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Staff Picks

August 2019 Picks

John recommends:

Cover image for You're not lost if you can still see the truck : the further adventures of America's everyman outdoorsmanYou’re Not Lost if You Can Still See the Truck by Bill Heavey

I’m going to be objective here but it will be difficult.  My goal in reading Bill Heavey, was to find a writer like Patrick F. McManus.  Now I need to figure out which of McManus’ books I do not have and get them.  Bill Heavey is not Pat McManus but he is interesting and, having read two of his earlier books, his writing has improved in this one.

You’re Not Lost if You Can Still See the Truck is a compilation of his magazine articles.  One caveat, however, is if, like me, you are severely affected by stories of sudden infant death, you might want to skip the story: Suddenly She Was Gone.  Also if you are offended by hunting and fishing you might want to skip the whole book or read only the sections on gathering.

Kim recommends:

Cover image for In the woodsIn the Woods by Carrie Jones and Steven E. Wedel

In the Woods tells of the surprising relationship between Chrystal, the cynical daughter of a cryptozoologist who has a theory that Bigfoot is actually a vampire, and Logan, a sensible Oklahoma farm boy who witnessed a monster ripping off a calf’s head.  The story successfully blends horror, action, humor, and, yes, teen romance, while also being a celebration of family, biological and found.

 

Valerie recommends:

Cover image for Practical magicPractical Magic by Alice Hoffman

Sally and Gillian have known they were different since they were little girls. Due to unfortunate circumstances, they have to move in with their elderly aunts, who encourage them to be open to their weird family quirk: they are all witches and they are all cursed. I love this book because of the wise advice and the beautiful sayings that I now have in my repertoire.

 

Cover image for The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxyHitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Arthur Dent is the most average guy, and the last person you’d ever expect to save the planet. Of course, he doesn’t save the planet. The earth explodes, but right before that, Arthur manages to tag along with a hitchhiker, thereby beginning a circuitous intergalactic journey. I enjoyed this book because the humor would still catch me by surprise halfway through the book.

 

Dennis recommends:

Cover image for This fight is our fight : the battle to save America's middle classThis Fight is our Fight by Senator Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren, one of the nation’s most influential progressives and longtime champion of working families and the middle class, is the senior senator from Massachusetts.  A former Harvard Law School professor, she is the author of ten previous books, including A Fighting Chance, a national bestseller that received widespread critical acclaim.

 

Peggy recommends:

Cover image for The word is murder : a novelThe Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

Okay, I admit I wanted to read this based on the cover and I know you can’t judge a book blah, blah, blah. But this one panned out!

I didn’t know when I started it, but The Word is Murder was written by well-known screenwriter, Anthony Horowitz, who created both the Midsomer Murders and Foyle’s War series. He also wrote the Magpie Murders, an attempt at walking in Agatha Christie’s shoe (my all-time favorite mystery author) and the Sherlockian Moriarty. The Word is Murder is unique among Tony’s work because in this novel he not only writes an intriguing mystery but he inserts a fictionalized version of himself into the story as the author who helps the irritable detective solve the crime (ala Castle, and who doesn’t love Castle?).

How can you pass on a book whose tagline is “She planned her own funeral but did she arrange her own murder?”  I couldn’t. How about you?

PS Horowitz is also the bestselling author of the Young Adult series, Alex Rider so this new series is not his first pony ride.

Jasmine recommends:

Cover image for The prophecy of the StonesThe Prophecy of the Stones by Flavia Bujor

This book is a beautiful little fantasy written by Flavia when she was thirteen. The story has twists and turns, colorful characters, and I love the part where Death goes on strike.

Three young girls are drawn together on their fourteenth birthdays, and must set out on a quest to fulfill an ancient prophecy. Each armed with a magical stone, they must work together and save the magical land called Fairytale. Meanwhile in modern day Paris, a girl named Joa dreams their story while fighting for her life in a hospital bed.

July 2019 Picks

Jasmine recommends:

Cover image for A dog's purposeA Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

A dog lives life after life, always wondering—what is his true purpose? After his life as a stray mutt is cut short, he is surprised to find himself reborn as a golden retriever. In his new life, he finds his way to a boy named Ethan and the love they share shapes the rest of his lives as he is reborn yet again. This book is touching, funny, and amazing at describing everything from the dog’s perspective. It’s so, so good, and I highly recommend it to anyone who loves or has ever loved a dog.

 

Karen recommends:

Cover image for The library at the edge of the world : a novelLibrary at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

Wonderful story about a Librarian in a rural Irish town, who also drives the mobile library to the rural countryside, who rediscovers her place and herself as the village comes together to save the library. Charming read filled with interesting characters.

 

 

Cover image for RulesRules by Cynthia Lord

A must read for everyone. This is a great book for youth and adults to read about a tween girl who struggles with having an autistic brother and it takes another special needs tween to help her figure it out. Great story!!

