Staff Picks 2018 April

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TangerineTangerine by Christine Mangan. Tangerine is a superbly written journey of the relationship between two young women and the power of love and loss. The book goes in directions unexpected and satisfying while engaging the reader by presenting mesmerizing psychological watercolors of deep subtlety. I got lost in this book. ~ Chris Morrow


Lucy and Alice first meet as college freshman. They have dreams of traveling to exotic destinations after graduation. Fast forward 4 years. Alice is married and living in Morocco when she is surprised by a visit from Lucy. Long kept secrets are revealed and what was once a close bond deteriorates into a dangerous obsession. A wonderful debut novel about friendship, jealousy, and betrayal. ~ Suzanne Rice

I Was AnastasiaI Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon. The author chose to relate the story of Anna Anderson, who claimed to be a daughter of Russia’s last czar, in alternating chapters, telling one person’s story chronologically and the other backwards through time. Only by the end do we know how it all started. Although a work of fiction, Lawhon incorporates great historic details and draws you into the story with imagination. She brings to vivid life a mystery that mesmerized the world for much of the twentieth century in an incredibly creative format. ~ Tambra Johnson Reap
The Female PersuasionThe Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer. A shy college student attends a lecture given by a powerful voice in the women's movement. She is so inspired by the presentation she asks for a job in the speaker's organization that leads to an exciting and life-affirming career path. A wonderful story of finding the person who guides and empowers you to be all that you can be. ~ Suzanne Rice
The HungerThe Hunger by Alma Katsu. If there was anything that the Donner Party didn't need as it wound its way over formidable terrain towards California, it was more trouble. Historically, George Donner was not a man who paid much attention to warnings, but he really should have listened to stories that something terrible was lurking in the dark just beyond the campfire light. Many of the key elements of the actual tragedy are incorporated into this suspenseful - if unabashedly grisly - trek into supernatural territory. ~ Alden Graves
The Eight MountainsThe Eight Mountains by Paolo Cognetti. A wonderful coming-of-age story about friendship after two young boys meet in a small town at the foot of the Dolomite Mountains. Curiosity, adventure, and camaraderie are tested as the two mature and find themselves drawn to different life paths. One follows his family into the mountains while the other travels the world. Beautifully written, this novel confirms that the bonds between fathers and sons are strong. ~ Suzanne Rice
Sometimes I LieSometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney. This twisty psychological thriller blew my mind. Amber is in a coma, besieged by shards of memory, fighting her way to consciousness, while her would-be killer is in the room. You will not be able to drag your eyes away from this profoundly disturbing read. ~ Amy Palmer
Laura & EmmaLaura & Emma by Kate Greathead. This is a story told in vignettes through the beginning years of Laura’s role as a single mother. She leads an unconventional and somewhat passive life until daughter Emma’s honest personality inspires her to be more of the forward thinking person she believes she already is. An intriguing debut novel that and an unusual approach to a commonplace theme, which makes it all the more relatable to a reader. ~ Laura Knapp
Trenton MakesTrenton Makes by Tadzio Koelb. Fiercely original novel about a woman who assumes her dead husband’s identity. Masquerading as a man maimed by injuries suffered during the Second World War, she finds herself on a higher social plateau in a male dominated society and doors are opened to her that she dared not even approach before. She begins a relationship with a boozy taxi dancer with hopes of eventually acquiring a family. Tough, gritty, and compact, with passages of startling introspection, this is a story that will linger in your mind like an unsettling dream. ~ Alden Graves
I'll Be Your Blue SkyI'll Be Your Blue Sky by Marisa De Los Santos. Clare has a chance meeting with Edith, an elderly woman who gives her the courage to break off her impending marriage.Three weeks later, Clare learns that Edith has passed away and has left her home to her. Trying to understand why she feels such a deep connection to someone she only briefly met, Clare discovers that both the house and Edith harbor an unusual history. Shifting between present day and the past, both characters are vivid, strong, and courageous. ~ Suzanne Rice
Stray CityStray City by Chelsey Johnson. Andrea is a Nebraskan misfit who decided to leave her estranged family in the early 1990s in pursuit of her true identity in Portland, Oregon. Readers will become tremendously invested in Andrea’s tumultuous love life as she faces a sexual orientation identity crisis and much more. This nontraditional, unpredictable novel is a gripping, fun read filled to the brim with nostalgia and a quest for belonging. ~ Laura Knapp
Neon in DaylightNeon in Daylight by Hermione Hoby. Set in a New York crazed with summer heat, this novel follows a young, searching British woman who finds herself powerfully drawn to a washed up middle-aged writer and his beautiful, defiant daughter. Made dumb by and aching with desire, these characters move into and out of each other’s orbit, seeking things they cannot define. Hoby’s magnetic characters occupy such a striking, precisely rendered world that passing over this book would be denying yourself an enormous pleasure. ~ Cathy Taylor
