Fickle February Staff Picks
Flash your fantastic fictional fancies with our February staff picks!
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This is a collection of short stories so raw and so sharp, it feels like a force of nature. Moniz wields her pen to create a striking collection of short stories based in Florida. Each story is alluring and unique. They pull you into the mundane, the shocking, and the beautiful lives of these very human characters.
After each story, I had to put this book down and sit with it. They all hit a little different, but with the same elemental force. -Izzy
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DO. NOT. MISS. THIS!!!
The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah lit my soul on fire! It came at the perfect time, as we are all navigating the uncertainties of the Covid Pandemic. This historical fiction story takes place during the Great Depression, when our country was economically ravaged by the Crash of 29, and farmers were brought to their knees as they fought the drought on the Great Plains. Hannah researched this American era for four years, and not only informs the reader but uncovers so many similarities between The Great Depression and the Covid Pandemic we are all experiencing today. Hannah’s story pulls the reader into the characters lives and struggles, until you feel one with them. Elsa, a fearlessly strong woman, finds new strength with each situation she faces. I will never forget her!
In my opinion, this is the best Kristen Hannah book so far. The story is relevant to our current times, and will inspire you as well as tear you apart. Mark my word; this WILL become a Best Seller! -Virgie
Selena is riding home from work on the 7:45 train when she sits next to a beautiful stranger that for some later to be a discovered reason she has such a strong connection with she divulges deep secrets too. As Selena’s world begins to explode secrets are revealed and connections are made. This fast-paced thriller that cleverly feeds you clues is reminiscent of Hitchcock. Fast-paced, psychological thriller. Yet another great read by Lisa Unger! -Kim B
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Anyone who enjoys contemporary poetry needs to immediately pick this book up. Covering a vast array of topics from nature, ghost kitties, and zombies--one can find immense comfort in her sometimes bizarre descriptions of the mundane. I ate these words up and encourage anyone who considers themselves human to feast freely as well. As Mahmoud Darwish once said: “Poetry and beauty are always making peace. When you read something beautiful you find coexistence; it breaks walls down.”. This is definitely something beautiful that will stimulate questions about the human condition.
If you like this you’ll enjoy Homebody by Rupi Kaur.
If you have read any Christopher Moore then you will love this book. If you haven’t ever had the pleasure, Christopher Moore is one of the best, most well-regarded authors of humorous fiction there is. Moore explores a completely new way of thinking about death and souls in this book all while making the topic seem humorous. Moore has a unique ability to interweave humor into serious subject matter and plots, and this may be his crowning achievement.
If you’re interested in this book check out Lamb also by Christopher Moore
Majella O’Neill… Majella O’Neill, what is there to say about her? Her father disappeared during the troubles, her gran was just murdered, her mother is a bit out of sorts, but what can you say about Majella? She is happiest out of sight, in her routine. Working at the fish n’ chips shop she sees the many characters of the town at their best and worse. Big Girl, Small Town is divided up by days and Majella’s long list of dislikes. Through her, we see how the Northern Ireland conflicts shaped every day Irish life. Told with a sharp and wry humor, Big Girl, Small Town is a breath of fried food air. It’s gritty in the best way, leaving you picking the little morsels from your teeth for a while after reading. -Izzy
‘Real life’ in Iraq, under the regime of Saddam Hussein, was far more perilous than a storybook monster! This fictional novel, When the Apricots Bloom, was inspired by the author’s experiences living in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was in control of the country. Her story skillfully presents an account of Iraqi life at this time, when citizens lived in fear and suspicion, secret police lurked in the shadows, traitor’s homes were bulldozed, and people mysteriously disappeared. The prevailing question of who can be trusted ran through this novel; “Two people can keep a secret only if one of them is dead.” This riveting story is a testament to the importance of freedom, and the terrifying horror of a life without freedom! - Virgie
Maybe it’s because I have such a short attention span but I have always been drawn to the taboo, topics the general public avoids and makes people squirm in their white-washed, middle-class, and underwhelming comfortable seats. What is more taboo than a young sexually active black woman with self-destructive tendencies becoming deeply involved with an older married white man with an open marriage and an adopted black daughter? Relatable, obscene, uproariously witty, and as dark and depressing as it gets--Luster is a masterpiece that can be quickly devoured by those disturbed by the normalcy of workplace misogyny, racism, and classism. Need a more in-depth review? Check out Gabino Iglesias’ article on NPR.org!