 

 

Peggy recommends:

How to Survive the Loss of a Love by Melba Colgrove, Peter McWilliams and Harold Bloomfield

Someone gave me this book when my father died nearly 40 years ago and I’ve given it to anyone close to me who has suffered a loss since. It’s a short, easy read but full of really good hints and helpful ideas on how to cope. Each page has ideas for getting through the daily challenges faced in grieving, be it a loss by death, the loss of a job, a break-up or whatever. It helps to know you’re not alone with these feelings and there is hope for the future.

 

Cover image for Harry Potter and the prisoner of AzkabanHarry Potter series (sound recordings) by J K Rowling; read by Jim Dale

I can’t believe I haven’t recommended these audiobooks before especially since I listen to these books EVERY NIGHT. Jim Dale brings these characters to life like no other can. The magical world JK Rowling created just comes to life through his voice and, having seen the  movies, I can picture each character as they progress through the series. Plus, I learn something new about the books and characters each time I listen. I drive my family nuts with this obsession because we can’t go anywhere or do anything without listening to the world of Harry Potter.

Give these a try. I swear you’ll agree these are the best books to listen to. They will spoil you and you’ll be disappointed that Jim Dale isn’t reading all of your books.

Dennis recommends:

Cover image for The Duke Ellington reader

Duke Ellington Reader edited by Mark Tucker

Duke Ellington is universally recognized as one of the towering figures of 20th-century music, both a brilliant composer and one of the preeminent musicians in jazz history.  The book includes over a hundred selections–interviews, critical essays, reviews, memoirs, and over a dozen writings by Ellington himself.

 

Duke Ellington Greatest Hits (music cd)

Check out some of the music talked about in the book.

 

Kim recommends:

Cover image for Truly deviousTruly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious is a YA novel that is about things not being what they seem and is itself not what it appears on the surface.  Yes, it’s a boarding-school-set mystery with a love interest and mild political satire, but there are in fact two mysteries, one contemporary and one still unsolved from the 1930s.  The love interest is handled in a different way than I’m used to seeing in YA.  Yes, there’s the bickering and miscommunication, but it comes from the characters (both what they seem and who they really are), and it’s never entirely clear if we should want the two to get together.  The heroine is herself a sleuth who does questionable things and is in fact questioned on them, so she’s a mystery to be solved, too.  The cliff-hanger ending (I’ve been waiting impatiently for weeks for the sequel to come in as a request) is perhaps the most truly devious part of the entire book, and yet it makes its own peculiar sense.

John recommends:

Cover image for Happy Little GoatsHappy Little Goats by Soraya Hirth (available as an ebook from Hoopla)
This picture book has lots of cute baby goats.

 

 

 

Valerie recommends:

Cover image for ShadowlandThe Mediator: Shadowland by Meg Cabot

Susannah Simon or Sus, as she likes to be called, is a mediator who is just trying to be a normal high school girl. She is one of the few people in the world who has the ability to speak and interact with the dead, which has made her quest for normalcy a little difficult. I enjoyed this read because I liked how Sus does not compromise who she is no matter how badly she wants to fit in.

 

Cover image for Dead like me. The complete first seasonDead Like Me (DVD, TV show)

Georgia has just died, but instead of moving on to the great beyond, she has been charged with being a reaper. The reapers are given the names of the people that are supposed to die that die, and then the reapers must trigger the death of that person. Georgia ends up with an odd bunch of reapers who contribute to Georgia’s already weird life-after-death experience. I love this show because even though Georgia is a very sarcastic and abrasive person, she has a code of conduct and a soft heart.

 

June 2019 Picks

Amie recommends:

Cover image for Milkman : a novelMilkman by Anna Burns

“In an unnamed city, middle sister stands out for the wrong reasons. She reads while walking, for one. And she has been taking French night classes downtown. So when a local paramilitary known as the milkman begins pursuing her, she suddenly becomes ‘interesting,’ the last thing she ever wanted to be. Despite middle sister’s attempts to avoid him―and to keep her mother from finding out about her maybe-boyfriend―rumors spread and the threat of violence lingers. Milkman is a story of the way inaction can have enormous repercussions, in a time when the wrong flag, wrong religion, or even a sunset can be subversive. Told with ferocious energy and sly, wicked humor, Milkman establishes Anna Burns as one of the most consequential voices of our day.”

One of my favorite patrons told me the main character of this book talks like me, so I had to read it. And now I’m telling you, you have to read it.

 

Cover image for ArcticThe Artic (DVD)

“A man stranded in the Arctic after an airplane crash must decide whether to remain in the safety of his makeshift camp or to embark on a deadly trek through the unknown.”

My new boyfriend—Mads Mikkelsen—outshines the breathtaking scenery in this terrifying survival story. For real. He was fantabulous! The bear was fantabulous! The Artic was fantabulous!

