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Schoolgirl Missing

On a boating trip, 14-year old Poppy, a child with special needs, disappears in the night. Kit, her biological father, is in anguish.Her stepmother, Neve, appears to be very worried. However, she is hiding quite a few secrets from her mysterious past. As the frantic search for Poppy continues, the police are becoming more and more suspicious of her parents.

Schoolgirl Missing by Sue Fortin (2019) is a great page-turner. It will keep you guessing until the very end. Listen to the novel via Hoopla or read the book via Overdrive.



Carry On

You've read and re-read all the Harry Potter books, watched all the movies, maybe even tried to find some magic in Narnia or Middle Earth, but you're still looking for more… Rainbow Rowell is here for you. Carry On (2015) tells the story of Simon Snow, the worst Chosen One who's ever been chosen. Somehow, even as things are falling apart around him (sometimes even catching on fire), things always work out, much to the dismay of his roommate and mortal enemy, Baz (who happens to be a vampire and maybe also the love of his life?).

Come and visit the Watford School of Magicks for a very Harry Potter-esque story with maybe just a bit more sarcastic humor. Enjoy the audiobook on Hoopla or the ebook on Overdrive, and then look for book two:Wayward Son.



Honoring Romance Novelist Donna Kauffman

Bestselling romance novelist Donna Kauffman passed away on April 9 at the age of 60.  Alicia Condon, Kauffman's book editor, said, "Donna had a special gift for telling tender, uplifting stories while offering a uniquely insightful glimpse at the human condition,"  The prolific author of seventy novels also contributed a reality TV column to USA Today's Happy Ever After blog until 2015.

BookPage conducted an interview with Donna in 2018.

Read or listen to some of her books on Overdrive or Hoopla.

The Girl with the Louding Voice

Prepare to fall in love with the Adunni, the plucky heroine of The Girl with the Louding Voice (2020). Adunni is a 14-year-old girl living in rural Nigeria where child marriage, polygamy, and jungle justice are still common and a girl has no worth but for her bride price. But Adunni is a delightful character and despite all the hardships that come her way, she manages to find joy in her life and see the good in people who hurt her. All she wants is to get an education, as she believes this will allow her voice to be heard, to allow her to speak up and have a say in her future.

Abi Daré's debut novel is both heartrending and heartwarming—and full of wonderful characters. Written in Adunni's voice and dialect, it may take reading a few pages to get used to the writing style, but it is well worth it. A riveting and inspiring book.

You can also read or listen to this book on Overdrive.



Check, Please

Hockey, baking, vlogging, and romance… I never would have thought such things would go together quite as perfectly as they do in Check, Please, a webcomic series by Ngozi Ukazu. From start to finish, this story will warm your heart like a good apple pie and have you laughing out loud with every page turn.

Even the most sports-averse will come to love the Samwell University Hockey team and wish to be a part of their 'dude-bro' bonding. Bonus points for the seamless inclusivity and acceptance of LGBTQ values.

Read the full webcomic here.

(The first 2 seasons were also made into a graphic novel: Check, Please! Book 1: Hockey is available on our shelves. The next graphic novel, Check, Please! Book 2: Sticks & Scones, will be released in print in April.)

Crimson Lake

Full of suspense, suspicions, and mystery, Crimson Lake is a contemporary crime thriller set in a small town in Queensland, Australia. The complicated characters and thrilling storyline had me hooked.

This is the first in a series by Candice Fox. After I read Crimson Lake (2018), I picked up Redemption Point (2019), which did not disappoint. The third book, Gone By Midnight (2020), is next on my list.

Listen to the audiobooks of the Crimson Lake series via Hoopla today.




Series Spotlight: Owl Diaries

The Wingdale owl family (Mom, Dad, Eva, Humphrey and Baby Mo) live in a tree in, of course, Treetopolis. When Eva receives a new diary, she faithfully records all her adventures, concerns, problems, triumphs, and sadness in the diary.

Each of the 13 books (so far) in this series focus on one big event in Eva's world. The plots feature a mystery that Eva solves and most readers of this series will solve. Friendships, working together, and solving problems are what Eva and her friends do.

The digital illustrations are a major part of the storytelling. There are collage-like illustrations are on each page. The connection between image and words is very clear. It would be easy to extend activities by encouraging art projects.

The author uses clever references to owls: "What a hoot," "Anyhoot," "sticking her beak into my business," and Owliverse."Readers will enjoy searching for connections. Speech bubbles are used for dialog between characters.

These books by Rebecca Elliott have gentle plots, interesting characters, and are for readers beginning "easy readers." The first book is Eva's Treetop Festival (2015). Each book has 74 pages (Lexile 530-620). At the end of each book is, "How much do you know about…?" Questions follow and a final suggestion of further activities.

Many of the books in this series are available as e-books on Overdrive.

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The Client

A street smart 11-year-old boy steals the scene in this classic legal thriller. Mark Sway witnesses the suicide of mob lawyer Jerome Clifford. What did Jerome confess to this child? That's what all of the adults are trying to figure out in this fast-paced adventure. Mark hires Reggie Love, a 50ish woman who has been practicing law for four years. A fierce advocate, Reggie is strong, smart, and protective.

If you enjoy child narrators, strong female leads, gripping thrillers, or any combination of those, pick up this 1993 novel by John Grisham. The Client has aged well. I couldn't put this one down.

Check out our list of legal thrillers for more books in this genre. Also, you can judge the movie adaptation: The Client was released in 1994, starring Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones.

Read or listen to the book today via Overdrive.



