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Regency Remixed: New Twists on a Familiar Genre

Regency Remixed: New Twists on a Familiar Genre

By Crystal Hicks, Collection Services Manager

Since “Bridgerton” first took Netflix by storm in 2020, there’s been a renewed surge of interest in Regency romances. On screens, there’s been “Bridgerton” season two, a similarly-cast adaptation of “Mr. Malcolm’s List,” a second season of “Sanditon,” and a remake of Jane Austen’s “Persuasion.” In print, there’s the usual steady stream of Regency-set romance novels, but a growing swath of these focus on narratives that have thus far been decidedly outside of the mainstream.

The Truth about Dukes” is the first book I’ve read by Grace Burrowes, but it won’t be my last. Robert has had epilepsy since he was a child, and his father sent him to an asylum and even pretended he had died. Years later, Robert has become Duke of Rothhaven and is courting his neighbor Constance, who has a scandalous past of her own. The plot of this book largely revolves around a lawsuit to find Robert mentally unfit because of his epilepsy, with a basis in similar historical legal proceedings. This book is the fifth in its series, but it can be read as a standalone.

Vanessa Riley’s “A Duke, the Lady, and a Baby” focuses on Patience, a West Indian heiress who is imprisoned and separated from her baby after her husband dies. After escaping Bedlam, Patience disguises herself and sneaks back into the house to care for her baby, where she meets her child’s new guardian, Busick, her husband’s cousin. Though Busick has his own war wounds to heal from, he becomes attached to both Patience and baby Lionel, and together Busick and Patience oust the uncle who sent Patience to Bedlam. Riley continues her Rogues and Remarkable Women series with “An Earl, the Girl, and a Toddler” and “A Duke, the Spy, an Artist, and a Lie.

Erica Ridley’s newest book about the sprawling adoptive Wynchester family, following the delightful sapphic romance “The Perks of Loving a Wallflower,” is “Nobody’s Princess.” When Kuni de Heusch arrives in London, she’s secretly on a reconnaissance mission to ensure the King of Balcovia’s safety on his future visit; unfortunately, Graham mistakes her for part of the Balcovian royal family and decides she’s a damsel in need of his help. Both Graham and Kuni are Black; one of Graham’s brothers is Black, and he has sisters with hearing loss and chronic illness. For more fun from the Wild Wynchesters series, look for Ridley’s tie-in novellas on Sunflower eLibrary.

Unlike the previous two authors, who set their racially-diverse series within a more-or-less-historically-accurate Regency England, J.J. McAvoy goes for an alternate Regency England in “Aphrodite and the Duke,” one free of racism, like the “Bridgerton” adaptation. Biracial Aphrodite was the diamond of her first season, but unforeseen circumstances and family secrets left her abandoned by her betrothed, Evander. Years later, both of them return to the marriage mart to support family members in their debut seasons. This time, widower Evander hopes to win Aphrodite back, but can he regain her trust?

Prolific romance author Alexis Hall (of the fabulous books “Boyfriend Material” and “Rosaline Palmer Takes the Cake”) turns to Regency England with “A Lady for a Duke.” When Viola was presumed dead at the Battle of Waterloo, she seized the opportunity to live life on her own terms and transitioned to living as a woman. Back home in England, Viola acts as paid companion for her sister-in-law and tries to forget about her childhood best friend, Justin. Justin, meanwhile, hasn’t recovered from the loss of his best friend at Waterloo and has fallen into a deep depression, so his sister calls on Viola’s family for aid. When Justin and Viola reconnect, they share an attraction even before he recognizes her, and it only deepens from there.

An honorable mention goes out to Adriana Herrera’s “A Caribbean Heiress in Paris,” since it’s not a Regency book, but instead takes place at the 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Luz Alana travels from Santo Domingo to expand her family’s rum business, planning to avoid love and focus on business. Of course, she captures the attention of James, an earl in Paris to sell his whisky, and a marriage of convenience—plus love—blossoms. Let’s hope this is the first in a series!

Whether romance is your thrill or another genre gets your heart pounding, the library has plenty of new books to satisfy every reader. Stop on by to see what new books we have on the shelf!

