Astonishing April Staff Picks
An amalgam of astonishing albums for April.
I fell in love with Scarlett Fire the second I began to read. It's beautiful and suspenseful all wrapped in one. I felt as though I was in the book with Scarlett as she ran to solve the murder of a woman found deep in the woods. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who needs a good mystery because this one will keep you guessing.
This book made my heart ache and soar and read until 1 in the morning. I was crying, laughing, and loved it so much that I couldn’t shut up about it for the next 24 hours. Our heroine is Dannie, and this is Dannie’s love story, but not the one you may expect. She is a powerhouse lawyer, and is methodical and numbered in her approach. Her foil, confidant, and best friend is Bella, who is whimsical and flighty and wishful. One night after a high stakes interview, and engagement to her boyfriend, Dannie experiences a brief glance into her five-year plan, which doesn’t include her current fiance, job or apartment. She spends several years unable to shake it, until the man from her vision suddenly appears in her life in the most inconvenient way. What follows is a study in love and friendship, and how life happens while you’re making other plans. I couldn’t put this book down. Read it, read it, read it.
You should also read Serle’s other novel, The Dinner List.
This novel is so brilliant and cunning, and kept me wondering at what was going to lead to the ultimate climax, that I could hardly bring myself to put it down for bedtime. The two lead women, Nina (a conwoman) and Vanessa (an heiress), are both likeable and infuriating, and the secondary characters are intriguing, when it would be easy for them to be dull and one-dimensional. Nina and Vanessa are constantly playing off each other in a way that leaves you unsure if they are going to become best friends or tear each other’s hair out. Janelle Brown is so talented at winding her characters’ lives together, and the jumps between perspectives are absolutely seamless. In the end, one is so unsure who is the villain and whose side to take that the ultimate reveal is supremely satisfying.
If you like this and you haven’t read Agatha Christie, pick up one of those classic mysteries next!
This book is a symphony. The writing is melodious and the story is harmonious. Vanished Birds is an exploration of love, what we will do for it, it can change everything. Nia travels through pocket space, traversing 15 years in 4 months. She passes through folks' lives as an almost ageless constant in their continued lives. When she picks up a stranded boy from a resource planet, she begins to navigate his trauma and hers while trying to care for him.
This is a gorgeous book. You do not need to like science fiction to love this book. Just read this amazing book.
Butler brings her incredible imagination and unwavering common sense to Wild Seed. This is a story about two immortal beings who have different sets of powers and different attitudes towards humanity. Anyanwu shapeshifts and has lived among her people as a medicine woman for ages. Doro can jump from one body to another, leading him to essentially breed other mutants to create new bodies. They meet, clash, come together, and clash again, like an immortal ocean of strong wills. Wild Seed is an insight into power, life, and what it means to be a human.
Ada has many small gods cohabitating with her mind in her body. We follow Ada through her life, watching as the gods grow with her and she struggles to find herself amongst them. Emezi writes with such intimacy, honesty, and empathy. In the words of my dear friend, this story is not written for me, but it invites me in to listen and learn all the same. This is a truly beautiful novel, verging on poetry.
I’ve read several stories of immigrants and their struggles to reach a new homeland, but this book piqued my interest, because it focuses on living a life as an undocumented immigrant. Danny fled Sri Lanka, and has been living in Australia as an illegal immigrant, cleaning houses to make his ends meet. Everyday for the past three years has been mental torment for Danny, fearing his status being discovered. When one of Danny’s clients is murdered, and he knows who killed her, he is faced with a moral dilemma; should he risk deportation, losing everything, by reporting this information, or simply walk away? It all boils down to this question; does a person with no rights still have responsibility? This was a thought-provoking read.
If you liked The White Tiger or Selection Day by Adiga, you’ll enjoy his latest novel. I certainly did!
At the same time as the Vietnam War was taking place, the neighboring country, Laos, was experiencing their own civil war. The U.S. was involved in both wars, which left each country in physical and emotional ruin. Laos was bombed the equivalent of one bomb every 8 minutes, 24 hours a day, for nine years!!! What is more frightening is the fact that 30% of the 200 million bombs failed to explode on contact, and these bombs, scattered throughout Laos present a real danger, even today!