Peggy recommends:

Cover image for Earth abidesEarth Abides by George R Stewart

This post-apocalyptic novel was written in 1949, long before The Road by Cormac McCarthy, Alas, Babylon by Frank Pat, or even The Stand by Stephen King (who stated this book was the inspiration for The Stand) and it scared the pants off us. Earth Abides is the story of the end of civilization as we know it. It’s the 1940s and the main character, Isherwood Williams, returns from isolation in the mountains to find most of the inhabitants of the city of Berkeley, CA have succumbed to a horrific disease. Alone and baffled about his own survival, he sets out seeking answers and looking for other survivors.

This truly is the best end of the world book I’ve ever read.

John recommends:

Cover image for Everything Trump touches dies : a republican strategist gets real about the worst president ever.Everything Trump Touches Dies by Rick Wilson 

Everything Trump Touches Dies is by a long-time Republican campaign strategist.  Not Carl Rove and definitely not a Bernie supporter.  The author is extremely familiar with the intricacies of the White House and the people who are there.  This book commands respect.  A page turner.

 

Cover image for Coconut cowboyCoconut Cowboy by Tim Dorsey

Coconut Cowboy is the latest in the ongoing voyage for the nostalgic history of Florida by Serge A. Storms and his sidekick Coleman.  In this book they become involved against county corruption.  They befriend a geologist and help even the score after his house is swallowed by a sink hole.  Twists and turns and some usual “object lessons” along the way.  This is more like some of the earlier books after The Pope of Palm Beach, in which Dorsey proved he had an education and has read books (note the cited titles).  In Coconut Cowboy, Serge (never predictable) decides to go “Easy Rider” and gets a chopper.  After Coleman proves incapable of staying on the bike, he adds a sidecar.  Proofreaders may wonder why when the bike has a sidecar, he has to put the side stand down, but I quibble.  Another don’t miss for Dorsey fans and future Dorsey fans.  Enjoy

Kim recommends:

Cover image for The one and only IvanThe One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

The One and Only Ivan is about a silverback gorilla who lives in a circus-themed mall, where his best friends are a free-spirited dog and a wise old elephant.  Their owner, Mack, is greedy and abusive, although even he is “humanized” by the end.  As for Ivan, he has to learn how to be a leader as well as a dreamer and an artist.  When a baby elephant named Ruby joins the troupe, Ivan starts to come into his own, with the help of a sympathetic girl and her father the mall’s custodian.  Ivan’s narrative voice is at once naive and weary, wary and hopeful, with his observations alternately touching, funny, and sad.  This novel, which I’d recommend for ages nine and up (maybe a year or two younger as a read-aloud), won the 2013 Newbery Award.

Dennis recommends:

Cover image for Jester's fortuneJester’s Fortune by Dewey Lambdin 

It’s 1796.  Alan Lewrie and his 18-gun sloop Jester take on the enemy as Napoleon Bonaparte makes his presence felt in the Mediterranean. Eager to fight the French, Lewrie is uneasy when his squadron commander decides to enter into an alliance with Serbian pirates on the Croatian coast.

 

Valerie recommends:

Cover image for Call me by your nameCall Me By Your Name by André Aciman

Seventeen-year-old Elio vacations with his family every summer on the island of Pantelleria, Italy. His father is a university professor, and offers the opportunity for graduate students to live and work with him for the summer. Doctorate student, Oliver, is mysterious and standoffish, and Elio is enthralled by him. Conflicted about newfound desires, Elio attempts to distract himself with other love interests. However, the pull of attraction between Elio and Oliver is too strong.

 

Cover image for Moon calledMoon Called by Patricia Briggs

Mercedes Thompson is not just a car mechanic in the Tri-Cities area. She is also a walker: a person who can shift to the form of a coyote. Growing up in a werewolf pack has made her tough and self-reliant, but Mercy is blind-sided when she finds out that her werewolf neighbor, Adam, has claimed her as his mate. She’s also wary of the new young werewolf she’s hired as an extra hand at the shop. Chaos ensues when Mercy tries to help the young werewolf and it seems that chaos is far from done with her.

May 2019 Picks

Kim recommends:

Cover image for The wild robotThe Wild Robot by Peter Brown

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown has, despite its action scenes, a gentle, wistful quality, a little like the classic My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett.  It is also dryly funny.  The title character, Roz, first gains consciousness on an island and has to learn how to survive and how to live, making a few enemies and many friends among the local animals, sort of like a futuristic Island of the Blue Dolphins.  There’s a deeper, philosophical side to the book, but it would work as a read-aloud for as young as five.  The text is supported by Brown’s haunting yet simple black & white artwork, which is in turns whimsical and lovely.

Peggy recommends:

Cover image for Before she was foundBefore She Was Found by Heather Gudenkaupf

For twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover–movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences.

This book is a page turner from the get-go. Told in varying voices (Violet’s mother, Cora’s journal, a psychologist’s observations, etc), this is a gripping story of trust and betrayal and the fear of not belonging. Heather Gudenkaupf has done it again! Her other titles are The Weight of Silence, Not a Sound, Little Lies, and One Breath Away.

