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Staff Picks

One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

December 30, 2017 Rebekah @ Greer
One Summer: America, 1927 by Bill Bryson

One Summer: America, 1927 is undoubtedly one of Bill Bryson's most epic undertakings, and one of his finest. As the title suggests, this nonfiction history book takes readers on a sweeping tour of America in 1927 and, to an extent, the 1920s more broadly. Bryson masterfully and charmingly weaves together all of 1927's most interesting stories, character sketches, and trivia to create a vivid portrait of an era. There's something here for everyone: sensational crimes, technological breakthroughs, Broadway, baseball, authors and inventors and presidents... This is history the way it was never taught in your high school history class—humorous, surprising, fun, and guaranteed to keep you glued to the page. I especially recommend checking out the audiobook version, which is read by the author.


Murder Past Due by Miranda James

December 11, 2017 Shuly @ Taylors
Murder Past Due by Miranda James

The book, Murder Past Due, by Miranda James, is the first in the Cat in the Stacks series, and it was an amazing read. This novel takes place in Athena, Mississippi, where a librarian named Charlie works in a university archives. He has an enormous cat named Diesel, who he takes everywhere on a leash. Charlie is familiar with a best-selling author named Godfrey Priest, who is from Athena and went to school with him. Mr. Priest comes into town and seeks out Charlie to offer the school his manuscripts, as well as to share sensitive information. However, within hours he is found murdered. Charlie is especially committed to discovering the murderer since he is the one who found the body, and there are personal interests involved. The problem is, Mr. Priest had many enemies in town, and it is not so easy to narrow down the list of suspects. As Charlie looks through the manuscripts that Mr. Priest left him, he discovers some unsettling information. Can Charlie get to the bottom of this murder on time? Meanwhile, Charlie's cat Diesel accompanies him on his investigations, and provides comfort where needed. I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy cozy mysteries and cats.  


Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly

October 28, 2017 Shuly @ Greer
Lost in a Book by Jennifer Donnelly

Lost in a Book, by Jennifer Donnelly, is a re-telling of the Beauty and the Beast fairy tale, but it has a new twist. Readers will be familiar with the story of Belle and how she comes to be locked in the Beast's castle in exchange for her father's freedom. Throughout her captivity she befriends the enchanted inhabitants of this mansion. She also spends much of her time in the castle's library and comes across an enchanted book called Nevermore. In Nevermore, the line between fiction and reality are blurred. Could Belle get lost in a book…literally? Little does Belle know that there are forces of good and evil that fight to shape her future. In this journey, Belle reflects on the true meaning of love and friendship. This book was a cute little read, but the ending kept me hanging. There were many details that I was expecting to be revealed and resolved. In spite of its ending, I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy young adult fantasy and fairy tale re-telling


Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

October 14, 2017 Brian E. @ Hughes Main
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

Be careful with this one.

It is easy to view the eye-popping cover and assume this interconnected series of short stories is simply an ode to the pulpy tales of horror that emerged in the early 20th century.  And to be fair, this novel contains all of the classic horror tropes of that era.  Sinister cults, otherworldly dreamscapes - and yes, tentacles - all feature prominently.  But at its core this book is about the systemic racism and bigotry that permeated American society throughout the mid-1950s and beyond.  These short stories chronicle the experiences of Atticus Turner, a Black Veteran of the Korean War, as well as his extended family as they deal with horrors both supernatural and all too familiar.  Give this book a shot if you're interested in an eerie, socially-conscious read.  

 


Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander

October 3, 2017 Shuly @ Greer
Death in the Floating City by Tasha Alexander

Death in the Floating City, by Tasha Alexander, is the seventh book in the Lady Emily series. This is one of my favorite series, and I recommend readers start with the first book, And Only to Deceive. Lady Emily is an aristocratic lady in Victorian England who sometimes gets frowned upon due to her unconventional interests. Due to her inquisitive mind, she pursues her scholarly interests as well as investigates murders with her husband. In this seventh installment, Emily and her handsome husband Colin, an agent for the royal Crown, travel to Venice to investigate the murder of the father-in-law of Emily's childhood nemesis. As they search for clues, they uncover an ancient rivalry of two warring families from Italy, as well as a tragic case of star-crossed lovers. As this information is revealed, Emily and Colin must learn the connection between the feuding families and the murder of this Italian count. Meanwhile, as information gets discovered, someone undergoes deadly measures to ensure that certain information remains undisclosed. Throughout her investigation, Emily goes to a myriad of places to find answers, ranging from libraries to brothels. Meanwhile, a number of unexpected discoveries are made, and there are times when Emily and Colin are not sure what to think. Will they get to the bottom of this murder before somebody else winds up dead? I highly recommend this for readers who enjoy historical mysteries in the Victorian era, and who appreciate a strong female lead.


Lock In by John Scalzi

September 25, 2017 Rebekah @ Greer
Lock In by John Scalzi

The protagonist of this sci-fi mystery novel, Chris Shane, is not your average FBI agent. For one, he's the son of one of the wealthiest and most influential families in the United States. For another, he's famous. Oh yeah, and he's been totally paralyzed since he was two years old—not that that stops him from fighting crime. In Shane's world, a flu-like epidemic known as Haden's has left over 5 million Americans paralyzed, including Shane, but technology has provided a way out for these "lock-ins": an interface that lets them interact with the physical world, either by renting another person’s body for the day or inhabiting an android body. The world of Haden’s becomes central to the bizarre murder Shane is faced with solving in this fast-paced novel, the first in a new series from one of sci-fi’s most popular authors. Recommended for anyone who enjoys witty banter, solid world-building, and a vivid cast of characters.


Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline

September 15, 2017 Shuly @ Greer
Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline

Most Wanted, by Lisa Scottoline, is about a school teacher named Christine Nilsson, who has been unsuccessfully trying to have a baby. She and her husband make the decision to use a donor, and she finally gets pregnant. As she enjoys her pregnancy, her world gets shattered when she discovers that her baby's donor might be a serial killer. Unable to keep guessing, she takes matters into her own hands to try and discover if the alleged serial killer really is her donor. Meanwhile, she and her husband drift apart as they disagree on how to approach the situation. As Christine investigates a string of murders, there are several twists and turns, and things are nor always as they seem. The quest to determine whether her donor is a serial killer or not proves to be a complicated one wrought with unexpected discoveries. I do not ordinarily read contemporary thrillers, but this book made my heart pound and was a page turner. I would recommend this work to those seeking an engaging and suspenseful read.  


Lost Fleet: Dauntless by Jack Campbell

June 28, 2017 Andy @ Travelers Rest
Lost Fleet: Dauntless by Jack Campbell

Captain John "Black Jack" Geary is the lone survivor of the first battle of the Syndic-Alliance War. When rescued from his survival pod after 100 years he learns that the Alliance has inflated his reputation to heroic proportions. After taking charge "Black Jack" Geary must lead the Alliance fleet home to safety through hostile space while coming to grips with his manufactured status. The first in a 6 book series, Dauntless combines fast paced space battles and complex character development. 


Super Spy by Matt Kindt

June 26, 2017 Jed @ Hughes Main
Super Spy by Matt Kindt

This graphic novel, as with many by Kindt, seems confusing at the beginning, bringing readers in to the middle of a story without much context. However, persistence pays off with eventual reveals that bring the beginning of the story into beautiful focus and justify the extreme nonlinear storytelling. For somewhat less adventurous readers, Kindt does provide a table of contents that orders the chapters in a more linear narrative.The story covers the machinations of spies on all sides of World War II as they struggle against their enemies at war and with themselves and Kindt examines the nature of loyalty, courage and war itself.


The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

June 14, 2017 Kat @ Greer
The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Circus isn't like any other circus you've been to before; it's actually magical. Two young magicians, Celia and Marco, are in the middle of a competition to prove who has the stronger magic. Their teachers have forced Celia and Marco into a pact where only one will survive, and despite these dire circumstances the pair continue to show off their skills. Morgenstern creates an incredible world where magic is woven into every day life. Her cast of characters are as compelling as the descriptions she uses to show off the Circus.

I have read this multiple times and still find new things to love and enjoy.