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Stories to Share on Sweetest Day

Stories to Share on Sweetest Day

By Jennifer Bergen, Program and Children’s Services Manager

Today is Sweetest Day, a little-known holiday reportedly started by the candy industry more than 100 years ago, and celebrated similarly to Valentine’s Day in some spots of the Midwest. But Sweetest Day has the added impact of encouraging other sweet actions as well, such as helping your neighbors, doing acts of kindness, and giving gifts to friends and people in need. These themes show up in many children’s books, I think because children have a big heart for people who need some uplifting, and children are excellent purveyors of love and kindness with the ability to melt the hearts of others. Here are some sweet books to share with children to celebrate the holiday.

Still This Love Goes On” by Buffy Sainte-Marie and illustrated by Julie Flett just came out this fall. If you recognize the author’s name, you may know of Buffy Sainte-Marie as a singer and songwriter. She’s been around since the days of Janis Joplin, singing and advocating for Indigenous rights, and she now adds author to her list of accomplishments. “Still This Love Goes On” is a beautifully-illustrated picture book that is a love song to “the people and our Cree ways, precious like the fragrance of sweetgrass,” Sainte-Marie says in her author’s note. The earth-toned pictures focus on the land and seasons, and on song and dance, sharing positive vibes of love, strength, and beauty. For an added bonus, search the title on YouTube to hear Sainte-Marie sing the book’s sweet lyrics as you flip through the pages.

Can Sophie Change the World?” by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace and illustrated by Aura Lewis is a sweet story about the power of kindness. Sophie adores her grandpop but doesn’t know what to get him for his birthday. When she asks him, he tells her to change the world “by doing kind deeds! Give me a mitzvah, a kind deed! More than anything, that’s what I want.” Sophie spends the week trying to find ways to change the world, but her kind actions don’t seem to amount to anything that big. That’s when Grandpop listens to her and explains that kindness can be big or small, but it always changes the world. This story shows us how we can be agents of change throughout our daily lives, a concept children can get on board with.

A similar message is illustrated in Marta Bartolj’s wordless picture book, “Every Little Kindness.” It begins with a woman leaving her home, looking sad, and putting up a poster for her lost dog. She sees a street musician and decides to give him her apple, which in turn makes both of them feel better, and it is witnessed by another a man passing by. Every small act of kindness inspires another person to do a kind deed as they go along their ways. Eventually the kindness returns to the first woman when her dog is found and returned to her. With no words to guide the story, “Every Little Kindness” must be interpreted by the readers, sparking conversation and attention to details. Bartolj’s story helps children practice empathy as they recognize the emotions characters are feeling and interpret how their actions affect others.

Giving gifts to those we love is a fun part of Sweetest Day. In Lane Smith’s newest picture book, “A Gift for Nana,” a little bunny goes on a long quest to find the perfect gift for his Nana. It isn’t her birthday, or even “a major hare holiday,” but Rabbit knows his Nana deserves a wonderful gift. On his journey, he talks to the moon, a “stickler” (a multi-eyed creature made of sticks), and a volcano, but none have the perfect gift. When he finally finds the perfect thing, he heads to Nana’s house, where she has the perfect, sweetest reply. Nanas really are the best.

Other sweet stories to try from the library’s new books display shelves include “The World’s Longest Licorice Rope” by Matt Myers, “Always with You, Always with Me” by Rowland Kelly, and “Mister Rogers’ Gift of Music” by Donna Cangelosi. Give a hug, plant some kindness, and enjoy your Sweetest Day together.


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Read a Book or Three on Your Next Vacation

Read a Book or Three on Your Next Vacation

By Jared Richards, Public Services Manager

I recently went on a vacation where I had copious amounts of time to read. That doesn’t happen very often anymore. Despite one of the greatest misconceptions about working in a library, I don’t sit around at work reading books, and when I get home there are other distractions that readily pull me away from reading, like watching a tiny human or doing adult things like washing dishes. But when the opportunity presents itself to sit in the shade on a nice day reading books for hours, I do my best to embrace it.

I stumbled across “The Inheritance Games” by Jennifer Lynn Barnes when I picked it at random for a project. It’s the first book in a trilogy, and this is one of the few times I’ve actually been excited to find out a book is part of a series because I can’t wait to jump into the others.

Our protagonist, Avery Grambs, is a clever teenager who has been through some hard times but is just trying to keep her head down so she can get through high school and make it to college. Then a mysterious billionaire, who she’s never met, leaves most of his fortune to her in his will, with the caveat that she must move to his large estate and live there for a year. The sprawling house is filled with secret passages, multiple libraries, and a bowling alley. Oh, and the family that has just been disinherited, because they’re still allowed to live there. Mysteries and puzzle-solving ensue as Avery and the billionaire’s grandsons attempt to figure out the patriarch’s motive.

