Past Staff Picks 2013 (July - December)
Looking for the latest staff picks? Check-out our 2014 Staff Picks...
Wendy's Staff Pick (December 2013): Vedge has me drooling with its fabulous array of cutting edge vegetarian recipes. Vedge is a trendy restaurant in Philidelphia. Their cookbook features unique flavor combinations: roasted cauliflower with kimchee cream, mushroom cioppino, and for desert…vegan chocolate filled beignets. I can’t wait to go home and start cooking.
Wendy's Staff Pick (December 2013): Longbourn is a pitch-perfect retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from a servant’s perspective. Longbourn is full of romance, intrigue, and rich historical detail. A great vacation read that you won’t be able to put down; it might be your favorite read of the year.
Wendy's Staff Pick (December 2013): Hold onto your hat for this amazing thriller all about covert ops and the psychology of those who go undercover. Bob Shacochis is a National Book Award winner. His writing is sharp, informed by his years spent in Haiti covering the fall of Duvalier, and his year spent embedded there in the Special Forces. This book follows its characters from Croatia in WWII, through Bosnia, Haiti, and the beginnings of the war on terror. A gripping read for fans of John Le Carre or Steig Larrson.
Wendy's Staff Pick (December 2013): Burial Rites is a novel based on the true story of Norway’s last woman to be publicly beheaded; it happened in the early 19th century. This sounds like the makings of a brutal story, but it’s not. Kent takes us into the mind of the accused woman…the wrongly accused woman. She also paints a wonderful portrait of life in Iceland at that time.
Dagny's Staff Pick (December 2013): After living in Steamboat for 12 years, I had no idea the Steamboat Spring was a natural geyser or that the Utes used to soak in the Sulphur Spring for its healing powers. This book is a history of the founding of Steamboat and the evolution of the town since the settlement of the white man. Beyond the history, the book examines the importance of each spring we still have, the ones we’ve lost and why we should still care in this modern day and age. Perfect gift for anyone wanting to know Steamboat’s history or anyone interested in mineral springs.
Dagny's Staff Pick (December 2013): This is a great kids book for the holidays that shows us the more we follow the path of who we really are the more we can affect people in a positive way. Mr. Tiger lives in a society where everyone is very proper, wears clothes and walks upright, but Mr. Tiger has a wild side. Once he finally explores who he really is, the other townspeople join him in relaxing and acting more like themselves.
Virgie's Staff Pick (December 2013): I have to admit, I am a huge Nancy Tillman fan, and her latest book just reinforces the power of her message for young kids. This book is simple … tender … heartwarming … and repeats the message “you are special.” I became lost in the gorgeous illustrations, each page making my smile brighter. Take a few minutes to peruse this book, and then ask yourself if this is just the perfect gift for that someone special in your life! Check out my other favorite Nancy Tillman books; Wherever You Are: My Love Will Find You and On The Night You Were Born.
Virgie's Staff Pick (December 2013): This is a great story for those little girls who love pink, princesses and like to SHINE in the spotlight. Geraldine may not look like a princess, but inside she knows that she is a fairy princess, and she can do anything! This is a delightful story, with an irresistible sparkly cover, told by Julie Andrews and her daughter.
Virgie's Staff Pick (December 2013): I’m sure you’ve heard Malala’s story in the press; a 15 year old girl from Pakistan, who was shot in the head by the Taliban because she campaigned for the rights of girls to proper education in Pakistan. This book provides much more than the headline story. It sets a backdrop for the headline event, beginning with Malala’s birth and continuing beyond the tragedy. I learned what it was like to live under the de facto rule of terrorists. It was chilling. I recommend this inspirational read, for everyone, but particularly for women and young girls. It made me appreciate my life as an American woman, and caused me to be thoughtful concerning my complaints about life in general! In my opinion, it is a must-read!
Kim's Staff Pick (December 2013): Chris Colfer wrote the film and the novel. The story of Carson Phillips, a self-righteous teen that knows exactly how he wants his life after high school to end up – far away from the small town of Clover, a “place where the pockets are small and the minds even smaller.” Parents and younger teens may shy away from the “f-bomb,” but Colfer certainly does not. That said, I would highly recommend this book to fans of Chris Colfer’s character on Glee, as well as older teens and adults looking for a fast, fun, and thoughtful read.
Kim's Staff Pick (December 2013): “One of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read. It’s truly moving, eye-opening, incredibly vivid.”—Jon Stewart, The Daily Show That really sums it up. Whether Autism has touched your life or not, this book will open you up. If Autism has touched your life this book is an absolute must Read!
