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Everywhere You Don't Belong

This dark and quirky coming of age story is set on the south side of Chicago. Claude's parents have abandoned him, but luckily he has his strong-willed, civil rights activist grandma and her alcoholic friend, Paul, to look after him. There are times when you'll wish you could just reach out and give the awkward Claude a hug as he struggles to make friends and fit in to society while navigating the tensions and issues of life on the south side.

Spiked with humor and social commentary, Gabriel Bump's debut novel is a quick and entertaining read full of memorable characters. Check out Everywhere You Don't Belong (2020) today.

Available as an ebook on Hoopla.



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Two Girls Down

If you're looking for an incredibly smart and fearless protagonist, you will love Alice Vega, who is featured in this suspenseful tale. Alice is a bounty hunter from California with a talent for finding missing people. Two young sisters disappear from a parking lot in broad daylight in a small Pennsylvania town. Their mother, as would be expected, falls to pieces and her aunt hires Alice to help find the two girls. The local cops try to shut her completely out of the investigation. However, nothing will stop Alice who enlists the help of Max Caplan (Cap), a disgraced former cop. Together they make quite a formidable team.

After this novel, you will most likely look forward to more appearances by the multitalented Alice Vega. Check out Two Girls Down (2018) by Louisa Luna today. Visit Overdrive to read the ebook or listen to the audiobook.



The German Girl

I highly recommend The German Girl (2016). It is the fascinating story of two very different girls growing up in different times. In 1939, Hannah Rosenthal is wealthy and originally from Berlin. In 2014, Anna is from New York.

Hannah's story features her and her parents' escape from Germany before the war begins. She is not of "pure" German blood and they escape by securing passage on a luxury transatlantic ocean liner, called the St. Louis. Her family plans to make a new life for themselves in Havana, Cuba.

Anna receives a birthday gift from a mysterious unknown relative, her Great Aunt Hannah, in Cuba. So Anna and her mother travel to Cuba to meet this relative and find out the truth of her past.

Author Armando Lucas Correa weaves the two stories together so well that I could not put the book down. It is inspired by the true story of the passengers of the St. Louis and what became of them during the Holocaust. (Spoiler alert: read the article from the United State Holocaust Memorial Museum—but not if you want to be surprised by the book).

The German Girl is available to read or listen to via Overdrive. Check it out today. Visit our website for a list of World War II Novels.



Code Name Hélène

In Ariel Lawhon's latest gripping historical novel, she delves into the life of socialite spy Nancy Wake. Code Name Hélène (2020) is richly detailed. The chapters alternate between her early life and her life as an agent.

This New Zealand native left home at 16. She moved to Europe and worked as a journalist. Nancy eventually married a Frenchman. When France falls to Germany during World War II, she starts working for the Resistance. She is quite a dynamic leader with good instincts and quick reactions. I was truly disappointed when this ended.

Visit Overdrive to read the ebook or listen to the audiobook of Code Name Hélène. Learn more about the real-life heroism of Nancy Wake by reading this History.com article. For more novels featuring women in the resistance, check out our book list.



Annihilation

If you enjoy science fiction, you should check out the 2014 Nebula Award winner Annihilation. It's the first book in the Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. Four women; a biologist, an anthropologist, a surveyor, and a psychologist, enter a quarantined area known as Area X. They make up the twelfth expedition tasked with researching and mapping the terrain. Little information has been gathered from previous expeditions because they have all ended in untimely mysterious circumstances. The story is told through the biologist's point of view as she writes down the group's findings in a field journal.

You may be familiar with the 2018 film adaptation directed by Alex Garland and starring Natalie Portman which I also highly recommend, but there are many differences between the book and the movie.

Check out Annihilation today – available as an eBook and eAudiobook through Overdrive.



A Small Town

When twelve inmates organize a prison break that opens the doors for all the prisoners, the small town of Weldonville, Colorado, will never be the same. Two years after many in the town lost their lives, the mayor and city attorney of the town secretly authorize police officer Leah Hawkins to hunt down the twelve inmates and kill them.

A Small Town (2020) is the story of Leah's journey around the country to find some sense of justice in order for the town to begin to heal. Thomas Perry takes the reader on an action-filled ride that's hard to put down.

Read or listen to the book on Hoopla today.


Girl Gone Viral

In the second entry of her Modern Love series, Alisha Rai again gives readers a delightful story of two people falling in love. Reclusive Katrina is having an innocent chat with a stranger at a café. To her dismay, a nearby patron documents her version of their interaction on Twitter. It goes viral, sending her well-ordered private life into a tailspin.

Bodyguard and friend Jas has his own demons, but he sets those aside to bring Katrina to a place she can't be tracked—his childhood home. This slow burn romance has been building for years, and it is lovely to laugh as their relationship enters a new phase. Girl Gone Viral (2020) provides the best kind of distraction. Read it today via Overdrive or listen via Hoopla.

You don't need to read these books in order, but if you prefer to start at the beginning, The Right Swipe is the first book (read or listen instantly on Hoopla). And if you can't get enough romantic comedies, we've got lists: check out Overdrive for ebooks to read today or visit our website.



