Book Buzz: Pack Horse Librarians (Again), Poison Gardens, Hippo Mysteries, and Problem Wildlife

Every month, we’re profiling new-ish releases that are getting critical and commercial buzz. For December, we’re looking at historical fiction about Kentucky pack horse libraries during the Great Depression, a fantasy about a green thumb and deadly plants, a comedic children’s mystery, and Mary Roach’s latest nonfiction romp.

If enjoy historical fiction:

Rex Owens’s The Life and Times of Rowan Daly (2021)

A couple of years ago, novels about Depression-era Kentucky pack horse librarians were all the rage at the library. I’ve previously reviewed some of them here and here. The latest addition to our collection about this remarkable chapter in library history is this novel, which focuses on Rowan, a young widow who becomes a pack horse librarian and finds her future developing in ways she’d never imagined.

Recommended for those who enjoyed Jojo Moyes’s The Giver of Stars and Kim Michele Richardson’s The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek.

If you like YA urban fantasy:

Kalynn Bayron’s The Poison Heart (2021)*

Enjoy fantasy but pretty over epic fantasy with thinly veiled medieval settings? Try this one, with a contemporary setting, instead. Briseis has rather more than a green thumb. With one touch, she can cause seeds to blossom into beautiful plants. When she inherits her late aunt’s New York estate, she initially assumes she can develop her powers here safely. That is, until she discovers the walled garden full of the deadliest plants in the world. . . . .

Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Malinda Lo.

*Ebook also available on Libby.

If you need children’s lit:

Stuart Gibbs’s Belly Up: Murder at FunJungle (2010)**

My rule is usually to only feature newer books released in the past year or so on these posts, but I made an exception for this one. Jen recommended it to me, and I just couldn’t not write about it. Twelve-year-old Teddy just knows that the hippo at the zoo was murdered, despite everyone saying that the poor animal died of natural causes. Teddy and his friend Summer embark on their own investigation. Complications ensue. If you have a tween who likes humorous mysteries, this is the perfect read for them, and it is the first in series.

Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Chris Rylander, James Ponti, and Michael Buckley.

**Ebook also available on Libby.

If you want an audiobook:

Mary Roach’s Fuzz: When Nature Breaks The Law (2021)***

I’ve always enjoyed Mary Roach’s work. Back in the day, she had a monthly Reader’s Digest column that I used to devour regularly. She’s probably better known for her humorous science nonfiction books (Stiff, Spook, Bonk, Gulp, and Grunt). Her latest book along these lines is about nature breaking the law, including but not limited to jaywalking moose, thieving grizzlies, vandal gulls, and murderous trees.

***Ebook also available in Libby, as well as physical book in the system.

Recommended for those who enjoy the work of Bill Bryson.

What’s your favorite new-ish books? What books are you buzzing about these days? Have you read any of these books? Tell us in the comments! As always, please follow this link to our online library catalog for more information on any of these items or to place them on hold.

Author: berryvillelibrary

"Our library, our future"

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