Current Picks

Jennifer

The English Wife by Lauren Willig (2018)

At the start of this riveting Gilded Age mystery, a man is dead. What happened? One thread of the story follows his sister Janie in her quest for answers; another details his courtship of his wife five years earlier. With a compelling combination of historical detail, strong characters, and intricate plot, The English Wife will grab you immediately and keep you guessing until the shocking end. Lauren Willig's latest novel is darker than her previous works, but so worth a read.
Joan

The Crossing Places by Elly Griffiths (2010)

In this intriguing page-turner, Elly Griffiths introduces forensic archaeologist Ruth Galloway. A professor at the local university, she finds herself called into a murder investigation by the police when a child goes missing and bones are uncovered in the remote marshy area where Ruth lives. During the course of the investigation, Ruth grows closer to Detective Chief Inspector Harry Nelson.

The edition of The Crossing Places I read previewed the first two chapters of the second book in the series, The Janus Stone. Griffiths managed to hook me into that story too. I’m longing to learn more about forensic archaeology, curious to discover what lies beneath the reclusive Ruth, and of course, anxious to see how the relationship between Ruth and Harry will evolve.
IPPL Staff

None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio (2015)

I. W. Gregorio’s novel chronicles the struggles teens can face growing up intersex through the eyes of character Kristin Lattimer. After homecoming, Kristin has relations with a fellow teen only to discover her worst nightmare: her body isn’t what she thought it was. None of the Above is a story of discovery, bullying, and ultimately acceptance of ourselves and others. It also serves as a reminder to always be kind: you never know what someone else is going through.
Jez

Audiobook Narrator Spotlight: Bahni Turpin

If you are an audiobook listener, chances are you are already a fan of Bahni Turpin, even if you don’t realize it yet. Narrating over 100 audiobooks, Turpin has set herself up to be one of the best narrators, and she has the awards to prove it. With her clear pronunciation, mastery of accents, easily distinguishable character voices, and immersive storytelling, Turpin brings emotion and life to any book. Though she has voiced a wide range of characters, her melodious voice is, in my opinion, perhaps the best I’ve heard for young African-American female characters. No matter the character, genre, or author, you will never be disappointed with Bahni Turpin at the mic.

Here are some of our favorite audiobooks narrated by Bahni Turpin:
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Mary P.

Rooster Bar by John Grisham (2017)

Four students at a substandard law school where fifty-percent of the graduates don’t pass the bar the first time, come to the realization that they are massively in debt with student loans in the six-figures and no job prospects on the horizon. They decide to take matters into their own hands and pass themselves off as lawyers without finishing school. Picking up clients outside of courtroom doors, the students think they are in the clear, but soon their scheme starts falling apart. It’s all fun and games trying to avoid the local police, the FBI, and a whole bunch of bad guys in John Grisham's newest legal thriller, The Rooster Bar.
Jennifer

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (2016)

At the beginning of this compelling novel, a private plane crashes 16 minutes after takeoff from Martha’s Vineyard; only 2 (of 11) people survive. The rest of the story alternates between the investigation of the crash and the stories of those on board leading up to the crash (we get a chapter from the perspective of each person on board).

Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley writes a compulsively readable novel, revealing bits of information until you unravel what happened and why. Before the Fall is an excellent choice for a book group, inspiring discussions about truth, technology, the media, and flawed characters.
Hugh

A Question of Identity by Susan Hill (2012)

In Yorkshire, a suspect is acquitted of murder following very uncertain testimony by an eyewitness. He is placed under identity protection due to the heated response of the local community, and ten years later Chief Superintendent Simon Serrailler of Lafferton is confronted with first one, then a second brutal murder of elderly women under circumstances similar to the Yorkshire case.

In Susan Hill’s A Question of Identity, the reader follows the case development with the police superintendent as well as the views of the suspect and a lonely hermit who wanders and watches. Find previous books in the series on Goodreads, plus check out my recent reviews of The Betrayal of Trust and The Risk of Darkness.
IPPL Staff

Wagging Through the Snow by Laurien Berenson (2017)

Do you love dogs? Christmas? Murder mysteries? Stop right there! Wagging Through the Snow, the latest installment of Laurien Berenson’s Melanie Travis series, is just what you’ve been looking for. Melanie is hoping for a quiet Christmas this year with her family and six dogs (five of them standard poodles, of course), but her family has other plans when her brother buys some cheap property for his joint business with Melanie’s ex-husband. Reluctantly roped into helping out, Melanie discovers more than she bargained for: a cute little Maltese dog—and his dead owner under a tree.

