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2020 Staff Picks

April 2020 Picks

Valerie recommends:

Cover image for Assassin's apprenticeAssassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb

At five, Fitz is thrown into a world he never expected to know. He finds out that his father is the King-in-Waiting. Because Fitz was conceived out of wedlock, he has no claims to the throne or the royal family. However, his father, Prince Chivalry, wants to give him a better life than the life of a beggar. He commands that his right hand and battle partner, Burrich, to teach him and raise him as a stable hand. Quickly, Fitz’s role evolves as he’s noticed by his grandfather, King Shrewd.


Kim recommends:

Cover image for Layoverland : a novelLayoverland by Gabby Noone

Layoverland by Gabby Noone is a surprisingly hilarious but thought-provoking novel about Beatrice Fox, a judgmental 17-year-old girl who gets a “job” in the Afterlife as a counselor in Purgatory, or “Layoverland.”  This place looks like an airport, with a hotel and food court, and everything is mediocre there, from jello surrounding all food to luke-warm showers.  She makes unexpected friends, from her Valley Girl mentor who died 30 years ago to the boy who was driving the car that caused her fatal accident.  Bea realizes things about herself and grows as a person, even though she’s physically frozen in time, runny mascara and all.  I’d recommend this book for high-schoolers, and adults who like atypical fantasy Young Adult fiction.

Peggy recommends:

Kanopy: A Movie Lover's Paradise | Reading + Entertainment | Idea ...Streaming on Kanopy. Some of my favorites are The Bookshop, Eighth Grade, Trumbo, Amy, the tragic story of Amy Winehouse, and The Florida Project. These are all movies available to order once the library is open again, however, with Kanopy, you don’t have to wait for it to come. It’s right there, right now, ready to stream. I’m loving it!

March 2020 Picks

Dan recommends:

Cover image for I'm not scaredI’m Not Scared by Niccolo Ammaniti

Creepy thriller from the Italian countryside starring a band of impoverished children and their ne’er-do-well parents. Set in low hills in a wheat farming region of Italy, the low dry hills and streambeds are a perfect setting for nasty behavior by children and adults. Luckily, the main boy and his sister redeem themselves from the brutality of families and friends by showing courage and kindness at the right time.


John recommends:

Cover image for Naked came the Florida manNaked Came the Florida Man by Tim Dorsey

Everybody’s favorite serial killer is back.  He’s on a history tour, but has time for 3 (or more) “science projects”.  Coleman, Serge’s sidekick is still stoned and this time the vehicle is a Plymouth Belvedere with a huge engine.  Unusually, Serge involves a couple of civilians on his history tour and one of the themes is football (boo) but there are plenty of other interests.   Read it quick, before they are apprehended.


Kim recommends:

Cover image for That's what friends doThat’s What Friends Do by Cathleen Barnhart

and Cover image for The Mystwick School of MusicraftMystwick School of Musicraft by Jessica Khoury

That’s What Friends Do and The Mystwick School of Musicraft are two 2020 books that on the surface seem very different but have some commonalties.  They are both aimed at preteens but I would recommend That’s What for perhaps 10 and up, while Mystwick could be a read-aloud for as young as seven.  Both books have 12-year-old female protagonists, although in That’s What Sammie’s narration alternates with that of her best friend David, who has a secret crush on her.  Things get complicated for Sammie and David when new kid Luke moves to town and flirts with an uninterested Sammie, crossing over into harassment, which David misinterprets.  Despite the heavy issues of consent and harmful rumors, Barnhart’s book remains a believable and at times funny story of modern middle-schoolers negotiating confusing new territory, with no simplistic “good kids” and “bad kids,” heroes or villains, here.

Mystwick offers a simpler yet surprising world, much like our own, with the Internet and television, but also with music that is magic.  This novel (I suspect the first in what will become a series) is obviously a Harry-Potter-read-alike, but with some significant differences.  In Khoury’s world, anyone is capable of doing at least basic magic, as a Novice, with a little practice, so there are no “Muggles” that the magic has to be hidden from.  The most musically talented can audition for Mystwick when they’re twelve years old, but competition is fierce, so it’s not like at Hogwarts, where you’re born magical and guaranteed a spot.  Main character Amelia is the daughter of a Maestro (very talented musician-magician) but that is no guarantee she can get into the school, especially when her audition goes spectacularly bad.  Yet somehow, she ends up at the school, where her best friend is a boy with family issues like and unlike her own.  (Parent-child relationships are an important part of both novels.)

The books can, of course, be read separately, but I recommend both for their humor and relatability.

Valerie recommends:

Cover image for Throne of glassThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

The first book in this series introduces Celaena Sardothien. Her fierceness as an assassin is known throughout the land. After betrayal, tragedy and her capture, Adarland’s King enslaves her. It is only after Prince Dorian offers her a deal for her freedom that she rekindles the fire in her heart and the hope for her country. I liked this series because it had many unexpected twists and turns, and the characters are fiercely loyal to one another.


Peggy recommends:

Cover image for Greenwood : a novelGreenwood by Michael Christie

Using the rings of a tree as the structure, Christie weaves an intriguing tale of love and fortune through the years, making Greenwood a unique page turner.



Getting ready for summer vacation? Well, here’s the ultimate guide to everything camping in Northern California. Whether you plan to go far and wide or just vacay in place, this is the best resource for what you need to know.




Amie recommends:

Cover image for Red at the boneRed at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson (Book on CD)

I didn’t read this, I listened to it. And I found myself sitting in the car for hours just to get one more piece of it. It’s a heartbreaking story about a family told from five perspectives, and as the book on CD, each character is more beautiful than the last.

Cover image for TrinityTrinity by Leon Uris

This book took me twenty years to read, but it’s worth it. A beautiful story about the Catholic/Protestant war for Ireland and a good read for St. Patrick’s Day.



Cover image for Kisaengch'ung ParasiteParasite (DVD)

This film, though quite funny, terrified me. I did not know people could be so horrendous. Definitely worth the watch, or read, in my case. Worthy of its Oscar!



Cover image for Ford v FerrariFord vs. Ferrari (DVD)

I thought this movie was about Matt Damon driving a Ford and Christian Bale driving a Ferrari. I was wrong. It was hilarious and touching, and fun all the way through.



Dennis recommends:

Image result for dirty boogie brian setzer orch imageDirty Boogie by Brian Setzer Orchestra  (CD)

Lively, up tempo rock with a big band horn section.  Tunes like Jump Jive and Wail describe this CD which definitely livened up Friday’s radio show at 2 pm on KNYO107.7 & KNYO.ORG.

Cover image for Blowout : corrupted democracy, rogue state Russia, and the richest, most destructive industry on EarthBlowout by Rachel Maddow

Blowout is a journey around the globe revealing the greed of Big Oil and Gas and how and why the Russian government hacked the 2016 U.S. Election.  Blowout is a call to fight for transparency and to stop subsidizing the wealthiest business on earth and to check the influence of the world’s most destructive industry and its enab