Summer Reads: Life’s a Beach

School is out for the summer and the sun is finally shining which means that it’s time to pick up a beach read! Whether you’re reading from the beaches of Lake Erie, a tropical paradise, or even in your own backyard, embrace the relaxing summer vibes with a new beachy read.

Summer on Sag Harbor by Sunny Hostin

In a hidden enclave in Sag Harbor, affectionately known as SANS–Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest, and Nineveh–there’s a close-knit community of African American elites who escape the city and enjoy the beautiful warm weather and beaches at their vacation homes. Against the odds, Olivia Jones has blazed her own enviable career path and built her name in the finance world. But hidden behind the veneer of her success, there is a gaping hole. Mourning both the loss and the betrayal of Omar, a surrogate father to her and her two godsisters, Olivia is driven to solve the mystery of what happened to her biological father, a police officer unjustly killed when she was a little girl.

The Darlings by Hannah McKinnon

At age ninety-two, Tish Darling is the matriarch and protector of what’s left of the Darling family fortune, including the decades-old beach house, Riptide. Located on the crook of Cape Cod, it’s a place she once loved but has not returned to in decades, since a tragic family accident one perfect summer day. Still, she is determined to keep Riptide in the family. Even if that means going back there on the cusp of her granddaughter’s wedding. Even if it means revealing someone else’s truth.

Meet Me At the Lake by Carley Fortune

Fern Brookbanks has wasted far too much of her adult life thinking about Will Baxter. She spent just twenty-four hours in her early twenties with the aggravatingly attractive, idealistic artist, a chance encounter that spiraled into a daylong adventure in the city. The timing was wrong, but their connection was undeniable: they shared every secret, every dream, and made a pact to meet one year later. Fern showed up. Will didn’t.

The Five-Star Weekend by Elin Hilderbrand

Hollis Shaw’s life seems picture-perfect. She’s the creator of the popular food blog Hungry with Hollis and is married to Matthew, a dreamy heart surgeon. But the cracks in Hollis’s perfect life–her strained marriage and her complicated relationship with her daughter, Caroline–grow deeper. So when Hollis hears about something called a “Five-Star Weekend”–one woman organizes a trip for her best friend from each phase of her life: her teenage years, her twenties, her thirties, and midlife–she decides to host her own Five-Star Weekend on Nantucket. But the weekend doesn’t turn out to be a joyful Hallmark movie.

My Magnolia Summer by Victoria Benton Frank

In New York City winter never seems to loosen its hold and for South Carolina transplant Maggie (born Magnolia after the fairest summer flower) the balmy beach weather of April back home on Sullivan’s Island feels like a distant memory. Until a phone call from her sister, Violet, changes everything. Gran, the treasured matriarch, has fallen into a coma after a car accident caused by Maggie’s troubled mother, Lily. But once Maggie returns, she finds that her hometown of Sullivan’s Island holds even more secrets. 

The Beach at Summerly by Beatriz Williams

As the residents of Winthrop Island prepare for the first summer season after the sacrifice of war, a glamorous new figure moves into the guest cottage at Summerly, the idyllic seaside estate of the wealthy Peabody family. To Emilia Winthrop, daughter of Summerly’s year-round caretaker and a descendant of the island’s settlers, Olive Rainsford opens a window into a world of shining possibility. While Emilia spent the war years caring for her incapacitated mother, Olive traveled the world, married fascinating men, and involved herself in political causes.

Happy reading!


Book Review : The White Lady

It’s 1947 and Rose and her husband Jim Mackie flee to the quiet country English village of Kent with their three-year-old daughter Susie, in search of a life away from London and Jim’s family of ne’er-do-wells. When they are offered work and a place to live by a local couple, Rose thinks they can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

A war-weary 41-year-old, former government operative, Elinor White is also looking to live out her days peacefully in Kent. Upon meeting newcomers, Elinor makes it her business to know their business. When she learns that the Mackie brothers have visited, threatening Rose and Susie if Jim doesn’t return to assist with their next big job, Elinor decides that violence against women and children just won’t do. Coming out of hiding, Elinor vows that she will protect the young family and uses her Home Office connections in to attempt to take on the dangerous and powerful London Mackies. Unfortunately, she may get more than she bargains for when events from her own past catch up to her along the way.