Cover image for Tending rosesTending Roses by Lisa Wingate

Tending Roses was my mother-in-law’s favorite book of all time, which says a lot because she was well read and was never seen without a book. She loved this book because of the special relationships depicted between the old and the young, the bittersweet reality of growing old and the bonding that takes place when people share their deepest thoughts and emotions. This is the the story of a young woman who moves her family to her grandmother’s farm to try and persuade her grandmother to move into a nursing home. While there, her experiences move her to have second thoughts about family, love and the cycle of life. My mother-in-law wasn’t mistaken. This is a great read.

Valerie recommends:

Cover image for Beautiful disaster : a novelBeautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Abby has finally left her past behind and made it to Eastern University with her best friend, America. The two girls make fast friends with some fraternity guys. One of the first weekends on campus, the girls end up attending a secret fighting circle where young men fight for money. Despite her efforts to live a different life, Abby is drawn to one of the fighters, and Travis is very drawn to her. Unexplainable feelings and connection between the two cause havoc for everyone around them.

 

Cover image for Wildness (Deluxe)Wildness by Snow Patrol (available on Hoopla)

Snow Patrol is an alternative band from Ireland. Their music is very mellow and brooding. I’ve listened to Snow Patrol since I was in high school, and they’ve consistently come out with great albums. I never skip a single song on this album!

 

John recommends:

The Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove by Christopher MooreCover image for The lust lizard of Melancholy Cove

This book has outrageous situations and totally unexpected consequences.  Placebos may have a much better profit margin than actual medications but they only work by faith and these didn’t.  In this early book, Christopher Moore is both hilarious and engaging.  The book is a page turner.  Maybe there is a Loch Ness Monster.  Or at least a Melancholy Cove Monster.  Enjoy

 

Dan recommends:

Image result for beardless warriorsThe Beardless Warriors by Richard Matheson

In 1960, Richard Matheson, author of I Am Legend & many Twilight Zone episodes, wrote a gripping novel based on his experience as a young infantryman in WW2. Set in late 1944 Germany, the story traces 15 harrowing days in a US Army Rifle Squad. The only adult is the Sergeant; the rest are eighteen–each experiencing their first days of combat. Main character, Hack, and the young crew are thrown at the Germans in battle after battle. Each soldier is distinct and each death is meaningful. Hack grows up very quickly, having to steer between suicidal recklessness and homicidal rage. It is rare to find a moral fable that is also a page turner. The psychological terror of each moment is what grabs the reader.

Dennis recommends:

Cover image for Sailing alone around the worldSailing Alone Around the World by Capt. Joshua Slocum  (also available as a downloadable book)

Captain Joshua Slocum’s voyage around the world in the 37 foot sloop the Spray in 1895 stands as one of the greatest sea adventures of all time.  His classic narrative of the 46,000 mile circumnavigation of the globe continues to enjoy immense popularity throughout the world.  In Dolphin Isle marina next to my boat Metal Magic is Briar Rose a replica of Captain Slocum’s boat the Spray.

April 2019 Picks

John recommends:

Cover image for The library bookThe Library Book by Susan Orlean

The Library Book is possibly the best nonfiction book I’ve ever read.  This book isn’t just good, it may be Pulitzer good.  Hard to imagine that a history of the LA county museum and the fire in 1986 (a year before the Fort Bragg Library fire) could be so interesting.  Extremely well researched and very well written, I now have to look at her other books.

 

Cover image for The truth : a novel of DiscworldThe Truth by Terry Pratchett

The Truth a novel of Discworld is about journalism and human (and other races) nature.  You will want to have a bookmark for this one because there are no chapters.  I want to take this opportunity to thank Mallory Fraser (not sure of the spelling, sorry) for telling me about Terry Pratchett.  Meanwhile back at the book, if you like fantasy with a sense of humor, you’ll love this.  There is a photo journalist vampire who has taken the pledge and is overcome every time he takes an “iconograph”, actually it’s the dark light illumination that gets him.  Political intrigue and severe family unpleasantness plus the usual mix of trolls, gnomes, golems, gargoyles, and a werewolf.  There is also a cameo appearance by DEATH.  The Reaper has an amusing sense of humor.  Enjoy

Kim recommends:

Cover image for NothingNothing by Annie Barrows

Nothing by Annie Barrows is about two fifteen-year-old girls, Charlotte and Frankie, who think their lives are boring, but their story is hilarious, capturing the weirdness of everyday life.  Barrows parodies the YA novels where tragic things happen to the main characters, sometimes one right after another, but she shows the pain and stress of friends changing, growing apart, and then reuniting, while families can be loving and annoying.  Recommended particularly for girls 13 and up, although anyone who reads contemporary teen novels might get a kick out of this one.

Amie recommends:

Cover image for The princess bride : S. Morgenstern's classic tale of true love and high adventure : the "good parts" version, abridgedThe Princess Bride by William Goldman

This book is 90% responsible for my UCSC failure.

This is my favorite book in all the world, though I have never read it.