Hair Love

Enjoy this story inspired by the Academy Award winning short film that shows the love a father has for his daughter by learning how to take care of her natural hair. "My hair is mommy, daddy, and me. It's hair love!" Delightful!

Hair Love (2019) was written by Matthew A. Cherry and illustrated by Vashti Harrison. Listen to the audiobook on Hoopla, read the ebook on Overdrive, and watch the Oscar winning film on YouTube.

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Series Spotlight: Winternight

If you grew up on fairy tales and want to rediscover that magic as an adult, then the Winternight trilogy (start with The Bear and the Nightingale, 2017) is for you. Katherine Arden brings to life Russian folklore and spirits you away to the forests of medieval Russia in this lyrical tale.

Vasya is born into a time when the old beliefs are being threatened by the introduction of modern religion, but she is one of the few who can still see and talk to the household and forest spirits. Struggling to keep the old traditions alive to protect her family, Vasya is drawn into an age-old battle between the frost-king and his brother. The action continues from the frozen forests to the capital, Moscow, and through the fantastical Midnight Lands, home to the mythical witch Baba Yaga.

Beautifully written with a strong female lead and a captivating portrayal of 14th century Russia, the Winternight trilogy (book 2: The Girl in the Tower, 2018 and book 3: The Winter of the Witch, 2019) interweaves historical moments with old world fantasy to create a wonderful epic fairy tale. This trilogy would appeal to readers of Neil Gaiman and Kiersten White.


Ask Again, Yes

In 1973, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope are in training together to be New York City police officers. A couple of years later, they turn out to be next-door neighbors in the town of Gillam. However, Francis and Brian are not really friends. Still, Francis' youngest daughter, Kate, and Brian's son, Peter, have been close since they were born and share a deep bond. Eventually, a terrible act changes the relationships of the families forever, especially impacting Kate's and Peter's lives.

Ask Again, Yes (2019) tells the story of two families over many decades. Mary Beth Keane's book is a great read for book clubs and those who enjoy novels about family relationships. Looking for the next book to discuss with your group? Check out our lists.


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A Madness of Sunshine

Anahera returns home to a small New Zealand village after she is widowed. Will, a police officer new to town, is struggling with his own demons. They are prickly with each other.

When a local girl with a bright future disappears after going for a run, Will and Anahera team up along with the whole town to search for her. In the course of his investigation Will uncovers rumors and evidence of previous runners disappearing. He relies on Anahera for local insight, and the pair dig up crimes of the past.

A Madness of Sunshine (2019) by Nalini Singh is a gripping romantic suspense novel in a lushly described New Zealand setting. The story is filled with lots of red herrings and a shocking ending.

Discover more romantic suspense.



Series Spotlight: Eerie Elementary

Strange events are happening at Eerie Elementary School (note the name of the school). Third graders Sam, Lucy, and Antonio find themselves in very scary situations as they work together to keep the school safe from the evil Orson Eerie. Their job as hall monitors is to protect the students of Eerie Elementary School by using their magic sashes. Mr. Nekobi, the janitor, knows what is happening and why, and aids the children with clever ideas. Illustrations of Orson Eerie show that obviously he is a scary, evil man!

Children who can suspend disbelief, believe that the physical Eerie Elementary School is alive, who likes "scary" books, and who are ready for unusual adventures will enjoy this series. Start with The School is Alive! (2014).

Each of the 10 books in the Eerie Elementary series by Jack Chabert is 90 pages with black and white drawings on each page. It is clear from the covers that the books are scary, strange, unusual…for sure. The final page of each book has discussion questions and sometimes craft ideas. Lexile range is 430-600.



The Family Upstairs

Libby Jones has long known that when she turns 25, she inherits something from her birth parents' trust, but she is stunned to discover that it turns out a be a decaying mansion in one of the most expensive areas of London. It also is where her birth parents, Henry and Martina Lamb, died in a cult-like situation when she was ten months old.

The Family Upstairs (2019) recounts Libby's journey of discovering what happened in the family home all those years ago, interspersed with Henry Jr.'s retelling of the years when his family's status went from wealth and privilege to being prisoners in their own home. In the novel, the reader also meets Lucy, who lives a meager existence in France with her two children, but longs to get back to Britain, now that the baby (aka Libby) is now 25. The Family Upstairs by Lisa Jewell is a creepily unputdownable read. Perfect for those who love Ruth Rendell's psychological novels, Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent, and the books of Erin Kelly.

The Poppy Wife

A hauntingly beautiful book dealing with the aftermath of the Great War. Set in 1921 with flashbacks to the war years, The Poppy Wife follows the story of war widow, Edie and her brother-in-law Harry, the only surviving brother of three. Edie's husband, Francis, was an avid photographer during the war, faithfully documenting his wartime experience. But when Edie is sent a photo of him with no note attached, 3 years after he was reported missing in action, she latches on to the possibility that he may still be alive somewhere in France and recruits his brother Harry to help look for any sign of him.

Harry's job is as a photographer, taking photos of graves or places of import for bereaved families who are in need of closure. It takes him back to all the places he was stationed throughout the war, villages that have been wiped out or are struggling to rebuild, locals attempting to come to terms with all their loss, and widows searching for any information about their lost husbands. The Poppy Wife (2019) delivers vivid imagery and raw emotion as it follows both Edie and Harry's travels across France.

Caroline Scott is an historian specializing in WWI and The Poppy Wife is an expertly rendered portrayal of the postwar period. Her writing is beautifully atmospheric and the characters are well-drawn, evoking strong emotions.