Chain Gang All Stars: A Novel book cover

Chain Gang All Stars: A Novel

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

OverDrive Audiobook
Diverse Characters, Fiction, LGBTQ+, Dystopian

FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN FICTION • A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR • A READ WITH JENNA BOOK CLUB PICK • NATIONAL BESTELLER • 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 from the New York Times bestselling author of Friday Black • LONGLISTED FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE “Like Orwell’s 1984 and Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, Adjei-Brenyah’s book presents a dystopian vision so…illuminating that it should permanently shift our understanding of who we are and what we’re capable of doing.” —The Washington Post “This book will change you!...A masterpiece.” —Jenna Bush Hager, The Today Show’s #ReadWithJenna She felt their eyes, all those executioners… Loretta Thurwar and Hamara “Hurricane Staxxx” Stacker are the stars of Chain-Gang All-Stars, the cornerstone of CAPE, or Criminal Action Penal Entertainment, a highly-popular, highly-controversial, profit-raising program in America’s increasingly dominant private prison industry. It’s the return of the gladiators and prisoners are competing for the ultimate prize: their freedom. In CAPE, prisoners travel as Links in Chain-Gangs, competing in death-matches for packed arenas with righteous protestors at the gates. Thurwar and Staxxx, both teammates and lovers, are the fan favorites. And if all goes well, Thurwar will be free in just a few matches, a fact she carries as heavily as her lethal hammer. As she prepares to leave her fellow Links, she considers how she might help preserve their humanity, in defiance of these so-called games, but CAPE’s corporate owners will stop at nothing to protect their status quo and the obstacles they lay in Thurwar’s path have devastating consequences.     Moving from the Links in the field to the protestors to the CAPE employees and beyond, Chain-Gang All-Stars is a kaleidoscopic, excoriating look at the American prison system’s unholy alliance of systemic racism, unchecked capitalism, and mass incarceration, and a clear-eyed reckoning with what freedom in this country really means from a “new and necessary American voice” (Tommy Orange, The New York Times Book Review).

Annie's picture

A very informative and gripping dystopian novel that will make you think about the U.S. prison system and how we consume modern-day professional sports. -Annie

Everybody Knows: A Novel book cover

Everybody Knows: A Novel

Jordan Harper

OverDrive Audiobook
Fiction, Mystery

In this "hardboiled mystery" (Maureen Corrigan) from an Edgar Award winning author, a fearless black-bag publicist exposes the belly of the L.A. beast. Welcome to Mae Pruett's Los Angeles, where "Nobody talks. But everybody whispers." As a "black-bag" publicist tasked not with letting the good news out but keeping the bad news in, Mae works for one of LA's most powerful and sought-after crisis PR firms, at the center of a sprawling web of lawyers, PR flaks, and private security firms she calls "The Beast." They protect the rich and powerful and depraved by any means necessary. After her boss is gunned down in front of the Beverly Hills Hotel in a random attack, Mae takes it upon herself to investigate and runs headfirst into The Beast's lawless machinations and the twisted systems it exists to perpetuate. ... Recommended by New York Times Book Review • NPR/Fresh Air • Wall Street Journal • Washington Post • LA Times •CrimeReads• Alta Online • Lit Hub• Kirkus Reviews• Publishers Weekly• NBC/TODAY and many more! • An ABA January 2023 Indie Next List Pick • A NYTBR Editors' Choice Selection "The book everybody's been waiting for" —Michael Connelly "An absolute tour de force"—S. A. Cosby "The best mystery novel I've read in years" —James Patterson

Candice's picture

This was so good! I came across this title on ICPL's 'Featured Collections' scroller on the website (which, by the way, is a great way to find titles you might not be aware of), and I was hooked from the beginning. The story is told in alternating chapters by Mae and Chris, and the first thing of note is that I found both narrators to be unique and excellent, with a nice range of emotion (even hard-on-the-outside Chris). You know when a narrator sounds just like the character you're imagining? This had that going on for me. The story itself is compelling and original, even while having well-known elements that are in the miasma surrounding Hollywood: the big players, the world of dirty secrets perpetrated by those who hold the power, the broken systems, the people who fall through the cracks, and the people who perpetuate all of this in various ways. I found all the characters to be nicely fleshed out, especially Mae and Chris of course, but the side characters are also given unique characteristics and situations that tell their stories. One final note: this is the second book I've read or listened to recently that has a female "cleaner" at the center of it, someone who helps cover up bad situations for powerful people in Hollywood (the other is the Devil's Playground), and it is making for some very interesting post-book thinking. -Candice

