It’s no surprise to find a novel that’s been chosen for Oprah’s Book Club at the top of our most-requested books, and that’s the case with The Covenant of Water. I was pretty surprised at our top nonfiction book, however – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a travel book so high up on the list before! It does make sense, however, given the time of year – this might be the perfect season to get out for some Wisconsin road trip fun.
Spanning the years 1900 to 1977, The Covenant of Water is set in Kerala, on South India’s Malabar Coast, and follows three generations of a family that suffers a peculiar affliction: in every generation, at least one person dies by drowning—and in Kerala, water is everywhere. At the turn of the century, a twelve-year-old girl from Kerala’s long-existing Christian community, grieving the death of her father, is sent by boat to her wedding, where she will meet her forty-year-old husband for the first time. From this unforgettable new beginning, the young girl—and future matriarch, known as Big Ammachi—will witness unthinkable changes over the span of her extraordinary life, full of joy and triumph as well as hardship and loss, her faith and love the only constants.
Every month, librarians from across the country pick the upcoming book releases they’re most excited to get their hands on. This month, we have a re-telling of Pinocchio full of quirky and charming characters, a thriller set in the classical music world, a humorous anti-heist novel, and three tales of horrors that move unseen, including one set aboard a spaceship.
Clearly if you need a book about a robot that’s guaranteed to have you break out into heaving sobs, this is the novel for you. Klune’s masterful retelling of Pinocchio — a little bit science fiction, a little bit dystopian, and a little bit book-clubby–is a sure-fire winner with so much appeal on so many levels it should prompt readers of all genres to step into something new and original. For fans of The Maker of Swans and The Night Circus. —Douglas Beatty, Baltimore County Public Library
Sheboygan has been hit with all the snow and cold! What a great time to curl up with a book and hot beverage. Not sure what to read? Create chills without leaving the comfort of your home with these winter thrillers.
Click the titles below to view the selections in our online catalog.
Think you know the person you married? Think again… Things have been wrong with Mr and Mrs Wright for a long time. When Adam and Amelia win a weekend away to Scotland, it might be just what their marriage needs. Self-confessed workaholic and screenwriter Adam Wright has lived with face blindness his whole life. He can’t recognize friends or family, or even his own wife. Every anniversary the couple exchange traditional gifts–paper, cotton, pottery, tin–and each year Adam’s wife writes him a letter that she never lets him read. Until now. They both know this weekend will make or break their marriage, but they didn’t randomly win this trip. One of them is lying, and someone doesn’t want them to live happily ever after. Ten years of marriage. Ten years of secrets. And an anniversary they will never forget.
When reclusive writer Leonora is invited to the English countryside for a weekend away, she reluctantly agrees to make the trip. But as the first night falls, revelations unfold among friends old and new, an unnerving memory shatters Leonora’s reserve, and a haunting realization creeps in: the party is not alone in the woods.
Ruth Ware’s debut novel secured her place among the best modern thriller authors.
A weekend retreat at a cozy mountain lodge is supposed to be the perfect getaway. But when the storm hits, no one is getting away. It’s winter in the Catskills and Mitchell’s Inn, nestled deep in the woods, is the perfect setting for a relaxing maybe even romantic weekend away. It boasts spacious old rooms with huge wood burning fireplaces, a well-stocked wine cellar, and opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or just curling up with a good murder mystery. So when the weather takes a turn for the worse, and a blizzard cuts off the electricity and all contact with the outside world the guests settle in for the long haul. Soon, though, one of the guests turns up dead it looks like an accident. But when a second guest dies, they start to panic. Within the snowed-in paradise, something or someone is picking off the guests one by one. And there’s nothing they can do but hunker down and hope they can survive the storm.
In this propulsive locked-room thriller debut, a reunion weekend in the French Alps turns deadly when five friends discover that someone has deliberately stranded them at their remote mountaintop resort during a snowstorm. When Milla accepts an off-season invitation to Le Rocher, a cozy ski resort in the French Alps, she’s expecting an intimate weekend of catching up with four old friends. Yet no sooner do Milla and the others arrive for the reunion than they realize something is horribly wrong. Stranded in the deserted resort, Milla’s not sure what’s worse: the increasingly sinister things happening around her or the looming snowstorm that’s making escape even more impossible. All she knows is that there’s no one on the mountain she can trust.
