Stacey’s Top Ten Fiction (and Nine Nonfiction) of 2019!

If you check out some of my previous Top Ten lists -you might notice I like to go for bonus titles.. heh! This year I split my list into ten fiction and a bonus nine nonfiction… double heh! I’ll also mention, this year I was part of the Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence in Fiction & Nonfiction Committee -and the entire list is worth a look! You’ll also notice some of the titles on that list are also on mine, so maybe that counts as a double Top Ten suggestion?

This list is *not* in order of preference but does follow the Librarian Tradition of Alphabetical Order:

 Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner
No one in this story is perfect, and that’s what makes it such a fun book to read!

Here and Now and Then by Mike Chen
Time travel is a key feature, but it’s really about family and finding a place you belong.

The World That We Knew by Alice Hoffman
A magical, emotional, thoroughly engaging story!

The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
You don’t have to love Jane Austen to love this book.

The Swallows by Lisa Lutz
A mystery set in a boarding school with plenty of surprises.

Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts by Kate Racculia
Like The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin -for adults.

Normal People by Salley Rooney
Teens growing into young adults -set in Ireland.

Save Me From Dangerous Men by Eli Saslow
Gritty and graphic, and all kinds of grrl power.

The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine
If you’re a word nerd -this one’s for you!

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Ah -all the feels.

Elderhood: Redefining Aging, Transforming Medicine, Reimagining Life by Louise Aronson
We should all rethink how we think about aging.

Catch and Kill by Rowan Farrow
Fascinating and well-researched look at decades of misconduct by men in power.

Becoming Dr. Seuss by Brian Jay Jones
Theodore Geissel was more than the creator of children’s books, and this book will tell you that story.

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland by Patrick Radden Keefe
While telling the story of one woman’s disappearance (and likely murder), readers will also get a clear background on The Troubles in Ireland.

Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane
A beautifully written look at the natural world and how it’s changed, and continues to change.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Not just a book about libraries, but also a great “true crime” mystery!

Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed for Men by Caroline Criado Perez
Ladies, be ready to be annoyed and then -let’s change the world!

An Elegant Defense by Matt Ritchel
Do you know how your immune system works (or doesn’t work)? You will after you read this!

The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present by David Treuer
How do we not talk more about some of the topics in this book?!

I hope you find something you enjoy -and- that you have a happy, wonderful Holiday Season!


Award Winning Books!

So many awards, so many choices! As you can see from what everyone said about the book they chose, it was also a crowd pleaser, plus we really covered a whole bunch of genres in this one discussion! Shall we see what everyone had to share?

Megan: Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, winner of the 2015 Eisner Award for Best New Series and Best Publication for Teens, is the story of best friends, summer camp, and monsters. Welcome to Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types! The camp is home to the Lumberjanes scouts. Best friends and fellow campers Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley accidentally witness an old lady transform into a bear, and like any group of curious teens, they follow her into the woods. They quickly learn that the bear-woman is not the only mystery surrounding the camp. These clever campers are determined to use their scout skills to unravel these mysteries. This all-ages, female-led comic series is rollicking good fun. Readers will devour the first three volumes and be eager for more Lumberjanes adventures!

Chris: The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion won the National Book Award for Non-Fiction in 2005 and in that same year was a finalist of the Pulitzer Prize for Biography/Autobiography. In 2007, it was adapted for a Broadway Play and had a successful run. It tells the story of Joan’s husband, John, suffering a massive fatal coronary while their adopted daughter, Quintana, lies in a coma in the hospital. Sadness and grief all around realistically presented in that unique Didion voice. I particularly liked her reminiscences over the many good times and trying times she and her writer husband, John Gregory Dunne, shared throughout their forty-year marriage. She ends her chronicle with a few of John’s words spoken about timing the swell of the ocean just right: “You had to go with the change.”

Carol: In Scottish author Denise Mina’s mystery novel, Garnethill, which won the John Creasey Award for Best First Crime Novel, Maureen O’Donnell’s psychologist boyfriend Douglas Brady has been found murdered in her apartment. Because of her history of mental illness and the fact that she’d just discovered that Douglas was married, Maureen is the prime suspect. With help from her friend Leslie and her brother Liam, Maureen attempts to find out who the killer is—endangering their lives and her own in this gripping, dark and action-packed read.

Emma: In The Nest, Leo, Beatrice, Jack and Melody Plumb’s father funded a hefty nest egg for his four children to be distributed when the youngest, Melody, turns 40. The siblings are anxious to get their inheritance and each has specific plans for the money. With their mother’s permission, money was used when drunken Leo was in a serious car accident. A 19-year-old waitress was badly injured and much of the money was used to settle her medical bills. Leo promises to eventually repay his siblings. Time will tell in this fast-moving often-funny book debut by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney.

