of this prickly, seemingly omnipotent detective. My favorite adaptations gender swap the Holmes and/or Watson character (looking at you CBS’s Elementary) so naturally, I was drawn to The Lady Sherlock series. Part of the fun is recognizing the beats lifted from the source material and how they change from one interpretation to the next. Don’t fret if this Holmes adaptation does not appeal. There are a LOT more where that came from. 
Available on Libby in audio and e-book formats and on Hoopla in audiobook format

The Widows of Malabar Hill (2018) by Sujata Massey
Protagonist: Perveen Mistry
Setting: 1920 Bombay
Books in the series: three with a fourth publishing in 2023
Queen Victoria appearance: she had been dead for nineteen years in 1920
This is the farthest afield of the series on this list. Our protagonist, Perveen, is one of the first female lawyers in India. Given that Indian patriarchy persists to this day, her arrival to the legal scene was not met with great enthusiasm and often open contempt. I loved this book because I got to learn about Indian history, religions common to India, and the British Raj. The mystery itself is intriguing and the writing was beautiful.
Available on Libby in audio and e-book formats and on Hoopla in audiobook format

Cocaine Blues (1989) by Kerry Greenwood
Protagonist: Phryne Fisher
Setting: late 1920s Melbourne
Books in the series: twenty two
Queen Victoria appearance: nope!
Many are by now familiar with Phryne Fisher from the excellent Australian television series Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. Phyrne is the role model of our dreams. She drinks, dances, has adult dalliances to relieve stress, and carries a gold plated pistol. She’s basically the coolest lady ever. And she’s rich so she can get away with such shocking behavior for a woman of her station. This series gives golden age of detective fiction by taking us from squalid back alleys to glimmering cruise ships to speakeasies and beyond. Phryne might be the most glamorous unconventional lady on the list, and I think she would get on like a house on fire with Veronica Speedwell.
Available on Libby and Hoopla in e-book format

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie (2009) by Alan Bradley
Protagonist: Flavia DeLuce, age 11
Setting: 1950 England
Books in the series: ten
Queen Victoria appearance: of course not, but I believe Churchill shows up sometime down the line
Eleven year old Flavia De Luce has grown up feril in Buckshaw, a crumbling family estate in a quintessentially bucolic English village. Her mother has been missing for years and her father is coping with the loss as well as his WWII experience in the stiff-upper-lip English way. Flavia is a precocious chemistry genius (one might even say mad scientist) who uses her innate curiosity and desire to impress the police Inspector Hewitt to solve baffling murders in the are. Flavia is an appealing character for many reasons, but I love that although she is a chemistry genius she often overlooks aspects of the case that any regular 11-year-old would miss. The forensic descriptions of Flavia’s observations are a little intense, but that’s part of the fun. I do NOT recommend the audio version of this series as the narration did not align with how I characterized Flavia’s voice in my own head at all. Too wistful, I think. Flavia is NOT wistful.
Available on Libby in audio and e-book format

If your reading whims differ greatly, not to fret. Mead Library has this rad book recommendation tool called Your Next Five Books. Take five minutes to fill out & submit and within a few days you will receive a personally tailored list of books based on your favorites. Not digging email as a way to reach out? Call us at 920-459-3400 option 4 to speak to a real live librarian. We can help with book picks, troubleshooting Libby and Hoopla, book requests, you name it. Anything to help you find a book you will love.

Posted in Adult, Biography & Memoir, Fiction, Nonfiction, Romance

While You Wait VIII: It Starts With Us and I’m Glad My Mom Died

We’re back to the regular format of one fiction book and one non-fiction book this month! This time, we have a new entry in a popular series: Colleen Hoover’s new book is due to come out next month. The non-fiction book is another memoir – it seems like people can’t get enough of reading about people overcoming their past difficulties, especially if it comes with some Hollywood/celebrity drama!

It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover

Lily and her ex-husband, Ryle, have just settled into a civil coparenting rhythm when she suddenly bumps into her first love, Atlas, again. After nearly two years separated, she is elated that for once, time is on their side, and she immediately says yes when Atlas asks her on a date.

But her excitement is quickly hampered by the knowledge that, though they are no longer married, Ryle is still very much a part of her life—and Atlas Corrigan is the one man he will hate being in his ex-wife and daughter’s life.

