Staff Picks 2017 August

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Staff Picks August 2017 (1.5MB)
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The LocalsThe Locals by Jonathan Dee. The residents of a small town in the Berkshires manage to deal with life’s little earthquakes until a wealthy hedge fund manager, who recently joined the select board, causes some seismic challenges. The struggle of middle-class Americans to stay afloat in a world increasingly driven by the relentless and oftentimes pitiless pursuit of money is at the heart of this powerful, unsettling, and involving novel. You will recognize people you know on its pages. ~ Alden Graves


Reckless Years: A Diary of Love and MadnessReckless Years: A Diary of Love and Madness by Heather Chaplin. After breaking up with her husband, Chaplin dashes from New York, Dublin, and California, seeking thrills, sex, dancing, and drugs. When the excitement lags, she must face haunting memories of a failed marriage, a rickety relationship with the one boyfriend she might actually love, and unresolved anger at her long-absent father. ~ Mike Hare
Vinyl Me, Please: 100 Albums You Need in Your CollectionVinyl Me, Please: 100 Albums You Need in Your Collection by Vinyl Me, Please. The monthly subscription service of the same name has curated a selection of LPs that any aspiring record collector should consider adding to their collection. While I may not agree with all of their choices, there’s bound to be something for everyone in this book. ~ Chris Linendoll
You Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A MemoirYou Don't Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie. The author’s depression and anger is directed at both his mother and towards himself in this memoir. The anger has also been nurtured by the culture and mythology of reservation life. The reflection of his mother’s strong spirit and charisma seems to haunt Alexie. The poetry in this book caught me up completely. It is raw and terrifyingly honest. ~ Maeve Noonan
Dinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected FriendshipDinner with Edward: A Story of an Unexpected Friendship by Isabel Vincent. A lovely story of food, love, loss, and friendship. Everybody needs someone like Edward in their life. ~ Sarah Donner
Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for AmericaDemocracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America by Nancy MacLean. This book digs below the surface of our current partisan divide and illuminates the path of Nobel Prize-winning economist, James McGIll Buchanan and his quest to “save capitalism from democracy.” The author leads us on a six decades long journey, following this nascent movement from clandestine meetings to gatherings at influential universities, ultimately merging paths with billionaire Charles Koch. By shining a bright light on this movement, MacLean makes a very clear and compelling case that protections provided by the Constitution are in very real danger of being irrevocably lost. ~ Patti Vunk
Happiness: A Memoir: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever AfterHappiness: A Memoir: The Crooked Little Road to Semi-Ever After by Heather Harpham. After an unplanned pregnancy, Heather and Brian find themselves with a sick child and no answers as to why she is so ill. This story takes you with the family as they first learn how to understand their daughter’s illness and then make a momentous decision: either have the girl undergo a stem cell transfer, which has only a 50% survival rate, or watch her struggle for the remainder of her life. ~ Suzanne Rice
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated AmericaThe Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein. Racism in America, according to Rothstein, is rooted in widespread and frequently unconstitutional decisions by federal and local governments. Citing scores of examples covering a century, Rothstein argues these decisions have tightened the economic squeeze on the disadvantaged, severely compromising American ideals of integration and equality. ~ Mike Hare
Meddling KidsMeddling Kids by Edgar Cantero. A fun, wacky homage to Scooby Doo, but with its own unique voice. The Blyton Summer Detective Club solved their last crime as teens and moved on with their lives except… they made a mistake. Something went horribly wrong that night. They have all been hiding from it for years as the suppressed memories tear their lives apart. ~ Ben Parker
The Graybar Hotel: StoriesThe Graybar Hotel: Stories by Curtis Dawkins. Curtis Dawkins killed a man and will spend the rest of his life in prison. What he’s done with his life is create mesmerizing fiction. Dawkins creatively transforms the brutality and numbing routine of prison into a place where language offers liberation. ~ Mike Hare
