April 2021 - Staff Reading Suggestions
By Alison Hammer
(direct to paper)
Morley's Pick:

When Paige Meyer gets an email from a DNA testing website announcing that her father is a man she never met, she is convinced there must be a mistake. But as she digs deeper into her mother’s past and her own feelings of being the odd child out growing up, Paige begins to question everything she thought she knew. Could this be why Paige never felt like she fit in her family, and why her mother always seemed to keep her at an arm’s length? And what does it mean for Paige’s memories of her father, a man she idolized and whose death she is still grieving? Easy escape reading!
by Fiona Mozley
Fiona Mozley's Hot Stew is nothing like her first book (Elmet) that I so loved, and I am glad for it. She has done the brave thing and written a novel that is a grand departure from the first. Set in contemporary London's Soho district, this novel showcases the disparity between the haves and have-nots much like a Dicken's novel. I love the richly drawn characters: the good ones you cheer for, and the evil when they fall. Another nod to Dickens-- even her displaced fellows living in basements of crumbling buildings have so much chutzpah you just smirk as they work their angles. Mozley gets an A on this memorable tome from me.
BY J. Randy Taraborrelli
Susan P's pick:

Bestselling author J. Randy Taraborrelli reveals the unsung heroines of the inimitable Bush family dynasty: not only First Ladies Barbara and Laura, but other colorful women whose stories have been left out of history for far too long. This is the epic, hidden history of the exceptional women behind the greatest political dynasty of all time―the Bush family.
by Angeline Boulley
(Young Adult)
Di's pick:

Eighteen-year-old Daunis Fontaine has never quite fit in, both in her hometown and on the nearby Ojibwe reservation. She dreams of a fresh start at college, but when family tragedy strikes, Daunis puts her future on hold to look after her fragile mother. The only bright spot is meeting Jamie, the charming new recruit on her brother Levi’s hockey team.

Yet even as Daunis falls for Jamie, she senses the dashing hockey star is hiding something. Everything comes to light when Daunis witnesses a shocking murder, thrusting her into an FBI investigation of a lethal new drug.

Reluctantly, Daunis agrees to go undercover, drawing on her knowledge of chemistry and Ojibwe traditional medicine to track down the source. But the search for truth is more complicated than Daunis imagined, exposing secrets and old scars.

Now, as the deceptions―and deaths―keep growing, Daunis must learn what it means to be a strong Anishinaabe kwe (Ojibwe woman) and how far she’ll go for her community.
by Flynn Berry
Lisa, Di and Molly's Pick: 

A producer at the BBC and mother to a new baby, Tessa is at work in Belfast one day when the news of another raid comes on the air. The IRA may have gone underground in the two decades since the Good Friday Agreement, but they never really went away, and lately bomb threats, security checkpoints, and helicopters floating ominously over the city have become features of everyday life. As the news reporter requests the public’s help in locating those responsible for the robbery, security footage reveals Tessa’s sister, Marian, pulling a black ski mask over her face.

The police believe Marian has joined the IRA, but Tessa is convinced she must have been abducted or coerced; the sisters have always opposed the violence enacted in the name of uniting Ireland. And besides, Marian is vacationing on the north coast. Tessa just spoke to her yesterday.

When the truth about Marian comes to light, Tessa is faced with impossible choices that will test the limits of her ideals, the bonds of her family, her notions of right and wrong, and her identity as a sister and a mother. Walking an increasingly perilous road, she wants nothing more than to protect the one person she loves more fiercely than her sister: her infant son, Finn.
by Dawnie Wilson
Eillie's pick:

Opal is a fiercely independent young woman pushing against the grain in her style and attitude, Afro-punk before that term existed. Coming of age in Detroit, she can’t imagine settling for a 9-to-5 job—despite her unusual looks, Opal believes she can be a star. So when the aspiring British singer/songwriter Neville Charles discovers her at a bar’s amateur night, she takes him up on his offer to make rock music together for the fledgling Rivington Records.

In early seventies New York City, just as she’s finding her niche as part of a flamboyant and funky creative scene, a rival band signed to her label brandishes a Confederate flag at a promotional concert. Opal’s bold protest and the violence that ensues set off a chain of events that will not only change the lives of those she loves, but also be a deadly reminder that repercussions are always harsher for women, especially black women, who dare to speak their truth.