Find more Christmas mysteries at the library.
Jez

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (2016)

Natasha is a girl who believes in science and facts and she’s got far bigger problems to deal with than falling in love. Daniel is an incurable romantic who puts his faith in fate and poetry. The two teens couldn’t be more different, but when they keep crossing paths, they learn that they may have more in common than they first thought.

Alternating chapters between the two characters, with interspersed sections written from an omniscient narrator about the teens, their families, and the universe, this beautifully written YA book tackles big issues like deportation, second-generation immigrants, familial expectations, racism, and the existence of love and fate. The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon will make you cry tears of sadness, joy, and laughter, and leave you feeling a little glow in your heart.
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Joan

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys (2016)

Short chapters alternate among three young evacuees in East Prussia during the winter of 1945. A fourth voice also fits into the storyline. Joana, Florian, Emilia, and Alfred are aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff when it is hit by a Russian torpedo and quickly sinks. The story leads up to this moment when life-changing decisions are made. We get to know, love, and understand the differing life circumstances that have brought these characters together from all over Eastern Europe at a crucial time in the war.

Ruta Sepetys has a talent for drawing tears from her readers and little known stories from history. Between Shades of Gray exposed the tragic story of the Lithuanian prisoners in Siberia with the same drama and sensitivity that she tells this story of the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff. The epilogue in Salt to the Sea adds another poignant note to this moment in historical fiction.
Jennifer

Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie (1934)

I picked up this classic British mystery after seeing a preview for the movie adaptation. My first foray into the world of Agatha Christie and Detective Hercule Poirot did not disappoint. Murder on the Orient Express has an abundance of suspects, an engrossing story, and a clever plot.

Listen to actor Dan Stevens (of Downton Abbey and Beauty and the Beast fame) narrate the novel (available on CD and Hoopla). Between his performance and Christie’s story, you will be hooked immediately. Stevens’ range of accents makes it easy to follow the large cast of characters. And it's only 6.5 hours long!

Want more? We’ve got you covered with whichever direction you go: check out our lists of classic mysteries and audiobooks for a quick trip. Also, check out Shows ‘n Tunes in January for Corrine’s review of the movie adaptation.

 
Cindy K.

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg (2017)

I loved this charming and uplifting tale of an elderly widower, a troubled teen, and an aging spinster who are given the gift of second chances. Elizabeth Berg’s beautiful writing and heartwarming characters made The Story of Arthur Truluv a great read. I was sad to see it end!

Novelist recommends this book for fans of A Man Called Ove, Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, and The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry.
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Heather

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (2015)

If you love a big story climax, Crenshaw is probably not the book for you. In this 2018 Bluestem nominated junior novel, Katherine Applegate tells the story of an imaginary friend from a boy's perspective as his family deals with financial troubles. The story does not build up to any major plot point; however, it is thoughtful and reflective (especially since a large portion of the book is a flashback).

In any event, this was an easy audiobook listen (just over three hours), narrated by old pro Kirby Heyborne, and it could stir some interesting discussion topics with you and your family.
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Jez

Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (2017)

Need more Wonder Woman and don’t want to wait two years for the next movie? Worry not, because Leigh Bardugo’s new novel Warbringer is everything you need.

Diana knows not to meddle in the affairs of mortals, but against her better judgment and the advice of the Oracle, she saves the life of a young shipwrecked girl, Alia. Alia is a “warbringer,” a woman descended from Helen of Troy, whose blood will bring about a world war if she reaches adulthood. Determined to change fate, Diana takes it upon herself to deliver Alia to Greece where she can be cleansed of the warbringer line—but Alia doesn’t believe in such stories and just wants to return home. The two must learn to trust each other if they are to survive the lies, assassination attempts, divine intervention, and expensive galas as they race against time to save the world.

Full of lovable, flawed, and beautifully diverse characters, this action-packed and humorous coming-of-age novel makes a great read and an even better listen with the audiobook, read by Mozhan Marno, which will leave fans desperate for more.
Mary P.

The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism by John U. Bacon (2017)

In 1917, a ship full of explosives en route from New York to France exploded in Halifax Harbor, Nova Scotia. Killing 2,000 people and wounding 9,000 more, the explosion leveled 2.5 square miles of Canada. In The Great Halifax Explosion, author John U. Bacon combines engaging human interest stories with what happened leading up to and after the explosion (which was the largest in the world until the atomic bombs were dropped in 1945). He introduces readers to the families of Halifax and details their daily lives in this fascinating story. For fans of history books with a personal narrative.

If you visit Halifax, you can see the Mont Blanc Anchor. Learn more from Canada’s Historic Places.