Reader’s Advisory

Not sure what you want to read next? Looking to branch out into a new genre, but hesitant on where to start? Overwhelmed by the endless number of books to choose from? Agawam Public Library can help!

Welcome to our Reader’s Advisory page, where Library Associate Maria Yacovone has curated themed book lists that can help you get started on your next reading adventure. Not to worry if the lists aren’t for you: Maria also offers personalized reading suggestions based on what you’ve enjoyed in the past as well as what you’re looking for in the future!

When in doubt, ask Maria. Her superpower is knowing your next read!

 

 

Ask Maria Column

Read-Alikes: The Royal Family

Read-Alikes: Netflix's Wednesday

Read-Alikes: Michelle Obama

Read-Alikes: Colleen Hoover

 

Themed Book Lists

New Year, New You!: January 2023

Kickstart your 2023 with Healthy Everything! From mindset habits, creating wealth, sleeping better, productivity & other inspiration from our curated selection of books.

 

1. Keep Sharp: Build a Better Brain at Any Age by Sanjay Gupta, MD

Keep your brain young, healthy, and sharp with this science-driven guide to protecting your mind from decline by neurosurgeon and CNN chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta.

Throughout our life, we look for ways to keep our mind sharp and effortlessly productive. Now, globetrotting neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta offers insights from top scientists all over the world, whose cutting-edge research can help you heighten and protect brain function and maintain cognitive health at any age.

Keep Sharp debunks common myths about aging and cognitive decline, explores whether there’s a “best” diet or exercise regimen for the brain, and explains whether it’s healthier to play video games that test memory and processing speed, or to engage in more social interaction. Discover what we can learn from “super-brained” people who are in their eighties and nineties with no signs of slowing down—and whether there are truly any benefits to drugs, supplements, and vitamins. Dr. Gupta also addresses brain disease, particularly Alzheimer’s, answers all your questions about the signs and symptoms, and shows how to ward against it and stay healthy while caring for a partner in cognitive decline. He likewise provides you with a personalized twelve-week program featuring practical strategies to strengthen your brain every day.

Keep Sharp is the only owner’s manual you’ll need to keep your brain young and healthy regardless of your age!

 

2. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear

No matter your goals, Atomic Habits offers a proven framework for improving—every day. James Clear, one of the world’s leading experts on habit formation, reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.

If you’re having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn’t you. The problem is your system. Bad habits repeat themselves again and again not because you don’t want to change, but because you have the wrong system for change. You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. Here, you’ll get a proven system that can take you to new heights.

Clear is known for his ability to distill complex topics into simple behaviors that can be easily applied to daily life and work. Here, he draws on the most proven ideas from biology, psychology, and neuroscience to create an easy-to-understand guide for making good habits inevitable and bad habits impossible. Along the way, readers will be inspired and entertained with true stories from Olympic gold medalists, award-winning artists, business leaders, life-saving physicians, and star comedians who have used the science of small habits to master their craft and vault to the top of their field.

Learn how to:
– Make time for new habits (even when life gets crazy);
– Overcome a lack of motivation and willpower;
– Design your environment to make success easier;
– Get back on track when you fall off course;
…and much more.

Atomic Habits will reshape the way you think about progress and success, and give you the tools and strategies you need to transform your habits–whether you are a team looking to win a championship, an organization hoping to redefine an industry, or simply an individual who wishes to quit smoking, lose weight, reduce stress, or achieve any other goal.

 

3. The Comfort Book by Matt Haig

The new uplifting book from Matt Haig, the New York Times bestselling author of The Midnight Library, for anyone in search of hope, looking for a path to a more meaningful life, or in need of a little encouragement.

“It is a strange paradox, that many of the clearest, most comforting life lessons are learnt while we are at our lowest. But then we never think about food more than when we are hungry and we never think about life rafts more than when we are thrown overboard.”

The Comfort Book is Haig’s life raft: it’s a collection of notes, lists, and stories written over a span of several years that originally served as gentle reminders to Haig’s future self that things are not always as dark as they may seem. Incorporating a diverse array of sources from across the world, history, science, and his own experiences, Haig offers warmth and reassurance, reminding us to slow down and appreciate the beauty and unpredictability of existence.

 

4. Abundance: The Inner Path to Wealth by Deepak Chopra, MD

An enlightening guide to success, fulfillment, wholeness, and plenty, offering practical advice on how to cultivate a sense of abundance in times of fear and insecurity, from New York Times bestselling author Deepak Chopra.

Many of us live and operate from a mindset of lack, scarcity, and limitation. We focus on what we don’t have–financial security, confidence, an intimate relationship–which keeps us feeling insecure and inadequate. We think if only I could have those things, I could be happy. But constantly striving for more often means our ego is driving our thoughts, actions, and reactions, preventing us from reaching something greater: a true sense of inner peace, acceptance, and fulfillment. And these internal experiences allow us to access the great riches of the universe and life’s unbounded possibilities.

In The Yoga of Money, Deepak Chopra illuminates the inner path to abundance, helping readers tap into a deeper sense of awareness and become agents of change in their own lives. He demonstrates how to work past self-generated feelings of limitation and fear and provides meditations to help you focus and direct your attention, energy, and intuition so you can experience stability, prosperity, insight, creativity, love, and true power.

 

5. Money Magic: An Economist’s Secrets to More Money, Less Risk, and a Better Life by Laurence J. Kotlikoff

Increase your spending power, enhance your standard of living, and achieve financial independence with this “must-read” guide to money management (Jane Bryant Quinn).

Laurence Kotlikoff, one of our nation’s premier personal finance experts and coauthor of the New York Times bestseller Get What’s Yours: The Secrets to Maxing Out Your Social Security, harnesses the power of economics and advanced computation to deliver a host of spellbinding but simple money magic tricks that will transform your financial future.Each trick shares a basic ingredient for financial savvy based on economic common sense, not Wall Street snake oil. Money Magic offers a clear path to a richer, happier, and safer financial life. Whether you’re making education, career, marriage, lifestyle, housing, investment, retirement, or Social Security decisions, Kotlikoff provides a clear framework for readers of all ages and income levels to learn tricks like:

How to choose a career to maximize your lifetime earnings (hint: you may want to consider picking up a plunger instead of a stethoscope).
How to buy a superior education on the cheap and graduate debt-free.
Why it’s smarter to cash out your IRA to pay off your mortgage.
Why delaying retirement for two years can reap dividends and how to lower your average lifetime tax bracket.