Lillian Boxfish Takes a WalkLillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney. Alone and lonely on New Year’s Eve, an 85-year-old woman, once the toast of Manhattan’s literary elite, recalls the glittering metropolis she once knew on a long walk from her Murray Hill apartment to welcome in 1985 at a friend’s home in Chelsea. Her talent and the wealth she accrued didn’t spare Lillian Boxfish from enduring difficult times. Her recollections are wistful, reflective, and even regretful but, like the darkened city around her, she never succumbed to defeat. This is a lady worth taking a journey with. ~ Alden Graves
Garden of LamentationsGarden of Lamentations by Deborah Crombie. This 16th Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James mystery has the detectives going in separate directions. Gemma is dealing with a tragic murder and Duncan with possible internal corruption that could endanger not only himself but family and friends as well. This well plotted novel will keep you guessing until the very end of both of these complex cases. ~ Tambra Johnson Reap
The Dark ForestThe Dark Forest by Cixin Liu. This is the second novel of the Remembrance Of Earth’s Past trilogy. Every now and then a sequel turns out to be better than the original. It spans a time period of several centuries. Earth develops rapidly, even becoming a bit of a utopia with many of its social ills having been solved. But when advance probes are noted to be arriving before an invasion fleet, just how well prepared can it be? The author seamlessly crafts a story that keeps you at the edge of your seat. ~ Elisa Siqueiros
AftertasteAftertaste by Andrew Post. A rampaging Were-frog! A Zombie! Swamps! And cooking! A hysterical new take on the classic Zombie tale. I loved this book! ~ Sarah Donner
In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts HistoryIn the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu tries to rid his city of four Confederate monuments and also rid it of biased, untruthful notions of what the Confederacy and Civil War were all about. The resistance he encounters, he hopes, will be conquered by a true reckoning with the past. ~ Mike Hare
Disappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest PassageDisappointment River: Finding and Losing the Northwest Passage by Brian Castner. The author, an adventurer and true raconteur himself, tells of retracing the steps of Alexander McKenzie who, 11 years before Lewis and Clark, had the journey of a lifetime. Castner‘s marvelous storytelling rivals Michener and McCullough. I didn’t want it to end! ~ Maeve Noonan
Denmark Vesey's Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the ConfederacyDenmark Vesey's Garden: Slavery and Memory in the Cradle of the Confederacy by Ethan J. Kytle and Blain Roberts. Nearly two centuries after ex-slave Denmark Vesey plotted a doomed rebellion in Charleston, South Carolina, the revisionist, airbrushed “Lost Cause” Confederate history struggles to persist. This book traces the slow acknowledgement of slavery’s evils, and how that knowledge is necessary for an honest reconciliation with our past. ~ Mike Hare
The Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the VoteThe Woman's Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote by Elaine Weiss. The ferocious battle for women’s suffrage climaxed in the Tennessee legislature in the sweltering summer of 1920. “Suffs” and “antis” thundered insults at each other, while advising, cajoling, and threatening teetering politicians. The raging days leading to the vote evoke a final military campaign, where everyone knows only one side will win the war. ~ Mike Hare
The Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and TreasureThe Last Wild Men of Borneo: A True Story of Death and Treasure by Carl Hoffman. Until he walked into the jungle and disappeared, Swiss adventurer Bruno Manser lived with the Penan for years, adopting their way of life and spearheading the movement to save the rainforest the tribe called home. Michael Palmieri spent decades collecting and dealing in Bornean tribal art, occasionally in less than above board circumstances. The two men met only once in a brief and unremarkable way. A fascinating tale of two people and the very different ways they attempted to save a culture. ~ Sarah Donner
Hourglass: Time, Memory, MarriageHourglass: Time, Memory, Marriage by Dani Shapiro. A meditative, moving account of a marriage and the inescapable velocity of time. With eloquence and grace, Shapiro reckons with chance and choice, the forces that have shaped her life and long term partnership. The love in these pages is precious and delicate; her writing flows with clear wonder at life's accumulated losses, uncertainties, and joys. ~ Cathy Taylor
DadlandDadland by Keggie Carew. Tom Carew's World War II exploits earned him the title "Lawrence of Burma."" At home, the soldier was an enigma – loving but wayward. In this memoir, his daughter digs into his past while losing a father and hero to dementia. A tender and effervescent look at the "Greatest Generation."" ~ Charles Bottomley
April is National Poetry Month
Wade in the Water: PoemsWade in the Water: Poems by Tracy K. Smith. The author asks, “What is history to us?” through a myriad of voices, sloshing through pain and time. A beautiful and poignant way to speak about the present by talking about the past and discovering similarities that uncover truth. Smith is never too far away from sublime in her work. She shares her experiences falling in love, becoming a mother, and seeing the history she will pass on to her child, all the while guiding us through pain and leaving us with a little hope. ~ Alex Bell
The Poet XThe Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo. Xiomara is pushing against obligations of family and religion; navigating expectations that don’t apply to her generation. Poetry is her release, a safety valve to avoid confrontation over rules that she knows will never change. Existence isn’t really life and X is ready to live, to speak, to throw her verse to the world. Does that mean leaving family and faith behind? A novel in verse, The Poet X will take you on a wild ride, slam into you like a subway train, and you will love every line! ~ Leah Moore