Kim's Staff Pick (December 2013): Nobody could blame you for thinking that the Circle in Dave Eggers’ new novel is just another name for Google – or Apple, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. It’s not, Eggers claims – though that’s all but impossible to believe, given the similarities. Instead, the Circle is a mega-corporation that has, in the near-future world of The Circle, devoured all of the above – it is not one of these companies, but all of them. And, through this corporate consumption, the Circle has gobbled up all of us, along with its competitors. The Circle is the first attempt I’ve seen in contemporary literature that paints, in vivid detail, the consequences of living in a world that shuns the ideal of privacy. Unlike its predecessor, George Orwell’s 1984, however, it explores the path to tyranny rather than a world consumed by it, far beyond the point of no return. But its world is not just similar to our own – it is our world, if to a less extreme degree. It makes its point – that total transparency is tyranny – without question, and with dire consequences for its characters.
Ron's Staff Pick (December 2013): A Classic Craig Johnson story, and will become a classic Christmas story. A World War 2 B-25 airplane blasts through a horrific snowstorm on a Christmas Eve mission of mercy. Told in the present day, the story takes us back to Walt Longmire’s first days as sheriff. A warm, fuzzy, suspenseful tale, something for everyone. The classic Christmas story: a World War 2 B-25 airplane blasts through a horrific snowstorm on a Christmas Eve mission of mercy.
Ron's Staff Pick (December 2013): This first novel for this talented writer is a rich, luscious memoir of the fictional marquis Jean-Marie d’Aumant, who pens his story as he awaits the mob of the French Revolution that will spell the end of his life. His life story spans most of eighteenth century France, the last days of privilege for the aristocracy. Jean-Marie’s life has been characterized by a compulsive exploration of taste, from beetles to snake to wolf heart and women. His legacy is a truly unique collection of recipes and a tender and sometimes sad love story.
Ron's Staff Pick (December 2013): In 1983, rainfall and an epic snowmelt raised the water behind the Glen Canyon Dam to record levels at the same time as it became clear that the Dam was failing. The only solution – a massive increase in the release of water downstream, doubling then tripling the flows of the Colorado through the Grand Canyon. The result was catastrophic for rafting trips already in the canyon, and the Emerald Mile tells that story, alongside that of three daring young men who defied law, nature, and odds and launched a dory – called the Emerald Mile – into the torrent to see if they could set the record for the fastest trip through the canyon. The story of this epic ride would have made a good book on its own, but it’s greatly enriched by Fedarko’s recounting of the history of the river and how humans have tried to tame it. So not only do you get a great adventure story, one that reads as fast as the flows of the river that month in 1983, but you get a fantastic history, too.
Claire's Staff Pick (December 2013): Sprout has spent her entire life as an egg-laying hen, and just can’t lay another. Determined to escape the coop and hatch her own chick, Sprout challenges the hierarchy of the barnyard and sets out to fulfill her dreams. This is a delightful tale of a mother’s loyalty, courage and perseverance against the “way things are.” I loved thinking about life from the perspective of a tired old hen looking to awaken her true life’s purpose.
Claire's Staff Pick (December 2013): This is a truly fantastic story, brimming with complex characters and relationships, and told with captivating style. Saleem Sinai is born at the moment of India’s independence, along with one thousand other children born within the midnight hour, and endowed with magical powers. Through alternations of the present moment and flash-backs to the past, Rushdie connects the struggles of post-colonial independence in this Booker Prize winning classic. It is a difficult and demanding story, but worth every effort.
Claire's Staff Pick (December 2013): Some dogs make us laugh, some teach us patience, some console us through the trials of life… Mary Oliver’s poems speak to each of these relationships in this collection of “Dog Songs.”
Simple, hilarious, touching! A Thousand Mornings By Mary Oliver “Every spring I hear the thrush singing in the glowing woods he is only passing through. His voice is deep, Then he lifts it until it seems to fall from the sky. I am thrilled. I am grateful.” Mary Olivers’ words sing to the soul, tell stories of the ocean and the forest creatures, of dogs and childhood and love. These are simple poems that make your heart smile, and inspire us to slow down and notice the magic of life.
Chris's Staff Pick (November 2013): This is the final installment in the Divergent Series. I loved this series!! I loved the morals and the dilemmas of the characters: not who is evil but which is the lesser of two evils. This book made me feel an array of emotion as I read it. The ups and downs of Tris and Four. It has a heartfelt ending, albeit not all that happy. It is a must read!!!
Chris's Staff Pick (November 2013): When Clay is getting to the desperation point of finding a job, he just happens to walk by the 24 hour bookstore. With very few questions asked by Mr. Penumbra, he is given the job of “bookseller...” sort of. Not all the books are for sale, some are just for lone. Clay then finds that he has to solve the mystery of the Unbroken Spine too using modern technology, such as searching Google for anything and everything… Or can you? This book is so much fun; the characters are so real and life-like; and their quest just makes the book one that I couldn’t put down.
Chris's Staff Pick (November 2013): How far would you go to become a prince? When Sage is picked up off the street for steeling and forced to go with Connor, he finds out Connor has a grand scheme to make one the orphan boys prince of Carthya. This is fast book, with an ending that says must read on to books number two!