It has been quite awhile since a book has sucked me in so thoroughly. This is partially due to the fact that each chapter is only a few pages long, with ninety-one chapters all together. Like Pringles or lives in “Super Mario Bros.,” with chapters so short it’s too easy to say “just one more,” and then find yourself still reading an hour later when everyone else has gone to sleep.

The Gentleman” by Forrest Leo is the funniest book I have read in a while, with a plot even more incredible than a teenager inheriting billions of dollars from a stranger. Lionel Savage is a poet in Victorian London, and he decides to marry for money, not love, after his butler informs him that he’s broke. Lionel immediately regrets this decision because he thinks being married to someone he doesn’t actually like has affected his poetry. This regret is superseded by an even larger regret following a visit with the Devil at a party, after which his wife disappears and he is left only with the assumption that he must have inadvertently sold his wife to the Devil, and the dawning realization that he might actually love his wife.

Upon this realization, Lionel enlists the help of his wife’s adventurous brother, his recently expelled younger sister, his knowledgeable butler, and the inventor of a flying machine, with the goal of going to Hell to rescue his wife. Along the way Lionel must survive duels, the barbs of a rival poet, an inventors’ club prone to fires, and the stress of trying to prove that “Devil” can be pronounced as one syllable so it fits in his poem. This book reminded me a lot of P. G. Wodehouse’s characters Bertie Wooster and his butler Jeeves. If you’re a fan of books like “My Man Jeeves,” I think you’ll like “The Gentleman.”

Amanda Ripley’s “The Unthinkable” looks at disasters throughout history, including interviews with survivors, and presents research about why humans react the way they do in those types of dangerous situations. This understanding will hopefully help readers if they happen to find themselves in a disaster.

It’s a fascinating book, but I chose two of the worst times to read it. The first, right before bed, which made it hard to fall asleep with all of the potential chaos running through my head. And the second, on a plane, while reading a passage about plane crashes. So save this book for a nice, sunny day, or maybe when you’re hanging out in a secure, underground bunker. But definitely read it.

Having returned from vacation, my book perusal has predictably dropped precipitously. Not quite to pre-vacation levels, however, because I am actively making time for reading. The structure of it is not quite as fun as lazing about on vacation, but I can put on some ocean sounds and at least pretend.

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ReadMHK explores the Refugee and immigrant experience through books

ReadMHK explores the Refugee and immigrant experience through books

By Jan Johnson, Teen Librarian

The ReadMHK topic for October is refugee and immigrant experiences. As someone who has grown up in Kansas all her life, this is a topic I’m not familiar with first hand. This is the genesis of ReadMHK: learning about other people, their struggles, their triumphs, and their lives by reading stories about situations that are unfamiliar to us. Even though we all experience life differently, when we take the time to find the similarities to our own lives, it helps us gain more understanding and empathy.

Non-fiction of course gives us first hand accounts of what people experience as refugees and immigrants. But, fiction can give us an account of what someone’s everyday life looks like. Below are several choices of both. Books of both types help some of us foster empathy and understanding, while providing a chance for others to read about their own realities on the page.

Ink Knows No Borders: Poems of the Immigrant and Refugee Experience,” edited by Patrice Vecchione and Alyssa Raymond, is a collection of poems. This collection focuses on topics that are typical for many first- and second-generation young adult refugees and immigrants, like homesickness, cultural differences, language barriers, racism, and questioning their identity. As Craig Santos Perez writes, “Remember: our ancestors taught us how to carry our culture in the canoes of our bodies / Remember: our people, scattered like stars, form new constellations when we gather / Remember: home is not simply a house, village, or island: home is an archipelago of belonging.”

We Are Displaced” by Nobel Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai takes us on a journey as she recounts stories from women she met visiting refugee camps, as well as her own experience being an Internally Displaced Person in Pakistan. When she was a young child, she lost her home, community, and only life she’d ever know. Yousafzai talks to other young women about their experiences being displaced from the homes they knew and loved. She gets to the heart of their stories, sharing their incredibly personal narratives to allow us to better understand their experiences.

When we meet Natasha in “The Sun Is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon, she is just over 12 hours away from being deported back to Jamaica, after living in New York City for the past decade with her family, because her father got a DUI. Daniel is on his way to his shoo-in Ivy League college interview to become a doctor, the path his South Korean-born father has decided for him, even though his heart is that of a poet. They meet by chance and spend the day falling in love. I’m not one for love stories, but the way this one plays out is unique. We get to know and love these two in the day they spend together, as they navigate their families and reevaluate their expectations of what their futures look like. This is a beautiful look at humans and our stories of how we navigate the world. As a side note, the young man who plays Daniel in the film adaptation is an MHS alumni!