Money Magic’s most powerful act is transforming your financial thinking, explaining not just what to do, but why to do it. Get ready to discover the economics approach to financial planning—the fruit of a century’s worth of research by thousands of cloistered economic wizards whose now-accessible collective findings turn conventional financial advice on its head. Kotlikoff uses his soft heart, hard nose, dry wit, and flashing wand to cast a powerful spell, leaving you eager to accomplish what you formerly dreaded: financial planning.

 

6. The Sleep Fix: Practical, PRoven, and Surprising Solutions for Insomnia, Snoring, Shift Work, and More by Diane Macedo

From renowned ABC News anchor/correspondent and former insomniac Diane Macedo, comes a practical, user-friendly guide to getting better sleep. The Sleep Fix flips the switch on common advice, illuminating the reporter’s relentless search for how to get a good night’s sleep and the surprising, scientific, and practical solutions she found along the way.

Roughly thirty percent of the population is estimated to be living with insomnia, while many more suffer from other sleep disorders. ABC anchor/correspondent Diane Macedo—a former insomniac herself—understands the struggle. Now, in The Sleep Fix, Macedo presents perspective-shifting research and easy-to-implement solutions to help millions of people finally get the shut-eye they need.

Macedo’s mission is crucial to our health and well-being. Everything from our heart health to our mental acuity to our blood pressure is influenced by how much—or little—we sleep. As an early morning reporter and an overnight news anchor, Macedo learned this the hard way, struggling for years to get the sleep she so desperately needed, and watching her health deteriorate along the way. But Macedo found the more she embraced typical sleep tips, the worse she slept. So she decided to attack the problem from the ground up, interviewing sleep experts from all over the world to get to the bottom of what really keeps us from sleeping—and the various ways to fix it.

As Macedo explains, the solution to catching zzz’s is not always as simple as giving up caffeine or putting away your phone before bed. Instead she teaches us how to:

Understand our sleep biology Identify our sleep obstacles Flag sleep myths and separate fact from fiction Try counterintuitive approaches Shift our mindset Most importantly, Macedo—a working mom with a busy schedule—teaches us how to adjust and fit these solutions into our everyday lives, rather than upend our lives to fit the solutions. The result is a tell-it-like-it-is guide that combines science and humor to address one of the biggest issues facing Americans today.

Featuring expert wisdom, cutting-edge research, intimate stories from fellow news personalities, and truly actionable advice, The Sleep Fix is the accessible guide insomniacs have been waiting for.

 

7. Martha Stewart’s Very Good Things: Clever Tips & Genius Ideas for an Easier, More Enjoyable Life

Hundreds of clever tips, solutions, and easy ways to elevate every day, from America’s most trusted lifestyle authority, in one must-have handbook

Inside these pages Martha shares all her best good things—the original life hacks for the home—to make your life easier, more fun, more delicious, and more efficient. These practical tricks cover all areas of Martha’s domestic expertise, including decorating, organizing, homekeeping, cooking, entertaining, and celebrating. From clever ways to solve common problems (use file folder dividers to organize cutting boards and sheet pans in your cabinets) to time-saving tricks (keep a pail stocked with cleaning supplies for easy access and portability to stress reducers (color-code kids’ bathroom gear to make mornings less hectic), every one of these ideas will make you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?” Also included are ways to use what you have (a Parmesan cheese rind will add great flavor to soup), streamline your stuff (use certain kitchen tools for many different purposes), or just make life a little more luxurious (add elegance to your table with DIY place cards). Whether functional, delightful, or a little bit of both, these are the details that enliven and inspire every day—that’s a good thing!

 

8. Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind & Soul by Ruth Soukup

STUFF. It’s everywhere. Lurking in corners and closets, spilling onto counters and coffee tables, creating havoc everywhere we look. And it’s not just the physical clutter that weighs us down. Oh no, it is the stress of overbooked schedules, and the weight of life that sometimes feels oppressive and totally out of whack.

New York Times bestselling author Ruth Soukup feels your pain–she has been there too. Through personal stories, Biblical truth, and practical action plans, she will inspire and empower each of us to finally declutter not just our home, but our mind and soul as well. Unstuffed is real, honest, and gets right down to the question we are all facing–how can we take back our lives from the stuff that is weighing us down?

In this book, together we will:

•             Create a comprehensive vision for our homes, and make instant changes to improve its overall function.

•             Discover that more closet space is not the solution, and instead learn how to set strict limits for the stuff we bring in

•             Overcome the frustration of dealing with our kids’ influx of stuff and implement practical solutions for keeping the chaos at bay.

•             Recognize the pitfalls of an overstuffed schedule BEFORE it gets out of hand, and instead learn to combat the culture of busy that keeps us running from one thing to the next.

•             Finally conquer that mountain of paperwork that threatens to tumble down around us at any moment.

•             Let go of the guilt that gets attached to gifts and instead learn to separate our loved ones from their stuff.

•             Begin to cultivate our real friendships while eliminating the toxic relationships that weigh us down.

 

9. The Home Edit Life: The Complete Guide to Organizing Absolutely Everything at Work, at Home, and on the Go by Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin

The New York Times bestselling authors and stars of the upcoming Netflix series The Home Edit teach you how to apply their genius, holistic approach to your work life, on-the-go necessities, and technology.

When at home or on the go, you don’t have to live like a minimalist to feel happy and calm. The Home Edit mentality is all about embracing your life–whether you’re a busy mom, a roommate living with three, or someone who’s always traveling for work. You just need to know how to set up a system that works for you.