This novel, taking place in Laos during these traumatic years (1964-1973) follows three homeless teens, who work for a converted field hospital, driving their motorcycles to retrieve medication. This is a sad, horrific read, full of history, perseverance and survival. It gives the reader a sense of what it means to be in war.
Told through the perspective of the Vietnamese, this story is more than a backdrop for the Vietnam War. The novel follows the Tran family, describing the painful challenges faced by the Vietnamese people from the 1920’s to 1980’s. We, as Americans, were a part of this history, so it was important for me to understand the scope and sequence of this brutal time. “Wars have the power to turn graceful and cultured people into monsters” and I found it painful to see what people had to do in order to survive. This story, personalized by the Tran family, is painful. If this war didn’t kill you, it certainly took away a piece of your soul!
Would you be in a polygamous marriage? What would a woman do to have the “perfect” husband and marriage? Would she agree to have her husband only 2 days a week while he splits his time with his other two wives? Fisher takes us into the nitty-gritty of tolerance, jealousy, marriage, affairs, love, hate and pain. The twist and turns can take you by surprise in this fast-paced thriller.
Margaret Atwood is brilliant in my opinion. For fans of Handmaid’s Tale, The Testaments is a must-read. The story picks up fifteen years after the events of The Handmaid’s Tale. Using flashbacks to really go in-depth of characters like Aunt Lydia, Atwood gives us an incredible depth of character. Nobody is simply evil, there are complex motivations in everything that happened in Tale that come to fruition in The Testaments. Atwood was asked where she came up with these crazy dystopian ideas for the future. Her answer was frightening; everything she portrays has already happened somewhere at some point in our human history and we don’t always seem to learn our lesson. Frightening but brilliant, a must-read.
- Kim B
This adorable book shows youngsters how to deal with feelings such as anger, fear, shyness, through Yoga. Llamaste, the llama, illustrates each Namaste pose as he practices yoga. What a great way to teach the strategy of CALM to our little ones!
Lost Ski Areas is the kind of book that history nerds like me will love. It is difficult to find much information on lost ski mountains without digging hard, and this book has the most complete, in-depth catalog of lost areas that I have found to date. Take a look, you’ll find one you can see from the store and at least two that you can see without leaving town.
If you like this you will also like The Springs of Steamboat, and Images of America: Steamboat Springs
Donte is one of the only visible students of color at Middlefield Prep, and he feels how different he is all the time. He is treated like a threat by his school, he is bullied for his blackness, and he knows for sure that people are treating him like this due to his color because his brother presents as white. All of this tension is brought to the forefront when the police are called on Donte for throwing a backpack. We follow his coming of age journey as he learns to channel his feelings into fencing, wrestles with his racial identity, and finds community.
This book is an excellent introduction to racial politics in the US. I am of the philosophy that if a kid is old enough to ask about race, then they are old enough to get an honest answer, and this book is an honest portrayal of race in the US. I highly recommend it.
Rene Redzepi, head Chef of world-famous restaurant Noma and his Director of Fermentation, David Zilber, present a cookbook that will inspire you to fill your kitchen with all sorts of colorful, aromatic, bubbly creations. Assisted by funky illustrations and stunning pictures, the creative duo layout in-depth instructions to multiple fermentation techniques followed by tested recipes containing the ingenious creativity that Noma is known for. Though fermentation may seem intimidating, this book is approachable for beginners as well as the experienced chef looking to expand their skills and add complexity to any dish.
If you liked this, you’ll enjoy: The Art of Fermentation
If you like this you will like this: The Guinevere Deception by Kiersten White, Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta
Lada and Radu have been dealt a bad hand since birth. Their father, a cowardly, brutal man, is forced to hand over his children to the Ottoman court to keep him in line with the empire’s interests. Lada has always been a little brutal herself, and quickly adapts to survival inside the gilded halls. Radu, however, suffers greatly under the brutality of the Ottomans. Everything changes when the pair become friends with Mehmed, the son of the sultan, who takes them under his protection. But Mehmed’s friendship may prove to be a double-edged sword - for the closer both Radu and Lada get to the sultan’s son, the more complicated their quests for survival become. This book delves into rich middle eastern history, including the competing religions at the time, and also includes a few LGBT storylines. Kiersten White is one of our staff’s favorite authors!