Snowy Mysteries

Snowy Mysteries

The snow has finally arrived in Pittsburgh, and there is no better time to cozy up with a winter mystery. If you are looking for something suitably cold, check out one of these winter thrillers. Sure to give you chills!


The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands–the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

The trip begins innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps, just as a historic blizzard seals the lodge off from the outside world. Two days later, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead. . . and another of them did it.


The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself. 


In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming

Clare Fergusson, St. Alban’s new priest, fits like a square peg in the conservative Episcopal parish at Miller’s Kill, New York. She is not just a “lady,” she’s a tough ex Army chopper pilot, and nobody’s fool. Then a newborn infant left at the church door brings her together with the town’s police chief, Russ Van Alstyne, who’s also ex-Army and a cynical good shepherd for the stray sheep of his hometown. Their search for the baby’s mother quickly leads them into the secrets that shadow Miller’s Kill like the ever-present Adirondacks. What they discover is a world of trouble, an attraction to each other-and murder…


The Ice Princess by Camilla Lackberg

Returning to her hometown of Fjallbacka after the funeral of her parents, writer Erica Falck finds a community on the brink of tragedy. The death of her childhood friend, Alex, is just the beginning. Her wrists slashed, her body frozen in an ice-cold bath, it seems that she has taken her own life. Erica conceives a book about the beautiful but remote Alex, one that will answer questions about their own shared past. While her interest grows into an obsession, local detective Patrik Hedstrom is following his own suspicions about the case. But it is only when they start working together that the truth begins to emerge about a small town with a deeply disturbing past.


Hunting Game by Helene Tursten

Embla Nystrom, Detective Inspector in the mobile unit in Gothenburg, Sweden and talented hunter and prize-winning Nordic welterweight, is glad to be taking a vacation from her high-stress job to attend the annual moose hunt with her family and friends. But when Embla arrives in rural Dalsland, she sees an unfamiliar face has joined the group: Peter, enigmatic, attractive, and making their group an unlucky 13. Sure enough, a string of unsettling incidents follow, culminating in the disappearance of two hunters. Embla delves into the dark pasts of her fellow hunters in search of a killer.

 

Books on Books

Books on Books

Books about Books!  What could be more fun!  Here’s a sampling of titles — mysteries, fiction, and memoirs — that highlight the all-encompassing world of books.

Lynne @ SPL


Cover ImageThe Last Chance Library – Freya Sampson

Lonely librarian June Jones has never left the sleepy English village where she grew up. Shy and reclusive, the thirty-year-old would rather spend her time buried in books than venture out into the world. But when her library is threatened with closure, June is forced to emerge from behind the shelves to save the heart of her community and the place that holds the dearest memories of her mother.

…”a sweet testament to the power of reading, community, and the library.” — Booklist


Cover ImageThe Reading List – Sara Nisha Adams  

Aleisha is a bright but anxious teenager working at the local library when she discovers a crumpled-up piece of paper in the back of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a list of novels that she’s never heard of before. Intrigued, she impulsively decides to read every book on the list, one after the other. As each story gives up its magic, the books transport Aleisha from the painful realities she’s facing at home.

“Readers will be charmed and touched.” – Publishers Weekly   


Cover ImageMr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour BookstoreRobin Sloan

The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything–instead, they “check out” large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store.


Cover ImageBy Its Cover – Donna Leon

One afternoon, Commissario Guido Brunetti gets a frantic call from the director of a prestigious Venetian library. Someone has stolen pages out of several rare books. After a round of questioning, the case seems clear: the culprit must be the man who requested the volumes, an American professor from a Kansas university. The only problem–the man fled the library earlier that day, and after checking his credentials, the American professor doesn’t exist.


Cover ImageThe Book Woman of Troublesome Creek – Kim Michele Richardson

This gem of a historical from Richardson features an indomitable heroine navigating a community steeped in racial intolerance. In 1936, 19-year-old Cussy Mary Carter works for the New Deal–funded Pack Horse Library Project, delivering reading material to the rural people of Kentucky. It’s a way of honoring her dead mother, who loved books, and it almost makes her forget the fact that her skin is blue, a family trait that sets her apart from the white community.


Cover ImageBooked to DieJohn Dunning

Denver cop Cliff Janeway probably knows as much about books as he does about homicide.  His living room resembles an adjunct to the public library.  But when local book scout Bobby Westfall is murdered, Janeway is sure he knows who did it.  His detective talents are as important as his knowledge of books as he follows the twists and turns of this great mystery.  There are only four books in the Cliff Janeway series, but you’re sure to want to read them all.  Great stuff.


Cover ImageTolstoy and the Purple Chair: My Year of Magical ReadingNina Sankovitch

Grief-stricken by the loss of her sister, a mother of four spends one year savoring a great book every day, from Thomas Pynchon to Nora Ephron and beyond. In the tradition of Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project and Joan Didion’s A Year of Magical Thinking, the author’s literary-minded memoir is a chronicle of loss, hope, and redemption. Nina turns to reading as therapy and through her journey illuminates the power of books to help us reclaim our lives.  Fascinating.