How is such a thing possible? I’ll do my best to explain…

“Chapter One. The Bride.” He held up the book then. “I’m reading it to you for relax.” He practically shoved the book in my face. “By S. Morgenstern. Great Florinese writer. The Princess Bride. He too came to America. S. Morgenstern. Dead now in New York. The English is his own. He spoke eight tongues.” Here my father put down the book and held up all his fingers. “Eight. Once, in Florin City, I was in his café.” He shook his head now; he was always doing that, my father, shaking his head when he’d said it wrong. “Not his café. He was in it, me too, the same time. I saw him. S. Morgenstern. He had head like this, that big,” and he shaped his hands like a big balloon. “Great man in Florin City. Not so much in America.”

“Has it got any sports in it?”

“Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Good men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles.”—William Golding

Cover image for BlindspottingBlindspotting (DVD)

“Collin must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning. He and his troublemaking childhood best friend, Miles, work as movers, and when Collin witnesses a police shooting, the two men’s friendship is tested as they grapple with identity and their changed realities in the rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood they grew up inches.”

I am still stunned by this film. Watch it. Cry. Then watch it again.

Peggy recommends:

Cover image for Where the crawdads singWhere the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

“She knew the years of isolation had altered her behavior until she was different from others, but it wasn’t her fault she’d been alone. Most of what she knew, she’d learned from the wild. Nature had nurtured, tutored, and protected her when no one else would.”  Delia Owens

Abandoned by her family at a young age, Kya Clark survived on her own in the marshland of the North Carolina coast. She was content on her own until the time came when she found herself yearning for companionship. This is the story of a coming of age, the loss of innocence, a shocking murder and the beauty of wild nature. Delia Owens succeeds in painting the emotions and all the beauty of the marshland with her words in this, her first novel. I eagerly await her second, her third, and so on.

Cover image for Ice cream & dinosaursGroovy Joe Ice Cream and Dinosaurs by Eric Litwin

OMGoodness! This is such a fun book! Groovy Joe settles in to enjoy his favorite thing, Lucky Dog Ice Cream, when in crashes a little dinosaur who puts on a bib, takes out a spoon and demands to share Joe’s ice cream. Check out this book to see how Joe handles dinosaur invaders who want to share.

I read this to a group of 3 year-olds and by the end they were singing and dancing along with Groovy Joe.  It’s a real treat!

Dennis recommends:

Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, veterans now of many battles, return in this novel to the seas where they first sailed as shipmates. They are off on a hazardous mission to the Greek Islands.

 

Valerie recommends:

Cover image for Morrigan's crossMorrigan’s Cross (the Circle Trilogy) by Nora Roberts

In the first book of the Circle Trilogy, we meet Hoyt, a sorcerer who has lost his twin brother to the vampire Lilith. Just when he’s lost all hope, the goddess Morrigan tasks him with saving the world. Now Hoyt has to interpret the prophecy and find the rest of the fated circle who must come together in order to stop Lilith and save the world.

 

Cover image for City of bonesCity of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Clary Frey is an artistic eighteen-year-old with a bright future at the Brooklyn Art Institute. She has a loving mother and a spirited best friend named Simon. However, in one night, Clary’s entire life is turned upside down. Clary finds out that she has the sight. She’s able to see shadowhunters, who protect the mundane world from the downworlders (vampires, werewolves, demons, and the fae). She finds out that she has a more complex past than she ever realized, and that she is far from mundane. This is the first book of the Mortal Instruments series.

March 2019 Picks

Amie recommends:

Cover image for The wolves of winter : a novelThe Wolves of Winter by Tyrell Johnson

A dystopian tale I am willing to recommend: The statistics line up, the infrastructure has a reason for its uselessness, and the girl saves herself.

 

 

Bohemian Rhapsody DVD

Watch it just to sing along.

 

 

John recommends:

Cover image for Little green : an Easy Rawlins mysteryLittle Green: an Easy Rawlins mystery by Walter Mosley

This book is an absolute page turner.  I had five library books while reading this book and all but this were neglected.  In 1968 I went to the L.A. area (Santa Monica) and the feel from this book which takes place in 1967 is really authentic.  It’s really scary to contemplate how Mr. Mosley researched this book.  It is gritty and filled with menace.  I loved it and you could too!  Enjoy.

 

Peggy recommends:

Cover image for An American marriage : a novelAn American Marriage by Tayari Jones

Celestial and Roy are newlyweds trying to get through the ups and downs of their first year of marriage when Roy is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. This is an insightful look into the lives of three people whose love was the center of their lives until the separation became too deep to hold on. Great storytelling from a fresh new author.

 

Cover image for The golden tresses of the dead : a Flavia de Luce novelThe Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley

Twelve year-old Flavia de Luce is back, this time as a professional private investigator. Along with her father’s old friend, Dogger, she sets out to discover a killer and the origin of a severed human finger that had found its way into her sister’s wedding cake. Another fun, easy read from Mr. Bradley. I can’t wait for the next!