The devil's playground : a novel book cover

The devil's playground : a novel

Craig Russell

FICTION Russell Craig
Fiction, Mystery

"A riveting 1920s Hollywood thriller about the making of the most terrifying silent film ever made, and a deadly search for the single copy rumored still to exist. This is the breakout from Craig Russell, author of The Devil Aspect. 1927: Mary Rourke-a Hollywood studio fixer-is called urgently to the palatial home of Norma Carlton, one of the most recognizable stars in American silent film. Norma has been working on the secret film everyone is openly talking about...a terrifying horror picture called The Devil's Playground that is rumored to have unleashed a curse on everyone involved in the production. Mary finds Norma's cold, dead body, and she wonders for just a moment if these dark rumors could be true. 1967: Paul Conway, a journalist and self-professed film aficionado, is on the trail of a tantalizing rumor. He has heard that a single copy of The Devil's Playground-a Holy Grail for film buffs-may exist. He knows his Hollywood history and he knows the film endured myriad tragedies and ended up lost to time. The Devil's Playground is Craig Russell's tour de force, a richly researched and constructed thriller that weaves through the Golden Age of Hollywood and reveals a blossoming industry built on secrets, invented identities, and a desperate pursuit of image. As Mary Rourke charges headlong through the egos, distractions, and traps that threaten to take her down with the doomed production, she discovers a truth far more sinister than she-or we-would imagine. This is Craig Russell's strongest novel to date, and one that will resonate with American readers"--

Candice's picture

This book has it all--a solid crime for someone to solve, interesting characters (including more than one strong, intriguing female), old Hollywood glamour coupled with whip-smart dialogue, and a healthy dose of the kind of supernatural that is just a little too real for comfort or dismissal. Author Craig Russell manages all of this really well, and has a deft hand with vocabulary (this book presented me with one of the few times in recent memory where I had to resort to a dictionary). A perfect read for heading into the spooky season! -Candice

A discovery of witches book cover

A discovery of witches

Deborah E. Harkness

SCIENCE FICTION Harkness, Deborah E.

Witch and Yale historian Diana Bishop discovers an enchanted manuscript, attracting the attention of 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew Clairmont. The orphaned daughter of two powerful witches, Bishop prefers intellect, but relies on magic when her discovery of a palimpsest documenting the origin of supernatural species releases an assortment of undead who threaten, stalk, and harass her.

Melody's picture

This title is more than 10 years old already, and I'm ashamed to admit I hadn't read it before now. It's a perfect October read--the chill is in the air and there's nothing better than burning some candles and cozying up with a dark academia story. It makes me wish I had a faux leather bound book cover that I could rest this paperback in and pretend I'm reading one of the protagonists ancient manuscripts. The first half proved to be a pretty compulsive read for me, with just enough fear and dread that I can't read it right before bedtime. I'm looking forward to curling up with the last half so I can see how this witch discovers her powers and survives until Book 2! -Melody

My roommate is a vampire book cover

My roommate is a vampire

Jenna Levine

FICTION Levine Jenna
Fiction, Humor, Romance

"True love is at stake in this charming, debut romantic comedy. Cassie Greenberg loves being an artist, but it's a tough way to make a living. On the brink of eviction, she's desperate when she finds a too-good-to-be-true apartment in a beautiful Chicago neighborhood. Cassie knows there has to be a catch-only someone with a secret to hide would rent out a room for that price. Of course, her new roommate Frederick J. Fitzwilliam is far from normal. He sleeps all day, is out at night on business, and talks like he walked out of a regency-romance novel. He also leaves Cassie heart-melting notes around the apartment, cares about her art, and asks about her day. And he doesn't look half bad shirtless, on the rare occasions they're both home and awake. But when Cassie finds bags of blood in the fridge that definitely weren't there earlier, Frederick has to come clean... Cassie's sexy new roommate is a vampire. And he has a proposition for her"--

