New for You: E-Audio Series Entries, RBG, and Sedaris on Overdrive/Libby

As 2020 winds down and the light fades earlier each day, we at the Abbot Public Library are searching for some good, solid reading fare to see us through the long evenings. There’s nothing like the comfort of familiar storylines continued and the company of characters we know and love (or love to hate). We’re also craving the words of cultural icons like the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Sedaris, both of whom saw us through many decades before we were plunged into the present reality. If you’re feeling the same, then the newest round of digital audiobooks on Overdrive/Libby should be just the ticket!

If the grandeur of historical epic is what you’re in the mood for at present, then you’ll be pleased to know that you can now listen to Ken Follett’s new prequel to the wildly popular Pillars of the Earth, which was published thirty years ago. Follett is past master at spinning tales of derring-do from the pre-Norman Conquest era in Britain. He certainly doesn’t disappoint in The Evening and the Morning, a book “rich with ambition and rivalry, death and birth, love and hate, that will end where The Pillars of the Earth begins.”*

Ann Cleeves lands us in a thoroughly modern England with her latest Vera Stanhope novel, The Darkest Evening. The irascible and complicated Detective Inspector not only finds yet another mystery on a snowy night in Northumberland but is confronted with new knowledge about her family’s past. With an atmospheric blizzard and an old country house as major plot elements, this offering is certainly one to curl up with by the fire.

There’s also the opportunity to hear more from a hero and icon lost this year, in her own voice. Jeffrey Rosen, head of the National Constitution Center, offers us an intimate series of recorded tête-à-têtes in Conversations with RBG. With observations on her own life and on Supreme Court matters, the audiobook will make you feel that this fiercely intelligent woman is in the room with you, and that she has not been and will not be silenced.

And who couldn’t do with a bit of sardonic comic relief in the form of David Sedaris’s latest? He’s compiled his funniest stories from the past three decades and added a new one in The Best of Me. You’ll also get a new interview with the writer.

So that’s your long autumnal evenings sorted! You may also want to check out the newly-added thriller One by One from Ruth Ware and The Searcher by Tana French for further bestselling listens.

If you are new to Overdrive/Libby, please have a look at our FAQ section for pointers. And if you don’t yet have a library card, you can get started here.

*Description from the publisher.

Now Hear This! New Audiobooks on Overdrive/Libby

We’re falling for autumn here at the Abbot Public Library: the trees are turning, the weather is cooling, and reading seems even more appealing than ever. But if the arrival of fall has filled up your schedule, you may be finding it difficult to curl up with a book as often as you’d like. That’s where the library can help! Take your books with you wherever the season takes you by checking out audio versions from Overdrive/Libby. And you’ll find that your virtual bookshelf has recently expanded to include some soon-to-be-favorites!

If you’re craving the comfort of another instalment in a top-notch mystery series, then you’re in luck. All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny finds Chief Inspector Armand Gamache in Paris rather than Quebec. Read by English actor Robert Bathurst, who is notable for playing Sir Anthony Strallan in the Downton Abbey series, this audiobook will whisk you away to the City of Light with the whole of Gamache’s family as they search for answers “from the top of the Tour d’Eiffel, to the bowels of the Paris Archives, from luxury hotels to odd, coded, works of art.”* Sounds a treat!

Or if you’re eager to settle down with a favorite author once again after a summer hiatus, you’ll be pleased to find new offerings from the likes of Christina Baker Kline, Emily Giffin, Jodi Picoult, and Elena Ferrante. The Exiles follows the intertwined lives of three underprivileged women–a disgraced governess, a petty thief, and an aboriginal chief’s daughter–as they navigate the dangerous, unjust, yet fascinating world of 19th-century colonial Australia. The Lies That Bind will take the reader back to the era of 9/11 and the dilemma of an investigative reporter searching for her missing boyfriend, who quite possibly wasn’t who she thought he was. In The Book of Two Ways, we’re brought to the present day with a plane crash that is not the tragedy the reader might think. Instead, it gives the main character the opportunity to consider the path she is on and explore another one. And if you’ve been enthralled by the internationally acclaimed Neapolitan Quartet, you’ll not want to miss The Lying Life of Adults. Once again, Ferrante turns her lens on the angst of the transition to adulthood and renders an oft-told tale fresh and fascinating.

