December 2015 Picks
Georgia Ford, after learning a shocking secret the week before her wedding, heads back to her family’s Sonoma vineyard to hide but learns the rest of her family has secrets of their own they all have to deal with. A really great story about relationships, family and connection to the land that takes place in nearby Sonoma that made for an intriguing read. Fort Bragg Branch Library has a copy of this book for check out.
For fans of the Selection series by Kiera Cass, this is the latest in the series that tells of the next Selection process with the newest generation. I really enjoy the main character and appreciate the reversal of roles in book. If you liked the Selection series, you will enjoy this but for new readers I recommend reading the first three books in the series first.
If you are looking for a fun, sassy and sarcastic memoir, then look no further. Jen Lancaster is hilarious as she gives us an insight into her life and the encounters along the way. Highly recommend any of her books which can all be found in our library catalog.
From a top secret government laboratory come two genetically altered life forms. One is a magnificent dog of astonishing intelligence. The other, a hybrid monster of a brutally violent nature. And both are on the loose. The explosive story of a man and a woman, caught in a relentless storm of mankind’s darkest creation and the fight between good and evil.
You will get caught up in this book.
In St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1888, royal debutante Katerina Alexandrovna, Duchess of Oldenburg, tries to hide a dark secret–that she has the ability to raise the dead–but when she uses her special skill to protect a member of the Imperial Family, she finds herself caught in a web of intrigue. Great historical fantasy set at the end of Imperial Russia. Romance, political intrigue, and magic all combine to make for a great read.
Ruthie and her father have picked out the Christmas tree of the church in the spring. This year it is their family’s turn to provide it. However, when Ruthie’s father must go off to war, things get harder. Most folks believe that there won’t be a Christmas tree this year, but Ruthie and her mother have a few tricks up their sleeves. This story is set in the Appalachians, and it is beautiful both in its text and illustrations. It is one of my all time favorite Christmas stories, and I try to read it every year.
Hershel arrives in a village on the first night of Hanukkah, but there are no candles light any where and no one is celebrating. He soon learns that goblins have taken over the synagogue and have stopped anyone from celebrating the holiday. Herschel volunteers to defeat the goblins. To do so, he must spend all eight nights in the synagogue and light the candles for each night, and on the last night, he must get the king of goblins to light the candles. So with a number of tricks up his sleeves, Hershel sets off to face the goblins in their den. This is my all time favorite Hanukkah story. Everything about it is absolutely wonderful, and the text and illustrations work together perfectly. Even if you don’t celebrate Hanukkah, this is a great read.
Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen. On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me—well, actually, my true love, Darcy O’Mara, is spending a feliz navidad tramping around South America. Meanwhile, Mummy is holed up in a tiny village called Tiddleton-under-Lovey with that droll Noel Coward! And I’m snowed in at Castle Rannoch with my bumbling brother, Binky, and sourpuss sister-in-law, Fig. So it’s a miracle when I contrive to land a position as hostess to a posh holiday party in Tiddleton. The village is like something out of A Christmas Carol! But no sooner have I arrived than a neighborhood nuisance, a fellow named Freddie falls out of a tree, dead…. Dickensian, indeed. Freddie’s merely a stocking stuffer. On my second day in town, another so-called accident turns up another mincemeat pie—and yet another on my third. The village is buzzing that a recent prison break could have something to do with it… that, or a long-standing witch’s curse. I’m not so sure. But after Darcy shows up beneath the mistletoe, anything could be possible in this wicked wonderland. A great holiday mystery for any fans of historical mysterious. This one especially has a great combination humor, romance, and dead bodies.
Greetings: my staff pick is Cannery Row by John Steinbeck. I loved that the character of Doc (probably based on Ed Ricketts-Google him) invented the beer milkshake. Other zanyness ensues.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Remember this one from when you were a kid? Older children will love this 1972 classic, in which the six misbehaving Herdman kids—the “worst kids in the entire history of the world”—take over the church pageant and reinterpret the story of Christmas. The mix of outrageous moments, hilarious hijinks and profound surprises makes this one read parents will love as much as kids.
This was so funny I spit coffee all over myself laughing while riding Bart to San Francisco one winter morning and everyone was so intrigued by my amusement they were writing down the title of the book that had me in such stitches. Holidays on Ice (and just about anything by David Sedaris) is laugh out loud funny. This is the best book to pick up if you want to de-stress during the holidays. Enjoy.
Written in alternating point of view by two well-known young adult authors, this book is clever and fast paced. Centered on the joys of the holiday season, each dare brings these two wonderful characters closer together, despite the fact that they couldn’t be more different. Everything about this book is hopeful and fun, and it’s an added bonus that it is set during the holidays, giving the reader a taste of New York City at Christmastime.
November 2015 Picks
In this grotesque madness of a mystical under-land story, Alyssa Gardner hears the whispers of bugs and flowers—precisely the affliction that landed her mother in a mental hospital years before. This family curse stretches back to her ancestor Alice, the real-life inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa might be crazy, but she manages to keep it together for a while.