In the next phase of the home organizing craze, Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin go beyond the pantry and bookshelf to show you how to contain the chaos in all aspects of your life from office space to traveling bags to pet supplies and holiday storage. Take quizzes and get to know your organizing style, tailor it to your family’s lifestyle, and lead the low-guilt life as you apply more genius ideas to every aspect of your life.

Clea and Joanna are here to remind you that “it’s okay to own things” (we all do!) in the quest for pretty and smart spaces. With The Home Edit Life, you’ll be corralling phone cords, archiving old photos, packing your suitcase like a pro, and arranging your phone apps by color in no time.

 

10. Launch (Updated & Expanded Edition): How to Sell Almost Anything Online, Build a Business You Love, and Live the Life of Your Dreams by Jeff Walker

From the creator of Product Launch Formula: A new edition of the #1 New York Times best-selling guide that’s redefined online marketing and helped countless entrepreneurs make millions.

The revised and updated edition of the #1 New York Times bestseller Launch will build your business – fast. Whether you’ve already got an online business or you’re itching to start one, this is a recipe for getting more traction and a fast start.

Think about it: What if you could launch like Apple or the big Hollywood studios? What if your prospects eagerly counted down the days until they could buy your product? And you could do it no matter how humble your business or budget?

Since 1996, Jeff Walker has been creating hugely successful online launches. After bootstrapping his first Internet business from his basement, he quickly developed a process for launching new products and businesses with unprecedented success. And once he started teaching his formula to other entrepreneurs, the results were simply breathtaking. Tiny, home-based businesses started doing launches that brought in tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, and even millions of dollars. Whether you have an existing business or you’re starting from scratch, this is how you start fast. This formula is how you engineer massive success.

Now the question is this: Do you want to start slow, and fade away from there? Or are you ready for a launch that will change the future of your business and your life?

Here's to a Killer Christmas: December 2022

Holiday murder mysteries for adults!

 

1. An Eggnog to Die For by Amy Pershing

It’s Santa Claus, she says tonelessly. Santa Claus is dead.

Food writer Sam Barnes wants a lot of things: a quiet Christmas at home with her dog and the town’s handsome harbormaster, to never be in a viral video again, and to stop finding dead bodies. Unfortunately for Sam, her parents are coming to visit, she’s often around cameras for work, and she just found the town Santa dead in the storage room of the cocktail bar she was profiling.

Although she was only interviewing the owners of the Ginger Jar in hopes of getting the recipe for their Coquito Eggnog cocktail for the friends and family Christmas Eve dinner she’s hosting, Sam quickly finds herself taking on the role of investigator once again. She needs to find out who slayed this Santa–but with holiday stress already building, will Sam be able to pull off a perfect feast and nab a killer?

 

 

2. Dashing Through the Snowbirds by Donna Andrews

Christmas in Caerphilly is wonderful! Unless you’re a Canadian whose inconsiderate boss is forcing you to spend the holiday there, far from family and friends, with only a slim chance of a white Christmas. Meg already has her hands full, trying to make the season festive for the dozen programmers who are staying with her and Michael while working on a rush project with her brother’s software company. At least it’s an interesting project, since the Canadian company is doing forensic genealogy and DNA analysis.

When the inconsiderate boss is found murdered, there are too many suspects. Even before their Christmas in exile, his own employees had plenty of motives, and the growing number of people suing the company for faulty DNA analysis and invasion of their genetic privacy include at least one notorious murderer. Can Meg crack the case in time to keep the Yuletide bright?

 

 

3. The Christmas Murder Game by Alexandra Benedict

The annual Christmas Game is afoot at Endgame House, the Armitages’ grand family home. This year’s prize is to die for–deeds to the house itself–but Lily Armitage has no intention of returning. She hasn’t been back to Endgame since her mother died, twenty-one years ago, and she has no intention of claiming the house that haunts her dreams.

Until, that is, she receives a letter from her aunt promising that the game’s riddles will give her the keys not only to Endgame, but to its darkest secrets, including the identity of her mother’s murderer.

Now, Lily must compete with her estranged cousins for the twelve days of Christmas. The snow is thick, the phone lines are down, and no one is getting in or out. Lily will have to keep her wits about her, because not everyone is playing fair, and there’s no telling how many will die before the winner is declared.

 

 

4. Santa’s Little Yelpers by David Rosenfelt

‘Tis the season in Paterson, New Jersey: Lawyer Andy Carpenter and his golden retriever, Tara, are surrounded by holiday cheer. It’s even spread to the Tara Foundation. The dog rescue organization, not used to having puppies, has their hands full with a recent litter. Eight puppies are a lot to handle, and Andy is relieved when his co-worker Chris Myers agrees to foster them.

Myers, a newer employee at the Tara Foundation, did time for a crime he swears he didn’t commit. When Myers discovers a key witness against him lied on the stand, he goes to Andy to ask for representation in getting the conviction overturned. Myers thinks they can have this wrapped up by Christmas, no problem.

But when the witness is murdered, and Myers is arrested for the crime, things go from bad to worse. Suddenly, it’s all elves on deck to make a list and check it twice, so they can prove Myers is innocent.

 

 

5. A Christmas Deliverance by Anne Perry

Scuff has come a long way from his time as a penniless orphan scraping together a living on the banks of the Thames. Now he’s studying medicine at a free clinic run by Dr. Crowe, a thoughtful if stoic mentor. But lately Crowe has been distracted, having witnessed an altercation between a wealthy former patient of his named Ellie–a woman that he not only treated but developed unacknowledged feelings for–and her controlling fiance. It seems someone is forcing Ellie to marry the man. When Crowe’s emotions come flooding back, he sets out to uncover the troubling connection between Ellie, her father, and her betrothed.

With Crowe engrossed in his investigation just weeks before the holidays, Scuff is left to run the clinic on his own, treating London’s poor and vulnerable. In the holiday spirit, he offers Mattie, a young girl in need, a warm place to stay as the winter chill sweeps through the city. Together, Scuff and Mattie must also fend off the police, who are growing suspicious of Crowe’s amateur sleuthing. Will Crowe be able to help Ellie, and will Scuff be able to ensure that he and Mattie–and all of their patients–have a safe and peaceful Christmas?