Melody's picture

This book is ridiculous and I love it. It's such a (refreshingly) straightforward schtick that if we didn't know the male lead was a vampire by the book's title, we'd surely recognize it after he claims she'll never see him during the day because he "works" at night. Everything about him is so obvious (he doesn't know what a trash can is because he's never made any trash) that the story can focus on his charmingly ignorant view of modern day American society. (He's been in a coma for 100 years after his friend accidentally poisoned him). When you read a lot of formulaic genre fiction (and have no shame about it), it's so fun to pick up something that pokes fun at all the traditional plot points and character dramas. Really fun read. -Melody

I have some questions for you book cover

I have some questions for you

Rebecca Makkai

FICTION Makkai Rebecca
Fiction, Mystery

"In the riveting new novel from the author of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist The Great Believers, a woman must reckon with her past when new details surface about a tragedy at her elite New England boarding school"--

Candice's picture

This was a really engaging, smart read! The story sucks you in right away, with the main character, Bodie, returning to her posh prep boarding school out East to teach some classes during an interim session, and dropping the news that while she was a student there her former roommate was murdered and it has never set easy with her. There are a few stories here: the events of the 90s when Bodie comes to the school, and a couple years later when the murder happens; the current day where students producing a podcast decide to reinvestigate the murder; the person who was convicted of the murder; and Bodie's own personal life in current day, where she and her husband live somewhat separate lives, and they both get caught up in the Me Too movement. Makkai deftly weaves them together, and is very nuanced in her approach to dealing with many aspects of the issues. All the while, Bodie's narrating the events of the book to someone she at first only refers to as You, a clever tactic that takes us along as she lays out her evidence that points towards who she thinks committed the murder. If you like your mysteries up-to-date and with a small side of that prep school/dark academia thrown in, this is for you! -Candice

The invisible hour : a novel book cover

The invisible hour : a novel

Alice Hoffman

FICTION Hoffman Alice

"One brilliant June day when Mia Jacob can no longer see a way to survive, the power of words saves her. The Scarlet Letter was written almost two hundred years earlier, but it seems to tell the story of Mia's mother, Ivy, and their life inside the Community--an oppressive cult in western Massachusetts where contact with the outside world is forbidden, and books are considered evil. But how could this be? How could Nathaniel Hawthorne have so perfectly captured the pain and loss that Mia carries inside her? Through a journey of heartbreak, love, and time, Mia must abandon the rules she was raised with at the Community. As she does, she realizes that reading can transport you to other worlds or bring them to you, and that readers and writers affect one another in mysterious ways. She learns that time is more fluid than she can imagine, and that love is stronger than any chains that bind you. As a girl Mia fell in love with a book. Now as a young woman she falls in love with a brilliant writer as she makes her way back in time. But what if Nathaniel Hawthorne never wrote The Scarlet Letter? And what if Mia Jacob never found it on the day she planned to die?"--

Anne M's picture

First and foremost, I enjoyed reading “The Invisible Hour.” It was the right book at the right time for me. I needed something fast-paced and light and compelling and fun. But it was also silly and sort of ludicrous. I liked it and I hated it. That is how some books are. I haven’t read Alice Hoffman before, but I will pick up any book about modern-day Puritanical societies hidden in the wilds of Western Massachusetts. And the novel is about the love of reading, which resonates with me. “The Invisible Hour” is about Mia, a young girl, living in a restrictive collective community who discovers books and through those books finds herself and learns about the outside world. The book that changes her life is “The Scarlett Letter.” She escapes the collective, finds kindred spirits (and they are librarians!) that help her get on her feet, and rereads Hawthorne. I like Nathaniel Hawthorne. Puritan guilt is something I relate to and he explores that quite frequently in his fiction. He is moody and dark and great with imagery. “The House of the Seven Gables” is one of my favorites. All of this works for me. But then Mia falls in love and that is where the book goes off the rails. This book turns suddenly to have elements of “Back to the Future” mixed with “Outlander,” but with Nathaniel Hawthorne, which was weird to read. I guess you could say that Hoffman is exploring the relationship between author and reader, its intimacies, and power. Overall, it was fun. -Anne M

The awakening, and selected stories book cover

The awakening, and selected stories

Kate Chopin

FICTION Chopin, Kate
Fiction, Classics, Literary Fiction

Annie's picture

A fast read with gorgeous writing and imagery. This book was censored for decades after its publishing in 1899 for its depictions of female sexual desire and a protagonist who opposed traditional social and gender norms. If you haven't read this Romantic classic yet, I highly recommend it for Banned Books Week! -Annie

