fiction

Jul 12, 2022

Welcome to #NewTitleTuesday, where we take a peek at a new title that hits the publishing world this week!


At the very height of summer, with outdoor temperatures at their peak, some patrons might need a book with a slightly slower pace.  Not a romance that burns up the pages with passion, or a thriller that burns up the pages with an edgy page. No, some patrons want something a bit cooler, a bit slower, something that immerses them in a story that serves as a cool, comfortable bath to take the edge off during these summer months. Your public library - and author Viola Shipman - has just

The cover of True Biz by Sara Novic

True Biz

By Sara Nović
4
Rated by Allison M
May 20, 2022

True Biz by Sara Nović is a book that taught me so much about Deaf culture and the breadth of deaf experiences. The narrative follows several characters at the fictional River Valley School for the Deaf. In between chapters, Nović includes excerpts of nonfiction about Deaf history and American Sign Language (ASL), complete with drawn diagrams of signing. This spotlight on Deaf culture is what makes True Biz a gem of a book, even if I thought some of the storytelling was less than perfect.


Nović has given us several characters who all experience deafness in different ways; there are three

A Wish in the Dark book cover

A Wish in the Dark

By Christina Soontornvat
5
Rated by Kristen Re.
May 11, 2022

“Those who are born in darkness always return.”


 


A Wish in the Dark meshes fantasy and adventure, set in a place similar to Thailand.  The journey begins for Pong, an orphan who was born in Namwon Prison, when he makes his escape when he’s 12-years- old.  The next four years Pong lives in a temple with monks, which is in a village outside the city of Chattana.  Father Cham becomes his father figure and mentor.  He teaches Pong about trusting himself and how to navigate his new freedom.


The Governor of Chattana powers the city with magic orbs that give light, heat, and power.  Who

Cover of THE HACIENDA by Isabel Cañas

The Hacienda

By Isabel Cañas
0
Rated by Gregg W.
May 10, 2022

Hello and welcome to #NewTitleTuesday, where we take a look at a new release in the publishing world that will hopefully be a welcome addition to your holds lists.


Today marks the debut of THE HACIENDA by Isabel Cañas, a dark, glittering gem of a debut novel that's already drawing comparisons to Daphne du Maurier's REBECCA by way of Silvia Moreno-Garcia's MEXICAN GOTHIC. This novel, a gothic suspense thriller with hints of the supernatural, is delightfully atmospheric and perfect for those who like thrills and chills that tiptoe up to the line to horror bet never actually crosses that line

The cover to Slow Horses by Mick Herron

Slow Horses

By Mick Herron
5
Rated by Matt I.
Mar 28, 2022

Slough House is the dumping ground of the British Secret Services. Left a briefcase filled with state secrets on the bus, accidentally punched the Prime Minister's wife or nearly blown up a major metropolitan train station during a training exercise? Then Slough House is where you end up; doing stultifying and demeaning administrative tasks under the baleful eye of station commander Jackson Lamb (think a bitter and burned out James Bond).


The Slow Horses are only around until they can be made to quit, or get back into the good graces of their higher ups at MI6.


The first in a series of

Superman and the Authority

Superman and the Authority

By Grant Morrison, Mikel Janín, Jordie Bellaire, and others
4
Rated by Josh N.
Mar 25, 2022

This is Grant Morrison’s superhero swan song, as they bow out of writing DC and Marvel superheroes after decades of producing some of the weirdest, most colorful, most imaginative mainstream comics. Superman and the Authority makes a good finale for their time with DC. An aging Superman, his powers waning as he gets older, his idealism tempered somewhat by a sense of practicality, assembles a group of younger, edgier supers (including one of his biggest detractors, the villain/anti-hero Manchester Black) to help him save the world in ways the Justice League would probably avoid.


Superman is

Mar 18, 2022

I have not loved a book this much in a very, very long time. I have to be careful about saying that though because it immediately sets the bar at an almost impossible level. This book landed in my hands at exactly the right time. It was the first book I’d been able to read read (as opposed to listen to on audio) since having a baby. With my daughter finally sleeping through the night and in her own room, I was once again able to curl up with a book in bed and let my not-quite-as-sleep deprived brain travel to another place.


This book immediately brought up the same emotions I felt while

Mar 8, 2022

Welcome to #NewTitleTuesday at the Johnson County Library where we take a closer look at a new book that's hitting the shelves. In THE LAST CONFESSIONS OF SYLVIA P., author Lee Kravitz constructs a dazzling literary mystery revolving around the perspectives of three characters, all with a connection to author and poet Sylvia Plath, who died tragically by suicide in 1963. Interweaving fiction and reality from different times of Plath's life, Kravitz's novel is going to be in heavy demand from book groups.


The book kicks off with the story of Estee, a historian and curator of a small Boston

Mar 1, 2022

Light Years From Home by Mike Chen is a family drama with science fiction flavor. If you’re looking for hard sci-fi with intricately plotted space escapades, this is not the book for you. What this book is instead is a very real, intimate tale of a family with a lot of issues - only one of which is aliens.


The Shao family was always a little dysfunctional, but the real turning point in their lives is when Jakob Shao goes missing for 15 years. Jakob’s father claims that he was abducted by aliens and hopes to bring him home. Little sister Evie is drawn into this “conspiracy,” working with

Feb 8, 2022

LOVE & SAFFRON: A NOVEL OF FRIENDSHIP, FOOD, AND LOVE by Kim Fay might well be this year's word-of-mouth breakout novel - the sort of novel that never makes a big splash on the bestseller lists, but lurks just beneath the surface by building a slow, steady, and loyal following, recommended from patron to patron, and book club participant to book club participant. It has that kind of vibe. Plus, it's an epistolary novel, which, when done well, are special little slices of literary heaven for readers. They draw us into a magical, insulated world that's only inhabited by the communication between

Jan 4, 2022

Welcome to 2022's first edition of #NewTitleTuesday, where we take a look at a new title released today that hits the publishing world - and patrons' holds lists. One of January's standouts, heralded by prominent literary voices including Publisher's Weekly and the New York Times, is FIONA AND JANE, a striking literary debut from Jean Chen Ho. 


A novel in stories centered around the friendship of two young Taiwanese-American women that stretches over twenty years as they navigate love, relationships, careers, and ambition as they begin as friends in grade school and grow up over remarkable

Dec 28, 2021

A good thriller isn't written so much as it's carefully constructed. Out of all the other literary genres - with the exception of romance - a thriller is a constant high-wire act, with the author having to carefully balance the drama on the page against what the reader expects. Not only does a good thriller keeps the reader guessing, but it also keeps the reader WANTING, hanging on every page, until the promise of the book is fulfilled, with the thing in these sorts of books that's always under threat is either saved or brought back to the light.


Thrillers used to be the domain of crime and

Dec 7, 2021

Welcome back to our (mostly) weekly series, #NewTitleTuesday, where we take a brief look at a book that's released out into the world. We usually don't spotlight books destined to hit the New York Times bestseller list or books already claimed by celebrities with online book clubs, as they already have enough attention. (But seriously, Reese, if you're reading - call us! We'll talk books!) Instead, we like to spotlight books just slightly under the radar. Books with reasonable holds lists that are less than, say, five hundred people long.


Happy book birthday to TELL ME HOW TO BE by Neel

Nov 30, 2021

Welcome to #NewTitleTuesday, where we take a brief look at a new title that's hitting the shelves - and patrons' holds lists - at your library.


I always love spotlighting fantasy novels, however it can sometimes be a difficult thing, as fantasy novels often come in a series, so patrons rarely want to jump in to the third book in a series if they haven't read the first two yet, but in this particular case, the series is so strong, I might have to make an exception. Or, better yet, point you toward the FIRST book in the series to get you set up for the latest installment. Today markes the

Nov 16, 2021

We have plenty of patrons here at the Johnson County Library who love a good thriller. Sure, domestic and psychological thrillers still dominate the bestseller lists, but patrons are not always looking for secrets and lies set amongst deteriorating marriages and otherwise-idyllic suburban settings. We're talking old-school thrillers, where one person - or several people - are on the run from bad people with even worse intentions. Novels like these are great at keeping the pages turning and the plot humming along; with a good thriller that's fast-paced, stocked with memorable characters, and

Picture of stormy sky with black/purple clouds on top of a dry dusty landscape in west Texas. Title is in white, all capital letters across the clouds.

Valentine

By Wetmore, Elizabeth
4
Rated by Lisa H
Nov 8, 2021

Valentine, by Elizabeth Wetmore is a hauntingly powerful, and beautiful debut novel set in Odessa, Texas in 1976. Wetmore has created four main characters with deep narratives, and all intertwined in ways that make the reader truly understand them in various ways. The detailed characterizations help to draw an accurate divide between age, class and race in west Texas in the mid-1970’s.


The story takes an emotional toll, right from the start when Gloria Ramirez, a fourteen-year-old Hispanic girl, who projects a tough-girl image, is attacked and raped after getting into a stranger’s truck. So

Jun 7, 2021

The Girl with the Louding Voice, by Abi Dare, is a powerfully unforgettable story about Adunni, a 14-year-old Nigerian girl who wants nothing more than to go to school and become a teacher. Her mother encourages her to continue with her education and find not just her voice but her “louding voice”. Adunni’s life becomes hard and arduous after her mother’s death when her father, who is in need of money for himself and her brothers to survive, “sells” her to a much older man to be his third wife. What follows is a life of abuse and misery and a discontinuation of her schooling. Throughout her

Cover depicts woman in different ages of her life; all out of order.

Oona Out Of Order

By Margarita Montimore
5
Rated by Heather C
Jun 4, 2021

If you are a fan of The Time Traveler's Wife,  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and/or The Two Lives of Lydia Bird you should give Oona Out of Order a try.  (And if you haven't checked out any of the previously mentioned titles, you should!)  The novel was published in the early part of 2020 (in the Before Times) and may have slipped by unnoticed.  It's a hard book to explain because time travel but not in your typical sense and yet it was easy to fall in love with Oona and her story.


"By turns tragic and triumphant, heartbreakingly poignant and joyful, this is ultimately an

We Were the Lucky Ones cover. Man and woman sit on bench with their backs facing us.

We Were the Lucky Ones

By Georgia Hunter
5
Rated by Kari E.
Apr 30, 2021

What a book. What a story. What a family. The Kurcs are a Polish family who will not let the cruelty and dehumanizing Nazi and Soviet rule crush their spirit.  


We see babies born, weddings, and a family desperately wishing they were all together again. They feel lucky just to be with one another.  We follow the lives of the Kurc families’ five children through the war.  


Addy moved to France to finish his studies and stayed after finding a job. Now, he cannot return to Poland because there is no safe way to get there and he doesn’t have the right paperwork. His one hopeful thought is

Lovecraft County

Lovecraft Country

By Matt Ruff
4
Rated by Karyn H
Apr 22, 2021

I’m what we librarians call a gentle horror reader.  I’m fascinated by the supernatural but can’t handle graphic violence or gore.  I normally indulge in juvenile scary stories or classics like Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.  I heard a lot of buzz around Matt Ruff’s horror novel, Lovecraft County, after the release of the critically acclaimed HBO drama series adaptation, created by Misha Green.  The premise of resilient and intelligent African American characters grappling with racism and the supernatural in the 1950s intrigued me.  This was the perfect horror novel to

Influence by Sara Shepard

Influence

By Sara Shepard & Lilia Buckingham
4
Rated by Heather Mi.
Apr 1, 2021

It’s perfect, but is it real? Influence follows the lives of four teen influencers who live what seem like perfect lives: Delilah Rollins, a newbie who shot to fame after posting a viral video, Jasmine Walters-Diaz, a former child star who’s tired of hiding her real self, Fiona Jacobs, an aspiring actress who harbors a dark secret from her past, and Scarlet Leigh, the quintessential mean girl of the group. In the whirlwind of events and auditions and shoots, the tension escalates and one of the girls ends up dead. As the other girls try to root out the killer, they are reminded again and again

Book Cover

Deacon King Kong

By James McBride
5
Rated by Chris K.
Feb 2, 2021

Deacon King Kong is a sort of love letter to a few blocks of New York City projects in 1969, and to the endearing cast of colorful characters brimming with personality. McBride has a magical touch bringing to life the adage everyone has a story. His descriptions are vivid, engrossing, and entertaining, giving both people and setting depth and truth. His dialogue, as well. It's a hard setting full of people living hard, flawed lives. McBride never ducks the grit and grime, violence and suffering, yet still manages to find some measure of joy and an abundance of humor. He paints a breathing

Airplane over open water

After Elias

By Eddy Boudel Tan
5
Rated by Heather C
Jan 7, 2021

Truly one of the best books I've read this year. Very few books can balance heart wrenching grief as well as a mystery; a suspenseful thriller if you will.


Coen Caraway and Elias Santos are engaged to be married in a beautiful resort in Mexico. Just days before the wedding, with guests already en route, the plane Elias is co-piloting crashes into the ocean.  The last words heard on the 'black box' leave more questions than answers and Coen must now plan a memorial instead of a wedding.  