You Should Have LeftYou Should Have Left by Daniel Kehlmann. A writer rents a house with his wife and small daughter in the mountains of Germany to work on a screenplay. Surreal forces outside of his control undermine his confidence and perceptions, even seeming to challenge the laws of physics in this mind-bending novel. ~ Amy Palmer
The Half-Drowned KingThe Half-Drowned King by Linnea Hartsuyker. Epic storytelling honoring the 13th century Icelandic saga retold through the adventures of a brother and sister. This novel is historical fiction in the tradition of James Michener and the ancient sagas themselves. ~ Maeve Noonan
The Dark NetThe Dark Net by Benjamin Percy. An underground, illegal Internet is a real thing and it’s scary enough. But what if the gates of hell were flung open via the web? Scarier. The author imagines a world called Portland where demons are hacking away. A heroic twelve-year-old blind girl and her aunt, a determined, socially inept journalist, are well-crafted characters in this battle against evil and race against time. ~ Stan Hynds
Watch Me DisappearWatch Me Disappear by Janelle Brown. How well do we really know someone? And what influences that supposed knowledge? In this mystery, a father is trying to carry the weight of his grief of losing his wife and provide financially and emotionally for his distraught teenage daughter. Then questions surface and doubts begin to creep in. Is Billie really dead or did she stage her disappearance to escape her confining life? What really are Olive’s visions? This book will keep you guessing until the very end. ~ Tambra Johnson Reap
Hello, SunshineHello, Sunshine by Laura Dave. You feel the frustration of Sunshine Mackenzie, the star of a cooking empire, as her world collapses around her after an orchestrated act of sabotage. Her attempt to whitewash her early life and escape her past masks painful childhood memories of neglect, but she is forced to return to her hometown and face her family. Like a phoenix, she decides to rebuild her life from the ground up. Very entertaining! ~ Shirley Cagle
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely FineEleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Eleanor has a very planned life, built to avoid social interactions because people don’t seem to understand her. Her carefully planned life is derailed when an elderly gentleman falls on the sidewalk in front of her. Eleanor and Raymond, the awkward guy from her office, reach out to help him and the three become odd friends, breaking Eleanor out of her self-imposed isolation. Satisfyingly quirky and complex, this is a debut novel you will want to read in one sitting. ~ Leah Moore
See What I Have DoneSee What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt. What do pears, pigeons and rancid mutton broth have to do with the infamous Lizzie Borden murder case of 1892? Sarah Schmidt’s novelization of the event is an eerily compelling read for those with a taste for the macabre. The events are recounted by four unreliable narrators who construct the events before and after the murders with an exquisitely dark and chilling effect. Squeamish readers beware! ~ Nancy Scheemaker
The Solace of TreesThe Solace of Trees by Robert Madrygin. A young deaf-mute Bosnian orphan is brought to the US as a refugee and finds a home with a retired college professor. Eventually, the boy regains his hearing and ability to speak and he begins to recall the trauma of his past. He becomes a gifted film student and helps one of his college professors with a documentary film that draws him into the post 9/11 war on terror. A compelling story about war, family, and survival. ~ Suzanne Rice
The Life She Was GivenThe Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman. I loved this book! While it felt like a mystery because the two sisters never knew each other, their different viewpoints read like straight fiction. I was continually rooting for the sisters to meet, imagining two kindred spirits finally discovering each other after a sheltered childhood. The unpredictable ending was gut-wrenching, but in a way that made sense. ~ Shirely Cagle
The Heavenly TableThe Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock. After murdering the tyrannical owner of the land they farmed on the Georgia/Alabama border, three brothers make a desperate run for Canada, managing along the way to acquire national reputations as the kind of ruthless outlaws that are immortalized in dime store novels. This is a rollicking and ribald adventure story, populated with shady characters and told in vivid,sparkling prose. Reminiscent of Patrick DeWitt’s The Sisters Brothers and there is hardly a higher compliment. ~ Alden Graves
The Cottingley SecretThe Cottingley Secret by Hazel Gaynor. Set in 1917 England and present day Ireland, this novel is the perfect blend of historical fiction and mystery. Adapted from personal memoirs and archives, it reinvents the story of Frances Griffiths, the little girl at the center of the fairy-photograph drama that captured the world’s attention. This book is also a story of bookshops, bibliophiles and self discovery. ~ Maeve Noonan