Decades later, as Opal considers a 2016 reunion with Nev, music journalist S. Sunny Shelton seizes the chance to curate an oral history about her idols. Sunny thought she knew most of the stories leading up to the cult duo’s most politicized chapter. But as her interviews dig deeper, a nasty new allegation from an unexpected source threatens to blow up everything.

A great read for fans of Queenie and Daisy Jones and the Six!
by Gregory Brown
Gregory Brown’s debut The Lowering Days describes the aftermath of an arson within a community divided. Division is heightened as the community’s members take sides on the matter. Evocative and brimming with sentences you’ll want to reread again and again, Brown crafts a beautiful first novel.
by Te-Ping Chen
(Direct to paperback)
Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen is a short story compilation that is so of-the-moment and not to be missed. Her stories are mostly set in today's China, with just a few taking place in the states. Chen, a journalist by trade, has a keen narrative voice. Her book is filled with tales that are poignant, funny, and provocative. A favorite of the bunch is a story of folks stranded at a subway stop awaiting a train that just doesn't "stop" for them, and yet the authorities won't let them leave the station. This, and the others in the book, would be an excellent choice for book groups to read and discuss.
by Jillian Cantor
(Direct to Paperback)
Katha's pick:

In Poland in 1891, Marie Curie (then Marya Sklodowska) was engaged to a budding mathematician, Kazimierz Zorawski. But when his mother insisted she was too poor and not good enough, he broke off the engagement. A heartbroken Marya left Poland for Paris, where she would attend the Sorbonne to study chemistry and physics. Eventually Marie Curie would go on to change the course of science forever and be the first woman to win a Nobel Prize.

But what if she had made a different choice?

What if she had stayed in Poland, married Kazimierz at the age of twenty-four, and never attended the Sorbonne or discovered radium? What if she had chosen a life of domesticity with a constant hunger for knowledge in Russian Poland where education for women was restricted, instead of studying science in Paris and meeting Pierre Curie?

by Laurence Rees
Susan P's pick:

Two 20th century tyrants stand apart from all the rest in terms of their ruthlessness and the degree to which they changed the world around them. Briefly allies during World War II, Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin then tried to exterminate each other in sweeping campaigns unlike anything the modern world had ever seen, affecting soldiers and civilians alike. Millions of miles of Eastern Europe were ruined in their fight to the death, millions of lives sacrificed.

Laurence Rees has met more people who had direct experience of working for Hitler and Stalin than any other historian. Using their evidence he has pieced together a compelling comparative portrait of evil, in which idealism is polluted by bloody pragmatism, and human suffering is used casually as a political tool. It's a jaw-dropping description of two regimes stripped of moral anchors and doomed to destroy each other, and those caught up in the vicious magnetism of their leadership.
by Kaitlyn Greenridge
Laura S's pick:

Coming of age as a freeborn Black girl in Reconstruction-era Brooklyn, Libertie Sampson is all too aware that her purposeful mother, a practicing physician, has a vision for their future together: Libertie is to go to medical school and practice alongside her. But Libertie, drawn more to music than science, feels stifled by her mother’s choices and is hungry for something else—is there really only one way to have an autonomous life? And she is constantly reminded that, unlike her mother, who can pass, Libertie has skin that is too dark. When a young man from Haiti proposes to Libertie and promises she will be his equal on the island, she accepts, only to discover that she is still subordinate to him and all men. As she tries to parse what freedom actually means for a Black woman, Libertie struggles with where she might find it—for herself and for generations to come.

