Mysterious Campus Novels

Mysterious Campus Novels

Like your campus with a side of mystery? Whether in person or virtual, these books will get you in the mood to go back to school.


Catherine HouseCatherine House by Elisabeth Thomas

Catherine House is a school of higher learning like no other. Hidden deep in the woods of rural Pennsylvania, this crucible of reformist liberal arts study with its experimental curriculum, wildly selective admissions policy, and formidable endowment, has produced some of the world’s best minds: prize-winning authors, artists, inventors, Supreme Court justices, presidents. For those lucky few selected, tuition, room, and board are free. But acceptance comes with a price. Students are required to give the House three years–summers included–completely removed from the outside world. Family, friends, television, music, even their clothing must be left behind. In return, the school promises a future of sublime power and prestige, and that its graduates can become anything or anyone they desire.


TruantsThe Truants by Kate Weinberg

Jess Walker has come to a concrete campus under the flat gray skies of East Anglia for one reason: to be taught by the mesmerizing and rebellious Dr. Lorna Clay, whose seminars soon transform Jess’s thinking on life, love, and Agatha Christie. Swept up in Lorna’s thrall, Jess falls in with a tightly knit group of rule-breakers–Alec, a courageous South African journalist with a nihilistic streak; Georgie, a seductive, pill-popping aristocrat; and Nick, a handsome geologist with layers of his own.

But the dynamic between the friends begins to darken, until a tragedy shatters their friendships and love affairs, and reveals a terrible secret. Soon Jess must face the question she fears most: what is the true cost of an extraordinary life?


Ninth HouseNinth House by Leigh Bardugo

“Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug-dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. But Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her? Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.

 


Secret PlaceThe Secret Place by Tana French

A year ago a boy was found murdered at a girlsʼ boarding school, and the case was never solved. Detective Stephen Moran has been waiting for his chance to join Dublin’s Murder Squad when sixteen-year-old Holly Mackey arrives in his office with a photo of the boy with the caption: “I KNOW WHO KILLED HIM.” Stephen joins with Detective Antoinette Conway to reopen the case–beneath the watchful eye of Holly’s father, fellow detective Frank Mackey. With the clues leading back to Holly’s close-knit group of friends, to their rival clique, and to the tangle of relationships that bound them all to the murdered boy, the private underworld of teenage girls turns out to be more mysterious and more dangerous than the detectives imagined.


Lying GameThe Lying Game by Ruth Ware

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister…

The next morning, three women in and around London–Fatima, Thea, and Isabel–receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other–ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

 

New Historical Fiction

New Historical Fiction

Atomic LoveAtomic Love by Jennie Fields

Chicago, 1950. Rosalind Porter has always defied expectations–in her work as a physicist on the Manhattan Project and in her passionate love affair with colleague Thomas Weaver. Five years after the end of both, her guilt over the bomb and her heartbreak over Weaver are intertwined. She desperately misses her work in the lab, yet has almost resigned herself to a more conventional life.

Then Weaver gets back in touch–and so does the FBI. Special Agent Charlie Szydlo wants Roz to spy on Weaver, whom the FBI suspects of passing nuclear secrets to Russia. Roz helped to develop these secrets and knows better than anyone the devastating power such knowledge holds. But can she spy on a man she still loves, despite her better instincts? At the same time, something about Charlie draws her in. He’s a former prisoner of war haunted by his past, just as her past haunts her.

As Rosalind’s feelings for each man deepen, so too does the danger she finds herself in. She will have to choose: the man who taught her how to love . . . or the man her love might save?


Black Bottom SaintsBlack Bottom Saints by Alice Randall

From the Great Depression through the post-World War II years, Joseph “Ziggy” Johnson, has been the pulse of Detroit’s famous Black Bottom. A celebrated gossip columnist for the city’s African-American newspaper, the Michigan Chronicle, he is also the emcee of one of the hottest night clubs, where he’s rubbed elbows with the legendary black artists of the era, including Ethel Waters, Billy Eckstein, and Count Basie. Ziggy is also the founder and dean of the Ziggy Johnson School of Theater. But now the doyen of Black Bottom is ready to hang up his many dapper hats.

As he lays dying in the black-owned-and-operated Kirkwood Hospital, Ziggy reflects on his life, the community that was the center of his world, and the remarkable people who helped shape it.


Last Great Road BumThe Last Great Road Bum by Hector Tobar

In The Last Great Road Bum, Héctor Tobar turns the peripatetic true story of a naive son of Urbana, Illinois, who died fighting with guerrillas in El Salvador into the great American novel for our times.

Joe Sanderson died in pursuit of a life worth writing about. He was, in his words, a “road bum,” an adventurer and a storyteller, belonging to no place, people, or set of ideas. He was born into a childhood of middle-class contentment in Urbana, Illinois and died fighting with guerillas in Central America. With these facts, acclaimed novelist and journalist Héctor Tobar set out to write what would become The Last Great Road Bum.

