Thanks entirely to the kids on TikTok, nine years after it was first publised, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is once again a bestseller! If you’re waiting for your copy, or if you’ve read it and would like something similar, I’ve picked some romantic books that have the same feeling as Achilles: sweeping historical events, thoughtful mythological retellings, or a lush fairy tale tone.
Never heard of Song of Achilles? Here’s the scoop:
Patroclus, an awkward young prince, follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned, everything they hold dear. And that, before he is ready, he will be forced to surrender his friend to the hands of Fate. Set during the Trojan War.
Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN. We’ve also included links to our e-media services Overdrive and Hoopla where available. Find The Song of Achilles on Overdrive here and on Hoopla here (no holds, no waiting!).
The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
After her creator dies en route to America, Chava, a golem from a Polish shtetl, must navigate the streets of 1899 New York City by herself — her only ally is a rabbi unsure whether to destroy her, or allow her to fulfill her destiny as the harbinger of destruction. Ahmad, a jinni from Syria’s deserts has been released from his thousand-year-old glass bottle by a tinsmith but has little intention of remaining a metalworker, despite his uncanny talent for it. Chava and Ahmad meet and discover that they’re soul mates, but a dangerous adversary threatens their future. This vibrant blend of myth, adventure, and romance will enchant fans of stories based on folklore.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik
A tale inspired by the “Beauty and the Beast” story follows the experiences of Agnieszka, who becomes the latest girl chosen to serve an immortal wizard who protects their village from the malevolent forces of a nearby forest.
The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson
A concubine in the royal court of Granada at the height of the Spanish Inquisition and her mapmaker friend risk their lives to escape when the latter is accused of sorcery.
The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty
Nahri, a young con artist, inadvertently summons a mysterious djinn warrior to her side during one of her cons, revealing the existence of true magic before the future of a magical Middle Eastern kingdom falls into her hands.
The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
In a village at the edge of the wilderness of northern Russia, where the winds blow cold and the snow falls many months of the year, a stranger with piercing blue eyes presents a new father with a gift – a precious jewel on a delicate chain, intended for his young daughter. Uncertain of its meaning, Pytor hides the gift away and Vasya grows up a wild, willful girl, to the chagrin of her family. But when mysterious forces threaten the happiness of their village, Vasya discovers that, armed only with the necklace, she may be the only one who can keep the darkness at bay.
All plot summaries courtesy of Novelist.
Author Kristin Hannah is having a great 2021 so far – her newest novel, The Four Winds, is a runaway bestseller, and one of her older novels, Firefly Lane, has been turned into a Netflix romantic drama TV series. If you are one of the many people on the library’s holds lists for Firefly Lane and want something similar, check out the recommended titles below from your friendly neighborhood librarians! If you don’t know anything about Firefly Lane, here’s the scoop:
Inseparable best friends Kate and Tully, two young women who, despite their very different lives, have vowed to be there for each other forever, have been true to their promise for thirty years, until events and choices in their lives tear them apart.
Click any of the book covers below to be taken to our catalog, where you can request a copy of the book with your library card number and PIN. We’ve also included links to our e-media services Overdrive and Hoopla where available. Find Firefly Lane on Overdrive here.
It’s Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan
Confident that her best days are still ahead, a successful businesswoman relies on close friends and her resourcefulness when an unexpected loss turns her world upside down.
Sweet Salt Air by Barbara Delinsky
Two childhood friends reunite at a summer retreat, each harboring a horrible secret that would test the bounds of their longtime relationship if revealed.
The Friendship List by Susan Mallery
Reuniting in the aftermath of a devastating loss, two single moms, lifelong best friends, create a list of challenges, from skydiving to getting tattoos, before their prospects and perspectives are transformed by unexpected love.
Swing Time by Zadie Smith
Two dark-skinned dancers with very different talents share a complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in early adulthood in a story that transitions from northwest London to West Africa.