100 Bullets. Book 1

In the first story, Mr. Graves takes a seat next to Isabelle on the train taking her home after her release from Statesville. She doesn't know him but he knows every detail of her life. He shows her proof of who murdered her husband and child while she was in prison. He offers her revenge.

A gun and 100 untraceable bullets. Police will immediately drop any investigation of a crime committed using one of these bullets. Will she take him up on it?

Each of the ten stories have that same premise: proof of some kind of outrageous wrong and 100 untraceable bullets. You won't see superheroes, dragons or sorcery. You will get gripping noir drama.

Read 100 Bullets. Book 1 (2014) by Brian Azzarello in Hoopla today.



Gone by Midnight

Once again, I enjoyed my trip back to the croc-infested region of Crimson Lake, Australia.

Four eight-year-old boys are left in a hotel room while their parents are downstairs enjoying dinner. When one of the parents returns to check on the boys, one of boys is missing.

In the third book of this great series, Ted Conkaffey and Amanda Pharrell, the two intriguing investigators with very complicated backgrounds, are on the hunt for a child and kidnapper. This thrilling, suspenseful and yes, sometimes funny, mystery kept me guessing to the very end.

Check out Gone by Midnight (2020) by Candice Fox today. Listen immediately via Hoopla. Check out my review of Crimson Lake, the first book in the series.



The Silent Wife

The story alternates from the perspectives of Todd and Jodi, a couple that has been together for 20 years. They have a common-law marriage and lead an affluent life in a waterfront condo in Chicago. Todd is a hedonistic cad who thinks cheating on a partner is perfectly fine. You can't help but hate the guy. Jodi lives in a fairytale world, choosing to deny what is going on right under her nose. She takes good care of Todd, even though he hardly deserves it. To make matters more intriguing, the reader knows early on that one of the main characters is planning to kill the other one.

The Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison (2013) is a great psychological thriller and definitely a fun read. We've got lists of more domestic thrillers and psychological suspense on our website.

This book is available to read or listen to on Overdrive—check it out today.



Listen to Neil Gaiman's Coraline, live from NYPL.

What is better than having someone read you a story? Having the author and famous actors read it to you!

The New York Public Library is hosting a live reading of Neil Gaiman's spooky book Coraline this week, from Tuesday, May 12 through Monday, May 18. Click here to see more details and this link to sign up for a reminder notice. Remember the time difference means it will be at 5pm Chicago time or just go here to watch later or catch up on missed chapters.

Borrow the eBook from Hoopla if you want to read along.



The Mountains Sing

This beautifully written multi-generational family saga brings to life the last 100 years of Vietnam's tragic history. This country and its people have been through so much, and author, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, showcases their strength, resilience, and courage in the face of so much violence and loss.

The story follows Diệu Lan, the matriarch of the family, as she desperately tries to keep her family together through famine, occupation, and war. The author gives you a vivid sense of what it was like to be in Vietnam during that time and manages to weave a thread of love and hope throughout the traumatic history.

This captivating book really drew me in with its expressive, lyrical writing and strong characters, while also teaching me about the history and culture of Vietnam.The Mountains Sing (2020) is a good choice for readers who enjoyed Pachinko and A Long Petal of the Sea.

Read or listen to The Mountains Sing on Hoopla today.



Good Omens

Good Omens (2011) is the brainchild of two legendary authors Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, who created a fun, humorous story of an unlikely duo. An angel from heaven and a demon from hell must work together to stop the apocalypse. Going against orders, they are trying to maintain the status quo so they can maintain their current lives and friendship. The unlikely duo bounce off each other with their dialogue, making it a joy to see on page how the story will unfold.

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

The book has been turned into a TV show on Amazon Prime. Sign up for a free trial or place a hold on the dvd or our Roku with Amazon Prime to see the adaptation.



Oona Out of Order

It's 1982 and 19-year-old Oona is deciding whether to go to the London School of Economics or on tour with the band she's in with her boyfriend, Dale. However, on New Year's Eve, Oona faints and wakes up in 2015 in her 51-year-old body, but feeling like she's still 19, with those years' memories. While Oona is stunned, her personal assistant, Kenzie, and her mother, Madeleine, explain that every New Year's Eve, Oona jumps backwards or forwards in time to a different year.

Through Oona Out of Order (2020), the reader is with Oona in many different decades of her life and gets to see both the highs and lows. This novel by Margarita Montimore is a clever and entertaining page turner.

Visit Overdrive to read or listen to Oona Out of Order today.



Front Desk

Mia Tang is 10 years old, and the new front desk clerk at the Calivista Motel in California. Mia and her family are immigrants to America from China. Her parents have worked many years at many tough jobs since arriving in America, but believe their dream has come true when they get jobs managing the Calivista. The only trouble with their dream is their new boss Mr. Yao, who is mean and keeps finding ways to take money from Mia's family's paycheck.

Mia finds out at school about a chance for her family to win their own motel, but she must write an essay explaining why she and her family would be the best choice. Mia has to balance her life with school, work, and friends, all while trying to keep Mr. Yao happy. It is a tough job, but Mia thinks she can do it all.

Check out Front Desk (2018) by Kelly Yang, geared toward kids in grades 4-6. It's the first in a series, with the second novel expected to be released in September 2020.

This book is available to read or listen to on Overdrive—check it out today.


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