If you like this you’ll enjoy Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman.
Nnedi Okorafor is a gifted speculative fiction author, her storytelling and world building talents blossom in this novel. There is a girl who wanders the roads and forests of a future Ghana. She is called Sankofa, a name she adopted after death paid her a visit. Now she can summon death with a touch of her hand. This power makes folks fear her and begrudgingly respect her. Sankofa travels around, hunting for something that calls to her, no matter how far apart they are.
For Sawyer and his friends, it was all just a harmless prank. One last shout of fun before going off into the adult world of college and responsibility. It was supposed to be fun, after all, what harm could one mannequin bring? But after it gets up, and is Sawyer’s prime suspect for the murder of a friend, the young man has to make the hardest decision of his life. What, and who he’s willing to sacrifice to ensure the safety of others, after all, he’s the hero here. Dark and hilariously subversive, Jones takes us on a psychological thrill ride of murder and teenage anxiety that, despite it’s camp, rings decidedly true.
If you like stories where the protagonist is not a “good guy” and are not afraid of the darker side of comedy, you’ll enjoy this! -Ryan
I thought that Ready Player One was a fun book, but not necessarily worth all of the attention it got. I felt that Cline spent too little time on his intriguing dystopian real world in exchange for his sometimes gratuitous detours into obscure trivia. This book, however, is so much better. There is an underriding moral question throughout the whole book which I felt was missing from the first. This moral question adds emotion and importance to Ready Player Two that gives it more depth then the first without losing any of the fun or pace.
If you liked Ready Player One I think you’ll love this, if you thought it was ok then give Ready Player Two a shot. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
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It takes four things to make an EO (Extra Ordinary Human), pain, fear, a genetic predisposition, and death.
It would be a lie to say that Victor Vale was once like any other young man in modern America. Exceptionally intelligent, socially distant, and hesitantly manipulative, this son of a pair of world-renowned self-help authors once was slated to become a doctor. That is, until he and his college friend Eli, begin to use themselves as the subject to an experiment for Eli’s thesis. Ten years later, Victor is out of jail, and hasn’t forgotten, nor forgiven Eli’s role in his imprisonment, and Victor wants to watch him suffer. A fantastically fun supervillain romp, what Vicious may want in-depth, Schwab provides in pure fun. - Ryan
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If you like birding at all you will already know David Sibley. If you don’t pay too much attention to birds but have always been interested in them this is the perfect intro book for you. Sibley returns with his amazing artwork and explanations in a book that was specifically designed to give more detailed but beginner details on bird actions and life. The format means you do not have to read it in order and can skip around to whatever interests you most. I learned more about birds in 10 minutes of reading this book than I have in years. -Sam
This is a fascinating book. Every Body is a collection of interviews about sex and everything that entails. Accompanied by beautiful artwork, each chapter delves into people’s experiences, perceptions, and stories regarding sex. Gathering perspectives from folks on the street and via a survey, Every Body includes a multitude of interesting stories and essays. This collection sheds light on a subject that so many folks keep in the relative darkness of the bedroom.
If you are interested in anything to do with sex, whether it’s the act or the culture surrounding it, check this book out. -Izzy
This book came at the perfect time for Colorado. Right when the state was debating wolf reintroduction this detailed account of one of Yellowstone’s success stories is released and it is amazing. This book truly puts the lives of wolves and researchers into perspective and has such a true love story that I know people moved to tears by the end.
If you like this you should read Rise of Wolf 8, the prequel to this book, though it isn’t necessary for understanding this book. -Sam
Laia lost her parents long ago and just lost her grandparents. The only family she has left is her older brother who was taken right in front of her eyes by an elite fighter known as a mask, and locked away. Laia will do whatever it takes to get him freed, even if that means being a slave for the most dangerous woman around. She may not make it out alive, but maybe it’s worth the risk.
Elias is part of the greatest military academy where the most dangerous fighters are made, and also the most heartless. He knows he doesn’t belong there, but when his mom is the head of the school it makes it hard to say no. Elias wants to escape, to be free of the title he was born into, but things become difficult for him when he must compete in a series of Trials in order to become emperor.
Will Laia and Elias be able to escape the clutches of the school, or will they be caught and killed by the very people who took their freedom away from them? Find out in this exciting first book of the An Ember in the Ashes book series.
