Staff Picks - November 2017

    • The Grip of It
      Jac Jemc

      James and Julie move into a new house to get away from their troubles, but end up finding more in the secret panels and rooms of their secluded home. This novel had a creeping paranoia that I loved even as it drove me crazy. This is a great choice for fans of The Ruins, or Amityville Horror. The premise is typical horror fare at first, but quickly becomes twisty.

    • The Life She Was Given
      Ellen Marie Wiseman

      Mystery, inheritance and succession, along with the circus, are combined in this book to make it a real page turner.  It's the story of two "sisters" and reflects back and forth from Depression years to the 1950s. A word of caution: this tale has some brutality and abuse among the circus performers as well as the animals that perform; and in what people actually paid to see for entertainment during the Depression era. Be prepared to burn the midnight oil on this one! - Luann

    • Bird Box
      Josh Malerman

      It's been four years since people started going insane and killing themselves because of something they saw outside. Malorie has lived the last four years with quilts nailed to the windows and a blindfold on whenever she went outside. Her four year old children have been raised never having seen the outside world. Now she must take them in a rowboat blindfolded down the river to what may be a safe place. An eerie but fascinating book about survival and fear and the unknown. I could not put this one down. - Cat

    • The Fifth Season
      N. K. Jemisin

      The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin is the first book in the Broken Earth Trilogy. It's a dark fantasy about a woman searching for the daughter that her husband has abducted. The writing is very different--much more modern--than your typical high fantasy, but it has great characters, fascinating world-building, and a gripping story. - Katie B.

    • Bravetart: iconic American desserts
      Stella Parks

      This is a celebration of classic American desserts. Whether down-home delights or supermarket mainstays your favorites are all here. With meticulously tested recipes and advice on how to "mix it up" with over 200 customizable variations it's exactly what you'd expect from a cookbook penned by a senior editor at Serious Eats. Yet Bravetart is much more than a cookbook, as Stella Parks delves into the surprising stories of how our favorite desserts came to be, from chocolate chip cookies that predate the Tollhouse Inn to the prohibition-era origins of ice cream sodas and floats. Vintage advertisements for these historical desserts and stunning photography round out what will surely become a classic itself.

    • Station Eleven
      Emily St. John Mandel

      An intriguing premise (over ninety-nine percent of earth’s population suddenly dies in a pandemic), excellent writing, and a complex structure are the highlights of Mandel’s award-winning novel of speculative fiction. You may need a score card (thanks, internet) to keep the numerous characters straight, and much of the plot is quite downbeat, but the story arc eventually bends toward optimism for the future. The overall effect is to leave the reader questioning many aspects of humanity.

    • The Essex Serpent
      Sarah Perry

      Cora Seaborne, set free from an abusive marriage by the death of her husband, is finally able to live a life of her own choosing.  She travels to a small village in England, in part to investigate a mythical beast known as the Essex Serpent. What follows is a beautifully written historical tale of faith, science, and love set in Victorian times.

    • Dear Fahrenheit 451: love and heartbreak in the stacks
      Annie Spence

      A celebration of reading, Dear Fahrenheit 451 is for anyone who loves nothing more than curling up with a good book...and another, and another, and another! Spence will make you think of old favorites in a new way. Filled with suggested reading lists, Spence's take on classic and contemporary books is very much like the best of literature--sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, sometimes surprisingly poignant, and filled with universal truths. Librarians will totally "get" this book, but it's really for anyone who loves to read! - Sue

    • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
      Philip K. Dick

      A masterpiece ahead of its time, a prescient rendering of a dark future, and the inspiration for the blockbuster film Blade Runner. Now that the sequel to the film is out, read the original story!

    • Silent in the Grave
      Deanna Raybourn

      This is the first in the Lady Julia Grey mystery series. The book opens with the death of Lady Julia's husband in mysterious circumstances. When enigmatic and handsome private investigator Nicholas Brisbane suggests he was murdered, Lady Julia is at first offended, but then begins to find clues that point to foul play. Lady Julia is a wonderfully drawn heroine, intelligent and creative and great to get to know. The mystery was engaging and satisfying. It has the feel of a traditional whodunit at times, along with adventure, hints of romance, and a rich sense of Victorian atmosphere. - Carrie

    • The Perfect Cookie: your ultimate guide to foolproof cookies, brownies & bars
      America's Test Kitchen

      America's Test Kitchen cumulates many years of cookie baking knowledge, breaking down key steps and recipe techniques in this comprehensive cookbook that features recipes for any cookie you can dream up--from favorite cookie jar classics to new and unique cookies, brownies, bars, and candies for any occasion.

