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Staff Picks

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“The House on Tradd Street by Karen White was my Let it Snow fantasy choice. This is the first of six in the Tradd Street series set in Charleston South Carolina. The beginning book introduces Melanie Middleton, who inherited an historic house from an old man she only met once. Along with the house Melanie inherited a housekeeper, a dog, a new man and plenty of ghosts.” - Gene, Information Substitute
A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert
“Academic Librarian Amy Webber returns to her quite mountain home town in Virginia, and becomes the director of the small public library there. When a long-time patron is found murdered in the archives, Amy, along with her new neighbor begin investigating that leads to the uncovering of some long-hidden secrets. “ - Gene, Information Substitute
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn
“I am diving into historical fiction because I haven't read much of it in the past. I read The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. It pulled me in immediately with two strong female characters, an unmarried pregnant college student dealing with her brother's death in World War II and an older woman in France with a gun in one hand and a drink in the other who has dark memories of World War I. The two go in search of another woman, lost in the war. It is a very satisfying page turner.” - Penni at Cascade
Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce
“It is about London during WWII and a young girl who wants to become a war correspondent. She inadvertently signs up for a women's advice columnist's job and the results leave the reader on the edge of their seat. I loved it!” - Anne at Krause Memorial
Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore
“Valentine chronicles the lives of fierce Texas women in the 1970’s. They celebrate, challenge, and protect each other throughout life’s ups and downs. It’s easy to imagine the tumbleweeds, tornados, and oil rigs on every page of this beautifully written book.” - Sam at KDL Service Center
I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb
“I recently read "I Know This Much is True" by Wally Lamb and could not put it down! The author wove multiple stories across generations to explain an intricate family conflict and shed light on mental health issues. I'm even more excited to learn that HBO is airing a limited series in May and can't wait to see if it's as good as the book.” - Tricia at Cascade
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyninkan Braithwaite
“In this tightly written, twisted, and darkly comic noir, Korede often feels overshadowed by her beautiful and talented sister Ayoola, who has the inconvenient habit of murdering her boyfriends, acts which strain the bonds of sisterhood.” - Mark at Krause Memorial
Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera
“I am loving this historical fiction! This novel follows the intersecting lives of three women in a small Southern town trying to recover from the ravages of boll weevils which destroyed the cotton crop and the economy in the 1920's. Told in alternating voices, it's easy to appreciate the unique perspective of each and the true depth of women's strength. The character development, beautiful writing and compelling story line have kept me reading late into the night.” - Laura at Plainfield
I Could Pee On This by Francesco Marciuliano
“Even cats love poetry, read poems by cats for cats.” - Hannah at Wyoming
The Hilarious World of Depression by John Moe
“Amazingly raw, personal, yet funny memoir by John Moe about his (& his family’s) struggles with mental illnesses. This book highlights Moe’s journey to his great podcast from which the book gained its title. If you or anyone you care for has depression, this would be a great book with which to allow someone a chance to better understand how depression or mental illness aren’t just something you will yourself through. This will be a book I’ll buy to share with people as a way to lead to better understanding of mental illnesses.” - Steven at Gaines
Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles
“I really enjoyed Simon the Fiddler by Paulette Jiles. Fans of Historical Fiction will love the blend of what life was like at the end of the Civil War for Texans. Jiles weaves together a rich story that includes everything from Union and Confederate press gangs, yellow fever in Galveston, traveling musicians, Irish immigrants, iron wills and frontier justice in a lawless post war society. I also appreciate her ability to wrap up her stories with a happy ending.” - Betsy, Circulation Substitute
Crown of Three by J.D. Rinehard
“I am just about to finish the Crown of Three series by J.D. Rinehart. It’s billed as Game of Thrones for kids. It’s a great fantasy series about triplets born under a prophecy and separated at birth. They must come together 13 years later to bring peace to their kingdom.” - Hannah at Alpine