You’ll also find fresh and timely nonfiction from Isabel Wilkerson (Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents), as well as “indie” novels from Maggie O’Farrell (Hamnet), Yaa Gyasi (Transcendent Kingdom) and Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Mexican Gothic).

Here’s to autumn and brand-new “To Read” lists!

If you’re new to Overdrive/Libby, our FAQs page will get you started. And if you need a Marblehead library card, you can begin here.

Ready, Steady, Listen Up–Again!: More New CD Audiobooks at APL

So, we’ve established that some of us are a bit old-school and still love to pop the odd CD into the player rather than queuing up listens on phones, iPods, or various car streaming systems. (Don’t remember? Have a look at this post). And that’s OK. Fortunately, the Abbot Library caters to both techies and Luddites alike. If you’re one of the former, you can revel in the exceptional content on offer on hoopla and Overdrive/Libby. But if you’d like to check out the latest audiobooks in physical format, look no further than this collection in the library catalog, place a hold, and grab your choice using our popular curbside pickup service!

If you’re a fan of all things British, we’ve got historical fiction, literary fiction, and an autobiography on tap for you. Hilary Mantel’s last volume in her Tudor trilogy, The Mirror and the Light, brings her fictional exploration of Thomas Cromwell’s turbulent life to a close after nearly a  decade. You’ll not want to miss it, and if you haven’t yet read Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies (or need a refresher), they’re ready for you, too. If you’re an Austenite, you’ll be delighted by Natalie Jenner’s The Jane Austen Society, in which a group of unlikely fans unite forces to save a vital piece of literary history (and in the process save each other–click here for a review). Or you can do one better than tea with the Queen: have a listen to the fascinating memoir Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown by Anne Glenconner

Another historical novel by Lisa Wingate (author of Before We Were Yours) will take you to the post-bellum South alongside three women of vastly different experiences and positions in pre-Civil War society–an heiress to a plantation, her unacknowledged half sister, and a slave. Check out The Book of Lost Friends to find out more. 

And if you want a thriller by a tried-and-true master of the genre, you’ll not go wrong with Harlan Coben’s The Boy from the Woods, in which a lone forest dweller assists with an investigation into a girl’s disappearance, or John Sandford’s Masked Prey, which weaves an absorbing tale from incidents of cyberstalking among Washington’s elite.

Firm favorites Emily Giffin and Diane Chamberlain each make an appearance as well, so be sure to have a look!

And for you techies, all but one of these offerings is available in audio format on Overdrive/Libby (The Boy from the Woods can be borrowed as an ebook).

Happy listening!

A Little Summertime Hocus Pocus

If you weren’t ready for Christmas in July, what about Halloween in August? You may remember that last summer, Marblehead was overrun with ghosts, pumpkins, and cobwebs during the filming of the upcoming Netflix original, Hubie Halloween. To get back into that spooky spirit, here are some Halloween Items you can check out online or reserve for Curbside Pickup!

Another movie filmed in Marblehead and the surrounding areas, Hocus Pocus features a trio of evil witches who are brought back from the dead and wreak havoc on Salem, Massachusetts. You can enjoy the book version, Hocus Pocus and The All-New Sequel, as an ebook or audiobook on Overdrive or an ebook on hoopla. The book contains the original tale as well as a new adventure that takes place one generation later.

This year, Salem’s Haunted Happenings will be quite different. You can read about Salem and its Halloween happenings in J. W. Ocker’s A Season with the Witch: The Magic and Mayhem of Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts, which you can reserve  in print format for Curbside Pickup or read on Overdrive as an ebook. The book includes the occult enthusiast’s experiences visiting the attractions and historical sites, as well as black-and-white photos which give a glimpse into Witch City.