Switching between the perspectives of Lily and Atlas, It Starts with Us picks up right where the epilogue for the “gripping, pulse-pounding” (Sarah Pekkanen, author of Perfect Neighbors) bestselling phenomenon It Ends with Us left off. Revealing more about Atlas’s past and following Lily as she embraces a second chance at true love while navigating a jealous ex-husband, it proves that “no one delivers an emotional read like Colleen Hoover” (Anna Todd, New York Times bestselling author).

Continue reading “While You Wait VIII: It Starts With Us and I’m Glad My Mom Died”
Posted in Adult, eBooks & eAudio, Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction, Staff Picks, Thrillers

Books I Hated and What to Read Instead

Let’s get one thing straight up front: These are not BAD books. They’re actually wildly popular for the most part, and objectively well-executed, I just happened to hate them. Personal taste does not have to be rooted in reality or logic. We like what we like. For instance, I will put most books and movies down that feature a love triangle because they make my skin crawl. Below, I listed several best-selling books I was led to believe I would enjoy, but did not, and what I would recommend reading instead.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing (2018) by Hank Green
Why I hated it: So, so, so many reasons. This is one of the only books I’ve ever rage-quit and had it been a physical and not audio copy I may have hurled the book into a different room so it would no longer offend my eyes. Based on this title alone, Hank Green cannot write female characters. The protagonist is a bisexual 20-something Asian woman. Cool, diversity is cool, but Green used this character’s sexuality like a cheat code for objectifying the other female characters in the story. Also, this book features giant robots mysteriously appearing around the world. How awesome, right? IT IS NOT the robots didn’t do SHIT. And the book ends on a cliffhanger, which I only know about because I looked up the ending online after rage quitting. Finally, the use of modern youth vernacular will NOT age well in this novel. I was wincing when I read it and the ink had hardly dried. 

Read instead:

A Master of Djinn (2021) by P. Djeli Clark
Why it’s great: Where Green totally biffed writing women characters, Clark excels. Most characters of consequence in this book are women. It blows my mind that in the year of our lord 2022 I am feeling grateful to encounter a whole book full of multidimensional female characters that don’t focus on their looks or a man to make their way in the world. Read this book for access to a mostly female cast of vibrant and memorable characters, gorgeous world building, and incomprehensible eldritch beings trying to cross into nice, semi-horror filled early 20th century Cairo. Did I mention Cairo is a world superpower because someone figured out how to let djinn and other spirits back into the world? And that’s not even a spoiler.

Nobody’s Fool (1993) by Richard Russo
Why I hated it: Sully, the titular character, is a perennial loveable loser who squandered his life being moored down by family trauma and a can’t-do attitude. Russo seems to be in love with his own prose as well as protagonist Sully, and I just don’t get it. Indeed, the writing itself cannot be beat, it was the ideas within however, which I took umbrage. For instance, a horrid racial epithet is casually bandied about at one point to describe the nature of work Sully engages in, and the level of male wish fulfillment appearing throughout was kinda gross. Every book its reader, and I am not the one. I made it about half way through the almost 600 page doorstop before I put it down. Save yourself some time and watch the 1994 screen adaptation of Nobody’s Fool starring the ever-wonderful Paul Newman instead of trying to slog through this brick.

Read instead:

Empire Falls (2001) by Richard Russo
Why it’s great: This is Russo’s Great American Novel. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction over a Jonathan Franzen book, thank god, because it deserved the honor. Now, I don’t normally stan boomer-age whiteguy authors, as they tend to write books for other men (see above for criticism of Russo’s earlier work), but this book shines with an undeniable light that we can all bask in. Empire Falls was adapted into a very passable miniseries for HBO starring Ed Harris. Watch the series for sure, but be sure to read the book too, so as not to miss out on an evil cat giving protagonist Miles a run for his money, amongst other things. 

The Spellman Files (2007) by Lisa Lutz
Why I hated it: Lutz published six Spellman books in the 2010ishes and all I could think about while reading the freshman installation was how badly this was not working for me so how could they possibly be popular enough to demand so many installations. Spellman strives to assemble a quirky and interesting family of private detectives whose dysfunction is more a feature and less a bug, but they come across as a watery Royal Tannenbaum situation with more severe antisocial disorders. And not in a fun way! While the protagonist was meant to be a daring and independent young woman, all I could see was somebody who would benefit from therapy, a reinforcing of boundaries, and maybe a damn hug. 

Read Instead:
Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead (2011) by Sara Gran
Why it’s great: I love a hot mess protagonist and where The Spellman Files falls short, Clare DeWitt succeeds in spades. DeWitt is the self-described world’s best PI who is obsessed with the work of obscure French detective Jacques Silette. In the City of the Dead, she has found herself in a recently post-Katrina New Orleans which DeWitt fled years earlier when her mentor was unceremoniously murdered. She is back to track down a missing DA as well as try to untangle her violent past. While none of that sounds earth-shattering, there is something about DeWitt and her unflinching self-destruction and devotion to Silette’s teachings that I found completely compelling. So far, Gran has graced us with three Claire DeWitt novels, and they get successively better. Read them in order for the best experience. If you’re a Mead card holder, all three are available in ebook and audio format on Hoopla, so no wait time for you. 

Lock Every Door (2019) by Riley Sager
Why I hated it: Some authors never resonate. This is the case for Sager. He is massively popular and has several titles that on paper seem like they’ll be right up my alley but in execution I can’t get into it. Lock Every Door initially appealed because it takes place in an early 20th century construction of a fabulous spooky Manhattan apartment building. There’s a Rosemary’s Baby vibe happening, but no Satanists, and buddy I got to tell you that was one of the biggest disappointments I’ve ever had in my leisure reading life. The solution to this “mystery” was pretty irritating and I wish I had the time back that I used to read this. I also read Lock Every Door which has a supernatural switcheroo as well, so maybe it’s a theme in Sager’s work. I dunno. It doesn’t do it for me. 

Read instead:

There’s Someone Inside Your House (2017) by Stephanie Perkins 
Why it’s great: First and foremost, before you read any further, take a moment to say the title of this book out loud. No wait, don’t just say it, SCREECH it. Try it, you’ll like it. Besides the very fun-to-yell title, this YA thriller has a brisk pace, interesting character arcs and juicy secret pasts to unfold. The creep-factor is high and the central mystery has a satisfying and hard to predict solution. Most who enjoy thrillers or mysteries would enjoy this highly consumable and appealingly candy-colored book.

Would I say my taste in books is highly individualistic and not based on any objective literary criticism? Yes, yes I would. That’s the beauty of leisure reading. We get to pursue what we like without justifying the reasons. Some people only read Amish romance. Some people only read nonfiction accounts of Arctic expeditions. Some people only read graphic novels and manga. Guess what, they are all valid in their reading pursuits because there’s no wrong way to leisurely read.  

If you are casting around for book recommendations consider using our reader’s advisory service, Your Next Five Books, by clicking HERE. If you are in need of ebook or audiobook troubleshooting, or help requesting books, please call us or stop in for help, and happy reading. 

Posted in Adult, Fiction, Mystery, Romance

While You Wait VII: Ugly Love and Going Rogue

It’s a little odd this month! One of the most popular and requested books is… Ugly Love, which was published in 2014! So rather than choose one fiction and one non-fiction, I’m going to give you that book with a couple read-alikes, and then the most popular and requested book that’s actually new (which is, unsurprisingly, Janet Evanovich!) Plus, this way you get a choice between romance and mystery.

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

When Tate Collins meets airline pilot Miles Archer, she doesn’t think it’s love at first sight. They wouldn’t even go so far as to consider themselves friends. The only thing Tate and Miles have in common is an undeniable mutual attraction. Once their desires are out in the open, they realize they have the perfect set-up. He doesn’t want love, she doesn’t have time for love, so that just leaves the sex. Their arrangement could be surprisingly seamless, as long as Tate can stick to the only two rules Miles has for her.

Never ask about the past.
Don’t expect a future.

They think they can handle it, but realize almost immediately they can’t handle it at all.

