Wednesday, April 10, 2024

historical mysteries

The next JCPLA Reader’s Advisory Roundtable meeting will Wednesday, June 12th at 9:30am on Zoom.  The topic up for discussion will be western novels.  Historical or contemporary, your choice!

Today we met to discuss historical mysteries (descriptions from Amazon).

Twelve in attendance:

Holley, O’Neal
Melanie, Hoover
Shawn, Pinson
Lora, Vestavia
Reba, BPL Titusville
Fontaine, BPL Books-By-Mail
Pam, BPL Southside
S. Lewis, BPL Smithfield
Lynn, BPL West End
Kenyata, BPL East Ensley
Samuel, BPL Springville Road
C. Gilliam

Here are the books we talked about!


Chester Himes
Patricia Raybon
Diane Setterfield
Deanna Raybourn
Laurie R. King
C.S. Harris
Rhys Bowen
Anne Perry
Jacqueline Winspear
Amy Stewart
Louise Penny
S.J. Bennett


Clark & Division by Naomi Hirahara
Set in 1944 Chicago, Edgar Award-winner Naomi Hirahara’s eye-opening and poignant new mystery, the story of a young woman searching for the truth about her revered older sister's death, brings to focus the struggles of one Japanese American family released from mass incarceration at Manzanar during World War II.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis
In New York Times bestselling author Fiona Davis's latest historical novel, a series of book thefts roils the iconic New York Public Library, leaving two generations of strong-willed women to pick up the pieces.

The Flavia de Luce Mystery series by Alan Bradley
The series follows 11-year-old Flavia de Luce—a precocious amateur detective and aspiring chemist with a passion for poison—as she solves the never-ending mysteries of her small English village.

The Swifts by Beth Lincoln
On the day they are born, every Swift child is brought before the sacred Family Dictionary. They are given a name, and a definition. A definition it is assumed they will grow up to match.
Meet Shenanigan Swift: Little sister. Risk-taker. Mischief-maker. Shenanigan is getting ready for the big Swift Family Reunion and plotting her next great scheme: hunting for Grand-Uncle Vile’s long-lost treasure. She’s excited to finally meet her arriving relatives—until one of them gives Arch-Aunt Schadenfreude a deadly shove down the stairs. So what if everyone thinks she’ll never be more than a troublemaker, just because of her name? Shenanigan knows she can become whatever she wants, even a detective. And she’s determined to follow the twisty clues and catch the killer.

Jade Dragon Mountain by Elsa Hart
On the mountainous border of China and Tibet in 1708, a detective must learn what a killer already knows: that empires rise and fall on the strength of the stories they tell.

The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
1920s India: Perveen Mistry, Bombay's only female lawyer, is investigating a suspicious will on behalf of three Muslim widows living in full purdah when the case takes a turn toward the murderous. The author of the Agatha and Macavity Award–winning Rei Shimura novels brings us an atmospheric new historical mystery with a captivating heroine.

Murder in Old Bombay by Nev March
In 1892, Bombay is the center of British India. Nearby, Captain Jim Agnihotri lies in Poona military hospital recovering from a skirmish on the wild northern frontier, with little to do but re-read the tales of his idol, Sherlock Holmes, and browse the daily papers. The case that catches Captain Jim's attention is being called the crime of the century: Two women fell from the busy university’s clock tower in broad daylight. Moved by Adi, the widower of one of the victims — his certainty that his wife and sister did not commit suicide — Captain Jim approaches the Parsee family and is hired to investigate what happened that terrible afternoon.

Murder by Lamplight by Patrice McDonough
For fans of Andrea Penrose and Deanna Raybourn, and anyone who relishes riveting, well-researched historical fiction, this inventive and enthralling debut mystery set in Victorian London pairs the unconventional, trailblazing Dr. Julia Lewis with a traditional and skeptical police inspector, as they try to stop a wily serial killer whose vengeance has turned personal.

Hither, Page by Cat Sebastian
A jaded spy and a shell shocked country doctor team up to solve a murder in postwar England. James Sommers returned from the war with his nerves in tatters. All he wants is to retreat to the quiet village of his childhood and enjoy the boring, predictable life of a country doctor. The last thing in the world he needs is a handsome stranger who seems to be mixed up with the first violent death the village has seen in years. The war may be over for the rest of the world, but Leo Page is still busy doing the dirty work for one of the more disreputable branches of the intelligence service. When his boss orders him to cover up a murder, Leo isn't expecting to be sent to a sleepy village. As he starts to untangle the mess of secrets and lies that lurk behind the lace curtains of even the most peaceful-seeming of villages, Leo realizes that the truths he's about to uncover will affect his future and those of the man he's growing to care about.

Slippery Creatures by K.J. Charles
Will Darling came back from the Great War with a few scars, a lot of medals, and no idea what to do next. Inheriting his uncle’s chaotic second-hand bookshop is a blessing...until strange visitors start making threats. First a criminal gang, then the War Office, both telling Will to give them the information they want, or else. Will has no idea what that information is, and nobody to turn to, until Kim Secretan—charming, cultured, oddly attractive—steps in to offer help. As Kim and Will try to find answers and outrun trouble, mutual desire grows along with the danger.

The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo
Quick-witted, ambitious Ji Lin is stuck as an apprentice dressmaker, moonlighting as a dancehall girl to help pay off her mother's Mahjong debts. But when one of her dance partners accidentally leaves behind a gruesome souvenir, Ji Lin plunges into a dark adventure: a mirror world of secrets and superstitions.

A Study in Scarlet by Arthur Conan Doyle
A detective novel about a mysterious murder in a vacant house, one man’s lifelong hunt for justice, and the powers of deduction and reason.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
Holmes and Dr. Watson investigate the eerie tale of a devil-beast that haunts the moors around the Baskerville ancestral home after Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead--and the footprints of a giant hound are found near his body.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
The novel follows an unnamed Narrator in her twenties as she tells the story of how she became involved with a widower and the strange occurrences that plagued her after marrying him.

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Enchanting, beautiful, and exquisitely suspenseful, The Miniaturist is a magnificent story of love and obsession, betrayal and retribution, appearance and truth. Set in seventeenth century Amsterdam--a city ruled by glittering wealth and oppressive religion--a masterful debut steeped in atmosphere and shimmering with mystery.

Lone Women by Victor LaValle
Adelaide Henry carries an enormous steamer trunk with her wherever she goes. It’s locked at all times. Because when the trunk opens, people around Adelaide start to disappear.