When her mother’s mental health takes a turn for the worse, Alyssa learns that what she thought was fiction is based in terrifying reality. The real Wonderland is a place far darker and more twisted than Lewis Carroll ever let on. There, Alyssa must pass a series of tests, including draining an ocean of Alice’s tears, waking the slumbering tea party, and subduing a vicious bandersnatch, to fix Alice’s mistakes and save her family. She must also decide whom to trust: Jeb, her best friend or the suspicious Morpheus, her guide through Wonderland, who may have dark motives of his own. To find out what happens you must read this exciting story.
The book follows Billie Breslin and her job working for a famous Food Magazine. Rich in detail and characters, the story delves into Billie’s past and the history of the magazine. Wonderful read and the November Book Club read at Fort Bragg Branch Library. Stop by the library and grab your copy.
By the author of the Mother Daughter Book Club series. A great read that tweens and adults will enjoy. A story with a mystery tied to a family bookstore , moving to a new place and family going through some hard times. A wonderful story!!
This title has been selected as a Common Core Text Exemplar (Grades 2-3, Stories)
October 2015 Picks
Told from the point of view of a worker bee, this unique novel gives an intriguing “insiders” look into the lives of those incredible creatures, the honey bees, whose very existence is endangered due to the carelessness of humans.
For Young Adults:
With Bruce Jenner’s Caitlyn revelation still fresh in the news, this novel is a great way to heighten young adult awareness to the emotional rollercoaster of transgenderism in an unsupportive world.
Camilla Cream loves lima beans, but she never eats them. Why? Because the other kids in her school don’t like them. And Camilla Cream is very, very worried about what other people think of her. In fact, she’s so worried that she’s about to break out in#133; a bad case of stripes!
A fun way of showing young children that embracing their true selves and liking you for exactly who you are is healthy.
If you like Garrison Keillor or Fannie Flagg, you may like this. Enjoy.
An eerily relevant novel about a not so future nightmare where powerful corporate robbers control the most necessary of human needs: water. A great read!
The setting is the American Southwest, at a time in the near future when the country is plagued by climactic calamities and the Southwest’s dwindling water supply is controlled by robber barons. Hit by a “Big Daddy Drought,” a perpetual catastrophe that has become the horrifying new normal, the Grand Canyon State is the new American dust bowl — or sand bowl — where refugees crowd the ghettos of suburban Phoenix and rapacious “coyotes” smuggle people not from Mexico to the U.S., as they do now, but from Arizona to California.
The federal government has been severely weakened by corporate influence; the drought-stricken Western states have formed their own militias and shut down their borders. In the midst of this poverty and tragedy, massive resorts are being constructed across the parched landscape, ones that flaunt their water-wealth in the face of exploited workers and gross ecological disparity.
In The Water Knife, Bacigalupi raises bigger questions, about what happens when a shrinking federal government leaves a vacuum in its wake, and what kinds of things rush in to fill that void. September 2015 Picks
Paula McClain does a wonderful job of telling the story about the marriage of Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley. Well written with intriguing characters that look at the “Lost Generation” in Paris and the struggle to be the wife of Ernest Hemingway.
Fort Bragg Library will be reading this book for the Thursday Book club for September. A really interesting look at the town of Oak Ridge Tennessee and the role it played in World War II.
For Young Adults:
A fun read where 35 girls are selected to compete for a chance to change the life that has already been selected for them. In a dystopian land that was once North America, people live according to caste systems that they are pre-destined for. A chance to compete for the love of the Prince offers a chance to change someone’s life. A nice twist on dystopian and fairy tale love stories, a nice weekend read.Dennis recommends:
Hardly a day goes by without some new form of technological menace rearing its head, in science fiction author Chuck Wendig cyber-thriller, Zer0es.
Zer0es is a novel about cutting-edge tech, but at heart it’s as traditional as they come. Wendig throws together a ragtag group of hackers from a broad stretch of backgrounds, each of whom has been sentenced to hard time for their online crimes. That is, unless they agree to undertake a secret mission: From a streetwise identity thief, to a backwoods conspiracy theorist, the characters are rounded up and whisked away to a compound called The Lodge, where they’re trained for their big job — one that winds up involving a sinister, rogue cyber-entity known as Typhon. Along the way their pasts and souls are laid bare, including those of their taskmaster, a government operative whose own traumatic history continues to haunt him.
As the five hackers clash with each other, both personally and ideologically, at The Lodge, their growing awareness of the dark forces lurking behind the walls of the government — and of reality — kicks the suspense into high gear when devastating blackouts in New York and Iran’s nuclear program come into play. How does it end, you will have to read to find out.
