Staff Choices

Posted by Lucy S on 03/08/18
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Rebirth is a novel of reconciliation and forgiveness. The book is not a memoir but is inspired by author Kamal Ravikant’s own experiences.
Amit is a young man who feels adrift after his estranged father dies. After fulfilling his father’s last wish to take his ashes to India, Amit takes some time away from work.

Troubled, Amit decides to walk the Camino de Santiago across northern Spain. This has been a trail for pilgrims since medieval times. One definition of pilgrim is one who journeys in foreign lands, a wayfarer. The route stretches over 500 miles and comes together at the tomb of St. James. Amit walks alone and with others he meets on the trail; almost all of them are trying to heal or to get away from life as it is.
I found this book inspiring as the people on the trail are actively seeking to come to grips with grief, to better understand themselves, to forgive, to find answers and to learn. At only 230 pages long, it is a quick read and, I think, can appeal to any reader. No need to be religious to gain insight from the book.

Those who read Walking to Listen by Andrew Forsthoefel may also enjoy Rebirth.

Posted by Lucy S on 02/21/18
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Yejide is a woman planning to travel back home to attend her father-in-law’s funeral. The story quickly jumps back to the time when Yejide and Akin are a newly married couple desperate to have children. Yejide is crushed when Akin’s family foists a new wife into their lives—in this story, this is permitted in Nigerian culture. Yejide herself grew up with four step-mothers but does not want to continue this tradition. Unsettling twists and turns reveal themselves when the chapters shift points of view for each main character. No one is quite as they seem and each are complicit in ways I did not expect.

Debut novelist Ayobami Adebayo has written a book about a family that covers multiple issues and a wide range of emotions: happiness, grief, hope, anguish, deception, naivety, loss, loneliness, mourning, compassion and new beginnings. Read Stay with Me if you would like a glimpse into another culture’s customs and discover that love and family are universal desires.
Stay with Me was shortlisted for the 2017 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and has a very satisfying, deserving conclusion.
Posted by BARB W on 02/19/18
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In 2017, the world lost a gifted artist, Sam Shepard. Some remember him for his many film and television roles, or as a screenplay writer for both of these mediums.

All true, but the core of Shepard’s work and deep impact will be the legacy of the forty-four plays, two novels and several short story collections he created. His last work, the short novel Spy of the First Person, was published on December 5, 2017, and is a memorable final gift from this immensely talented man.

Spy of the First Person is quintessentially Shepard and intensely personal to his struggle as he neared the end of his life. These characteristics of human uncertainty make the story relevant to everyone: the memories we have created, the paths we have pursued, and the people who went there with us. The lonely narrator becomes both the observer and the participant.

Shephard’s style is sparse, precise and affectingly significant in this beautiful read. Please try this, or one of his other rewarding works.
Posted by Katie M on 02/12/18
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The cookie of the moment is the Salted Butter and Chocolate Chunk Shortbread, a recipe featured all over Instagram and various food sites, created by Alison Roman, author of Dining In: Highly Cookable Recipes. The shortbread recipe is as spectacular as the online hype and you can find it in her book, which also contains many other excellent recipes and loads of inspiration. Roman’s book is well-written and straightforward, with relatable writing and down-to-earth recipes and instructions.
With a focus on fresh ingredients, there are many great-looking recipes, for everything from Shrimp in the Shells with Lots of Garlic and Probably Too Much Butter to Paprika-Rubbed Sheet-Pan Chicken with Lemon, desserts like a classic Lemon Shaker Tart and Brown-Butter Buttermilk Cake, and a whole section on Savory Breakfasts, all with quick and easy instructions. Roman’s book is a fun read, filled with beautiful pictures, and will probably make you want to spend loads of time in the kitchen, or at the least, spend time reading her gorgeous cookbook!
Posted by SherriT on 02/12/18
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Keep Her Safe by K. A. Tucker is a steamy, thrill ride that takes us into the lives of Noah and Gracie as they investigate and unravel all the lies, secrets, deception, and corruption that has tainted their past and present and try to vindicate their loved ones.
Noah Marshall is the son of the chief of the Austin police department. Gracie Richards is the daughter of a drug addicted mother, and a father who was a corrupt police officer, killed in a drug deal gone wrong. Noah and Gracie have not seen each other for fourteen years, but reunite to try to uncover some truths from the past.

The writing is taut and edgy. The characters are secretive, scarred, and genuine. In addition, the plot told from multiple perspectives is an intense, suspenseful love story filled with police politics, familial drama, coercion, manipulation, violence, and murder.
Keep Her Safe was a riveting read, with characters who each have their own burden to bear tied up in others’ in an intricate web of deceit and uncomfortable truths. Just who is telling the truth and what lengths will they go to in order to seek justice or hide what happened all those years ago? How far is the shadow cast from the sins of your loved ones?