 

Cover image for The good eggThe Good Egg by John Jory

When the other eggs in his carton behave badly, the good egg feels like he needs to be perfect. This is a story about balance and learning to take care of oneself. By the author of The Bad Seed.

 

Karen recommends:

Cover image for Saving Mona Lisa : the battle to protect the Louvre and its treasures from the NazisSaving Mona Lisa: The Battle to Protect the Louvre and its Treasure from the Nazis  By Gerri Chanel

Extremely interesting book about the history of the art in the Louvre and how the staff have struggled to protect it from danger. The author does a great job of historically telling the story of the art during WWII and keeping the story and characters interesting. Great read for anyone interested in history, art, and war.

 

Cover image for I owe you one : a novelI Owe You One by Sophie Kinsella

Any book by Sophie Kinsella is worth reading!! This one is a great read, really about family relations with great character interactions. Worth reading!!!

 

 

Cover image for The Red Green show. 1991Red Green Show DVD

The Fort Bragg Library have these DVDS and if you haven’t seen this classic Canadian comedy that was a staple on a lot of PBS channels then check out the DVDs. Hilarious and really helped bring to the public the wonders of Duct Tape. This is a must see!!!

 

Kim recommends:

Cover image for P is for pterodactyl : the worst alphabet book ever ; all the letters that misbehave and make words nearly impossible to pronounceP Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever by Raj Haldar

P Is for Pterodactyl is a funny, imaginative look at silent letters, and letters that get pronounced in surprising ways, with absurd full-color illustrations.  This children’s nonfiction book is recommended for 2nd graders and above, although word-loving adults will get a kick out of it.

Dennis recommends:

Cover image for Blue at the mizzenBlue At The Mizzen by Patrick O’Brian.

The excitement of the Aubrey/Maturin series soars to new heights in this volume as Captain Aubrey, again the daring frigate commander of old, stakes all on a desperate solo night raid against the might of the Spanish viceroy in Peru.

 

Dan recommends:

Cover image for The travel book : a journey through every country in the world.The Travel Book: a journey through every country in the world from Lonely Planet

Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag, and smile, smile, smile! The Travel Book is Lonely Planet’s invitation to the armchair traveler who longs to see the world. It’s a snapshot of the entire planet in 2018 with it’s publisher’s inimitable vibe. If you don’t mind dangerous destinations and your back-pack toting shadow is never far behind, this book is for you. If you’re used to more luxurious accommodations and safe travel, the book may still hold an appeal, sparking interest in exotic countries you’ve never thought of visiting. For the geography trivia fan, it’s a thrill to see each country’s people, map and natural beauty in a two-page spread.

Valerie recommends:

Cover image for A discovery of witchesA Discovery of Witches (Book #1 of the All Souls Trilogy) by Deborah Harkness

The main character, Diana Bishop, is a witch in denial. She wants nothing to do with magic, and finds solace in her job as a historian. Despite her fervent efforts to keep magic out of her life, Diana stumbles upon an enchanted manuscript that may contain the secrets of all the supernatural creatures of the world. Soon Diana is caught in the middle of a race to the manuscript. She meets an alluring vampire by the name of Matthew Clairmont. Together they begin unlocking the secrets of their heritage and past.

 

Cover image for Immortal belovedImmortal Beloved (Book #1 of the Immortal Beloved Trilogy) by Cate Tiernan

Immortal beings secretly live among humans. Natasya Crowe is one of them. After a century of living an irresponsible life, Natasya is snapped back to reality when her immortal best friend callously tortures a human. Hoping to escape and find some guidance, Natasya checks herself into an immortal rehab facility. She meets other immortals who are learning to cope with their past mistakes, including an immortal named Reyn. More brooding and tortured than the others, Natasya can’t help being curious.

February 2019 Picks

Karen recommends:

Cover image for SourdoughSourdough by Robin Sloan

From the author of Mr.Penumbra’s 24 hour Bookstore, while not as good as Mr.Penumbra’s , it was still worth reading. A fun venture into the world of tech/ bread/ San Fransisco cutthroat Farmer’s Market and the world of foodies.  Robin Sloane does a great job of blending old school traditions and high tech worlds.

 

Cover image for The bookshop of yesterdays : a novelThe Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson

If you like self-discoveries, family intrigue, trendy characters and books with bookstores as the setting then you will enjoy this book.

 

 

Kim recommends:

The Terrible Two is a very funny book about two pranksters who start out as rivals and end up as friends. Throw in a school principal who comes from a long line of principals, and a bunch of facts about cows, and you’ve got a book that almost anyone, especially preteen boys, can enjoy.

 

Peggy recommends:

Cover image for The suspectThe Suspect by Fiona Barton

Two young women go missing while on holiday in Bangkok and the suspect is someone very close to the investigation.

Once again, Fiona Barton, author of two of my favorite recent novels, The Widow and The Child, delivers a page-turner.

