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profile-icon Joyce Smith

Catherine Ryan Hyde's When I Found You is a an emotional (there will be tears) book that digs into the challenges of relationships, resilience, and the power of love.  The book follows the lives of Nathan McCann and Nat, a newborn abandoned in the woods, as they form a relationship that changes both of their lives.

Nathan McCann finds an abandoned newborn (Nat) while duck hunting in the woods.  Nathan wants to adopt the baby (against his wife’s wishes), but his maternal grandmother comes forward and the baby goes to live with her.  Nat has a lot of anger issues because his grandmother will not answer questions about his parents and how he came to live with her.   At the age of 15, Nat is arrested for shoplifting and his grandmother reluctantly decides to relinquish her custody of him. But, before she takes him away, she fulfills a promise to Nathan and takes Nat to meet the man who found him in the woods. Nat’s grandmother shares with Nathan why she has decided to give up custody of Nat and Nathan immediately extends an offer for Nat to live with him (his wife is now deceased).  Nathan and Nat are given the opportunity to start fresh and fix their past mistakes. Through their journey together, they both confront their past and find healing, trust, and support in each other's company.

When I Found You is a good read for anyone seeking a story of resilience, compassion, and love. Throughout the book, we see the importance of second chances and forgiveness. I like the book a lot and have since read several other titles by the author. They also tug at the heartstrings

Cover Art

When I Found You by Catherine Ryan Hyde
ISBN: 9781611099799
Publication Date: 2013-04-23
Fifteen years after discovering an abandoned baby boy in the woods, widower Nathan McCann finds him abandoned once again--this time at his doorstep--in this emotional tale from New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde. While duck hunting one morning, childless, middle-aged Nathan McCann finds a newborn abandoned in the woods. To his shock, the child--wrapped in a sweater and wearing a tiny knitted hat--is still alive. To his wife's shock, Nathan wants to adopt the boy...but the child's grandmother steps in. Nathan makes her promise, however, that one day she'll bring the boy to meet him so he can reveal that he was the one who rescued him. Fifteen years later, the widowered Nathan discovers the child abandoned once again--this time at his doorstep. Named Nat, the teenager has grown into a sullen delinquent whose grandmother can no longer tolerate him. Nathan agrees to care for Nat, and the two engage in a battle of wills that spans years. Still, the older man repeatedly assures the youngster that, unlike the rest of the world, he will never abandon him--not even when Nat suffers a trauma that changes both of their lives forever. From the bestselling author of Pay It Forward comes When I Found You, an exquisite, emotional tale of the unexpected bonds that nothing in life can break. Revised edition: This edition of When I Found You includes editorial revisions.


Cover ArtTake Me with You by Catherine Ryan Hyde
ISBN: 9781477820018
Publication Date: 2014-07-22
New York Times bestselling author Catherine Ryan Hyde tells the emotional story of an alcoholic reeling from the loss of his son on the journey to finally facing his pain--and forging a path to redemption. August Shroeder, a burned-out teacher, has been sober since his nineteen-year-old son died. Every year he's spent the summer on the road, but making it to Yellowstone this year means everything. The plan had been to travel there with his son, but now August is making the trip with Philip's ashes instead. An unexpected twist of fate lands August with two extra passengers for his journey, two half-orphans with nowhere else to go. What none of them could have known was how transformative both the trip--and the bonds that develop between them--would prove, driving each to create a new destiny together.


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profile-icon Randi Gibson

Sometimes we want to do things. In fact, we plan to do things, then the moment arrives and we don't. There's always an excuse isn't there? "Oh, I'm not going to do this because I have something else I need to do, even though it can wait." "I just got side-tracked and forgot about it." "Mercury is in retrograde so the energy is bad right now." 


I almost slipped back into my reading slump after finally breaking that four-month streak. I kept putting off reading because I wanted to wait for more books from a very niche genre. So you know what I did? I picked up a book and started reading. 

The first book I picked up was The Librarian of Burned Books.

This was the first historical fiction I had ever read and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that made me want to pick up a lightsaber and fight Nazis as badly as this one. Nor have I read a book whose pacing made me savor every word. I felt like I was reading so fast but then I would check and would have only read two pages. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to get that feeling back if I reread it, and that honestly makes me sad. This book has three storylines, each featuring a strong female character. We meet Althea, an American writer, as she travels to Germany as part of an exchange program. She’s in Berlin in 1933 and things are heating up politically. At first, she is sympathetic to her German hosts until she sees the much darker side of their actions. Then we meet Hannah in Paris a few years later. She’s a Jewish German, trying to escape the war. However, Paris isn’t far enough away and the darkness creeps into her life there as well. She loves books and works at the German Library of Burned Books. And finally, there is Vivian in New York in 1944. She recently lost her husband at war and a senator is threatening her program to send books to the men at war in Europe. She mounts a campaign to keep the program going, organizing a big event to get public sentiment on her side. The fight against censorship is unfortunately still an issue today. The three women’s stories and lives interconnect, they are all trying to make a difference in a world that is in upheaval.

I finished The Librarian of Burned Books in a single afternoon, and once I did, I wanted to keep the momentum going.