Overall, Keep Her Safe is another absorbing, touching page-turner by Tucker that has just the right amount of romance and mystery to keep you invested, engaged, and guessing until the very last page.
Posted by jonf on 02/03/18
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Walter Mosley's newest Easy Rawlins mystery set in 1968 Los Angeles is another fun, well-written tale with the charm and skills of the mellow private eye. Easy is asked by his best friend the dangerous killer Ray "mouse" Alexander to do a favor for his mysterious friend Charcoal Joe. A friend of Joe's son is accused of murdering two men, but he know's it's a frame and Easy is on the case.

Easy with the help of his pal Fearless Jones set off to find the true killer, the job takes Easy and Fearless from Watts to Beverly Hills to fix the set up and gain Charcoal Joe's trust. This is another great ride with Easy, great characters, colorful locales and good story,

Posted by jlasky on 02/01/18
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Shanti Sekaran isn’t afraid to wade into such private, painful and politicized topics as infertility, immigration, family, childbirth, and adoption. In Lucky Boy, we navigate the lives of Kavya and her husband Rishi, living in Berkeley Ca. They are desperately trying to have a child, both to fulfill their own desires as well as their family’s expectations back in India. In contrast, there is Soli, an undocumented Mexican immigrant who struggles to keep her head above water as a single mother in a foreign land. A simple mistake wreaks havoc in her already fragile life.

Their parallel paths heartbreakingly intertwine, as they struggle to navigate US social systems, as well as  keeping their families together.

Lucky Boy is a thoughtfully written story that takes you deep into the layers of these hopeful young lives. Sekaran carefully crafts her characters who have similar dreams and wishes, but like all of us, never know what pain they may have to endure to achieve them. Both sides of these hot button issues have convincing arguments but no clear answers.
Lucky Boy will appeal to readers who lean toward books with empathetic, multiple perspectives. This book will have you wanting both sides of this struggle to emerge victorious, and may have you looking through a new lens at some of these issues.
Posted by NealP on 01/23/18
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The Grip of It, a horror novel by Chicago author Jac Jemc, is a fast-paced, unsettling story of a young couple who move into a house in a small town away from the city in which they met.  
The book alternates perspectives between the couple, Julie and James, as they attempt to reconnect following James’ gambling addiction and the trust issues that follow. 
As they settle in, the house, which has an unusual layout with secret passageways and rooms, becomes increasingly malevolent – rooms change, becoming unrecognizable, stains on the wall expand and contract.  This affects Julie and James mentally and physically, laying bare their unresolved problems.  They attempt to solve the mysteries surrounding the house involving past residents, and a strange neighbor who may or may not have lived there before.
Jemc’s prose is chilling, poetic, and economical.  The Grip of It is psychological horror that questions the meaning of home and its constructive and destructive effects on relationships with those we love.
The Grip of It will appeal to fans of horror, suspense, and relationship-based fiction.  Check out her other novels here in eBook form.
Posted by Lucy S on 01/22/18
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The day after a woman has been mugged outside of her apartment building, Laurent is on his way to work when he finds an expensive handbag lying on top of a trash bin, minus its wallet. When he tries to turn it in at the police station, it is too busy for him to wait so he decides to take it home.

Determined to reunite the purse to its rightful owner Laurent sifts through the contents and finds a red notebook that only divulges her first name, Laure. Once Laurent realizes that he has crossed a line of privacy and propriety after he discovers where she lives, he retreats. Nevertheless, this is not the end of the story.

At only 189 pages, author Antoine Laurain's The Red Notebook is an enjoyable, charming, quick read; an account about how a brief moment of time can shift ordinary lives, leaving a door open to the future when these two main characters’ lives converge.

The book is set in France and translated from French into English.
Posted by Katie M on 01/16/18
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Bon Appétempt: A Coming-Of-Age Story (with Recipes!) by Amelia Morris, a 30-something “food” blogger, who writes a popular blog by the same title, is full of funny and charming stories in Morris’ distinctive voice. On her popular blog, PBS has produced her videos, she has won a Saveur food blog award, and her blog has been previously recognized as one of TIMES’s 25 Best Blogs of the Year.

Sharing personal observations about her life and family, she reveals relatable family dramas and growing into who you want to be. Full of thoughtful anecdotes, and a variety of recipes, from her mom’s comfort snack of Toasted Cheerios, to a delicious recipe for lemon pasta from her husband, this is a self-aware coming-of-age memoir. I recommend this book to anyone familiar with her Bon Appétempt blog or who likes modern memoirs.
cooking, memoir
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