If you want to stay safe and healthy at home this October 31st, you can make your own Halloween celebration! Listen to Halloween music on hoopla to get in the groove and have a good motivational backdrop for crafting and making decorations and costumes. The Spirit Of Halloween – 62 Classic Halloween Songs has theme songs from Harry Potter, The Addams Family, Corpse Bride, GhostBusters, and more! Some of these as well and others can be found in Halloween Treats – 50 Spooky Songs And Tunes For The Spirit Of Halloween!. For music geared towards kids, try this trio of Kidz Bop Halloween or Drew’s Famous – The Very Best Halloween Songs For Kids, or even Mickey’s Monster Mash.

Creative Costumes & Halloween Decor: 50 Projects to Sew & Craft will give you ideas not only of costumes you can easily make, with designs for tabards, gowns, and full suits; but it will also give you ideas for how to decorate your house with common household items and popular craft materials such as papier mache, felt, craft foam, floral materials, and polymer clay. You can make it even more simple and decorate with origami from Origami for Halloween.

Some other ways to decorate are carving pumpkins, creating a haunted house, and making festive fall quilts. If you need more ideas, reserve some of these Halloween decorating items for Curbside Pickup, which include Martha’s Halloween Ideas (DVD), Halloween: The Best of Martha Stewart Living, Spooky & Bright : 101 Halloween Ideas, and Better Homes and Gardens Halloween : 101 Frightfully Fun Ideas.

If you don’t want to think about decorating for Halloween yet, get comfortable with a cozy like Halloween Murder: a Lucy Stone Mystery by Leslie Meier, which you can check out in ebook format on Overdrive/the Libby app or hoopla. The book includes two Halloween mysteries set in Tinker’s Cove, Maine. More books in the series can be found in print and ebook format, including a few more Halloween stories such as Trick or Treat Murder (in print and ebook format) and Wicked Witch Murder (also in print and ebook format – these two mysteries are the ones that make up Halloween Murder), as well as Candy Corn Murder (print and ebook), and Haunted House Murder (print and ebook).

Browse through all the Halloween print books, ebooks, audiobooks, music, movies, and more on the library catalog for Curbside Pickup, or online through Overdrive, hoopla, and IndieFlix!

Vet on Call! Visit Herriot Country via Overdrive/Libby, Acorn TV, and DVD

Remember the days when a trip to a petting zoo or small farm was an absolute delight? Perhaps it still is! There’s much to be said for the therapeutic value of low-stress contact with farm animals, whether you’re feeding a pony a carrot, trying your hand at milking a goat, or simply sinking your fingers into a lamb’s soft wool.

While the life of a country vet is far from placid, as Alf Wight (writing as James Herriot) could attest, there are many such moments of grace–and even more humor–to be found in his semi-autobiographical series of books set in the scenic Yorkshire Dales. Beloved the world over for nearly 50 years, four of the five titles (as published in the U.S.) were inspired by a beloved British hymn: All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Creatures Great and Small (also available on hoopla), All Things Wise and Wonderful, and The Lord God Made Them All (the final title is Every Living Thing). As promised (see this previous post), all of these are now available for your listening pleasure on Overdrive/Libby! Relax into the world of Darrowby and its surrounding farms as mellow-voiced Christopher Timothy brings Jim Herriot and the various eccentric village characters to vivid life. It’s hard to imagine tales less in keeping with the current state of affairs, and therein lies their charm. That’s not to say that they’re sentimental or that sad events do not intrude, but the tales do radiate a comforting sense that “there’ll always be an England.”

If you’ve streamed The Yorkshire Vet on Acorn TV (as previously suggested) and have become engrossed in the day-to-day drama and humor of the Herriot/Wight practice as it operates today, then you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a brand-new series 6 available! It just premiered on July 20th and offers 8 all-new episodes, some featuring Alf Wight’s affable protégé, Peter Wright.

And if you’re up for some 1970s-80s TV nostalgia, it’s hard to do better than the renowned BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small (starring no less than Robert Hardy of Harry Potter fame, alongside Christopher Timothy and Peter Davison), which spins its particular brand of charm over seven seasons two Christmas specials. Now that the library is offering Curbside Pickup, you can place holds on the DVDs in the library catalog here, and get them with no rental fees! New to curbside pickup? Have a look at this post for all the details.