Chris's Staff Pick (November 2013): The Run Away King is the second book in The Ascendance Trilogy. Jennifer continues the story of the “false prince” but now there are pirates and action and more action. I just love the characters, and the voice of “Sage”. This really is a great middle reader series. Book three comes out in February and I can’t wait to read it too.
Chris's Staff Pick (November 2013): I just love Sandra Dallas’ books. She puts so much of Colorado into them that they just fly by and you cannot put them down. Though she does tackle some very hard subjects, and this is one of them, she puts some much heart and feeling into them that they are great reads. Fallen Women is a story that is so much more than prostitution, it’s the story of sisterhood and friendship that women in hard times build.
Chris's Staff Pick (November 2013): The Outcasts is the story of Lucinda Carter who seeks a new life away from prostitution and Nate Cannon who is Texas policemen looking to help tame the wild Texas countryside. Along the way there is a hunt for treasure in the bayou. Kathleen Kent writes a wonder cast of charters all so full of life and good old fashioned western values.
Kim's Staff Pick (November 2013): King revisits The Shining’s primary victim, young Danny Torrance, with gleeful, assured mastery in the sequel, Doctor Sleep.
It’s not just as good as The Shining; it’s far better. The Shining was a young writer’s work, written when King spent a lot of his time in an alcoholic haze (not unlike Danny’s dad, the book’s protagonist-villain). It was fraught with youthful energy and sailed from King’s imagination on aKing has been sober since the late 1980s, and like its writer and its protagonist, a grown-up Dan Torrance, Doctor Sleep displays grounding and maturity.
It also goes to a deeper level of horror that, if not quite as gory and jump-out-at-you scary, carries the far more disturbing notion that the world’s most terrifying things aren’t in Room 217 or a bloody elevator — they’re traveling beside you on the turnpike.
Kim's Staff Pick (November 2013): I should caveat that after meeting Mr. Dubus at Literary Sojourn I do have a huge crush. He is smart, funny, attractive and loves independent bookstores! His publisher calls Dirty Love a collection of novellas and they’re fabulous. Tenuously tied together by common characters, the longest stories are the bookends. Depressing? Of course. At times gritty? Definitely. And, yes, there’s a lot of sex. But if you enjoy Dubus, you’ll enjoy Dirty Love because his writing is as gorgeous as ever. And his insight into damaged relationships and real people begging for love is spot on.
Kim's Staff Pick (November 2013): Nelson DeMille wrote The Quest nearly 40 years ago. It has been fully rewritten, showcasing this masterful author’s historical knowledge, understanding of the human psyche, and matchless entertainment skills. The novel crosses genres with its spiritualism, wit, adventure and romance, not to mention gripping action. Full of DeMille’s characteristic —- and unparalleled —- humor and intelligence, The Quest delivers. Boy, does it deliver.
Dagny's Staff Pick (November 2013): While this is a juvenile fiction story, it’s just as entertaining for adults. The story revolves around a little girl, Sophie, who is saved at sea after the ship she was traveling on sinks. Her mother is lost and presumed dead. The girl retains memories of her mother and believes she is still alive even though everyone tells her she is too young to remember. Her ward, a quirky man who believes in giving children freedom to explore and express his or herself in any way, helps her on her journey to track down her mother. Their motto: “Never ignore a possible.”
Dagny's Staff Pick (November 2013):No matter your religion or if you even believe in god, this book is worth a read. Through the eyes of God, we get a better look at ourselves and our basic human emotions. Lest you think this book too serious, take the vignette ‘God wrote a fan letter,’ or ‘God went to beauty school.’ This book will have you laughing and pondering the simple beauty of birds singing, why we take desk jobs and the great importance of taking a break from life.
Emily K's Pick (November 2013): A mystery, a treasure hunt, and a love story: this book is so cool! Undergrad student Jen picks up an old, worn book left behind by a stranger in the library. The book, Ship of Theseus by V.M. Straka, has been heavily annotated, so Jen responds with her own margin notes and leaves the book again for the stranger. So begins the intellectual partnership and romance of Jen and Eric, as they continue to communicate—without meeting—through this old book. As the third reader, you’ll have to read the actual mystery/adventure story by V.M. Straka, and then follow Jen and Eric’s annotations of their readings. Tucked inside are various ephemera—memos, letters, postcards—that are all part of the story. View all of Emily K's Picks...
Emily K's Pick (November 2013): Before you see the movie: read the book! Originally published in 1853, this is the memoir of Solomon Northup, a black man born free in New York. In 1841, a band of criminals who profited from the “speculation of human flesh” drugged, captured, and sold Northup into slavery in Louisiana. Separated from his wife and children, Northup was dehumanized and brutalized, until his rescue in 1852. Solomon Northup’s recollections are important and powerful, and they remain relevant 160 years later. View all of Emily K's Picks...