Cover ImageOne for the Books – Joe Queenan

If you love books and reading, this is the book to check out.  At times, laugh out-loud funny as well as mordantly insightful, Queenan takes on all comers in his defense of reading and books.   He’s never one to shy away from expressing his opinions – whether it’s about libraries, bookstores, authors or that goliath, Middlemarch.  Along the way we learn about his life in books and where those books have led him in life.  I enjoyed it!

Cozy Fall Mysteries

Cozy Fall Mysteries

The leaves are turning, and thoughts are on Halloween and Thanksgiving. Settle into this cozy season with one of these delightful mysteries.


Haunted Hibiscus by Laura Childs

It is the week before Halloween and Theodosia Browning, proprietor of the Indigo Tea Shop, and her tea sommelier, Drayton, are attending the grand opening of their literary and historical themed haunted house. But during the opening, amid a parade of characters dressed as Edgar Allan Poe, Lady Macbeth, and the Headless Horseman, the Heritage Society patriarch’s grandniece is suddenly tossed from the third-floor window and left to dangle at the end of a rope. Now Theodosia must find a killer on the eve before Halloween.


Wicked Witch Murder by Leslie Meier

As the air turns crisp and the trees blaze red and gold in the tiny town of Tinker’s Cove, Maine, a newcomer arrives who seems to suit the Halloween season. Diana Ravenscroft has just opened Solstice, a charming little shop featuring candles, crystals, jewelry, and psychic readings. But after an unnervingly accurate reading by Diana, Lucy starts to get more than a little spooked. . Then there’s the dead body Lucy finds, way up on one of the old logging roads behind her house. The deceased is identified as Malcolm Malebranche, a seemingly harmless magician who worked at children’s birthday parties. When it turns out that Diana knew the murder victim, Ike Stoughton, a prominent local businessman, starts a campaign against Diana, blaming “the witch” for everything from the unseasonal dry spell to his wife’s illness and his pumpkins’ lack of plumpness.


Antiques Ravin’ by Barbara Allan

Small-town Antiqua, known for its quaint Main Street lined with antique shops, had set out to celebrate the gothic poet with food, fun, and rare memorabilia. Instead, the Master of the Macabre’s twisted tales come to life-with deadly results. With a bone-rattling mystery sending an entire community into panic mode, the bodacious Borne gals are determined to decipher the telltale signs of cold-blooded murder, and make sure a stark-ravin’-mad killer strikes “nevermore!” Don’t miss Brandy Borne’s tips on hunting for valuable antiques!


Raspberry Danish Murder by Joanne Fluke

Hannah has felt as bitter as November in Minnesota since Ross vanished without a trace and left their marriage in limbo. Still, she throws herself into a baking frenzy for the sake of pumpkin pie and Thanksgiving-themed treats while endless holiday orders pour into The Cookie Jar. Hannah even introduces a raspberry Danish pastry to the menu, and P.K., her husband’s assistant at KCOW-TV, will be one of the first to sample it. But instead of taking a bite, P.K., who is driving Ross’s car and using his desk at work, is murdered. Was someone plotting against P.K. all along or did Ross dodge a deadly dose of sweet revenge? Hannah will have to quickly sift through a cornucopia of clues and suspects to stop a killer from bringing another murder to the table . . .


Pies and Prejudice by Ellery Adams

When the going gets tough, Ella Mae LaFaye bakes pies. So when she catches her husband cheating in New York, she heads back home to Havenwood, Georgia, where she can drown her sorrows in fresh fruit filling and flakey crust. But her pies aren’t just delicious. They’re having magical effects on the people who eat them–and the public is hungry for more.

Discovering her hidden talent for enchantment, Ella Mae makes her own wish come true by opening the Charmed Pie Shoppe. But with her old nemesis Loralyn Gaynor making trouble, and her old crush Hugh Dylan making nice, she has more than pie on her plate. and when Loralyn’s fiancé is found dead–killed with Ella Mae’s rolling pin–it’ll take all her sweet magic to clear her name.


A Catered Thanksgiving by Isis Crawford

In this seventh installment of Crawford’s delicious cozy series featuring catering sisters Bernie and Libby Simmons, a Thanksgiving dinner goes awry thanks to a killer who’s hiding a cornucopia of secrets.

Upcoming Fall Reads

Upcoming Fall Reads

FALL IS HERE 🍂 and we’re sharing some upcoming fiction books for you to leaf through this season! (Note: Some titles are still on-order and will be added to the library catalog for requests soon!)


Still Life by Sarah WinmanStill Life by Sarah Winman


 

 

Hispanic Heritage Month

This week kicks off National Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15 to October 15), which commemorates the amazing contributions of Hispanic and Latinx Americans. Check out some of these recent titles in our collection to help you celebrate.


The Five Wounds / Kirstin Valdez Quade

It’s Holy Week in the small town of Las Penas, New Mexico, and thirty-three-year-old unemployed Amadeo Padilla has been given the part of Jesus in the Good Friday procession. He is preparing feverishly for this role when his fifteen-year-old daughter Angel shows up pregnant on his doorstep and disrupts his plans for personal redemption. With weeks to go until her due date, tough, ebullient Angel has fled her mother’s house, setting her life on a startling new path.


Velvet Was the Night / Silvia Moreno-Garcia

1970s, Mexico City. Maite is a secretary who lives for one thing: the latest issue of Secret Romance . While student protests and political unrest consume the city, Maite escapes into stories of passion and danger.