There are two subtly interconnected stories in this book. The first is that of Chinese-American “ghost writer”, a workaholic in her mid-40s who’s living with a divorced man and his two adolescent daughters while dealing as best as she can with her frail, elderly mother LuLin, whose imperfect assimilation into American culture is becoming exacerbated by encroaching Alzheimer’s. The story within it is LuLing’s written memoir of her childhood in a village near Peking; orphanhood, marriage, and bereavement under Japanese invasion during WWII before she finally reinvented herself and emigrated to San Francisco; and especially her complex relationship with her “Precious Auntie,” a victim of patriarchal oppression whose hold on LuLing’s mind and heart long outlasts her death, and proves to have been much more than the “nursemaid” who raised her. LuLing’s frustrated efforts to learn the truth about her origins is ingeniously linked to the archaeological searches that result in the discovery of “Peking Man”—a discovery later echoed by both Ruth’s and LuLing’s confrontations with confused and lost identities. This book builds slowly, and a few sequences seem inexplicably disproportionate. But the elaborate preparation pays generous dividends in the stunning final 50 or so pages: a beautifully modulated amalgam of grief, pride, resentment, and resignation—as Ruth accepts the consequences of knowing “She was her mother’s child as she becomes mother to the child her mother had become.”Peggy recommends:
A family of 4 takes what they believe will be a nice respite in the beautiful Rocky Mountains prior to 18 year old Caitlin’s entrance into college when the unthinkable happens and they are thrown into a nightmare of emotions revolving around loss, family, and faith.
A gripping, thought provoking, haunting thriller you won’t soon forget.
Nature Of The Beast is the 11th installment in the Chief Inspector Gamache series and is as intriguing a page turner as it’s 10 predecessors. Laurent LePage is a precocious 9 year old, full of stories of espionage and aliens. Many of his stories fall in the “boy who cried wolf” category until the one time he is telling the truth. When Laurent disappears it sends the whole village of Three Pines out searching and on edge for the real truth has dire consequences.
For Young Adults:
While on trial as an accomplice to a murder, sixteen-year-old Steve Harmon records his experiences in prison and in the courtroom in the form of a film script as he tries to come to terms with the course his life has taken.
A great story about how one single decision can change our whole lives.
A hungry wolf’s attempts to fatten a chicken for his stewpot have unexpected results.
The kids in my daycare loved this book so much I had to read it every day for over a year. It’s a book even vegetarians can love.
August 2015 Picks
When his most prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, is stolen, bookstore owner A. J. Fikry begins isolating himself from his friends, family, and associates before receiving a mysterious package that compels him to remake his life.
Helen and Winnie have kept each other’s worst secrets for more than fifty years. Now that Helen believes she is dying, she wants to tell everything. Winnie is angry with Helen’s decision and believes she should be the one to tell her own daughter, Pearl, about the past, a past that includes a secret even Helen doesn’t know. The Kitchen God’s Wife is Winnie’s story of her life from a small island outside of Shanghai in the 1920s, through several places in China during World War II, and ending with the desperate events that led to Winnie’s coming to America in 1949.Dennis recommends:
This, the first in the splendid series of Jack Aubrey novels, establishes the friendship between Captain Aubrey, R.N., and Stephen Maturin, ship’s surgeon and intelligence agent, against a thrilling backdrop of the Napoleonic wars. Details of life aboard a man-of-war are faultlessly rendered: the conversational idiom of the officers in the ward room and the men on the lower deck, the food, the floggings, the mysteries of the wind and the rigging, and the roar of broadsides as the great ships close in battle.
A psychopath is on the loose. He must be stopped at any cost. It’s a job for toy Town’s only detective–but he’s missing, leaving only Eddie Bear, and his bestest friend Jack, to track down the mad killer. A hilarious, very irreverent fantasy from the cult creator of Web Site Story, The Sprouts of Wrath, and the five-book Brentford Trilogy.
The Agatha Award winner debuts a 1930s London mystery series, featuring a penniless 20-something member of the extended royal family. When an arrogant Frenchman, who wants her family’s estate for himself, winds up dead, Victorias most important job is to clear her family name.
For Young Adults:
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
When murder strikes a remote hamlet in the Shetland Islands, and the body of a teenage girl turns up in the winter snow, Inspector Jimmy Perez launches an investigation into the killing that takes him into the heart of sinister secrets from the island’s past.
Since her mother died, twelve-year-old Lily has struggled to care for her severely autistic half-brother, Adam, in their Miami home, but she is frustrated and angry because her oncologist step-father, Don, expects her to devote her time to Adam, and is unwilling to admit that Adam needs professional help–but when Adam bonds with a young dolphin with cancer Lily is confronted with another dilemma: her family or the dolphin’s freedom.
Other Favorites for 2015:
Provides a moving account of the disappearances occurring all around us and traces the evolution of extinction as a concept, from its first articulation by Georges Cuvier in revolutionary Paris up through the present day. The sixth extinction is likely to be mankind’s most lasting legacy, compelling us to rethink the fundamental question of what it means to be human. Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer for General Non-fiction.
A stunningly ambitious and beautiful novel about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II. Winner of the 2015 Pulitzer for fiction.
A sweeping portrait of post-Vietnam America seen through the eyes of a young woman searching for the courage to go home again.