Emily K's Pick (November 2013): What a brilliant collection of short stories. Humorous and honest, dark and suspenseful: these are the stories of fallen men—gamblers and carousers, con-men, cheaters, and tweakers—all loosely connected by the place of Spokane, Washington. One of my favorite stories—“Virgo”—is about a washed-up newspaper columnist who, in order to torment his ex-girlfriend, tinkers with her horoscope in the newspaper each day. View all of Emily K's Picks...
Emily K's Pick (November 2013): This haunting, gorgeous novel chronicles the dangerous, passionate marriage of Serena and John Pemberton. During the Great Depression, they move to Western North Carolina to build their lumber empire. This book is about the lives the Pembertons destroy to claw their way to the top, hand in hand—as they battle the burgeoning National Park Service and struggle to start a family—until their marriage reaches its shocking crescendo. It’s about destruction, power, sacrifice, and love. View all of Emily K's Picks...
Ron's Staff Pick (October 2013): Memorial Hospital, “Baptist” to native New Orleans residents, survived the near disastrous hurricane of 1927, and identified all kinds of improvements it should make to survive another. Over the years, memory and will faded, and almost none of those improvements were made. When Katrina struck the loyal hospital staff found itself without electricity, no plan for evacuation of patients, no air conditioning, overflowing toilets, tired, hungry, and improvising to care for its sickest patients. When evacuation of terminal patients looked impossible, the physicians administered medicines that ended their lives. Was this merciful; or murder? Sheri Fink’s thoroughly researched account of those five days, and the two years that followed, is a provocative, sobering read. Are there actions one shouldn’t do even in the most extraordinary circumstances?
Ron's Staff Pick (October2013): This is the best book I’ve read in years. Hands down best. Years ago, Alma’s beloved sister Ruby, was killed, along with 39 others, in an explosion at the Arbor Dance Hall. No one has ever been brought to account, but Grandma Alma knows who is to blame, and now she tells her grandson. Woodrell takes a lifelong mystery, and his cast of extraordinary characters, and writes an absolutely stunning story. Rich, complex, gritty, earthy and real – all things one expects from Woodrell – this book has some of the most gorgeous writing I’ve read in years. This book deserves awards. This review is mine.
Chris's Staff Pick (October 2013): This was such a touching story and written so well for children. There are so many things that happened to so many people in WWII that it’s wonderful to read a story that has a happy ending. Leon was able to describe the things he had to survive, without it being too graphic, but still holding onto all the emotions of the events. This is something that shouldn’t be swept under the rug and if it never happened. This really is a must read for everyone!!
Chris's Staff Pick (October 2013): The next chapter in the story of Loren Legacies continues with some new members, and some returning ones. The Garde have finally had a moment to regroup, and then a new member shows up, Five. Now are they ready to defeat the Mogadorians? Pittacus, who is he? Just the author or does he have a bigger part to play in the story?
Chris's Staff Pick (October 2013): When Katerina’s family moves to America, her whole world is changed. She is old enough to realize that her father’s dreams may never come true and that he may have to work in the mine forever. But her heart is set on helping him. She must learn along the way who she really is and what strength she has. This is a great coming of age story for middle school girls.
Chris's Staff Pick (October 2013): Trinity has no idea how much her world is about to change when her grandfather brings home a gift for her. What would you do with a dragon egg and two boys who are trying to tell you what to do with that egg? Trinity now has to choose between them and the future of the world as we know it. This is a fast paced, fun action story.
Virgie's Staff Pick (October 2013): Dr Orion Oh ponders the question, “Who among us is immune from family pain?” Yet, his family is dealing with an abundance of issues; racism, homophobia, child abuse, parental regrets, religious turmoil, and pedophylia, to name a few! Author Wally Lamb (one of my favorites) tells the story in such a realistic way that I felt I was in the midst of the family, wanting to “weigh in” with my own opinions. As I neared the end of the book I took my time reading because I just did not want it to end! I highly recommend this captivating novel! Buckle yourself into your seat for this new Wally Lamb book, out in November!
Kim's Staff Pick (October 2013): This Pulitzer Prize Finalist will take you to the quirky dangerous swamps of Florida. Funny, sorrowful, and engrossing... Hardly a page goes by without the reader marveling. An adventure story; a tale of family; a testament to resilience and an account of America’s homogenization, Swamplandia! is an accomplished and affecting debut. The 13 year old heroine will be with you long after you finish this book.
Kim's Staff Pick (October 2013): Gone Girl meets Before I Go To Sleep in this riveting psychological thriller about a grieving mother who finds out 8 years after her daughter’s death that her child may still be alive and her beloved husband may have had something to do with it.
Like Gone Girl I don’t want to give anything away because the twist, turns, and motives will surprise you. Stayed up late finishing this one!
Great Suspense, Fun, Fast Read!
Dagny's Staff Pick (October 2013): If you are a dog lover, this collection of poems will take you through every emotion a dog owner or lover feels. From the companionship to the pain that comes from experiencing your best friend pass, Mary Oliver captures the very essence of why dog is woman’s best friend.