The Hacienda by Isabel Canas
Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca in this debut supernatural suspense novel, set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, about a remote house, a sinister haunting, and the woman pulled into their clutches...

The Frozen River by Ariel Lawhon
Maine, 1789: When the Kennebec River freezes, entombing a man in the ice, Martha Ballard is summoned to examine the body and determine cause of death. But when a local physician undermines her conclusion, declaring the death to be an accident, Martha is forced to investigate the shocking murder on her own. Over the course of one winter, as the trial nears, and whispers and prejudices mount, Martha doggedly pursues the truth. Her diary soon lands at the center of the scandal, implicating those she loves, and compelling Martha to decide where her own loyalties lie.

The Silent Companions by Laura Purcell
When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But pregnant and widowed just weeks after their wedding, with her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her late husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure—a silent companion—that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of the estate are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition—that is, until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.

House of Whispers by Laura Purcell
A gothic tale set in a rambling house by the sea in which a maid cares for a mute old woman with a mysterious past, alongside her superstitious staff.

Harlem After Midnight by Louise Hare
A body falls from a town house window in Harlem, and it looks just like the newest singer at the this evocative, twisting new novel from the author of Miss Aldridge Regrets.

Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia
Following a harrowing kidnapping ordeal when she was in her teens, Louise is doing everything she can to maintain a normal life. She’s succeeding, too. She spends her days working at Maggie’s Café and her nights at the Zodiac, Harlem’s hottest speakeasy. Louise’s friends, especially her girlfriend, Rosa Maria Moreno, might say she’s running from her past and the notoriety that still stalks her, but don’t tell her that. When a girl turns up dead in front of the café, Louise is forced to confront something she’s been trying to ignore—two other local Black girls have been murdered in the past few weeks. After an altercation with a police officer gets her arrested, Louise is given an ultimatum: She can either help solve the case or wind up in a jail cell. 

The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Calahan Henry
In the war-torn London of 1939, fourteen-year-old Hazel and five-year-old Flora are evacuated to a rural village to escape the horrors of the Second World War. But the unthinkable happens when young Flora suddenly vanishes while playing near the banks of the river. Twenty years later, Hazel is in London, ready to move on from her job at a cozy rare bookstore to a career at Sotheby’s. Her future seems determined. But her life is turned upside down when she unwraps a package containing an illustrated book called Whisperwood and the River of Stars . Hazel never told a soul about this imaginary world she created just for Flora.


Advance Listener Copy and Advance Reader Copy programs for librarians and teachers:

New York Public Library: “30 Historical Mystery Series to Get You Through Any Crisis”

Stop You’re Killing Me website is a great genre website aggregating mystery books.  You can search by awards, series, topics, historical periods, and more!


Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase
Stunning and atmospheric, this debut novel is a thrilling spiral into the hearts of two women separated by decades but inescapably linked by the dark and tangled secrets of Black Rabbit Hall.

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton
This novel is a genre-bending novel combining elements of historical fiction, murder mystery, and horror. Set in 1634, it features a detective trying to solve a series of inexplicable crimes aboard an East Indiaman ship.

The Last Heir to Blackwood Library by Hester Fox
World War I England, a young woman inherits a mysterious library and must untangle its powerful secrets.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
Young, feisty Maisie Dobbs has recently set herself up as a private detective. Such a move may not seem especially startling. But this is 1929, and Maisie is exceptional in many ways. This is a long-running series. 

The Lost Carousel of Provence by Juliet Blackwell
An artist lost to history, a family abandoned to its secrets, and the
woman whose search for meaning unearths it all in a sweeping and expressive story.

A Sudden Light by Garth Stein
When a boy tries to save his parents’ marriage, he uncovers a legacy of family secrets in a coming-of-age ghost story. 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

closed door romance


The next Reader’s Advisory Roundtable (RART) meeting will be on Wednesday, April 10th at 9:30am.  If you are interested in nominating your library to host the meeting, let me know by February 20th.  Otherwise, we will meet in the conference room here at O’Neal Library.  The topic up for discussion in April is historical mysteries.  I look forward to seeing you there!

In attendance today:

Holley W, O’Neal
Melanie L, Hoover
Cara W, Center Point
C Gilliam, Trussville
Kenyata R, East Ensley BPL
Erika W, Powderly
Tamara H, Irondale
Bridget T, Homewood

Today, RART met to discuss closed door romances.  I fell down a bit of a rabbit hole concerning the phrase “clean romance,” along with other common genre/topic/descriptive phrases and I will link to those Bookriot articles, as well as the webpages discussed at the meeting, at the end of the post.

Authors discussed:

Kimberly Duffy
Laura Frantz
Karen White (the catalog had multiple options, not sure which it is)
Jodi Hedlund

Adult titles/series discussed:

Regency Faerie Tales series by Olivia Atwater
Ever since she was cursed by a faerie, Theodora Ettings has had no sense of fear or embarrassment—an unfortunate condition that leaves her prone to accidental scandal. Dora hopes to be a quiet, sensible wallflower during the London Season—but when Elias Wilder, the peculiar, handsome, and utterly ill-mannered Lord Sorcier, discovers her condition, she is instead drawn into dangerous faerie affairs.
Half a Soul
Ten Thousand Stitches

Victorian Faerie Tales series by Olivia Atwater
Governess Winifred Hall must use her knowledge of Victorian England's Fair Folk to rescue her charge, the lord-to-be of Witchwood Manor, from his faerie kidnappers.
The Witchwood Knot

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett
A curmudgeonly professor journeys to a small town in the far north in this “incredibly fun journey through fae lands and dark magic” (NPR), the start of a heartwarming and enchanting new fantasy series.

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree (LGBTQ+ D&D style fantasy), and it’s prequel (don’t read it first though, spoilers!), Bookshops & Bonedust
Legends & Lattes
Worn out after decades of packing steel and raising hell, Viv, the orc barbarian, cashes out of the warrior’s life with one final score. A forgotten legend, a fabled artifact, and an unreasonable amount of hope lead her to the streets of Thune, where she plans to open the first coffee shop the city has ever seen.
Bookshops & Bonedust
Viv's career with the notorious mercenary company Rackam's Ravens isn't going as planned. Wounded during the hunt for a powerful necromancer, she's packed off against her will to recuperate in the sleepy beach town of Murk—so far from the action that she worries she'll never be able to return to it. What's a thwarted soldier of fortune to do? Spending her hours at a beleaguered bookshop in the company of its foul-mouthed proprietor is the last thing Viv would have predicted, but it may be both exactly what she needs and the seed of changes she couldn't possibly imagine.