 

Cover image for The currentThe Current by Tim Johnston

When two young women leave their college campus in the dead of winter for a 700-mile drive north to Minnesota, they suddenly find themselves fighting for their lives in the icy waters of the Black Root River, just miles from home. One girl’s survival, and the other’s death–murder, actually–stun the citizens of a small Minnesota town, thawing memories of another young woman who lost her life in the same river ten years earlier, and whose killer may yet live among them.

OMGoodness, this one keeps you on your toes. I also recommend this author’s first novel, The Descent.

Cover image for Great British Baking Show – Season 1Great British Baking Show series (DVD)

Binge worthy series pits amateur baking contestants against each other for the title of the UK’s Best. Each week, the bakers tackle a different skill, the difficulty of which increases as the competition unfolds.

I’ve learned so much through this show—mostly that I don’t EVER want to compete in a baking contest (I’d cry for sure)—and I’ve learned to weigh ingredients instead of measuring them (the common practice in the US). I’ve also learned what terms like “short crust” means (pie crust) and, for those vegans out there, you can get the same frothy meringue from the juice of canned chickpeas as you can with egg whites (who knew? also, whoever said “I’ll beat the heck out of this chickpea liquid and see what happens”?)

Amie recommends:

Cover image for The cabin at the end of the world : a novelCabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

Seven-year-old Wen is vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake with her parents, Eric and Andrew, when a stranger unexpectedly stumbles out of the forest. Leonard—the largest man Wen has ever seen—is young and friendly, and wins her over almost instantly. They talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologizes and tells Wen, “None of what’s going to happen is your fault,” and then three more strangers carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects appear. When Wen sprints to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world.”

Right?!?

An unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family—and quite possibly all of humanity—are entwined. A masterpiece of terror and suspense from the fantastically fertile imagination of Paul Tremblay.

One of my favorite patrons told me this book was too psychologically scary for her and I had to read it and tell her what happened. So I did. It was absolutely fantastic until the very last line and then it was lame. LAME. But if you just don’t read the last line, you will LOVE this book. And maybe you will love it even if you read the last line, but don’t tell me, because I will roll my eyes at you.

Taboo (TV series)

My boyfriend, Tom Hardy, stars in Taboo, my new favorite TV series.

I looked for a good description and nothing does it justice, so…

Thought to be dead, prodigal son James Keziah Delaney (and yes, the Keziah is necessary, I mean, come on, how cool is that freaking name?!?) returns to London from somewhere in Africa (it’s an entire continent, but they don’t narrow it down) (the show’s still great) upon the death of his father to find that he is the heir to a tiny piece of land that holds access to all the world’s tea and trading with China. Pitting the British government against the evil East India Company, Delaney’s true agenda unravels with a slow, sweet agony that leaves you jittery for season 2. And, TOM HARDY.

Jen recommends:

Cover image for Spark joy : an illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying upSpark Joy: an illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up by Marie Kondo

Cover image for The life-changing magic of tidying up : the Japanese art of decluttering and organizingThe Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have likely heard of the Netflix show called Tidying Up With Marie Kondo. Well, gear up for some fun because this book is what the show is based on. Using a very systematic approach, Marie encourages us to go through every single item we own to decide of it sparks joy from within. I liked the order she asks us to move through the house, saving sentimental items for last. She also has a practical and gentle way of presenting her information.

Valerie recommends:

Cover image for The singer of all songsSinger of All Songs by Kate Constable

In Tremaris, people with magical abilities are known as chanters. The region in which the chanter is born typically dictates what kind of magic they wield. That isn’t the case for Calwyn. Her story begins when a stranger enters through the Ice Wall of Antaris; she soon discovers that she doesn’t know anything about her past and parentage. An evil chanter is hunting the stranger, and Calwyn must make a hasty decision about where her adventure will begin.

Cover image for The Clan of the Cave Bear : a novelClan of the Cave Bears by Jean M. Auel

Set during the prehistoric age, a young Cro-Magnon girl is torn away from her family after a horrible earthquake. Unable to leave a helpless little girl, a group of Neanderthals take her in and raise her to be one of their own. However, there isn’t a way for Ayla to blend-in. She is just too different from the other Clan members. That doesn’t stop her from trying her best to provide for the Clan in any way possible. Ayla finds her path by learning not to hide her unique differences from the Clan.

John recommends:

They shoot canoes, don't theyThey Shoot Canoes, Don’t They? by Patrick McManus

This book of very short stories (vignettes) is quite amusing. I call your special attention to the chapter about astigmatism. McManus was 14 when he needed glasses. I was about 12 when I needed glasses but never suffered the embarrassment that McManus did. The resolution of his embarrassment is excellent. And there are lots of others. Read it and appreciate it because McManus died last year and there won’t be any more.

 

Dennis recommends:

Captain Jack Aubrey, R. N., arrives in the Dutch East Indies to find himself appointed to the command of the fastest and best armed frigate in the Navy.  He and his friend Stephen Maturin take passage for England in a dispatch vessel.  But the War of 1812 breaks out while they are en route.  Bloody actions precipitate them both into new and unexpected scenes where Stephen’s past activities as a secret agent return on him with a vengeance.