Her next-door neighbor, Leonora, a beautiful art student, seems to live a life of intrigue and romance that Maite envies. When Leonora disappears under suspicious circumstances, Maite finds herself searching for the missing woman–and journeying deeper into Leonora’s secret life of student radicals and dissidents.


Dominicana / Angie Cruz

Fifteen-year-old Ana Cancion never dreamed of moving to America, the way the girls she grew up with in the Dominican countryside did. But when Juan Ruiz proposes and promises to take her to New York City, she has to say yes. It doesn’t matter that he is twice her age, that there is no love between them. Their marriage is an opportunity for her entire close-knit family to eventually immigrate. So on New Year’s Day, 1965, Ana leaves behind everything she knows and becomes Ana Ruiz, a wife confined to a cold six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights. Lonely and miserable, Ana hatches a reckless plan to escape. But at the bus terminal, she is stopped by Cesar, Juan’s free-spirited younger brother, who convinces her to stay.


Fruit of the Drunken Tree / Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Seven-year-old Chula and her older sister Cassandra enjoy carefree lives thanks to their gated community in Bogotá, but the threat of kidnappings, car bombs, and assassinations hover just outside the neighborhood walls, where the godlike drug lord Pablo Escobar continues to elude authorities and capture the attention of the nation.

When their mother hires Petrona, a live-in-maid from the city’s guerrilla-occupied slum, Chula makes it her mission to understand Petrona’s mysterious ways. But Petrona’s unusual behavior belies more than shyness. She is a young woman crumbling under the burden of providing for her family as the rip tide of first love pulls her in the opposite direction. As both girls’ families scramble to maintain stability amidst the rapidly escalating conflict, Petrona and Chula find themselves entangled in a web of secrecy that will force them both to choose between sacrifice and betrayal.


A Lot Like Adiós / Alexis Daria

The national bestselling author of You Had Me at Hola returns with a seductive second-chance romance about a commitment-phobic Latina and her childhood best friend who has finally returned home.

 

Back to School Adult Fiction

Go back to school vicariously with these compelling fiction reads!

The Wonder Test by Michelle Richmond (2021)

Escaping New York City and the espionage case that made her question everything, recently widowed FBI Agent Lina Connerly returns home to sell the house she has inherited in tony Greenfield, California. With her teenage son Rory, Lina hopes to reassemble her life, reevaluate her career, and find a clear way forward. Adrift and battling insomnia, she discovers that her father’s sleepy hometown has been transformed into a Silicon Valley suburb on steroids, obsessed with an annual exam called The Wonder Test.

When students at her son’s high school go missing, reappearing under mysterious circumstances on abandoned beaches, Lina must summon her strength and her investigative instincts, pushing her own ethical boundaries to the limits in order to solve the crimes.


Small Admissions by Amy Poeppel (2016)

When ambitious grad student Kate Pearson’s handsome French “almost fiancé” ditches her, she definitely does not roll with the punches, despite the best efforts of family and friends. It seems that nothing will get Kate out of pajamas and back into the world.Miraculously, one cringe-worthy job interview leads to a position in the admissions department at the revered Hudson Day School. Kate’s instantly thrown into a highly competitive and occasionally absurd culture, where she interviews all types of children: suitable, wildly unsuitable, charming, loathsome, ingratiating, or spoiled beyond all measure. And then there are the Park Avenue parents who refuse to take no for an answer.

As Kate begins to learn there’s no room for self-pity or nonsense during the height of admissions season or life itself, her sister and friends find themselves keeping secrets, dropping bombshells, and arguing with each other about how to keep Kate on her feet. Meanwhile, Kate seems to be doing very nicely, thank you, and is even beginning to find out that her broken heart is very much on the mend.


Night School by Lee Child (2016)

It’s 1996, and Jack Reacher is still in the army. In the morning they give him a medal, and in the afternoon they send him back to school. That night he’s off the grid. Out of sight, out of mind. Two other men are in the classroom–an FBI agent and a CIA analyst. Each is a first-rate operator, each is fresh off a big win, and each is wondering what the hell they are doing there.

From Langley to Hamburg, Jalalabad to Kiev, Night School moves like a bullet through a treacherous landscape of double crosses, faked identities, and new and terrible enemies, as Reacher maneuvers inside the game and outside the law.


Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (2020)

Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug-dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. In fact, by age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicide. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, 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?

Ninth House is the mesmerizing adult debut from #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo, a tale of power, privilege, dark magic, and murder set among the Ivy League elite.


Minor Dramas & Other Catastrophes by Kathleen West (2020)

When a devoted teacher comes under pressure for her progressive curriculum and a helicopter mom goes viral on social media, two women at odds with each other find themselves in similar predicaments, having to battle back from certain social ruin.

Perfect for fans of Where’d You Go, Bernadette and Small Admissions , a wry and cleverly observed debut novel about the privileged bubble that is Liston Heights High–the micro-managing parents, the overworked teachers, and the students caught in the middle–and the fallout for each of them when the bubble finally bursts.


The Lake of Dead Languages by Carol Goodman (2003)

Twenty years ago, Jane Hudson fled the Heart Lake School for Girls in the Adirondacks after a terrible tragedy. The week before her graduation, in that sheltered wonderland, three lives were taken, all victims of suicide. Only Jane was left to carry the burden of a mystery that has stayed hidden in the depths of Heart Lake for more than two decades.

