June 2015 Staff Picks
The up-side of a long, rainy spring is that we have 18 books for you to add to your reading list! We even have a book recommended by Geraldine Brooks and Stephen King - and Virgie. Enjoy! Don't forget to check-out our Books and Brews event line-up too...
Shannon's Staff Pick, June 2015: This collection of short essays perfectly captures the continually fluctuating emotional spectrum that comes with growing up.
Mariana Keegan writes with the intelligence and emotional depth of a writer twice her age, but her ability never takes away from her unrelenting passion for life and unwillingness to ever give up. Marina possesses sharp and witty humor as her essays drift from journal entry style to fictitious pieces. Her humor is accompanied by heart breaking moments that every reader can relate to.
Although Marina’s writing is often times filled with happiness and triumph, sadness is present throughout the whole book. The reason being that Marina died in a car accident shortly after her graduation from Yale, where her phrase “the opposite of loneliness” was coined.
The Opposite of Loneliness is the collection of Marina’s separate works that were complied by family and friends.
She writes, “I want to be in love with everything, but I cry because everything is so beautiful and short,” much like Marina’s accomplished life and the work she left behind.
Emily's Staff Pick, June 2015: The Jaguar’s Children, by John Vaillant, is a critical, engaging novel that tells the story of Mexico, the United States and the border between.
The story begins with a troubled text message from Héctor Lazaro. Héctor is trapped in a water truck carrying 14 other people, all of whom had placed their trust in the coyotes, human traffickers they paid to transport them across the border from Altar to Tucson. The truck has broken down, and the coyotes have left, ostensibly to get help. All those trapped inside can do is wait and conserve their drinking water.
Héctor calls out to the world for help using his friend César’s cell phone, which contains one American phone number. The story unfolds as Héctor recounts how he and César both came to this situation.
Over the course of four days, Héctor uses text messages and sound files to paint rich, intimate pictures of Oaxaca, his homeland, of Zapotec culture and his family.
This book challenged me. After I finished reading, I felt compelled to do my own additional research and reading; the book ultimately encouraged me to change my perspective on the border and immigration issues.
Emily's Staff Pick, June 2015: Edible Numbers is a picture book for baby foodies! This simple counting book features gorgeous pictures of fruits and vegetables.
Kids will learn about anjou pears, romanesco, kaffir limes, and be encouraged to eat these colorful, healthy foods while practicing counting.
Logan's Staff Pick, June 2015: Bill Reed has built a life for himself in the remote wilderness of northern Idaho. Managing a wildlife sanctuary and courting the local veterinarian has given him a newfound sense of peace and belonging, until his carefully buried past comes crashing back into reality in the form of an old friend just released from prison. A familiar premise becomes something haunting and altogether unique in this new work from Kiefer, who is a seriously impressive wordsmith.
Logan's Staff Pick, June 2015: Sometimes it’s the short breath between words that makes a writer truly great, and Cynan Jones is a master of this silence. This brief and sparsely wrought novel (Jones’ first to be published in North America) is built on the interwoven tales of a sheep farmer and a criminal ‘badger-baiter’, leading to a chilling yet inevitable conclusion. A powerful study on solitude, The Dig drifts over you like a fever dream.
Chris's Staff Pick, June 2015: Shahrzad is crushed after her dearest friend is killed by the King, Khalid. The 18 year old Caliph of Khorasan has started to take a new bride every night and then kill them in the morning.
Shahrzad has now given herself to him willingly with the intentions of staying alive longer than one night. She must use all her wit and story telling ability so make this happen. She has no idea what will happen to her feelings for him.
But when Tariq hears what Shahrzad has done, he brings it upon himself to rescue his dear friend from a fate that she may not survive. Who in the end will be the stronger man?
I loved the writing by this author. She takes you places that have long since been gone.
Chris's Staff Pick, June 2015: After a trip to the museum with Otter Keeper, Otter and his best friend Teddy decide that a trip to the moon is their next adventure. They do all the training and build a ship. Their mission is to retrieve a moon rock of their very own. But with lots of things that Otter does, Otter Keeper is not very happy with the mission.
I just love this author. Both Otter books are great for kids that are starting to read on their own.
Chris's Staff Pick, June 2015: When Simon Watson receives a mysterious book on his New England door step, he has no idea how to feel about the contents as he starts to read about his long dead family.
Erika Swyler does an impressive job with her debut novel. She creates an ever-weaving story that keeps you captivated with every page turn. So short of giving too much of it away, it is a must read for the summer.