Hero by Jennifer Li Shotz
“Hero by Jennifer Li Shotz is a fast-paced read best for 4th-6th grade dog lovers. It's about a retired search-and-rescue dog named Hero and his twelve year old boy, Ben. Ben struggles to keep up pet ownership, school and baseball all while a new puppy with a troubled past wanders into his life. When the puppy goes missing Hero jumps to the rescue. Available for immediate download using the Hoopla app!” - Jenny at East Grand Rapids
Nothing More Dangerous by Allen Eskens
“This is a coming of age story about Boady Sanden that lives in the Ozarks with his widowed mother. He doesn't feel like he belongs in the small town that relies on the "us vs them" mentality. A family of color moves into the neighborhood and Boady strikes up a friendship with the son resulting in dire consequences.” - Shari at Gaines
Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert
“I loved this adult contemporary romance. Chloe and Red are so sweet and caring towards each other, and l really appreciated the humor. It is a wonderful "feel-good" book.” - Shelby at Caledonia
Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
“Love the hard bits of life post-loss as well as the mix of ethnicities and life stories that come together to make a “family.”” - Marcia at Grandville
The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams
“Most of the Caledonia branch read 'The Bromance Book Club' and loved it! Uplifting, heartwarming, and a refreshing book about working hard at marriage and love. Light hearted read, which was a much needed escape for me for sure right now!” - Audrey at Caledonia
Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams
“Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D. Williams is a middle grade fiction story about a Detroit teen who comes home to find her family has been evicted yet again from an apartment. As they settle into another new place and Genesis starts again in another new school, this time seems hopeful. The house is in a nice suburban neighborhood, Genesis makes a couple of friends at school, and her dad has promised he'll pay the rent on time. However, her father's drinking and gambling cause a lot of tension in their household, and Genesis worries that this won't be her home for long.” - Susan at Plainfield
Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson
“Jack, age 11, is about to enter middle school when his single mother decides to celebrate by taking him camping on Labor Day weekend. When Jack wakes up, he finds that he's alone at the campsite; no mother, no car, no food. Due to a previous encounter with DSS, he decides the best thing to do is to get home on his own. I thought the author did a great job in making this a believable quest in a fast-paced novel with wide appeal.” - Laura at Plainfield
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
“Likely one of my new all-time favorites, along with anything by Brene Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert.” - Ashten at Wyoming
The Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton
“In this richly detailed and well researched classic historical novel, author Anya Seton tells the story of Elizabeth Winthrop, niece of John Winthrop, the Puritan governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. This plot driven page turner has something for everyone, including American history, politics, and lots of romance.” - Mark at Krause Memorial
Amberlough by Lara Elena Donnelly
“A sci-fi novel packed with espionage, politics, and hard decisions. A must read for lovers of spy novels, political thrillers, or social sci-fi.” - Grahm at the KDL Service Center
The Heirloom Garden by Viola Shipman
“Viola Shipman is a pen name for Wade Rouse, a Michigan author. This story, like the other books written under this name, is a heartwarming and delightful story that capture and charm the reader. This book is about two very different women brought together though the pain of two different wars, and engages the reader from the first chapter. “ - Barb, Information Substitute
American Vampire by Scott Snyder
“American Vampire is for those who want vampires to be scary, like really scary. Skinner Sweet is the first American vampire and has some new tricks up his sleeve. Follow his grisly hunt for riches and revenge throughout history.” - Hannah at Wyoming
Don’t Make me Pull Over by Richard Ratay
“This book is a blend of fact history and personal experience of the author’s childhood of when his family would take road trips. It’s an informative and often hilarious read and goes to show how much the family vacation has changed over the years. Also nostalgic for those who remember going on their own family’s road trip.” - Megan at the KDL Service Center
Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
