Staff Picks

Staff recommendations for the best of what to read, listen to and view in our collection.

The Magic Room by Jeffrey Zaslow

This is a very touching book about how 8 brides come to the Magic Room at Becker's Bridal, for their special wedding dresses.  It  focuses on the changing views of how they dress for the occasion, as  things have changed from the young sheltered brides of the early 20th century to the modern brides now.  Each story speaks of their hopes for the future and for what we wish our daughters to find in a marriage.  It is told from the Becker family multi-generational oowners of the shop and is very touching.  I really enjoyed it, although I often had to stop and dab at my eyes as the stories unfolded.  It's a shame that Jeffrey Zaslow was recently killed in an auto accident and won't live to share this moment with his young daughters.  As he reflected that he was looking forward to doing that, just before he died.

The Killings at Badger's Drift by Caroline Graham

killings at badger's drift coverCheck our catalog for: The Killings at Badger's Drift

I love British mysteries, cozies and others as well. I'm always happy to come across an older series I've missed, so I can start at the beginning and read on through the next several books without having to wait for each one to be published.  This one, first in the Chief Inspector Barnaby series, was very enjoyable, with charming characters in a small English village, some humor, and clever crime-solving.  And of course there is some sinisterness lurking in the village (who killed 80-year-old Emily Simpson?)...

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Check our catalog for: Ready Player One

It’s the year 2044, and the real world is an ugly place. Like most of humanity, Wade Watts escapes his grim surroundings by spending his waking hours jacked into the OASIS, a sprawling virtual utopia that lets you be anything you want to be, a place where you can live and play and fall in love on any of ten thousand planets. And like most of humanity, Wade dreams of being the one to discover the ultimate lottery ticket that lies concealed within this virtual world. For somewhere inside this giant networked playground, OASIS creator James Halliday has hidden a series of fiendish puzzles that will yield massive fortune—and remarkable power—to whoever can unlock them.

Choker by Elizabeth Woods

Check our catalog for: Choker by Elizabeth Woods

Cara spends most of her time thinking about how much better her life used to be when her best friend Zoe was still around. She doesn't have many friends at school and is taunted by the popular girls, who refer to her as "Choker" after an embarrassing incident in the cafeteria. One day, Cara returns home from school to find that Zoe is back. She's run away from home, so Cara agrees to hide Zoe at her house so no one will find her. Now with Zoe back in her life, Cara's confidence returns and she finds herself making friends and flirting with Ethan, a boy she's always had a crush on. Then one of the popular girls that tormented Cara turns up dead and Zoe starts acting very strange. Cara can't help but wonder--is her best friend capable of doing such terrible things?

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Check our Catalog for: The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett is first and foremost a fascinating study of people living in the South just before the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that put an end to segregation of Blacks and Whites in the United States. This well written novel gives you the story from a variety of points of view and this contributes to the well paced tension throughout the 451 pages. Skeeter grows up in Missippippi when well to do white families hired black women to help with housecleaning and the raising of children. She comes back from college to find that her best friends are all married, starting their own families and continuing the tradition of hired help. Skeeter's own family maid is gone and her Mother refuses to tell her the truth of her leaving. Powerful and soon to be a movie.

Triangle: The Fire that changed America

 Check our catalog for: Triangle: The fire that changed America.

Since it is 100 years since this dramatic fire I wanted to learn more about its history and conclusion.  This is a good source for that and gives you a good amount of information on why such a catastrophe could occur.  There isn't much sensationalism  about the fire itself, but does give the facts and shows what the historical period was like.  I enjoyed reading it, although it was a little dry at times.  And it shows the political makeup of New York at the time while bringing up some of the up and comers, like  Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Plus the trial is really interesting.

The Fixer Upper by Mary Kay Andrews

 Check our catalog for: The Fixer Upper also available in large print and downloadable audiofixer upper cover

Dempsey Jo Killebrew is basically fired from her public relations job in Washington D.C. due to her big shot boss (who she thought was looking out for her) being caught in a politcal scandal.  Running out of money and with nowhere else to turn, she takes her dad's suggestion to work on fixing up his old, run-down family home in Guthrie, Georgia.  And a lot of work it turns out to be!  Trials and tribulations, satisfying manual labor, romance, and even some revenge ensue.  I saw this on a couple "best popular fiction of 2009" lists.  If you like Jennifer Crusie, you'll like this book.  I downloaded the digital audio book from Download Destination and listened to it on my MP3 player.

The Devotion of Suspect X by Keigo Higashino

Check the catalog for: The Devotion of Suspect X

Yasuko Hanaoka is a divorced, single mother who thought she had finally escaped her abusive ex-husband Togashi. When he shows up one day to extort money from her, threatening both her and her teenaged daughter Misato, the situation quickly escalates into violence and Togashi ends up dead on her apartment floor. Overhearing the commotion, Yasuko’s next door neighbor, middle-aged high school mathematics teacher Ishigami, offers his help, disposing not only of the body but plotting the cover-up step-by-step.

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest By Steig Larsson

Check the catalog for The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Steig Larsson is the supurb third and most likely last book we are to see from the author who so unfortunately passed away from a heart attack at the age of 50. According to biographical sources, he left about 3/4s of a fourth Millenium Series novel left unpublished on his computer at the time of his death. The third novel in this series pulls together many of the threads of the two previous books. Lisbeth spends much of the book recovering in the hospital, trying to avoid Blumkvist, and awaiting trial for crimes committed. Larsson takes no shortcuts and for that I was grateful. I liked that you experience this story from a variety of points of view-from the staff at Millenium, the motorcycle gang, the secret police and their invisible unit known as The Section. This is a long book, but the author maintaines the tension for 599 pages and if you liked the first two novels, you will not be disappointed.

Animal Vegetable Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver

Check our catalog for: Animal Vegetable Miracle

Animal Vegetable Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver is the kind of book that will be enjoyed by readers who love cooking and gardening. The author invites you into her family's decision to move from dry as a bone Arizona to Virginia to live on the land and eat only locally raised foods. This is a lovingly crafted memoir that educates and entertains the reader on the pros and cons of agribusiness. I think this could easily be used as a high school or college textbook.