Steve: In Michael Shaara’s classic novel The Killer Angels he takes you inside the minds of the men that fought in the battle of Gettysburg. This work won the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and was striking in that it depicted the thoughts of the characters, not just the action and movement of troops and men. This is an excellent novel that humanizes the men and focuses on the leaders, like Robert E. Lee and Joshua Chamberlain.

Lauren: In honor of her latest book, My Life on the Road, Gloria Steinem was award the 2015 Distinguished Achievement Award from the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. The Dayton Literary Peace Prize, inaugurated in 2006, is the first and only annual U.S. literary award recognizing the power of the written word to promote peace. The Prize invites nominations in adult fiction and nonfiction books published within the past year that have led readers to a better understanding of other cultures, peoples, religions, and political points of view. This memoir recounts Steinem’s nomadic lifestyle from an early age and throughout her life as a writer, activist, and community organizer.

Dori: In The Round House, the second book of a trilogy set on an Ojibwe Reservation in North Dakota, Louise Erdrich brings back Judge Coutts from the first book in the trilogy, The Plague of Doves. The judge is spending a Sunday with his wife Geraldine and their 13-year-old son Joe when Geraldine receives a phone call from work that she is needed. She rushes in but doesn’t return. Joe and his father search everywhere and when they return home, they find Geraldine in the driveway, near death after being assaulted and raped. She won’t speak, won’t accuse her assailant, and her family is devastated. Judge Coutts and Joe go through his case files looking for clues, eventually leading Joe to the probable culprit. Meanwhile, as Joe and his friends live through the summer, meeting girls, riding bikes, and pulling pranks, Joe plans his revenge. Equal parts coming-of-age story, mystery and social commentary, this a compelling and deeply moving novel. The third book in the trilogy, LaRose, is out in May. Winner of the National Book Award in 2012.

Stacey: The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery was a 2015 National Book Award Finalist in the Nonfiction category and also on ALA’s 2016 Notable Books list. This is one of those books that make me equally excited and nervous to read; I can’t wait to find out more about these fascinating creatures but I’m afraid many of them will succumb to a tragic ending. Spoiler Alert: both things happened, I’m now a big fan of this species *and* I used a tissue (or two) while reading. Additionally, the author is able to provide an interesting perspective on how we define the intangible consciousness of any living creature. Be bold, take a risk you might shed a tear, and pick up this winning title!

And next time? We’re headed way out West! If you want to read along with us, you’ll want to select something that evokes a strong feeling of wide open spaces and larger than life characters. Most westerns have a clear hero and villain with the conflict clearly ending with one winner.


I was there! -at The 2015 Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards

It’s true! I was one of the lucky attendees at this year’s Anisfield-Wolf award ceremony -and it was incredible. The opener? A young man in the fifth grade read his winning, original poem “Am I Invisible” with such energy and style; he was rewarded with a standing ovation! And of course, the adult winners brought their A game as well -both Jericho Brown and Marilyn Chin performed their poetry, Marlon James read from his fictional story, and Richard S. Dunn talked about history of two plantations. David Brion Davis wasn’t at the awards in person but accepted his Lifetime Achievement Award in a recorded message. Library Journal’s coverage of the event pretty much says it all… in style!


Give This Book an Award!

Such an easy category to define: Award Winners! It could be any award, in any year, in any format, or in any age range, all the book needs is to have won some sort of prize by a recognized organization. Really this includes an almost endless array of possibilities: Hugo Awards, Edgar Award, RITA, Macavity, Nobel Prize in Literature, Newbery, Alex, Caldecott and -of course- Notable Books for Adults, just as a few places to consider starting your own search.

Megan: The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker is an international bestselling mystery and the recipient of two French literature awards. Marcus Goldman is a young novelist suffering from a severe case of writer’s block. He seeks solace and inspiration at the isolated beach house of his friend and mentor, renowned author Harry Quebert. His plans for a second novel are derailed when the sleepy town of Somerset is rocked by the discovery of the body of 15-year old Nola Kellergan, a girl who disappeared in 1975. Even more disturbing is the fact that Harry, who had an affair with the girl, is implicated in her murder. Marcus’s publisher is clamoring for the inside scoop, but Marcus is only interested in clearing Harry’s name. To that end, he sets about writing his book, The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair and in the process learns what really happened to Nola Kellergan. This book about a book is full of multiple timelines, plenty of suspects, and red herrings on every page. Readers will find themselves engrossed in the small town secrets, the suspicious locals and their contradicting stories.