Harper Hall trilogy by Anne McCaffrey
(Holley’s review) If you’ve never heard of McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series, it’s fantasy canon published in the 70s that has fallen out of wide appeal over the years.  I read them all when I was younger, but this is really the only collection that has remained a favorite.  Print copies are thin on the ground, but the well-narrated eaudiobooks are available on Libby. This captures school setting interest, friend groups, dragons of course, and there is a romance of sorts in the last of the trilogy.  I hesitate to recommend it broadly because it was originally published FOR adults and several aspects of it have not aged well at all in the last 40 years: parental physical abuse, misogyny, lack of diversity, treatment (verbally and in author’s description) of a man with what seems to be Down Syndrome, etc.  I regularly listened to these three books once a year for over a decade. I just relistened last week for the first time in several years and was amazed anew by the narrator, Sally Darling.  An apt name!

Lady Violet Mystery series by by Grace Burrowes
In Volume 1, Lady Violet Belmaine emerges from two years of mourning less than enthusiastic about resuming her place in Polite Society. She’s talked into attending a country house party by her French physician friend, Hugh St. Sevier, only to find that the house party guests are preyed upon by a mysterious thief. Among the guests is Sebastian MacHeath, Marquess of Dunkeld. Violet once considered Sebastian her closest confidant, but war and the passing years have changed him. Nonetheless, when Sebastian’s valet, another veteran, comes under suspicion, Violet, St. Sevier, and Sebastian must work together to discover the true culprit, lest an innocent man be sent to the gallows for crimes he did not commit.
Lady Violet Investigates
Lady Violet Attends a Wedding
Lady Violet Finds a Bridegroom
Lady Violet Enjoys a Frolic
Lady Violet Holds a Baby
Lady Violet Goes for a Gallop
Lady Violet Pays a Call
Lady Violet Says I Do

Shadows of Swanford Abbey by Julie Klassen
Agatha Christie meets Jane Austen in this atmospheric Regency tale brimming with mystery, intrigue, and romance. When Miss Rebecca Lane returns to her home village after a few years away, her brother begs for a favor: go to nearby Swanford Abbey and deliver his manuscript to an author staying there who could help him get published. Feeling responsible for her brother's desperate state, she reluctantly agrees.

The medieval monastery turned grand hotel is rumored to be haunted. Once there, Rebecca begins noticing strange things, including a figure in a hooded black gown gliding silently through the abbey's cloisters. For all its renovations and veneer of luxury, the ancient foundations seem to echo with whispers of the past--including her own. For there she encounters Sir Frederick--magistrate, widower, and former neighbor--who long ago broke her heart. When the famous author is found murdered in the abbey, Sir Frederick begins questioning staff and guests and quickly discovers that several people held grudges against the man, including Miss Lane and her brother. Haunted by a painful betrayal in his past, Sir Frederick searches for answers but is torn between his growing feelings for Rebecca and his pursuit of the truth. For Miss Lane is clearly hiding something. . . .

Siren of Sussex by Mimi Matthews
Victorian high society's most daring equestrienne finds love and an unexpected ally in her fight for independence in the strong arms of London's most sought after and devastatingly handsome half-Indian tailor.

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin
A modern-day Muslim Pride and Prejudice for a new generation of love.
Ayesha Shamsi has a lot going on. Her dreams of being a poet have been set aside for a teaching job so she can pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She lives with her boisterous Muslim family and is always being reminded that her flighty younger cousin, Hafsa, is close to rejecting her one hundredth marriage proposal. Though Ayesha is lonely, she doesn't want an arranged marriage. Then she meets Khalid, who is just as smart and handsome as he is conservative and judgmental. She is irritatingly attracted to someone who looks down on her choices and who dresses like he belongs in the seventh century.

Then There Was You by Mona Shroff
As a helicopter medic, Daniel Bliant saves other people’s lives. He’s cool under pressure, a calm presence for trauma victims on the worst day of their lives. So why can’t he heal himself? Annika Mehta loves her job as a kindergarten teacher, even if the low pay means she has a side gig tending bar at Phil’s. What she doesn’t need is Daniel. He’s wrong for her in every single way, but somehow, she can’t let him go. 

Bisclavret by K.L. Noone (ebook on Hoopla)
The Lord Bisclavret has a secret. A family enchantment. A wolf’s curse, transforming him when the moon is full. He hopes to be a good lord for his people, and he’s always been a loyal king’s man, even if the new king is inexperienced and scholarly. But one betrayal might leave him trapped in wolf-shape forever ... unless his king can save him. Very loosely based on the twelfth-century story by Marie de France, Bisclavret features a bisexual werewolf lord, a demisexual king who’d rather be a scholar, some exasperated men-at-arms, and very important stolen clothing.

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
"Fans of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society will adore The Jane Austen Society… A charming and memorable debut, which reminds us of the universal language of literature and the power of books to unite and heal." —Pam Jenoff, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Girls of Paris

The Dread Penny Society series by Sarah M. Eden
Elizabeth Black is the headmistress of a girls’ school in 1830s Victorian London. She is also a well-respected author of ”silver-fork” novels, stories written both for and about the upper-class ladies of Victorian society. But by night, she writes very different kinds of stories--the Penny Dreadfuls that are all the rage among the working-class men. Under the pseudonym Charles King, Elizabeth has written about dashing heroes fighting supernatural threats, intelligent detectives solving grisly murders, and dangerous outlaws romancing helpless women. Fletcher Walker began life as a street urchin but is now the most successful author in the Penny Dreadful market, that is until Charles King started taking all of his readers. Determined to find the elusive Mr. King, Fletcher approaches Miss Black. For the first time Elizabeth experiences the thrill of a cat-and-mouse adventure reminiscent of one of her own novels as she tries to throw Fletcher off her scent. But the more time they spend together, the more she loses her heart. Its upper-class against working-class, author against author where readers, reputations, and romance are all on the line.
The Lady and the Highwayman
The Gentleman and the Thief
The Merchant and the Rogue
The Bachelor and the Bride
The Queen and the Knave

Young Adult titles/series discussed:

Folk of the Air series by Holly Black (YA, similar to Sara J Maas' Court of Thorns & Roses series, but no sex)
Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him--and face the consequences.
The Cruel Prince
The Lost Sisters
The Wicked King
The Queen of Nothing
How the King of Elfhame Learned to Hate Stories

Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
Sophie has the great misfortune of being the eldest of three daughters, destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking it lies in the ever-moving castle in the hills: the Wizard Howl's castle.

