Susan's Staff Picks

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Dark Music: A novel By David Lagercrantz, Ian Giles (Translated by) Cover Image
By David Lagercrantz, Ian Giles (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780593319215
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - August 23rd, 2022

"Though this is a Swedish mystery it has similarities to a Sherlock Holmes/Watson story. The case concerns a murdered asylum seeker from Afghanistan. Micaela Vargas is a street smart cop and Professor Hans Rekke is a world renowned expert on interrogation techniques. He worked in the US for a time, is extremely observant (like Holmes) and has a fragile mental state. (he also is an expert pianist and plays while he thinks) 

They find themselves working together outside the boundaries of the police department and in spite of the US and Swedish officials. 

This is a convoluted, smart mystery that threatens to disclose some buried events of international importance. Well done."

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The Winners: A Novel (Beartown Series) By Fredrik Backman Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982112790
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - September 27th, 2022

"You might think that this is a story about hockey. That would be correct since it is the third in the Beartown hockey trilogy. But it isn’t completely correct because this book is so much more.  

Backman has written a story about everything – winning & losing, loving & hating, friends & enemies, families you are born into and families who find you …and on it goes. 

There is story and there is philosophy all within these pages. The whole world. I believe this is a masterpiece."

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Shutter By Ramona Emerson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781641293334
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Soho Crime - August 2nd, 2022

"Rita Todacheene lived with her grandmother on a Navajo reservation until her unusual ability ostracized her from most of the tribe. – ghosts talk to her. Now she lives in Albuquerque and works as a forensic psychologist. 

'Souls don’t scatter like the rest of the body…they are the best witnesses to their last breaths.' 

As witnesses they talk to Rita and her photographs are extraordinary because of this.  As the tension increases, Rita’s heritage and her skills merge to enable her to pursue a killer.  The dichotomy of crime in the city l and the tribal understanding of life made this a very interesting crime story. Definitely worth reading!"

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Our Missing Hearts: A Novel By Celeste Ng Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593492543
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - October 4th, 2022

"While centering this story around one family, Celeste Ng has given us a future possibility that would threaten and thereby affect all of us! Beautiful writing, engaging story. Bird and his mother and father have a story to tell that is both compelling and frightening. A cautionary tale...we may already be on the road to this future."

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Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting: A Novel By Clare Pooley Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984878649
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pamela Dorman Books - June 7th, 2022

"A man chokes on a grape while riding a commuter train into the city. A fellow commuter saves his life and sparks an awareness that a number of these commuters see each other nearly every day and yet never speak. Each has traveled in his own bubble and now the bubble has been broken.  Gradually they get to know each other and find that each has something to offer another traveler. 

Warm, funny, and unexpected revelations eventually bind this group into a family.  Light reading and yet a story with deep meaning that show us how connected we all may be and how we need each other and are better together."

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Wrong Place Wrong Time: A Novel By Gillian McAllister Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063252349
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow - August 2nd, 2022

"Jen is waiting for 18 yr. old son to come home one night. As she sees him walking up the steps, he turns toward an older man across the street, runs toward him and stabs him. 

As the parents and son spend the night at the police station, Jen begins to scan her memory for any indication of where she went wrong.  This cannot be the one she knows and loves! Over the next period of time, Jen periodically wakes up and lives through a day in their past, always returning again to present day though things begin to change in their present day. 

This is a crazy suspense/time travel story! Well done and worth reading if you like quirky suspense."

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One of the Girls By Lucy Clarke Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593422649
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - June 28th, 2022

"A young woman is planning her marriage to the perfect man.  Her best friend plans a bachelorette weekend on a remote Greek island and invites a few other women – some of whom are meeting for the first time. 

All kinds of twists and turns. Secrets are revealed. Connections between the women pop up as the conversations and drinking go on. Almost no one is quite as they seem and then the groom shows up and crashes the party. All of this ends in a death.  

Suspenseful! Unusual! Fun reading!"

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The Island By Adrian McKinty Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316531283
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - May 17th, 2022

"This is a chilling story! 

Heather has traveled to Australia with her husband of only a few months for a vacation/honeymoon/medical conference. Her uneasy truce with her teenage step-children simmers along. Then an unplanned ferry trip to a tiny island leads them into a horror story which strips away all their facades until their true characters are revealed.  

