LibraryReads, the nationwide library staff-picks list, offers the top 10 January titles public library staff across the country love:
The Girl Before: A Novel by JP Delaney (Ballantine, $27, 9780425285046). "A page turner that is sure to be a hit. Each chapter alternates between two time periods. Back 'then,' there is Emma, looking for the perfect flat. Her agent suggests One Folgate Street, built by architect Edward Monkford. In present day, Jane, a single thirty-something also ends up on Folgate Street. Both women learn the sinister history of the property and readers won't know who to trust as Delaney's debut clutches you by the throat and won't let you go." --Kara Kohn, Plainfield Public Library District, Plainfield, Ill.
The Bear and Nightingale: A Novel by Katherine Arden (Del Rey, $27, 9781101885932). "We journey to 14th century Russia where the old ways still hold sway in the outlying villages and spirits and magical creatures are real. When Vasya's stepmother and the new village priest try to end the pagan offerings, it us up to Vasya to stop the Bear from awakening. Can she find the strength to accept who she really is and protect her family and village? This magical story captivated me and pulled me fully into that world. The last third and the pulse-pounding finish had me on the edge of my seat." --Joseph Jones, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Cuyahoga, Ohio
The Dry: A Novel by Jane Harper (Flatiron Books, $25.99, 9781250105608). " 'Luke lied. You lied. Be at the funeral.' These eight words will change everything for Agent Aaron Falk, summoned by the father of his former best friend. It appears Luke went on a rampage, murdering his wife, son, and then himself. At Luke's father's request, Aaron agrees to look into the murders/suicide and learns that the small town has long held grudges and secrets that may be best kept hidden in this atmospheric, chilling complex tale of anger and revenge." --Jennifer Winberry, Hunterdon County Library, Flemington, N.J.
Behind Her Eyes: A Novel by Sarah Pinborough (Flatiron Books, $25.99, 9781250111173). "Louise meets a charming man in a bar and is smitten. The attraction is mutual, but David confesses he is married. They go their separate ways ... until the next morning when Louise goes to work and realizes that the new psychiatrist who has been hired by the practice is David. Adele, David's wife, is struggling to keep their marriage alive, but David has tired of her lies. A friendship begins between Adele and Louise. David and Louise are still attracted to each other and the triangle is complete. This is not your average thriller. It is absolutely riveting!" --Mary Vernau, Tyler Public Library, Tyler, Tex.
Books for Living by Will Schwalbe (Knopf, $25.95, 9780385353540). " 'Every book changes your life. So I like to ask: How is this book changing mine?' Schwalbe, author of The End of Your Life Book Club, focuses on a personal collection of books that changed his life. Each book he selects provides a lesson, a reminder as to how to live his life. Readers will remember favorite books, find new books to try, and lessons to think about. Schwalbe's book is warm, charming, and very personal. It's a book for all avid readers." --Lesa Holstine, Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library, Evansville, Ind.
The Second Mrs. Hockaday: A Novel by Susan Rivers (Algonquin, $25.95, 9781616205812). "Placidia is seventeen when she marries Major Hockaday, an older man and recent widower with a child. After he is recalled to service in the Civil War, she must manage his farm and take care of his son and all with little help. When he returns, it is to find that she has given birth, and said to have murdered the child. Told in journal entries, letters, and court documents, we learn about her life and the answers to this puzzling and horrifically charged event. A dark book that highlights the amazing strength so many of these women had to develop." --Diane Scholl, Batavia Public Library, Batavia, Ill.
The Fifth Petal: A Novel by Brunonia Barry (Crown, $27, 9781101905609). "Barry takes her readers back to Salem with a mesmerizing tale filled with familiar characters from her previous works and new ones as well. Towner Whitney and John Rafferty come to the aid of Callie Cahill as they attempt to piece together the circumstances surrounding the brutal murder of her mother while trying to keep herself from becoming a victim as well. This is a beautifully written story, full of twists and turns. Fans of The Lace Reader will love The Fifth Petal, though the book stands on its own and can be recommended to all readers." --Marianne Colton, Lockport Public Library, Lockport, N.Y.
The Most Dangerous Place on Earth: A Novel by Lindsey Lee Johnson (Random House, $27, 9780812997279). "Not for the faint of heart, Johnson's first book is a beautifully crafted work that delves into the perils of teen-dom in a wealthy, insulated California neighborhood. The story opens with the suicide of an outcast middle-school boy. Fast forward to high school, where seemingly minor struggles of both teens and adults expose themselves to be deeply ominous, leaving few untouched by the ensuing tragedies. As the plot slowly builds, the intricate web of relationships that intertwine the lives of characters and the events that they experience become apparent, ultimately returning full circle." --Amy Christiansen, Jefferson County Public Library, Wheat Ridge, Colo.
Her Every Fear: A Novel by Peter Swanson (Morrow, $26.99, 9780062427021). "Kate Priddy is moving to Boston to swap apartments with her cousin. Haunted by an abusive ex, she wants to leave behind her previous life. But when her neighbor, Audrey Marshall, is murdered, Kate is drawn into a web of fear even darker than her past. Varying points of view add new perspectives to the narrative as the book goes on; the mystery of what really happened to Audrey is just a part of the intrigue as we delve into the minds of imperfect, broken people. As a fan of Swanson's previous work, I was not disappointed." --Cari Dubiel, Twinsburg Public Library, Twinsburgh, Ohio
Heartstone by Elle Katharine White (Harper Voyager, $15.99, 9780062451941). "A fun take on Pride and Prejudice in a fantasy setting. Merrybourne Manor has a gryphon infestation and has contracted with a band of Riders to kill them. As you can imagine, the main Rider is a little haughty and our heroine has a long memory. Familiar trials and tribulations occur with some detailed world-building, laying the groundwork for a sequel. Good for readers who don't mind literary re-imaginings, love P&P, and Anne McCaffery's Pern novels." --Jenna Persick, Chester County Library, Exton, Pa.