 

 

6. A Murder at Balmoral by Chris McGeorge

A delightful locked-room mystery in which the king has been poisoned, each member of the royal family has motive and opportunity, and the king’s beloved chef must figure out whodunit and why.

The royal family has gathered at their Scottish retreat, Balmoral Castle, for a traditional Christmas–and King Eric has given nearly all of the staff the day off. As a blizzard gathers outside and a delicious dinner is prepared, the family circles up for the traditional holiday toast. King Eric makes clear he has something momentous to say–in fact, he will name his chosen successor. But as he raises a glass of his favorite whiskey from a bottle that has just been sealed, he drops dead.

The King has been poisoned, only the royal family are present, and each one of them has opportunity and motive.

The only person at Balmoral who keeps his wits about him is the beloved head chef, Jonathan–an outsider in the eyes of the royal family, and one who is now hurled into the role of sleuth. In a state of shock, out of his depth, and possibly in a killer’s crosshairs, Jonathan must confront a hopeless case. Why would one of the king’s own family members want to kill him? And how did they do it?

The answers will shake the monarchy and the entire British Empire to its core.

 

 

7. When Christmas Comes by Andrew Klavan

Colorful Christmas lights dapple the family homes in the idyllic lakeside town of Sweet Haven when Jennifer Dean, a young librarian at the local elementary school, is brutally murdered. There are witnesses and her boyfriend Travis Blake confesses to the crime… but something doesn’t quite add up. Blake is a third generation Army Ranger, awarded the Silver Star for his heroism in Afghanistan—how could a beloved son of this tight-knit burgh commit such a grisly deed?

As a community of military families a few miles down the road from an Army base, no one in Sweet Haven wants to investigate a war hero like Blake, not even the top brass at the police department. In steps Cameron Winter, a rugged and lonesome English professor haunted by the ghosts of his own Christmas past, whose former lover asks him to prove Blake innocent. The Sweet Haven murder reverberates in his mind, echoing a horrific yuletide memory from his youth, and Winter knows there are darker powers at play here than a simple domestic dispute. If he can solve this small-town mystery, just maybe he can find peace from his inner demons as well.

 

 

8. Murder at the Mistletoe Ball by J.D. Griffo

Alberta is delighted that her estranged daughter has arrived in Tranquility, even if Lisa Marie has an ulterior motive. Her son, Alberta’s twenty-one-year-old grandson, Sergio, hasn’t been heard from in six months, shortly after taking up with a woman named Natalie. Maybe Alberta and her crime-reporting partner-in-sleuthing granddaughter, Jinx, can track him down before Christmas?

After some fruitless searching, the Ferraras take a break to attend the Mistletoe Ball, a fundraiser for the local hospital. But the night takes a chilling turn when a snowman decoration splits open, revealing a body. Lisa Marie screams that it’s Natalie–and screams again when she sees a man emerge from behind some Christmas trees. The good news is they’ve found Sergio. The bad news: he’s a prime suspect for murder.

It seems Sergio’s former squeeze had some shady secrets. And with more than one family member’s future at stake, Alberta and Lisa Marie will have to put their past behind them and work together, or it’ll be a blue, blue Christmas…

 

 

9. Twisted Tea Christmas by Laura Childs

Tea maven Theodosia Browning and her tea sommelier, Drayton Conneley, are catering a Victorian Christmas party at a swanky mansion in downtown Charleston. Drucilla Heyward, the hostess, is one of the wealthiest women in town.

As the champagne flows and the tea steeps, Drucilla is so pleased with the reception by her partygoers that she reveals her secret plan to Theodosia. The Grande Dame has brought the cream of Charleston society together to reveal that she is planning to give her wealth away to various charitable organizations. However, before she can make the announcement, Theodosia finds her crumpled unconscious in the hallway. It looks like the excitement has gotten to the elderly woman–except that there is a syringe sticking out of her neck.

 

 

 

10. A Murder Yule Regret by Winnie Archer

A holiday costume party in the sleepy coastal town of Santa Sofia could be just the boost Ivy needs for her fledgling photography business. At the party, Ivy enters a Victorian fantasy come to life, all courtesy of the fabulous Ms. Fox. Ivy gets to play shutterbug while hanging with Scrooge, Marley, the Cratchits, and more classic Dickens characters. But what begins as the best of times turns out to be the very worst for one of the party guests–a tabloid journalist with more enemies than Ebenezer himself.

When the man’s body is found sprawled across the jagged rocks below the house, the fingers begin pointing at Eliza. Meanwhile, Ivy gets roped into helping prove the starlet’s innocence. Her festive photos are now official evidence–and the Ghosts of Christmas Present could mean the party for Eliza is over, once and for all.

 

 

 

Holiday Romances: December 2022

Keep yourself warm with one of these romances that evoke winter’s seasonal fun and holiday cheer!

 

1. The Christmas Spirit by Debbie Macomber

Peter Armstrong and Hank Colfax are best friends, but their lives couldn’t be more different. Peter, the local pastor who is dedicated to his community, spending time visiting the flock, attending meetings, and, with the holiday season approaching, preparing for the Christmas service and live nativity. As a bartender, Hank serves a much different customer base at his family-owned tavern, including a handful of lonely regulars and the local biker gang.

When Peter scoffs that Hank has it easy compared to him, the two decide to switch jobs until Christmas Eve. To their surprise, the responsibilities of a bartender and a pastor are similar, but taking on the other’s work is more difficult than either Peter or Hank expected. As the two begin to see each other in a new light–and each discovers a new love to cherish–their lives are forever changed.

In The Christmas Spirit, Debbie Macomber celebrates the true meaning of the holidays and the inclusive community spirit that binds us all.

 

2. Holidays in Virgin River by Robyn Carr

Celebrate the holidays with this special edition containing 2 fan-favorite stories from the Virgin River series. Includes exclusive recipes inspired by the Virgin River characters.