Dagny's Staff Pick (October 2013): From a waitress to world traveler and journalist, Amanda, like most young women, believes that the horrors of war happen to other people. That is until she and her ex-fling Nigel are kidnapped by Somalis and held for ransom. The fear and terror that they live with are almost unimaginable. This story offers a glimpse into the strength of the human spirit and lets us know that hope really can carry us through anything.
Dagny's Staff Pick (October 2013): Despite all the reports and investigations into the thirteen-year-old girl raped by Roman Polanski, this is the first one told by the victim herself. Samantha recounts the night of the rape and how that continues to affect her life to this day. A well told account of the after-effects of rape, how we chose to view ourselves and how the system has failed victims of rape, Samantha, who now lives a happy quiet life with her family, shows understanding for Polanski and the decisions he made. She does so not as a victim making excuses, but as a human being who is able to see both sides of the story including how Polanski was unfairly persecuted for his crime.
Dagny's Staff Pick (October 2013): This memoir, told through the life of Jesmyn Ward, examines why men in small town DeLisle, Mississippi are dying at such a young age. Through the loss of five friends and family members in four years, Jesmyn points to a society that sets these men up to fail. Looking at family relationships, how history plays into the futures of young men growing up poor, she realizes that society is literally killing wonderful poor black men.
Virgie's Staff Pick (September 2013): This is a delightful story about Billy, a second grader who is spunky, but also worries a lot! In this story you get to meet Billy’s family, his best friend and his new 2nd grade teacher. Watch Billy as he learns how to become more mature, deal with pushy classmates, and find his own special talents during 2nd grade. There are many times throughout the book that I think you will laugh out-loud! This is the perfect book for beginning readers who want to read a good chapter book.
Virgie's Staff Pick (September 2013): Newbery Award winner Sharon Creech’s new novel tells the heartwarming story of a young couple who discover a boy fast asleep on their front steps. This boy is old enough to talk but won’t … or maybe can’t , so John and Marta do not know what to do with him. Days go by and no one comes for the boy or even indicates that they have lost a child. Soon enough this trio slowly bonds as a family and I began to hope that no one will come to claim the boy. I believe the suspense and kindness in this story will appeal to readers of all ages. The short chapters also make this a perfect read for reluctant readers.
Virgie's Staff Pick (September 2013): I have often wondered what it is like in the mind of a person with Schizophrenia. Author Kristina Morgan takes us inside her head to experience the chaos and fragmented thinking she endured. Written in the form of a private journal-like entry, she leads us from her childhood to her teen years when hallucinations began to hijack her mind and into adulthood where she began abusing alcohol to temper the punishing voices that only she could hear. After reading this brutally honest memoir, I can only begin to understand this affliction. It is amazing how one can survive day after day, unable to distinguish between one’s inner nightmares and the everyday realities that most of us take for granted. The resources and support systems she learned to use have helped her to find relative peace and stability while managing her chronic illness. Very interesting!
Virgie's Staff Pick (September 2013):WOW! What a story! Pulitzer Prize Winner Jhumpa Lahiri does it again! The story takes place during the late 1960’s in India, a country torn by revolution. I thought hard about the statement: “Those who don’t stand up to a problem, contribute to it.” It seems that there are many strategies to consider, but it all comes down to perspective. The characters are strong, and all connected, but I loved following Gauri, a young woman whose role changed from wife to widow, sister-in-law to wife, and mother to childless woman. I learned a lot about the history of India. If this is your interest, you might also want to read Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Catherine Boo, which refers to current day India. Both books are excellent!
Chris's Staff Pick (September 2013): The journey continues for Luca and Isolde, as they come to face with another challenge. This time his name is Johann and he brings an army of children with him on the way to the Holy Land. Isolde now must choose between the two boys and follow her heart. One of the young men may lead her down a dark path...
Chris's Staff Pick (September 2013): The adventure of the Fair Assassins continues, this time with Sybellas’ story. She has a much darker past than some of her Assassin sisters. Sybella must overcome her dark ghosts and help keep the Duchess safe. But she must also learn to love... The Fair Assassins Series is based on real people and events in French history. The second book is just as much a page turner as the first one.
Chris's Staff Pick (September 2013): Emil, a strong young bureaucrat in Stockholm, has fallen for the latest craze: fortune telling. He finds himself in Mrs. Sofia Sparrow's gaming house. She reads him his Octavo and this sends him on his quest to find eight people that will change his future. But this may also change the fate of Europe and the French Revolution! What a great read for those who enjoy history with a twist!!
Chris's Staff Pick (September 2013): Nora’s world is turned upside down when she takes a walk in the woods behind her rented cabin and finds herself in a beautiful world where everything is perfect. But things change fast when magic is involved. Nora must learn to trust this new world and look deeper into herself to make the leap home. If you liked Discovery of Witches, this is the next must read! Emily Croy Barker is a wonderful debut author. I can’t wait to read more by her.
