Staff Picks

The Rise & Fall of Great Powers by Tom Rachman

Raised by a band of con-artists and outsiders, Tooly Zylberberg has always led an unconventional life.  Taking solace in her isolated existence, she is currently running a failing bookstore in a small village in Wales when an old boyfriend from New York sends her an urgent message about a man from her past he mistakenly believes is her father.  Against her better judgment, Tooly flies to New York City and finds that the message was about Humphrey - a self-proclaimed grumpy intellectual from Russia who helped raise her.

Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd

“Home isn’t just a house or a city or a place.”  After being constantly on the move for the last five years, Felicity has finally made a friend and wishes more than anything that her wandering mother will let them stay in Midnight Gulch, a town that was once considered magical.  When she participates in the town Duel (a talent contest), everyone’s luck changes and perhaps the magic has returned after all.

The Good Braider by Terry Farish

Fourteen-year-old Viola lives in Juba, Sudan with her loving grandmother, strong-willed mother, and adoring little brother.  Although danger is constantly present in the form of land mines, armed soldiers, and starvation, Viola loves her family and community, and remembers the days when Juba was a lush paradise.  When she is raped by a soldier when walking home one evening, however, her family decides to make the treacherous journey from Sudan to Egypt to the United States.  Tragedy occurs along the way, and Viola finds herself torn between the luxuries found in America, and

China Dolls by Lisa See

Set in 1938 in San Francisco just prior to the opening of the World’s Fair on Treasure Island three young women meet while seeking employment at the Forbidden City night club.  All three Chinese-American women come from different backgrounds, yet they find a common bond in the world of adult nightclubs.  Grace Lee has fled an abusive home in the Midwest and has no idea what it means to be Chinese.  Helen Fong lives with her extended family in Chinatown who tries to protect her reputation and disapproves of her working in the nightclub.  Ruby Tom has ambition that w

Vivian Maier: Street Photographer by Vivian Maier

Vivian Maier, a nanny to North Shore Chicago families, took more than 100,000 photos and slides over 5 decades, the majority of which were never developed. After her death in 2009, her negatives were discovered at auction by two people who became enraptured by her photography and began printing her work. Vivian’s stunning photography documents Chicago neighborhoods and faces of the 1960s and 70s. Her photographs are stunning and each one captures the stuff of everyday life.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Cadence Sinclair Easton comes from an incredibly privileged East Coast family, in which every member is blonde, beautiful, and wealthy. The Sinclairs own a private island, where all convene every summer. Cady, along with the other family “Liars,” have spent carefree, idyllic summers on the island…until the summer Cady turns fifteen. Summer 15 is filled with fun and first love, until the horrible night Cady is found alone on the beach.

The Emperor’s Blades by Brian Staveley

This gritty and excellently written fantasy novel follows three siblings of the recently slain emperor of Annur. His daughter and two sons, scattered across the world, do what they must to stay alive and unmask the assassins. This is fantasy at its best, with great character development, plot, and world building. After the twist at the end of this book, I can't wait for the next one!

 

SF/F STAVELEY, B.  

Maleficent by Elizabeth Runick

And her name was Maleficent…   This is actually the thinly-veiled story of Sleeping Beauty told from Maleficent’s point of view.  Beginning with her idyllic childhood in the Moors, this story continues with her crush on Stefan and how he becomes king by betraying her, and then the curse she puts on his child, Aurora.

I Have a Bad Feeling About This by Jess Strand

Henry Lambert planned  a summer vacation filled with lazy days and plenty of video games. Sadly, his father doesn’t agree and makes his own plans for Henry. He thinks that two weeks at the Strongwoods Survival Camp is just what Henry needs to change him from a nerdy geek to a manly man. The only saving grace is that Henry’s best friend, Randy, has also signed on for two weeks in the bowels of wilderness hell with him.

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