Business or pleasure book cover

Business or pleasure

Rachel Lynn Solomon

FICTION Solomon Rachel
Fiction, Romance, Humor

"A ghostwriter and a struggling actor help each other on the page and in the bedroom in this steamy romantic comedy from the New York Times bestselling author of The Ex Talk. Chandler Cohen has never felt more like the ghost in 'ghostwriter' until she attends a signing for a book she wrote--and the author doesn't even recognize her. The evening turns more promising when she meets a charming man at the bar and immediately connects with him. But when all their sexual tension culminates in a spectacularly awkward hookup, she decides this is one night better off forgotten. Unfortunately, that's easier said than done. Her next project is ghostwriting a memoir for Finn Walsh, a C-list actor best known for playing a lovable nerd on a cult classic werewolf show who now makes a living appearing at fan conventions across the country. But Chandler knows him better from their one-night stand of hilarious mishaps. Chandler's determined to keep their partnership as professional as possible, but when she admits to Finn their night together wasn't as mind-blowing as he thought it was, he's distraught. He intrigues her enough that they strike a deal: when they're not working on his book, Chandler will school Finn in the art of satisfaction. As they grow closer both in and out of the bedroom, they must figure out which is more important, business or pleasure--or if there's a way for them to have both"--

Melody's picture

This book is on my TBR pile (to be read). It's a new rom-com (published July 4, 2023) that is getting rave reviews. I have to read a lot of book reviews for work, and each one I read about this book has great things to say. Why else do I want to read it? I love comedy that turns your everyday feelings of failure into a no-big-deal moment. Sex-positive book about open communication? Nice. Woman writer settling for a paycheck over following her creative writing dream? Awesome. Can't wait for my hold to come in for this one. -Melody

Treasure State book cover

Treasure State

C.J. Box

OverDrive Audiobook
Fiction, Thriller, Mystery

Christina Delaine's spot-on performance ensures that Box's story and dialogue are as entertaining as ever." —AudioFile on C.J. Box's The Bitterroots #1 New York Times bestselling author C. J. Box's Treasure State finds Cassie Dewell in Montana on the trail of a con man. Private Investigator Cassie Dewell's business is thriving, and her latest case puts her on the hunt for a slippery con man who's disappeared somewhere in the "treasure state". A wealthy Florida widow has accused him of absconding with her fortune, and wants Cassie to find him and get it back. The trail takes Cassie to Anaconda, Montana, a quirky former copper mining town that's the perfect place to reinvent yourself. As the case develops, Cassie begins to wonder if her client is telling her everything. On top of that, Cassie is also working what's easily one of her strangest assignments ever. A poem that promises buried treasure to one lucky adventurer has led to a cutthroat competition and five deaths among treasure-hunters. But Cassie's client doesn't want the treasure. Instead, he claims to be the one who hid the gold and wrote the poem. And he's hired Cassie to try to find him. Between the two cases, Cassie has her hands full. In Montana, a killer view can mean more than just the scenery, and Cassie knows much darker things hide behind the picturesque landscape of Big Sky Country. Treasure State, C. J. Box's highly anticipated follow-up to The Bitterroots, is full of more twists and turns than the switchbacks through the Anaconda Range. A Macmillan Audio production from Minotaur Books.

Candice's picture

As a reader of thriller/mystery, I find myself perplexed as I say that this is the first C.J. Box book I have ever read or listened to...Box is well-regarded and a prolific author in the genre, and while they may not be my regular go-to, sometimes you just want a 'does what it says on the tin' type of book. At least, that's what I was expecting when I downloaded this, but to my surprise, there's a whole lot more going on here than I expected. The setting is unique, and the author rightly spends a fair amount of time highlighting the beauty and environmental aspects of the big sky state. There's a double mystery going on here as well (unless they merge at some point...), and both are engaging and fitting for where the action takes place. All of the characters are, if not entirely fully realized, fleshed out enough to be interesting and believable (even honestly menacing) even those that fill a sometimes well-worn role (the bad cop, the odd-but-loveable relative, the quirky outsider). Christina Delaine is a fine narrator, and voices all the characters really well. I'm enjoying this book much more that I thought I would, and this won't be the last for me. -Candice