2021 Pura Belpré Award winner, “Efrén Divided” by Ernesto Cisneros, also a nominee for this year’s William Allen White award, focuses on 12-year-old Efrén and his family. An American-born Mexican, Efren takes on the responsibilities of caring of his younger siblings when his Amá is deported during an ICE raid. We get a first-hand glimpse of what happens when a family is divided by deportation and the effects it has on young children. Grab a hanky and get ready to root for Efrén as he navigates his new responsibilities and the hurt of missing his mother.

Join us for several activities centered around our October theme for ReadMHK, refugee and immigrant experiences. On October 6, our DIY night, adult programming librarian Jennie will show you how to make puto ube (Filipino steamed rice cake), alongside her mother, who immigrated to the U.S. from the Philippines; registration is required. On October 14th, Dr. Debra Bolton will lead a film discussion on “Strangers in Town,” a film that tells the story of how global migration unexpectedly transformed and enriched Garden City, KS. Members of the community are invited to attend this free program made possible by Humanities Kansas. For more information, go to

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By Rhonna Hargett, Associate Director of Learning and Information Services

In my opinion, there is no better way to spend a fall afternoon than curled up in a comfy chair, with a cup of tea and a good mystery novel. Here are some of the new mysteries available at Manhattan Public Library.

Alex Segura brings the gritty world of 1970s New York City to life in “Secret Identity.” Carmen Valdez has left the sunshine and warmth of Miami to conquer the comic book world in New York, but after years of working diligently as an administrative assistant at Triumph Comics, her dream of writing continues to seem out of reach. When her work smoke buddy, Harvey, offers her the chance to write something up with him, she jumps at the opportunity, even if it means she won’t get any credit for it. Their work is well received, but soon after publication, Harvey is murdered. Carmen wonders what Harvey was hiding, and if his attackers will be coming after her next. “Secret Identity” is a gripping mystery, as well as a fascinating story of the challenges women faced in the 1970s.

As a fan of cozy mysteries as well as the works of Jane Austen, you can imagine my delight when I came across “The Murder of Mr. Wickham” by Claudia Gray. Gray’s novel begins in Donwell Abbey where Mr. and Mrs. Knightley are discussing an upcoming house party, to which characters from all of Jane Austen’s novels are invited. Everyone comes together and is ready for a lovely gathering when uninvited guest Mr. Wickham shows up and casts a pall over all, and it only takes a few days of his awfulness before he is found murdered in the gallery. Almost everyone at the party has a motive to do away with him, but no one wants to believe it of anyone present. The Tilneys’ daughter, Juliet, and the Darcy’s son, Johnathan, pair up to solve the mystery, and learn more than they could have possibly anticipated.  Gray manages to give us a satisfying mystery, along with a fascinating glimpse into the continuation of the lives of beloved characters. Although it was disconcerting to speculate which of them was guilty of murder, the complex personalities and intriguing plot keep the reader captivated to the gratifying end.

Lan Samantha Chang’s novel, “The Family Chao” is a story of intrigue and family drama. Leo Chao, the owner of the Fine Chao restaurant in rural Haven, Wisconsin, is known for his business acumen and his obnoxious personality. His wife has moved out, and his relationship with his three sons ranges from quietly resentful to completely estranged. When Leo is found locked in the walk-in freezer (which was not up-to-code) on Christmas morning, no one is surprised. His eldest son, Dagou, who works at the restaurant and is facing money troubles, has publicly, on several occasions, talked about his hatred for him, and wished him dead, but Dagou’s brothers aren’t convinced that the case can be solved so easily. “The Family Chao” is loaded with complex and fascinating characters. The Chao family is at the center of a small community of Chinese immigrants in a town that has at times been cruel to these newcomers. The sons have especially suffered discrimination and bullying, and each of them has responded in their own way: Dagou has his sexual exploits, Ming has built a cushion of money to protect himself, and James stays quiet and tries to avoid being noticed. Chang has created a riveting mystery, filled with complicated family relationships and a thread of grim humor.