Under the Christmas Tree
With snow falling over the redwood forests, secluded Virgin River is the ideal place to spend the holidays. Each year, the close-knit community gathers in the town square to decorate and light a massive tree. Carols are sung, hot chocolate is shared—and this year, a surprise is about to bring two special people together. When the townsfolk discover a box of adorable puppies under the town’s Christmas tree, they call on local vet Nathaniel Jensen for help. But it’s his budding romance with Annie McCarty that really has tongues—and tails—wagging!

Midnight Confessions
In Virgin River, holiday kisses don’t end with Christmas—there’s still the New Year’s Eve party at Jack’s Bar to attend. Locals and newcomers alike find themselves eager for that special countdown…and that midnight kiss.

As the townspeople gather, two lonely revelers decide the best balm for their broken hearts might just be each other.

 

3. All is Bright by RaeAnne Thayne

Sage McKnight is an ambitious young architect working at her father’s firm who takes on her most challenging client in Mason Tucker. The former pro baseball player is still healing from the physical and emotional scars after a plane crash left him a wheelchair-using single dad, and he’s determined not to let anyone breach his emotional defenses. Sage knows her work on Mason’s new home in Hope’s Crossing is her best work yet, and she won’t let her grumpy client prevent her from showcasing her work personally.

With Sage’s gift for taking broken things and making them better, the matchmaking talent of the quirky locals and a generous sprinkling of Christmas cheer, Mason doesn’t stand a chance against the power of this magical holiday season.

 

 

 

4. Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallery

Until Camryn Neff can return to her “real” life in Chicago, she’s in Wishing Tree to care for her twin sisters. She’s not looking for forever love, not here. But handsome hotelier Jake Crane is a temptation she can’t resist, so she suggests they pair up for the season. No golden rings, no broken hearts. At his side, she sees her hometown through Christmas-colored eyes. The cheer is cheerier, the joy more joyful. She thought she had put her future on hold…but maybe her real life was here all along, waiting for her to come home.

New in town, River Best is charmed by Wishing Tree’s homespun traditions and warmhearted people. When she’s crowned Snow Queen, she’s honored but wary. Dylan Tucker, her king, seems like the stuff of sugarplum dreams, but she can’t shake the feeling that he’s hiding something big. As they perform their “royal” duties—tasting cookies, lighting trees—Dylan’s good humor and melty kisses draw her to the brink of love. But she can’t let herself fall until she uncovers his secret, even if her lack of faith means losing him forever.

 

 

 

5. Somebody like Santa by Janet Dailey

For Cooper Chapman, moving next door to his newlywed sister in Branding Iron, Texas, is the biggest gift he could ask for this Christmas. The divorced single dad knows his troubled teenaged son only needs the healing balm of big skies and family ties. But soon after settling into their new home, Trevor falls in with some wild friends at his new school, leaving Cooper leaning hard on youth counselor Jess Graver. With grace and wisdom, Jess soothes Cooper’s worries over his son, even as the elusive beauty stirs romantic feelings to life . . .

With the holiday growing closer, young Trevor finds an unexpected mentor in a local farmer, helping him build a horse-drawn sleigh for the Christmas parade. Now the only thing that could make Cooper’s New Year brighter would be making warm-hearted Jess his own. But when he stumbles upon a secret from her past, it will take more than mistletoe to bring them back together and keep her at his side for all the sweet seasons to come . . .

 

 

 

6. Christmas Eve Cowboy by Diana Palmer, Kate Pearce, and Delores Fossen

At A Little Taste of Heaven, Bernie and Libby Simmons cater all sorts of affairs, from book clubs to bridal showers and everything in between. So when their counterman, Googie, asks them to cater a doggie wedding for his girlfriend Jenni’s eight-month-old golden retrievers, they jump on the opportunity. The reception, which will also serve as a grand opening for Jennie’s new doggie daycare center, is no small affair. Bertha and Ernie—the bride and groom—will be celebrating with more than a hundred guests, including the puppers’ pals and their people.

But all weddings, even shaggy shindigs, come with some drama. Not everyone in town is excited about the upcoming pup-tuials—or Jenni’s business. Someone is sending threatening messages to Bernie, Libby, and others in town, warning them to cancel the festivities. But when folks start dying under curious circumstances, Bernie and Libby know it’s up to them to untangle the leads and find the murderer before anyone else bites it.

 

 

7. So This Is Christmas by Jenny Holiday

Matteo Benz has spent his life serving at the pleasure of the Eldovian crown. His work is his life and his life, well…he doesn’t have much of one. When he is tasked to aid a management consultant who has been flown in to help straighten out the king’s affairs, he is instantly disturbed by her brash American manner–as well by an inconvenient attraction to the brainy beauty.

Cara Delaney is in Eldovia to help clean up the king’s financial affairs, but soon finds herself at odds with the very proper Mr. Benz. As intrigued by his good looks as she is annoyed by his dedication to tradition for its own sake, she slowly begins to see the real man behind the royal throne.

As they work together to return Eldovia to its former glory during the country’s magical Christmas season, Matteo discovers he is falling hopelessly in love with the unconventional American. But a man who has devoted his life to tradition doesn’t change easily. Can he become the man Cara needs, or will their love be another sacrifice to the crown?

 

8. Once Upon a December by Amy E. Reichert

With a name like Astra Noel Snow, holiday spirit isn’t just a seasonal specialty–it’s a way of life. But after a stinging divorce, Astra’s yearly trip to the Milwaukee Christmas market takes on a whole new meaning. She’s ready to eat, drink, and be merry, especially with the handsome stranger who saves the best kringle for her at his family bakery.

For Jack Clausen, the Julemarked with its snowy lights and charming shops stays the same, while the world outside the joyful street changes, magically leaping from one December to the next every four weeks. He’s never minded living this charmed existence until Astra shows him the life he’s been missing outside of the festive red brick alley.

After a swoon-worthy series of dates, some Yuletide magic, and the unexpected glow of new love, Astra and Jack must decide whether this relationship can weather all seasons, or if what they’re feeling is as ephemeral as marshmallows in a mug of hot cocoa.