Savour a slice of Herriot heaven and let us know what you think in the comments below!

Here Be Dragons: YA Edition

You’ve explored tales under the sea, now look to the sky and imagine dragons! Explore some of our favorite YA books featuring dragons through the list below. For copies of print books or books on CD, please carefully read our Curbside Pickup instructions before reserving your copies online! 

*All book descriptions are from the publisher.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini

Fifteen-year-old Eragon believes that he is merely a poor farm boy—until his destiny as a Dragon Rider is revealed. Gifted with only an ancient sword, a loyal dragon, and sage advice from an old storyteller, Eragon is soon swept into a dangerous tapestry of magic, glory, and power. Now his choices could save—or destroy—the Empire.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook/audiobook and physical book/book on CD.

Before She Ignites by Jodi Meadows

Mira has always been a symbol of hope for the Fallen Isles, perfect and beautiful—or at least that’s how she’s forced to appear. But when she uncovers a dangerous secret, Mira is betrayed by those closest to her and sentenced to the deadliest prison in the Fallen Isles.

Except Mira is over being a pawn. As she fights to survive and guards the secret she’d die to protect, Mira must find her inner fire, sparks of romance, and the scorching truth about her own endangered magic—before her very world collapses.

And that’s all before she ignites.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook and hoopla ebook.

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness-and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari-a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm.

When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend-a slave boy from her betrothed’s household-Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

Available as a hoopla ebook/audiobook.

Talon by Julie Kagawa

Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they’re positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser. Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George. Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon’s newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember’s bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

Available as a hoopla ebook/audiobook.

Rebelwing by Andrea Tang

Things just got weird for Prudence Wu.

One minute, she’s cashing in on a routine smuggling deal. The next, she’s escaping enforcers on the wings of what very much appears to be a sentient cybernetic dragon.

Pru is used to life throwing her some unpleasant surprises—she goes to prep school, after all, and selling banned media across the border in a country with a ruthless corporate government obviously has its risks. But a cybernetic dragon? That’s new.

She tries to forget about the fact that the only reason she’s not in jail is because some sort of robot saved her, and that she’s going to have to get a new side job now that enforcers are on to her. So she’s not exactly thrilled when Rebelwing shows up again.

Even worse, it’s become increasingly clear that the rogue machine has imprinted on her permanently, which means she better figure out this whole piloting-a-dragon thing—fast. Because Rebelwing just happens to be the ridiculously expensive weapon her government needs in a brewing war with its neighbor, and Pru’s the only one who can fly it.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook and physical book.

Saving Jane: “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner

While Jane Austen is now considered to be one of the greats of English literature, her legacy has not always been so secure. We tend to assume that nearly every famous British writer has his or her blue plaque gracing some historic building in the UK. And doesn’t Jane’s image grace the £10 note? But Chawton Cottage in Hampshire, where Austen enjoyed her most creative period, was not dedicated as a museum until after World War II. Before that, it was subdivided into workers’ cottages and bore little resemblance to what it once was. It is during this somewhat precarious period in the cottage’s history that debut author Natalie Jenner sets her charming novel, The Jane Austen Society.

“Three or four families in a country village is the very thing to work upon,” Austen counseled her aspiring-novelist niece: Jenner takes that suggestion to heart in this carefully-crafted book. The cast is small, and we get to know them well. While they may not be family, they are united by their love of Jane. As in Austen’s novels, plot is secondary to conversation and character development. The chief aim of most of the characters (all of the sympathetic ones, at least) is simple–to purchase and restore Chawton Cottage via a charitable trust. But the chief pleasure to be had here springs from observing the complex emotional journeys of an array of unlikely friends: a country doctor, a housemaid, a lawyer, an American screen siren, the last direct descendent of Jane’s brother Edward Austen-Knight, a farmer, a schoolteacher, and a Sotheby’s auctioneer. The lives of all have been marred by tragedies of various sorts–most of which have taken place off-stage, before the story begins (though Jenner renders a young war widow’s miscarriage and a near-rape in somewhat harrowing detail). Physical objects also play key roles, with Austen’s jewelry, her brother’s grand library, and one of her newly-discovered letters driving the action at points. The author’s delicately deft handling of these threads keeps the reader entranced. So does the suggestion that, amid the struggle to save Austen’s home, these lost souls just might save each other.