“Saleem Sinai, born at the stroke of midnight on August 15, 1947, the exact moment of India’s independence from Great Britain, narrates this hilarious, wild, magical, and complicated account of three decades of his country’s recent history. First published in 1981 and a winner of the Booker Prize, Midnight’s Children set the standard for post-modern, post-colonialist, and magic realist literature.” - Mark at Krause Memorial Library
Finna by Nino Cipri
“One of the shorter but better books I’ve read recently is FINNA by Nino Cipri. It’s a sci-fi dimensional travel story on its face but becomes an emotionally satisfying novella because of its two central characters. One more reason for this recommendation is its solid & fascinating portrayal of a non-binary gendered character that is NOT a major hook on which the plot rests.” - Steven at Gaines
Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad
“My family has been reading Me and White Supremacy by Layla F. Saad, and discussing it as a family. It explains concepts like White fragility, White privilege, White silence, and many more in short, easy-to-read chapters, and then gives you prompts to really think through your past experiences with these concepts. So far, our family has spent at least an hour discussing each concept, and it has been very eye-opening for all of us.” - Susan at Plainfield
A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler
“Valerie Alston-Holt and her son live in the modest Oak Knoll neighborhood in North Carolina. Valerie is a forestry professor raising her talented 17 year-old, biracial son. When Brad and Julia Whitman move in to their newly constructed mansion next door, trouble ensues. Fowler explores issues of class, race, gender roles, and young love in this story where the neighborhood, itself, is an all-seeing character that alludes to trouble from the very beginning. It a complex and topical story, that I simply could not put down.” - Nanette at Cascade
Run Me to Earth by Paul Yoon
“After two short story collections and a nearly perfect debut novel, Paul Yoon has returned with Run Me to Earth. This book is slightly more evocative than his previous work, but still offers a quiet and often somber look into the lives of people in the midst of war and diaspora.” - Joel at Wyoming
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Volume 12, To All the Squirrels I've Loved Before by Ryan North
“Squirrel Girl is a smart all ages comic rife with metanarrative pop-culture references, computer science, butt kicking, and friendship. Ryan North's glorious portrayal is sure to make Squirrel Girl a key fixture in the Marvel Comics canon for years to come.” - Joel at Wyoming
Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
“Dear Mr. Knightley by Katharine Reay is a contemporary epistolary novel with a delightful dash of Jane Austen. This was a very enjoyable read that I couldn't put down until I knew the fate of the title character, Samantha Moore. Learning to overcome personal struggles to achieve her higher educational goals with the help of an anonymous benefactor, she also found love along the way.” - Amy at Alto
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
“The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho tells the story of a young Andalusian shepherd named Santiago who has a recurring dream of finding great treasure. He faces new challenges and experiences over the course of his search. This was an inspirational read that reminded me to believe in one's dreams and to follow one's heart to achieve them, no matter the obstacles.” - Amy at Alto
If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha
“This book explores the different viewpoints and lives of Korean women living in Seoul and how body image afflicts them.” - Cassidy at Spencer
The Knockout Queen by Rufi Thorpe
“This book will surprise and move you as Michael, a gay teen, explores the world with his friend who turns out to be a knockout queen.” - Cassidy at Alto
The Fall of Richard Nixon : a reporter remembers Watergate by Tom Brokaw
“I listened to this book called The Fall of Richard Nixon by Tom Brokaw. It was interesting to hear the story of Watergate and Richard Nixon from a reporter's perspective. “ - Marybeth, Information Substitute
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo
“I am currently reading Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. It is a story about various black women in modern-day Britain. All the stories are so different and yet loosely connected. I could never understand what it’s like to go through the situations that come up in their lives, but I hope hearing these stories will help.” - Jennifer at Wyoming
When Books Went to War by Molly Guptill Manning
“If I ever wondered why we have such deep appreciation for the Greatest Generation, this book cemented my appreciation. It also made me incredibly proud to be a book pusher. WW2 fans will love this perspective....and their “to-read” piles will most likely increase!” - Betsy Riddell, Circulation Substitute