January 2019 Picks

Amie recommends:

Cover image for The outsiderThe Outsider by Stephen King

An eleven-year-old boy’s violated corpse is found in a town park. Eyewitnesses and fingerprints point unmistakably to one of Flint City’s most popular citizens. He is Terry Maitland, Little League coach, English teacher, husband, and father of two girls. Detective Ralph Anderson, whose son Maitland once coached, orders a quick and very public arrest. Maitland has an alibi, but Anderson and the district attorney soon add DNA evidence to go with the fingerprints and witnesses. Their case seems ironclad.

As the investigation expands and horrifying answers begin to emerge, King’s propulsive story kicks into high gear, generating strong tension and almost unbearable suspense. Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy, but is he wearing another face? When the answer comes, it will shock you as only Stephen King can.”

Hearts Beat LoudHearts Beat Loud DVD

The sweetest freaking movie you will see in forever.

 

 

Kim recommends:

Masterpiece: The Durrells in Corfu Season 2 DVDThe Durrells in Corfu DVD

The Durrells in Corfu is a television series (three seasons so far) about a quirky British family who move to 1930s Greece.  It’s both wry and heart-warming, with gorgeous scenery and fascinating animals.   It’s based loosely on the autobiographical writings of Gerald Durrell (young Gerry here), but has a magical quality as well as authentic-looking period detail.  If the first episode hooks you, you’ll want to binge-watch the whole thing, although there may be a couple holds ahead of you.

 

Peggy recommends:

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

The latest Inspector Gamache mystery does not disappoint. In this installment, Gamache is forced to look at his past decisions and actions, he begins to see his own blind spots and the terrifying things hiding there. Kingdom of the Blind is a great follow-up to Ms. Penny’s last novel, Glass Houses.

 

Cover image for BecomingBecoming by Michelle Obama

What can I say? I LOVE her! She inspires me to be a better person with each and every word. Politics aside, Michelle Obama is an amazing human being. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.

 

 

Valerie recommends:

Cover image for Station eleven : a novelStation Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

In this dystopian novel, the world is a stage, both literally and figuratively. After ninety percent of the population has died, an acting troupe roams from one desolate town to another, attempting to bring back to life a little part of the humanity that continues to dwindle. The characters question how the past will contribute to their future. While grimmer than other titles in the same genre, Station Eleven explores facets of our society that are overestimated and exploited today.

Cover image for Seeking a friend for the end of the worldSeeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012 DVD)

I was pleasantly surprised by this movie. Steve Carell plays a man who is faced with a personal crisis during the beginning of the end of the world. Newly single, he is hoping to find someone before D-Day. This is a quirky romance with funny moments sprinkled throughout!

 

Dan recommends:

Cover image for The addressThe Address, a Ken Burns film DVD

“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.” Lincoln’s humility in the passage quoted above is stunning and this humility is what sings across the years. Ken Burns’ film, The Address, keeps that “song” alive. The Greenwood School in Vermont is the setting for the film. The school sets memorization and performance of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as a challenge for each student. With patience and practice, the boys succeed in mastering the speech. By hearing the words repeated by ordinary young men, we are reminded what the “unfinished work” of democracy really is: to keep building a government of the people, by the people and for the people. The school’s test is the country’s test–are we keeping this ideal of a common purpose alive, are we bringing up citizens who believe in self-government? We watch these kids with learning differences give their all to learn this speech and we see how meaningful the speech can be. Soldiers who gave “their last full measure of devotion” would be proud to place their country in these students’ hands. Some of Ken Burns’ films feel like sentimental propaganda. This one does not coerce our feelings or calm our anxiety about the present with cliche reminders of the past. This film faces the past but looks clearly at the present. The speech helps the boys focus. They will “long remember” what Lincoln said in Gettysburg that day.  I recommend this film.

Dennis recommends:

Cover image for The golden ocean

The Golden Ocean by Patrick O’brian

Commodore [later Admiral] Anson’s fateful circumnavigation of the globe in 1740’s is the background to The Golden Ocean, Patrick O’Brian’s first historical sea novel.  Peter Palafox, son of a poor Irish parson, signs on as a midshipman, never before having seen a ship.  Together with his lifelong friend Sean, Peter sets out to seek his fortune, embarking upon a journey of danger, disappointment, foreign lands, and excitement.

John recommends:

Cover image for Sometimes a great notion : a novelSometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey

Also recommended is the DVD. The Stamper family is fascinating and made even better by Henry Fonda, Paul Newman, Lee Remick and Michael Sarrazin. In this novel the Stampers are firmly together against the community and are not universally loved. They are considered scabs. Their attitude is that they are attempting economic survival. There is a final salute at or near the end when there is a salute given to the town on the bank of the river. Very visual moment.

Read the book first and then see the DVD.

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