Library Staff Picks List - Newly Updated for December 2020
Here are my recommendations!
The Testing Series (The Testing, Independent Study, & Graduation Day) - This book is a dystopian novel that rivals The Hunger Games and Divergent Series, for me. The twists within the book are actually surprising and very enjoyable for those who like dystopian novels. The characters are very clever and make you want them to succeed. Their reactions to some of their situations feel like reactions that 'normal' people would have, which is very nice and makes the character's easier to relate to!
Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon - This series is one that cannot really fit into any specific genre, which is wonderful! It has historical fiction, romance, action, war, family, and much more. The main story follows Claire Beachamp Randall, a WWII combat nurse, who is accidentally thrown back into While there are many times that this series breaks your heart, there are just as many uplifting moments that make all of these books worth a read, or two. The books themselves are quite long (the shortest being over 600 pages and the longest over 1,000 pages), but they are well worth reading if you enjoy a little bit of every genre, and have a soft spot for romantic stories. (DISCLAIMER - This series has many adult themes in it and is directed at audiences 18+)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas (starring Jim Carrey) - This is a wonderful Christmas movie. If you grew up watching the original animated version of this movie, then you will love this live action movie! Because it is longer than the animated version, it is able to go deeper into the Grinchs' childhood and help you connect to that character more. It also has jokes that both adults and children will get a kick out of!
Anxious People by Fredrik Backman
This quirky story and collection of misfit characters had me smiling and laughing out loud. Backman is a master of writing delightful, insightful, and soulful characters. This is a story where kindness and compassion count so much in surviving each day. It reminds us that knowing a person's back story creates greater empathy and understanding in even the most unlikely of circumstances.
The Scent Keeper by Erica Bauermeister
The language in this novel was exquisite and transports the readers right into the story. I found the discussion and descriptions of scent fascinating. It provides a unique story, and something we can connect to at the same time. The writing is multi-layered and stimulating.
The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester
If you enjoy Historical Fiction this is a wonderful book to read. Set during the time of WWII, it is not your typical WWII novel. This gripping novel is told back and forth between two time periods, the other setting being New York City 2015. The Paris Seamstress is a life-affirming, engrossing novel about pursing your dreams and living up to your potential in the time we are given in life.
Becoming Better Grown Ups by Brad Montague
Brad Montague has written this book in a way that grabs your attention and makes you want to keep reading. We all have a lot of remembering and unlearning to do. And for those of us lucky enough to spend time around children, the opportunity to do so is great. The message of being present really resonated with me. One of the most heartwarming, joyful, creative, and hopeful books I’ve read in a long time.
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
In this highly creative sci-fi space epic, Mia joins a crew of women restoring old buildings across the galaxy, and together, they journey to a dangerous and illegal planet hoping to reunite Mia with her girlfriend, Grace.
Trickster edited by Matt Dembicki
A collection of trickster stories from several Native nations of North America. Each is illustrated in a different style as chosen by the teller to fit the story best. An excellent collection.
Advanced Love by Ari Seth Cohen
This book is so sweet and delightful! Couples who have been together for decades, and some who have only recently gotten together share their stories of finding and maintaining love into old age, with great style to boot. A quick and uplifting read.
Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier:
As of right now, Rebecca is my number one top favorite book! This classic novel is one of suspense, romance, and mystery which will keep you eagerly turning its pages from beginning to end. Rebecca tells the story of a lady's companion who stumbles into Maxim DeWinter, a fine gentleman from Cornwall, and replaces his recently deceased wife at his grand estate. Yet the new Mrs. DeWinter cannot seem to suppress the feeling that his past wife's shadow still haunts its corridors and mocks her efforts to fulfill the expectations that the late Rebecca DeWinter left behind. The novel fits into the gothic literature category, so be prepared to encounter some eerie content if you choose to read it. I fell in love with the descriptive prose and the romanticized setting of England in the late 19th century. Not to mention, the first-person perspective of the main character really allows readers to understand her every anxious thought, which made her appear genuine and relatable. I deeply enjoyed letting myself be swept away by the Cornwall coast and the intriguing story that Daphne DuMaurier tells!
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
I think The Help is a classic written in this generation. This novel tells an all-around heartwarming and humorous story, even as the characters confront the controversies of inequality in the 1960s. This is truly an informative masterpiece and I felt more educated about the injustices that Negro domestic help faced in the segregated societies of the south. I became deeply invested in the lives of each of the characters as they fought to reach their goals. The Help is definitely one of those “comfort” books I will reach for when I want to be transported back to summer and into a soul-stirring story.