For more intriguing reads, check out our Mystery newsletter at

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Horror Authors to Read for Fall

Horror Authors to Read for Fall

By Amber Hoskins, Adult Services Librarian

With fall rapidly approaching and Halloween around the corner, now is a good time to discuss my preferred genre, horror. Since there are so many books to choose from, I would like to share some of my favorite authors who have mastered this category, and have more than one good book to offer.

I will start with Joe Hill, who has seen several of his stories be turned into movies and another into a TV series. There is not one book I have read from this author that I did not like, and that is a rarity for me. I loved his debut novel, “Heart Shaped Box,” and have continued to enjoy anything he publishes, including the short story collections. Hill is an author that can keep a fast pace and be creepy without getting too gory with the details, so this is a good author for someone who wants horror but doesn’t enjoy anything too graphic. I usually always prefer the book to the screen, but if you want to skip reading, you can check out the “Black Phone” movie or watch the “NOS4A2” series, which were both good adaptations, in my opinion.

Another author to look into would be Paul Tremblay. I must admit that I am not a fan of his short story collections, but I have enjoyed his novels. Tremblay just released a new book, “The Pallbearers Club,” this past July which has received positive reviews from Booklist and Library Journal. I would also recommend “The Cabin at the End of the World” and “Survivor Song” if you are into apocalyptic horror. In the former, the characters are forced to consider sacrificing their own fate for the rest of the world, while “Survivor’s Song” portrays the desperation of withstanding a doomsday caused by a disease outbreak. Both are fast-paced page turners that I found hard to put down.

I would like to point out one more author who is great at writing about haunted places without getting into grisly details. Jennifer McMahon has been compared to Shirley Jackson when it comes to her ghost stories. I have read several of McMahon’s novels, and none have been disappointing. This year, she released “The Children on the Hill.” In this book, McMahon gives us an eerie novel inspired by “Frankenstein,” which fans of gothic horror are sure to love. This story follows a timeline from 1978 to the present and involves a psychiatrist grandmother who takes a patient into her home where she is also raising her two grandchildren. This book will keep you guessing until its climactic ending.  I would also suggest her novel “The Invited,” which follows the story of a married couple who decide to build a house on haunted land, and find out there are consequences for that.

If historical fiction is your wheelhouse, and you would like to read something spooky in that genre, check out Alma Katsu. Katsu recently penned “The Fervor,” which follows the story of a mother and daughter who are sent to a Japanese-American internment camp during WWII. As always, Katsu blends this history with paranormal twists and turns, which never ceases to entertain. You can also look into her other stories which blend history with the supernatural. “The Hunger” follows the story of the Donner Party and “The Deep” conveys a story about survivors of the Titanic.

For my final recommendation, I have an older book to endorse. This one is for those who want something really unnerving. “The Troop” by Nick Cutter is one of the creepiest books I have ever read, and that is because I find parasites terrifying. If you want to read about a bio-engineered, government experiment gone wrong, this is your book. Cutter does not side-step any of the gory details about this insatiable, horrific parasite, so be warned. If you are not bothered by this kind of thing, then read this book; you will not forget it, or regret it.

I hope these recommendations give you an excuse to curl up with a blanket and read something thrilling. If horror is not your thing, you can still enjoy the cooler weather while being wrapped up with a gentler read.  The ways in which you wish to enjoy your fall reading is strictly up to you, so do what makes you happy this season!

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Books and Mooncakes

Books and Mooncakes

By Stephanie Wallace, Library Assistant 2

Picture this: leaves, just beginning to change color, glimmering gold, silver, and bronze under the light of the full moon. Countless paper lanterns in every color, many in the shape of rabbits, illuminating walkways and windows. The sounds of music playing and people laughing drifting from dining rooms and backyards. The smell of fresh mooncakes mixing with the scent of noodles and roasted duck. In countless homes across China and many East Asian countries, these snapshots showcase just a few ways the Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated. This year, it’s on September 10.

The Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is held on the fifteenth day of the eighth month of the lunar calendar. Every country that celebrates it has their own unique traditions, but for everyone, it’s an opportunity to visit home, reconnect with friends and family, and appreciate their blessings.

If you and your family want to learn more about the Mid-Autumn Festival, a great place to start is to learn about the folktales associated with the holiday. “Mooncakes,” written by Loretta Seto and illustrated by Renné Benoit, is a picture book about a young girl who celebrates the holiday with her parents. While they eat mooncakes together, an iconic pastry shared on this day, the girl’s parents tell her the stories of Chang’e and her husband, Hou Yi; the Jade Rabbit; and the Woodcutter, Wu Gang.

