Need a laugh? Try One of These Audiobooks

Books – They say laughter is the best medicine. Lisa Scottoline is well-known for her page-turning thrillers, but did you know she and her daughter, Francesca Serritella, write “Chick Wit,” a weekly column carried by The Philadelphia Inquirer? If you need a laugh, head to Hoopla to check out one of eight audiobooks read by the pair, each a compilation of their favorite essays. Look no further than these titles for a hint at the witty banter within each book: My Nest Isn’t Empty, It Just Has More Closet Space, Have a Nice Guilt Trip, and Does this Beach Make Me Look Fat.

The Mirror & The Light by Hilary Mantel

Cover image for THE MIRROR & THE LIGHTBook- The Mirror & the Light is Hilary Mantel’s latest and long awaited conclusion to her Thomas Cromwell trilogy, which began with Wolf Hall and followed up by Bring Up the Bodies. The trilogy covers the historical events of King Henry VIII: his obsession with producing a male heir, break with Catholicism, and eventual marriages to six different women–three of whom meet tragic ends (two by beheading and the other dying following childbirth). Modern readers may not be familiar with Thomas Cromwell, who for about eight years served as Henry’s most trusted advisor. Often portrayed negatively in works such as A Man for All Seasons by George Bernard Shaw, Mantel’s books cast Cromwell more sympathetically and tell the story from his point of view. Spoiler alert! The Mirror & the Light opens with the events following the beheading of Anne Boylen and Cromwell’s dealings with an increasingly desperate and unstable King, while seeking his successive brides.

The close study of Cromwell’s character and state craft at the court of Henry VIII make The Mirror & the Light, as well as the other two books, great. The trilogy might well be described as a sixteenth-century The West Wing. Given how gripping that show is, that tells you all you need to know about Mantel’s impeccable prose. Though The Mirror & the Light is at times dense and slow moving, the quality of her writing and sense of foreboding kept me reading. I especially admired how the King’s inevitable displeasure with Cromwell and the Court’s plotting against him are slowly revealed, then culminate in a highly memorable, ending scene. The Wolf Hall trilogy will appeal to fans of historical fiction and those who enjoy stories of political machinations and betrayal.

The Wolf Hall trilogy is available on Overdrive for digital download on eBook and eAudiobook formats.

Celebrating Asian and Pacific Heritage Month

eBooks— May is Asian and Pacific Heritage Month and to celebrate, I have goodies!

Cover image for Oceanic

In these strange and uncertain times, there is no shortage emotions of what we feel from one day to the next. Reconnecting with life outside of our self and our devices to the natural world is now a driving need. Oceanic by Aimee Nezhukumatathil  is a collection of free and formal poems that appeal to our different moods especially, as we vigorously seek to fulfill a desire for connectedness. She uses simple, but alluring imagery, observing life’s details.

TheseCover image for Go Home! times have also set off waves of of anti-Asian xenophobia, discrimination and violence amid cities and communities where generations of Americans have long held jobs, businesses and homes. Go Home! is a anthology featuring fiction, memoir and poetry from a diverse group of Asian writers who explore what home is and what it means in the 21st century. This dynamic work meaningfully and poignantly reflects how we identify ourselves in the world and at home.

Oceanic and Go Home are available on Hoopla.

House of Trelawney by Hannah Rothschild

House of TrelawneyAudiobook – Sometimes, the best little pleasures are discovered by accident. Needing an audiobook in a hurry, I found House of Trelawney, a Downton Abbey set in the 1980’s and besieged by total financial ruin.

Trelawney Castle has been around some 700 years.  Life should be glamorous for a titled aristocrat living in a place with turrets, follies, a room for every day of the year and four miles of corridors amid 500,000 acres. Instead, the castle is in shambles, crumbling around its inhabitants and lacking heat. Living with Kitto, the current heir and the 25th Earl of Trelawney are:  his wife, Jane; their three children; his frail parents and Aunt Tuffy, who is obsessed with studying fleas. Centuries of ancestors’ squandering of fortunes, wars, and taxes, has left little to maintain the estate once boasting 85 servants. The family is in danger of losing their home unless they obtain funds and/or devise a feasible plan. 

The dysfunctional Trelawney’s interact with other delightful and eccentric characters, who involve themselves in attempts to save the castle. Complete with villains, romance, friendship, determination, and tests of family loyalty–The House of Trelawney has everything to keep you listening and guessing whether the house can be saved!

Check out The House of Trelawney, available now on Hoopla.

Strange Weather by Joe Hill

Book – Full disclosure, I suffer from attention deficit disorder so I’m always on the lookout for books that I’m actually able to finish from start to finish. I had little issue with this collection of short novellas.Cover image for Strange Weather

In Strange Weather, Hill presents a collection of four odd stories of varied length that entertain and disturb. In “Snapshot,” a young boy faces his nightmares, the menace of dementia, the challenge that is the tattooed Phoenician, and a thug armed with a Polaroid camera. “Loaded,” is an extremely relevant story with the capacity to emotionally tear you apart. “Aloft,” moves us into more supernatural territory, as Aubrey Griffin’s finds himself landing on a weird cloud in the sky. “Rain,” is a dystopian, post-apocalyptic imagining with a terrifying and killer rain that penetrates skin. Hill’s collection will please readers who are looking for a sampling of introspective horror.

If you’re looking for even more creepy books by Joe Hill check out Heart-Shaped Box and NOS4A2. Hill’s titles are available in print, audiobook, eAudiobook, eBook on Hoopla and Overdrive.

