Every December, hundreds of librarians from across the country vote for their favorite books of the year. This year’s picks include a romance in which the heroine’s fiercely career-driven outlook doesn’t get sacrificed for her love interest, a genetic scifi thriller, and a locked-room mystery set in an upscale hotel.
Nora Stephens’ life is books—she’s read them all—and she is not that type of heroine. Not the plucky one, not the laidback dream girl, and especially not the sweetheart. In fact, the only people Nora is a heroine for are her clients, for whom she lands enormous deals as a cutthroat literary agent, and her beloved little sister Libby.
Which is why she agrees to go to Sunshine Falls, North Carolina for the month of August when Libby begs her for a sisters’ trip away—with visions of a small-town transformation for Nora, who she’s convinced needs to become the heroine in her own story. But instead of picnics in meadows, or run-ins with a handsome country doctor or bulging-forearmed bartender, Nora keeps bumping into Charlie Lastra, a bookish brooding editor from back in the city.
Every month, librarians from across the country pick the 10 upcoming releases they’re most excited to read. This month’s picks include a thriller set in Paris, a story about “the other woman” in Agatha Christie’s marriage, two queer romances, and a mystery revolving around the theft of a Stradivarius violin.
Foley hits it out of the ballpark with this solid thriller set in a Paris apartment building. Jess goes looking for her brother, but finds only the smell of bleach and a broken St. Christopher medal lodged in the floorboards. Written in short chapters with multiple points of view and delicious secrets dropped along the way, this gripping, wild ride is impossible to put down. If you like Liane Moriarty or Ruth Ware, pick this one up. —LibraryReads review by Douglas Beatty, Baltimore County Public Library
The summer run of books are frequently called “beach reads,” but hammocks are really where it’s at. You don’t have to leave your backyard to enjoy a hammock; it’s typically shaded; and you never get sand in weird places. From real life secrets to a snarky send up of #girlboss wellness culture to a rom-com in a book, here are 6 titles perfect for reading while stretched out in a hammock with a cold drink in reach on a lazy summer day.
Known for expressing her wit and social commentary through her characters, Jane Austen is a staple of classrooms and beloved by many. But for readers new to Austen, the language can feel challenging and lots of sneaky jokes get lost along the way. (Consider: a character preaching about the importance of frugality while renting the carriage equivalent of an Audi.) Modern retellings can reframe those jokes in a way that doesn’t require extensive knowledge of 1800s British customs, or offer a fresh take for those who know Austen’s works well. For longtime Austen fans and newcomers alike, here are 6 adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels.
The Austen Project: Emma by Alexander McCall Smith & Eligble by Curtis Sittenfeld
The Austen Project brings Jane Austen into the present day. Eligible imagines Elizabeth as a writer for a magazine and Jane as a yoga instructor in New York. After their father has a health scare, the daughters return to their childhood city of Cincinnati to find the home in disrepair and a mother determined to marry off Jane before her 40th birthday.
In Emma, the titular character returns home from university to start her career in interior design. While she plans to get her business off the ground, she uses her free time to offer guidance to those she deems less wise in the ways of the world than she is – and she includes nearly everyone in Highbury in that tally.
I love Christmas, but usually, by this time of the year, I’m done with all the cute and cuddly stuff. Or at least that’s my excuse for why most of my favorite Christmas movies are spooky. If you’re looking for a festive movie that’s lower in sugary sweetness, give these a shot.
From the opening montage alone, Krampus won my heart. Seeing people deck each over a toy during Black Friday sets the tone of Krampus. This is a movie that borrows the moralistic slasher rules of older horror movies, like Friday the 13th, and applies that framework to Christmas. Being greedy and only wanting presents? Watch out for Krampus. Bullying your cousin? Watch out for Krampus. It’s refreshing to have a Christmas movie that brings up that the holiday isn’t very jolly anymore and gives us a better reason than coal to be good.
Last month, I gave recommendations of graphic novels for early readers. This month, I have graphic novel recommendations with more complex storylines that are best suited for kids ages 8-12 years old. Though they are certainly not limited to these ages – teens and adults may enjoy them too! Fluency and reading stamina are more established for this age group. While these readers may be at a higher reading level, some may still be reluctant to read traditional chapter books – or they may simply enjoy the visual appeal of graphic novels. In either case, graphic novels are a great option! The full-length stories in the following graphic novels are longer and have more challenging vocabulary, but still have sequenced pictures paired with the text to allow readers to easily follow the plot of the story.
This fast paced and engaging sci-fi/fantasy story, with beautiful illustrations is the first book in the series. War erupts and Oona Lee – a clumsy sand dancer, with the aid of an athlete, and a boy from the slums team up on a quest to save their world. Oona learns a lot about herself during their quest and gains control over her powers, leading to victory…for now.
The Boy Who Crashed to Earth is the first book in the science fiction Hilo series. DJ comes from a family of high-achievers, while he feels like he isn’t good at anything. His life changes when he meets Hilo, the loveable robot from an unknown origin, who falls to Earth. DJ and his friend Gina must help Hilo figure out his identity and save the world in this funny and action-packed story.
The Stonekeeper is the first book in the sci-fi/fantasy Amulet series. This story is a bit dark and intense at times, but exciting and fast-paced. Emily and Navin lose their father in a tragic accident, and then a while later they move with their mother to their great-grandfather’s abandoned house for a fresh start. Things take a strange turn pretty quickly when their mother disappears. The children track her down in an underground world full of strange creatures. An epic adventure ensues as they bravely battle to rescue their mother.
Phoebe releases the unicorn, Marigold Heavenly Nostrils, from a magic spell and is granted one wish. She wishes to become best friends! Readers will enjoy this witty story of the friendship between an awkward girl and an arrogant unicorn. This book has simple but expressive illustrations and is the first book in this lighthearted series.
Astrid has always done everything with her best friend Nicole, until Astrid decides to sign up for roller derby camp and Nicole signs up for dance camp instead. Astrid has to learn how to be strong on her own, and push through insecurities and self-doubt. This is a great story about perseverance, changing friendships, and becoming your own person at a vulnerable point in life.