What's in the trunk of your car? A teddy bear, a mixing bowl, a medieval arrow.
Who would play you in a movie? I'd play myself...but what I really want to do is direct.
Using only one word, describe yourself. Quirky
Author you love to hate: Most authors I hate, I hate begrudgingly, but I have to admit I love hating Stephanie Meyer, only because Reasoning with Vampires makes it so much fun.
What's your favorite smell? While I hate the taste of coffee, I love the smell.
If you had a super power, what would it be? The ability to stop time for everyone but myself without aging faster than everyone else as a result. I have given this way too much thought.
What do you think your job is at Left Bank Books? Convincing myself not to spend every paycheck entirely on books.
This book should not exist. And yet it does. This is an addictive read, both hilarious and thought-provoking. Just when you think you've got a real handle on this whimsical and quirky narrative, it starts dropping truth-bombs about ethical consumerism and endangered species. Right now you are thinking this staff pick has been assigned to the wrong book. This is a sandwich cookbook. You're damn right it is. It's a sandwich cookbook I read cover-to-cover before ever entering the kitchen, and I would have been happy if I stopped there. But then I did enter the kitchen, and the magic started. This is not really a book for casual chefs. You're usually going to make three or four separate recipes before you start assembling the sandwich. And it is so. worth. it. The flavor combinations are unlikely, but delicious. These are both looks and tastes to impress without being fancy or fussy. This is a wonderful gift for people with an oddball sense of humor, foodies who don't take themselves too seriously, and collectors of the unconventional. -Sarah's Holiday Staff Pick, 2016
Viviane Schwarz's hugely expressive Tiny Cat is a charmer in this new format. Kids will get a kick out of how the spunky feline transforms into different animals with just a prop or two and everyone will appreciate that this isn't just a concept book, but a laugh-out-loud story arc.
When we meet Noah, he has all the reasons in the world to be upset. Several months ago, his father died in a car accident, the same accident that left him in a wheelchair. He's lost his position on the Little League team...but not the teasing of the star pitcher. Most of his friends don't know what to say to him. Sometimes his mom doesn't either. But a new kid who doesn't know what he was like before the accident might be just what he needs. So what if he's a little (a lot) weird? Even kids (and adults) who haven't gone through the severe trials Noah has will recognize the type of resentment that sometimes gets directed at the wrong target and appreciate the work Noah does to get through it. Along the way, they'll love getting to know a set of characters that may not always act lovable, but will always be relatable. And they might just find out what it's like living with a seventeen-year-old dachshund and who's inside Fredbird's costume (shh, don't tell!).
Artemisia Gentileschi is a criminally-underappreciated artist and fascinating historical figure. Joy McCullough uses her story--and those of the Biblical women she captured in her paintings--as a jumping-off point to explore the ways society treats women and the ways women chafe at some of those treatments. Barely a line of this beautiful prose went by without me wanting to read it at someone. Best to settle for as many as possible reading the whole book and all the timeless difficult truths within.
It's hard to describe exactly what's going on in Losing the Girl. There are some odd things, to be sure: The sudden and complete disappearance of a 14-year-old prodigy, the loss of everyone's cell phone reception. But the suburban teens at the heart of this story barely take note of these events as they deal with their much more traditional interpersonal relationships and difficult decisions. I'm sure the background attractions are building to something spectacular, but for now I'm content to soak in the vivid atmosphere as the characters connect to and detach from one another, adrift in manner akin to MariNaomi's constantly shifting art styles. It's been a long time since I've been this excited for a sequel.
Nan Sparrow is the sort of heroine the word "plucky" was invented for. From her unconventional life traveling with her beloved Sweep with whom all difficulties turned into treasured memories, she has fallen into indentured servitude as a "climbing boy." Even though she's one of the best around, when she lodged in a chimney during a fire, she's sure she's a goner...until she awakens in the rubble of that chimney with a sentient bit of char rolling at her feet. Thus begins her new life on the lam with Charlie. Anyone who loved the strange but sweet relationship at the center of Anna and the Swallow Man will owe their whole heart to this heartfelt and satisfying story of found family that shows how even devastating loss can be transformed into beautiful remembrance.
What more do I need to say than "Rosie Revere has a chapter book"? Anyone who has fallen in love with Rosie and her friends Iggy Peck and Ada Twist (brought together here as The Questioneers) knows that they'll be in for some unconventional problem-solving...and probably learning a thing or two about engineering. In this first installment, Rosie is recruited by her Great-Aunt and her friends, all former WWII riveters, to help an artistic member of their group who can't paint conventionally due to an injury. Through trial and error, Rosie is sure she can find a way to help before the big art contest...or can she?
I can't get Sadie out of my head. A small Colorado town is rocked by the discovery of thirteen-year-old Mattie's body in a field. No one is ever even named as a suspect, and the crime starts fading away...until Mattie's older sister Sadie does missing. When her car and belongings show up three months later without a trace of girl, a true-crime podcast rolls into town. What follows is a story that alternates between Sadie's experiences during her absence and the podcast's deductions following close on heels. The best of concepts are so simple you can't believe it hasn't been done before, and this addictive back-and-forth on the effects of violent crime and the efficacy of its investigation is sure to breed imitators. Sadie's world is not a happy one, but it will suck you in and make you demand answers. It had me up into the wee hours of the morning and infiltrated my dreams that night. A novel this intense is a rare thing indeed, and you won't want to miss the experience.
Venturing into realistic fiction for the first time, Tahereh Mafi tells the story of a high school sophomore attempting to navigate a post-9/11 world without sacrificing her Muslim identity...and also reconciling her intense feelings for her all-American-boy lab partner. She does not shy away from discussing the overwhelming amount of hatred and animosity expressed by entirely too many people, but the really difficult passages are wonderfully balanced by heady, swoony depictions of early romance exceeded only by those of Rainbow Rowell. As much adversity as she faces, both from without and within, Shirin is a wonderful person to spend a book with, and readers will find this story of prejudice, love, and breakdancing (yes, breakdancing) taking up residence in their hearts long after they've put the book down.
This is at once a sweeping family epic and an intimate examination of grief, loss, and guilt. It's about brotherhood and immigration and cancer and horse racing and pets and a typewriter and, yes, building a bridge. But at the same time none of that matters as Zusak's writing is so beautiful, his sentences so well-formed, that you would gladly let him tell you just about anything, as long as he just keeps the words coming.