May 2015 Staff Picks

We can snow-dance all we like, but we can't guarantee a snowy winter. We're not always blessed with a long hot summer (and for some that is a blessing)! ...But somehow, we can always count on the topsy-turvey weather of spring (a.k.a mud-season) which often locks us indoors on weekends. For that fact, we are immensely grateful because it's one of life's simplest and greatest pleasures to curl up with a good book - for the whole weekend! Without further ado, check-out our favorite books to lose yourself in right now...

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Whispering Shadows (Rising Dragon) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476793641
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria Books - April 14th, 2015

Virgies Staff Pick, May 2015: This is the first novel in a suspenseful new trilogy. This mystery novel takes place in modern day China, where a retired expat journalist attempts to solve the murder mystery of a young American businessman.

Complicated characters and a love story lurk within the plot. Each character wrestles with their pasts, and the Chinese characters are influenced by the impact of Mao’s China on their pasts.

This story is nothing like Sendker’s, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats (one of my favorites) but I enjoyed this thrilling mystery / love story, which references the Cultural Revolution in China.

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Inside the O'Briens Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476717777
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Gallery Books - April 7th, 2015

Virgies Staff Pick, May 2015: If you enjoyed Lisa Genova’s novel Still Alice then I’m confident you will love her latest book, Inside the O’Brien’s.

This is a heart-breaking story of how a major illness affects a typical family of six. The O’Brien’s life is turned upside down when they are dealt the “ticking time-bomb” of Huntington’s, a neuro-degenerative disease.

When the father of this family learns he has the same fatal disease that his mother died of, he must tell his children, (who are in the prime of their lives), that they have a 50-50 chance of developing the disease and slowly dying of this incurable inheritance.

It becomes a game of Truth or Dare as the grown children choose to find out if they have the curse or not, and so the story goes as they support and comfont each other.

Lisa Genova, author and neuroscientist, skillfully explores Huntington’s Disease and its implications. The story is powerful and emotional. In my opinion, this is just as good a read as Genova’s Still Alice!

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The Given World Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476777931
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - April 14th, 2015

Virgies Staff Pick, May 2015: I was in my late teens during the Vietnam war era, watching all my friends being drafted into the war, chosen by the random draw of a number. Maybe that’s why I’m always drawn toward stories with a Vietnam war backdrop.

This story is about a young woman whose brother was MIA in South Vietnam. For 25 years she tried to find him … forget him … find herself … lose herself. Although she was not in the war, her life is definitely a casualty of it. This is not a feel-good story, but it is certainly thought-provoking!

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Our Souls at Night Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101875896
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - May 26th, 2015

Virgies Staff Pick, May 2015: This is Kent Haruf’s final book, completed last summer as he was dying. After his death in December, 2014, his wife began editing the final copy, which will be released in May, 2015. What a perfect “twilight of your years” story!

Addie and Louis are 70 year-old neighbors, who have each lost a spouse. Addie, who is lonely and wants someone to talk and confide her feelings to, makes a proposition to Louis; come and sleep with me throughout the nights. Louis accepts the proposition, which got the entire town of Holt, CO buzzing! What becomes of this proposition? Communication, connection and rejuvenation of spirit, at a time in life that could otherwise be very lonely! I LOVED this story!

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We Should All Be Feminists Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101911761
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - February 3rd, 2015

Virgies Staff Pick, May 2015: This very short book, which is a part of the author’s TED Talk took me only an hour to read, but still has me thinking! Written by renowned Nigerian novelist Adichie, the essay discusses how gender inequality is so ingrained in our culture, that we don’t always notice it. Nevertheless, this is a disservice to women as well as men.

Just read this! It is packed with wisdom and just might change the way you view the world!

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We Were Liars Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385741262
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Delacorte Press - May 13th, 2014

Shannon's Staff Pick, May 2015: “No one is a criminal. No one is an addict. No one is a failure.”

These are the three lies that Cadence begins her story with, and there are a many to come. Cadence is a Sinclair, a family of New England royalty that vacations on a private island off of Martha’s Vineyard each summer. The Sinclairs are wealthy, beautiful, poised and athletic.

Cadence reflects on blissful past summers spent with her cousins and Gat, a handsome, charismatic boy filled with passionate beliefs that Cadence begins to fall for. Life becomes imperfect when the Sinclairs return to their regular lives off the island. Family tensions build as Cadence’s grandfather ages, his three daughters fight over his enormous estate, and Cadence suffers an injury on the island that impairs her memory.

Cadence cannot remember what happened the night of her accident and her family won’t tell her. The Sinclairs return to the island a year later, and Cadence tries to piece together what happened the night of her accident, and why her family has changed so much.

I read this book in one afternoon and could not put it down. E. Lockhart builds such a perfectly dysfunctional family drama that keeps you reading as Cadence pieces together her memory.

Full of twists and turns, this book is truly thrilling and unforgettable for all readers.