The White Lady by Jacqueline Winspear is a departure from her beloved Maisie Dobbs’ series. This mystery introduces readers to a deeply affected and damaged, yet likeable and intelligent character in Elinor White, a woman who began a life in espionage while still a teen in Belgium and who is conflicted about her need to commit violence in order to protect others.

Told through alternating time lines, The White Lady is emotional and suspenseful, well-researched historical fiction with plenty of twists that will keep you turning its pages. While the author has said this book is not the start a new series, this reader is left wishing for a bit more time spent with the fascinating Miss White.

Don’t believe me; investigate on your own! Place your hold on The White Lady today and see what you think.


Book Review: A House with Good Bones

Sam is an entomologist who finds herself in a familiar habitat- her childhood home. Since the passing of her Gran Mae, the house has seemed different. Her mother, Edith now lives alone amongst the thriving rose bushes, left to her own devices with the help of a handyman. As Sam moves back in, she’s welcomed back into the world of Southern hospitality, British procedurals, and boxed wine. Not to be outdone, the eccentric neighbors are just as eccentric as ever, with vultures rehabilitating and a one-man neighborhood watch a few doors down.

But the house isn’t quite as Sam remembered. Gone are the vibrant colors and signature maximalist tendencies of her mother. Instead, her Gran Mae’s stark style has come back in multiple shades of neutral. Sam’s not convinced that her mom’s odd behavior isn’t a result of an undiagnosed condition and the home’s transformation could be a result.

Sam’s not the only visitor to the house- she wakes up in the middle of the night to swarms of ladybugs making themselves at home in her room. Soon she is left questioning why exactly the house feels so off, and it turns out that the picture-perfect styling is hiding something ugly.

This is a southern gothic novel that definitely dabbles in magical realism. The characters are engaging and the audiobook narrator is superb. If you’re a fan of spooky Southern tales, this is definitely a book for you.

Put a hold on the print book here.

Happy reading!


A Story You Can’t Refuse

Five-year-old Dante, son of a wealthy family, is kidnapped from the town square in 1810 Palermo, Sicily, but the corrupt local police refuse to investigate. Gaetano Catalano, a young lawyer and member of the Beati Paoli, a secret society of aristocrats who work in the name of Saint Paul, decides to look for the child – in a search that consumes him for decades.

Meanwhile, power-hungry Franco Fiorvanti, the lemon grower who orchestrated Dante’s kidnapping at his boss’s behest, is tired of working for others. Franco dreams of owning his own orchard and invites his twin Roberto to work alongside of him. The two, along with a host of men who swear blood oaths to them begin to offer protection to orchard owners, becoming what we know today as the “Mafia.”

Set against the backdrop of a mostly lawless Sicily over two decades and starring a wide cast of characters whose lives are upended by the Fiorvanti’s family’s ruthlessness, Loyalty by Lisa Scottoline is well-written historical fiction to savor. This novel about heartbreak, loss, revenge and justice is a departure from Scottoline’s legal thrillers but contains all the trademarks her fans love, including interesting characters, the overarching theme of good versus evil, and a satisfying ending. Place your hold today and prepare to be swept away to another time and place.


Book Review: Mad Honey

Olivia is a beekeeper who finds refuge amongst her hives. A single mom to her son, Asher, Olivia will do anything it takes to keep him safe and remind him he’s loved. After leaving a toxic marriage, she is extra careful to keep an eye on Asher’s emotions. When Asher begins dating Lily, the new girl at school, Olivia welcomes her with open arms.

Until one day, when she gets the dreaded call. Asher has been found with Lily’s lifeless body and covered in her blood. Police don’t think this is an accident. And Asher is the number one suspect.

Calling on the help of her lawyer brother, Olivia fights to keep Asher out of prison, but she has the sinking suspicion that maybe, just maybe, Asher is not the perfect son she imagined. When a bombshell about Lily is dropped in the court room, any hope of Asher’s innocence seems to be whisked away.

Olivia and Lily are the two main narrators, and without spoiling anything, I will tell you that this story sneaks up on you with a big reveal. Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan partner together to weave a story about two women who are fighting for their own identity, shared by their mutual love of one man- Asher.

