Current Picks: Book Reviews

What Was Mine

This story, which is told by several characters, is hard to put down once you read the first few chapters. Lucy Wakefield is an ordinary woman, who gets what she wants out of life. There is one thing, however, that life does not give her: a child. After separating from her husband, she does something unthinkable: she takes a 4-month-old baby girl from a shopping cart and ends up raising her as her own. She manages to keep her horrible secret for over 20 years.


What follows is a ripple effect, which alters the lives of so many people. Whether the reader agrees with the way the story ends up or not, this novel is a definite thought-provoking, fast paced page turner.

Check out What Was Mine (2016) by Helen Klein Ross today.

You can also listen to the audiobook on Hoopla or read the eBook on Overdrive.



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Lily and the Octopus

Growing up in a house that always had a dachshund made me pick up this book. Little did I know that it would affect me the way it did.

The beauty of this book is in reading it. I went in knowing nothing about it, and was happy I didn't. It is a story about Teddy and Lily, his dachshund, and the "octopus" attached to Lily's head. The bond between Lily and Ted will resonate long after you finish. I highly suggest having tissue nearby.

I loved this unique, quirky, charming, and yes, heartbreaking story of a beloved dog. Steven Rowley's Lily and the Octopus (2016) was magical from beginning to end.

Listen to the book on Overdrive today.


The Roommate

If you loved The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, pick up The Roommate (2020) by debut author Rosie Danan.This steamy romantic comedy will give you all the feels for the charming couple.

Respectable socialite Clara has always followed the rules and avoided scandal...until her longtime crush invites her to move cross-country. She impulsively heads to LA, and is blindsided by the news that he's sublet his room. Enter Josh, who is her opposite in every way—and, surprise, an adult film star. Together, they start a business to combat the negative realities of the adult entertainment industry and to empower women and their partners.

Clara and Josh grow together personally and professionally in this entertaining escape. For more fun reads, check out our recently updated list of Romantic Comedies.


The Last Flight

Claire and Eva both have reasons for wanting to disappear, so when they happen upon each other at the airport, they decide to take the other person's flight. However, when one of the planes crashes, the danger they thought they were leaving isn't far behind.

The Last Flight (2020) by Julie Clark is a great readalike for The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine, The Passenger by Lisa Lutz, and Peter Swanson.

Borrow The Last Flight instantly from Hoopla today.



The Heist

Kate is a tough, smart, and determined FBI Special Agent on the hunt for the elusive Nick, an international thief and charming con man. She finally catches him, but he talks her FBI boss into letting him work for them. And he's to be Kate's partner on her next mission: stopping a crooked banker on a private island.

Fighting bodyguards, pirates, and each other, the action is pretty farfetched, but it's so much fun you won't mind. This is fiction after all.

The Heist (2013) is a fast-paced and entertaining adventure, but it's the fun kind, not the gripping white knuckle kind. The flirty sexual tension between Kate and Nick help keep this story light.

The Heist is the first book in the Kate O'Hare and Nicholas Fox series written by Janet Evanovich and Lee Goldberg.

Narrator Scott Brick is a solid storyteller and a pleasure to listen to—visit Overdrive to listen to the audiobook or read the ebook today.



Every Bone a Prayer

Full of magical realism and wonderfully atmospheric descriptions of the Appalachian 'hollers,' Every Bone a Prayer (2020) is the story of a young girl facing her demons. 10-year-old Misty uses her connection to nature to help escape from the problems in her life. She is friends with the crawdads in the creek and discovers that she can mentally connect and communicate with them as well as the trees, other animals, and even buildings. But when strange and traumatic things start happening, Misty wishes this connection would extend to the people in her life to allow her to get answers and understanding.

Throughout the eventful and painful summer, she comes to realize that escape doesn't always work. Harder things, like self-acceptance, are what is needed.

This beautifully written debut from Ashley Blooms is an inspiring book about trauma and healing.

Read the eBook on Hoopla today.


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1776

This is a great in-depth look at how George Washington and American troops emerged victorious and gained independence in the American revolution. 1776 (2005) looks at both sides of the war, both English and American, through journals, diaries, articles, and other war documents to paint a vivid picture of what happened.

David McCullough even puts in clarifications to some of the facts that were written by soldiers at the time so they more accurately reflect what happened in battles. The writing is very accessible and easy to follow compared to some historical books that are bogged down by dated language. If you are a fan of history, this is a great book to look at for more information on the American revolution.

Visit Overdrive to read the ebook or listen to the audiobook today.


You Were Always Mine

Jessica Chamberlain is newly separated and lives in a small Iowa town with her two beloved sons. She misses her husband and hopes to get her marriage back on track. One morning, she receives a phone call that breaks her world apart. As she tries to make sense of a horrible tragedy, she is drawn into a mysterious web of lies. Everything seems to lead back to Gabriel, her adopted 7-year-old son.

You Were Always Mine (2018) by Nicole Baart is a good family drama that keeps the reader turning the pages quickly.