 

9. The Second Christmas by Marta Perry

When Leah Beiler pictured returning to Promise Glen, she imagined taking everything she learned from her aunt’s business in Upstate New York and starting up a quaint herbal tea shop of her own. What she didn’t expect was for Josiah Burkhalter to insist on helping her. Josiah might have been her childhood sweetheart but they’ve both changed a lot since then and Leah’s not sure she can trust the man who once broke her heart.

Josiah is determined to make the most of this unexpected second chance. When he hears of Leah’s plans to open her own shop, he resolves to help in any way he can–beginning his gentle campaign to win her back by renovating the small cottage on her family’s farm.

During her time away, Leah looked forward to once again spending the holiday season with her family, especially Second Christmas, December 26th, a time of celebrating with extended family and close neighbors like the Burkhalters. But as Christmas nears, her feelings for Josiah grow more confused, strengthened by their time of working together. Now it will take all the magic of the season for Leah to confront her fears and reach for the love she deserves.

 

10. The Road to Christmas by Sheila Roberts

Michelle and Max are not planning on a happy holiday. Their marriage is in shambles and the D word has entered their vocabulary. But now their youngest daughter, Julia, wants everyone to come to her new house in Idaho for Christmas, and she’s got the guest room all ready for Mom and Dad. Oh, joy.

Their other daughters, Audrey and Shyla, are driving up from California and hoping to meet a sexy rancher for Audrey along the way. What they don’t plan on is getting stranded on a ranch when the car breaks down.

The ones with the shortest drive are Grandma and Grandpa—also known as Hazel and Warren. It’s still a bit of a trek, and Hazel doesn’t like the idea of driving all that way in snow, but Warren knows they’ll have no problem. They have a reliable car—and snow tires and chains if they need them. They’ll be fine.

Surprises lie in store for all three sets of intrepid travelers as they set out on three very different adventures, all leading to one memorable family Christmas.

 

11. Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe by Jenny Colgan

Issy Randall, proud owner of The Cupcake Cafe, is in love and couldn’t be happier. Her new business is thriving and she is surrounded by close friends, even if her cupcake colleagues Pearl and Caroline don’t seem quite as upbeat about the upcoming season of snow and merriment. But when her boyfriend Austin is scouted for a possible move to New York, Issy is forced to face up to the prospect of a long-distance romance. And when the Christmas rush at the cafe – with its increased demand for her delectable creations – begins to take its toll, Issy has to decide what she holds most dear.

This December, Issy will have to rely on all her reserves of courage, good nature and cinnamon, to make sure everyone has a merry Christmas, one way or another…

 

 

12. A Yuletide Kiss by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney

The reigning queens of Regency Romance return with another delightful Christmas collection of three sparkling holiday romances, as stranded travelers find merriment, mistletoe, and holiday romance awaiting at a quaint country inn…

An Unexpected Christmas Gift by Madeline Hunter
Jenna Waverly has closed her inn, anticipating a blissfully quiet Christmas, until a snowstorm brings the first of several strangers to her property. Lucas Avonwood, as charming as he is secretive, is on a mission to track down a scoundrel, but the inn’s lovely owner is giving him a more compelling reason to stay…

When We Finally Kiss Good-Night by Sabrina Jeffries
When Flora Younger first met Konrad Juncker, she thought she’d found her match, only to have her hopes dashed. Konrad is now a famous playwright whose plays Flora has secretly panned in reviews. But a chance meeting in a secluded inn may help them rewrite this star-crossed romance…

When Strangers Meet by Mary Jo Putney
Kate McLeod is shocked to find that a fellow guest in the snowbound inn is the dashing sea captain who may or may not be her husband. Captain Ramesh Langdon barely remembers that night in Bombay, but the desire they discover now will be impossible to forget, or to ignore…

 

Stranger Than Fiction: October 2022

When truth is Stranger than Fiction, the result is hauntingly educational. These books center around mysterious places, UFOs, monsters, ghost stories, witchcraft, and all things paranormal.

 

1. New England UFOs: Sightings, Abductions, and Other Strange Phenomena by Taryn Plumb

Centuries before the U.S. Air Force launched Project Blue Book or mysteries swirled around the enigmatic Area 51, the Puritans in 1639 witnessed a great light in the sky over Massachusetts. It was the first recorded sighting of an unidentified flying object. Now, sightings are so common they’re not even front-page news, and the Air Force just released all the records from Project Bluebook.Despite all this, there remain sightings that cannot be easily explained. Are we being visited by another species? The Universe, it seems, is full of mystery. Tracing the strange history of UFO sightings in the region, Taryn Plumb presents the stories of sightings or events in each New England state. Many are unexplained sightings of strange objects or lights in the sky; and some tell the tales of alien encounters and even abductions. All will keep you glancing to the night sky, wondering what that was out of the corner of your eye.

 

 

 

 

2. Weird New England: Your Guide to New England’s Local Legends and Best Kept Secrets by Joseph A. Citro

It may seem like clambakes, the Red Sox, and the Patriots define New England, but boy did the Pilgrims land in one very strange spot! These six states are filled with odd curiosities and bizarre legends, such as the elusive Vermont hum, the hibernating hill folk, hillside whale tales, and the Holy Land (yes, you read that right). Tongue-in-cheek and filled with dry wit, this is a journey you’ll not soon forget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. New England Myths & Legends: The True Stories Behind History’s Mysteries by Diana Ross McCain

New England Myths and Legends explores unusual phenomena, strange events, and mysteries in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. From vampires to an angel, a ghost rapper to a phantom ship, New England Myths and Legends pulls back the curtain on some of the region’s most fascinating and compelling stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Haunted Massachusetts: Ghosts and Strang Phenomena of the Bay State by Cheri Revai

A fun look at unexplained phenomena in Massachusetts, including the wandering spirit of lost child Lucy Keyes, the monkey-like Dover Demon, the ghost that leaves tips at Stone’s Public Tavern, hauntings in Lizzie Borden’s house, the Black Flash phantom in Provincetown, and many more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. The Real Witches of New England: History, Lore & Modern Practice by Ellen Evert Hopman

New England has long been associated with witches. And while the Salem witch trials happened long ago, the prejudices and fears engendered by the witchcraft hysteria still live on in our culture. What forces were at work that brought the witch hysteria quickly from Europe to the new American colony, a place of religious freedom–and what caused these prejudices to linger centuries after the fact?

