Staff Picks for March 2015

This month we have a wonderful array of books for all ages, fiction and non-fiction, from picture books to recipe books (which are akin to adult picture books)!

We especially recommend you check out the books for young adults and teens, whose stories will resonate across generations.

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Listen, Slowly Cover Image
Special Order Only (subject to availability) - Email or Call for Price
ISBN: 9780062229182
Published: HarperCollins - February 17th, 2015

Review by Virgie: (Recommended for 8-12 year olds) The words, listen and slowly, may be two words that a typical American teen cannot relate to! Mai, a daughter of Vietnamese parents, finds herself in Vietnam for the entire summer, to help her Grandmother Ba, finally determine the fate of her long lost husband. Mai accompanies Ba out of respect, but in reality, this is the last place on the earth she wants to spend her summer.

On the other hand, Mai’s parents consider this the perfect opportunity for their daughter to become familiar with her roots, but Mai considers the U.S. to be her only roots.

As the summer progresses, Mai slowly transforms from a spoiled child to someone who can look beyond herself with compassion.

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Inside Out and Back Again Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061962790
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - January 2nd, 2013

Review by Virgie: (Recommended for 8-12 year olds) Inspired by the author’s own childhood experience of fleeing Vietnam as a refugee and immigrating to Alabama, this novel, told in verse, is sure to capture young readers’ hearts and open their eyes.

The insights into the struggling and confusing life of immigrants serves as an inspiration for main-stream Americans to do all they can to make this country a more inclusive, welcoming place for them.

It is beautifully written and the sparseness of the verse makes the story that much more powerful!

It moved me to tears!

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The Yellow Birds: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316219341
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - April 30th, 2013

Review by Virgie: If American Sniper caught your attention then this is another book you need to read!

This novel, written by a veteran of the war in Iraq, is the unbelievable story of two young soldiers trying to stay alive. It provides insight about war and its effects on the men and women who take part in it.

Powers compares rushing into battle to the moment before you collide with another car in an accident. There’s that same feeling of helplessness – the knowing that you may very well die in a mere second.

The person who left for war is not the person who returns, and thus must deal with returning to the life in the U.S. as they knew it.

This short novel is engrossing, had an immense impact on me and will haunt me forever!

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A Little Life: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385539258
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Doubleday - March 10th, 2015

Logan's book review: After I read her debut novel The People in The Trees, I knew that Hanya Yanagihara was a force to be reckoned with.

Her new work, A Little Life, is a deeply moving, heart-wrenching intimate brick of a novel, one that spans decades in the lives of four friends who move to New York City after college. The focus is on Jude St. Francis, whose secrecy about his troubled past has left him a mystery to all who know him.

Yanagihara pulls no punches in describing the experiences of Jude’s youth, and the reader should be prepared with tissues for the 720 or so pages. This story is unforgettable, and further establishes Yanagihara in the ranks of today’s most impressive authors.

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Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck (Thug Kitchen Cookbooks) Cover Image
Special Order Only (subject to availability) - Email or Call for Price
ISBN: 9781623363581
Published: Rodale Books - October 7th, 2014

Shannon's Book Review: This is my new favorite cookbook in the way it makes healthy cooking fun and delicious.

After I first bought the cookbook, I found myself cooking one or two of Thug Kitchen’s recipes everyday (I highly recommend the Black Bean Tortas with Chipotle Mayo).

The Thug Kitchen crew writes, “A Torta is a bada— sandwich with the soul of a burrito, make this mother— stat and see what your narrow sandwich world has been missing.”

Thug Kitchen also shows how to make basics you never thought you were making wrong, such as: essential marinara sauce, a delicious green smoothie that packs all the nutrients you need without the big price tag, and tons of breakfast foods - my favorite!

The food packs in so much flavor that I didn’t realize the recipes were vegetarian until the fifth dish I made. Even though the recipes are vegetarian, there’s always a way to substitute meat in, if you like.

I find myself recommending this book to all my friends and hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

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Love You Forever Cover Image
By Robert Munsch, Sheila McGraw (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780920668375
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Firefly Books - September 1st, 1995

Shannon's Book Review:  (Recommended for 3-6 year olds) Love you Forever was originally published in 1986, but its beautiful message about lasting love between a mother and her child spans generations.

As her child grows, the mother sings to him every night, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

This story is accompanied by the illustrations of Sheila McGraw. Love You Forever is listed on Publishers Weekly All-Time Bestselling Children’s Books list for paperbacks.

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Echo Cover Image
ISBN: 9780439874021
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scholastic Press - February 24th, 2015

Jamie's Book Review: Though this book might seem daunting for a young reader because of its length, it is well-written for children to both engage and to teach.

The book takes place before and during World War II in different settings—Germany, Philadelphia, and California, from the perspective of three interesting children.

I would highly recommend this book for a child who is an advanced reader but perhaps too young for certain subject matters in the Young Adult section.

The only reservation I feel in recommending Echo is that two of the three stories feature male protagonists. While I do believe that the book itself is appealing for girls, because I read (and ADORED) Esperanza Rising, which features a female protagonist, I felt disappointed by Munoz Ryan’s choice to portray such male-dominated realms in this book. We need more Esperanzas as role models for our girls!

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Written in the Stars Cover Image
Special Order Only (subject to availability) - Email or Call for Price
ISBN: 9780399171703
Published: Nancy Paulsen Books - March 24th, 2015

Chris's Book Review: (Recommended for 12+ years) Naila has had a relatively open childhood with her strict Pakistani parents. They have told her that she can be anything she wants when she grows up, she can have her hair the way she wants, but she cannot have any male friends, at all.

And when the time comes, they will choose her husband.

Her life starts to unravel when her parents find her at her senior prom dancing with a boy! They immediately plan a trip home to Pakistan. Naila feels that her whole life is being taken away, she will miss her graduation where she is Salutatorian. Her parents see in a very different light, that she has done the ultimate betrayal.

Will Naila come to terms with who her family is and things that they want for her.

This is a heart wrenching story of a girl who only wants to be able to make her own life choices, in a culture that doesn’t see it that way. This is a must read for all ages. I loved this book.

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Click, Clack, Peep! (A Click Clack Book) Cover Image
By Doreen Cronin, Betsy Lewin (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781481424110
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - February 10th, 2015

Chris's Book Review:  (Recommended for 4-8 year olds) In Cronin and Lewlin’s classic style of Click, Clack, Moo, these ladies bring in a wonderful new character, Baby Duck. But with all babies, Peep is not really into sleeping and keeps everyone up on the farm. As always the story is to cute for words and the illustrations are wonderful. This is a great book for spring and Easter.