The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides
The Silent Patient is a psychological thriller released in 2019, and holds a place at the top of my all-time-favorites list. If you’re looking for a book that draws you in from the first page and captivates you with every disturbing word, look no further. Alex Michaelides retells the Greek myth of Alcestis and Admetus in a modern light. I read The Silent Patient in two days, but I never saw the plot twist coming. The engrossing writing in this thriller molds an unsettling scene that evokes emotions I have never felt before. Each of the viewpoints throughout the brief but enthralling chapters are thrilling and critique the motivations of human nature. The Silent Patient is a stunning novel and I found it hard to believe that it marks Michaelides debut as an author. (explicit language)
Lovely War by Julie Berry
World War II is in full swing. To the Greek gods, it’s a chance to reminisce about the first World War. Aphrodite, along with Hades, Ares, and Apollo, recount the stories of four mortals. James, a young military recruit, and Hazel, an aspiring classical pianist, fight to keep in touch despite the distance the war has created between them. Aubrey, an African-American jazz musician in the U.S. Army, and Colette, a sultry singer with a tragic past, struggle to overcome the racial prejudice stacked against their relationship. The story is told, and despite the many roadblocks faced by the young couples, they prove that love will always triumph over war.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
It’s World War II, and everyone is trying to escape the inevitable tragedy that it brings. Joana, a Lithuanian nurse, is traveling with a group evacuating from Prussia. Florian, a young German restoration artist, and Polish fifteen-year-old Emilia meet up with the group in efforts to get out of the country in time. Meanwhile Alfred, a simple-minded Nazi recruit, is busy serving Germany aboard a refugee ship called the Wilhelm Gustoff in a nearby Baltic port. They all have a different secret. But, the way out seems to be the same: the Wilhelm Gustoff. This beautifully written story shows that no one can truly escape the bitterness of war.
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
A plague ravages the world, and there seems to be no end in sight. Cinder, a cyborg with a knack for mechanics, is blamed by her stepmother for her stepsister’s infection. As punishment, Cinder is volunteered to be a vaccine tester. When Cinder discovers that she is immune to the plague, she starts to uncover more about her mysterious past. She joins forces with the handsome Prince Kai and together they try to prevent a global takeover by the ruler of Luna, Queen Levana. This retelling of the classic Cinderella story (with an obvious sci-fi twist) is the perfect mix of adventure, mystery, magic, and romance. And as an added bonus…… it’s another legendary story about a global pandemic.
Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry
Christmas is here and Mr. Willowby's tree has arrived. There's just one big problem: The tree is too tall for his parlor! He cuts off the top so it will fit, and soon the top of that tree is passed along again and again to bring holiday cheer to all the animals in the forest.
A Red Bird Christmas by Fannie Flagg
YA & Adult
After a startling diagnosis from his doctor, Oswald T. Campbell takes the advise from his doctor and leaves behind the cold and damp of the oncoming Chicago winter to spend what he believes will be his last Christmas for a town deep in the southernmost part of Alabama. Will Oswald allow the town and a little red bird named Jack to help him through?
A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. This book is full of humor and human interaction which influences the Count.
Perhaps you’ll consider book as a user’s guide for your own quarantine!
Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson (Book one of five in a series)
YA & Juv Fiction
This adventure takes listeners on a journey from a harsh orphanage in old England to a treacherous sea in a decrepit old tub. Aboard the Never Land is a trunk that holds a magical substance with the power to change the fate of the world - just a sprinkle and wounds heal; just a dusting and people can fly. Towering seas and a violent storm are the backdrop for battles at sea. Bone-crushing waves eventually land Peter and Molly on Mollusk Island - where the action really heats up.
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear (16 book series)
Maisie Dobbs got her start as a maid in an aristocratic London household when she was thirteen. Her employer, suffragette Lady Rowan Compton, soon became her patron, taking the remarkably bright youngster under her wing. Lady Rowan's friend, Maurice Blanche, often retained as an investigator by the European elite, recognized Maisie’s intuitive gifts and helped her earn admission to the prestigious Girton College in Cambridge, where Maisie planned to complete her education but is drawn into World War 1 as a nurse. Remarkably well written you will be anxious to read the next book to see where her life as a female detective take her next.
Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
The improbable, intimate account drawn from the boys own journals, of how nine working-class boys, sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers, from the American West showed the world at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin what true grit really meant.
Restart by Gordan Korman
The athletic bully of the “nerds” falls off a roof and suffers amnesia. How will the nerds respond when he is interested in joining their group? How will his previous friends respond? Will he have any friends at all?
How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson
Steven Johnson explores the history of innovation over centuries. Filled with surprising stories of accidental genius and brilliant mistakes, he investigates the secret history behind the everyday objects of contemporary life.
The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson
Steven Johnson writes about the race in 1854’s London to discover the spread and treatment for the terrifying disease of cholera. A physician and a local curate are spurred to action-and ultimately solve the most pressing medical riddle of their time. Johnson illuminates the intertwined histories of the spread of disease, the rise of cities, and the nature of scientific inquiry, offering both a riveting history and a powerful explanation of how it has shaped the world we live in.
Bonnie’s movie Recommendations
Woman in Gold
The remarkable true story of one woman's journey to reclaim her heritage and seek justice for what happened to her family sixty years after she fled Vienna during World War ll. Together with her inexperienced but plucky young lawyer Randy Schoenberg (Ryan Reynolds), she embarks upon a major battle which takes them all the way to the heart of the Austrian establishment and the U.S. Supreme Court, and forces her to confront difficult truths about the past along the way.
Bridge of Spies
A dramatic thriller set against the backdrop of a series of historic events. James Donovan (Tom Hanks) is a Brooklyn lawyer who finds himself thrust into the center of the Cold War when the CIA sends him on a nearly impossible mission to negotiate the release of a captured American U-2 pilot within the communist East German Democratic Republic. High stakes between the GDR, Russia, and the US power a story that captures the essence of a man who risked everything, vividly bringing his personal journey to life.