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The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating Cover Image
ISBN: 9781565126060
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill - August 24th, 2010

Candacs's Staff Pick, May 2015: Elizabeth Bailey, the author, suffered from a neurological disorder that kept her bedridden for over a year. A friend dug up a wild violet, potted it and brought it to her friend with the hope it would cheer her up. Also in the pot was a small wild snail. The author woke one night, hearing what she thought was the sound of something eating and realized it was the snail eating paper.

This little snail became the focus of the author’s life. The snail would sleep during the day and wander at night, venturing out of the pot, but always making it back to the pot by morning. Worrying about the living quarters of the snail, a terrarium was built to house the snail and appropriate food provided. The snail grew, the days went by.

The author’s attention was absorbed by the snail and she became very grateful for the little things in life that we so often ignore. Eventually, the author was healed and she returned to her home. The snail was returned to the wild, and the author credited the snail with saving her life and providing her with peace and an appreciation for all that surrounds us.

This book is a gentle and heartwarming read. I had trouble putting it down wanting to know what adventure the snail would take next.

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One Hungry Heron Cover Image
By Carolyn Beck, Karen Patkau (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781554553617
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Fitzhenry & Whiteside - November 10th, 2014

Candace's Staff Pick, May 2015: This is a beautifully illustrated picture book that has poetry, counting, science and much more! It tells the story of a pond and the creatures found there. They are each described so artfully that you imagine them coming to life on the pages. A great book that will have the kids asking to read it over and over again.


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Bear and Duck Cover Image
By Katy Hudson, Katy Hudson (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780062320513
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - May 12th, 2015

Candace's Staff Pick, May 2015:  I loved this book! This is a sweet story about a bear and a duck that become great friends.

Bear was tired of his life of being chased by bees and sleeping so much. Bear decided that Duck’s life was much more exciting.

The illustrations are magical, especially the facial expressions. It is one of my favorites!

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Butcher's Crossing (New York Review Books Classics) Cover Image
By John Williams, Michelle Latiolais (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781590171981
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New York Review of Books - January 16th, 2007

Logan's Staff Pick, May 2015: Butcher’s Crossing is the story of Will Andrews, a student at Harvard who upon reading the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson drops out of school and heads west to fully immerse himself in the natural world. He winds up in the small town of Butcher’s Crossing and impulsively joins a group of men who are hunting an almost mythical herd of buffalo in the Colorado territory.

With incredibly rich descriptions and whole pages of easily quotable passages, Williams perfected the Western novel.

Perfect for fans of Cormac McCarthy or anyone interested in a literary description of 19th century Colorado.

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A Court of Thorns and Roses Cover Image
ISBN: 9781619634442
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books - May 5th, 2015

Chris's Staff Pick, May 2015: Sarah Maas has started another wonderful series called The Court of Thorns and Roses.

Feyre does everything in her power to keep her family together and fed, even hunting in the woods where no person should go. On her last hunting trip she kills a wolf, or what she thinks is a wolf. For this, she is dragged off to a magical realm, a place she has only heard stories about.

Feyre now has to live under the rule of Tamlin. She has no idea what the truth is for this place or whether the childish stories are false. She must test the boundaries if she ever wants to get back to her family and out of the Fae realm.

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The Book of Three (Chronicles of Prydain #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780805080483
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Henry Holt & Company - May 16th, 2006

Chris's Staff Pick, May 2015: This book was brought to my attention because of its 50th Anniversary Edition! This is the first book in the series of The Chronicles of Prydain.

Taran has been promoted to assistant a pig keeper, and is in charge of Henwin the pig. She is a very special pig that can see the future! When Henwin runs off, Taran must find her...

Since The Book of Three was first published in 1964, young readers have been enthralled by the adventures Taran and a cast of characters that includes Eilonwy, the strong-willed and sharp-tongued princess; Fflewddur Fflam, the hyperbole-prone bard; the ever-faithful Gurgi; and the curmudgeonly Doli--all of whom have become involved in an epic struggle between good and evil that shapes the fate of the legendary land of Prydain.

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The Wicked Will Rise (Dorothy Must Die) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062280701
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - March 31st, 2015

Chris's Staff Pick, May 2015: Amy thinks that she will never get out of OZ! She tried and failed to kill Dorothy, and is now on the run with her only ally, the mysterious Princess Ozma. She can’t find the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked, who she had set out to help. Amy now has to face who is truly wicked: Is it Dorothy? Or is she going down that same dark path?

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The Skunk: A Picture Book Cover Image
By Mac Barnett, Patrick McDonnell (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781596439665
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Roaring Brook Press - April 14th, 2015

Chris's Staff Pick, May 2015: This book is super cute! It’s the story of a skunk and a man in a tuxedo. The skunk follows the man though the city, the opera house, and a fairground, with some very funny episodes along the way. What can the skunk possibly want with this man?

This is the story of two very different creatures that become friends.