Now Jane has returned to the school as a Latin teacher, recently separated and hoping to make a fresh start with her young daughter. But ominous messages from the past dredge up forgotten memories. And young, troubled girls are beginning to die again-as piece by piece the shattering truth slowly floats to the surface. . .


The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger (2019)

Set in the fictional town of Crystal, Colorado, The Gifted School is a keenly entertaining novel that observes the drama within a community of friends and parents as good intentions and high ambitions collide in a pile-up with long-held secrets and lies. Seen through the lens of four families who’ve been a part of one another’s lives since their kids were born over a decade ago, the story reveals not only the lengths that some adults are willing to go to get ahead, but the effect on the group’s children, sibling relationships, marriages, and careers, as simmering resentments come to a boil and long-buried, explosive secrets surface and detonate. It’s a humorous, keenly observed, timely take on ambitious parents, willful kids, and the pursuit of prestige, no matter the cost.


Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia (2017)

High school senior Hattie Hoffman has spent her whole life playing many parts: the good student, the good daughter, the good girlfriend. But Hattie wants something more, something bigger, and ultimately something that turns out to be exceedingly dangerous. When she’s found brutally stabbed to death, the tragedy rips right through the fabric of her small-town community.

It soon comes to light that Hattie was engaged in a highly compromising and potentially explosive secret online relationship. The question is: Did anyone else know? And to what lengths might they have gone to end it?


Class Mom by Laurie Gelman (2017)

Jen Dixon is not your typical Kansas City kindergarten class mom–or mom in general. Jen already has two college-age daughters by two different (probably) musicians, and it’s her second time around the class mom block with five-year-old Max–this time with a husband and father by her side. Though her best friend and PTA President sees her as the “wisest” candidate for the job (or oldest), not all of the other parents agree.

Relatable, irreverent, and hilarious in the spirit of Maria Semple, Class Mom is a fresh, welcome voice in fiction–the kind of novel that real moms clamor for, and a vicarious thrill-read for all mothers, who will be laughing as they are liberated by Gelman’s acerbic truths.


The Broken Girls by Simone St. James (2018)

Vermont, 1950 . There’s a place for the girls whom no one wants–the troublemakers, the illegitimate, the too smart for their own good. It’s called Idlewild Hall. And in the small town where it’s located, there are rumors that the boarding school is haunted. Four roommates bond over their whispered fears, their budding friendship blossoming–until one of them mysteriously disappears…

Vermont, 2014 . As much as she’s tried, journalist Fiona Sheridan cannot stop revisiting the events surrounding her older sister’s death. Twenty years ago, her body was found lying in the overgrown fields near the ruins of Idlewild Hall. And though her sister’s boyfriend was tried and convicted of murder, Fiona can’t shake the suspicion that something was never right about the case.

When Fiona discovers that Idlewild Hall is being restored by an anonymous benefactor, she decides to write a story about it. But a shocking discovery during the renovations will link the loss of her sister to secrets that were meant to stay hidden in the past–and a voice that won’t be silenced…


Find these books and more on display at SPL!

Women in Translation

Women in Translation

Check out these titles for #WIT Month


The Unwomanly Face of War : an Oral history of Women in World War II by Svetlana Alexievich; translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky

For more than three decades, Svetlana Alexievich has been the memory and conscience of the twentieth century. When the Swedish Academy awarded her the Nobel Prize, it cited her invention of “a new kind of literary genre,” describing her work as “a history of emotions . . . a history of the soul.”

In The Unwomanly Face of War, Alexievich chronicles the experiences of the Soviet women who fought on the front lines, on the home front, and in the occupied territories. These women–more than a million in total–were nurses and doctors, pilots, tank drivers, machine-gunners, and snipers. They battled alongside men, and yet, after the victory, their efforts and sacrifices were forgotten.


The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald ; translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies

Broken Wheel, Iowa, has never seen anyone like Sara: Sara traveled all the way from Sweden just to meet her book-loving pen pal Amy, but when she arrives she finds Amy’s funeral guests just leaving. The residents of Broken Wheel are happy to look after their bewildered visitor–there’s not much else to do in a dying small town that’s almost beyond repair. You certainly wouldn’t open a bookstore. And definitely not with Sara the tourist in charge.

You’d need a vacant storefront (Main Street is full of them), books (Amy’s house is full of them), and…customers. The bookstore might be a little quirky. Then again, so is Sara. But Broken Wheel’s own story might be funnier, more eccentric and surprising than she thought.


Windward Heights by Maryse Condé ; translated from the French by Richard Philcox

Prizewinning writer Maryse Condé reimagines Emily Brontë’s passionate novel as a tale of obsessive love between the “African” Razyé and Cathy, the mulatto daughter of the man who takes Razyé in and raises him, but whose treatment goads him into rebellious flight. Retaining the emotional power of the original, Condé shows the Caribbean society in the wake of emancipation.


The Time in Between by Maria Duenas ; translated by Daniel Hahn

The inspiring international bestseller of a seemingly ordinary woman who uses her talent and courage to transform herself first into a prestigious couturier and then into an undercover agent for the Allies during World War II.