The story of Chang’e, the Lady in the Moon, is particularly popular, and different versions exist. “The Shadow in the Moon: A Tale of the Mid-Autumn Festival” by Christina Matula and “Celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival” by Sanmu Tang are two other picture books with their own unique retellings of the story. As an extra bonus in both of these books, the authors share their own recipes for mooncakes.

Children who are beginning to read independently may enjoy “Autumn Festival Fun,” adapted from an episode of Nickelodeon’s “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness” television show by Tina Gallo. In the story, Po the panda must help Mr. Ping, the owner of a popular restaurant, make thousands of mooncakes in time for the celebration.

Intermediate readers who are comfortable with chapter books may appreciate “The Dreamweavers” by G.Z. Schmidt or “Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend” by Katie Zhao. In “The Dreamweavers,” a pair of twins must save their grandfather from the Emperor’s prison after the mooncakes which he meant to give to the prince as an offering are tainted by a mysterious darkness. In “Winnie Zeng Unleashes a Legend,” the titular protagonist, Winnie Zeng, accidently awakens both evil spirits and her own shamanic powers after using her family’s magical cookbook to make mooncakes for her school’s bake sale.

Anybody who loves young adult graphic novels will adore “Mooncakes” by Suzanne Walker and Wendy Xu. In the book, a young witch named Nova and her childhood crush, a werewolf named Tam, grapple with their magical responsibilities. As they prepare for the mid-autumn season, Nova and Tam must battle demons sent by a cult seeking to harness Tam’s powers and learn what makes their abilities special in order to succeed.

My favorite recommendation on this list is the adult fiction series “Heaven Official’s Blessing” by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu. The translated series follows the adventures of Xie Lian, crown prince of a kingdom that has since gone to ruin following his ascension to godhood. “Heaven Official’s Blessing” is part of two unique Chinese genres, danmei and xianxia. Danmei focuses on romance and relationships between men, and xianxia is historical fantasy, which focuses on ancient China, achieving immortality, and the crossover between the three realms of heaven, the ghost kingdom, and beyond. The Mid-Autumn Festival is featured prominently in the third volume, but the series is a wonderful place to start if you are interested in learning more about Chinese culture.

If all of these books have gotten you interested in hosting your own party inspired by the Mid-Autumn Festival, consider using the recipes in “Mooncakes + Milk Bread: Sweet & Savory Recipes Inspired by Chinese Bakeries” by Kristina Cho. It showcases a wide variety of crowd-pleasing snacks, drinks, and appetizers you can make for your guests.

No matter how you choose to enjoy the Mid-Autumn Festival, I hope this selection of books will deepen your appreciation of East Asian cultures. When you gaze upon the moon tonight, remember: anything well-loved deserves its own holiday.

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Dark Academia

Dark Academia

By Alex Urbanek, Collection Services Librarian

Ever since I was young, the start of school has meant that it is time for Fall to begin. However, since we’re still dealing with 90-degree days that refuse to let me wear comfy sweaters and drink hot cider, I have to get my autumnal fix from books. Over the last year or so I’ve found an interesting niche of books that have been labeled under the sub-genre “dark academia.” Dark academia originally began as an aesthetic, with photo collages, music, and fashion choices donning the label. Think, college library with stone and gargoyles on a rainy day, and sometimes murder or psychological horror mixed in. It is worth noting that while I adore this genre, it is not for everyone. I highly suggest checking trigger warnings before reading any dark academia or horror books to be sure you’ll enjoy the title.

One of my favorite authors, Erin Morgenstern, came out with the book “The Starless Sea,” a fairly whimsical adaptation of the genre. Zachary Ezra Rawlins was working on his graduate degree at a school in Vermont when he found an unlabeled book in the library. Within the book, he finds a story about an experience he had with a disappearing door as a child, as well as a key. He also finds a drawing of a bee, key, and sword, which lead him to a masquerade party in New York. All of this leads him to find an ancient, secret, underground library within its own realm.  As he explores this underground world, he learns about the societies of people who have risen and fallen trying to protect it, or hide it. Morgenstern does an incredible job of world-building and fully immersing you within this secret library’s world.