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shafer
“I recently re-read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and loved it just as much as the first time. It combines my favorite things in a story: historical fiction, romance, humor, friendship, interesting characters, as well as a bit of mystery. It’s a story about courage under horrific conditions, human resilience and the power of books to bring people together. I laughed, I cried, my heart was filled with joy! This is a beautiful book that I highly recommend!” - Amy Richardson at Alto
Summer House by Lauren Denton
“Summer House by Lauren Denton is a new favorite read of mine. This book is about second chances, sweet romances, and new beginnings. The author, Laura Denton writes stories with Southern style and settings. This story is about two women finding themselves having to start over again in their lives. It’s a perfect summer and beach read.” - Barb DeYoung, Information Substitute
Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
“I just finished “Home Before Dark” by Riley Sager. It’s a great atmospheric read for anyone who likes a creepy ghost story mixed in with suspense and mystery. I couldn’t put it down!” - Heather at Grandville
Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad
“A good first step of combating racism is to dismantle privilege within yourself. This excellent guide encourages you to own up to their racist behaviors big and small and work toward awareness and helping yourself and those around you. This book is available in both physical and e book formats.” - Hannah at Wyoming
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. Season one
“The first season is thrilling, quirky and comical that kept me at the edge of my seat. It’s a compulsively watchable show, that I devoured in 2 days” - Megan at the KDL Service Center
Educated by Tara Westover
“This memoir describes the author’s childhood growing up in a cult-like family in Idaho, and how her quest for learning led her to reject the harsh teachings of her parents. If you liked “The Glass Castle” you’ll enjoy Educated.” - Marlys, Information Substitute
Larry Crowne
“This film made me laugh, and made me cry. It is a feel-good story about a nice but clueless guy (Hanks) who loses his job in a big-box store, decides to take some classes at the local Community College, and --with the help of his teachers (Roberts, George Takei) and some new friends-- ends up re-inventing himself.” - Maryls, Information Substitute
The List of Things that Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead
“I highly recommend The List of Things That Will Not Change by Rebecca Stead. 5th grader Bea is facing her parents’ divorce, her father’s remarriage, and secret she’s harboring. Bea’s voice is authentic and relatable, and I literally could not put it down!”- Elizabeth at Plainfield
Kindness Makes us Strong by Sophie Beer
“Kindness Makes us Strong is a beautiful and simple board book that depicts children doing meaningful things for their friends, families, and community. It creates a perfect opportunity to talk to your children about ways we show we care to others by being inclusive, compassionate, and kind. If you enjoy this author want to talk to your children about love, Love Makes a Family is being acquired by the library and is available for holds!” - Ashley at Cascade
Brave Face by Shaun David Hutchinson
“Brave Face by Shaun David Hutchinson is a moving memoir by an author about his difficult years as a gay teenager and young adult during the 1980s and 1990s. He spent a lot of time hating himself and relieving the pressure with self harm, even attempting suicide at one point. Ultimately, he got therapy, found himself, and discovered that it really does get better.” - Susan at Plainfield
The Last Black Man in San Francisco
“A beautiful, quiet, poetic and powerful film about a young man’s attempts to reclaim his family home in a gentrified city. It’s based on the real life experiences of the main character, Jimmie Fails, whose family has lived in San Francisco for five generations, and the neighborhood once known as the Harlem of the west. This movie does so much more than explain what gentrification is. The movie conveys the terrible feeling of knowing that not only is your home far beyond your financial means, but also that you’re no longer welcome there. The film lets you know what it feels like to be, quite literally, the last Black man in San Francisco.” - Mark at Krause Memorial
The Mountains Sing by Phan Que Mai Nguyen
“This debut novel is the epic story of the Tran family’s “shifting fortunes” through half a century. Set against the backdrop of the Land Reform movement and then the Vietnam War, the reader comes to know the cost of the conflict to the country and to the endearing characters. It is a multi-generational tale of loss and love, loyalty and identity, told through the perceptive voice of a poet.” - Nanette at Cascade