Something More by Jackie Khalilieh
A contemporary teen romance novel featuring a Palestinian-Canadian girl trying to hide her autism diagnosis while navigating her first year of high school, for fans of Jenny Han and Samira Ahmed.

A Fragile Enchantment by Allison Saft
In this romantic fantasy of manners from New York Times bestselling author Allison Saft, a magical dressmaker commissioned for a royal wedding finds herself embroiled in scandal when a gossip columnist draws attention to her undeniable chemistry with the groom

The Getaway List by Emma Lord
Holley's review: Ideal Reader: if cursing isn’t an issue, ANYONE! Great, sweet friends to (not) lovers here! Riley has just graduated from high school and is feeling at loose ends after spending the last 4 years very much under her (loving) mother’s thumb, so she impulsively strikes out for New York City to reconnect with childhood friend Tom, so they can resurrect their Getaway List of adventure.  Very healthy relationships with a diverse group of new friends AND Tom along with honest conversations with her mom as they navigate this new, more adult relationship.  I loved this one and wish I had a Getaway List of my own!

Links discussed:

Wednesday, December 13, 2023

gender in fiction

The next Reader’s Advisory Roundtable is on Wednesday, February 14th at 9:30am at the O’Neal Library.  The topic up for discussion is clean romance.  I hope to see you there! An online option will be available later.

Today’s topic was gender representation.  Alas, Lora R from Vestavia and I were the only attendees and ya’ll missed out on some very nice dark roast coffee and scrumptious iced gingerbread cookies!

We talked about:

Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree (fantasy, adult)

After a lifetime of bounties and bloodshed, Viv is hanging up her sword for the last time.

The battle-weary orc aims to start fresh, opening the first ever coffee shop in the city of Thune. But old and new rivals stand in the way of success — not to mention the fact that no one has the faintest idea what coffee actually is.

If Viv wants to put the blade behind her and make her plans a reality, she won't be able to go it alone.

But the true rewards of the uncharted path are the travelers you meet along the way. And whether drawn together by ancient magic, flaky pastry, or a freshly brewed cup, they may become partners, family, and something deeper than she ever could have dreamed.

Bookshops & Bonedust by Travis Baldree (fantasy, adult)

Viv's career with the notorious mercenary company Rackam's Ravens isn't going as planned.

Wounded during the hunt for a powerful necromancer, she's packed off against her will to recuperate in the sleepy beach town of Murk—so far from the action that she worries she'll never be able to return to it.

What's a thwarted soldier of fortune to do?

Spending her hours at a beleaguered bookshop in the company of its foul-mouthed proprietor is the last thing Viv would have predicted, but it may be both exactly what she needs and the seed of changes she couldn't imagine.

Still, adventure isn't all that far away. A suspicious traveler in gray, a gnome with a chip on her shoulder, a summer fling, and an improbable number of skeletons prove Murk to be more eventful than Viv expected.

The Swifts by Beth Lincoln (mystery, middle-grade)

On the day they are born, every Swift child is brought before the sacred Family Dictionary. They are given a name, and a definition. A definition it is assumed they will grow up to match. 
Meet Shenanigan Swift: Little sister. Risk-taker. Mischief-maker.

Shenanigan is getting ready for the big Swift Family Reunion and plotting her next great scheme: hunting for Grand-Uncle Vile’s long-lost treasure. She’s excited to finally meet her arriving relatives—until one of them gives Arch-Aunt Schadenfreude a deadly shove down the stairs.

So what if everyone thinks she’ll never be more than a troublemaker, just because of her name? Shenanigan knows she can become whatever she wants, even a detective. And she’s determined to follow the twisty clues and catch the killer.

Deliciously suspenseful and delightfully clever, The Swifts is a remarkable debut that is both brilliantly contemporary and instantly classic. A celebration of words and individuality, it's packed with games, wordplay, and lots and lots of mischief as Shenanigan sets out to save her family and define herself in a world where definitions are so important.

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

debut & emerging authors

First, a few housekeeping items:

If you’d like your library to participate in BPL Central’s Veterans’ Day Remembrance display, contact Heather McWilliams (heather [dot] mcwilliams [at] cobpl [dot] org) to receive a supply packet and instructions for making paper poppies.  The deadline to turn them back in is October 25th.  Reach out to her for additional information!

Save the date for the JCPLA Holiday Luncheon on Tuesday, December 5th 11am-1pm.  Registration and Library Champion Award nominations will open soon!

In attendance:

Holley – O’Neal
Brooke – Springville Road
Tamara – Irondale
Samm – Hoover
Melanie – Hoover
Madison – Five Points West
Stephanie – Hoover
Lora – Vestavia
Gelenda – Southside
Olivia – North Avondale
Madalyn – Hoover
Lawana –
Cara – Center Point
Emily – Center Point
Romellia –

The next meeting is at the O’Neal Library on Wednesday, December 13th at 9:30am and the topic up for discussion is gender representation.  A Zoom option will be available.  Voting took place and I am delighted to moderate the group next year!  We also voted on topics for 2024, so mark your calendars for these meetings:

2024 – a participant requested LP recs in particular, so keep that in mind as you select what you’d like to share with the group 😊

February 14 – clean romance

April 10 – historical mysteries

June 12 – westerns

August 14 – large print for book clubs (enough copies available)

October 9 – mythology retellings

December 11 – local/Southern authors

If you would like the pdf file for next year’s meeting schedule, let me know! (hwesley [at] oneallibrary [dot] org)

Today, we met to chat about debut and emerging authors!

A Good House for Children by Kate Collins

A feminist gothic tale perfectly suited for the current moment, A Good House for Children combines an atmospheric mystery with resonant themes of motherhood, madness, and the value of a woman’s work.

The Witching Tide by Margaret Meyer

For readers of Margaret Atwood and Hilary Mantel, an immersive literary debut inspired by historical events—a deadly witch hunt in 17th-century England—that claimed many innocent lives.

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep

“Compelling . . . at once a true-crime thriller, courtroom drama, and miniature biography of Harper Lee. If To Kill a Mockingbird was one of your favorite books growing up, you should add Furious Hours to your reading list today.” —Southern Living

Who is Vera Kelly? by Rosalie Knecht

An exhilarating page-turner and perceptive coming-of-age story, Who Is Vera Kelly? introduces an original, wry, and whip-smart female spy for the twenty-first century.

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Fairies by Heather Fawcett

A curmudgeonly professor journeys to a small town in the far north to study faerie folklore and discovers dark fae magic, friendship, and love in the start of a heartwarming and enchanting new fantasy series.

Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia

The start of an exciting new historical mystery series set during the Harlem Renaissance

Library of the Dead by T.L. Huchu

Sixth Sense meets Stranger Things in T. L. Huchu's The Library of the Dead, a sharp contemporary fantasy following a precocious and cynical teen as she explores the shadowy magical underside of modern Edinburgh.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

The Silent Patient is a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband - and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive. 

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

From the number one New York Times best-selling author of The Silent Patient comes a spellbinding tale of psychological suspense, weaving together Greek mythology, murder, and obsession, that further cements “Michaelides as a major player in the field” (Publishers Weekly).

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Davies

The instant #1 New York Times bestselling mystery and Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick that’s captivated more than a million readers about a woman searching for the truth about her husband’s disappearance…at any cost.

The Violin Conspiracy by Brendan Slocumb

Ray McMillian is a Black classical musician on the rise—undeterred by the pressure and prejudice of the classical music world—when a shocking theft sends him on a desperate quest to recover his great-great-grandfather’s heirloom violin on the eve of the most prestigious musical competition in the world.

Chlorine by Jade Song

In the vein of The Pisces and The VegetarianChlorine is a debut novel that blurs the line between a literary coming-of-age narrative and a dark unsettling horror tale, told from an adult perspective on the trials and tribulations of growing up in a society that puts pressure on young women and their bodies… a powerful, relevant novel of immigration, sapphic longing, and fierce, defiant becoming.

The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw

From Cassandra Khaw, USA Today bestselling author of Nothing But Blackened Teeth, comes The Salt Grows Heavy, a razor-sharp and bewitching fairy tale of discovering the darkness in the world, and the darkness within oneself.

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

For readers of Gillian Flynn and Tana French comes one of the decade’s most anticipated debuts: a twisty, powerful Hitchcockian thriller about an agoraphobic woman who believes she witnessed a crime in a neighboring house.

Pride and Protest by Nikki Payne

A woman goes head-to-head with the CEO of a corporation threatening to destroy her neighborhood in this fresh and modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice by debut author Nikki Payne.

Sex, Lies, and Sensibility by Nikki Payne (due out Feburary 13, 2024)

Two sisters roll up their sleeves to run a dilapidated inn but must learn to work with the locals in this deliciously spicy novel inspired by Sense and Sensibility.

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin

Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole - and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.

Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix

A traditional haunted house story in a contemporary setting, and full of current fears, Horrorstör delivers a high-concept premise in a unique style.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author, "a magnificent, compulsively readable thriller...Rice begins where Bram Stoker and the Hollywood versions leave off and penetrates directly to the true fascination of the myth—the education of the vampire” (Chicago Tribune).

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The Thirteenth Tale is a return to that rich vein of storytelling that our parents loved and we loved as children. Diane Setterfield will keep you guessing, make you wonder, move you to tears and laughter, and in the end, deposit you breathless yet satisfied back upon the shore of your everyday life.

The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James

A woman of limited means and even less experience must confront a vengeful spirit in this haunting novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Broken Girls and The Sun Down Motel.

Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe

Scandalous gossip, wild parties, and forbidden love—witness what the gods do after dark in this stylish and contemporary reimagining of one of the best-known stories in Greek mythology.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Breathtakingly suspenseful and beautifully written, The Historian is the story of a young woman plunged into a labyrinth where the secrets of her family’s past connect to an inconceivable evil: the dark fifteenth-century reign of Vlad the Impaler and a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive through the ages.

My Lovely Wife by Samantha Downing

Dexter meets Mr. and Mrs. Smith in this wildly compulsive debut thriller about a couple whose fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting...

Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters

Nan King, an oyster girl, is captivated by the music hall phenomenon Kitty Butler, a male impersonator extraordinaire treading the boards in Canterbury. Through a friend at the box office, Nan manages to visit all her shows and finally meet her heroine. Soon after, she becomes Kitty's dresser and the two head for the bright lights of Leicester Square where they begin a glittering career as music-hall stars in an all-singing and dancing double act. At the same time, behind closed doors, they admit their attraction to each other and their affair begins.

Olga Dies Dreaming by Xochtil Gonzalez

A blazing new talent debuts with the story of a status-driven wedding planner grappling with her absent mother, her glittering career amongst New York’s elite, and her Puerto Rican roots in the wake of Hurricane Maria.

The Verifiers by Jane Pek

Introducing Claudia Lin: a sharp-witted amateur sleuth for the 21st century. This debut novel follows Claudia as she verifies people's online lives, and lies, for a dating detective agency in New York City. Until a client with an unusual request goes missing....

Liar, Dreamer, Thief by Maria Dong

A gripping page-turner, as well as a sensitive exploration of mental health, Liar, Dreamer, Thief is an intimate portrayal of life in all its complexities—and the dangers inherent in unveiling people’s most closely guarded secrets.

Chain-Gang All-Stars by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Two top women gladiators fight for their freedom within a depraved private prison system not so far-removed from America’s own in this explosive, hotly-anticipated debut novel.


Seeking out debut novels/authors provides excellent potential to discover new voices, fresh takes, and groundbreaking creativity.  Here are a few award lists serving to
pile more on your TBR!

The Center For Fiction First Novel Prize Longlist

The Center For Fiction First Novel Prize Shortlist

The Costa Book Award for First Novel (discontinued)

PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel




Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Disability Representation


The next Reader’s Advisory Roundtable is scheduled for Wednesday, October 11th at 9:30am.  If construction at O'Neal Library is complete, it will be a hybrid meeting at O’Neal & on Zoom. If construction is not complete, the meeting will be Zoom-only.  The topic up for discussion is emerging & debut authors.  Mark your calendar!  The October meeting is also voting month so please email me if you have any nominations for topics or moderator for  the 2023-2024 season:

Today, RART met to discuss disability representation.  A huge thank you to the Irondale Library for hosting! 💓

In attendance in-person:

Allison, Pinson
Tamara, Irondale
Del, Irondale
Holley, O’Neal

In attendance on Zoom:

Bridget, Homewood
Erika, Powderly
Lora, Vestavia
Samuel, Springville Road
Lynn, West End
Brooke, Springville Road
David, Avondale

A reminder from Fontaine Alison about the JCLC's Books-By-Mail (BBM) service:

BBM is a free service for patrons in Jefferson County who need mail large print or audiobooks/music instead of traditional regular print books. Patrons can contact BBM to request an application, or they can download an application:   