An outstanding success around the world, The Time in Between has sold more than two million copies and inspired the Spanish television series based on the book, dubbed by the media as the “Spanish Downton Abbey.” In the US it was a critical and commercial hit, and a New York Times bestseller in paperback. It is one of those rare, richly textured novels that enthrall down to the last page. María Dueñas reminds us how it feels to be swept away by a masterful storyteller


The Vegetarian by Han Kang; translated by Deborah Smith

Before the nightmares began, Yeong-hye and her husband lived an ordinary, controlled life. But the dreams–invasive images of blood and brutality–torture her, driving Yeong-hye to purge her mind and renounce eating meat altogether. It’s a small act of independence, but it interrupts her marriage and sets into motion an increasingly grotesque chain of events at home. As her husband, her brother-in-law and sister each fight to reassert their control, Yeong-hye obsessively defends the choice that’s become sacred to her. Soon their attempts turn desperate, subjecting first her mind, and then her body, to ever more intrusive and perverse violations, sending Yeong-hye spiraling into a dangerous, bizarre estrangement, not only from those closest to her, but also from herself.


In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri ; translated from the Italian by Ann Goldstein

In Other Words is a revelation. It is at heart a love story–of a long and sometimes difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession: that of a writer for another language. For Jhumpa Lahiri, that love was for Italian, which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college. Although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward, true mastery always eluded her.

Seeking full immersion, she decides to move to Rome with her family, for “a trial by fire, a sort of baptism” into a new language and world. There, she begins to read, and to write–initially in her journal–solely in Italian. In Other Words, an autobiographical work written in Italian, investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice.


Earthlings by Sayaka Murata; translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori

As a child, Natsuki doesn’t fit in with her family. Her parents favor her sister, and her best friend is a plush toy hedgehog named Piyyut, who talks to her. He tells her that he has come from the planet Popinpobopia on a special quest to help her save the Earth. One summer, on vacation with her family and her cousin Yuu in her grandparents’ ramshackle wooden house in the mountains of Nagano, Natsuki decides that she must be an alien, which would explain why she can’t seem to fit in like everyone else. Later, as a grown woman, living a quiet life with her asexual husband, Natsuki is still pursued by dark shadows from her childhood, and decides to flee the “baby factory” of society for good, searching for answers about the vast and frightening mysteries of the universe–answers only Natsuki has the power to uncover.


The Aosawa Murders by Riku Onda; translated from the Japanese by Alison Watts

On a stormy summer day the Aosawas, owners of a prominent local hospital, host a large birthday party. The occasion turns into tragedy when 17 people die from cyanide in their drinks. The only surviving links to what might have happened are a cryptic verse that could be the killer’s, and the physician’s bewitching blind daughter, Hisako, the only person spared injury. But the youth who emerges as the prime suspect commits suicide that October, effectively sealing his guilt while consigning his motives to mystery. The police are convinced that Hisako had a role in the crime, as are many in the town, including the author of a bestselling book about the murders written a decade after the incident, who was herself a childhood friend of Hisako’ and witness to the discovery of the murders. The truth is revealed through a skillful juggling of testimony by different voices: family members, witnesses and neighbors, police investigators and of course the mesmerizing Hisako herself.


The Dead Girls’ Class Trip : Selected Stories by Anna Seghers ; translated from the German by Margot Bettauer Dembo

This selection of Seghers’s best stories, written between 1925 and 1965, reflects the range of her creativity over the years and includes her most famous stories, such as the autobiographical “The Dead Girls’ Class Trip,” as well as those translated into English for the first time, like “Jans Must Die.” Here are psychologically penetrating stories about young men corrupted by desperation and women bound by circumstance, as well as enigmatic tales of bewilderment and enchantment, stories based on myths and legends like “The Best Tales of Woynok the Thief,” “The Legends of Artemis,” and “The Three Trees.” Seghers used the German language in especially unconventional and challenging ways in her stories, and Margot Bettauer Dembo’s sensitive and skilled translation preserves this distinction.


Flights by Olga Tokarczuk; translated by Jennifer Croft

From the incomparably original Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, Flights interweaves reflections on travel with an in-depth exploration of the human body, broaching life, death, motion, and migration. Chopin’s heart is carried back to Warsaw in secret by his adoring sister. A woman must return to her native Poland in order to poison her terminally ill high school sweetheart, and a young man slowly descends into madness when his wife and child mysteriously vanish during a vacation and just as suddenly reappear. Through these brilliantly imagined characters and stories, interwoven with haunting, playful, and revelatory meditations, Flights explores what it means to be a traveler, a wanderer, a body in motion not only through space but through time. Where are you from? Where are you coming in from? Where are you going? we call to the traveler. Enchanting, unsettling, and wholly original, Flights is a master storyteller’s answer.


Snowdrift / Helene Tursten ; translated from the Swedish by Marlaine Delargy

It’s been fourteen years since Detective Inspector Embla Nystrom’s best friend disappeared from a nightclub, but Embla recognises her voice on a surprise call before it is abruptly disconnects. Embla is thrilled to learn Lollo is still alive, but before she can find out more, she gets another call this time from a relative. A man has been found shot dead in one of the guest houses he manages in rural Sweden. Could she come take a look? When Embla arrives on the scene, she receives another shock. The dead man is Milo Stavic, a well-known gang member and one of the last people seen with Lollo.