Chris's Staff Pick, June 2015: Peter Sis is a Caldecott Honor Author. With his new book he brings the same beautiful art and storytelling as his other books.
In Ice Cream Summer, Joe thinks about all the great things that you can do in the summer. Joe includes ice cream in everyone of his thoughts. Everything is always better with ice cream!
Kim's Staff Pick, June 2015: Mark Watney is an astronaut who has been accidentally left behind on Mars after a sandstorm threatens the Ares3 Crew millions of miles from home. He is seriously injured, separated and because his suit is damaged, the crew sees no sign of life and believes he is dead. The commander has to make the difficult decision to evacuate the rest of the crew.
In April the ABA announced The Martian as the Indie Choice Book Award for Adult Debut Book of the Year! There has been a lot of praise and hype around this book since its debut. It’s all well deserved. Instead of being a boring, techy tome it is a riveting, barn-burner of a story.
Mark Watney is an astronaut who has been accidentally left behind on Mars after a sandstorm threatens the Ares3 Crew millions of miles from home. He is seriously injured, separated and because his suit is damaged, the crew sees no sign of life and believes he is dead. The commander has to make the difficult decision to evacuate the rest of the crew.
When he comes to, Watney assesses his situation and declares that he is in trouble. Two words come to mind ingenuity — the quality of being clever, as well as inventive — and resilience — the ability to recover quickly from hardship. He never blames the crew for abandoning him and instead, attacks his problems head on and with humor.
The Martian is brilliantly written. Alternating between the narrative of events on Earth and Watney’s diary-like log entries, the reader desperately wishes to communicate with both. This technique gives the reader his or her own version of intelligence and knowledge throughout a story that is packed with figures and facts.
Virgie's Staff Pick, June 2015: Immerse yourself in the lives of young mothers, connected by the private elementary school community that their children attend. Each mother has her own story …often the dark side of the otherwise “perfect” family unit ...and each mother has lies she must tell in order to survive in this community.
The story is full of D-R-A-M-A and captivated my interest until the end. It’s a great summer read, full of perceptive glimpses into the many guises of human relationships: mother-child, husband-wife (and ex-wife) and above all, the strong bond of female friendships.
Virgie's Staff Pick, June 2015: What does one do when you suddenly lose the love of your life? Poet Elizabeth Alexander’s memoir of the sudden death of her husband, shares an in-depth reflection on a perfect marriage, and what it means when it is suddenly gone.
This is a love story, as well as a story of loss, and demonstrates the healing power of memory. It is painful but powerful. I find it difficult to believe that anyone who has suffered loss will remain unaffected by this inspirational book.
Virgie's Staff Pick, June 2015:
When I noticed this book was recommended by authors Geraldine Brooks and Stephen King, I felt a need to read it, to see for myself how two diverse authors would recommend the same book.
The story is a crime mystery about a missing wife/mother, and a family left in despair. It is a story of a failed marriage and a dysfunctional family. I found myself wanting to “shake” the characters to wake up and realize how one impulsive decision can lead to disaster.
Although this s NOT a feel-good read, it is fast-moving and intriguing. I can now understand how this book would appeal to Stephen King fans as well as fans of Geraldine Brooks. Clever!
Candace's Staff Pick, June 2015: I couldn’t put the book down!
This is the debut novel for Celeste Ng. The story beings with a missing child, Lydia the middle child of James and Marilyn Lee. James is Chinese-American and Marilyn is white. Lydia is the middle of three children and the most white looking of the three.
The mystery of Lydia’s disappearance is solved in the first chapter. The remainder of the book lets the reader look in-depth at the family and the issues they all have to deal with.
It’s a heart-breaking story of a family struggling with its place in history, and a young woman hoping to be the fulfillment of that struggle.
I really loved this book!
Theodora's Staff Pick, June 2015: The Son is a multi-generational epic set in Texas, told in overlapping, non-linear narratives by members of the McCullough family.
The fate of the family is tied to Texan history as family members influence the progress of the state. The novel borrows many of the tropes and themes of the Western genre, but complicates and critiques them. It doesn’t shy away from ambiguity or violence, but the complex characters, intra-familial conflict and gradual revelation of information make it a really satisfying read!
Theodora's Staff Pick, June 2015:
As the subtitle of this book hints, it reads more like a humorous travel book than a medical or anatomical text.
Roach seeks to explore the workings of the digestive system – a topic generally considered impolite or taboo – and describes her interviews and experiences in witty, self-aware prose.
This is a fun, amusing read that will answer questions about the digestive system you never knew you had – from pet food testing procedures to the holding capacity of the human stomach.