Looking for some fresh reads? Try these librarian-reviewed and approved fiction and nonfiction titles.
We’ve been busy reading while we #stayhome. See what our staff has been reading below.
The Book of Essie by Meghan by MacLean Weir
The youngest daughter of a famous reality show evangelical family becomes pregnant. Essie helps her mother manufacture an engagement to a classmate in order to cover for the public, all the while providing the true story to a reporter with her own background trauma from religious fanaticism. An absorbing read with a trio of central characters you won’t want to leave behind. This book will appeal to adult and high school-age fiction lovers, reality TV junkies.
Flight Season by Marie Marquardt
This novel trails two characters trying to navigate their own personal worlds. It is a cleverly designed novel that allows insight into each of the characters minds. I finished this book in one go because it was so captivating. Young Adult readers who like self realization novels with a touch of romance would love this!
Unorthodox by Deborah Feldman
I found myself drawn into the Netflix miniseries “Unorthodox” about a young woman growing up in the Hasidic Jewish Community of Williamsburg, NY in present day. It was a limited series, only four episodes, I think, but I was fascinated to learn about this religious community, their beliefs and traditions. That led me to the book upon which the series was based, an autobiography also titled Unorthodox and written by Deborah Feldman. I found her coming of age story to be fascinating and a triumph about how to follow your own path in the most extraordinary of circumstances. The description of Jewish food, the kosher preparations they follow, the clothing and hairstyles allowed by single and married women and what they represent, were all very interesting to me in addition to the main story itself. Readers of biography, history, and religious and women’s studies will love this book.
Camino Island by John Grisham
I listened to and really liked Camino Island, which is about a young woman is recruited to recover priceless F. Scott Fitzgerald manuscripts that were stolen during a daring heist. I thought it was interesting that the book was loosely inspired by Amelia Island in Florida and that the town with the bookstore in the book was modeled off Fernandina, Florida. I recommend it for anyone looking for a good mystery.
The book is a reader’s companion to the casework of Sherlock Holmes and it explores the methodology of the world’s most famous consulting detective. Written in a lively fashion, it covers everything from analyzing fingerprints to bee keeping. 224 pages, but can be read in a Pittsburgh rainy afternoon. The Sherlock Holmes Handbook will appeal to Baker Street Irregulars of all ages. Fun read.
The Bad Seed by William March
I’m just finishing The Bad Seed, the novel by William March. I had just re-watched the film of the same name – powerful performance by Nancy Kelly as the mother of the murderous Rhoda – and wondered about source material. The book is vastly different from the film but it is a deep and abiding portrait of a mother faced with the horrific circumstances involving a child (think “The Exorcist”). It is complex because the mother is as responsible for what occurs as the child. Great stuff!
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
I recently read The Glass Hotel. Beautifully written and with intriguing characters. From the author of Station Eleven— which was even better. I’m currently reading Stranger Diaries by Elly Griffith (which just won the Edgar Award for 2020); a slightly spooky mystery — can’t wait to find out whodunit!
The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
This well-written story keeps you guessing until the end. It’s a modern mystery with a mid-level pace and several red herrings thrown in to keep readers engaged. I could barely put the book down & enjoyed several late-night reading sessions! Mystery lovers will enjoy this title.
I enjoyed it because it had elements of true crime as well as history. It tells a piece of the story of how to FBI came to be through the narrative surrounding a number of unsolved murders.
The Five Silent Years of Corrie Ten Boom by Pamela Rosewell Moore
The book I’m reading is really old, but really inspiring! So inspiring that I’m reading it a second time back-to-back! During World War II, Corrie and her family were arrested and sent to a concentration camp for hiding Jews in their home in Holland. The library also has Corrie’s best-selling book The Hiding Place which launched for Corrie a worldwide ministry of travel and speaking for 30 + years. Rosewell’s book is an inspiring account of how Corrie’s ministry amazingly continued after she suffered a stroke and could no longer speak! But the book I would recommend first is The Hiding Place because that would introduce readers to this inspiring lady, Corrie Ten Boom!
The Mirror and the Light by Hilary Mantel
Right now I am reading The Mirror & the Light. Although I am only about half way through it, I am enjoying it. I love the way she writes; you really feel like you are right there, talking to Henry VIII. Mantel is descriptive and the book is really well researched. This is the third book in the Wolf Hall Trilogy, so if you liked Wolf Hall (personal favorite) or Bring Up the Bodies, also by Mantel, you will enjoy this book!
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
Based on a true story, this book explores the secret Cold War plot to bring Doctor Zhivago to the world. The idea that literature can change the world prompted the CIA to try and smuggle this masterpiece out of the USSR. Prescott weaves the tales of Pasternak, his muse Olga, and the CIA to create this delicious blend of historical fiction and espionage thriller. Read if you like historical fiction, spies, and Russian literature.
So Much Longing In So Little Space / The Art of Edvard Munch by Karl Ove Knausgaard
I am reading So Much Longing In So Little Space / The Art of Edvard Munch by Karl Ove Knausgaard. Loving this book, a brilliant writer’s thoughts and opinions about the work and psyche of one of my favorite painters, Munch. Every sentence is rich and provocative, with many references to philosophers and other painters (including interviews with) and of course a plethora of information about Munch’s life.
UnTamed by Glennon Doyle
I loved this book! Honest, raw and gave me so much to think about in regards to relationships and how to live life authentically.
Virgin River by Robyn Carr
I have read many books during this time but here are three I really enjoyed: Virgin River a light read from Robyn Carr. When you finish the book you can binge watch the original Netflix series of the same name based on the book. The Seven or Eight Deaths of Stella Fortuna by Juliet Grimes is a debut novel that delves into the family secrets of an Italian American family. I could not put down this timely family story. And also once again local author Marie Benedict’s Lady Clementine entertains while giving us a gentle history lesson.
Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan
This is the perfect book for anyone who needs a laugh. Especially if you have kids. Comedy Lovers will really enjoy this title. I also read, When Life Gives You Pears by Jeannie Gaffigan (writer, director & Jim’s wife). When you are a mother of five and writing partner of a well-know comedian, learning that you have a tumor the size of a pear in your head is not great news. Well, it’s not really great news for anyone. Even though medical scares are serious, Gaffigan is able to tell her story humor and heart. This title is really great for Biography readers.
Mother’s Day is a time to reflect on all the ways our moms impact our lives. From joys to sorrows and everything in between, our moms shaped us into the humans we are today. Motherhood can be equal parts blessings and challenges, struggles and triumphs (as any potty training parent has discovered!). This collection celebrates motherhood in all its forms.
Sometimes you just want to read something that makes you feel good. Enjoy these heartwarming titles that have likeable characters and plots and leave with you with a fuzzy feeling.
Note: Titles marked with an asterisk (*) are available with no wait through Hoopla!
Have you ever needed help finding a good book? MatchBook is here to help with that! The librarians at Sewickley Public Library have created this easy-to-use online form that you can use to get great reading recommendations. Librarians have been the go-to resource for finding reading material for ages. Now you can get help with your book list from the comfort of your own home.
Every time a form is filled out, one of our librarians will receive a notification. They will make 3 to 5 title recommendations based on the information that you entered. Users should expect a response within one week. The service is available for all ages and can be accessed at www.sewickleylibrary.org/matchbook.
Please note that during the COVID-19 closure, librarians are unable to request physical items for patrons. All recommendations will be available in an online format (ebook or eaudiobook).
Canceled travel plans? Nothing is going to replace that trip to the Europe, but some of these titles might tide you over until things change. Check out these books from all over the world, London to Timbuktu.
American Horror Story: Coven (DVD)
The exceptional young witches at Miss Robichaux’s Academy are under assault by forces of ignorance and hate. Caught in the turmoil is new arrival, Zoe, who harbors a terrifying secret of her own. Fiona, a Supreme Witch with unimaginable powers, is determined to protect the Coven, but her obsessive quest for immortality will lead her to cross paths with a formidable voodoo queen and a murderous slave owner cursed with eternal life.
Fat Tuesday By Brown, Sandra (Print Book)
It’s Mardi Gras week in the French Quarter, a perfect time for narcotics cop Burke Basile to avenge the acquittal of his partner’s murderer by kidnapping the defense attorney’s sheltered wife. So begins Sandra Brown’s riveting story of corruption in the Big Easy. As the crisis reaches a fevered pitch, the line between saint and sinner blurs. Who will find redemption as the clock ticks toward midnight on Fat Tuesday?
Keepsake crimes By Childs, Laura (eBook)
New Orleans scrapbooking shop owner Carmela Bertrand delights her customers with the sophisticated looks she achieves with their scrapbooks. But among her client’s keepsakes she finds a tip of her own-about a murder
Paper crafts for Mardi Gras By McGee, Randel (Print Book)
Dress up as a jester or a king or queen and lead a Mardi Gras parade! Follow storyteller Randel McGee as he explores the history and symbols of Mardi Gras in PAPER CRAFTS FOR MARDI GRAS. Create a Columbina mask, paper bead throw necklace, a gold doubloon necklace, a rhythm maker, and more!
Treme, the Complete First Season (DVD)
Amid the ruins of New Orleans, ordinary people–musicians, chefs, residents–find themselves clinging to a unique culture and wondering if the city that gave birth to that culture still has a future.
Our March Staff Pick is from Pat, on the first anniversary of it’s publication in March 2013, after nearly 50 weeks on the New York Times Best Seller List (including time spent in the number one spot): Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Click the title to read more about the book and see reviews in our library catalog.
This book received a *Starred Review* from Booklist and was called, “the new manifesto for women in the workplace,” by Oprah Winfrey.
Here is what Pat has to say about the book, and why she liked it:
The chief operating officer of Facebook wisely and clearly explains the inequalities women face in the workforce and how she has paved her way. This book reads and rings true, especially for young women in all leadership positions. Sandberg writes compellingly and includes a wonderful family background that guided her throughout and taught her well. Those who have made gains for women and others need to understand that these huge strides have made the world a better place for everyone.
Pat also said that she thought Lean In would be eye-opening for men as well as women, even especially for men.
Lean In is also available at Sewickley Public Library as a Book on CD; or through OverDrive as a eBook in both Kindle Book and Adobe EPUB eBook formats, and as an eAudiobook in both mp3 and WMA formats.
This month’s staff pick is from Ing: Help for the Haunted, by John Searles. Booklist reviewer Joanne Wilkinson calls Searles’ third novel “[s]uperlative storytelling” in a starred review.
Ing described the story, without giving too much away…
Sylvie has always known that her parents had unique jobs, jobs that scared others and even scared her from time to time. Her parents were help to haunted souls, modern day exorcists, if you will. But was the danger in their family really of a supernatural nature? Or was something even more sinister going on?
When asked what appealed to her about the book, and why you should check it out, Ing said,
This is a fascinating story and has a very sympathetic narrator in Sylvie. If you enjoy supernatural stories, or even if you don’t, this book is written well and keeps you guessing all the way through.
Help for the Haunted has won a 2014 Alex Award, which is given each year by the Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), a division of the American Library Association, to “ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.” Click the link above to see other 2014 Alex Award Winners.