Delectable December Staff Picks
I usually start with the basic who, when, and where of the book I’m reviewing but that isn’t going to be the case with Piranesi. This unique little treasure bewildered me at first then quickly reeled me in with its familiar characters and mind-bending mystery. Don’t be fooled by the somewhat simple writing style in the beginning, the depth within the few pages of this quick read is astounding as it unravels layer upon numerous layer. It’s best to go into this book blind and allow yourself the chance to be delightfully surprised and amused as you enter the mysterious and mystical Halls, just don’t get swept away by the powerful Tides! Beautiful, spellbinding, and somehow simultaneously comforting and disturbing in its exploration of the human condition.
Oh, to live those dreadful “coming of age” years again! This story takes the reader inside the mind of a teenage girl navigating through the ages of 12 to 16. Giovanna, the only child of two loving, sophisticated, and educated parents, progresses from an obedient, entitled child, to a questioning, rebellious teenager. As Giovanna transitions into the physical and mental shift of puberty, she becomes aware of the false faces, the lies, the infidelities, and betrayals of the adults in her life. This powerful novel is a good reminder of how confusing and disorienting this phase of life can be, especially when parents present an “illusion” of a perfect life!
I have always been a big fan of Paolini’s previous work The Inheritance Cycle (Eragon) and have been waiting years for his foretold next project. For years his fans have known that he was working on a SciFi book, but over that time I seem to have forgotten the extent of Paolini’s attention to detail. This is possibly the most thoroughly thought out work of science fiction I have ever read. He doesn’t fall into the trap so many authors do of saying “it’s the future, faster than light travel and aliens exist just trust me.” He includes delicate explanations and nearly 100 pages of appendices explaining everything from global politics to Markov limits and how Kasaba Howitzers work.
This is not a children’s book. For people my age who grew up reading Eragon over and over it is refreshing to see how mature his writing has become. This book is much faster paced, action forward, and has much more mature characters than his previous works.
Megan Forrester has had a rough past few months due to the loss of her husband and son. When she hears about a camping trip run by her church she jumps at the opportunity to distract herself. Little does she know that monsters live in the forest. Now Megan has to try and survive giant spiders that can feel vibrations of movement. That is, if she wants to survive. Jump into the enticing pages of Don’t Move and follow Megan on her journey of survival and healing. I personally found the book very fun and a little crazy. I had originally opened it to read the first paragraph and get a feel for what the book was like. The next thing I knew I had finished the book before the day was even over. I would definitely recommend this book if you enjoy a thrilling journey of survival.
If you found meaning in The Alchemist, you’ll surely enjoy this new treasure by Paulo Coelho. Don’t let the title confuse you! This book is not exactly about an archer, rather it’s a beautiful metaphor for living a rewarding life! The book may be short, but it is packed full of wisdom! I read it twice, just to soak it all in! This is the kind of book you’ll want to keep on your shelf, to reread at different points of your life. In my opinion, this book would be a great gift for that special someone in your life!
In a Tokyo back alley, in a basement, there is a cafe where you can travel back to the past. There are rules that you need to follow though, and you need to come back to the present before your coffee gets cold. This book seems more like a series of vignettes following peoples trips into the past. The question is, what really changes when you go back? Is it you or the future?
This is a refreshing take on time travel, reminiscent of magical realism. It is a beautiful book and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants an ethereal read. -Izzy
Check out the Audiobook Here and the Ebook Here
A truly lovely queer romance featuring an opposites attract fake romance! Darcy is a no-nonsense actuary who can’t seem to catch a break from her matchmaking brother, and Elle is a romantic minded astrologer searching for true love. After a disastrous first date, the two find common ground in faking a romance just to get away from meddling and overbearing relatives. With a December 31st end date, these two might just find that they are more compatible than they thought. But when their fiery chemistry finally comes to a head, will the stars align or will the numbers just not add up?
National Book Award winner and now Showtime special on Hulu, The Good Lord Bird is 50% entertaining and 50% educational. Written in the voice of a freed slave known as Onion, this is an adventure story that takes place at the precipice of the Civil War. Onion ends up with John Brown, the architect of the notorious, tragic, Harper’s Ferry raid that was the catalyst to the Civil War. With appearances by Harriet Tubman and Federick Douglas, this novel will make you think and laugh! -
Have you ever taken a minute to think about a world where Bigfoot is real? I mean really think about it, how has a giant ape survived all of this time in the US, where did they come from, why did they evolve? More importantly what would happen if nature finally forced humans and Sasquatch together and removed all of the food and technology?
This book may seem like another horror book from the author of World War Z but in reality, it is a biting criticism of American consumerism and our need to “connect” with nature while at the same time being as far away from it as possible. How people who expect deliveries overnight and everything on-demand react when nature intercedes is the real heart of this book, sasquatch is just the icing on the cake.
This is an exquisite book of comics depicting a deeply sweet love story between a vampire and a werewolf. Funny, adorable, sometimes poignant, this is the perfect little read for those with a dark sense of humor and a pechance towards the everyday lives of monsters. This book lives by my bed so that I can pick it up whenever the going gets tough and I need a pick me up. I adore this book so very much. It warms the cockles of my long-frozen heart. -Izzy
This novel is Gaiman in his most brief and best form; a whimsical tale that brings you back to a childhood you never lived but fully resonates with you, Ocean takes the perspective of a man recounting a lost portion of his childhood; a portion fraught with both fear and whimsy, danger and magic. As he recounts the memories of his five-year-old self, you get sucked into the tale of familial betrayal and infidelity. It’s an emotionally honest if fantastical, novel that I couldn’t put down and revisit frequently. If you have even the slightest idea that you might like this book, trust me and dive into this ocean.