If you like this book you will also like: Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
At first, this seems like a standard teen romance novel, but it’s so much more! It delves into the lives of first-generation Vietnamese-American teens trying to navigate what they want from life, despite what their parents want for them. Bao and Linh come from families with rivaling restaurants; neither of them can figure out why their families hate each other so much. As they embark on their journey of coming of age and their forbidden relationship, they come to learn about the horrifying family secrets that fueled the feud. Have a look and see what many young Asian Americans face growing up in the USA.
One of my favorite parts is how Le allows the parents to have their voices in Vietnamese; most of it is translated by their children, but if you really NEED to know what was said, you can use the Google Translate app on your phone to use your camera to translate the Vietnamese phrases! -Kim T.
This is a story about finding yourself through having to remember and dogs. Lots of dogs! I loved reading about Search and Rescue Dogs (SAR). While the dogs do not have a voice of their own, they are very much a part of the telling of the story. Kira wants to help find the missing girl when the call comes in, but she doesn’t know what she is going to find, this just might bring back the memories. Will she pull through or will this be too much for her?
If you liked this, you should read:
Cemetery Boys is an excellent book about self-exploration, community, and ghosts. Yadriel is on a mission to prove to his community and his family that he is a Brujo. The Brujex community he belongs to has been slow to organize his rights of passage because he is trans and they don’t really know what will happen. Yadriel takes matters into his own hands and summons a ghost… that won’t leave him alone. Julian died under mysterious circumstances and wants to make sure his friends are safe and finish up some other business along the wat, so he’s not leaving any time soon. As Yadriel spends more time with Julian, he learns to look inwards for affirmation. But the more time Julian spends in this world, the more likely he is to turn maligno. Will Yadriel be able to let Julian go? Will they figure out the circumstances of Julian’s death? Will Yadreil’s community give him the acceptance he needs? -Izzy
This book brought some very thought-provoking things to my attention. English (American) is a hard language to learn. There are so many phrases that we just take at face value.
I liked the way the Andreu had her conversations play out in the book with all the #### for the parts that Ana doesn’t understand. - Chris
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Morgan has bounced between foster homes for as long as she can remember. She doesn’t see how this home will be any different from the last. Her foster brother, Eli, is in his first foster home and doesn’t talk much. After an accident where Eli’s sketch pad is ruined, and Morgan procures a new one for him and they start to bond in a mysterious room in the attic. When Eli draws a picture to put on a wall a portal is opened into Misewa, a snowy land where animals walk on 2 legs and speak. Eli enters this land and Morgan soon follows. They find a starving village and stories of a man who stole the summer. Will they help the folks of Misewa get summer back? Will they find a home?
This is a great adventure book! It’s reminiscent of The Magic Tree House series and The Chronicles of Narnia, but from an indigenous perspective. - Izzy
In his never-ending quest to destroy Dog Man Petey decides two heads are better than one, but will his clone be as evil as him? Is there a difference between fate and free will? Are all of us destined to be the same as our parents?! Find out in a Tale of Two Kitties, and along the way you may discover something about forgiveness.
For the parents: this book begins a theme in Dog Man about ADHD and how to accept and cope with it. Dav Pilkey is very open with his childhood experiences with ADHD and you can tell he understands what it is like to have ADHD and how it can be used to harness creativity and motivation. -Sam
A girl is lost in a snowstorm. A wolf is lost in the same storm. The beautiful pictures will tell the story, because the book has no significant words. This is a perfect book to encourage the creativity and attention to detail of your young reader. Snuggle up together and let your little one tell his own version. Then tell another version, and yet another! Have fun! Be creative! -Virgie
If you are a kid who eats, sleeps and breathes hockey, then you’ll enjoy this non-fiction picture book about hockey hero Bobby Orr! As a child, Bobby didn’t have all the best equipment, but that didn’t hinder his passion and skill to become an all-time hockey pro! This story is an inspiration for all hockey players, boys or girls! -Virgie
This children’s picture book is about the life of Jacques Plante, one of NHL Hockey’s best goalies. From a young age, Jacques was a creative, determined and passionate hockey player. It’s amazing to learn how Jacques Plante actually changed the way hockey is played as a result of the many injuries he endured! This is a super cool book for hockey enthusiasts! -Virgie
Just imagine a bear, a moose and a beaver playing hockey on a frozen lake. How would they prepare for the hockey season? What kind of gear would they wear? How would this game look to the viewer? Prepare yourself for a creative, fun-filled story! – Virgie