More From Page to Screen

Books continue to inspire both large and small screen adaptations. Here are several added to the SPL collection during the past year.

Call of the Wild

The story of a big-hearted dog whose blissful domestic life is turned upside down when he is suddenly uprooted from his California home and transplanted to the exotic wilds of the Alaskan Yukon during the Gold Rush of the 1890s.

Based on the classic novel by Jack London, this 2020 feature motion picture stars Harrison Ford.
Available on DVD and Blu Ray Combo.


News of the World

Five years after the Civil War, Captain Kidd moves from town to town as a storyteller. In Texas, he crosses paths with Johanna, a ten-year-old taken in by the Kiowa people six years earlier. She is being returned to her biological aunt and uncle against her will. Kidd agrees to deliver the child where the law says she belongs. As they travel hundreds of miles, the two will face tremendous challenges of both human and natural forces as they search for a place that either can call home.

Based on the 2016 novel by Paulette Jiles.
Available on DVD and Blu Ray Combo.


Nomadland

Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad.

This Academy Award winning 2020 film is based on the 2017 nonfiction book by Jessica Bruder.
Available on Blu Ray only.


The Secret Garden

Mary Lennox is a prickly and unloved ten-year-old girl, born in India to wealthy British parents. When they suddenly die, she is sent back to England to live with her uncle, where she begins to uncover many family secrets, particularly after meeting her sickly cousin Colin, who has been shut away in a wing of the house. Together, these two damaged, slightly misfit children heal each other through their discovery of a wondrous secret garden.

Based on the classic children’s novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Available on DVD.


The Turning

Newly appointed nanny Kate is charged with the care of two orphans, Flora and Miles. Quickly, she discovers that both the children and the house are harboring dark secrets and things may not be as they appear.

This 2020 motion picture is based on Henry James’s novella, The Turn of the Screw.
Available on DVD.


The Undoing

From writer David E. Kelley, this HBO limited series focuses on Nicole Kidman’s Grace Fraser, a successful therapist, and her devoted husband, Jonathan (Hugh Grant), and their young son who attends an elite private school in New York City. A chasm opens in Grace’s seemingly perfect life: a violent death, a missing spouse, and a chain of terrible revelations.

Based on the novel You Should Have Known by Jean Hanff Korelitz (2014).
Available on DVD.


His Dark Materials

This HBO series follows Lyra Belacqua, a brave young woman from another world. Lyra’s quest to find her kidnapped friend leads her to uncover a sinister plot of a secret organization, encounter extraordinary beings and protect dangerous secrets.

Based on the beloved trilogy (The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass) by Philip Pullman. Seasons 1 and 2, following the arcs of the first two novels, have been released so far. A third and final season is expected, probably in 2022.
Available on DVD.


Defending Jacob

An assistant district attorney and his wife’s comfortable life is turned upside down when their son is accused of murder. Part thriller, part courtroom drama, this series explores the lengths parents will go to protect their child.

Based on the 2012 novel by William Landay, this AppleTV+ limited series stars Chris Evans and Michelle Dockery.
Available on DVD.

Blair Recommends: Fiction

Blair Recommends: Fiction

SPL staff member, Blair, always has recommendations! Whether for books or movies – she’s either read it, seen it, or noted feedback from other library book readers. We’re sharing these collected lists in a series we’re calling “Blair Recommends.” Next up: Fiction!


 

Cover ImageThe Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meets to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves. The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps. Now, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.


Cover ImageThe Paris Hours by Alex George

Told over the course of a single day in 1927, their stories emerge: Camille was the maid of Marcel Proust, and she has a secret: when she was asked to burn her employer’s notebooks, she saved one for herself. Now she is desperate to find it before her betrayal is revealed. Souren, an Armenian refugee, performs puppet shows for children that are nothing like the fairy tales they expect. Lovesick artist Guillaume is down on his luck and running from a debt he cannot repay―but when Gertrude Stein walks into his studio, he wonders if this is the day everything could change. And Jean-Paul is a journalist who tells other people’s stories, because his own is too painful to tell. When the quartet’s paths finally cross in an unforgettable climax, each discovers if they will find what they are looking for.


Cover ImageA Lily of the Field by John Lawton

Spanning the tumultuous years 1934 to 1948, John Lawton’s A Lily of the Field is a brilliant historical thriller from a master of the form. The book follows two characters—Méret Voytek, a talented young cellist living in Vienna, and Dr. Karel Szabo, a Hungarian physicist interned in a camp on the Isle of Man. In his seventh Inspector Troy novel, Lawton moves seamlessly from Vienna and Auschwitz to the deserts of New Mexico and the rubble-strewn streets of postwar London, following the fascinating parallels of the physicist Szabo and musician Voytek as fate takes each far from home and across the untraditional battlefields of a destructive war to an unexpected intersection of their lives.