BBM does not charge any fees and all materials are automatically renewed. Books are returned postage-free in the mail pouch.  Because the postage is paid for by Free Matter for the Blind and Handicapped, a patron must be certified to qualify for the service. However, certification options are very broad—it is not a medical certification. From the application: "Books-By-Mail is for library users who are unable to get to the library in person due to a permanent or temporary disability. To qualify for Free Matter for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, certification from a physician, nurse, social worker, clergy member, caregiver or librarian is required." 
Contact BBM at 205-226-3758 or

Here are the titles we discussed in the RART meeting today:


The Maid by Nita Prose
Molly Gray is not like everyone else. She struggles with social skills and misreads the intentions of others. Her gran used to interpret the world for her, codifying it into simple rules that Molly could live by. Her orderly life as a hotel maid is upended the day she enters the suite of the infamous and wealthy Charles Black, only to find it in a state of disarray and Mr. Black himself dead in his bed. A Clue-like, locked-room mystery and a heartwarming journey of the spirit, The Maid explores what it means to be the same as everyone else and yet entirely different—and reveals that all mysteries can be solved through connection to the human heart.

A Girl Like Her by Talia Hibbert
Between her autism, her comic book nerdery, and the whiff of scandal her small town can’t forget, Ruth will always be Ravenswood’s black sheep. Since she prefers silence and solitude to gossip and pub crawls, that suits her just fine—until Evan Miller comes to town. Ex-military man Evan is gorgeous, confident… and he’s Ruth’s new neighbour. Unlike everyone else, he doesn’t seem to mind her crotchety ways or her cooking disasters. In fact, if Ruth didn’t know any better, she might think Evan likes her.

The Brown Sisters series by Talia Hibbert
In this critically acclaimed series of sparkling romcoms, three quirky sisters secure their very own happily-ever-afters.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown - Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with six directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s already completed the first: finally moving out of her glamourous family's mansion.

Take a Hint, Dani Brown - Danika Brown knows what she wants: professional success, academic renown, and an occasional roll in the hay to relieve all that career-driven tension. But romance? Been there, done that, burned the T-shirt. Romantic partners, whatever their gender, are a distraction at best and a drain at worst. So Dani asks the universe for the perfect friend-with-benefits—someone who knows the score and knows their way around the bedroom.

Act Your Age, Eve Brown - Eve Brown is a certified hot mess. No matter how hard she strives to do right, her life always goes horribly wrong—so she’s given up trying. But when her personal brand of chaos ruins an expensive wedding (someone had to liberate those poor doves), her parents draw the line. It’s time for Eve to grow up and prove herself—even though she’s not entirely sure how…

Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf
When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she loses everything that matters—her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

The Things We Cannot Say by Kelly Rimmer
Slipping between Nazi-occupied Poland and the frenetic pace of modern life, Kelly Rimmer creates an emotional and finely wrought narrative. The Things We Cannot Say is an unshakable reminder of the devastation when truth is silenced…and how it can take a lifetime to find our voice before we learn to trust it.

True Biz by Sara Novic
This is a story of sign language and lip-reading, disability and civil rights, isolation and injustice, first love and loss, and, above all, great persistence, daring, and joy. Absorbing and assured, idiosyncratic and relatable, this is an unforgettable journey into the Deaf community and a universal celebration of human connection.


A Quick & Easy Guide to Sex & Disability by A. Andrews
All different kinds of bods want to connect with other bods, but lots of them get left out of the conversation when it comes to S-E-X. As explained by disabled cartoonist A. Andrews, this easy-to-read guide covers the basics of disability sexuality, common myths about disabled bodies, communication tips, and practical suggestions for having the best sexual experience possible. Whether you yourself are disabled, you love someone who is, or you just want to know more, consider this your handy starter kit to understanding disability sexuality, and your path to achieving accessible (and fulfilling) sex. Part of the bestselling and critically acclaimed A Quick & Easy Guide series from Limerence Press, an imprint of Oni Press.

Bite Me: How Lyme Disease Stole My Childhood, Made Me Crazy,and Almost Killed Me by Ally Hilfiger (also available in eaudio on Hoopla)
Set against the backdrop of the fast-paced fashion and entertainment industries, Bite Me shares the heartbreaking and hilarious stories that moved Ally forward on her journey from sickness to health. Its themes will be familiar to more than 300,000 Americans diagnosed with Lyme disease each year, many of whom, like Ally, wondered for years what was wrong with them. Bite Me offers readers hope and ideas for how one can transition from victim to survivor, and shares the spiritual principles and actions that have contributed to her wholeness as a human, mother, and international spokesperson against Lyme disease.

An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden RealmsAround Us by Ed Yong
A “thrilling” (The New York Times), “dazzling” (The Wall Street Journal) tour of the radically different ways that animals perceive the world that will fill you with wonder and forever alter your perspective, by a Pulitzer Prize–winning science journalist.

The Diving Bell and the Butterfly: A Memoir of Life in Death by Jean-Dominique Bauby
In 1995, Jean-Dominique Bauby was the editor-in-chief of French Elle, the father of two young children, a 44-year-old man known and loved for his wit, his style, and his impassioned approach to life. By the end of the year he was also the victim of a rare kind of stroke to the brainstem. After 20 days in a coma, Bauby awoke into a body which had all but stopped working: only his left eye functioned, allowing him to see and, by blinking it, to make clear that his mind was unimpaired. Almost miraculously, he was soon able to express himself in the richest detail: dictating a word at a time, blinking to select each letter as the alphabet was recited to him slowly, over and over again. In the same way, he was able eventually to compose this extraordinary book.  The film adaptation, also called The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, is spectacular and just as deeply moving.

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elizabeth Tova Bailey
While an illness keeps her bedridden, Bailey watches a wild snail that has taken up residence on her nightstand. As a result, she discovers the solace and sense of wonder that this mysterious creature brings and comes to a greater understanding of her own place in the world. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating is a remarkable journey of survival and resilience, showing us how a small part of the natural world can illuminate our own human existence, while providing an appreciation of what it means to be fully alive.


Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson (Book 1 in the Truly Devious series)
Ellingham Academy is a famous private school in Vermont for the brightest thinkers, inventors, and artists. It was founded by Albert Ellingham, an early 20th century tycoon, who wanted to make a wonderful place full of riddles, twisting pathways, and gardens. "A place", he said, "where learning is a game." Shortly after the school opened, his wife and daughter were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym "Truly, Devious". It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history. True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case.