Continue reading “While You Wait VII: Ugly Love and Going Rogue”
Posted in Adult, Fiction, Horror, Mystery

Spooky Books Best for Camping, or Laying in a Hammock, or Being Woods-Adjacent

Spookyass woods

Look, I don’t like camping, okay? Sleeping in a tent for more than one night is not restful. Being hot and stinking of bug repellent is not restful. Peeing in a hole is not restful. Plus, ax murderers live in the woods, which is not restful. The closest I ever get to camping is booking a creepy motel room that is woods-adjacent. Last year I drove up to Duluth and the scariest part was the last leg north of Spooner that is mostly pine forest and nothing else. NOTHING ELSE. This is not my element. I kept checking my gas gauge even though I knew it was full. Miles and miles would pass without seeing another car. Should my rental break down I was certain that murderers and sasquatch lined the highway, just beyond my line of sight, I knew it in my bones! Imagine my relief when I spotted Superior in the distance after cresting a hill. Civilization. Anyplace with Kwik Trip stations every three blocks is civilized, you see. While I personally do not cope well with the wide-open spaces, and being for-real scared, I thoroughly enjoy being pretend-scared from the comfort of a rented room while on vacation. If I can see woods from the room, all the better. Below, I listed several books with spooky woods featuring heavily in the plot. 

Small Spaces (2018) by Katherine Arden
Horror isn’t just for adults. That’s right, children can and should have the everloving hell scared out of them on the odd occasion. Books are a great way to scare your children. For instance, Small Spaces deals with the horror of grief as well as the more existential threat of wood-dwelling creatures that come out in the dark to eat you. Scary! Small Spaces is the first in a horror trilogy and I really think Arden gave us all a little gift with these books since parents and kids will both enjoy the series. The stakes are high and the woods are dark and dreadful. Age up with Arden and check out her gorgeous Winternight Trilogy which is basically Russian fairy tales updated for a mature readership. Save it for cold weather, tho. 

In the Woods (2007) by Tana French
This is the first book in Tana French’s beloved Dublin Murder Squad series. One of my favorite tropes in mystery fiction is when the traumatized youth grows up to be seemingly well-adjusted but then must confront the source of their trauma. In this case, the protagonist’s childhood friend vanished without a trace twenty years earlier and now a similar crime has happened in the same woods. Dublin Murder Squad books can be read in any order, but I think In the Woods is the right place to start this astonishing series. 

Near the Bone (2021) by Christina Henry
I love books about wreaking revenge on terrible men. I like books about monsters and being scared in the woods. Near the Bone combines all of these elements to great effect. A young woman and her husband live far away from civilization in the mountains. The man controls the woman’s every movement and has done for a very long time until an unseen and howling beast throws his carefully isolated life into chaos. Perhaps the unseen terror in the woods will mean salvation from the known horror of the young woman’s captor.

Watchers (1987) by Dean Koontz
This is not a good book, but it was a GREAT vacation read. The premise hooked me right away. Our protagonist crosses paths with a friendly golden retriever who manages to warn him from walking any further into the Oregon foothills. See, the golden retriever is super smart, see, and the laboratory that created him also made this super smart malevolent thing, right, that is basically the evil counterpart to the very good boy golden retriever, see. Oh and also the dog can tell if people are good or evil. And also also the creature has a psychic link with the dog! And it stalks the man and the dog! And there is a pretty lady in need of rescuing! I liked this book for a vacation read because it required very little brain power to enjoy or understand. My main criticism is that Koontz should refrain from writing sex scenes. This book came out in 1987 so maybe he got better at it, but lord was I a-cringing. 

In a Dark, Dark Wood (2015) by Ruth Ware
The best mysteries feature isolated locales, unreliable narrators, and lots of wild twists and turns. Ruth Ware has a knack for just such a mystery. In A Dark, Dark Wood takes place of course, in the middle of an isolated wooded English settlement. A group of old friends gathers for a traditional “hen do” and piss-up before one of them gets hitched. Things start out fun enough but then something goes very, very wrong. How did the power get cut off if no one can come in or out? If a stranger came into the house, where are their footprints in the snow? And it goes on like that. Most satisfying.

Here are some additional spooky woods-adjacent books to enjoy from the safety of your hotel room. Poolside enjoyment is also acceptable:

The Box in the Woods (2021) by Maureen Johnson

The Twisted Ones (2019) by T. Kingfisher

Spider Lake (2019) by Jeff Nania

The Shadows (2020) by Alex North

Uprooted (2015) by Naomi Novick

Please, enjoy camping on my behalf. Just like Homer Simpson, I prefer to be where my food and bed is. If none of the above titles hold any appeal, please reach out to us for book recommendations or consider using our book recommendation tool Your Next Five Books which will provide you with personalized book picks. Either way, we love hearing from you.

Posted in Adult, Biography & Memoir, Fiction, Mystery, Nonfiction, Thrillers

While You Wait VI: The House Across the Lake and Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive

Two more popular books with some readalikes! Unsurprisingly, the popular fiction book is a new thriller – it’s one of our most popular genres. The non-fiction book was more of a surprise. It sounds interesting – a woman’s memoir of working as a maid to support her family – but it’s a few years old at this point. I’m not sure why it suddenly has a hold list again, but there you go – perhaps it’s just gotten some very good word-of-mouth!

The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager

Casey Fletcher, a recently widowed actress trying to escape a streak of bad press, has retreated to the peace and quiet of her family’s lake house in Vermont. Armed with a pair of binoculars and several bottles of bourbon, she passes the time watching Tom and Katherine Royce, the glamorous couple living in the house across the lake. They make for good viewing—a tech innovator, Tom is powerful; and a former model, Katherine is gorgeous.

One day on the lake, Casey saves Katherine from drowning, and the two strike up a budding friendship. But the more they get to know each other—and the longer Casey watches—it becomes clear that Katherine and Tom’s marriage isn’t as perfect as it appears. When Katherine suddenly vanishes, Casey immediately suspects Tom of foul play. What she doesn’t realize is that there’s more to the story than meets the eye—and that shocking secrets can lurk beneath the most placid of surfaces.

Continue reading “While You Wait VI: The House Across the Lake and Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive”
Posted in Adult, Fiction, Historical, Horror, New & Upcoming, Romance, Science Fiction, Thrillers

Library Reads July 2022

Every month, librarians across the country pick the ten upcoming titles they’re most excited to read. This month’s picks include a deliciously creepy take on Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, the story of an 8 year old girl forced to attend Weight Watchers, and a pair of romance novels that grapple with the intersection of love and mental health.

Top Pick: What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

A retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher, Kingfisher’s latest adds the
creepiest of flesh to the bare-bones tale by Poe. Complete with a scary,
isolated mansion and eerie behaviors of the residents, this version not only
makes perfect sense within the original narrative, but adds a depth of
understanding that suddenly makes all the pieces fall into place. For fans of
Mexican Gothic, The Haunting of Hill House, and The Night Stranger. —Sheri Stanley, Gulfport Library

Continue reading “Library Reads July 2022”
Posted in Adult, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Science Fiction, Teen & Young Adult

Best Beach Reads According to ME

Despite preferring to sit very still, even indoor kids like me enjoy summer weather. We might not want to move around very much, but we have our ways of utilizing the longer, warmer, brighter days. For instance, when the weather warms up I go a little bananas and fill my backpack with snacks, a blanket, and books to take with me to the beach. I find someplace in the shade (we burn easily, you see) and make myself comfortable. Since Lake Michigan is conveniently close, and since Sheboygan has minimum three beautiful beaches to lounge on, I never have to think very hard about how to spend my days off. Parking isn’t a problem and my gas bill doesn’t exist because I ride my bike. This is what my low-maintenance summers are shaped like and it never gets old. Below, I listed several fantastic books that pair nicely with summer escapism. For book recommendations that are tailored to a specific taste, please consider using Mead Library’s Your Next Five Books book recommendation service. 

Continue reading “Best Beach Reads According to ME”
Posted in Adult, Biography & Memoir, Fiction, Mystery, Nonfiction, Thrillers

While You Wait V: The It Girl and Out of the Corner: A Memoir

It’s the start of a new month, and I’ve got another selection of two popular books (with waitlists, of course!) as well as a few things to tide you over while you wait. It’s not surprising that Ruth Ware has another book that everyone is dying to read; if you like thrilling mysteries and intricate plots, you should definitely check this out. And on the non-fiction side, actress Jennifer Grey has a memoir coming out that will take you from 1970s Malibu through 1980s Hollywood and all the way up to her present hard-won life.

The It Girl by Ruth Ware

Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends—Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily—during their first term. By the end of the year, April was dead.

Now, a decade later, Hannah and Will are expecting their first child, and the man convicted of killing April, former Oxford porter John Neville, has died in prison. Relieved to have finally put the past behind her, Hannah’s world is rocked when a young journalist comes knocking and presents new evidence that Neville may have been innocent. As Hannah reconnects with old friends and delves deeper into the mystery of April’s death, she realizes that the friends she thought she knew all have something to hide…including a murder.

Continue reading “While You Wait V: The It Girl and Out of the Corner: A Memoir”
Posted in Adult, Bookish Bingo, Teen & Young Adult

Mid-year Bookish Bingo Check-in

It will be June four days after this post goes up. Almost impossibly, the sixth month of the year is already at hand. How have you treated your time so far in 2022? Did you spend time with the ones you love? Did you learn anything new from watching Wheel of Fortune? Did you mark off any squares on your 2022 Bookish Bingo Challenge? If so, awesome! If not, there is a whole other half a year left to reach your bingo reading goals. 

To keep the bingo challenge exciting, and to assess who is reading the Mead blog, I would like to give the first five people to email me a super secret and valuable prize. Email  publicservices@meadpl.org by July 10th to get in on the prize action. Your email should include at least one book that checked off one square of the Bookish Bingo 2022 card. That means even if you haven’t marked off a single square til June, you can still win a fabulous prize. Just like on Wheel. 

Below, I explore some approaches to crossing off a square on your Bingo card to help get the reading challenge juices flowing:

Little Free Library

Read a book from a Little Free Library

This might be my favorite square. There are no limits beyond the receptacle from which you find your book. It’s hard to walk more than a few blocks in Sheboygan without encountering a Little Free Library. There’s a map one can refer to in order to find the “official” LFLs throughout Sheboygan. This means the LFL “host” has officially registered with the Little Free Library organization. Take a look at the map HERE. It’s not required to register and you will find many fold more “unofficial” Little Free Libraries than the official ones listed on the map. My personal favorites in Sheboygan include the one outside the John Michael Kohler Arts Center on the 6th Street-side, the one on the corner of 7th and St. Claire, and the one near the YMCA. Not to say these are the BEST, they just happen to appeal to me, personally. 

Read a memoir by a comedian

Yes, Seth Rogan was only a standup during his teenage years before landing his first starring role on Freaks and Geeks, but lord was this book good, so I am including it. I LOLed so hard I cried at several passages. Also, if you have the means, I am begging you to listen to this in audio format. The cast of famous voices is staggering and I had to keep looking up if the person I was hearing was the person I thought it was. 

That’s the thing about comedian memoirs, though. They tend to translate very well into audio productions. We see a similar effect with the work of Amy Poehler (Yes Please; 2014), Tina Fey (Bossypants; 2011), and Steve Martin (Born Standing Up; 2007). Below, I listed several other highly acclaimed comedian-penned memoirs that can be found on Hoopla or Overdrive/Libby, in addition to the hard copy:

  • The Last Black Unicorn (2017) by Tiffany Haddish
  • Fresh Off the Boat (2013) by Eddie Huang
  • Why Not Me? (2015) by Mindy Kaling
  • Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (2012) by Jenny Lawson
  • Dear Girls (2019) by Ali Wong

You’re in luck if you enjoy the above work and want more, since most of the authors I listed have published more than one humorous title. In the case of Steve Martin, he’s also published more “traditional” fiction offerings such as his 2000 novella Shopgirl. It never hurts to investigate back catalogs, in any case.

Read a book about food that isn’t a cookbook, or the food memoir, as it were

Cookbooks are excellent for reading, don’t get me wrong, but the food memoir is where it’s at for some deep and delicious narrative goodness. Julia Child was a wonderful writer and the memoir of her time in France is such a delight. The “warbling giantess” is so full of curiosity, humor, warmth, and SNARK! that is not always evident when watching her on one of her many iconic cooking shows. Julia has several non-cookbook-books to her name, but if you aren’t a Child stan like I am, perhaps one of the below titles would be of interest:

  • The Man Who Ate Too Much: The Life of James Beard (2020) by John Birdsall
  • Kitchen Confidential (2000) by Anthony Bourdain
  • How to Cook a Wolf (1942) by MFK Fisher
  • Garlic and Sapphires (2005) by Ruth Reichl
  • The Cooking Gene (2017) by Michael Twitty

If you are in need of a 2022 bingo card stop into the library and ask at the first floor desk. If you have completed a row across, down, or diagonally, submit your sheet at the first floor desk to receive a small prize. Bingo cards that are completely full will be entered into a drawing at the end of 2022 for a big prize. In the meantime, don’t forget to email me at publicservces@meadpl.org for a crack at receiving a mid-year bingo incentive! In lieu of that, we are always happy to help find books that fit bingo squares, or for any reading goal you have in mind. Please also consider using our book recommendation tool Your Next Five Books which can be found HERE.