This book is an excellent overview of the President-elect’s life and his time in office. If you are looking for a window in the life of Joe Biden, this is the book to pick up! I believe in being as informed about current events as possible, regardless of your political leanings, and found this title a perfect stepping stone into learning about the presumed new administration. Osnos brings his award-winning writing into this project in full force, and as such, this biography is both informative and exceedingly readable, without any of the heavy-handed condescension of many political bios. Through his time as a senator right up until his 2020 run for president, learn about Biden’s political choices, precedents, and upcoming policies as you flex your civic engagement muscles!
It’s no surprise to me, and many of you might agree, that our lives have been turned upside down with the Covid Pandemic, and political and racial tensions. Wouldn’t it be great to find a strategy that can alleviate even a little stress? Author Katherine May instructs us to look at nature and the seasons to find a bit of understanding and peace. As nature goes into winter to rest and re-boot, so too can we make our own place to “winter” and come through it as beautiful and refreshed as Spring! It might sound a bit too simple but May’s book, Wintering, embraces a new perspective of using the wisdom of nature to relate to our own personal downtimes.
Check out the Audiobook Here
If you are a birder you probably already own this book, if you’re a novice you probably should. The arrangement of the birds takes some getting used to but you will not be able to find a more thorough field guide. All of the artwork is hand-drawn with descriptions of flight patterns, wing shape, sociability, and location. I cannot recommend this enough. - Sam
Greenlights is such a joy to read. McConaughey takes us through his childhood and his experiences as an A-lister and husband and father with such candor that you can’t help but say “alright, alright, alright.” This one is worth reading even if you aren’t one of the millions who grew up watching McConaughey’s films.
More than anything, this book reveals that this man is a truly gifted storyteller. So many folks will pick this book because of the name recognition that comes from the celebrity of its author, but even if he wasn’t already a household name, Matthew McConaughey’s words would be worth reading. More than anything, they are a tribute to his joie de vivre, and an absolute love letter to this life. - Jenna
Avery had gone from rags to riches overnight. Ok maybe not rags, but it was close. She doesn’t know the rules of this new world that she has been thrust into, along with 4 brothers that come with her new house. Each one is very different from the others. She has so many questions, one of them being: why me? As soon as she steps into the house there is so much more going on, puzzle after puzzle after puzzle. Where will all these lead Avery and the Hawthorn brothers?
I must say that I was intrigued by the way the author put these puzzles together. You will be too.
Bardugo has been exploding in popularity in recent years and it is well deserved! This novel flows nicely, with masterful worldbuilding and a plot that wants you to race forward. A world where magic is essential but somewhat reviled, young Alina Starkov, an orphan turned soldier, turned savior; struggles with a burgeoning power and a nation whose entire hopes rest on her shoulders. Full of strife, monsters, and love, this is a brilliantly fun novel in a rich setting that I personally adore. Pick it up and get ready to be hooked for the entire series!
Check out the Ebook Here
This is for fans of Mysterious Benedict Society or Spy School. This ragtag group of kids, each with their own distinct background, must find a way to work together on spy missions. This book is funny, with a lead character called Mother, action-packed with some tight squeezes and with friendship building. Ponti writes in such a way that you just have to keep reading!!
I have been reading (and loving!) Redwall since I was a kid! Redwall centers around the struggle of Matthias, a young mouse, and monk in training at the titular Abbey of Redwall. Readers follow Matthias on a journey of discovering the nature of bravery and the secrets of the abbey’s founder, in a desperate bid to save his home and community from the hoards of a vicious rat warlord. It’s full of humor, grand meals, and wonderful riddles and is consistently good throughout the entire series that came after. - Ryan
These four short stories help us dive more into some of the characters of Wings of Fire and Wings of Fire : Dragonslayer. When I read Wings of Fire for the first time, I immediately fell in love with the books. These stories just bring more to the books that you may have already read.
Check out the Audiobook Here
This beautifully illustrated picture book reminds children of the importance of intergenerational family bonds. Our elders can teach us important things through their own stories. Author Kalia Yang grew up in a Refugee Camp in Thailand and moved to America at the age of six. Her story centers around her own Grandma, whose childhood stories encompass wisdom and respect. Yang’s book delivers the message that we are resilient people, who CAN endure difficult times, and listening to our respected elders will give us perspective and hope for good times.
If you liked Does It Fart?: A Kid’s Guide to the Gas Animals Pass, then you’ll love that the same authors are bringing you some true facts about some common misconceptions. Did you know that you can see penguin poop from space? You’ll be laughing while shattering these misconceptions.
Mary has a talent for fashion, she has galm. When she walks down the street, she glitters and glows. When she walks into her new classroom, she notices how drab everyone looks and sets out to fix it.
Very cute, very good.
The colorful illustrations and simple words of this book give the message of diversity and acceptance. As children gather to create hot air balloons, it’s apparent that each child has their own strength, and that working together, sharing talents and abilities, has the power to “fill the sky with beautiful colors.” This picture book is appropriate to readers of all ages. We just can’t get enough reminders of collaborative living! - Virgie