Truly Devious” by Maureen Johnson begins a 5-book young adult series, with the latest book slated to come out in December. Stevie Bell loves true crime: she listens to all of the true crime podcasts and is obsessed with coming to her own conclusions. When she gets accepted to Ellingham academy, Stevie is elated. Ellingham Academy is a one-of-a-kind school that was founded in the 1930s by truly-eccentric billionaire Albert Ellingham to create a space where children could learn through play. Unfortunately, within the school’s first few years, Albert’s wife and young daughter were kidnapped, a puzzle of a ransom note was found, one of the new students was found murdered, and, while his wife was returned home, they never found his daughter. Thus, began an investigation that, at the time of Stevie entering Ellingham, has still not been solved. Stevie is determined to solve the Ellingham murder and find out what truly happened during that first year.  Johnson makes sure that readers are on the ride with Stevie, discovering clues when she does and making their own assumptions before the final verdict is declared.

When an author gives up on a story, where does the unfinished tale go? A.J. Hackwith has created a world in which all unfinished stories end up in the Unwritten Wing, based in Hell. In “The Library of the Unwritten,” Claire, the head librarian of the Unwritten Wing, has been enjoying her death spent cataloging and keeping track of unwritten stories. She also must make sure that any characters who materialize out of their stories either make it back to their book or take up residence in her wing. They definitely cannot make it up to the human world to upset or confuse their would-be authors. Unfortunately, one of the characters does indeed gets out, and when Claire and her former-muse-turned-assistant Brevity follow him up to the land of the living, they end up learning about a much more disastrous lost book, the Devil’s Bible. Now they must race against time and the angel Ramiel to find and retrieve the Bible before either Heaven or a lesser demon get ahold of it.

If you’re wanting more books with spooky vibes, or something completely different, you can always get a personalized reading list from the Manhattan Public Library. Our librarians are excited to help you find the perfect book to get you ready for autumn and the impending holiday season.

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ReadMHK and Past K-State First Books

ReadMHK and Past K-State First Books

Jennifer Jordan, Adult Services Librarian

With classes started, swarms of people walking through campus, and Aggieville being in full swing, we get to welcome back K-State students. As the class of 2026 joins the Manhattan community, they also join their fellow classmates in reading this year’s K-State First Book, “The Unthinkable” by Amanda Ripley. Her book investigates the people who survive disasters and tragedies with stories of survivors and research of how the brain works.

K-State First Book’s success helped inspire Manhattan Public Library’s ReadMHK program, which begins Sept. 1st. ReadMHK will kick off by encouraging our patrons and the community to join K-State students in reading “The Unthinkable,” or other books about disaster preparedness and survival. Another option is to read a past K-State First Book. There are 13 books to choose from since K-State began doing this in 2010. To see the full list and learn more about their program, visit the K-State First Book website (

Last year’s choice, “The Marrow Thieves” by Cherie Dimaline, of the Métis Nation of Ontario, is a dystopian novel that follows Frenchie, a Métis protagonist. The world is nearly destroyed by global warming, and most of the population lost the ability to dream. Frenchie and other Indigenous people try to survive as they are hunted by the Recruiters. Deployed by the Canadian government, the Recruiters find and take Indigenous people, against their will, to residential schools to find a cure for the loss of dreaming by extracting their bone marrow. Dimaline highlights Indigenous identity and pride, the devastating effects of climate change, and the current and historical oppression of Indigenous people.

A major theme in “The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas, the 2018 choice, is the struggle for survival in the U.S., whether it be because of the color of your skin, where you live, or your socioeconomic background. The 16-year-old main character, Starr Carter, tries to balance her life where she lives and her life at the mostly-white, suburban prep school she attends. Starr goes to a party with her friend Kenya in their community, Garden Heights. After there are gun shots at the party, Starr and her childhood friend, Khalil, leave the area. Starr and her friend get pulled over because of a broken tail light, and Khalil is shot and killed by a white police officer. Starr faces many challenges when her father tries to protect her from the police and the weaponization of stereotypes against black people. Starr explores her identity and blackness, and deals with the grief and trauma of losing her friend.

Zeitoun” by Dave Eggers is not only another K-State First Book, chosen in 2011, but another read related to disaster preparedness. This non-fiction book reads like a novel and follows Abdulrahman Zeitoun, a U.S. citizen from Syria and small business owner in New Orleans. In 2005, Zeitoun’s wife and their four children left for Baton Rouge as Hurricane Katrina approached the city. He stayed behind to watch over the properties, job sites, and family home, and he ferried others to higher ground in a canoe. Eggers tells the story of Zeitoun during this natural disaster, his survival and perseverance through Hurricane Katrina’s devastation, Islamophobia, and the unjust imprisonment he and many other Black, Indigenous and People of Color faced in the weeks following the storm.

