While we continue to work from home, we send all the best and hope everyone is staying safe and healthy! If you’re tired of binge watching, or have re-read every book in your favorite series, why not visit some fun websites to help you pass the time? Learn a new language via Mango or Duolingo and wow your friends and family! Check out these delightful websites and our Just for Fun section below for some virtual traveling too.
And don't forget to check out this week's featured Literary Fiction booklist for more inspiration.
Now let's look at what the staff has been reading! You can find these titles and more in our digital catalogs: Hoopla and Libby by Overdrive.
Isabel Allende’s latest book, A Long Petal of the Sea is an immersive work of historical fiction. It follows the Dalmau family through the horror of the Spanish Civil war, their years in exile, and their journey to find and cultivate a home life in each of their destinations. Along the way there are births, deaths, countless struggles, and all the challenges each of us face daily in our own lives.
I found it to be a beautiful and hope-filled read, crafted with Allende’s amazing writing and peopled by characters with whom we can all easily identify. Something about the main character, Victor, a physician, was particularly poignant, given the times we are living in. As always, Allende delivers a stirring and evocative reading experience, rich in imagery, and framed by a moving story of humanity.
All The Ways We Said Goodbye is a new historical fiction created by the three powerhouse authors, Beatriz Williams, Lauren Willig, and Karen White. Their combined talents have produced an enthralling story that spans half a century, from WWI to the 1960s. This artistic novel portrays three women in the glamorous setting of the Ritz Hotel in Paris.
Set decades apart during tumultuous times in history, the novel explores overarching themes of survival and love, highlighting what it means to be a "formidable woman” in each character’s respective era. All three women confront hardship, and even though they lack belief in themselves, they find untapped strength, whether the challenge springs from the German army or from their guilt over their own actions. I loved how the authors weave the story through both world wars. It’s a great read for historical fiction readers and I highly recommend it!
Becoming by Michelle Obama has been on my "to be read" list since it came out in 2018, and I was so happy when my book group chose it (shout-out to the Bookaholics!). It is an honest, inspiring and down-to-earth account of Michelle Obama's life, from her early years growing up on the South Side of Chicago to the time when we all came to know her as First Lady. With integrity and humor, she shares her love of family and drive for success, revealing how she balances her demanding career with family life. There is also a message of hope throughout, something we can all clearly use right now, and a challenge to imagine the world not as it is, but as it should be. If you haven’t had a chance to read this inspirational memoir, I would encourage you to download it now.
Note to Shelf, Jr.
Shannon Hale’s latest graphic novel, Diana: Princess of the Amazons, takes a look at the childhood of one of the coolest superheroes in existence. Long before she was Wonder Woman, Diana was a kid like any other - well, except for the fact that she was princess of the Amazons, and the only child on her island, to boot. Considered too old for “childish” activities but too young for affairs of state, Diana longs for a companion. Remembering the story of her own miraculous birth, she decides to form a friend out of clay. When she discovers her prayers have been answered, things seem perfect for a little while. But what begins as innocent mischief and secret-keeping quickly devolves into pranks, lies, and a true threat to everything Diana holds dear. Will she be able to save Themyscira - and, by extension, the world - before it’s too late? Fans of Hale as well as Joan Holub’s Goddess Girl series will find much to love in this fun, fresh title.
Note to Shelf, Teen
I’m not usually a fan of historical fiction, especially books that take place during wartime, but Julie Berry’s Lovely War is a perfect twist on the genre. For a start, it’s told from the point of view of the Greek goddess Aphrodite, who is trying to prove her worth and the power of Love to her fellow gods. The novel follows the stories of two young couples whose lives become entangled (with Aphrodite’s help) during WWI, and weaves in the perspectives of Ares, Hades, and Hephaestus throughout the book. It’s a gorgeous, sweeping epic of love and war and I couldn’t put it down! All that being said, make sure you have enough tissues before you start reading; this one will get you right in the feels.