This story might cause you to ask yourself how well you know and can depend the people around you.  A worthy successor to The Chain.  Well done! "

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Book Lovers By Emily Henry Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593334836
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Berkley - May 3rd, 2022

"A month long vacation with her sister in a small North Carolina town forces Nora to adjust her city routines to small town rhythms. She gradually realizes that her carefully constructed city life may not be the life she wants. Then she unexpectedly recognizes someone from her city life and things become interesting.  This is a warm, witty, engaging story about people finding themselves when they didn’t realize they were lost.  I loved it! Emily Henry’s best yet!"

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Sea of Tranquility: A novel By Emily St. John Mandel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593321447
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - April 5th, 2022

"Emily St. John Mandel has woven a tapestry through time with her words! 

In this tapestry, the stories of a number of people are woven together and sometimes there are overlaps even between time periods; sometimes there are discrepancies that make no sense. 

The people of different time periods become connected by similar stories. 

We read about Edwin in 1912 who walked through a forest in western Canada, found a deserted clearing and heard violin music. Generations later Vincent (The Glass Hotel) wandered into the same clearing and inexplicably heard violin music. We meet Gaspery in several different places and now we start to wonder, 

“What if?” 

This is an interesting, thought provoking story that holds your attention throughout."

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The Sign for Home: A Novel By Blair Fell Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982175955
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria/Emily Bestler Books - April 5th, 2022

"Arlo Dilly is DeafBlind, a Jehovah's Witness, and under the guargianship of his strict uncle.   After a traumatic incident at school, Arlo has been living with his uncle, almost under house arrest until he asks to enroll in a college writing class.  Soon, Arlo begins to meet more people, explore the city, and make a few new friends and rediscover old friends.  I learned so much about the challenges of the DeafBlind community and really enjoyed this book!"

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Just Pursuit: A Black Prosecutor's Fight for Fairness By Laura Coates Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982173760
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - January 18th, 2022

"When Laura Coates moved from her job at the Civil Rights Division to participate in a temporary (4 yr.) program in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Washington, D.C. she thought that she would be able to make a difference – she would be a prosecutor dedicated to providing justice. She found that she was unable to ensure justice. She grew to distrust the system that worked against so many of those like her, Black women, daughters, sisters, wives, and mothers.

Coates has written a series of scenes from the courtroom – essentially a series of essays or individual stories which together make a whole that is both revealing, heartbreaking and frustrating. I am very glad that I read this book – it confirmed my view that our justice system is often broken in ways that seem impossible to fix, though there are lawyers who are working to do just that."

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Stand Your Ground: A Novel By Victoria Christopher Murray Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476792996
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Gallery Books - June 30th, 2015

"A seventeen year old black teen is killed by a middle aged white man. The teen is dead; the shooter has been identified and yet has not been arrested claiming this was a justified shooting. The teen’s mother, Janice, does not want her son to become another victim used by the public to address racial injustice. She wants her son to be recognized as the outstanding young man that he was – the private school senior, never in trouble, heading to the University of PA in the fall. 

This is the story of both their families. It is a story of how the preconceived ideas of violence and race inform much of how we evaluate crime. 

I am glad I read this. I did not know that “stand your ground” is a legal defense in many states including PA. it should be repealed."

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Anthem By Noah Hawley Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538711514
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - January 4th, 2022

"Something is happening with the teens in the United States – suicides are increasing at an alarming rate and often a cryptic message is all that is left – A11.  Though this thread continues throughout the story, Hawley has written a suspense story with a group of teens on a rescue mission, a political commentary of how a judge is approaching her potential confirmation to the Supreme Court, an indictment of the powerful drug industry, and a hopeful outlook on a very dystopian future.  I am in awe of his writing, his ability to meld these stories into a comprehensible whole and his obvious hope and concern for our teenage population.  Well done!"

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Beautiful Little Fools: A Novel By Jillian Cantor Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780063051256
Published: Harper - February 1st, 2022

"If you will never tire of The Great Gatsby and the world that Fitzgerald depicted for us all then this is the book for you.  We are re-introduced to three women who loved and were loved by Jay Gatsby.  We see different facets of Gatsby’s personality from when he was an underprivileged young man in love with a girl he couldn’t afford through his time when he tries to reconnect and realizes that he must make some quick money or else lose her and eventually he becomes the man we know from Fitzgerald’s book.   The three women all have reasons to both love and hate him and none sees him clearly.  The he dies – jealousy, suicide, mob hit? Who killed Jay Gatsby?"