Weaving together history, sacred lore, modern practice, and the voices of today’s witches, Ellen Evert Hopman offers a new, deeper perspective on American witchcraft and its ancient pagan origins. Beginning with the “witch hysteria” that started in Europe and spread to the New World, Hopman explores the witch hunts, persecutions, mass hysteria, and killings, concluding that between forty and sixty thousand women and men were executed as witches. Combining records of known events with moving interviews with their descendants, she shares the stories of 13 New England witches persecuted during the witch trials, including Tituba and Mary Bliss Parsons, the Witch of Northhampton. Despite the number of false accusations during the witch hysteria in the New England colonies, Hopman reveals how there were practicing witches during that time and describes the positive role witches played in rural communities until the dawn of the industrial age.

Exploring how the perception and practices of witches has evolved and expanded over the centuries, Hopman also includes in-depth interviews with 25 modern-day practitioners from a variety of pagan faiths, including druids, wiccans, Celtic reconstructionists, and practitioners of the fairy faith. Emerging from their insights is a treasure trove of practical information on the sacred calendar, herb lore, spells, and magical practices. Bringing together past and present, Hopman reveals what it really means to be a “witch,” redefining the label with dignity and spiritual strength.

 

6. Magical Destinations of the Northeast: Sacred Sites, Occult Oddities, and Magical Monuments by Natalie Zaman

Every state in America has sacred sites—places that change you, heal you, and make you feel alive. Magical Destinations of the Northeast details more than 300 spiritual destinations perfect for meditation, magic, and just plain fun. This hands-on guidebook also includes spells and rituals and provides tips for the magical uses of official state plants, flowers, gems, minerals, and trees.

There are pockets of magic to be found everywhere—places that make you stop in your tracks as powerful energies speak to your soul. This book is filled with awe-inspiring destinations, featuring little-known gems, natural landscapes, and manmade creations, as well as Native American and African American heritage sites. With everything from witch’s temples to Druid circles, spiritualist communities to mysterious stones, this book will make your next trip a truly magical journey.

 

 

 

7. Spooky Massachusetts: Tales of Hauntings, Strange Happenings, and Other Local Lore retold by S. E. Schlosser

What better locale to consider for spooky happenings than the home of the Salem witch trials? From mysteries at sea to ghosts and unexplained footprints, you’ll shiver your way through these mesmerizing tales. Set in the state’s historic towns, charming old islands, and sparsely populated backwoods, the stories in this entertaining and compelling collection are great for the whole family.

 

 

 

 

Autumn Leaves & Cozy Reads: Fall 2022

 

The chilly autumn winds are upon us, but never fear! These cozy mysteries will warm your heart while you warm your bones by the fire. Grab a mug of hot tea or coffee and a fuzzy blanket to round out the perfect evening in, and most importantly: happy reading!

 

1. A Catered Doggie Wedding by Isis Crawford

At A Little Taste of Heaven, Bernie and Libby Simmons cater all sorts of affairs, from book clubs to bridal showers and everything in between. So when their counterman, Googie, asks them to cater a doggie wedding for his girlfriend Jenni’s eight-month-old golden retrievers, they jump on the opportunity. The reception, which will also serve as a grand opening for Jennie’s new doggie daycare center, is no small affair. Bertha and Ernie—the bride and groom—will be celebrating with more than a hundred guests, including the puppers’ pals and their people.

But all weddings, even shaggy shindigs, come with some drama. Not everyone in town is excited about the upcoming pup-tuials—or Jenni’s business. Someone is sending threatening messages to Bernie, Libby, and others in town, warning them to cancel the festivities. But when folks start dying under curious circumstances, Bernie and Libby know it’s up to them to untangle the leads and find the murderer before anyone else bites it.

 

2. Bayou Book Thief by Ellen Byron

Twenty-eight-year-old widow Ricki James leaves Los Angeles to start a new life in New Orleans after her showboating actor husband perishes doing a stupid internet stunt. The Big Easy is where she was born and adopted by the NICU nurse who cared for her after Ricki’s teen mother disappeared from the hospital.

Ricki’s dream comes true when she joins the quirky staff of Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the spectacular former Garden District home of late bon vivant Genevieve “Vee” Charbonnet, the city’s legendary restauranteur. Ricki is excited about turning her avocation – collecting vintage cookbooks – into a vocation by launching the museum’s gift shop, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware. Then she discovers that a box of donated vintage cookbooks contains the body of a cantankerous Bon Vee employee who was fired after being exposed as a book thief.

The skills Ricky has developed ferreting out hidden vintage treasures come in handy for investigations. But both her business and Bon Vee could wind up as deadstock when Ricki’s past as curator of a billionaire’s first edition collection comes back to haunt her.

Will Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware be a success … or a recipe for disaster?

 

3. Magic, Lies, and Deadly Pies by Misha Popp

Twenty-eight-year-old widow Ricki James leaves Los Angeles to start a new life in New Orleans after her showboating actor husband perishes doing a stupid internet stunt. The Big Easy is where she was born and adopted by the NICU nurse who cared for her after Ricki’s teen mother disappeared from the hospital.

Ricki’s dream comes true when she joins the quirky staff of Bon Vee Culinary House Museum, the spectacular former Garden District home of late bon vivant Genevieve “Vee” Charbonnet, the city’s legendary restauranteur. Ricki is excited about turning her avocation – collecting vintage cookbooks – into a vocation by launching the museum’s gift shop, Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware. Then she discovers that a box of donated vintage cookbooks contains the body of a cantankerous Bon Vee employee who was fired after being exposed as a book thief.

The skills Ricky has developed ferreting out hidden vintage treasures come in handy for investigations. But both her business and Bon Vee could wind up as deadstock when Ricki’s past as curator of a billionaire’s first edition collection comes back to haunt her.

Will Miss Vee’s Vintage Cookbooks and Kitchenware be a success … or a recipe for disaster?