Carol: In Homeless Bird, Gloria Whelan’s 2000 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature winner, Koly is a 13-year-old Indian girl whose arranged marriage to a sickly boy leaves her a young widow. Facing a lifetime of servitude in her in-law’s home, Koly thinks that her chances at happiness are over until quite unexpectedly, she finds herself in the Indian holy city of Vrindavan. There on her own, Koly must rely on the sewing and embroidery skills she learned from her own mother to eke out a living. This is moving young adult novel that blends modern culture with ages-old Indian traditions and makes for a compelling and inspirational read.

Emma: There had been warnings before, and the dam always held. Sadly on May 31, 1889, 2,209 people died when an immense rainstorm forced a neglected dam near Johnstown, Pennsylvania to break away. This is the story of before, during, and after the flood. It’s an amazing tale of an awful tragedy never to be forgotten. David G. McCullough, author of The Johnstown Flood, received the Outstanding Achievement Award for his role in preserving Johnstown history by The Johnstown Area Heritage Association.

Chris: Toms River by journalist and professor Dan Fagin won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize and the 2014 NY Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award and we still have five months to go. What happens when the CIBA chemical company moves into the quiet New Jersey community of Toms River in 1960 and begins pumping its wastewater onto the land and dumping its waste product into its makeshift landfill? One of the largest residential cancer cluster cases in history. Sure there was that initial rise in employment and a big boost to the local the economy, but after numerous deaths and horrific tragedies, the community rises up against the company and all the politicians who supported it and succeeds in closing down the company, embarrassing those politicians, and getting the wells cleaned and regularly checked. This is a story about real people, corporate greed, and concerned citizens. Toms River is well-researched non-fiction that reads like a novel with a cast of characters you’ll love or hate and surprises you like a mystery with its fascinating twists and turns.

Steve: Heart of a Tiger: Growing Up with My Grandfather, Ty Cobb, by Herschel Cobb, is the story of Herschel and his grandfather and their relationship that blossomed during Ty’s retirement and after the death of Ty’s two adult sons, who he never fully reconciled with.  Young Herschel and his siblings were the brunt of horrible abuses by their bullying father and alcoholic mother, and grandfather Ty was the welcome comfort in their lives.  Herschel offers another side to the often vilified Ty Cobb, as we witness Cobb showering affection on the grandchildren and him helping struggling ex-ballplayers who didn’t have the great fortunes that he amassed.

Ann: Doctor Sleep by Stephen King won the 2013 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel. It continues the story of Danny Torrance, the young boy from The Shining, who is now an adult with lots of problems in his life. Dan still has “the shining,” the ability to know things, sometimes of the future, but the special gift hasn’t always served him well. He’s drifted through life relying on alcohol and often resorting to violence. When he gets off a bus in the small town of Frazier, New Hampshire, something there feels like home. He settles in, taking a job at a hospice, where with his special “shining,” aided by an all-knowing cat called Azzie, he is able to provide comfort to those patients at the end of life. The staff calls him Doctor Sleep. Little does Dan Torrance know that soon he and his special abilities will be called upon to help a young girl with powers of her own. Author Peter Straub, says of Doctor Sleep– “Obviously a masterpiece, probably the best supernatural novel in a hundred years.”

Julie: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson was named to the ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2010 with good reason. The story is about Lia, an 18 year old dealing with the usual problems – school, fitting in, parents – and who now has to contend with her (former) best friend being found alone in a hotel room, dead. All of this while trying to convince everyone she is recovering from anorexia (she’s not) and no longer cutting herself (she is). Lia’s voice is believable and lyrical, and her story is heartbreaking but not without hope.

Dori: In The Guards, by Ken Bruen, private detective Jack Taylor, fired from the Irish police force for punching a superior, spends most of his time on a barstool in Galway, waxing eloquently about books and music. When a beautiful woman asks him to investigate the supposed suicide of her daughter, he discovers, suspiciously, that more young woman have committed suicide at the same spot. Beatings, blackouts and a stint at a mental asylum follow. Spare and poetic, Bruen’s writing is funny and original, with the focus less on plot than writing and character. The first of a 10 book series and winner of the 2004 Shamus Award from the Private Eye Writers of America.

Stacey: Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See by Juliann Garey is one of those unforgettable books that readers will want all their friends to read -mostly so they can discuss each and every detail! Readers learn about Greyson Todd and his mental health issues short episodes of his life are revealed in-between electroshock treatments. It’s easy to feel a connection with Greyson, even when he’s being despicable, but his story also provides an interesting, insight into how difficult it is for individuals and their families to live with bipolar disorder.  This is one of the books I read for the Notable Books Council last year -and it absolutely earned it’s place on the Notable Books for Adults list!