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Realizing that her beautiful, beloved younger sister has murdered yet another boyfriend, an embittered Nigerian woman works to direct suspicion away from the family, until a handsome doctor she fancies asks for her sister’s number.
All plot summaries courtesy of Novelist.
It’s young adult fantasy fiction about a young woman who discovers that she has unique magical powers that may be the key to saving her country. It’s billed as dark fantasy but it’s mostly fluff with a love triangle, but sometimes fluff is what you need to read! Shannon
Continuing my year of biographies and memoirs I recently read The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. This graphic novel is about the author’s childhood and young adulthood. Her family is Iranian. Religious extremists take over her country. Her liberal minded family has a hard time adjusting to the years of war. From a very young age Marjane has always been outspoken and tends to get in trouble with teachers or other authorities for speaking out about inequality or injustice. She is sent to school in Europe for her safety, but being alone and coming of age in a whole new environment takes its toll. She finds her way back home, but it is no easier to fit into the traditional role her conservative society expects of her. Art and drawing and ultimately telling this story is what she needs to do. I watched the French animated movie based on this after reading it. I like the book just a bit better for providing details that are cut out of the film. Byron
Published in 1894 this early work of “weird” fiction by Machen was a great read. A short novel, this story pertains the consequences of investigating beyond the physical realm and the ripple effect that occur. The story begins with an experiment to see the spiritual realm by Dr Raymond, an act the Doctor notes the ancient called “seeing the great god Pan”. I won’t give more away about the plot as part of the joy of reading this story was watching it unfold. Recommended to fans of horror and supernatural fiction. Greg
After hearing multiple rave reviews of this fresh, feminist translation of Beowulf I’m finally reading it for myself! Fifty years after the translation of Beowulf that myself and many others were forced to read in high school, this new version is described as a “radical new verse translation” that brings to light elements of this classic tale that have never been translated into English. I just added this to my Kindle and am only on the introduction but looking forward to diving into the story. Nicole
After the death of her mother, a young woman’s compulsion to eat earth reveals that once ingested, she receives visions of the person with a connection to that earth. The first earth she eats shows her how her mother died. Abandoned by her adult relatives, she and her brother Walter live alone in the slums of Buenos Aires. Though many of the locales are put off by her ability, more and more people start leaving jars of earth and notes pleading for her assistance. A remarkable novel and the translator skillfully manages to convey a distinctive, youthful patois. Trent
During WWII Olive’s veterinarian father raises prize winning racing pigeons. Olive is very much involved in their care and training. She is contacted by British Intelligence to assist in top-secret missions using the pigeons as messengers. Olive wants to do her part for the war effort and is excited about this opportunity. As part of her cover, Olive dates a British officer which leads to all kinds of speculation in the small town. In addition, a local woman is found dead near the Bright’s dovecote (a structure used to house pigeons or doves). Olive participates in the investigation that uncovers many secrets including some about her family. Mystery, history, and a little romance make for an entertaining read. Emma
This is the story of Afi Tekple, a young seamstress raised in a poor rural village in Ghana. Afi is thrust into an arranged marriage to a wealthy businessman, Elikem Ganyo. After moving into one of Elikem’s many residences with very infrequent visits from her new husband, Afi starts to dream up how she can make the most of her new-found lifestyle. Beth
An earlier book by the author of The Sundown Motel, this novel follows the same model of a mystery with a (sort of) believable supernatural twist. Fiona Sheridan, a journalist, is drawn to the location where her older sister’s body had been found 20 years earlier. A mysterious woman has begun renovating Idlewild Hall, a school for “wayward and difficult girls,” that has long been abandoned and is the place where Fiona’s sister’s body was dumped. There is something unnatural about that place- a cold dampness, a constant aura of anxiety and fear, and a legend of a ghost that wanders the grounds. While covering the story of the renovation, Fiona is drawn into the tale of a group of girls at Idlewood Hall in the 1950s, one of whom went missing, presumed dead, and whose body was never found. Fiona learns about the lives of these forgotten girls who were basically abandoned by their families, and at the same time uncovers a secret about her sister’s murder that puts her own life in danger. Sara
March is Women’s History Month! Did you know that Women’s History Month had its origins as a national celebration in 1981? Congress passed Pub. L. 97-28 which authorized and requested the President to proclaim the week beginning March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987 after being petitioned by the National Women’s History Project, Congress passed Pub. L. 100-9 which designated the month of March 1987 as “Women’s History Month.” Since 1995, presidents have issued a series of annual proclamations designating the month of March as “Women’s History Month.” These proclamations celebrate the contributions women have made to the United States and recognize the specific achievements women have made over the course of American history in a variety of fields. You can read more about Women’s History Month here.