CW: suicide, domestic violence


Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month, a month “paying tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have enriched America’s history and are instrumental in its future success.” The month of May was selected in commemoration of the immigration of the first Japanese people to the United States in May 1843. Additionally, May 7 is known as Golden Spike Day, a day marking the completion of the transcontinental railroad, built largely by Chinese labor.

According to the latest Census data, there are 20.6 million people in the United States who identify as part of the AAPI community. In celebration of AAPI stories, here are selections from our collection to pick up on your next trip to the library.


On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity.

Dust Child by Nguyẽ̂n Phan Qué̂ Mai

In 1969,sisters Trang and Quỳnh, desperate to help their parents pay off debts, leave their rural village to work at a bar in Sài Gòn. Once in the big city, the young girls are thrown headfirst into a world they were not expecting. They learn how to speak English, how to dress seductively, and how to drink and flirt (and more) with American GIs in return for money. As the war moves closer to the city, the once-innocent Trang gets swept up in an irresistible romance with a handsome and kind American helicopter pilot she meets at the bar.

Hot and Sour Suspects by Vivien Chien

When Lana Lee’s best friend, Megan Riley, asks her to help host a speed dating contest at Ho-Lee Noodle House, she doesn’t see the harm in lending a hand. The night goes better than anticipated, and both Lana and Megan are beyond thrilled with the results. But before they can break out the champagne, Rina Su, fellow Asia Village shop owner and speed dating participant, calls to inform Lana that the date she’s just matched with has been murdered. Under suspicion of foul play, Rina enlists Lana’s help in finding out what really happened that night.

Good Fortune by C.K. Chau

When Elizabeth Chen’s ever-hustling realtor mother finally sells the beloved if derelict community center down the block, the new owners don’t look like typical New York City buyers. Brendan Lee and Darcy Wong are good Chinese boys with Hong Kong money. Clean-cut and charismatic, they say they are committed to cleaning up the neighborhood. To Elizabeth, that only means one thing: Darcy is looking to give the center an uptown makeover.


Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection is vulnerable, humorous, and provocative–and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality, will change the way you think about our world.

They Called Us Enemy by George Takei

In 1942, at the order of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, every person of Japanese descent on the west coast was rounded up and shipped to one of ten “relocation centers,” hundreds or thousands of miles from home, where they would be held for years under armed guard.

They Called Us Enemy is Takei’s firsthand account of those years behind barbed wire, the joys and terrors of growing up under legalized racism, his mother’s hard choices, his father’s faith in democracy, and the way those experiences planted the seeds for his astonishing future.

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother’s particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother’s tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui

This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

Happy reading!


Book Review: Coronation Year

It’s January of 1953 and in six months, Queen Elizabeth II will be crowned monarch. All hope to be witnesses. The 400-year-old Blue Lion Hotel is lucky to be on the route Her Majesty will be taking that day – especially since the hotel, left to Edie Howard by her parents who died in WWII, has been struggling financially for years. Edie’s greatest wish is that the celebration will help the hotel regain solvency.

As the months pass, the hotel begins to fill. New guests include James Geddes, a Scottish artist with Indian heritage hired to create a painting of the procession, and Stella Donati, a Holocaust survivor and photographer from Rome. The two, who face mistreatment as foreigners, quickly bond with the kind and generous Edie. And, when it becomes clear that someone is out to sabotage the success of the Blue Lion, Edie will be happy she has such good friends by her side.

Coronation Year by Jennifer Robson is an absorbing read –uplifting, well-researched historical fiction that mixes suspenseful drama with a bit of a mystery and romance. Post-war London comes to life, as realistic and likeable characters who lost everything during the war, learn to live and love again. Coronation Year is the perfect novel for those who couldn’t stop watching this weekend’s coronation of Charles III, or for anyone looking for a lovely story.


Fairy Folklore

By Alyssa Nicole

May finally approaches, the golden days are slow and sweet like dripping honey. My husband and I, like many people, are preparing our yard for the warmer weeks ahead. The most recent addition to our little piece of the world is a fairy garden. It is a quaint little village on the path leading to our porch, with a tiny toadstool, a miniature moss-enrobed bench, a graceful fairy, a portly gnome and a little garden door that looks as though it’s a liminal space between our world and the realm of the fae. Naturally, this little project has intrigued me to check out books on fairies in the literary world.