So I immediately jumped into The Woman in the Library. 

My overall experience with this book can be summarized by one sentence: I can’t believe they Knives Out a Knives Out in this book! This book is written in a unique, unconventional, twisty, intelligent style. There’s a main murder story connecting four alibis who coincidentally ( or not so coincidentally) meet at the Boston Public Library for their writing research. And each chapter’s end contains emails about a true fan’s reviews about the continuing story which is still written! I love a smart, well-written mystery, especially one with a twist in the tale, so this was my kind of book. I have to admit it took a lot of concentration to stay on top of events but the best books usually require participation on the part of the reader. The Woman in the Library by Aussie author Sulari Gentill is so incredibly clever – I’ve never read anything like it! I loved the way it was done, loved the intricate juggling the characters perfected, and found the twists delicious! 

These are two amazing books that I would have never picked from the shelves if I hadn't forced myself to. Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself is to just dive right in and dedicate yourself to achieving that goal. Sure, it's going to be difficult at first, but you'll find that once you start, it's a lot harder to stop. So pick up a book you've been putting off and start reading, better late than never. 

The Librarian of Burned BooksThe Librarian of Burned Books by Brianna Labuskes
ISBN: 9780063259256
Publication Date: 2023-02-21
For fans of The Rose Code and The Paris Library, The Librarian of Burned Books is a captivating WWII-era novel about the intertwined fates of three women who believe in the power of books to triumph over the very darkest moments of war.  Berlin 1933. Following the success of her debut novel, American writer Althea James receives an invitation from Joseph Goebbels himself to participate in a culture exchange program in Germany. For a girl from a small town in Maine, 1933 Berlin seems to be sparklingly cosmopolitan, blossoming in the midst of a great change with the charismatic new chancellor at the helm. Then Althea meets a beautiful woman who promises to show her the real Berlin, and soon she's drawn into a group of resisters who make her question everything she knows about her hosts--and herself. Paris 1936. She may have escaped Berlin for Paris, but Hannah Brecht discovers the City of Light is no refuge from the anti-Semitism and Nazi sympathizers she thought she left behind. Heartbroken and tormented by the role she played in the betrayal that destroyed her family, Hannah throws herself into her work at the German Library of Burned Books. Through the quiet power of books, she believes she can help counter the tide of fascism she sees rising across Europe and atone for her mistakes. But when a dear friend decides actions will speak louder than words, Hannah must decide what stories she is willing to live--or die--for. New York 1944. Since her husband Edward was killed fighting the Nazis, Vivian Childs has been waging her own war: preventing a powerful senator's attempts to censor the Armed Service Editions, portable paperbacks that are shipped by the millions to soldiers overseas. Viv knows just how much they mean to the men through the letters she receives--including the last one she got from Edward. She also knows the only way to win this battle is to counter the senator's propaganda with a story of her own--at the heart of which lies the reclusive and mysterious woman tending the American Library of Nazi-Banned Books in Brooklyn. As Viv unknowingly brings her censorship fight crashing into the secrets of the recent past, the fates of these three women will converge, changing all of them forever. Inspired by the true story of the Council of Books in Wartime--the WWII organization founded by booksellers, publishers, librarians, and authors to use books as "weapons in the war of ideas"--The Librarian of Burned Books is an unforgettable historical novel, a haunting love story, and a testament to the beauty, power, and goodness of the written word.
The Woman in the LibraryThe Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill
ISBN: 9781728261942
Publication Date: 2022-06-07
USA TODAY BESTSELLER "Investigations are launched, fingers are pointed, potentially dangerous liaisons unfold and I was turning those pages like there was cake at the finish line." --Moira Macdonald, Seattle Times must-read books for summer 2022 Ned Kelly award winning author Sulari Gentill sets this mystery-within-a-mystery in motion with a deceptively simple, Dear Hannah, What are you writing? pulling us into the ornate reading room at the Boston Public Library. In every person's story, there is something to hide... The tranquility is shattered by a woman's terrified scream. Security guards take charge immediately, instructing everyone inside to stay put until the threat is identified and contained. While they wait for the all-clear, four strangers, who'd happened to sit at the same table, pass the time in conversation and friendships are struck. Each has his or her own reasons for being in the reading room that morning--it just happens that one is a murderer. Sulari Gentill delivers a sharply thrilling read with The Woman in the Library, an unexpectedly twisty literary adventure that examines the complicated nature of friendship and shows us that words can be the most treacherous weapons of all. What readers are saying about The Woman in the Library: "I loved this intelligent, high tension, addictive, unputdownable book so much!" "I ABSOLUTELY LOVED IT!" "This is a smart, well-written whodunit with an interesting cast of characters and a well-developed plot." "A murder mystery that starts off in a crowded library full of book lovers? SIGN ME UP!" "What an outstanding job and literary work in the crime-fiction genre!"

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profile-icon Kayla Cook

Kelsey Rodgers is a student on the Palatka campus and a regular attendee of the Book Club. She writes poetry and has an interest in novel- and screen-writing. This is Kelsey's first post as a guest blogger on the Book Blog.