 


Cover ImageThe Girl from Widow Hills by Megan Miranda

Arden Maynor was just a child when she was swept away while sleepwalking during a terrifying rainstorm and went missing for days. Strangers and friends, neighbors and rescue workers, set up search parties and held vigils, praying for her safe return. Against all odds, she was found, alive, clinging to a storm drain. The girl from Widow Hills was a living miracle. Arden’s mother wrote a book. Fame followed. Fans and fan letters, creeps, and stalkers. And every year, the anniversary. It all became too much. As soon as she was old enough, Arden changed her name and disappeared from the public eye.

 


Cover ImageThe Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

Inspired by the true blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service of the 1930s: The hardscrabble folks of Troublesome Creek have to scrap for everything—everything except books, that is. Thanks to Roosevelt’s Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, Troublesome’s got its very own traveling librarian, Cussy Mary Carter. Cussy’s not only a book woman, however, she’s also the last of her kind, her skin a shade of blue unlike most anyone else. Not everyone is keen on Cussy’s family or the Library Project, and a Blue is often blamed for any whiff of trouble. If Cussy wants to bring the joy of books to the hill folks, she’s going to have to confront prejudice as old as the Appalachias and suspicion as deep as the holler.

 


Cover ImageThe Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer

Since she was nine years old, Alina Dziak knew she would marry her best friend, Tomasz. Now fifteen and engaged, Alina is unconcerned by reports of Nazi soldiers at the Polish border, believing her neighbors that they pose no real threat, and dreams instead of the day Tomasz returns from college in Warsaw so they can be married. In 1942, Europe remains in the relentless grip of war. Just beyond the tents of the Russian refugee camp she calls home, a young woman speaks her wedding vows. It’s a decision that will alter her destiny…and it’s a lie that will remain buried until the next century.

 


Cover ImageEight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson

Years ago, bookseller and murder mystery aficionado Malcolm Kershaw compiled a list of the genre’s most unsolvable murders which he titled “Eight Perfect Murders.” Then an FBI agent comes knocking on his door one snowy day in February. She’s looking for information about a series of unsolved murders that look eerily similar to the killings on Mal’s old list. And the FBI agent isn’t the only one interested in this bookseller. The killer is out there, watching his every move.

Romance Reads

Romance Reads

Hang the Moon / Alexandria Bellefleur

Brendon Lowell loves love. It’s why he created a dating app to help people find their one true pairing and why he’s convinced “the one” is out there, even if he hasn’t met her yet. Or… has he? When his sister’s best friend turns up in Seattle unexpectedly, Brendon jumps at the chance to hang out with her. He’s crushed on Annie since they were kids, and the stars have finally aligned, putting them in the same city at the same time.

Annie booked a spur-of-the-moment trip to Seattle to spend time with friends before moving across the globe. She’s not looking for love, especially with her best friend’s brother. Annie remembers Brendon as a sweet, dorky kid. Except, the 6-foot-4 man who shows up at her door is a certified Hot Nerd and Annie… wants him? Oh yes.


Lizzie & Dante / Mary Bly

On the heels of a difficult break-up and a devastating diagnosis, Shakespeare scholar Lizzie Delford decides to take one last lavish vacation on Elba, the sun-kissed island off the Italian coast, with her best friend and his movie-star boyfriend. Once settled into a luxurious seaside resort, Lizzie has to make big decisions about her future, and she needs the one thing she may be running out of: time.

A luscious story of love, courage, and Italian wine, Lizzie & Dante demands to know how far we should travel to find a future worth fighting for.

 


Sunrise by the Sea / Jenny Colgan

Marisa Rosso can’t understand why everyone else is getting on with their lives as she still struggles to get over the death of her beloved grandfather, back home in Italy. Everyone loses grandparents, right? Why is she taking it so badly?

Retreating further and further from normal life, she moves to the end of the earth–the remote tidal island of Mount Polbearne, at the foot of Cornwall, hoping for peace and solitude, whilst carrying on her job as a registrar, dealing with births, weddings, and deaths, even as she feels life is passing her by. Unfortunately–or fortunately?–the solitude she craves proves elusive.

 


The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels / India Holton

Cecilia Bassingwaite is the ideal Victorian lady. She’s also a thief. Like the other members of the Wisteria Society crime sorority, she flies around England drinking tea, blackmailing friends, and acquiring treasure by interesting means. Sure, she has a dark and traumatic past and an overbearing aunt, but all things considered, it’s a pleasant existence. Until the men show up.

Ned Lightbourne is a sometimes assassin who is smitten with Cecilia from the moment they meet. Unfortunately, that happens to be while he’s under direct orders to kill her. His employer, Captain Morvath, who possesses a gothic abbey bristling with cannons and an unbridled hate for the world, intends to rid England of all its presumptuous women, starting with the Wisteria Society. Ned has plans of his own. But both men have made one grave mistake. Never underestimate a woman.


One Last Stop / Casey McQuiston

For cynical twenty-three-year-old August, moving to New York City is supposed to prove her right: that things like magic and cinematic love stories don’t exist, and the only smart way to go through life is alone. She can’t imagine how waiting tables at a 24-hour pancake diner and moving in with too many weird roommates could possibly change that. And there’s certainly no chance of her subway commute being anything more than a daily trudge through boredom and electrical failures. But then, there’s this gorgeous girl on the train.