Chris's Staff Pick (September 2013):This is the second book in Grisha Triolgy. Alina in on the run, having overcome the most powerful Darkling. She must learn what the value of life really is and when power is not enough, or when it's too much to save the ones that you love. I loved this book as much as the first one. Leigh Bardugo, the author, gives a wonderul description of the land so that you feel as you are right there.
Chris's Staff Pick (September 2013): The Tudors have finally made it the throne and two houses come together, to bring England peace in the series of the Cousins War, or the War of the Roses. The author does a wonderful job of taking you to that time and place so far back in history. The tale of the Tudors is dark and full of lies and deceit, but make great reading.
Dagny's Staff Pick (September 2013): Indira was one of my professors at Naropa University when I was working towards my MFA. Her kind spirit and gentle way of looking at the world translates into her new book, ‘As Sweet As Honey.’ Indira takes a leap by making the narrator of the story a young girl who isn’t present for much of the story she tells. Her Aunt Meterling is the focus of the story. A tall woman, out of place all her life, finally finds love. During her wedding ceremony her husband dies. Through the grieving process, Meterling falls in love with her deceased husband’s cousin. Together they begin the life together Meterling always thought she wanted, only to find out that sometimes home is in the comfort of what we already know. This is a light read, perfect for a rainy day, curled in front of the fire eating good food.
Dagny's Staff Pick (September 2013): This short story collection celebrates the bond between man/woman and dog and how time and again dogs save our lives in ways we could never have predicted. From the dog who chased off a serial killer to the dog whose concern for his owner stopped his owner from taking her life, to the dog who sniffed out undetectable cancer, dogs are more than loyal, more than friends, they are sometimes the best family we have.
Dagny's Staff Pick (September 2013): This memoir dives into the loss a child faces when his father confesses he has murdered a friend of the family then flees the country. His mother joins a cult and Daniels finds himself without role models. Daniels finds himself in some hairy situations as he travels the world trying to find himself and come to terms with who he is. His grief for the loss of his father is compounded when years later his father is found, arrested and jailed and Daniels’ hopes of surfing with his father are killed for good. Great memoir.
Dagny's Staff Pick (September 2013): This is a tale of raw emotions set in Los Angeles in the early 1930’s. Arturo Bandini is trying to start his career as a writer, but any success he has is set off by his passionate love for Camilla Lopez and her self-destructive love of another man. This story artfully weaves together how racism ties into self esteem and the high emotions that run through youth. The ending is one of the few book endings I not only remember, but still feel in my heart when I think about it.
Kim's Staff Pick (September 2013): This Pulitzer Prize Finalist will take you to the quirky dangerous swamps of Florida. Funny, sorrowful, and engrossing... Hardly a page goes by without the reader marveling... An adventure story, a tale of family, a testament to resilience and an account of America’s homogenization, Swamplandia! is an accomplished and affecting debut. The 13 year old heroine will be with you long after you finish this book.
Kim's Staff Pick (September 2013): GONE GIRL meets BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP in this riveting psychological thriller about a grieving mother who finds out 8 years after her daughter’s death that her child may still be alive and her beloved husband may have had something to do with it. Like Gone Girl I don’t want to give anything away because the twist, turns, and motives will surprise you. Stayed up late finishing this one! Great Suspense, Fun, Fast Read!
Ron's Staff Pick (August 2013):Where is your girlfriend, Johnny? What did you do? These are the questions, spoken and unspoken, hurled at Johnny when his popular and beautiful, if overly attentive, girlfriend disappears in the middle of a Wisconsin snowstorm. What happens to Johnny’s family, indeed to the entire community, is the subject of this striking first novel by Paula DeBoard. Told from the perspective of Johnny’s 9 year old sister, the story has a sense of innocence and complicity that compels you to keep reading, so much so that I read this book in three big chunks. Simply a great story, told by a skilled writer.
Ron's Staff Pick (August 2013):An absolute must-read for students of the American Revolution, Philbrick recounts the history of Boston from the British invasion, through Lexington-Concord, the Battle of Bunker Hill, to the ignominious departure of General Gage and his armies. Besides recounting, in his usual thorough fashion, the history of the events that fueled America’s declaration of independence, Philbrick paints a vivid picture of the principals – a collection of remarkably courageous and clever individuals. We marvel today at the ability of social media to galvanize revolution, but we don’t appreciate the power of the pen in 1775-6 and the incredible network of communication among the towns of Western Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire that allowed the Americans to raise an army equal to the challenge of the British. We also fail, I suspect, to appreciate the painful divide between loyalists and rebels that tore Boston in half in these crucial months leading up to the Declaration of Independence.
Wendy's Staff Pick (August 2013):A perfect getaway read! National Book Award finalist Jess Walter weaves together present day Hollywood and the Italian Amalfi coast of 1960 in this well-written tragicomic novel. The setting is the lavish set of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s film classic Cleopatra. A struggling innkeeper named Pasqual falls in love with a mysterious starlet…setting the plot in motion. Beautiful Ruins is bound to be included as a Notable Book of 2013.