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Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel By Anthony Doerr Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982168445
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - September 27th, 2022

"So much of what I love about reading is in this book – stimulating intellectually ( looking up some unknown words and  also realizing that learning some Greek might be fun), stretching the imagination from the ancient world to futuristic space travel, touching on the questions of our responsibility for people, animals, plants and the earth itself.

The story is uncovered and moved along primarily by the questioning minds and needs of teenagers and their animal companions.  The number of characters, time periods and story lines make this a challenging read but with an open mind and patience it is so worth it!  I loved it and was in awe of how the lines merged and resolved even through the desperate times some of the characters experienced.  Anthony Doerr said “primarily this is a book about our planet – in itself a vast library – and the stories that connect us."

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When Ghosts Come Home: A Novel By Wiley Cash Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062313096
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - September 27th, 2022

"Welcome to a southern mystery.  A body is found near an airplane that crash-landed on a little used airfield. The local sheriff tasked with the apparent murder and the mystery of the plane is suddenly in the middle of simmering racial tensions, accusations and vigilante actions. He is a good man trying to do his job in a community where this type of crime is an anomaly.  Sometimes being a good man is just not enough. He is up for re-election against a corrupt challenger; his community is changing, not always for the better.  With all of the challenges he faces, Sheriff Winston Barnes refused to compromise himself – he remains a good man throughout.   Interesting reading – what choices does a man make when pushed by opportunistic men and difficult circumstances?"

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Kingdom of Bones: A Thriller (Sigma Force Novels #16) By James Rollins Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062892997
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow - November 8th, 2022

"Rollins has written a number of stories about the Sigma Force team – a small, elite group especially equipped with intelligence, skills and supplies – which can react quickly to unusual, threatening and/or emergency situations in all parts of the world. 

While the characters remain the same and have back stories, it is easy to read each book as a standalone suspenseful adventure story. This story location is the Congo and includes real history, actual scientific facts and also African myths and the possibility that Mother Nature is quite capable of making a statement. 

Rollins also explains what is fact and what is fiction after you have finished. Fun, fast read – would make an interesting movie."

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Bewilderment: A Novel By Richard Powers Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393881141
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 21st, 2021

"I encourage you to read the book jacket which describes the premise of this book better than I could do. What I can do is share with you that the writing is beautiful with so many quotable/memorable lines that I wish I could memorize them all.  “Nobody’s perfect, but, man, we all fall short so beautifully”.  The writing throughout is beautiful: “Rocks on both sides were splattered with an action painting of lichen, moss and algae.”

The story is set sometime in the near future where the effects of climate change are becoming more apparent; more animals are endangered; more rivers and streams are polluted. Politicians are more interested in denying science than in making changes to laws and programs.  Scientific explorations and experiments are eliminated or are underfunded.  This is the world through which the astro-biologist father and his son are navigating.

Probably my favorite book of this year!"

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The Kitchen Front: A Novel By Jennifer Ryan Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593158814
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - February 22nd, 2022

"During WWII four women in the countryside near London compete in a cooking contest that takes place in three parts. The prize is to be the first female co-host of a BBC cooking show highlighting using the allotted rations to make delicious meals. The wartime radio show is meant to encourage women in different ways to use their rations and also to supplement them with local ingredients. 

The four women begin as competitors – each with a legitimate need to win – and they become family.  Very different women; wartime recipes included within chapters, and interactions between all the characters. 

Fun and illuminating reading.  I am thankful I didn’t need to cook with some of these ingredients!"

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Still Life By Sarah Winman Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593330753
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - November 2nd, 2021

"It is 1944 and Evelyn Skinner walks down the lane of  a house in the Tuscan countryside shortly before Private Ulysses Temper drives by on his way to pick up his captain. He stops; she asks for a lift and together they find Captain Darnly at a villa outside Florence. Though this is the only evening the three spend together, the connections they feel as they share wine and conversations about art, life and Italy will remain with them for 35 years and beyond.  

I am in awe of this story - about love in so many forms:

    love of the family you choose to make

     love of art and beauty and exploration

     love of Florence and Tuscany

     love for the people you continue to meet and for those you hold in your heart for years

This is a beautifully written story that will remain one of my favorites!!"