 

 


The Invisible Husband of Frick Island / Colleen Oakley

Piper Parrish’s life on Frick Island–a tiny, remote town smack in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay–is nearly perfect. Well, aside from one pesky detail: Her darling husband, Tom, is dead. When Tom’s crab boat capsized and his body wasn’t recovered, Piper, rocked to the core, did a most peculiar thing: carried on as if her husband was not only still alive, but right there beside her, cooking him breakfast, walking him to the docks each morning, meeting him for their standard Friday night dinner date at the One-Eyed Crab. And what were the townspeople to do but go along with their beloved widowed Piper?

Anders Caldwell’s career is not going well. A young ambitious journalist, he’d rather hoped he’d be a national award-winning podcaster by now, rather than writing fluff pieces for a small town newspaper. But when he gets an assignment to travel to the remote Frick Island and cover their boring annual Cake Walk fundraiser, he stumbles upon a much more fascinating tale: an entire town pretending to see and interact with a man who does not actually exist. Determined it’s the career-making story he’s been needing for his podcast, Anders returns to the island to begin covert research and spend more time with the enigmatic Piper–but he has no idea out of all the lives he’s about to upend, it’s his that will change the most


The Road Trip / Beth O’Leary

Four years ago, Dylan and Addie fell in love under the Provence sun. Wealthy Oxford student Dylan was staying at his friend Cherry’s enormous French villa; wild child Addie was spending her summer as the on-site caretaker. Two years ago, their relationship officially ended. They haven’t spoken since.

Today, Dylan’s and Addie’s lives collide again. It’s the day before Cherry’s wedding, and Addie and Dylan crash cars at the start of the journey there. The car Dylan was driving is wrecked, and the wedding is in rural Scotland–he’ll never get there on time by public transport. So, along with Dylan’s best friend, Addie’s sister, and a random guy on Facebook who needed a ride, they squeeze into a space-challenged Mini and set off across Britain. Cramped into the same space, Dylan and Addie are forced to confront the choices they made that tore them apart–and ask themselves whether that final decision was the right one after all.


When Stars Collide / Susan Elizabeth Phillips

Thaddeus Walker Bowman Owens, the backup quarterback for the Chicago Stars, is a team player, talented sideline coach, occasional male underwear model, and a man with a low tolerance for Divas.

Olivia Shore, international opera superstar, is a driven diva with a passion for perfection, a craving for justice, too many secrets–and a monumental grudge against the egotistical, lowbrow jock she’s been stuck with.

It’s Mozart meets Monday Night Football as the temperamental soprano and stubborn jock embark on a nationwide tour promoting a luxury watch brand. Along the way, the combatants will engage in soul-searching and trash talk, backstage drama and, for sure, a quarterback pass. But they’ll also face trouble as threatening letters, haunting photographs, and a series of dangerous encounters complicate their lives. Is it the work of an overzealous fan or something more sinister?


Love for Beginners / Jill Shalvis

When Emma Harris wakes up from a coma she learns that her fiancé and her BFF have fallen in love, she’s lost her job, and the life she knew is gone. Overwhelmed but grateful to be alive she starts over from scratch. Not as easy as it sounds, of course. But she’s never been a quitter, even if she wishes she could quit rehab, where her hot but evil physical therapist, Simon, puts her through the wringer.

Eager for a new beginning, Emma opens a doggy day care. Unfortunately, the only space she can afford is owned by her childhood nemesis Ali Pratt. But hey, she’s been through worse, right? She tries to roll with the punches, but a friend drops his grandpa off at the doggy day care in desperation then on top of that, she and Ali bring the term ‘frenemies’ to a whole new level. And then another grandparent shows up. And another.

In the midst of all that, Emma realizes she’s accidentally fallen for Evil PT. But the most horrifying thing of all is that Ali just might have turned into the best friend she’s ever had. And as Emma grows from the pain of her past and takes on her new path, she comes to realize that life isn’t what you’re given, it’s what you make of it.


The Break-up Book Club / Wendy Wax

On paper, Jazmine, Judith, Erin and Sara have little in common – they’re very different people leading very different lives. And yet at book club meetings in an historic carriage house turned bookstore, they bond over a shared love of reading (and more than a little wine) as well as the growing realization that their lives are not turning out like they expected.

Former tennis star Jazmine is a top sports agent balancing a career and single motherhood. Judith is an empty nester questioning her marriage and the supporting role she chose. Erin’s high school sweetheart and fiance develops a bad case of cold feet, and Sara’s husband takes a job out of town saddling Sara with a difficult mother-in-law who believes her son could have done better – not exactly the roommate most women dream of.


Seven Days in June / Tia Williams

Eva Mercy is a single mom and bestselling erotica writer who is feeling pressed from all sides. Shane Hall is a reclusive, enigmatic, award‑winning novelist, who, to everyone’s surprise, shows up in New York.

When Shane and Eva meet unexpectedly at a literary event, sparks fly, raising not only their buried traumas, but the eyebrows of the Black literati. What no one knows is that fifteen years earlier, teenage Eva and Shane spent one crazy, torrid week madly in love. While they may be pretending not to know each other, they can’t deny their chemistry–or the fact that they’ve been secretly writing to each other in their books through the years.

Over the next seven days, amidst a steamy Brooklyn summer, Eva and Shane reconnect–but Eva’s wary of the man who broke her heart, and wants him out of the city so her life can return to normal. Before Shane disappears though, she needs a few questions answered…