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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.



Bird Box

Imagine you hear a noise in a completely dark room. You think there very well might be a big crazy guy with a large knife ready to pounce right in front of you. Would you turn on the light?

That's the creepy tense feeling of Bird Box (2014). No crazy guy with a knife, but some strange abstract entities that cause people and animals that see them to go insane, kill others around them, and kill themselves.

This is the story of Malorie and her children as they try to find safety blindfolded and in a blindfolded world. Taking off the blindfold outside could mean madness and death. The book starts a few years into the ongoing horror then alternates flashbacks and current action.

Cassandra Campbell narrates with a calm but serious voice. You will want to hear the whole book by Josh Malerman in one sitting (about 9 hours). Visit Overdrive to read or listen to the book today.



The Bad Beginning

The Bad Beginning (1999) is the start of the downright dreadful, disastrous, and dangerous turn of events that Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire must endure after the passing of their parents in a tragic fire. They are sent to live with the dreadful Count Olaf, who cares more about the inheritance the children have than their wellbeing. The Baudelaire siblings must work together to thwart the evil doings of Count Olaf and figure out what really happened with the fire that killed their parents.

Lemony Snicket's writing gives the story character and makes the reader long for more with his unique style and prose.The Bad Beginning kicks off A Series of Unfortunate Events. Read the ebook on Overdrive or listen to the audiobook on Hoopla.



The Alchemist

This wonderful story combines adventure and love and seeking our desires. Much like Treasure Island, The Wizard of Oz, and Harry Potter, it's a story for all ages to enjoy and not difficult to read. And like the lead characters in those other classic novels, Santiago sets out on a great journey but will have to learn some things about himself before he can find his Personal Legend.

In a way, we are all seeking the same things that Santiago and Dorothy, Jim, and Harry seek. I want to believe we will all find it someday because we are all connected to that great Soul of the Universe.

Check out The Alchemist (1988) by Paulo Coehlo: read the ebook or listen to the audiobook via Hoopla today.



How Much of These Hills Is Gold

It's hard to sum up this book in a few words: it's historical fiction, a western adventure, immigrant voices, coming of age, and so much more. How Much of These Hills Is Gold (2020) centers around Lucy and Sam, two recently orphaned Chinese-American children on the run from a Californian mining town with a stolen horse. They journey through the harsh landscape in search of a place to call home, but the siblings find it difficult to agree on anything, let alone their destination.

C Pam Zhang adds Chinese myths and traditions to the story and expertly paints readers a picture of the Wild West in its dark and gritty glory. How Much of These Hills Is Gold gives us a fictionalized history of the Gold Rush era from an immigrant perspective and will have you pondering questions about home, belonging, and identity.

Read the ebook via Overdrive today.


Nancy

In Nancy by Olivia Jaimes (2019), look at a collection of current Nancy newspaper comic strips. In 2018, Olivia Jaimes became the first woman to write and illustrate the classic comic strip. Nancy, a precocious eight year old, starred in the newspaper comic strip starting in 1938. Written and drawn by Ernie Bushmiller until his death in 1982, various writers and artists have continued the strip.

Jaimes, using a clever and minimalistic style, brings a fresh approach to Nancy and brought her into the 21st century, including cell phones and a robotics class. Nancy, her friend Sluggo, and Aunt Fritzi continue to be entertaining at school, home, and play. I had not seen the comic strip in years, so reading the book brought back memories of laughing at the simple strip. Nancy appeals to a broad audience.



The Words I Never Wrote

The novel opens in present day New York City when photographer Juno Lambert purchases a 1931 typewriter once owned by journalist Cordelia Capel. She discovers an incomplete manuscript, spurring Juno to investigate Cordelia's life.

The story then switches to the 1930s, where English sisters Cordelia and Irene end up on different paths and different sides of WWII. Irene moves to Berlin after marrying a German man; her husband rubs shoulders with high-ranking Nazi officials, putting her in treacherous situations. Cordelia ends up in Paris working for a newspaper. The sisters correspond with letters, but have a falling out after mistruths lead to complications.

The Words I Never Wrote (2019) by Jane Thynne is an intricate story that builds momentum as more secrets are revealed. Juno seeks to complete the story and discover what happened so many years ago.

If you enjoy reading novels set during WWII, check out our book lists.



Above the Bay of Angels

In 1896, after her family has fallen on hard times, Isabella goes into service as a maid. When an opportunity arises to interview for a cook position at Buckingham Palace, Isabella jumps at the chance, even though it's under false pretenses. After getting the job, Isabella finds that she has a gift for cooking and becomes a trusted member of Queen Victoria's household. However, the memory of her privileged upbringing and the fear of losing her job are never far from her mind. When love possibly comes her way, will Isabella choose a career over being a wife?