    • What to Say Next
      Julie Buxbaum

      From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes a story about two struggling teenagers who find an unexpected connection just when they need it most. When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David's blunt honesty--in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit's attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad's tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they'll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

    • The Book of Swords
      Gardner Dozois

      Acclaimed editor and bestselling author Gardner Dozois presents an all-new anthology of original epic tales by a stellar cast of award-winning modern masters--many of them set in their authors' best-loved worlds. Join today's finest tellers of fantastic tales on action-packed journeys into the outer realms of dark enchantment and intrepid derring-do, featuring a stunning assortment of fearless swordsmen and warrior women who face down danger and death at every turn with courage, cunning, and cold steel. Featuring 16 all-new stories including a never-before-published Song of Ice and Fire story by George R. R. Martin!

    • The Spinster's Guide to Scandalous Behavior
      Jennifer McQuiston

      A fun Regency romance that rejoins the Westmore family after their introduction in Diary of an Accidental Wallflower. This time the story follows the free-spirited Lucy who isn't quite a spinster yet but fully intends to be so can remain independent. Fortunately, an eccentric aunt has left her both a diary detailing the secrets to spinsterhood and a cottage in Cornwall. Unfortunately, an insufferable marquess is angling for her prize! A good balance of attraction and misunderstanding with interesting characters makes this a charming way to escape from chilly weather for a while. - Carla

    • How the Right Lost Its Mind
      Charles J. Sykes

      Charles Sykes is one of the preeminent thinkers of the conservative movement in the United States. While he is first and foremost a journalist and writer, he's also a radio and TV presence. Throughout, he maintains a passionate stance holding to what he considers the primary tenets of the conservative movement: limited government, individual liberty, free markets, traditional values, and civility. He feels the Republican Party has gone far wrong into “bigotry, political intransigence, demagoguery, and outright falsehood.”  How did this happen and how can we find our way back? This eminently readable book attempts to answer such questions. The book comes highly recommended -- from conservative intellectuals like George Will to the necessary-to-librarians Library Journal.  No matter what your political persuasion, you will find much to contemplate in this fascinating critique. - Dawn

    • Amanda Wakes Up
      Alisyn Camerota
      In this novel by Alisyn Camerota, a television journalist who has cohosted morning shows on CNN and FOX, a frothy personal story of ambition and romance overlies a serious examination of journalistic ethics. After the main character, Amanda, scores a top job at a new network called FAIR, she begins to discover that motives for presenting both sides of a story may not be as neutral as they seem—especially when proponents on one side are being disingenuous. The story takes place during a fictional campaign season, with political newcomer Victor Fluke facing off against veteran politician Virginia Wynn. These characters seem like obvious stand-ins for Trump and Clinton, but astonishingly, Camerota wrote the story before the 2016 election. - Heather
    • Thornhill
      Pam Smy
      This is a children's horror book about Ella, a girl who moves in next to an abandoned orphanage. Parallel stories set in different times converge as she unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute. It's written in diary entries interspersed with illustrated pages, like Brian Selznick's books. Pretty neat!
    • Candy is Magic: real ingredients, modern recipes
      Jami Curl
      This game-changing candy cookbook offers more than 200 achievable recipes using real, natural ingredients for everything from flavor-packed fruit lollipops to light-as-air marshmallows. Candy-maker extraordinaire Jami Curl breaks down candy making into its most precise and foolproof steps. No guess work, no expensive equipment, just the best possible ingredients and stop-you-in-your-tracks-brilliant flavor combinations. And what to do with all your homemade candy? Jami has your covered, with instructions for making candy garlands, tiny candy-filled pinatas, candy ornaments, and more--you are officially party ready.
    • We Were Eight Years in Power: an American tragedy
      Ta-Nehisi Coates

      "We were eight years in power" was the lament of Reconstruction-era black politicians as the American experiment in multiracial democracy ended with the return of white supremacist rule in the South. In this sweeping collection of new and selected essays, Ta-Nehisi Coates explores the tragic echoes of that history in our own time: the unprecedented election of a black president followed by a vicious backlash that fueled the election of the man Coates argues is America's "first white president." But the story of these present-day eight years is not just about presidential politics. This book also examines the new voices, ideas, and movements for justice that emerged over this period--and the effects of the persistent, haunting shadow of our nation's old and unreconciled history. Coates powerfully examines the events of the Obama era through his own experiences, observations, and intellectual development, capped by a bracingly original assessment of the election that fully illuminated the tragedy of the Obama era. This is a vital account of modern America, from one of the definitive voices of this historic moment.