On the way home to Utah to see her sick mother, college student Darby Thorne is stranded by a blizzard at a highway rest stop in the Colorado Rockies. She’ll have to spend the night in a rest stop in the middle of nowhere with four complete strangers. Then she stumbles across a little girl locked inside an animal crate in the back of a van. There is no cell phone reception, no telephone, no way out because of the snow, and she doesn’t know which of the other travelers is the kidnapper …
No Exit already has a movie adaption that is available on Hulu.
Descriptions and images provided by the publisher.
In December, the popular upcoming fiction book was a thriller, and the non-fiction book was a celebrity memoir. And in January… it looks like people are hankering for more of the same! Get on those waitlists now, and check out our readalikes in the meantime!
Maya was a high school senior when her best friend, Aubrey, mysteriously dropped dead in front of the enigmatic man named Frank whom they’d been spending time with all summer.
Seven years later, Maya lives in Boston with a loving boyfriend and is kicking the secret addiction that has allowed her to cope with what happened years ago, the gaps in her memories, and the lost time that she can’t account for. But her past comes rushing back when she comes across a recent YouTube video in which a young woman suddenly keels over and dies in a diner while sitting across from none other than Frank. Plunged into the trauma that has defined her life, Maya heads to her Berkshires hometown to relive that fateful summer—the influence Frank once had on her and the obsessive jealousy that nearly destroyed her friendship with Aubrey.
At her mother’s house, she excavates fragments of her past and notices hidden messages in her deceased Guatemalan father’s book that didn’t stand out to her earlier. To save herself, she must understand a story written before she was born, but time keeps running out, and soon, all roads are leading back to Frank’s cabin. . . .
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.
The books that everyone in Sheboygan is waiting for in December are a new thriller (always a popular genre to curl up with in winter) and, perhaps unsurprisingly, another celebrity memoir – this time from Prince Harry, coinciding with the new Netflix documentary. Both of these books have long waitlists, so get on them now – and, while you wait, check out some of our suggested read-alikes!
What could be more restful than a weekend getaway with family and friends? An isolated luxury cabin in the woods, spectacular views, a hot tub and a personal chef. Hannah’s generous brother found the listing online. The reviews are stellar. It’ll be three couples on this trip with good food, good company and lots of R & R.
But the dreamy weekend is about to turn into a nightmare.
A deadly storm is brewing. The rental host seems just a little too present. The personal chef reveals that their beautiful house has a spine-tingling history. And the friends have their own complicated past, with secrets that run blood deep.
How well does Hannah know her brother, her own husband? Can she trust her best friend? Meanwhile, someone is determined to ruin the weekend, looking to exact a payback for deeds long buried. Who is the stranger among them?
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!
Olivia McAfee knows what it feels like to start over. Her picture-perfect life—living in Boston, married to a brilliant cardiothoracic surgeon, raising a beautiful son, Asher—was upended when her husband revealed a darker side. She never imagined she would end up back in her sleepy New Hampshire hometown, living in the house she grew up in, and taking over her father’s beekeeping business.
Lily Campanello is familiar with do-overs, too. When she and her mom relocate to Adams, New Hampshire, for her final year of high school, they both hope it will be a fresh start.
And for just a short while, these new beginnings are exactly what Olivia and Lily need. Their paths cross when Asher falls for the new girl in school, and Lily can’t help but fall for him, too. With Ash, she feels happy for the first time. Yet at times, she wonders if she can trust him completely…
Then one day, Olivia receives a phone call: Lily is dead, and Asher is being questioned by the police. Olivia is adamant that her son is innocent. But she would be lying if she didn’t acknowledge the flashes of his father’s temper in him, and as the case against him unfolds, she realizes he’s hidden more than he’s shared with her.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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