The Vanishing Half

Desiree, one of the lost twins of Mallard, Louisiana, has returned home with her "black as tar" daughter Jude. She is returning to a town founded as a place for people who "would never be accepted as white, but refused to be treated as Negroes." The founder hoped to create a "more perfect Negro" with each "generation lighter than the one before."

In 1954, 16-year-old twins Stella and Desiree Vignes ran away from home. Desiree later works as an FBI fingerprint examiner in Washington D.C., and Stella leaves her sister to find her own way in the world. She moves to California, marries a white man, has a daughter, and passes for white. Her family has no idea of Stella's secret past.

As the story moves from the 1950s into the 90s, author Brit Bennett examines sisterhood and the idea of "a sister as a kind of alternate self."The twins share the trauma of seeing their father lynched by white men. The author explores how that kind of inherited trauma might affect the next generation who have no idea what they have inherited. Both sisters have daughters that meet by chance, not knowing that they are related or any idea of their mothers' shared past.

I found this novel so interesting on many levels: the idea that a town places importance on skin tones, the idea of passing, and the dichotomy of what life would be like staying in the South as opposed to living in the North. In The Vanishing Half (2020), we see two lives and two dramatically different paths. A compelling story of family, identity, and race.

Check out the ebook or audiobook of The Vanishing Half on Overdrive today. For more own voices stories, browse our list of Black Voices: Historical Fiction.



The Wife and the Widow

When Kate's husband John disappears after she believed he was at a conference in London, her life is thrown into turmoil. It's obvious her marriage isn't what she thought it was when Kate discovers that John never even left Australia. Another woman, Abby, lives on an island off the coast, and worries about her husband Ray's strange behavior and feels he is hiding something. In alternating storylines in The Wife and the Widow (2020), Christian White tells the stories of both women whose lives you know are going to intersect in this clever page turner. With two solid novels under his belt, White proves he's a writer to watch.



1984

Big Brother is always watching, thoughts against the state are a crime, and if you act out of line you disappear without a moment's notice. This is the world of 1984, a dystopian society where every action you take, every conversation you have, may be your last and you may not even realize it. Winston is one who falls in line typically but recent changes has him seeking pleasures that are hidden and taken away from society regularly. This beautifully suspenseful novel will keep you on your toes as Winston skirts the line between being safe and getting caught.

Check out 1984, the 1949 classic written by George Orwell. Visit Overdrive to read the ebook or listen to the audiobook.



We’re Going to Need More Wine

Actress Gabrielle Union shares her truth in an honest, frank, and funny way. Some stories will unexpectedly cause you to burst out laughing, while others will bring you to tears. Topics run the gamut of filming and Hollywood life (from a nostalgic look at 10 Things I Hate About You to the frustration of not having a hairstylist on set who had done Black hair), racism and colorism, family and friends, love and trauma. Her essay on raising Black boys is especially poignant.

We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True (2017) is candid, relevant, and engaging. Give this book a listen—Union narrates her story. Both the audiobook and ebook are available on Hoopla today.

We've got two lists of books that may be of interest if you enjoy this book: Celebrity Memoirs Read by the Author and Black Voices: Memoirs, Essays, & Poetry.



The Brother Years

Written like a memoir, this coming of age tale takes place in the wealthy North Shore suburbs of Chicago in the '70s and '80s. Being relatively poor, the Brennan family doesn't exactly fit in, but their father has high hopes that going to a good school, mixing with the wealthy, and giving everything their utmost effort will give his kids the chance of a better life.

Readers with siblings will recognize the love/hate relationship between the brothers, the rivalry, the hatred of comparison, and maybe even the violence. Before the high emotions of childhood mellow into a lasting friendship, we have to get through the struggle of those teen years.

Evoking memories of childhood, this was a bittersweet read with themes of class struggle, sibling rivalry, and family drama.

The Brother Years (2020) by Shannon Burke is a highly entertaining, relatable, and easily readable book.

Request the ebook or eAudiobook on Overdrive today.


Can’t Hurt Me

David Goggins found the inner strength to overcome an unhappy and abusive childhood. He transformed himself from a depressed, overweight young man into a U.S. Armed Forces icon. In Can't hurt me : master your mind and defy the odds (2018), he explains how he achieved his goals, and how applying perseverance, motivation, self-control, and his "The 40% Rule" will help you to succeed in life.

His book will inspire you to apply those principles to your own life. He will motivate you to believe in yourself and to realize that you are capable of overcoming the obstacles in front of you. After reading this book, you may find that not only can you reach your goals, but you might surpass them.

Read Can't Hurt Me on Hoopla or Overdrive today.



Echo

Echo begins as a fairy tale with Otto, a boy lost in the woods who meets three strange women telling him of a prophecy concerning a rare harmonica. From there, we hear three different stories of four pre-teen children who all live in different times, places, and circumstances, leaning on music to get them through hard times. The tales take you to Germany, Pennsylvania, and California, with storylines interconnected and centered around the possession of a rare harmonica. The audiobook was magical to listen to. I would recommend this beautiful, historical fairy tale to readers for all ages.

Listen to Echo (2015) by Pam Munoz Ryan on Hoopla today.