Say What You Will by Cammie McGovern
Born with cerebral palsy, Amy can't walk without a walker, talk without a voice box, or even fully control her facial expressions. Plagued by obsessive-compulsive disorder, Matthew is consumed with repeated thoughts, neurotic rituals, and crippling fear. Both in desperate need of someone to help them reach out to the world, Amy and Matthew are more alike than either ever realized. When Amy decides to hire student aides to help her in her senior year at Coral Hills High School, these two teens are thrust into each other's lives. As they begin to spend time with each other, what started as a blossoming friendship eventually grows into something neither expected.

Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant
Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing—in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader. When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just...gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own. And she’s ready with a list of romance novel-inspired steps to a happily ever after. But as Tessa checks each item off Caroline’s list, she gets further and further away from herself. She risks losing everything she cares about.


El Deafo by Cece Bell
Starting at a new school is scary, especially with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here, she’s different. Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom but anywhere her teacher is in the school—in the hallway . . . in the teacher’s lounge . . . in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All.

Alyson Gerber novels
Braced - Rachel Brooks' doctor delivers some terrible news: The sideways curve in Rachel's spine has gotten worse, and she needs to wear a back brace 23 hours a day. The brace wraps her in hard plastic from shoulder blades to hips. It changes how her clothes fit, how she kicks a ball, and how everyone sees her -- even her friends and cute classmate Tate. But as Rachel confronts all the challenges the brace presents, the biggest change of all may lie in how she sees herself.

Focused - Clea can't control her thoughts. She knows she has to do her homework . . . but she gets distracted. She knows she can't just say whatever thought comes into her head . . . but sometimes she can't help herself. She know she needs to focus . . . but how can she do that when the people around her are always chewing gum loudly or making other annoying noises? It's starting to be a problem-not just in school, but when Clea's playing chess or just hanging out with her best friend. Other kids are starting to notice. When Clea fails one too many tests, her parents take her to be tested, and she finds out that she has ADHD, which means her attention is all over the place instead of where it needs to be.

Taking Up Space - Sarah loves basketball more than anything. Crushing it on the court makes her feel like she matters. And it's the only thing that helps her ignore how much it hurts when her mom forgets to feed her. But lately Sarah can't even play basketball right. She's slower now and missing shots she should be able to make. Her body doesn't feel like it's her own anymore. She's worried that changing herself back to how she used to be is the only way she can take control over what's happening. When Sarah's crush asks her to be partners in a cooking competition, she feels pulled in a million directions. She'll have to dig deep to stand up for what she needs at home, be honest with her best friends, and accept that she doesn't need to change to feel good about herself.


Special (Netflix)
A young gay man with cerebral palsy branches out in hope of finally going after the life he wants.


APLS book club kits
The Alabama Public Library Service offers member libraries access to their library of book club kits!  See their website for full information:

FURTHER READING The Barbellion Prize is a book prize dedicated to the furtherance of ill and disabled voices in writing. The prize is awarded annually to an author whose work has best represented the experience of chronic illness and/or disability.







Wednesday, June 14, 2023

manga and graphic novels

Mark your calendars for JCPLA Staff Development Day on Friday, August 25th at the Homewood Library!  JCPLA leadership is hard at work lining up great content and presenters to enrich and enlighten, so meet us there!

The next Reader’s Advisory Roundtable is on Wednesday, August 9th at 9:30am and will be a hybrid meeting, so join us at the Irondale Public Library or on Zoom!  The topic up for discussion will be disability representation.  People deserve to see themselves reflected in the stories they enjoy.  This is true for the various facets of reflection, as well as for "windows" and "sliding glass doors."  While originally discussing representative literature for children, this concept is applicable to all of our patrons. Read more on this concept by clicking here. We will also discuss topics and meeting locations for 2024, so please send me any comments and ideas for what you’d like to get out of RA Roundtable meetings!  Remember, our topics don’t have to be genres or book talks, there are plenty of RA-related subjects we can discuss and help each other with, let me know what YOU would like to learn more about.

In attendance at today’s Zoom meeting:

Holley, O’Neal

Nicole, Tarrant

Erika, Powderly

Tamara, Irondale

Brittany, Trussville

Nisha, Hoover/O’Neal


Tea Dragon Society by Kay O’Neill

After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon caretaking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives—and eventually her own.

The Sprite and the Gardener by Joseph Whitt and Rii Abrego

Long, long ago, sprites were the caretakers of gardens. Every flower was grown by their hand. But when humans appeared and began growing their own gardens, the sprites’ magical talents soon became a thing of the past. When Wisteria, an ambitious, kind-hearted sprite, starts to ask questions about the way things used to be, she’ll begin to unearth her long-lost talent of gardening. But her newly honed skills might not be the welcome surprise she intends them to be.

Grace Needs Space by Benjamin A. Wilgus and Rii Abrego

To the moon and back! A sci-fi middle-grade graphic novel about a young girl's long-awaited summer trip across space with one of her moms. But when her relationship with her mom goes sideways, so does her trip. Will Grace be able to save her summer vacation before it ends?

Snapdragon by Kat Leyh

A magical realist graphic novel about a young girl who befriends her town’s witch and discovers the strange magic within herself.


Skip and Loafer by Misaki Takamatsu

Mitsumi is bound for high school in Tokyo! She's got book smarts, but this small-town girl is about to find out she's massively unprepared for the social norms of big city high schoolers.

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matt Wilson

Four twelve-year-old newspaper delivery girls from the year 1988 uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this critically acclaimed series about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.

Lumberjanes by N.D. Stevenson, Shannon Watters, and Grace Ellis

At Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, things are not what they seem. Three-eyed foxes. Secret caves. Anagrams! Luckily, Jo, April, Mal, Molly, and Ripley are five rad, butt-kicking best pals determined to have an awesome summer together...and they're not gonna let a magical quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way!

Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru

The year is 1946. Teenagers Roberta and Tommy Lee just moved with their parents from Chinatown to the center of Metropolis, home to the famous hero, Superman. Tommy makes friends quickly, while Roberta pines for home. Then one night, the family awakens to find their house surrounded by the Klan of the Fiery Kross! Superman leaps into action, but his exposure to a mysterious green rock has left him weak. Can Roberta and Tommy help him smash the Klan? Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial "Clan of the Fiery Cross," Yang and artist Gurihiru bring us a personal retelling of two different immigrants finding ways to belong.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride―or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. Sebastian’s secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances―one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone’s secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend?

Nimona by ND Stevenson

Nimona is an impulsive young shapeshifter with a knack for villainy. Lord Ballister Blackheart is a villain with a vendetta. As sidekick and supervillain, Nimona and Lord Blackheart are about to wreak some serious havoc. As small acts of mischief escalate into a vicious battle, Lord Blackheart realizes that Nimona's powers are as murky and mysterious as her past. And her unpredictable wild side might be more dangerous than he is willing to admit.