He tells friends and family that if they don’t believe in Elias’s innocence to not bother coming to

Blacktop Wasteland book cover

Blacktop Wasteland

By S.A. Cosby
5
Rated by Kristen Re.
Dec 10, 2020

“There was no honor among thieves. Boys in the game only respected you in direct proportion to how much they needed you divided by how much they feared you.”


Blacktop Wasteland is full of action and suspense.  Just when you think it may let up, S.A. Cosby shifts the action into another gear.  It is a nonstop adrenaline rush (You know it’s going to be good when the book starts out with a drag race). 


We ride along with Beauregard “Bug” Montage, who is a complex character with many titles: father, husband, son, car mechanic, and getaway driver. He struggles providing an honest living for

Picture of the back of a woman in a red coat sitting on a park bench with a gray sky and tree branches in the background.

The End of Her

By Lapena, Shari
4
Rated by Lisa H
Nov 10, 2020

The End of Her by Shari Lapena is a psychological, domestic suspense novel that is fast-paced and full of secrets, surprises, and twists. Patrick and Stephanie are a happily married, financially stable couple who are parents to 4-month-old colicky twin daughters. Both are sleep deprived when Erica comes into their lives. Erica is Patrick’s dead first wife’s best friend who comes to blackmail the couple by accusing Patrick of killing his first wife and threatening to go to the police to have the nine-year-old case re-opened and further investigated. Stephanie is shocked by the accusations Erica

Illustrated hyena with multicolored background.

Down Days

By Ilze Hugo
4
Rated by Maryana K.
Oct 19, 2020

Ilze Hugo’s debut novel Down Days was written before the Covid-19 pandemic swept the globe, so the eerie similarities between her fictional version of Cape Town, South Africa and the real world today seem prophetic. Readers are introduced to Sick City ( formerly known as Cape Town )  7 years after a pandemic has affected the entire world. The slang term for the virus is called “the joke”, named for it’s symptom of uncontrollable laughter, but the other symptoms are no joke — a fever followed by organ failure leads to death. Although there is no cure for the infected, a vaccine is administered

Why Do We Cry?

By Fran Pintadera
5
Rated by Heather McCartin
Oct 15, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has left many searching for a way to cope with daily struggles.  Fran Pintadera’s picture book on the concept of crying serves as a unique tool to explain to all audiences how tears are an essential outlet for facing the various stages and phases of life.  With exquisite full color illustrations by Ana Sender, there is an aura of compassion in the poetic text as a mother explains to her young son why people cry. 


Young Mario spends an afternoon with his mother at the park.  When he asks the all-important question of why people cry, his mother closes her eyes

Cover of The Cafe By the Sea: shows scene of outdoor cafe seating in European village

The Café By the Sea

By Jenny Colgan
0
Rated by Emily D.
Oct 13, 2020

London based paralegal, Flora, has desperately pined over her American boss for years. He doesn’t know she exists. Flora has all but resigned herself to unrequited love, until one day he calls her into his office. But the love affair of her dreams doesn’t start there, instead she is sent on assignment to the island of her origins, Mure. The Scottish island is not somewhere she planned on returning, but maybe she’ll get a love affair after all.  


Continue Flora’s story along with her brothers and friends in Colgan’s sequel: The Endless Beach. The story just gets sweeter in this follow-up to 

Photo of sunrise coming over hundreds of shanties built on top of a huge public dump in Cambodia

The Rent Collector

By Wright, Camron Steve
5
Rated by Lisa H
Oct 7, 2020

When I saw the book cover of The Rent Collector, with a photo of tin and cardboard shanties built on a HUGE mound of garbage, I was curious and intrigued. The book cover was well worn, as it seemed to be a book that had been checked out and read by many. After reading The Rent Collector, it is now one of my favorite reads of the year.


The Rent Collector, by Camron Steve Wright, is a fictionalized account of a real family who live on the Stung Meanchey, the largest municipal waste dump in Cambodia. Sang Ly and her husband Ki Lin are pickers at the dump, scavenging recyclables to sell to earn

Sep 30, 2020

“Nothing you can take from me was ever worth keeping.” - Lucy Gray Baird


Suzanne Collins bring us another installment of the Hunger Games.  This time she takes us back in time to the Tenth Annual Hunger Games (64 years prior to The Hunger Games trilogy, before Coriolanus Snow was President). 


Snow, eighteen-years-old, is doing what he can to hold what’s left of his family together and keep up with the status quo in the Capital.  Money is tight in the Snow house, and he is afraid he won’t be able to afford University.  An opportunity presents itself when he is assigned as mentor to the