Above the Bay of Angels (2020) is another delightful read from author Rhys Bowen with lots of descriptions of what life was like in the royal household.



The Cuckoo’s Calling

The first book in the Cormoran Strike detective series made me a fan— and I have three more Strike novels to look forward to.

Strike is a British private detective. Unfortunately, he and his business are a mess. Just as he gets to the end of his rope, a wealthy man hires him to investigate the death of his sister, a famous celebrity high fashion model. Everyone except the victim's brother thinks it was a suicide. Strike has a temp secretary, Robin, who helps him with the case. Their interactions make this sixteen-hour audiobook seem like a quick read (and Robert Glenister narrates with a dignified British accent).

The Harry Potter series wasn't for mewrong generation, I guess. What I didn't know was that Robert Galbraith is a pseudonym for J. K. Rowling. That was a surprise. Terrific job, J. K.

The Cuckoo's Calling (2013) is available to read or listen to in Overdrive—and if you get hooked, you can read the rest of the series too. Also, the first three novels were adapted into a British TV show called C. B. Strike.



Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with recipes)

My book club recently read Chronicles of a Radical Hag (with recipes) (2019). We all enjoyed the novel and it inspired a wonderful discussion. Lorna Landvik's writing style is beautiful and humorous, though the non-chronological storytelling is sometimes difficult to follow.

Haze Evans, 81, has been a columnist for her local newspaper in small town Minnesota for the past 50 years. After she suffers a stroke and is hospitalized, the newspaper's editor reprints some of her columns, highlighting major cultural events from the past. Haze's personality is very likable, and her elegant word choices and storytelling abilities really draw you into her life.

The editor's teenage son needs a job, and is given the task of sifting through Haze's past columns and deciding which ones to run. As he comes to know more about Haze and the issues she wrote about, he's inspired to share them with his English class at school, which profoundly affects his classmates, their teacher, and all involved in reprinting the columns.

Listen to the audiobook on Hoopla today.

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Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All

Here is a ghost story unlike any you've read before... in 1941, Frankie and her siblings have been left by their widowed father to live in a Chicago orphanage. They are left trying to make a way for themselves amidst poverty and injustice in a world left crumbled by the Great Depression and now on fire with war.

We follow Frankie's coming-of-age story through the eyes of a girl who died in 1918, whose spirit is left lingering the streets of Chicago, unsure how to move on. Glimpses of her past are pieced together as she remembers what happened to her and realizes that coming to terms with the truth is the only way to be set free.

Laura Ruby has weaved together a haunting and heartwarming blend of historical fantasy and mystery, full of rich characters whose stories reveal profound truths about the vast possibilities of human nature. Check out Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All (2019) today.

Read the ebook on Overdrive or listen to the audiobook on Hoopla.



Splinter the Silence

A welcomed reuniting of two of Val McDermid's most memorable characters occurs in Splinter the Silence (2018). D.I. Carol Jordan and psychologist Tony Hill are hot on the trail of a vicious serial killer and they are running out of time. Those of you who are fans of McDermid will thoroughly enjoy this non-stop page turner. Those of you who are new to McDermid will be looking for her books from now on. A perfect enjoyable read!

Visit Hoopla to find Splinter the Silence: read the ebook or listen to the audiobook.



Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I just saw Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (1997) on Overdrive's ebook list. Well if you are looking for one great book to read, go no further. You found it. The best page-turning adventure that you can't put down, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is the first in this epic story of the eleven-year-old wizard who becomes every reader's favorite hero.

Even if you saw the movie, you'll want to read Harry's entire story. It has no boring parts and will grip your attention from page one. You will feel you've been transported into the story itself. And it does not matter how old you are. Even as I'm writing this, I can feel myself aboard the Hogwarts Express on my way to live Harry's journey with him and his pals Hermione and Ron. This is a ride you will not want to miss.

Check out J. K. Rowling's debut novel (and the one that started it all). Visit Overdrive to read or listen to the first book... then check out the rest of the series.



When We Were Vikings

Quirky and optimistic, 21-year-old Zelda is discovering her place in the world. Born with fetal alcohol syndrome, Zelda's brain doesn't work like everyone else's does; she narrates her unique coming of age journey with endearing innocence.

When We Were Vikings (2020) will capture your attention from the start. For me, Andrew David MacDonald's uplifting debut was a one sitting read. It's perfect for fans of Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig and Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman.

Visit Overdrive to read the ebook today.



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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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