A decade ago, Tobar came into possession of the personal writings of the late Joe Sanderson, which chart Sanderson’s freewheeling course across the known world, from Illinois to Jamaica, to Vietnam, to Nigeria, to El Salvador–a life determinedly an adventure, ending in unlikely, anonymous heroism.


Royal GovernessRoyal Governess: a novel of Queen Elizabeth II’s Childhood by Wendy Holden

In 1933, twenty-two-year-old Marion Crawford accepts the role of a lifetime, tutoring the little Princesses Elizabeth and Margaret Rose. Her one stipulation to their parents the Duke and Duchess of York is that she bring some doses of normalcy into their sheltered and privileged lives.

At Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and Balmoral, Marion defies stuffy protocol to take the princesses on tube trains, swimming at public baths, and on joyful Christmas shopping trips at Woolworth’s. From her ringside seat at the heart of the British monarchy she witnesses twentieth-century history’s most seismic events. The trauma of the Abdication, the glamour of the Coronation, the onset of World War II. She steers the little girls through it all, as close as a mother.

During Britain’s darkest hour, as Hitler’s planes fly over Windsor, she shelters her charges in the castle dungeons (not far from where the Crown Jewels are hidden in a biscuit tin). Afterwards, she is present when Elizabeth first sets eyes on Philip.

But being beloved confidante to the Windsors comes at huge personal cost. Marriage, children, her own views: all are compromised by proximity to royal glory. In this majestic story of love, sacrifice and allegiance, bestselling novelist Holden shines a captivating light into the years before Queen Elizabeth II took the throne.


Daughter of the ReichDaughter of the Reich by Louise Fein

As the dutiful daughter of a high-ranking Nazi officer, Hetty Heinrich is keen to play her part in the glorious new Thousand Year Reich. But she never imagines that all she believes and knows will come into stark conflict when she encounters Walter, a Jewish friend from the past, who stirs dangerous feelings in her. Confused and conflicted, Hetty doesn’t know whom she can trust and where she can turn to, especially when she discovers that someone has been watching her.

Realizing she is taking a huge risk–but unable to resist the intense attraction she has for Walter–she embarks on a secret love affair with him. But as the rising tide of anti-Semitism threatens to engulf them, Hetty and Walter will be forced to take extreme measures.

Will the steady march of dark forces destroy Hetty’s universe–or can love ultimately triumph…?


Fifty Words for RainFifty Words for Rain by Asha Lemmie

Kyoto, Japan, 1948. “Do not question. Do not fight. Do not resist.”

Such is eight-year-old Noriko “Nori” Kamiza’s first lesson. She will not question why her mother abandoned her with only these final words. She will not fight her confinement to the attic of her grandparents’ imperial estate. And she will not resist the scalding chemical baths she receives daily to lighten her skin.

The child of a married Japanese aristocrat and her African American GI lover, Nori is an outsider from birth. Her grandparents take her in, only to conceal her, fearful of a stain on the royal pedigree that they are desperate to uphold in a changing Japan. Obedient to a fault, Nori accepts her solitary life, despite her natural intellect and curiosity. But when chance brings her older half-brother, Akira, to the estate that is his inheritance and destiny, Nori finds in him an unlikely ally with whom she forms a powerful bond—a bond their formidable grandparents cannot allow and that will irrevocably change the lives they were always meant to lead. Because now that Nori has glimpsed a world in which perhaps there is a place for her after all, she is ready to fight to be a part of it—a battle that just might cost her everything.

Spanning decades and continents, Fifty Words for Rain is a dazzling epic about the ties that bind, the ties that give you strength, and what it means to be free


Eli's PromiseEli’s Promise by Ronald H. Balson

Eli’s Promise is a masterful work of historical fiction spanning three eras―Nazi-occupied Poland, the American Zone of post-war Germany, and Chicago at the height of the Vietnam War. Award-winning author Ronald H. Balson explores the human cost of war, the mixed blessings of survival, and the enduring strength of family bonds

The Comment Section

The Comment Section

More books from our collection with great reviews in the comment sections!


“Different in a positive way.  There is an always present sadness.”

ANDREW’S BRAIN by E.L. Doctorow

Speaking from an unknown place and to an unknown interlocutor, Andrew is thinking, Andrew is talking, Andrew is telling the story of his life, his loves, and the tragedies that have led him to this place and point in time. And as he confesses, peeling back the layers of his strange story, we are led to question what we know about truth and memory, brain and mind, personality and fate, about one another and ourselves.

 

 


A wonderful overview of 20th century America told by a charming narrator.  MUST READ!”

“Beautifully written but such a waste of two extraordinary men!  They could have given much to the world.”