The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Book – Looking for a great psychological thriller? The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen should satisfy that need. Vanessa is the jilted, ex-wife of Richard. When they first met she was swept off her feet by this handsome, wealthy, successful and attentive man. To her, their relationship was worth giving up her career and New York City lifestyle, to move to the suburbs with the prospect of a future family. The fairy tale soon unravels after numerous, failed fertility treatments. Richard eventually leaves Vanessa for his assistant Nellie, who in many ways is a younger version of Vanessa. Vanessa becomes obsessed with her former husband’s young, naïve fiancé and tries to sabotage the upcoming nuptials. Is Vanessa, who is swimming through an alcoholic haze, just bitter and vengeful, or is something else at play? Meanwhile, Richard is protective and loving towards his future wife, but Nellie is beginning to have doubts.

Each character’s story is narrated from their perspective. What is real, what is not? The twists and turns cause misdirection, forcing you to keep guessing their ulterior motives- who, of course, all have their secrets.

The Audiobook of The Wife Between Us is also available on Hoopla and Overdrive for Kindle and other electronic devices.

I Am A Filipino and This Is How We Cook by Nicole Ponseca

Cover image for I Am a FilipinoBook – I would have picked up I Am A Filipino and This Is How We Cook-even if I wasn’t Filipina, because beautiful cookbooks are a weakness of mine. But because I am Filipina, I was Asian-duty honor-bound to check it out, especially since I cannot claim to have cooked a Filipino dish that would pass as edible. I blame my father, who just so happens is an amazing cook. He dominated the kitchen. Growing up, when I attempted “cooking,” Helicopter Dad With The Ever-so-critical Eye surfaced when I was at the stove like a slow-moving, creepy shadow. Asian men are not known for their communication skills and even less so for their patience.The cooking gods must have felt for me, because lo, here is a book for me and those who love to cook and/or eat Asian food!

Most of the recipes are simple! The cookbook includes the traditional Filipino dish Pansit (similar to Chinese Lo Mein), lumpia (spring rolls) and adobo dishes that the kitchen-challenged like myself, can make!

I Am A Filipino and This Is How We Cook is available for check out in print and on Hoopla in eBook format.

Fresh Ink: An Anthology edited by Lamar Giles

Books – Twelve authors. Twelve diverse stories. As editor Lamar Giles, cofounder of We Need Diverse Books wrote, “In these pages are all sorts of heroes.” From a one-act play about gun violence by Walter Dean Myers, a first-love story by Newbery Medal winner Jason Reynolds, a graphic story by cartoonist Gene Luen Yang, to a superhero story by Nicola Yoon, there is something for everyone here.

This book is part of We Need Diverse Books’ mission to ensure that young people find authentic stories that resonate with their lives and experiences. This book is for people who identify as minority–whether in race or sexual identity or popularity–to find positive representations of themselves. It is also a book for readers who want to try to gain a better understanding of the perspectives and experiences of others.

There are love stories. Some of the stories offer social commentary. Some may hold your attention; others may not. I found the collection very readable, but if I’m being honest, I did skip one story because the genre didn’t interest me. Months later, several of the characters stick with me. I highly recommend young adults and adults check out this collection.

What Book Changed Your Life?

Can you remember a book that changed your life? Perhaps you read something that gave you hope or answered a burning question. Maybe you related to a quirky character or a memorable setting. Or at some point in your life you got lost in a book that simply spoke to you in a way you can’t describe.

Prior to the onset of this worldwide crisis we all find ourselves in, we asked our library visitors to tell us what book changed their lives. This list might look a little different in a few months when people tell us what they’ve read during periods of self-isolation, but for now here is our list of books that changed someone’s life. It includes Youth, Teen and Adult content. The title under the book image links to our catalog. Many of these books are available for free digital download through the OverDrive or Hoopla apps.

If you search our catalog and your only option for a title is to place a hold for a digital download, you will need to establish an account on the app in order to be notified when your “hold” becomes available. For help getting started on Hoopla or OverDrive, visit eBooks & eMedia.

We hope you find a book that changes your life, too!

Once our library reopens and we resume full services, you will be able to place a hold on a book to pick up or request something from our interlibrary loan system.

Chic Knitting Books

Books – I love to knit, I love the calming rhythm of it and the feel of the yarn and the finished product, but sometimes the whole process of picking out a new project is the best part. Fortunately there are a lot of gorgeous knitting books coming out lately that make this even more enjoyable, full of stunning photos of beautiful projects. Sure, I’ll never buy the $400 in luxury yarn they recommend to make that sweater, but I can enjoy thinking about it.

Coffehouse Knits offers a selection of simple projects with just enough fancy details to make them feel special, and the photos are wonderful. I want to move into this book; it looks so comfortable. (I’ll have to settle for knitting that Morning Brew Sweater…someday.)

For those of us who sometimes struggle with fit, Plus Size Knits is a great new collection of sweaters designed for larger figures, no additional math required. And, importantly, they’re extremely cute – a variety of styles, some with lace and some with interesting shapes. There’s something for everyone.

Knitting Modular Shawls, Wraps, and Stoles is a godsend for anyone who likes to knit shawls, because yes, there are thousands of free patterns, but sometimes you can’t find the thing that’s exactly what you need, and this book will help you figure out how to build it. If you like neatly organized diagrams, this is the book for you.

Wool Studio is one of those $400 sweater books, but they’re lovely sweaters (and they would still be lovely in a more affordable yarn). While a lot of knitting patterns are fun to make but difficult to wear, most of these projects are wardrobe staples that I can see wearing for years, and some of them are trendier updates of the same.

Alas, I can’t knit and look at lovely knitting books at the same time, so I’ll have to pick one or the other.