Next time we’re going to head into uncharted territory -the bold new world of Science Fiction! Now’s the time to let your inner geek select a book about alternate worlds and scientific ideas are still exist mostly in the imagination. You can lean toward “hard” science fiction which focuses on the technology and machines or you might want to try something that could be considered “soft” science fiction which focuses primarily on the human element and the societies people construct for themselves. I can’t wait to see what people pick! -Including you!

— Stacey

Children have spoken!

day the crayons quit They just announced the winners of the Children’s and Teen Choice awards last Wednesday night, and apparently a few of us here had our pulse on the picture book market. It was on the top books of 2013 for a few of us and the children have also spoken: The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers is the winner. Yay! If you haven’t read it, awesome book!

— Julie

March Madness is Coming!!

Sorry sports fans, this isn’t about basketball – we’re talking books, man, books! The chance to get in on some bracket and betting fever is here for those who aren’t motivated by college ball, but written word one on one action?  Oh yeah, sign me UP!

What I’m talking about is the 8th annual TMN Tournament of Books. The Morning News, an online magazine, along with Powell’s Books  and Field Notes brings us this compitition of novels written in 2011 that begins March 7, 2012. So get your office pools going and get in on the “action.” Among the competing titles in the first round are Ann Patchett’s State of Wonder  vs. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt.  March madness rules!!


2011 Thriller Awards

Last Saturday the International Thriller Writers announced their 2011 awards at their annual ThrillerFest in New York City.

The best hardcover novel award went to John Sandford for Bad Blood.

 J.T. Ellison took home the award for best original paperback with The Cold Room. And Still Missing by Chevy Stevens won the best first novel category.

If you like thrillers as much as I do, try searching for them in our Reading Room. I think that you’ll find some great reads!


And the winner is…

I don’t know if you follow the Man Booker prize, which is a prize given to the best book of the year by a citizen of the Commonwealth or the Republic of Ireland,  but the announcement of the winner is tonight. They first choose a ‘longlist’ of titles and then winnow it down to a ‘shortlist’ of six titles. This year they include: The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters; The Glass Room by Simon Mawer; Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel; The Quickening Maze by Adam Foulds; Summertime by JM Coetzee; and The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt.  In Britain, the bookies have the odds on Wolf Hall. Imagine betting on a book prize.

I usually try to check out all the nominated books, including those from the ‘longlist’, but this year not all have been published in the United States yet and well, the best laid plans and all that. I only got around to reading Brooklyn by Colm Toibin and I’m about halfway through listening to The Little Stranger. Brooklyn was a beautifully written book about an immigrant’s experience, but The Little Stranger has been slow moving. Part story of the vanishing upper class and part ghost story, I’ve heard a lot about the tumbling down Hundreds Hall, but I have yet to encounter a ghost. I want the ghost!

For a cheeky British digest of the nominated titles and to see the current odds, check out the Guardian book blog.

~ Dori

Dan Brown Won’t Let me Down


Back in 1999 while booktalking about new thrillers at a library conference, I held up Angels & Demons by Dan Brown showing that neat original cover that looked the same upside down. Think “ambigram.” I’d forgotten all about it until just recently when another librarian said to me, “I remember you, you held up Dan Brown’s book and said he was going to be the hot new thriller author way before The Da Vinci Code was published. angels-and-demons







Since then, over the years, I’ve picked other winners in my booktalks, but a couple real “dogs,” too.  Hopefully, my picks for the “hot” reading this summer will all be sizzlers!




June: Roadside Crosses by Jeffrey Deaver – A standalone thriller about a serial killer who puts up roadside crosses with the intent to kill someone rather than as a memorial.




black-hillsJuly: Black Hills by Nora Roberts – A new romantic thriller about reunited childhood friends who must work together to solve a series of crimes threatening a wildlife refuge.





silent-hourAugust: The Silent Hour by Michael Koryta – The 4th book in the Lincoln Perry investigator series. Set in Cleveland, these just get better and better!





September: The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown – Robert Langdon returns for his third adventure.


It’s been a long wait, but I know that Dan Brown won’t let me down.


Awards are Always Lovely

How happy, how lucky, how wonderful! A whole bunch of children’s book awards were recently announced at the American Library Association midwinter conference, and I do mean a whole bunch. The John Newbery Medal, Newbery Honor Books, Randolph Caldecott Medal, Caldecott Honor Books,  Coretta Scott King Book Award, Theodor Seuss Geisel Award, are just a few of the twenty-eight total categories. See? Whole bunch! Take at the whole list and see what you think. I know what I think already, I’m thinking this feels like a mini-reading challenge… Are you in?