For those interested in etymology, the word “fairy” is derived from “fata” in Latin, translating to goddess of fate. In Old French, “faerie” means enchantment. Fairies are often portrayed as mischievous, clever, whimsical, and sometimes shy. Upon pouring over stories featuring some of the most famous fairies born from ink and paper, I have discovered a wide variety of personalities that both corroborate and deviate from the fairy archetype.

Tinkerbell is Peter Pan’s most loyal companion and perhaps the most-well known literary fairy to young and old. She was born, like all fairies in this story, from a baby’s first laugh. As wholesome as this sounds, Tinkerbell is no angel. She is quite conceited, jealous and has a tremendous temper that far exceeds her petite frame. It is said that fairies, or at least fairies in J.M Barrie’s universe, are so small they can only be one thing at a time. So when Tinkerbell is bad, she is all bad with no room for goodness and vis versa. She often uses her cunning and cleverness to try to get rid of Wendy for good, wanting no female getting in the way of her Peter Pan.

Puck, the mischievous mis-matchmaker from Midsummer Night’s Dream, is suitably named. For the word puckish is defined as “playful, especially in a mischievous way.” He lives up to his moniker by ensorcelling two men to fall in love with the same woman, wreaking havoc amidst the couples. Titania, the fairy queen, is fierce and intransigent, refusing to submit to her husband’s demands for her to give up her changeling child. It is mischievous Puck, once again, who causes trouble when he brews up a concoction that makes Titania fall in love with a donkey. A cruel, albeit temporary, punishment devised by her husband. Titania is concerned about the impact their quarrels are having on the environment, showing solicitude for the world around them.

In Susanna Clarke’s Jonathon Strange and Mr. Norrell, a nameless fairy known as “The Gentlemen with The Thistledown Hair” is perhaps the most wicked of the fairies on this list, tricking a man bargaining for his wife’s resurrection after her death. He agrees to let her husband keep her for half of her life and claims that he will get the other half. The catch is that he splits her life in such a way that she is constantly caught between two worlds: the mortal realm and the fairy realm. There are times when her body is there, but her soul is trapped in the Otherworld.

The fairies in at least some of the classic fairytales tend to be more magnanimous, granters of wishes and dreams. The fairy godmother in Cinderella is not your typical tiny sprite. She is a being of benevolence and kindness rather than trickery and impishness. Six of the seven fairies in Sleeping Beauty gift the infant Princess Aurora with intangible yet wonderful presents: that she would be the loveliest person in the world, cleverness of an angel, grace in all she did, she would dance to perfection; sing like a nightingale and would play beautiful music on all kinds of instruments. The seventh, of course, is one of the most famous female villains of all time and is a bitter and vengeful fairy who curses the young princess to prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into an eternal slumber.

Greek mythology, nymphs are very similar to fairies. They have more human-like qualities and are further broken down into the natural realm in which they dwell. These include, but are not at all limited

to dryads (tree nymphs), naiads (fresh water nymphs) anthousai (flower nymphs) aurai (breeze nymphs) and asteria (nymphs who dance among the stars.) A famous nymph from Greek mythology, is Oenone. She was a naiad and jilted wife of Paris. Her mortal husband leaves her for a woman if immortal beauty, the famous Helen of Troy. In Margaret George’s retelling of the story, Oenone rejects Helen’s pleas to heal Paris after he is fatally wounded in the Trojan War.

Oddly, fairies do not play an important role in the very popular fantasy series, Harry Potter. Here are loosely referenced as being very vain creatures, humanlike with insect wings. They often allow humans to use them as decorations. Pixies, however, make an appearance in the Chamber of Secrets book. They are blue with large ears and beady eyes, mischief-makers of prodigious strength.

Fairy lore is varied and fascinating. If you are interested in learning more about the various types of fairies and their magical symbolism, I highly recommend “Fairy Magick” by Aurora Kane. She delves into various types of fairies, lore, and ways to immerse yourself in the mystical realm of these fantastical creatures.