Inspired by the life of one of the first Black female doctors in the United States and rich with historical detail, Kaitlyn Greenidge’s new and immersive novel will resonate with readers eager to understand our present.
by Pip Williams
The Dictionary of Lost Words is a stunningly beautiful story that’s also a tonic for these times. It brings to light the story and imagined personalities behind how words were studied and chosen for the first Oxford Dictionary. Esme spends most of her time shadowing her father while he collaborates on the Dictionary, and in doing so, she falls in love with words. As Esme matures, she realizes there are many colorful, personal words spoken by women of all walks of life, that aren't being considered by the male editors and assistants. She begins to collect these words and quotations that she would never bring forward to the men. Seamlessly built into Esme’s story, the suffrage movement is born, Esme falls in love, and WWI erupts. Fascinating subject matter and characters amid gorgeous writing.  
by Kirstin Valdez Quade
A stunning debut set in northern New Mexico. Quade has created unforgettable characters: the matriarch, Yolanda; her two adult children, Amadeo and Valerie; her elderly Tío Tíve; and Amadeo's estranged daughter Angel who shows up pregnant on his doorstep. Vivid, tender, funny, and beautifully rendered, The Five Wounds spans the baby’s first year as different generations of the Padilla family converge. Do not miss this one!
-Laura S
by Mary Adkins
(Available in Paperback)
At the prestigious Carter University three women find their lives unexpectedly linked by one life-changing event. Annie, a bright freshman scholarship student, Bea, a biracial criminal justice scholar and Stayja, a local coffee shop employee struggling to pay down her debt, find their lives intersecting when Annie is sexually assaulted by an older male student one night. Bea is appointed his student advocate and Annie is forced to defend her own actions or "inactions" as she seeks justice against the student. A stunning story of three women finding their voice in a world that isn't always fair or just. 
Admiral William H. McRaven
Another thoughtful and inspirational collection of virtues told through the lens of his experiences that Admiral McRaven considers important to be a hero -- everyday or otherwise. The perfect graduation gift! -Laura S and Di
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Laura C's pick:

Flora Mancini has been happily married for more than twenty years. But everything she thought she knew about herself, her marriage, and her relationship with her best friend, Margot, is upended when she stumbles upon an envelope containing her husband’s wedding ring—the one he claimed he lost one summer when their daughter, Ruby, was five.

Flora and Julian struggled for years, scraping together just enough acting work to raise Ruby in Manhattan and keep Julian’s small theater company—Good Company—afloat. A move to Los Angeles brought their first real career successes, a chance to breathe easier, and a reunion with Margot, now a bona fide television star. But has their new life been built on lies? What happened that summer all those years ago? And what happens now?

A warm, incisive new novel about the enduring bonds of marriage and friendship from Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney, author of the instant New York Times bestseller The Nest
by Joshilyn Jackson
I'm a huge Joshilyn Jackson fan and with Mother May I, she's written another fast paced, exhilarating read. This domestic thriller is comparable to a roller coaster, taking you to dramatic, earth shaking highs before dropping your heart into your stomach on the lows. I devoured this book but didn't miss its poignant, timely message. Powerful, smart, thrilling... a new favorite.
-Beth (and staff)
by Katrine Engberg
A body is found floating face down in a fountain in the middle of a Danish town and the victim has died a torturous death, slowly having the life drained out of them before they were dumped in the fountain. Not soon after, two more victims are found having faced the same fate. The police soon find out all the victims have ties to a small psychiatric hospital for troubled teens, The Butterfly House, that has since closed. It's a race against time as the investigators track down the patients and employees not knowing who is the next victim and who is the killer.
by Joanne Tompkins
A small town in the Pacific Northwest is torn apart by a shocking tragedy. Daniel has been murdered by his friend and neighbor, Jonah, who then takes his own life. Not long afterwards, a pregnant teenaged girl enters the lives of the grieving parents. How does Evangeline fit into these recent events? A mystery, for sure, but also a meditation on community and grief. So beautifully written, this complex story will stay with you. Loved!
by Mary H.K. Choi
(Young Adult)
Diana's pick: 

Jayne and June Baek are nothing alike. June’s three years older, a classic first-born, know-it-all narc with a problematic finance job and an equally soulless apartment (according to Jayne). Jayne is an emotionally stunted, self-obsessed basket case who lives in squalor, has egregious taste in men, and needs to get to class and stop wasting Mom and Dad’s money (if you ask June). Once thick as thieves, these sisters who moved from Seoul to San Antonio to New York together now don’t want anything to do with each other.

That is, until June gets cancer. And Jayne becomes the only one who can help her.

From New York Times bestselling author Mary H.K. Choi comes a funny and emotional story about two estranged sisters and how far they’ll go to save one of their lives—even if it means swapping identities.
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