HOMER & LANGLEY by E.L. Doctorow

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE, THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE, THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, THE KANSAS CITY STAR, AND BOOKLIST

Homer and Langley Collyer are brothers—the one blind and deeply intuitive, the other damaged into madness, or perhaps greatness, by mustard gas in the Great War. They live as recluses in their once grand Fifth Avenue mansion, scavenging the city streets for things they think they can use, hoarding the daily newspapers as research for Langley’s proposed dateless newspaper whose reportage will be as prophecy.

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The Comment Section

The Comment Section

There is not much we love more than reading the comments borrowers write in the backs of our library books! (Only in our comment section, of course!) Since staff are allowed back in the library, we’ve been working hard to process all of the books that were returned in the last few months.

As we check in books, we also check out the comments. The remarks in these titles really struck us and we wanted to share them with library readers!


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June is Pride Month

June is Pride Month

The Heart’s Invisible Furies: A Novel by John Boyne

Cyril Avery is not a real Avery — or at least, that’s what his adoptive parents tell him. And he never will be. But if he isn’t a real Avery, then who is he?
Born out of wedlock to a teenage girl cast out from her rural Irish community and adopted by a well-to-do if eccentric Dublin couple via the intervention of a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun, Cyril is adrift in the world, anchored only tenuously by his heartfelt friendship with the infinitely more glamourous and dangerous Julian Woodbead. At the mercy of fortune and coincidence, he will spend a lifetime coming to know himself and where he came from – and over his many years, will struggle to discover an identity, a home, a country, and much more.

Less : A Novel by Andrew Sean Greer

Who says you can’t run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes—it would be too awkward—and you can’t say no—it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.
QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?
ANSWER: You accept them all.
What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last. Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story.


Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington

 

LGBTQ+ Movies

LGBTQ+ Movies from Kanopy & Hoopla

Kanopy, the library’s newest streaming service, offers a wide variety LGBTQ+ themed feature films and documentaries including:

The surprise Oscar winner for Best Picture (2016), Moonlight  is a multi layered coming-of-age story, depicting the struggle of growing up black, gay, impoverished, and living with addiction. Tender, lyrical and raw, the movie portrays three chapters in a young black man’s life as he comes to terms with where he came from and who he is.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post tells the story of a young woman who is sent to gay conversion therapy center by her conservative guardians. Although subjected to dubious therapies there, she also finds a community of people like her. Based on the popular novel by Emily M Danforth, and winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival in 2018.

Wise Kids follows three childhood friends during the transitional summer after high school graduation. While preparing for their Baptist church’s passion play, one deals with a crisis of faith, another coming to terms with his sexuality, and the last with the fact her friends may make different choices than she expected.

Longtime partners Stella and Dot make a run to Canada to get married after Dot’s granddaughter places her in a nursing home due to her declining health. Along the way, the pair picks up a hitchhiker heading home to see his dying mother. Cloudburst poignantly explores the themes of aging and marriage equality with humor and grace.

A gay couple takes over the care of a teenage boy with Down’s Syndrome in the 1970s and provides a loving home. However, when authorities become aware of the situation, they are forced to prove to a biased system that they are fit custodians. Based on a true story, Any Day Now asks compelling questions about the true nature of love and family.

Vito is a compelling portrayal of prominent gay rights activist Vito Russo from the time of the Stonewall Riots in 1969 until his death from AIDS in 1990. Russo’s book The Celluloid Closet revealed that the way gay people were depicted in film exacerbated society’s biases against them. With archival footage and interviews, this documentary provides a history of gay rights in America during that time period.

Unlike much of the Western World, Russia has made few steps toward gay equality. Documentary Campaign of Hate shows the threats, verbal abuse, and violence that the Russian LGBTQ population endures. The passing of the 2013 “Gay Propaganda” law legitimizes the bias towards this community, and the film makes the case that the government does so for its own political gain.

Hoopla also offers movies and documentaries with LGBTQ+ themes, such as:

Charlize Theron won an Oscar for her portrayal of real life serial killer Aileen Wuornos in the docudrama Monster. The survivor of an abusive childhood, Aileen prostitutes herself to pay the bills for herself and her girlfriend. After killing a client in self defense, she finds that she has a taste for it.

Approximately 1% of the U.S. population identifies as asexual, or experiencing no sexual attraction. The documentary A(sexual) explores this unique sexual orientation, using interviews with researchers as well as people who identify as asexual.

In Other People, David has broken up with his boyfriend and his career isn’t going well, but he doesn’t want to burden his mother with the sad tale since she’s got an even bigger problem: terminal cancer.

The Freedom to Marry documentary focuses on the movement to make same-sex marriage the law of the land. It reveals the history of the movement and profiles key leaders as they present their case to the Supreme Court.

Being black, poor, and gay can be risky in more ways than one, so the young people in Check It banded together to form their own gang in inner-city Washington, DC. This documentary highlights the lives of several gang members as they try their hands at an unlikely way out of gang life: fashion.

With changing societal norms and advances in medicine, it has become possible to transition genders at a younger age. The documentary Growing up Trans reveals the struggles and choices that several young people and their families face as they do so.