ReadMHK is a 9-month library reading program for adults, teens and kids (K+) aimed at building connections through books, shared experiences, and conversations within our community. Each month has a different topic with reading suggestions for all age groups. We will use these topics as a springboard for reading challenge activities, reading lists, podcasts featuring local citizens, and special events that bring our community together.

Everyone is invited to join the ReadMHK online reading challenge on Manhattan Public Library’s reading app, Beanstack. Visit to get started. The program is designed so individuals can choose how they would like to participate. By reading at least one book on the topic or finishing at least one activity option per month, participants have a chance to win a prize drawing of gift cards to local businesses every 3 months. Look for future library columns featuring more recommended reads for each topic.

by Cassie Wefald Cassie Wefald No Comments

New Adult Genre Showcase

New Adult Genre Showcase

By Gwendolyn Sibley, Librarian 1 Children’s services

In the past decade, there has been a rising genre catering to those whose high school years are behind them. The “new adult” genre aims to encompass the humor, emotional development, and realization of autonomy many 18-to-20-somethings discover. More importantly, the genre exists as a more grown-up young adult novel, and also reflects darker, spicier, and more introspective narratives. Discussed below are some examples for those who love the vibe of young adult content, but are hoping for an older lens.

Nora Sakavic’s 2013 “All for the Game” series may not be new, but certainly fits into the new adult genre. In the first book, “The Foxhole Court” Neil Josten has just entered college as a new striker for the Foxes, a fantasy sports team at Palmetto State University. Here he plays a game called Exy, an evolved version of lacrosse that takes place in an enclosed glass arena. However, Neil is not your average rookie freshman. He has a fake name, a backstory of half-truths, and is on the run from a mafia family who created the sport he loves.

The series emphasizes LGBTQ relationships throughout and presents a narrative of layered secrets, complex trauma, and frightening actions of morally gray characters. These actions include physical abuse, abandonment, use of drugs and alcohol, intimidation, and slang that is racist and homophobic. This content may not be suitable for all readers, but anyone with a love of layered mystery and sports will find a new set of books to binge.

A brand-new release is “The Stardust Thief” by Chelsea Abdullah. The book tells the tale of Loulie al-Nazari, a night merchant, whose primary trade is magic and secrets in a world inspired by the stories of the classic “1001 Arabian Nights.” Loulie and her jinn friend happen upon an undercover prince, Mazen, and upon saving his life are rewarded with a mission from the sultan himself. Abdullah provides an epic for the new adult that is rich with language and culture. It is challenging to find non-Eurocentric fantasy and magic, and this book will immerse the reader in the beauty and terror of storytelling.

This book has young adult pacing and suspense with characters that are in the early years of adulthood. Loulie is a driven and capable female lead that knows her worth and is not afraid to fight for herself. Anyone eager to balance their love of young adult stories with grown-up characters will find a gem in this book.

If you are feeling for more of an eccentric read, then Abbi Waxman’s “Adult Assembly Required” is a good place to start! Follow the interweaved lives of Laura (a newly-single but determined graduate school student), Nina (who loves books, vintage clothing, and obscure facts), Polly (an eclectic cupid who treats her pug to fine dining), and Bob (an impossibly handsome baseball/animal lover). These likeable housemates’ combined flaws and passions create a dynamic emotional journey in learning what it means to be an adult, especially in learning how to listen and take care of one’s own body and mind.

This book is Waxman’s fifth title. Even so, Waxman’s amusing writing allows for this book to be a stand-alone title. Check out the other books by the author if you like this one.

To finalize this showcase is a new adult’s own story. Immerse yourself in Amy Dong’s “Twenty-One Years Young,” series of personal essays that detail the coming-of-age musings of an almost adult. Dong presents raw and honest commentary on experiences new adults encounter in themselves or their friends: putting one’s health on the backburner to reach college goals, getting stolen from, experiencing the loss of a pet, and finally feeling the weight and glory of the expanse of life left for new adults. It is rare to find a book so deeply ingrained in life for the new adult age groups, but this rich storytelling does include depictions of depression, eating disorders, parent death and pet death. Dong’s dark humor surrounding such topics may not be right for every reader.

These are just a few titles that encompass the stories of being a new adult. More books can be found in both the library’s YA and Adult collection at the Manhattan Public Library. Feel free to ask a librarian for recommendations of more books for the new adult audience!