Jenner’s novel is not exactly fan fiction, as it neither attempts to mimic Austenian style nor resurrect her characters. However, there are references aplenty to Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion in particular, and the reader will be sure to spot circumstantial resemblances–a long-regretted broken engagement, for instance–as well as believable twentieth-century permutations of favorite heroes and antiheroes. There is much to praise and very little to fault, and as you turn the last page, you very well might find yourself agreeing with Jane’s observation that “if a book is well-written I always find it too short.”

You can access The Jane Austen Society in both ebook and audiobook format on Overdrive/Libby with your Marblehead library card. If you need a card, get started here!

Mermaid Tales

It’s officially summer! And with summertime comes a longing for beaches and the great blue sea. Sometimes you just want to dive down deep and explore what’s under those crashing waves. Maybe you’ll even come across a mermaid. Or, maybe not. But, you can always explore under the sea and look for mermaid tails through these YA books!.

*All book descriptions are from the publisher.

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook

Lost Voices by Sarah Porter

Fourteen-year-old Luce has had a tough life, but she reaches the depths of despair when she is assaulted and left on the cliffs outside of a grim, gray Alaskan fishing village. She expects to die when she tumbles into the icy waves below, but instead undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid. A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: the mermaids feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks. Luce possesses an extraordinary singing talent, which makes her important to the tribe—she may even have a shot at becoming their queen. However her struggle to retain her humanity puts her at odds with her new friends. Will Luce be pressured into committing mass murder?

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook and hoopla ebook/audiobook

The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler

For as long as she can remember, twelve-year-old Emily Windsnap has lived on a boat. And, oddly enough, for just as long, her mother has seemed anxious to keep Emily away from the water. But when Mom finally agrees to let her take swimming lessons, Emily makes a startling discovery — about her own identity, the mysterious father she’s never met, and the thrilling possibilities and perils shimmering deep below the water’s surface. With a sure sense of suspense and richly imaginative details, first-time author Liz Kessler lures us into a glorious undersea world where mermaids study shipwrecks at school and Neptune rules with an iron trident — an enchanting fantasy about family secrets, loyal friendship, and the convention-defying power of love.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stowaway she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook/audiobook

The Siren by Kiera Cass

Kahlen is a Siren—bound to serve the Ocean by luring humans to their watery graves with her voice, which is deadly to any human who hears it. Akinli is human—a kind, handsome boy who’s everything Kahlen ever dreamed of. Falling in love puts them both in danger… but will Kahlen risk everything to follow her heart?

Accessible as an Overdrive ebook and hoopla ebook/audiobook

For more ocean-faring stories, check out these pirates books!

Enchanting Eccentrics Part 1: Listen with hoopla and Overdrive/Libby

Why are we drawn to fictional misfits? Is it because they are more courageous than we are, seemingly unafraid of being themselves? Or is it because they act out our own hidden insecurities and find love and acceptance anyway–giving us hope? Or perhaps we just love rooting for the underdog, the not-so-perfect, the slightly off-kilter. Whatever the reason, if you’d like a bit of quirky charm in your life, you’re in for a treat with digital audiobooks from hoopla and Overdrive/Libby.

You’ll find plenty of idiosyncratic appeal amongst the selections in our newly-curated audio collection on hoopla: 2020 APL Enchanting Eccentrics (Audio). If you were a fan of the 2002-2009 TV series Monk, then you’ll be happy to find that Lee Goldberg–who has recently collaborated with the likes of Janet Evanovich–wrote a series of novels starring the obsessive-compulsive detective. Some of the eight audiobooks available in this collection were adapted into episodes, while others find Mr. Monk facing new adventures on the streets of San Francisco, always with a long-suffering, hand-wipe-toting assistant in tow.