“All you need is faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust!” -Peter Pan

Coronation Day Reads

Break out the tea and crumpets, tomorrow is the (long-awaited) coronation of King Charles III. Concerts, meals, and ceremonies will mark this day as Britain welcomes their next monarch. Charles has waited longer than any other monarch to ascend the throne, and at the age of 74, he is finally set to rule.

If you’re an anglophile or simply a reader who loves a theme, these books explore the royal family and their lifestyles.


Prince Charles by Sally Bedell Smith

Prince Charles brings to life the real man, with all of his ambitions, insecurities, and convictions. It begins with his lonely childhood, in which he struggled to live up to his father’s expectations and sought companionship from the Queen Mother and his great-uncle Lord Mountbatten. It follows him through difficult years at school, his early love affairs, his intellectual quests, his entrepreneurial pursuits, and his intense search for spiritual meaning. It tells of the tragedy of his marriage to Diana; his eventual reunion with his true love, Camilla; and his relationships with William, Kate, Harry, and his grandchildren.

HRH: So Many Thoughts on Royal Style by Elizabeth Holmes

Veteran style journalist Elizabeth Holmes expands her popular Instagram series, So Many Thoughts, into a nuanced look at the fashion and branding of the four most influential members of the British Royal Family: Queen Elizabeth II; Diana, Princess of Wales; Catherine, The Duchess of Cambridge; and Meghan, The Duchess of Sussex.

Buckingham Palace: A Royal Garden by Claire Masset

Hidden behind the high walls surrounding Buckingham Palace is one of London’s most beautiful gardens, the venue for a busy calendar of royal events, including the much-loved tradition of The Queen’s Garden Party.

Award-winning photographer John Campbell has spent a year taking pictures of that garden for this richly illustrated book, revealing the changes that occur through the seasons, as massed bulbs give way to the roses of high summer and the turning trees of autumn. The text, by gardening writer Claire Masset, follows a year in the life of the royal garden, and is full of insights and practical tips from the Head Gardener, Mark Lane.

The Queen: A Life in Pictures by Victoria A Murphy

Since she succeeded to the throne in 1952, Queen Elizabeth II has become respected, celebrated, and beloved around the world. This stunning collection of powerful images illustrates her storied reign in all its glory.

More than 300 extraordinary photographs, along with insightful commentary by the royal journalist Victoria Murphy, showcase the significant, historic, and intimate moments throughout the Queen’s life, first as a young princess and then as the longest-reigning British monarch.

Spare by Prince Harry

It was one of the most searing images of the twentieth century: two young boys, two princes, walking behind their mother’s coffin as the world watched in sorrow–and horror. As Princess Diana was laid to rest, billions wondered what Prince William and Prince Harry must be thinking and feeling–and how their lives would play out from that point on.

For the first time, Prince Harry tells his own story, chronicling his journey with raw, unflinching honesty. A landmark publication, Spare is full of insight, revelation, self-examination, and hard-won wisdom about the eternal power of love over grief.

Happy reading!


Book Review: The Ingenue

The Ingenue by Rachel Kapelke-Dale

Saskia Kreis is a piano prodigy returning home after her mother’s death. Riding into her hometown of Milwaukee on fumes, Saskia is barely making ends meet by writing SAT questions. Her days of tickling the ivories are long behind her, abruptly ending as she entered adulthood. It wasn’t easy, after all, to be the child genius of an accomplished classical musician and a renowned author-illustrator.

Saskia knows that the family home, named Elf House, will be hers one day soon. A gothic mansion, the house has been in the family for generations and has its quirks. But when her mother’s will doesn’t name Saskia as the inheritor of the home, she has questions. Why did her mother leave the unfinished manuscript in her famous Fairy Tales for Little Feminists series to Saskia? And most of all, why did she leave the house to Patrick Kintner? Patrick is a spectral shadow on Saskia’s young adulthood that she just can’t shake. Elf House is meant to be Saskia’s, and she will do whatever it takes to make sure that her mother’s family legacy is protected.

Author Kapelke-Dale follows her debut The Ballerinas with a #MeToo story that will keep you reading “just one more chapter.”

Request a print copy, ebook, or eaudiobook.