Wendy's Staff Pick (August 2013):The modern science of the brain is rapidly affirming the ancient meditation practices of Buddhism. This book offers an excellent explanation of brain functioning and how and why meditation practices help calm the mind and improve mental health. Super insightful.
Wendy's Staff Pick (August 2013):The Interestings follows the lives of a group of teens who meet at a summer camp for ‘creatives’ in the 70’s. As the years pass the characters maintain their friendships, which are tested by fame (and the lack of it), fortune, and loss. If you enjoyed Jeffrey Eugenides The Marriage Plot, you’ll love this novel.
Kim's Staff Pick (August 2013):The #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations. Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page. A Thousand Splendid Suns was one of my favorite books and this does not disappoint. This man knows how to tell a beautiful story complete with lovely fables.
Kim's Staff Pick (August 2013):Jenny Milchman’s Cover of Snow is a remarkable debut, a gripping tale of suspense in the tradition of Gillian Flynn, Chris Bohjalian, Laura Lippman, Harlan Coben and Nancy Pickard.
Unraveling her late husband’s final days, Nora searches for an explanation—but finds a bewildering resistance from her husband’s best friend and partner, his fellow police officers, and his brittle mother. It quickly becomes clear to Nora that she is asking questions no one wants to answer. For beneath the soft cover of snow lies a powerful conspiracy that will stop at nothing to keep its presence unknown . . . and its darkest secrets hidden.
A chilling psychological thriller that captures loss, danger, and mystery during an ice cold upstate New York winter.
Jenny's Staff Pick (August 2013): This is a book unlike anything I’ve ever read. Fedarko has managed to capture the true spirit of the canyon, the people, and the river itself like no one else could. Sure to be an instant classic!
Nevada's Staff Pick (August 2013): The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a suspenseful story of a man who returns to his childhood home of Sussex, England. As a boy he had a friend named Lettie Hempstock. As he wanders through her farm, his memories travel back to him about all that went on in this small neighborhood.
This book is very exciting; it will have you guessing until the end.
Emily K's Staff Pick (August 2013): What a lovely book. Tiny Beautiful Things is a compilation of the best from the beloved, trusted advice column, “Dear Sugar.” Cheryl Strayed, “Sugar,” has been through a lot, so if anyone is qualified to provide perspective on other peoples’ lives, she’s the gal. People trust her with questions about love, grief, friendship, life decisions, etc., and Sugar responds with compassion and candor. This advice column reads like a memoir; it will hold your attention through even the questions that on the surface might not seem relatable.
Emily K's Staff Pick (August 2013): Benediction is a slice-of-life story that takes place in a fictional high plains town, Holt, Colorado. Dad Lewis has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. As the novel unfolds, Dad confronts his life regrets, memories, and lessons as he begins to understand the fullness of his life. Dad, his wife, Mary and their daughter, Lorraine are comforted and supported by their neighbors, all of whom face their own challenges and pains. This book is about the bonds that form in small-town communities (very relatable!), regret and hindsight, and the pain that accompanies suffering and loss. It’s about gratitude, and the small things that keep us going each day.
Emily K's Pick (August 2013): Boobs! Finally, an excuse to think and talk about breasts—and do so with intelligence. Author Florence Williams bares theories about the evolutionary development of human breasts, explains how the plumbing in this organ actually works, and reveals why we find these round sacks of fat, tubes, and nerves so sexy. Williams delves into the cultural ideals behind the augmentation trend in America and the increasing demand for lingerie stores to carry size HH bras. Most importantly, we learn what this organ reveals about overall human health. I was particularly unsettled to read about the cocktail of environmental toxins in breast milk, the trend of increasingly early puberty in girls, and how breast cancer has rapidly become one of the leading causes of death in women worldwide.
Chris's Pick (July 2013): This a great kids story of how far friendship will go. The wonderful illustrations fill each page with such color and warm feelings that you just have to finish the story. Deborah is also the author/illustrator of Blue Chicken.
Chris's Pick (July 2013): Sandra Dallas does such a wonderful job of taking you back in time. True Sisters is the story of four women who become sisters when crossing the vast American wilderness on their way to the “Promisedland” in Utah. Sandra is by far one of my favorite authors of Colorado history.
Chris's Pick (July 2013): What a great summer fun read. Take an adventure on the high seas from the point of view of a kidnapped chef. Learn to to cook using the most basic of ships food, but watch out for the captain, she will keep you on your toes or you will die. This is so much fun!!!
Dagny's Pick (July 2013): Gaiman tells a beautiful tale in the story of a boy finding a place where he belongs that lives somewhere just on the outside of reality. His journey to remember his childhood brings back mystery and magic.
Dagny's Pick (July 2013): Burroughs is somewhat of a modern day Bukowski, retelling his life story in blunt, easily accessible writing. His journey recounts a life that sounds too fantastic to be real, from being raised by a pill dispensing psychiatrist with a pedophile living in the barn to a career in advertising at age 19 with no education. His writing makes me laugh and cringe, often at the same time.