 

4. Bound by Murder by Laura Gail Black

For fans of Ellery Adams and Paige Shelton, the wedding can’t go on when the bride is found murdered—but can love still win the day in this third installment of Laura Gail Black’s cozy series.

The birds are singing, books are selling, and the Hokes Bluff Inn has begun to host weddings on its property. Antiquarian bookseller Jenna Quinn loves the romance in the air—until her ex-fiancé, Blake Emerson, walks in with his bride-to-be, Missy Plott. Blake continues to profess his love for Jenna if she’ll have him back, no matter the consequences. And the consequences are grave, indeed, when Missy turns up dead.

All evidence points to Blake, who was the last one to see her alive. He begs Jenna to help him clear his name. Blake’s mother, Cordelia, is also bent on exonerating her son. Jenna doesn’t believe that Blake could have killed Missy, and she starts digging for suspects. It could have been Missy’s ex-boyfriend, who proclaims a love for her he says only death could sever. Or might it have been Missy’s bitter “best friend,” who was secretly besotted with Missy’s ex.

Then, the police find evidence from a cold case years before—a case that had falsely implicated Jenna herself. Cordelia continues to beg Jenna to help prove her son’s innocence. Could Blake truly be innocent?

Jenna’s life is on the line in a final confrontation that will either prove Blake’s innocence—or damn them both.

 

5. Caramel Pecan Roll Murder by Joanne Fluke

Embracing a sweet escape from her usual routine at The Cookie Jar, Hannah gets asked for her help in baking pastries at the local inn for a flashy fishing competition with big prizes and even bigger names. But the fun stops when she spots a runway boat on the water and, on board, the lifeless body of the event’s renowned celebrity spokesperson…

Famed TV show host Sonny Bowman wasn’t humble about his ability to reel in winning catches, and no one knew that better than his tragically overworked sidekick, Joey. Did Joey finally take bloody revenge on his pompous boss—or was Sonny killed by a jealous contestant?

With goodies to bake and a mess of fresh challenges mixed into her personal life, it’s either sink or swim as Hannah joins forces with her sister, Andrea, to catch a clever culprit before another unsuspecting victim goes belly up…

 

 

 

6. Lady of Bones by Carolyn Haines

It’s Halloween season in Mississippi as Sarah Booth and the gang gather to decorate and gush over Tinkie’s new baby, Maylin. Sarah Booth is just about to refresh the cocktails when she hears a knock on the door and opens it to find a woman named Frankie, distraught at the disappearance of her daughter Christa, a young journalist. Christa had been investigating the disappearance of young women in New Orleans over a five-year period—one every year around Halloween. Now Christa herself is missing, and Frankie fears it may be connected to a cult based in the Garden District, called People of Eternity.

People of Eternity are known to have far-reaching connections which Frankie worries may reach as high as law enforcement. Refusing to contact the authorities, she turns to Delaney Detective Agency as her only hope.

Despite initial reservations, Sarah Booth accepts the case, which takes her on a journey to a secret underworld of beguiling cult leaders, witchcraft, and potentially human sacrifice. She’ll have to keep her wits about her if she wants to crack this case…and make it home alive.

 

7. Hot and Sour Suspects by Vivien Chien

At the Ho-Lee Noodle House, murder is on the menu.

When Lana Lee’s best friend, Megan Riley, asks her to help host a speed dating contest at Ho-Lee Noodle House, she doesn’t see the harm in lending a hand. The night goes better than anticipated, and both Lana and Megan are beyond thrilled with the results. But before they can break out the champagne, Rina Su, fellow Asia Village shop owner and speed dating participant, calls to inform Lana that the date she’s just matched with has been murdered. Under suspicion of foul play, Rina enlists Lana’s help in finding out what really happened that night.

Without hesitation, Lana begins to dig into the man in question. To her dismay, she quickly finds that Rina’s date has a rather unsavory past. There’s a long line of slighted women, angry neighbors, and perturbed co-workers—all of whom seem to have a motive.

As Lana continues to spiral down the treacherous path of scorned lovers and mistreated acquaintances, she can’t help but dwell on how quickly an innocent evening filled with hope and positivity could turn so sour. When the media gets in on the case, Lana must rush to find the killer before more dates turn deadly.

 

8. A Fatal Booking by Victoria Gilbert

At the Ho-Lee Noodle House, murder is on the menu.

When Lana Lee’s best friend, Megan Riley, asks her to help host a speed dating contest at Ho-Lee Noodle House, she doesn’t see the harm in lending a hand. The night goes better than anticipated, and both Lana and Megan are beyond thrilled with the results. But before they can break out the champagne, Rina Su, fellow Asia Village shop owner and speed dating participant, calls to inform Lana that the date she’s just matched with has been murdered. Under suspicion of foul play, Rina enlists Lana’s help in finding out what really happened that night.

Without hesitation, Lana begins to dig into the man in question. To her dismay, she quickly finds that Rina’s date has a rather unsavory past. There’s a long line of slighted women, angry neighbors, and perturbed co-workers—all of whom seem to have a motive.

As Lana continues to spiral down the treacherous path of scorned lovers and mistreated acquaintances, she can’t help but dwell on how quickly an innocent evening filled with hope and positivity could turn so sour. When the media gets in on the case, Lana must rush to find the killer before more dates turn deadly.

 

9. The Proof is in the Poison by Diane Kelly

Now that her moonshine shop is up and running, Hattie Hayes can focus her efforts on expanding her fledgling business to events in the area, like the Chattanooga Choo Choo Model Train Convention, which is running full steam ahead at the convention center down the block. Hattie is all aboard, seizing this perfect opportunity to promote her Southern homebrew to the folks who have come to the city for the annual event.

But when an attendee dies after drinking some of Hattie’s moonshine, she’ll need to prove her innocence. Between tight-lipped train hobbyists and competitors for a coveted convention prize, Hattie has a wide array of suspects to choose from, and she’ll need to use all the tricks up her sleeve to make sure her moonshine business can survive a murderer and stay on track.

 

 

 

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