You’ll also find four novels by Phaedra Patrick, a British author who has made something of a name for herself with gently humorous tales starring hapless, lonely men of a certain age who gradually open themselves up to the possibilities of joy, friendship, and love. Benedict Stone, Arthur Pepper, and Mitchell Fisher will capture your empathy and imagination as you join them on their quests. If you’d like a book along the same lines but with an eccentric female protagonist, you’ll not be disappointed by Patrick’s departure from her usual approach in The Library of Lost and Found. You’ll be charmed by seaside librarian Martha Storm, an imaginative, socially awkward introvert with a passion for assisting others while chronically neglecting her own deep-seated needs. Ruth Hogan (another British author of a similar ilk) and Jonas Jonasson (author of The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared) are sure to entrance you, as well.

Enchanting eccentrics abound on Overdrive/Libby as well. Similar in tone and characterization to Phaedra Patrick’s books, Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry–read by excellent British character actor Jim Broadbent (who has lent his talent to films as diverse as Iron Lady and the animated Paddington movies)–sends an aging, henpecked husband on an unexpected journey of self-discovery and emotional awakening. And we mustn’t forget Fredrik Backman’s crusty curmudgeons, both male and female; even if you’ve already read and loved A Man Called Ove, don’t despair! Try My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry and Britt-Marie Was Here for yet more comic tales of delightful loners who find connection and hope on their own terms.

Tune in again for film and TV suggestions in the same vein. In the meantime, here’s to lovable eccentrics everywhere!

Creating an Independence Day Celebration!

Yesterday, we shared a post with some cookbooks for grilling and dessert-making to help you prepare for today. But no celebration is complete without music or decorations! 

Check out this book of 4th of July crafts you can do with your kids to show off your red, white, and blue patriotic pride. While you’re crafting, or during the cookout, listen to some patriotic music on hoopla. Classics for the 4th of July has quintessential American songs such as “The Star-Spangled Banner”, “America (My Country ‘Tis Of Thee),” and “This Land is Your Land.” The appropriately named 4th July Cook Out – 30 Tracks for Your Barbeque Celebrations will have you singing along to “We Are Young,” “You Belong with Me,” and, of course, at least one patriotic song: “Star-Spangled Banner.” It will be the “Greatest Day” (track 5)! Now That’s What I Call The U.S.A. features such well-known artists as Brooks & Dunn, Carrie Underwood, Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, and more! 

For more kid-friendly titles, try Sing About America, with songs that will help teach kids facts about the United States, including the names of all the states and their capitals. For something more fun, check out Fourth of July – Children’s Party, including patriotic titles such as “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and more general titles such as “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” and “We Are the Champions.”

For a soundtrack to play if you’re having drinks in the backyard with your buddies, listen to the adult-oriented Acoustic Backyard BBQ with titles such as “Drink a Beer,” “The Lazy Song,” and “Sweet Caroline.” 

Before you enjoy your cookout, or after you have eaten, you can even learn the history of the American Revolution and the struggle towards independence with titles on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla. You can read historical American texts in The Declaration of Independence and Other Great Documents of American History. The British Are Coming is an audiobook that contains a bonus introduction read by the author. The first in a trilogy about the American Revolution, it recounts the first 21 months of the violent war for American Independence. Find out about the events of 1774, from the Boston Tea Party to the Battles of Lexington and Concord, in acclaimed colonial historian and Pulitzer Prize finalist Mary Beth Norton’s 1774: The Long Year of Revolution. These ebooks on hoopla contain more nonfiction titles, as well as fiction ebooks set during the Revolutionary Period (1775 – 1800).

Teach your kids Symbols of U.S. Independence, about the American flag and the Articles of Confederation. American Independence is an interactive workbook that will teach kids history with bold colors. Judy Dodge Cummings’ and Tom Casteel’s The American Revolution even has some activities kids can do to learn in an interactive way. Take those extra marshmallows from making s’mores and build a marshmallow cannon!

Kids can also read about some of the key players in the Revolution – Alexander Hamilton, Anna Strong, Ben Franklin, Betsy Ross, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and more! 

Browse through these other titles for kids about the American Revolution on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla. No matter how you spend the holiday, we hope you have a Happy Independence Day!