The Princess and the Grilled Cheese Sandwich by Deya Muniz

Lady Camembert wants to live life on her own terms, without marriage. Well, without marrying a man, that is. But the law of the land is that women cannot inherit. So when her father passes away, she does the only thing she can: She disguises herself as a man and moves to the capital city of the Kingdom of Fromage to start over as Count Camembert. But it’s hard to keep a low profile when the beautiful Princess Brie, with her fierce activism and great sense of fashion, catches her attention. Camembert can’t resist getting to know the princess, but as the two grow closer, will she able to keep her secret? A romantic comedy about mistaken identity, true love, and lots of grilled cheese.

Kaiju Girl Caramelise by Spica Aoki

Suffering from a rare, incurable illness that causes frightening changes to her body, loner Kuroe Akaishi spends her high school days avoiding all her classmates-especially class idol Arata Minami and his groupies. But when Arata starts making her heart skip a beat with irritating regularity, Kuroe discovers that her illness actually has a big-make that MONSTER-secret: Romance turns her into Love-zilla...literally!

My Hero Academia by Kohei Korikoshi

Middle school student Izuku Midoriya wants to be a hero more than anything, but he hasn’t got an ounce of power in him. With no chance of ever getting into the prestigious U.A. High School for budding heroes, his life is looking more and more like a dead end. Then an encounter with All Might, the greatest hero of them all, gives him a chance to change his destiny.

Cryptid Club by Sarah Anderson

Do you hate social gatherings? Dodge cameras? Enjoy staying up just a little too late at night? You might have more in common with your local cryptid than you think! Enter the world of Cryptid Club, a look inside the adventures of elusive creatures ranging from Mothman to the Loch Ness Monster. This humorous new series celebrates the unique qualities that make cryptids so desperately sought after by mankind (to no avail). After all, it's what makes us different that also makes us beautiful.

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan by Hiroshi Shiibashi

While the day belongs to humans, the night belongs to yokai, supernatural creatures that thrive on human fear. Caught between these worlds is Rikuo Nura. He's three-quarters human, but his grandfather is none other than Nurarihyon, the supreme commander of the Nura clan, a powerful yokai consortium. So, Rikuo is an ordinary teenager three quarters of the time, until his yokai blood awakens. Then Rikuo transforms into the future leader of the Nura clan, leading a hundred demons.

Giant Days by John Allison, Whitney Cogar, and Lissa Treman

Susan, Esther, and Daisy started at university three weeks ago and became fast friends. Now, away from home for the first time, all three want to reinvent themselves. But in the face of hand-wringing boys, “personal experimentation,” influenza, mystery-mold, nu-chauvinism, and the willful, unwanted intrusion of “academia,” they may be lucky just to make it to spring alive. Going off to university is always a time of change and growth, but for Esther, Susan, and Daisy, things are about to get a little weird.


Incognegro by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece

Zane Pinchback, a reporter for the New York-based New Holland Herald, is sent to investigate the arrest of his own brother, charged with the brutal murder of a white woman in Mississippi. With a lynch mob already swarming, Zane must stay "incognegro" long enough to uncover the truth behind the murder in order to save his brother -- and himself. Suspenseful, unsettling and relevant, Incognegro is a tense graphic novel of shifting identities, forbidden passions, and secrets that run far deeper than skin color.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. New York Times bestselling writer Vaughan and critically acclaimed artist Staples wed fantasy and science fiction like never before in this sexy, subversive drama for adults.

Thirsty Mermaids by Kat Leyh

Fresh out of shipwreck wine, three tipsy mermaids decide to magically masquerade as humans and sneak onto land to indulge in much more drinking and a whole lot of fun in the heart of a local seaside tourist trap. But the good times abruptly end the next morning as, through the haze of killer hangovers, the trio realizes they never actually learned how to break the spell and are now stuck on land for the foreseeable future. Which means everything from: enlisting the aid of their I-know-we-just-met-can-we-crash-with-you bartender friend, struggling to make sense of the world around them, to even trying to get a job with no skill set…all while attempting to somehow return to the sea and making the most of their current situation with tenacity and camaraderie (especially if someone else is buying).

Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku by Yuji Kaku

Gabimaru the Hollow is one of the most vicious assassins ever to come out of the ninja village of Iwagakure. He’s ruthlessly efficient, but a betrayal results in him being handed a death sentence. He has only one hope—in order to earn his freedom, he must travel to a long-hidden island and recover an elixir that will make the shogun immortal. Failure is not an option. On this island, heaven and hell are just a hair’s breadth away.

The Life-Changing Manga of Cleaning Up by Marie Kondo

This graphic novelization brings Kondo's life-changing tidying method to life with the fun, quirky story of a woman who transforms her home, work, and love life using Kondo's advice and inspiration.

Shibuya Goldfish by Hiroumi Aoi

High schooler Hajime Tsukiyoda went to Shibuya that day hoping only to find inspiration for his next film. he never expected to find himself smack-dab in the middle of a real-life horror movie. Without warning, schools of massive goldfish descend upon the crowded streets, and the mystified onlookers' confusion quickly turns to terror as the fish begin to feed. From their tentative shelter, Hajime and a handful of survivors await a rescue that seems more and more unlikely as the days and hours tick by. Meanwhile, all around them, the bloody feeding frenzy rages.

Bear by Staffan Gnosspelius

Bear, Staffan Gnosspelius’s debut book, is a gorgeous visual meditation on depression. In this deeply affecting, wordless picture book for adults, a bear is maddeningly afflicted with a cone that covers his head and that he is unable to take off. It’s a battle he wages until he’s mentally and physically exhausted. Then, one day, Bear hears notes of music, the humming of a friendly hare. The hare hovers nearby, concerned, sometimes driven away by Bear’s frustration and anger, more often staying close and gently offering support. The resulting book is both an emotional gut punch and a warm embrace, recognizable immediately to anyone who has ever suffered or loved someone who has suffered in similar dark places. In other words, all of us.


Mark Waid

Brian K. Vaughan

Kelly Thompson

Brian Michael Bendis

Kelly Sue DeConnick

Matt Fraction

Charles Soule

Tom King 

Tom Taylor

Greg Rucka

Pick the mind of Jeff Co librarian GN/Manga experts and aficionados!

Erika White, Powderly

Samm Hamilton, Hoover  Madalyn Ayer, Hoover

Further reading: