I love books set in libraries, bookshops, or publishing houses. If a book is about an author, editor, or even narrator, count me in. The Woman in the Library and Elodie’s Library of Second Chances definitely called to me. One a mystery, the other an uplifting story of friendship and new beginnings, they were everything I was hoping for.

The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill, Katherine Littrell (Narrator)

Published June 7th 2022 by Poisoned Pen Press, Dreamscape Media, LLC

5 Stars (Book): ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 Stars (audiobook): ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Woman in the Library was a very interesting story, not at all what I was expecting. Four strangers are in the Boston Public Library, when they hear a scream. Pulled together by the murder of a woman, they decide they need to solve the mystery. This is a story within a story that had me guessing all the way through. Hannah Tigone is an Australian author living in Sydney, writing about another Australian author Freddie (Winifred), recipient of a fellowship which has her living in Boston for a year, in a pretty snazzy apartment. She is in the Boston Public Library working on a novel, when she finds herself sharing a table with three others. She doesn’t know the, so gives them nicknames: Freud Girl, Heroic Chin and Handsome Man. After the murder, they become friends, helping each other with their work and trying to solve the mystery. There is also Leo, a character that is emailing Hannah and critiquing her novel. Leo is also a recipient of the same fellowship and he lives next door to Freddie. Wait a minute, who is real, who are the fictional characters???

This novel had my head spinning, yet I couldn’t stop reading and listening. Freddie is the narrator of this story and the character that I related to the most. I enjoyed hearing about her writing process, beginning with the characters and getting to know them, as well as assigning behaviours to them. The literary device of using a book within a book was so well done, that at times I wasn’t sure which storyline was real, or were either of them? This is a book you just have to read to enjoy all the nuances and mystery. Bravo to Sulari Gentill. I listened to the audiobook narrated by Katherine Littrell. Although she does a good job with the story, this is a book that I think would have benefitted from having both a male and female narrator.

Elodie’s Library of Second Chances by Rebecca Raisin, Ruby Thomas (Narrator)

Published August 4th 2022 by HQ, HQ Digital

5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I loved this uplifting story about life, people, books, libraries and being non-judgmental. Ellie Astor is the face of her family’s publishing business. She has a beautiful apartment next to her brother, and a high paying job grooming her to take over the reins of the company when her parents retire. The problem is that she is miserable. She wants the company to become a little philanthropic, but her mother won’t listen to her, at all. She has had enough, so when she sees a help wanted add for a librarian in the small town of Willow Grove, she applies. They need someone to overhaul the library, increase membership by over 500 patrons and drag the library into the present. What can she lose, she applies under her real name, Elodie Halifax, and gets the job. Once she arrives in Willow Grove, she meets her surly fellow librarian, a handsome newspaper reporter and a motley crew of citizens that are on the fringe of village life. Can Elodie save the library as well as get the village to stop judging people and look beyond the rumours and appearances.

I’m going to say it again, I loved this story. Perhaps it is because Alfie, a young boy who is home schooled because he is teased and bullied terribly at school, reminded me so much of my grandson. I loved how Elodie bonded with him and his mother and helped him to find his voice and a friend. The characters in the book were so realistic. It is unfortunate, but there are so many marginalized people in our societies, and they are snubbed and ignored. Elodie brought people together to borrow human beings and hear their stories. I wanted to hop on a plane and go to Willow Grove to hear their stories in person. I book that I highly recommend! The audiobook is narrated by Ruby Thomas and she does a good job with this story. Her voice is wonderful and easy to listen to. She uses expression to show the emotion of the story. I did a read/listen and both formats were wonderful and I recommend either of them depending on your preference.