Staff Picks - April 2018

    • Artemis
      Andy Weir

      Jazz lives in the lunar city, Artemis, and tries to get by as a porter (while smuggling on the side). She doesn’t want to be a hero, she just wants to get rich. So when there's a chance to make a lot of money, how can she refuse? Propelled by her wisecracking voice, set in a city that's stunningly imagined, and brimming over with clever problem-solving and heist-y fun, Artemis is another brew of science, suspense, and humor from Andy Weir. I would highly recommend the audio book format.

    • A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived
      Adam Rutherford

      In our unique genomes, each of us carries the story of our species--births, deaths, disease, migration, and a lot of sex. But those stories have been locked away--until now. The hard evidence in our DNA has blown the lid off what we thought we knew. Rutherford explains how genomics is rewriting the human story--from 100,000 years ago to the present. He'll upend your thinking on Neanderthals, evolution, royalty, race, and even redheads.

    • City of the Lost
      Kelley Armstrong

      Casey Duncan’s a homicide detective with a secret and her friend's on the run from an abusive husband. They need a place to disappear and may have found it. It means living off the grid in the wilds of Canada and you must be invited. Fortunately, Rockton needs a detective since it just had its first murder. But it’s a town with more secrets than the identity of a murderer. A fascinating setting and intriguing cast of characters make for a gripping crime novel. First book of the series.

    • Death in Holy Orders
      P.D. James

      A compelling murder mystery that stands out for its exceptionally beautiful descriptions of the seaside monastery setting and its exploration into the secrets of its many inhabitants. Great for fans of murder mysteries and literary fiction. Book 11 in the Inspector Adam Dalgliesh series.

    • The Floppy Show
      Jeff Stein

      The Floppy Show aired in the Des Moines market for part of four decades, featuring a live studio audience of children telling the beagle puppet riddles, beeping his nose for luck, and watching cartoons. He also appeared at the Iowa State Fair and many community festivals and events. I was fortunate to be on the show for a childhood neighbor’s birthday back in the day. Many memories are shared here by the host of the show and creator of Floppy, Duane Ellett. - Luann

    • The Great Alone
      Kristin Hannah

      An unforgettable portrait of human frailty and resilience that reveals the indomitable character of the modern American pioneer and the spirit of a vanishing Alaska--a place of incomparable beauty and danger. This is a daring, beautiful, stay-up-all-night story about love and loss, the fight for survival, and the wildness that lives in both man and nature.

    • The Hazel Wood
      Melissa Albert

      Alice and her mother have been on the run as long as she can remember. After the death of her estranged grandmother, cult fairy tale author Althea Proserpine, Alice's mother goes missing and it is up to her to sift through family secrets and venture into the Hazel Wood to find the truth. A dark fantasy debut for teens that already has a film adaptation in the works.

    • How to Stop Time
      Matt Haig

      How to Stop Time tells a love story across the ages - and for the ages - about a man lost in time, the woman who could save him, and the lifetimes it can take to learn how to live. It is a bighearted, wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself, the inevitability of change, and how with enough time to learn, we just might find happiness.

    • Killers of the Flower Moon
      David Grann

      Grann revisits a series of crimes in which dozens of people were murdered on the oil-rich Osage Indian reservation in Oklahoma. Based on years of research and new evidence, this is a masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, as the investigation reveals a series of sinister secrets and reversals. But more than that, it is an indictment of the callousness and prejudice toward American Indians that allowed the murderers to operate with impunity for so long. It is utterly compelling, but also emotionally devastating.

    • The Ladies' Paradise
      Émile Zola

      If you’re in the mood for a classic, give this one a try. It follows the rise of the grandest department store in 19th-century Paris and one its young salespeople, Denise. Zola's detailed descriptions of the retail experience—stressful working conditions, frenzied shopping behavior—still ring true. - Heather

    • Land of Painted Caves
      Jean M. Auel

      The final book in the Earth’s Children series continues the story of Ayla, Jondalar, and their daughter Jonayla. Once again, Auel combines brilliant narrative skills and appealing characters with a remarkable recreation of the way life was lived thousands of years ago which makes them as real as today’s news. You may want to start with first book – The Clan of the Cave Bear.

    • The Monk of Mokha
      Dave Eggers

      Traces the story of Mokhtar Alkhanshali, a Yemeni-American in San Francisco, and his dream of resurrecting the ancient art of cultivating, roasting, and importing Yemeni coffee, an endeavor that is challenged by the brutal realities of Yemen's 2015 civil war.

    • The Music Shop
      Rachel Joyce

      The owner of a 1988 music shop in a run-down suburb uses his talent for connecting customers to the music they need and resists a chance at an intimate relationship with a beautiful young woman who hides a mysterious agenda and compels him to confront painful elements from his past. The journey that these two quirky, wonderful characters make in order to overcome their emotional baggage speaks to the healing power of music--and love--in this poignant, ultimately joyful work of fiction.

    • Poet X
      Elizabeth Acevedo

      This is a beautiful coming of age story about a teenage girl battling between appeasing her strict Dominican mother and following her heart. Her love of poetry fuels her self-discovery in this novel written entirely in verse. Recommended by two staff members!

    • Tess of the Road
      Rachel Hartman

      This is a beautifully written story of one teen girl’s growth as she comes to terms with herself and her past traumas. Set in the same fantasy world as Hartman’s Seraphina it's an exploration of self-reliance and redemption in a wholly original fantasy.