To celebrate, I’m sharing some great graphic novels that highlight women authors, illustrators, women’s stories, and more! Take a look below to see my ten picks for graphic novels you should read this month to celebrate Women’s History Month.
Semanur’s off this week, so I get the fun task of letting you know what books are coming out today!
The Rose Code by Kate Quinn: Joining the elite Bletchley Park codebreaking team during World War II, three women from very different walks of life uncover a spy’s dangerous agenda against a backdrop of the royal wedding of Elizabeth and Philip.
Code Breaker by Walter Isaacson: A portrait of the Nobel Prize-winning scientist explores the impact of James Watson’s The Double Helix on her career and how her team’s invention of CRISPR technology enabled revolutionary DNA-editing approaches to fighting disease.
Her Dark Lies by J.T. Ellison: Disregarding messages from an anonymous texter who claims her fiancé is not the man he pretends to be, Claire travels to Italy for her destination wedding before harrowing discoveries and accidents expose ominous family secrets.
2034: A Novel of the Next World War by Eliot Ackerman & James Stavridis: Two former military officers and award-winning authors present a near-future geopolitical thriller that depicts a naval clash between America and Asia in the South China Sea of 2034. Co-written by the National Book Award-nominated author of Waiting for Eden.
The Dark Heart of Florence, No. 15 (Lady Emily) by Tasha Alexander: While Colin teams up with a fellow agent to investigate a series of burglaries at his daughter’s palazzo in Florence, Lady Emily secretly launches an inquiry into the falling death of a man in Tuscany.
How to Do the Work: Recognize Your Patterns, Heal from Your Past, and Create Your Self by Nicole LePera: The expert behind the popular @the.holistic.psychology Instagram account outlines alternative-therapy approaches to improving mental, physical and spiritual health by tapping the power of the self to overcome trauma and create a more authentic and fulfilling life.
Everything After by Jill Santopolo: Helping troubled students navigate personal losses, a university psychologist is forced to reckon with her own painful past when a tragic event compels her to reevaluate her goals, passions and sense of identity.
Life’s Edge: The Search for What It Means to Be Alive by Carl Zimmer: The New York Times “Matter” columnist investigates the science community’s conflicting views on what it actually means to be alive as demonstrated by laboratory attempts to recreate life and the examples of particularly remarkable life forms.
The Little French Bridal Shop by Jennifer Dupee: Renovating an inherited colonial property in her Massachusetts hometown to manage painful losses, Larissa buys a wedding gown as a private joke only to have word of her impending nuptials spread throughout the community. A first novel.
Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York by Elon Green: Documents the decades-long effort to capture the “Last Call Killer” of 1980s and 1990s New York City, discussing how he took advantage of period discrimination to prey upon gay victims against a backdrop of the AIDS epidemic.
The Arsonists’ City by Hala Alyan: The scattered members of a Middle-Eastern clan unite at an ancestral home in Beirut to change a new patriarch’s decision to sell the property, igniting revelations about their family’s past in Lebanon, Syria and the United States.