The Next Right Thing by Emily P. Freeman
“You aren’t taught how to make life decisions in school, so why should everyone expect it to be easy??? This is a handy discussion of the author’s life experiences. I really enjoyed it!” - Anne at Krause Memorial
The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson
“Larson always makes the historic feel intimate, drawing on diaries and letters and personal accounts to fill in dialogue and expression. It was riveting to listen to his account of the early years of Britain’s involvement in WWII, the tedium and the terror of nightly bombing raids as well as all the drama of Churchill’s family life.” - Penni at Cascade
Porch Light to the Longshoreman by Colleen Alles
“In this beautiful chapbook of poetry, Alles (a former Write Michigan winner from Grand Rapids), shines a lyrical light on the life and landscapes that fill West Michigan. Readers will recognize places - and possibly the sweet tension between life and memory - that fills them.” - Melissa at Krause Memorial
Something Needs to Change by David Platt
“A trip David Platt and his friends as they trek in the Himalaya mountains. They witness extreme poverty and people who have both desperate physical and spiritual need. made me cry and make me want to get off my butt and take some action, get involved.” - Kelly from Nelson Township/Sand Lake Branch
Hiding in the Light by Rifqa Bary
“You get to see into Islam, immigrant life, the plight of many Muslim women, the dark side of Honor and Shame cultures, an incident of real injustice in the justice system, and the cost a young Muslim woman had to pay to receive Jesus here in America. Ultimately and most beautifully, throughout Rifqa's story, it's not just about her life and her struggles but it was also, but Jesus and His Gospel. I really loved this book” - Kelly from Nelson Township/Sand Lake Branch
Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch
“These are books five, six, and seven in Ben Aaronovitch's utterly fabulous Rivers of London series. If you like police procedurals, urban magic, eldritch funky stuff, and plenty of wit and wisdom from a wisecracking London PC, these are right up your alley.” - Catherine at Gaines Branch
Miriam at the River by Jane Yolen
“This new book from a beloved children's author is a gorgeous retelling of the story of baby Moses from the perspective his brave and protective older sister. Yolen's text is both deeply personal and timeless, and Le's illustrations are absolutely stunning!” - Melissa at Krause Memorial
Humble Pi by Matt Parker
“I was just giggling about Humble Pi: When Math Goes Wrong in the Real World by Matt Parker. It’s a hilarious read for people who loved Freakonomics or other math nerd books.” - Audrey at Caledonia
Unstoppable Wasp by Sam Maggs
“Want an exciting book full of strong, young women learning how to be better people and better heroes? Here it is. If you loved Jeremy Whitely's comics of Nadia Van Dyne, the new Wasp, you'll love this novel. If you've never encountered Nadia before, you'll be bowled over by her optimism, her growth as a character, and the depth and strength of her supporting cast--all either super-scientists, superheroes, or Nadia's family” - Steven at Gaines
When Stars Are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson
“This graphic novel tells the true story of Omar and his brother Hassan, Somalian refugees who spent most of their lives in a refugee camp in Kenya. Omar has the opportunity to attend school, which he knows is the best hope for their future, but he is afraid because he does not want to leave Hassan who needs his care and attention. This remarkable book gives a look into the life of refugee kids: the heartbreak, boredom, but still the hope. The artwork was stunning and I really enjoyed the afterward that updated readers on Omar and Hassan's life now.” - Jill at Wyoming
The Professional
"Natalie Portman’s film debut, at age 12, in which she plays a 12-year-old girl whose family is killed by the mob. She takes up with New York City’s top hitman in order to learn how to be a “cleaner” (i.e. hit man) so she can take revenge on the killers. Portman’s performance is excellent, and the story, while it contains a good deal of violence, is actually rather sweet.” - Maryls, Information Sub Pool
“Amelie is a young woman with a vivid imagination & a rich fantasy life. When she discovers a treasure box hidden behind her kitchen baseboard she decides to try & find the original owner (who lived there 40 years ago) and this leads to her stepping into the lives of others around her in order to help them out. This is a sweet, whimsical tale set in Paris…a feel-good movie for all ages.” - Marlys, Information Sub Pool