Big Swiss by Jen Beagin is about a 45-year-old woman named Greta who is a transcriptionist for a sex therapist. She begins to form a obession with one of the clients, who she calls Big Swiss. The two of them then have an affair after their unplanned meeting. The story discusses the topics of trauma, sexuality, and mental health in a heavy and (sometimes) sarcastic way.

The book Big Swiss has been a growing topic on booktok over this past year. You will come across a wide range of opinions with just one search on social media. I was intrigued to read it when I saw it on the shelf at the Palatka campus library. I knew very little about the rollercoaster ride I would experience.

Many have claimed this book to be a five-stars read. They promoted it as a dark comedy that allows us to laugh at the flawed characters while empathizing with them. The other group of readers finds this book to be racist and downplaying problematic behaviors. It is fair to say that it was a challenge to find my own perspective knowing these almost polar opposite opinions existed.

At first, I was put off about the book because of the microaggressive comments made from the main character Greta. The comments would seem to come out of the blue and disturb me. I was starting to feel wary about continuing to read the story. However, I continued it after being encouraged to read it in full at book club. After finishing the book, it all clicked in my head.

Greta’s mircoagressive comments were terrible to say. However, I believe that was the whole point. The reader experiences Greta’s terrible actions throughout the entire book. Her actions are meant to be examined, not laughed at. Greta is a middle aged woman that has grown up in multiple privileged white middle class societies . It make sense that she would have her own bias that she developed throughout her life. She has not been around others that challenges her thinking until she comes across Big Swiss. The difference between their views of life and traumas fuels Greta’s obsession and love for Big Swiss. This leads to the theme of the book: that we can still be held accountable for our actions while discussing the trauma and flaws that influence said actions.

I don’t believe this is a “dark comedy” that just tells the readers to point and laugh. I also do not conclude this book is meant to offend others with it’s problematic characters. What I took away was your environment, childhood, and identity can greatly affect your mental health. You cannot began to fully live until have question and reflected on these aspects of your life. Then you can start to grow mentally and emtionally like Greta does at the end of her story.

Cover ArtBig Swiss by Jen Beagin
ISBN: 9781982153090
Publication Date: 2023-08-01
NATIONAL BESTSELLER AND CULT FAVORITE Named a Best Book of the Year by the New Yorker, Time, NPR, Vogue, Elle, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, NBC News, Lit Hub, theSkimm, Condé Nast Traveler, Town & Country, and more! "One of the funniest books of the last few years" (Los Angeles Times) about a sex therapist's transcriptionist and her affair with one of the patients. Greta lives with her friend Sabine in an ancient Dutch farmhouse in Hudson, New York. The house is unrenovated, uninsulated, and full of bees. Greta spends her days transcribing therapy sessions for a sex coach who calls himself Om. She becomes infatuated with his newest client, a repressed married woman she affectionately refers to as Big Swiss. One day, Greta recognizes Big Swiss's voice in town and they quickly become enmeshed. While Big Swiss is unaware Greta has eavesdropped on her most intimate exchanges, Greta has never been more herself with anyone. Her attraction to Big Swiss overrides her guilt, and she'll do anything to sustain the relationship... "A fantastic, weird-as-hell, super funny novel" (Bustle), Big Swiss is both a love story and a deft examination of infidelity, mental health, sexual stereotypes, and more--from an amazingly talented, singular voice in contemporary fiction.
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profile-icon Dr. Brittnee Fisher

This blog post celebrates my 24th book of 2024 AND is a solid choice for a "Halfway to Halloween" read! Technically, the halfway point to Halloween would be April 30th, so I'm a little early, but this is perfect timing for you to pick up a copy of my latest spooky read, How to Sell a Haunted House

This book is written by Grady Hendrix, and if you've read some of my other blog posts, that might be a familiar name. Grady writes what I describe as "Goosebumps books for adults." He is a master at combining humor, horror, and heartstrings. Each time I read one of his books, I'm amazed at how many different emotions I feel- and I never leave one of his books feeling bad, unhappy, or unfulfilled. This one was no different.

Here's the Goodreads synopsis of the book, which was a Goodreads nominee for Best Horror in 2023:

When Louise finds out her parents have died, she dreads going home. She doesn't want to leave her daughter with her ex and fly to Charleston. She doesn't want to deal with her family home, stuffed to the rafters with remnants of her father's academic career and her mother's lifelong obsession with puppets and dolls. She doesn't want to learn how to live without the two people who knew and loved her best in the world.

Most of all, she doesn't want to deal with her brother, Mark, who never left their hometown, gets fired from one job after another, and resents her success. Unfortunately, she'll need his help to get the house ready for sale because it'll take more than some new paint on the walls and clearing out a lifetime of memories to get this place on the market.

But some houses don't want to be sold, and their home has other plans for both of them…

Spooky dolls and puppets, you ask? Yes. Sorry. The creepy factor is through the roof on this one. But in true Hendrix fashion, terror isn't the only reaction you'll have for the spooky little puppet featured in this story. I don't want to spoil anything, but I'd encourage you to see this one through to the end. It might surprise you. Happy Halfway to Halloween!

(P.S.- enjoy this AI-generated spooky puppet to get you in the mood.)

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