The Girls Are All So Nice Here by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn: Receiving ominous threats during a 10-year college reunion, Ambrosia and her best friend discover that they are being targeted by an unknown adversary who would exact revenge for a dangerous secret from their past.
My Heart by Semezdin Mehmedinovic: An intimate work of autobiographical fiction by the author of Sarajevo Blues traces the experiences of a writer who in the wake of a life-risking heart attack reevaluates his past as a member of a Bosnian war refugee family.
Two Meals a Day: The Simple, Sustainable Strategy to Lose Fat, Reverse Aging, and Break Free from Diet Frustration Forever by Mark Sisson: The New York Times best-selling author of The Primal Blueprint uses his health and fitness expertise to bring you the facts about the latest diet trend: intermittent fasting.
The Hospital: Life, Death and Dollars in a Small American Town by Brian Alexander: The award-winning author of Glass House presents an intimate portrait of a small American hospital to identify the economic and systemic causes of today’s lower life-expectancy rates and poorer health quality.
My Old Home: A Novel of Exile by Orville Schell: A former Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism dean and Emmy Award-winning PBS producer presents the story of a rare Chinese student at 1950 San Francisco’s Conservatory of Music who upon returning home is confronted by an erratic new government.
Sarahland by Sam Cohen: A debut story collection imagines new origins and futures for its cast of unforgettable protagonists—almost all of whom are named Sarah.
Each week a staff member will share a glimpse into their reading shelf in hopes that you will discover that next great read.
In typical librarian fashion, I am always reading a book or two, in addition to having a plethora of books sitting in various to-be-read piles in my house. Back in the days of spending time at my library office desk, I would always keep a book there to read during my meal breaks (stares nostalgically out window thinking of my desk…). Of course, now that I’m home most of the time I keep a book in the dining room to read during lunch breaks. There is always a book on my night stand (usually my Kindle hangs out there) as well and a book on my coffee table, so I’m prepared for reading at all times. Take a look below to see what I’m currently reading and what I have lined up for the next couple months!
I was so excited to snag an ARC of this book from NetGalley! I’m only about halfway through but it is great so far. After escaping a dangerously strict religious compound, where she was forced to marry the nefarious leader Reverend Sherman, teenage Vern escapes to the woods pregnant and alone. She gives birth to twins in the forest and tries her best to survive the harsh realities of this isolated life, all the while being pursued by a mysterious fiend, odd hallucinations, and experiencing uncanny changes in her body and abilities.
You can read a full review of this novel from my colleague Shannon by clicking here!
Collecting issues #6-10 of this horror comic series, readers catch up with monster killer Erica Slaughter after she has slain the beast who was terrorizing the small town of Archer’s Peak. The only problem is that the monster had babies and now they are loose in the town. A mysterious man from The House of Slaughter arrives (is this the monster slayer version of a Watcher?) to help clean up the mess but seems to make matters worse.
I am not usually an audiobook person, but every once in a while I check out an audiobook on Hoopla to listen to while I’m in the kitchen. I adore Shirley Jackson but have yet to read all her short stories and this audiobook has been a joy to listen to. Humorous, dark, and sometimes tragic, this powerful collection of haunting stories is read by a variety of voice actors making for an interesting and engaging experience.
What’s next for me? I have Tender is the Flesh by Agustina María Bazterrica, on deck, which was recommended by multiple authors in a recent Women in Horror author panel I viewed. It’s been on my want to read list for a while but after hearing some amazing authors highlight it as one of their favorite books of last year, I knew I needed to bump it up the pile! Another book that was shared in the panel and recommended to me by a friend is Maria Dahvana Headley’s Beowulf: A New Translation. I just got the ebook loaded on my Kindle thanks to OverDrive and can’t wait to start it. Finally, I’m patiently waiting for a digital copy of The Push by Ashley Audrain to arrive for me!
What is on your to-be-read pile? What are you currently reading? Share in the comments and happy reading!