Dagny's Pick (July 2013): This series of short stories includes Brokeback Mountain. While Brokeback rose to infamy when adapted to movie form, the rest of the collection is a gritty account of what life in the west is like. Proulx pulls no punches and takes you into a world where you can hear, smell and taste the characters she describes.
Dagny's Pick (July 2013): If you haven’t read Anne of Green Gables in a while, or have never read it, I highly recommend it. Anne is an orphan adopted by a brother and sister, Marilla and Matthew, who wanted a boy. Anne, through her persuasiveness and innocence wins them over and changes their lives for the better. This free spirited girl whose imagination is constantly getting her into trouble always carries forward with a smile and hope.
Wendy's Pick (July 2013): A Thousand Pardons is a story about a modern American family: Ben and Helen Armstead and their adopted daughter Sara; and how they cope when one family member’s actions break them all apart. Happily they end up in a better place than when they started. Dee has a gift for dialog and a gift for getting to the heart of his character’s humanity. His previous novel The Privileges was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. I highly recommend him and can’t wait to see what he writes next.
Wendy's Pick (July 2013): Just read the first paragraph of The Woman Upstairs. If you’re like me you’ll be completely hooked. Nora Eldridge, the book’s main character, is the woman upstairs. She is 40 years old and mad as all get out. Many women readers will find something of themselves in her story. Nora has been a reliable friend, daughter, and neighbor all her life. She’s 40, single, and convinces herself daily that everything is fine, fine, fine. Then Nora becomes involved with the family of one of her students. Her interaction with this family reveals all her sadness and loss, professionally and personally. She realizes she hasn’t really lived.
Wendy's Pick (July 2013): This book flew out of the store during Graduation season. It’s a beautiful memoir of womanhood, written in 54 small entries. In it Ms. Williams contemplates the many roles a woman plays in her life…young woman finding a voice, motherhood, daughterhood. Williams’ is a voice of the West: spiritual, creative, and strong. When Women Were Birds is a great gift for women of all ages.
Virgie's Pick (July 2013): This story takes you back to 1963 Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement. Travel with 9 year old Starla as she runs away from home and befriends a young black woman. Take a glimpse of 1963 Mississippi through her innocent eyes, and experience her wisdom which seems to surpass the thinking of many adults around her. Learn first hand, what it means to “whistle past the graveyard.” As I finished this captivating novel, I begin to wonder if it was Starla’s maturity … or innocence … that allowed her to have such perceptive thinking, far wiser than other adults in the story.
Virgie's Pick (July 2013): I know this book has been out for awhile, but I am compelled to review it in case you haven’t read it yet. It is a great summer read! Not only is this memoir an adventure story of a young woman who travels solo on 1100 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail, but it is also an inspiration, as she struggles to find her own peace. I LOVED this book!
Emily K's Pick (July 2013): In Bringing Mulligan Home, Pulitzer Prize-winner Dale Maharidge blends memoir and military history on this quest to understand his late father’s experiences as a Marine in the WWII Pacific Theatre, and by extension, the root of the anger that hung heavy on his own childhood. With help from twelve Marines from the company, Maharidge retraces Love Company’s involvement on Okinawa and Guam in an attempt to recover the true circumstances of the death of Mulligan, whose ghost seemed to haunt the author’s father. This is a lively, accessible, and non-glorifying history of the Pacific War, one that acknowledges war’s traumatic effect on combatants’ lives and the lives of their families’ long after the shrapnel stops falling.
Emily K's Pick (July 2013): To scientists, a theory that is “elegant” or “beautiful” is one that explains a deeply puzzling question with a simple set of principles, in a simple way. This book is a collection of essays written by scientists, economists, and mathematicians in response to the question: “what is your favorite deep, elegant, or beautiful explanation?” From Darwinism to déjà vu, these essays revisit classic theories and point to new intellectual frontiers. Because each essay is short and simple—“beautiful,” if you will— I was able to fly through the book and learn quite a bit in the process.
Emily K's Pick (July 2013): Readers who loved Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin will be swept up in this ambitious work of historical fiction. McCann tells three different chapters of Irish and global history, each of which cross time, generations, and the Atlantic Ocean. In an effort to transcend a global sense of despair at the close of WWI, two former POWs become the first to cross the Atlantic by plane. Eighty years prior, Frederick Douglas voyages to Ireland as an escaped slave-turned-political rock star, to promote freedom and democracy to a people burdened by the bondages of poverty and hunger. In 1998, US Senator George Mitchell is charged with the responsibility of helping the Irish and British, Catholic and Protestant, negotiate the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland after so many hundreds of years of tension and violence. At the heart of this novel—the thread that weaves together these snapshots of history—is a four-generation line of women whose stories likewise cross the Atlantic and intersect with those of the male celebrities. The stories of these women show how anyone, however ordinary, will make her own small dent in history.